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All taxonomy terms: College Football, Legends Poll
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-5

The top seven teams in the Legends Poll remained unchanged this week, setting the table for a top 10 SEC showdown next week at South Carolina.

The 7th-ranked Gamecocks take on No. 5 Georgia, which outlasted Tennessee in a 51-44 shootout this weekend.

“Right now I think Georgia is a better football team, more balanced,” former Bulldog coach Vince Dooley said. “They’ve got great balance with Gurley at tailback and obviously Murray at quarterback. Gurley’s leading the conference in rushing and his backup isn’t too bad either.”

No. 1 Alabama received all 17 first-place votes for the third straight week after a 33-14 victory over Ole Miss.

Oregon, Florida State and LSU stayed put in the top 5 as well.

West Virginia’s Geno Smith continued his Heisman campaign, throwing for nearly 700 yards and eight touchdowns as the Mountaineers remained at No. 6 in the rankings.

Stanford dropped out of the top 10 after a Thursday night upset at Washington, allowing Kansas State to move past 9th-ranked Notre Dame for the No. 8 spot.

No. 10 Texas hung on to beat Oklahoma State, 41-36, and made its first top 10 appearance of the season.

Florida, USC, TCU, Clemson and Oklahoma followed Texas and each moved up a spot this week. Stanford fell eight spots to No. 16.

No. 17 Louisville remained unbeaten and was followed by Nebraska, Oregon State and Mississippi State.

Newcomers to the Legends Poll this week were Cincinnati and Rutgers.

Michigan State fell out of the top 25 this week, and despite a 32-29 win over New Mexico, Boise State dropped out of the rankings as well.

To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll


1 AlabamaAlabama (17) 5-0 425 1
2 OregonOregon 5-0 405 2
3 Florida StateFlorida State 5-0 385 3
4 LSULSU 5-0 370 4
5 GeorgiaGeorgia 5-0 362 5
6 West VirginiaWest Virginia 4-0 332 6
7 South CarolinaSouth Carolina 5-0 328 7
8 Kansas StateKansas State 4-0 294 10
9 Notre DameNotre Dame 4-0 290 9
10 TexasTexas 4-0 275 11
11 FloridaFlorida 4-0 269 12
12 USCUSC 3-1 221 13
13 TCUTCU 4-0 210 14
14 ClemsonClemson 4-1 201 15
15 OklahomaOklahoma 2-1 181 16
16 StanfordStanford 3-1 166 8
17 LouisvilleLouisville 5-0 143 17
18 NebraskaNebraska 4-1 131 20
19 Oregon StateOregon State 3-0 118 21
20 Mississippi StateMississippi State 4-0 102 19
21 NorthwesternNorthwestern 5-0 74 23
22 UCLAUCLA 4-1 52 24
23 Texas A&MTexas A&M 3-1 49 25
24 CincinnatiCincinnati 3-0 34 -
25 RutgersRutgers 4-0 24 -

* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward.  You can see the entire Poll at

<p> As voted on by 17 coaching legends.</p>
Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/big-ten-post-week-5-power-rankings

In what was the best weekend of football the Big Ten has experienced all season, some order appeared to be restored. Iowa and Penn State both posted huge wins in league openers, indicating that the traditional powers both still have much to say about the title race. Northwestern and Nebraska held serve in tough home wins. And Ohio State continues to overcome mistakes and imperfections to stay unbeaten, as evidenced by its gritty performance against Michigan State.

Post-Week 5 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State - He fumbled twice and threw an interception, but Miller was once again the best player on the field. He simply won't allow his team to lose and continues to be one of the toughest leaders in the nation. He ran for 136 yards on 23 carries and added a beautiful game-winning 63-yard scoring strike late in the third.  

2. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska - The Huskers quarterback threw for 176 yards, 0 TD and 3 INTs in the ugly loss to Wisconsin last fall. He got his revenge Saturday night. The league's most efficient passer threw for 187 yards, rushed for 107 and accounted for three touchdowns.

3. Kain Colter, AP, Northwestern - There aren't too many season stat lines like this: 369 yards passing, 2 TD, INT, 59 att., 371 rush yards, 6 TD, 9 rec., 131 receiving yards. He was all over the field on Saturday against Indiana. His teammate Venric Mark deserves a mention as well.

Post-Week 5 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Mike Mauti, LB, Penn State - The Nittany Lion leader posted six total tackles, two interceptions for 105 yards and half a sack in the dominating performance against Illinois.

2. Kawann Short, DL, Purdue - Purdue finished the non-conference slate with a tidy 3-1 mark after Short posted three tackles, a sack, a blocked kick and a forced fumble in the win over Marshall.

3. Will Compton, LB, Nebraska - There are a lot of solid LBs that deserve to be in this slot. This senior posted 10 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, a sack and got consistent pressure on Wisconsin's quarterbacks.

Post-Week 5 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State - Meyer's team hasn't been perfect on the field, but this team continues to win tough games with clutch play from the most important player in the league.

2. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern - This team consistently over achieves on offense, even with multiple quarterbacks. Coach Fitz is off to a great start, but  the schedule definitely gets tougher from here out for the Wildcats.

3. Bo Pelini, Nebraska - This was a gut-check performance from the Huskers after trailing big in the first half. His team scrapped and clawed its way to a win, setting up a huge trip to Columbus this weekend.

Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

1. Ohio State (5-0, 1-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 5 result: Beat Michigan State 17-16

As long as No. 5 is under center, the Buckeyes will have a chance to run the table. However, staying on the field for the Big Ten POY front runner is looking more and more like a long shot. Braxton Miller had to leave twice due to injury, after another 23 carries took its toll on his body. At the end of the game, however, when Ohio State needed clutch decision making, Miller was there to lead his team to yet another hard-nosed win. So was OSU's defense. They held the league's leading rusher Le'Veon Bell to only 45 yards on 17 carries. This was a physical battle that left both teams battered and bruised. It personified Big Ten football and was a great showcase for a league that needed a good showing.
This week: Nebraska  (4-1)

2. Nebraska (4-1, 1-0)
Previous rank: 4
Week 5 result: Beat Wisconsin 30-27
The Huskers got off to a slow start and fell behind 20-3 in the second quarter. But another efficient performance from quarterback Taylor Martinez gave Nebraska sweet revenge over Wisconsin. T-Mart led four straight second half drives resulting in points that took a 27-10 deficit and turned it into a three-point lead with 9:41 left in the game. The Huskers defense never looked back, holding the Badgers scoreless for the final 25 minutes of play. Will Compton led a unit that knocked starting Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave out of the game and held Montee Ball to 2.8 yards per carry on 32 attempts. This team leads the Big Ten in rushing, scoring, total and pass efficiency offense.
This week: at Ohio State (5-0)

3. Michigan (2-2, 0-0)
Previous rank: 3
Week 5 result: Off
The down time came at just the right time for Michigan. A rough 2-2 start isn't what Brady Hoke planned for this fall, and a breather before starting eight straight weeks of Big Ten play likely helped to recharge the Maize and Blue's batteries. The remaining slate starts off with a tricky road trip to Purdue.
This week: at Purdue (3-1)

4. Michigan State (3-2, 0-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 5 result: Lost to Ohio State 17-16
It was an old school, Mark Dantonio slugfest that nearly went the way of the Spartans. And as many believed going into the game, the difference was quarterback play. Andrew Maxwell continues to struggle, as do his pass-catchers, but this time around he got zero production from the league's top running back. Le'Veon Bell was held in check all day and never provided Maxwell with any support. The defense was stout, physical and opportunistic, but Braxton Miller was simply better. This team can still have something to say in the Legends Division race, but only if Sparty can figure out a way to produce a balanced offense
This week: at Indiana (2-2)

5. Northwestern (5-0, 1-0)
Previous rank: 5
Week 5 result: Beat Indiana 44-29
This Northwestern offense has a chance to be scary if it can continue to run the football like it has of late. Kain Colter rushed for 161 yards and four touchdowns, while Venric Mark added 139 yards and a score in the workman-like win over Indiana. The balanced, two-quarterback offense finished with 394 yards rushing and 310 yards passing to set a school record for total yards (704). To top it off, Colter was the game's leading receiver (9 rec., 131 yards). Mark has gone over the century mark in three of his last four, and with his emergence, the Wildcats offense has posted 82 points in the last two games. Now the hard work comes in the form of back-to-back conference road games.
This week: at Penn State (3-2)

6. Purdue (3-1)
Previous rank: 6
Week 5 result: Beat Marshall 51-41
It was a tale of two halves in the final non-conference game for Purdue. The Boilers won the first half 42-14, while Marshall countered with a 27-point second half. Big plays, record-setting performances, 92 points and 977 total yards of offense top the headlines. Quarterback Caleb TerBush threw four touchdown passes and went toe-to-toe with the Herd's Rakeem Cato — who completed 45 of his 68 passes. In the end, the defense did just enough to hold off the C-USA program to top off a quality first month of the season for a sneaky Purdue team. 
This week: Michigan (2-2)

7. Wisconsin (3-2, 0-1)
Previous rank: 7
Week 5 result: Lost to Nebraska 30-27
The Badgers capitalized on some Nebraska miscues early to jump out to a 20-3 lead. And with a 27-10 edge five minutes into the third quarter, Big Red faithful (of the dairy variety) were feeling very confident. Clearly, this team played up to the competition, looking as good as it has all season for the first 35 minutes. However, Joel Stave was knocked out the game, Montee Ball was held to only 30 yards rushing, and the Nebraska offense used big plays from their star quarterback to simply wear down the Badgers. This team showed fight and was extremely competitive, but Bret Bielema has to feel like he let a crucial win slip through his fingers.
This week: Illinois (2-3)

8. Penn State (3-2, 1-0)
Previous rank: 10
Week 5 result: Beat Illinois 35-7
This one had to be particularly satisfying for head coach Bill O'Brien. After a sensitive summer for the coaching staffs from Penn State and Illinois, the play on the field told the story in the end. The Nittany Lions jumped out to a 21-0 first half lead and never looked back in the dominating win over the Illini. Matt McGloin continues his renaissance by playing efficient and turnover free football, while the running game welcomed Bill Belton back to the line-up after missing the last three contests. And for the second straight week sophomore tailback Zach Zwinak played a big role, this time rushing for 100 yards on 19 carries, including a pair of one-yard touchdown runs. This Penn State team is a few plays from being unbeaten and will have an under-the-radar showdown with unblemished Northwestern on Saturday.

This week: Northwestern (5-0)

9. Iowa (3-2, 1-0)
Previous rank: 11
Week 5 result: Beat Minnesota 31-13
The Floyd of Rosedale returns to Iowa City after two seasons in the Twin Cities. And it could not have come at a better time for Kirk Ferentz. The Hawkeyes used four Golden Gopher turnovers and a 24-0 run to start the game to put away rival Minnesota and earn a huge Big Ten victory for the embattled coach. Walk-on fullback Mark Weisman continues to be one of the better stories in the league, rushing 21 more times for 177 yards and his seventh rushing touchdown in three games. Thanks to him, this team has rediscovered its running game, topping the 180-yard mark for the third straight contest. It appears to have helped quarterback James Vandenberg as well. The senior has struggled most of the year, but had his best game of the season in the Big Ten opener, accounting for two touchdowns, 192 yards passing and no turnovers. He has to regain his 2011 form if the Hawks expect to win more than it loses in the league this fall.
This week: Open Date

10. Minnesota (4-1, 0-1)
Previous rank: 8
Week 5 result: Lost to Iowa 31-13
Backup quarterback Max Shortell, who is playing in place of senior starter MarQueis Gray, didn't fare too well. He threw three interceptions and the offense created only 300 yards of offense — which is less than two different receivers in the Baylor-West Virginia game. However, Gray might not have made any difference. The running game struggled to get anything done as Donnell Kirkwood was held to nearly 60 yards under his per game rushing average (12 att., 33 yards). The straw that broke the Gophers' back was a Shortell interception returned for a touchdown late in the third quarter when they were driving to cut the lead to 10 points. The road trip to Iowa City was easily the toughest game of Goldy's schedule thus far, and Jerry Kill's team forgot to show up. A 24-0 start for Iowa in the first 21 minutes of play says as much.
This week: Open Date

11. Illinois (2-3, 0-1)
Previous rank: 9
Week 5 result: Lost to Penn State 35-7
Year one under Tim Beckman isn't going as fans might have hoped. Nathan Scheelhaase was able to play an entire game, attempting 46 passes, carrying the ball 11 times and ending with 277 yards of total offense. However, it made little difference as a pair of interceptions and the offense's inability to run the ball kept the Illini from being competitive. The defense let Penn State jump out to a 21-0 halftime lead and then couldn't stop the ground game — it allowed 173 yards and four touchdowns rushing. Beckman's team is allowing more points than any other team in the league and is ranked 11th in total offense. Bad offense + bad defense = Ugly 28-point blowouts at home. And things won't get any easier this weekend.

This week: at Wisconsin (3-2)

12. Indiana (2-2, 0-1)
Previous rank: 12
Week 5 result: Lost to Northwestern 44-29
The Hoosiers defensive front was outmatched from the word go, as the Wildcats rushed to a 27-0 lead early in the third quarter. Indiana showed heart, scoring 29 points in the final 26:24 as IU continues to pace the Big Ten in passing offense (311.0 ypg). Kevin Wilson's offense is ranked No. 2 in the league and has been using a third-string quarterback, Nate Sudfeld, to spark slow starts in the last two games. But until something is done about a defense that allowed Northwestern to produce in record fashion, Indiana will have trouble competing in the league.
This week: Michigan State (3-2)

by Braden Gall


Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 5 Recap

ACC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Pac-12 East Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings 

<p> Big Ten Post-Week 5 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-post-week-5-power-rankings

This league seems to get deeper and deeper each Saturday. After another stellar weekend of action out West, six Pac-12 schools now reside in the AP Top 25. Washington and UCLA slide into the rankings, while Arizona State is knocking on the door and Arizona is clearly another solid team. And as strange as it may sound, Cal might be the best 1-4 team in the nation.  

Post-Week 5 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. The Running Backs, Oregon - De'Anthony Thomas has the highlight reel big-plays. He scored once and totaled 126 all-purpose yards this weekend. But Kenjon Barner made his statement with 195 yards rushing, 37 yards through the air and four total touchdowns. Good luck picking just three names for this list in a league this deep.

2. Matt Barkley, QB, USC - Your guess is as good as mine, so by default Barkley gets the nod. This league has so much talent at so many positions that odds are the USC quarterback works his way back to the top. Sean Mannion, Taylor Kelly, Ka'Deem Carey and Marquess Wilson all moved up the charts this weekend.

3. Brett Hundley, UCLA - Only Matt Barkley has more touchdown passes (12 to 11) in the Pac-12 and only Matt Scott has more yards passing (1,608 to 1,470). Hundley has added 165 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the ground. He accounted for 295 total yards and four touchdowns in the road win over Colorado.

Post-Week 5 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Michael Clay, LB, Oregon - Clay finished with eight total tackles, another sack and a tackle for loss in the win over Washington State — in which the defense once again made big plays.

2. Morgan Breslin, DL, USC - The Trojan defender was on a bye week but still holds the league lead (per game) in sacks with 1.38 sacks per game and tackles for loss at 2.38 per contest.

3. Will Sutton, DL, Arizona State - The junior had a career day in the road win over Cal. He posted eight total tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and a forced fumble. He is tied for the league lead in sacks (6.5) and is tops in tackles for loss (10.0).

Post-Week 5 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Chip Kelly, Oregon - The Cougars made it a game into the third quarter but Kelly's Ducks pulled away and finished with another 51 points, 26 first downs and 469 yards of offense in yet another blowout win.

2. Mike Riley, Oregon State - The Beavers are quickly becoming one the top stories nationally. His resume is as nice as any in the nation with two road conference wins and a victory over Wisconsin at home.

3. Todd Graham, Arizona State  - New coaches in the Pac-12 have been excellent, and Graham now has two impressive Pac-12 wins in a row: A home blowout win over Utah and a road battle against Cal.

Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (5-0, 2-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 5 result: Beat Washington State 51-26
It took maybe a little longer than Ducks fans had hoped, but in the end Oregon simply out-athleted the Cougars by scoring four straight touchdowns in the second half. Kenjon Barner had arguably the best game in his career by touching the ball 23 times for 232 yards and four touchdowns. The defense once again made big plays, providing a game-clinching INT touchdown return and seven sacks. With an offense that leads the league in rushing at over 300 yards per game and scoring over 50 points per game, Oregon's defensive growth makes them the best team in the league and possibly the top challenger to SEC national domination. 
This week: Washington (3-1)

2. USC (3-1, 0-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 5 result: Off
The Men of Troy rested up before they go on three road trips in four games. It begins with a visit to Utah on Thursday night, before USC will head to Washington and Arizona (with a harmless home game against Colorado mixed in).
This week: at Utah (2-2)

3. Oregon State (3-0, 2-0)
Previous rank: 4
Week 5 result: Beat Arizona 38-35
It's almost impossible to think that this team was 3-9 a year ago. Mike Riley has done one of his best coaching jobs in the nation, building as good of a three-game 2012 resume as any team in the nation. And the Beavers are winning in every possible way. This weekend it was a game of runs and nifty play-calling in a shootout road thriller in Tucson. Oregon State started 17-0 before Zona responded with three straight touchdowns to take the lead. Then one of the best games of the year saw six straight lead changes. Sean Mannion, who threw for a career-high 433 yards, went 6-for-6 on the final drive and tossed the game-winning touchdown with just over a minute to play. Wideout Brandin Cooks continues to emerge as one of the league's more dangerous playmakers, adding another nine receptions and 149 yards to his resume. Mannion now has 1,088 yards in three games and is right in the heart of the POY discussion.
This week: Washington State (2-3)

4. Washington (3-1, 1-0)
Previous rank: 7
Week 5 result: 
Beat Stanford 17-13

The improvement was obvious. Justin Wilcox, Peter Sirmon and Tosh Lupoi have instilled a toughness, a physicality and an attitude that has been lacking on the defensive side of the ball in Seattle for years. After allowing a Stanford school-record 446 yards and 65 points in the blowout loss to the Cardinal in 2011, the Huskies held Stanford to 65 yards on 28 carries and no offensive touchdowns. The offensive line is still a major issue that needs to get healthy quickly.
This week: at Oregon (5-0)

5. UCLA (4-1, 1-1)
Previous rank: 5
Week 5 result: Beat Colorado 42-14
Brett Hundley scored four touchdowns, and the Bruins much-improved defensive front made sure this game was never in question. A big part of UCLA's struggles last fall stemmed from the lack of a pass rush and the ineffectiveness of the rushing defense. Datone Jones, Anthony Barr and Damien Holmes have made this one of the most improved units in the league as the Bruins are 10th nationally with 3.4 sacks per game. Colorado was sacked four times and produced just 83 yards rushing on 30 attempts. Johnathan Franklin continues his stellar senior season as he bounced back with 159 yards from scrimmage, 145 of which came in the 21-point first half. Jim Mora's bunch reenters the AP Top 25 with the program's first 4-1 start since 2007.
This week: at Cal (1-4) 

6. Stanford (3-1, 1-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 5 result: Lost to Washington 17-13
Josh Nunes was just a little off the entire game. He missed all types of throws all night long, including a near connection down the sideline in the final minutes. And the ground game didn't help out like many expected. The Cardinal defense chased Keith Price all over the field and scored their own touchdown, however, two second-half breakdowns cost Stanford. One long touchdown run on the final play of the third quarter and one big catch and run by Kasen Williams last in the fourth gave Stanford their first loss of the year. 
This week: Arizona  (3-2)

7. Arizona (3-2, 0-2)
Previous rank: 6
Week 5 result: Lost to Oregon State 38-35
Matt Scott and Ka'Deem Carey are really good. But unfortunately, the Wildcats ran into a pair of offensive buzz saws from The Beaver State to start the conference slate with two losses. For the second week in a row, a high-flying offense from Oregon posted big numbers against the Arizona defense, this time in heart-breaking fashion. The Copper Tops fell behind early but battled back behind another huge day from Carey — 183 yards from scrimmage and two scores. But the defense allowed 613 yards of offense and couldn't get a key stop when it had to late in the game. This was a learning experience for a team that appears to be better than its 0-2 Pac-12 record might indicate.
This week: at Stanford (3-1)

8. Arizona State (4-1, 2-0)
Previous rank: 8
Week 5 result: Beat Cal 27-17
The Sun Devils continue to impress in year one under first year head coach Todd Graham. Quarterback Taylor Kelly completed 26 of his 45 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns without turning the ball over again this weekend. Kelly now leads the league in passing efficiency, while defensive stopper Will Sutton now leads the league in sacks and tackles for loss. This was a barometer test for the young Arizona State team and they passed with flying colors. Graham's bunch now has two excellent wins to start league play, and, without Stanford or Washington on the schedule, has fans in Tempe thinking ASU can challenge for the division crown.
This week: Open Date

9. Utah (2-2, 0-1)
Previous rank: 10
Week 5 result: Off
Entering Week 6 after a bye week against, Utah's season could be hanging in the balance on Thursday night when USC comes to town. This team was destroyed in Tempe two weeks ago and has had a long time to think about it. An 0-2 start in league play would all but end the Utes chances at contending in the South.
This week: USC (3-1)

10. California (1-4, 0-2)
Previous rank: 9
Week 5 result: Lost Arizona State 27-17
After a brutal home loss to Arizona State in which quarterback Zach Maynard completed just 9-of-28 passes, Cal became the best 1-4 team in the nation. Jeff Tedford has lost four times to teams with a combined 16-3 record thus far and could include the best team in the Pac-12, Big Ten and Mountain West. But Tedford knows that his worst start ever as the head coach at Cal is still all about wins and losses. His back is now securely pressed against the wall in Berkeley staring difficult second-half schedule. Five of Cal's seven remaining opponents are ranked, so things are starting to look bleak for the longtime coach of the Golden Bears.
This week: UCLA (4-1)

11. Colorado (1-4, 1-1)
Previous rank: 11
Week 5 result: Lost to UCLA 42-14
Jordan Webb couldn't build on his big performance against Washington State last weekend. He was hounded all day by the improved UCLA front seven, while the Buffaloes defense provided little resistance to the Bruins extremely balanced offensive attack. In the league, The Buffs fell behind quickly and never challenged Jim Mora's squad. Colorado now ranks dead last in scoring offense, scoring defense, total defense and turnover margin. And Jon Embree has two weeks to think about it.
This week: Open Date

12. Washington State (2-3, 0-2)
Previous rank: 12
Week 5 result: Lost to Oregon 51-26
After falling behind quickly, the Cougars battled back to within four points at halftime. Then an onslaught of Oregon big plays put Washington State out of its misery in the third quarter. Connor Halliday and Marquess Wilson continue to build rapport and produce big numbers in the passing game, but this defense and the Pac-12's worst rushing attack have provided little support all season. Mike Leach has a long way to go in Pullman.

This week: at Oregon State  (3-0)

by Braden Gall


Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 5 Recap

ACC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 5 Power
Big 12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Pac-12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings 

<p> Pac-12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, NC State Wolfpack, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-countdown-no-11-nc-state-preview
Visit the online store for NC State and other editions of the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual.

The first practices of college basketball season begin in mid-October, and Athlon Sports 2012-13 preview annuals are starting to arrive on newsstands all over the country.

To prepare for the start of college basketball season, we will preview one team each weekday, counting down to the first official day of basketball practice on Oct. 15, or for some teams on Oct. 12.

We continue our countdown with a preview of No. 11 NC State.

Scott Wood is a true believer. When almost everyone else was talking about NC State rebuilding under new coach Mark Gottfried, the Wolfpack shooting guard was focused on making the NCAA Tournament.

NC State not only made the Tournament, for the first time since 2006, but also advanced to the Sweet 16. With four starters back, and three McDonald’s All-Americans arriving, Wood has bigger goals for the Wolfpack in 2013.

“I think we have the components to be a Final Four team,” the senior guard says.

Gottfried, after a 24–13 debut season, is not quite ready to declare his team a national contender, despite early top-10 projections.

“We had a nice run at the end of the year, and that was great, but we have to do a lot more during the year before we’re really considered a contender,” says Gottfried, who left a job as an ESPN analyst in April 2011 to replace Sidney Lowe.

After an uneven freshman season, junior C.J. Leslie delivered on the spectacular promise of his prep career as a sophomore. Leslie, a wiry, athletic 6-9 forward, led the Pack in scoring (14.7 ppg) and blocked shots (1.6 bpg) and ranked second in rebounding (7.3 rpg).
The inconsistencies, and mood swings, from his freshman campaign were gone, replaced with maturity, and Leslie got better as the season progressed. He averaged 17.1 points over the final 16 games, about five points per game better than he averaged over the first half of the season.

Leslie will have help up front in senior Richard Howell, the team’s leading rebounder (9.2 rpg) a year ago, but frontcourt depth is a concern for Gottfried’s second team. Howell’s scoring numbers jumped last season, to 10.8 points per game — and he had 22 in the second-round NCAA win over San Diego State — but he also struggled with foul trouble.

With forward DeShawn Painter, the safety net for either Leslie or Howell off the bench last season, gone to Old Dominion (he transferred closer to home to be near his ailing grandmother), Howell and Leslie both have to stay out of foul trouble.

Without Painter, and after missing out on the recruiting trail on Amile Jefferson, the Wolfpack will have to rely on junior Jordan Vandenberg, a 7-footer who redshirted last season, and sophomore Thomas de Thaey, who played sparingly as a freshman. Freshman T.J. Warren, a McDonald’s All-American, prefers to play on the wing but might have to be used to defend the post.

Lorenzo Brown, who played off the ball as a freshman in ’10-11, erased any doubts about his ability to run the point with one of the best all-around seasons by an ACC guard. He averaged 12.7 points, 6.3 assists (second in the ACC), 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals (first in the ACC) in his first full season as the starter. His confidence grew toward the end of the season and he’s expected to only get better as a junior.

Wood, one of the best shooters in the country, returns for his fourth year as a starter. The Pack was 10–0 when he hit at least four 3-pointers last season,and his game meshes well with Brown’s skill set, particularly in transition.

Freshman Rodney Purvis is the leading candidate to replace departed senior C.J. Williams in the starting lineup. At 6-3 and 190 pounds, Purvis showed the physical maturity in the prep all-star circuit and with the USA Basketball program, to be able to step in add scoring and defense to the lineup.

Freshman Tyler Lewis, a McDonald’s All-American like Purvis, has the potential to relieve Brown at the point, or play with him. Warren could also be used on the wing to back up Wood and provide another threat from the 3-point line.

The door’s wide open for NC State to win the ACC’s regular season for the first time since 1989. North Carolina and Duke lost six first-round picks to the NBA between them and are both vulnerable to a veteran team, with new talent, like State’s.

But Gottfried’s right. The Wolfpack went 9–7 in the ACC and will  have to make a leap to the 12- or 13-win range . With elite talent like Leslie and Brown, Gottfried and the Wolfpack will have a chance “to do more” during the 2013 season. Just how much more will depend on if the Pack can pick up where it left off after a surprising NCAA Tournament run.


Athlon College Basketball Countdown So Far:
20. Florida

19. Notre Dame

18. Memphis
17. Baylor
16. Missouri

15. San Diego State

14. North Carolina

13. UNLV

12. UCLA

<p> College Basketball Countdown: No. 11 NC State Preview</p>
Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 05:59
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-post-week-5-waiver-wire-report

We’ve reached the midway point of most fantasy league regular season schedules.  Gone are the non-conference mismatches, as the weekly schedule shifts into conference play overload.  For those of you who loaded your rosters with non-BCS players, your time is finally here.

Terrance Broadway, QB-Louisiana

Starter quarterback Blaine Gautier will have surgery on his throwing hand this week and will miss a minimum of four weeks.  On Saturday, Broadway was excellent in relief throwing for 228 yards and a touchdown, while adding another 28 yards and two scores rushing.

Austin Brown, QB-UAB

The freshman quarterback was impressive in his first start of the season, throwing for 337 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-42 loss to Tulsa.  Given UAB’s remaining schedule, Brown becomes an intriguing fantasy option should he remain the starter the rest of the season.

Storm Woods, RB-Oregon St

We were waiting to see who would emerge as the workhorse back for the Beavers.  Woods rushed for 161 yards and a touchdown at Arizona and may have answered our question with a 29-carry outing.

Trayion Durham, RB-Kent St

Durham is the thunder and fellow running back Dri Archer is the lightning in the Kent State offense.  As long as Durham is toting the rock 20-plus times per game, the sophomore running back will be a fantasy factor in MAC games.

Jamaal Williams, RB-BYU

After Michael Alisa left Friday’s game with an injury, the 17-year-old freshman stepped in and ran for 155 yards and three touchdowns.  If Williams continues to improve, he’ll be extremely valuable at the end of the season when the Cougars play Idaho, San Jose State, and New Mexico State in the final three weeks.

Ben Cunningham, RB-Middle Tennessee

Anyone that scores seven touchdowns in two weeks definitely jumps onto our radar.  After the Blue Raiders opened the season with a loss to McNeese State, they have put together a nice three-game winning streak by averaging 212 rushing yards per game.

Phillip Dorsett, WR-Miami

In the last two games, Dorsett has caught 16 passes for 375 yards and three touchdowns.  The sophomore receiver has hauled in at least 6 receptions the past three weeks.

Michael Edwards, WR-UTEP

Edwards landed on our Start list last week, but we never listed him on any previous Waiver Wire piece.  After 27 receptions for 455 yards and three touchdowns in the previous four games, we’re listing him as a formality.

Rashad Evans, WR-Fresno St

After missing the first four games of the season, Evans added his name to the list of receiving threats in a potent Fresno State offense by catching ten passes for 100 yards and three touchdowns against San Diego State.

Dawan Scott, WR-Miami (OH)

Over the past two weeks, Scott has caught 14 passes for 300 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 21.4 yards per reception.  As long as Nick Harwell remains absent, Scott and Andy Cruse remain the best receiving threats for quarterback Zac Dysert.


by Joe DiSalvo,

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)


<p> College Fantasy Football: Post-Week 5 Waiver Wire Report</p>
Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 04:53
All taxonomy terms: West Virginia Mountaineers, Big 12, News
Path: /news/west-virginias-jd-woods-makes-ridiculous-one-handed-catch

The 70-63 shootout between West Virginia and Baylor was one of college football's most exciting games from Week 5. Thanks to over 800 yards of offense, the Mountaineers edged the Bears, which only adds to Geno Smith's Heisman campaign.

Smith had three receivers cross the 100-yard mark on Saturday - Stedman Bailey, Tavon Austin and J.D Woods.

Although there were plenty of highlights during the game, Woods' one-handed grab in the fourth quarter might be the best play from Saturday's matchup.

<p> West Virginia's J.D. Woods Makes Ridiculous One-Handed Catch</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 20:25
Path: /golf/us-wins-ryder-cup

Miracle at Medinah? Or Medinah Meltdown? Whatever you call it, this 2012 Ryder Cup is going to sting the U.S. for awhile.

When Martin Kaymer's 6-foot par putt found the bottom of the cup at 18 for a 1-up win over Steve Stricker in the weekend's penultimate match, Europe had clinched a 14-14 tie and retention of the Cup, no matter the outcome of the Tiger Woods-Francesco Molinari match still on the course. To rub salt into the wound, Woods conceded a putt 18 to fall into a halve with Molinari, giving the Euros a 14 1/2 to 13 1/2 win. And what had once looked like a likely U.S. rout had morphed into a shocking European triumph on American soil before a highly charged, partisan crowd that left more deflated than a post-Thanksgiving Snoopy balloon.

Captains Davis Love III and Jose Maria Olazabal had saved their losers for last; the final four players on the course entered the day a combined 0-9 in their 2012 matches. Shockingly, the Cup was eventually in the hands of those very players. Martin Kaymer, whose game had been in disarray coming into these matches, was up to the task, while Stricker capped a crushingly bad weekend with another late meltdown. And the Cup belongs to Europe for another two years.

"It’s been a tough week," said an emotional Olazabal, who inspired his team with constant reminders of Ryder Cup legend Seve Ballesteros, who died in 2011. "The first two days nothing went our way. We struggled on the greens, and this morning I felt a little change in that regard, and we started to make a few putts. The Americans just started to miss them. And winning those (first) few matches, that was key.

"This means a lot. This is for the whole of Europe."

If you're looking for heroes, there were plenty on the Euro side. Any unofficial MVP award would go to Ian Poulter, who arrived at Medinah on a mission and then went 4-0. His birdie binge in Saturday's final fourball match gave Europe a critical point and a glimmer of hope heading into Sunday, and his 2-up singles win over Webb Simpson was a key catalyst in Europe's early singles charge.

Looking for goats? There were enough on the American team to populate a small farm on a Sunday that saw Europe win 8.5 of a possible 12 points.

Before Europe clinched, there was plenty of clenching on the U.S. side. Both Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk stood on the 17th tee 1-up in their matches, but neither earned so much as a half-point, losing their matches to Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia, respectively. Furyk, one of Love's captain's picks, missed a testy par putt on 18 that would have salvaged a critical half-point against  Garcia; instead, he became the third American to lose both 17 and 18 to cost his team points. Mickelson fell victim to a little Euro magic, as Rose drained an improbable bomb at 17 and then birdied 18 to snatch a full point away from Lefty, who had been so solid all weekend and entered singles with a 3-0 match record.

In a role reversal from the 1999 Miracle at Brookline, the U.S. team entered singles play with a seemingly insurmountable 10-6 lead, then watched a flurry of early match wins from the Europeans, who took the day's first five matches.

Phil Mickelson, whose Ryder Cup travails had represented a black mark on his career resume, and Keegan Bradley had helped stake the Americans to that lead with three emotion-charged points in foursomes and fourballs, but their deflating losses in singles opened the door for the Euros. Mickelson's loss to Justin Rose was a particularly stunning turn, as Rose's birdie-birdie finish, spurred by that monster putt at 17 that echoed Justin Leonard's bomb at Brookline in 1999, erased what seemed a sure U.S. point. World No. 1 Rory McIlroy took down the feisty Bradley, who provided many electric moments over the three days while proving an undeniable irritant to the Euros with his eccentric mannerisms and effusive celebrations.

But on this shocking, deflating day, the biggest celebrations belonged to the Europeans.

Biggest surprises

• Jason Dufner may be carrying some extra flab, but the guy was a rock for the U.S. at Medinah. Duf and Zach Johnson earned two critical points as an untouchable foursomes partnership, and Dufner was the best U.S. performer in singles play, beating Peter Hanson on the strength of two front-9 eagles. Johnson was another bulldog for the American side, beating Graeme McDowell in singles and posting a 3-1 record.

• Dustin Johnson performed the best of Love's captain's picks, going 3-0 and earning a singles win over Friday star Nicolas Colsaerts. He was the only American not to taste defeat for the weekend. The fact that he appeared only three times will subject Love to some second-guessing.

Biggest disappointments

• Woods entered his singles match against Francesco Molinari with an 0-3 record in the 2012 Cup and left 0-3-1, but that number is a little deceiving. In his foursomes and fourball matches, Woods had a dead elephant named Steve Stricker on his back. Stricker was picked for his putter, but that short-stick magic was lacking at Medinah.

• Brandt Snedeker obviously had a FedExCup hangover; the newly minted Cup champion was surprisingly ineffective at Medinah. Partner Jim Furyk bailed him out in their foursomes match win over Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell on Saturday morning, but Sneds' wild tee shot cost them at least a halve in their Friday foursomes match, and he was never in his singles match with Paul Lawrie despite being a heavy favorite over one of Europe's lesser lights. Snedeker had played 10 out 11 weeks in his pursuit of the FedExCup, and fatigue caught up with him this week.

• The captain gets too much credit and too much blame in these matches, but Love's captain's picks combined to go 5-8-0, and he seemed powerless to stop the bleeding on Sunday.

• 2010 Ryder Cup hero Graeme McDowell never got the hang of the speed of the Medinah greens in going 1-3 for the weekend.

• Much like the play on the course, NBC's coverage was hit-and-miss. There were an unforgivable number of technical glitches, especially on Saturday, and an irritating number of commercials and other interruptions in the action on the course. Much of the commentary was spot-on, although Johnny Miller's sniping shtick from the comfort of the booth is starting to wear thin. Colin Montgomerie provided some honest Euro perspective; a little homerism is fine, and he's earned the right to indulge in it with his spectacular Ryder Cup record. His squeaky, high-pitched voice doesn't exactly defuse his "Mrs. Doubtfire" nickname, though.

Singles Results
Luke Donald def. Bubba Watson 2&1
Ian Poulter def. Webb Simpson 2-up
Rory McIlroy def. Keegan Bradley 2&1
Justin Rose def. Phil Mickelson 1-up
Paul Lawrie def. Brandt Snedeker 5&3
Dustin Johnson def. Nicolas Colsaerts 3&2
Zach Johnson def. Graeme McDowell 2&1
Sergio Garcia def. Jim Furyk 1-up
Jason Dufner def. Peter Hason 2&1
Lee Westwood def. Matt Kuchar 3&2
Martin Kayer def. Steve Stricker 1-up
Tiger Woods halved Francesco Molinari

Individual Records

Ian Poulter 4-0-0
Rory McIlroy 3-2-0
Justin Rose 3-2-0
Luke Donald 2-2-0
Sergio Garcia 2-2-0
Lee Westwood 2-2-0
Martin Kaymer 1-1-0
Paul Lawrie 1-2-0
Nicolas Colsaerts 1-3-0
Graeme McDowell 1-3-0
Francesco Molinari 0-2-1
Peter Hanson 0-2-0

Dustin Johnson 3-0-0
Keegan Bradley 3-1-0
Jason Dufner 3-1-0
Zach Johnson 3-1-0
Phil Mickelson 3-1-0
Matt Kuchar 2-1-0
Webb Simpson 2-2-0
Bubba Watson 2-2-0
Jim Furyk 1-2-0
Brandt Snedeker 1-2-0
Tiger Woods 0-3-1
Steve Stricker 0-4-0

<br />
Post date: Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 17:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-5-recap-west-virginia-georgia-light-scoreboards-0

What was supposed to be a ho-hum week of college football turned out to be an explosion of offense. The day began with a relatively low-scoring first quarter from Baylor and West Virginia with “only” 28 points and ended with a 133-point binge.

Quarterbacks Geno Smith and Nick Florence combined for 1,237 passing yards in the highest-scoring game in regulation in five seasons.

West Virginia and Baylor weren’t alone. Five teams crossed the 700-yard mark Saturday, as many as had reached that milestone in the first four weeks of the season. Even the defense-first SEC got into the act in Georgia’s 51-44 win over Tennessee.


Georgia’s freshman running backs. The “Gurshall” backfield (rhymes with “Herschel”) may end up being best best backfield duo since USC’s Reggie Bush and LenDale White. Todd Gurley and Keith Marhsall had their best game of the season with 294 combined rushing yards and five touchdowns in the 51-44 win over Tennessee. Marshall broke off touchdown runs of 75 and 72 yards for 164 total yards on the day. Gurley was the workhorse with 130 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries (with a 51-yard TD run of his own). Together Gurley and Marshall are averaging nine yards per carry with 11 rushing touchdowns in three SEC games. The Bulldogs have scored at least 40 points in every game this season.

Texas quarterback David Ash. The highlight catch was Mike Davis’ leaping reception over Oklahoma State quarterback Justin Gilbert to the Cowboys’ 5-yard line, but Ash’s most clutch throw was two plays earlier on fourth and 6 to D.J. Grant to move Texas from inside its own 30 to Oklahoma State territory. Both plays set up the game-winning touchdown in a 41-36 win on the road. Texas’ run game struggled for most of the day before waking up in the the fourth quarter, and the stout Longhorn defense surrendered 576 yards to a Cowboys’ team starting a redshirt freshman second-string quarterback. Ash, though, remained steady the whole day, completing 30-of-37 passes for 304 yards with three touchdowns and his first pick of the season. His first three games, it seems, were not a fluke.

Nebraska. Early in the second half against Wisconsin, the Cornhuskers appeared to be heading for another disappointing home loss. Nebraska had two turnovers in the first half against the Badgers and a third early in the third quarter, not to mention a roughing the punter penalty that led to a Wisconsin touchdown. After falling behind by 17, Nebraska scored 20 unanswered points to win 30-27. After a fumble early in the third quarter, quarterback Taylor Martinez recovered to lead four consecutive scoring drives for the win. After his fumble, Martinez was 7 of 14 for 106 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 71 yards on six carries.

Virginia Tech. The Hokies started the season ranked No. 16 in the preseason AP poll and No. 20 in the coaches’ poll, but they’ve dropped both their games against the Big East. Where the loss to Pittsburgh was a rout from beginning to end, the defeat to Cincinnati was more of a heartbreaker. The Hokies took a 24-20 lead on a masterful 56-yard touchdown pass from Logan Thomas to Corey Fuller, but Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux came up with the last laugh with receiver Damon Julien rolling into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown catch with 13 seconds remaining. Thomas, meanwhile, has had five picks in two games against Big East teams.

Jeff Tedford, Cal. The Bears’ hopes for a rebound season are looking slim. At 1-4 with the only win over Southern Utah, Cal is off to its worst start under Jeff Tedford. After two difficult road games against Ohio State and USC, a game against Arizona State in Berkeley presented Cal a chance to regroup. That never happened. The Bears amassed only 285 yards of offense as Zach Maynard as 9-of-28 passing, and playmaker Brendan Bigelow never touched the ball on offense. Cal is 13-17 overall and 7-13 in the Pac-12 since the start of the 2012 season.

Southern Miss’ field. There are poor weather conditions, and then there are the conditions in which Louisville and Southern Miss played. Heavy rain fell through the entire game
in Hattiesburg, Miss., and never seemed to drain from the artificial turf. Puddles and standing water consumed the field as Louisville erased an 11-point deficit to win 21-17. Southern Miss adjusted to the conditions by all but abandoning the pass, failing to complete a pass until late in the fourth quarter.

Geno Smith, West Virginia. Smith solidified his spot as the Heisman frontrunner by breaking a handful of records against Baylor. He completed 45 of 51 passes for 656 yards (a school record) with eight touchdown passes (tying a Big 12 record). He shattered the single-game record for pass efficiency for a quarterback with at least 50 attempts with a rating of 248.05. The previous record was 199.2 held by Louisville quarterback Chris Redman in 1998. By the NFL’s efficiency formula, Smith would have had a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3.

De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon. The Ducks’ all-purpose threat has slowed in conference play. Though he rushed for a touchdown in the 51-26 win over Washington State, Thomas didn’t break the big play against the Cougars. His 54 yards from scrimmage were a season low, which followed only 65 yards from scrimmage against Arizona. Thomas averaged 15.3 yards per touch in three non-conference game compared to 6.7 yards per touch against Pac-12 foes Arizona and Washington State.

Braxton Miller, Ohio State. Miller had has miscues, including three turnovers (two fumbles, one interception) in Michigan State territory, but he was the best player on the field in a 17-16 Ohio State win. Miller was 16-of-23 passing with 179 yards with a touchdown. Meanwhile, he out-dueled Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell in the ground game. Miller rushed for 136 yards on 23 carries compared to 45 yards on 17 carries for Bell. For better or worse, Miller is a one-man show for Ohio State.

Boise State. The Broncos have gone from a perennial BCS contender to a team fighting to escape with a win against New Mexico. The Broncos opened a 25-0 lead in the first half, but the Lobos scored the rare second-half comeback against Boise State, narrowing the lead to a field goal in the 32-29 loss.

Texas Tech's defense. The Red Raiders' improved defense under first-year coordinator Art Kaufman may be legitimate after all. Texas Tech entered the week leading the nation in total defense and pass efficiency defense only a year after finishing in the bottom 10 nationally in those categories. Texas Tech remained in the national lead in both categories after holding Iowa State to 189 total yards. Cyclones quarterbacks were 10-of-20 for 73 yards with three interceptions. Kaufman, Tech’s fourth defensive coordinator in four seasons, may have staying power.

Duke. With a 34-27 win over Wake Forest, Duke (4-1) is off to its best start since starting 7-0 in 1994. But the news isn’t all good: Quarterback Sean Renfree left the game with an injury to his throwing elbow. And the road to bowl eligibility will be awfully tough. Only two of Duke’s remaining opponents have losing records -- Virginia and Georgia Tech.

300. How rare is a 300-yard receiving game? Before this season only 15 players topped 300 receiving yards in a game in major college football/FBS history. There had never been more than two 300-yard receivers in any season. In a span of two weeks in 2012, three receivers have topped 300 yards, including two in one game. Arkansas’ Cobi Hamilton (303 yards) did it last week against Rutgers. Baylor’s Terrance Williams (314) and West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey (303) both hit the milestone in the shootout in Morgantown.

1. Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, the top prospect for a handful of recruiting services in the 2012 signing class, recorded his first career touchdown on an 80-yard catch against UCF. Although it was his only catch of the game, it’s the biggest impact he’s had all season. In each of the previous three games, Green-Beckham had only one catch for fewer than 10 yards each.

0. Oregon State is undefeated at the start of October for the first time since 2000, the year the Beavers reached the Fiesta Bowl under former coach Dennis Erickson. Oregon State needed a touchdown pass from Sean Mannion in the final 1:09 to defeat Arizona 38-35 in Tucson, but don’t forget first-quarter success for Oregon State: The Beavers haven’t allowed a first quarter point all season in wins over Wisconsin, UCLA and Arizona.


Nick Florence, Baylor (581 yards vs. West Virginia)
Stephen Morris, Miami (566 yards vs. NC State)
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (453 yards vs. Arkansas)
LSU 38, Towson 22
MTSU 49, Georgia Tech 28
Stony Brook 23, Army 3

Can Geno Smith challenge the single-season touchdown record? With eight touchdown passes against Baylor, Smith has 20 TD passes this season. That pace will give him a chance to break the single-season record of 58 set by Hawaii’s Colt Brennan in 2006. Brennan had 14 touchdowns in his first four games that season and 21 in his most prolific four-game stretch. With five touchdown passes per game, Smith is ahead of the per game mark set by Houston’s David Klingler (4.9) in 1990.

Can West Virginia locate a title-capable defense? The Mountaineers needed every bit of their 807 total yards and Smith’s 656 passing yards. Their defense wasn’t as bad as Baylor’s, but it wasn’t good enough to win a Big 12 title, either. West Virginia gave up 700 total yards, 581 passing yards and 63 points. The Mountaineers were putrid in the big play department: West Virginia had one sack and one takeaway while allowing Baylor to convert 11 of 16 third downs.

Is West Virginia’s elite receiving duo now a trio? Stedman Bailey had 303 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Tavon Austin added 215 yards and two touchdowns. Yet the best catch of the day came from third receiver J.D. Woods in the fourth quarter with a one-handed diving grab. After catching 14 passes in the first three games, Woods broke out 13 catches for 114 yards, making him the fifth-most productive receiver in the game. But at 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, he gives West Virginia a big target to complement the sub-6-foot Bailey and Austin.

Kain Colter, Northwestern. The Wildcats returned starting quarterback Colter to the all-purpose role he enjoyed last season. That may be where he stays with Trevor Siemian at quarterback. In a 44-29 win over Indiana, Colter topped 100 yards both rushing (161) and receiving (131) and ran for four touchdowns.

Matt McGloin, Penn State. The most glaring weakness of the Nittany Lions offense is now its greatest strength thanks to coach Bill O’Brien’s work with Matt McGloin. The one-time walk-on was 18 of 30 for 211 yards with a touchdown in the 35-7 win at Illinois. He also rushed for two scores. In five games in 2012, McGloin already has matched Penn State’s passing touchdowns (10) and 200-yard passing games (four) from all of last season.

Mark Weisman, Iowa. After facing an FCS team (Northern Iowa) and having his effort spoiled by a loss (Central Michigan), Weisman can bask in the experience of a key win for the Hawkeyes. The former fullback who transferred from Air Force rushed for 177 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries against Minnesota (4-1). Weisman has rushed for 507 yards and seven touchdowns in the last three games.

Oregon State
Georgia at South Carolina
West Virginia at Texas
Nebraska at Ohio State

LSU. The Tigers trailed Towson 9-7 before the final 2:52 of the first half. The Tigers pulled away to a 38-22 win, but LSU’s offense didn’t look ready to challenge Alabama in the SEC West. LSU rushed for 158 yards with nearly half of that coming from a 78-yard Russell Shepard touchdown run in the first quarter. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger was 15 of 26 for 238 yards with two touchdowns while taking four sacks.

South Carolina. A week before facing SEC East foe Georgia, the Gamecocks sleepwalked through the first half against Kentucky, trailing 17-7 at halftime. South Carolina clamped down on both sides of the ball with four touchdowns, a field goal and two interceptions of Kentucky in the second half to win 38-17.

Alabama. The Crimson Tide didn’t get caught napping like LSU and South Carolina did, but Alabama did trail in regulation for the first time since the 9-6 loss to LSU on Oct. 22 when Ole Miss took a 7-6 lead with 13:40 to go in the first second quarter. Alabama’s deficit was short-lived as Christion Jones took the ensuing kickoff back 99 yards for a touchdown on the way to a 33-14 win.

Ohio. The day began with only three undefeated teams outside of the six major conferences and ended that way. But none came closer to their first loss than Ohio. The Bobcats faced their biggest scare of the season against perhaps the worst team on their schedule. UMass, in its first season as an FBS program, led by a touchdown going into the fourth quarter, and Ohio had to sweat out a final Minutemen drive in its own territory to win 37-34.

Louisiana Tech. The Bulldogs fell behind 24-10 in the second quarter against Virginia, but the Bulldogs answered with 34 unanswered points for a 44-38 win. Louisiana Tech’s offense was held to under 400 yards for the first time this season, capitalizing on three Virginia interceptions instead. Louisiana Tech has two road wins over major conference competition (Illinois, Virginia) with a game against Texas A&M looming on Oct. 13.

UTSA. Not a bad start for Texas-San Antonio in its first season in the FBS as the Roadrunners defeated New Mexico State 35-14. Former Miami coach Larry Coker has led the Roadrunners to a 5-0 start. Before securing its first conference win against New Mexico State, UTSA had defeated a fellow first-year FBS program (South Alabama), an FCS team (Georgia State) and two Division II teams (Texas A&M-Commerce and Northwestern Oklahoma).

By David Fox


<p> College Football Week 5 Recap: West Virginia, Georgia light up scoreboards</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 10:59
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-4-fred-jackson-cj-spiller-reggie-bush-0

There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 4 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and what you should consider.

Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, Buffalo Bills RBs vs. New England Patriots

Fred JacksonBoth injured running backs practiced and both are listed as questionable for today’s game with the visiting New England Patriots.

Good news: It’s nice to see the two running backs, injured so early in the season, already back on the practice field. Jackson is battling a knee sprain suffered in Week 1, while Spiller went out early in last week’s game against Cleveland with a shoulder injury.

Bad news: We went from the thoughts of “Will Jackson get his starting job back when he returns?” to a return to the muddiness that is the Buffalo backfield situation.

Spiller could not have looked any better in Jackson’s sted — back-to-back 25-plus-point fantasy days and was already at 12.8 in a PPR when he was injured in the first quarter.

Jackson looks like he will go today, knee brace and all, but you have to question at what capacity will that be? Then there’s Tashard Choice, who ran for 91 yards on 20 carries in the absence of Spiller last week.

Whichever back goes, they get a Patriots defense that just allowed Ray Rice to post 150 all-purpose yards, five catches and a score — where was that Thursday night, Ray? But I digress. But it’s hard to trust anyone in the Bills’ backfield today or until either Jackson or Spiller is listed as fully healthy, and then we get to return to the decision that was: Do I start Spiller or Jackson?


Reggie Bush, Miami Dolphins RB vs. Arizona Cardinals

Reggie Bush, Miami DolphinsMiami’s Reggie Bush says “I’m playing Sunday,” but acknowledged this week that is also a coach’s decision. The running back suffered a sprained left knee in the first half against the Jets in Week 3 and is listed as questionable for today’s late-afternoon start.

Gotta love it: A productive back who says he will play but also has a late game against a stingy defense. That’s not my kind of fantasy.

Here’s what the Dolphins and Bush, were he to suit up, face today: An Arizona team has not given up much in either the passing or running game.

The Cardinals have allowed just two touchdowns through the air and also snagged two interceptions. Only Tom Brady has a plus-15-point fantasy day (16.5) against them thus far. Think Miami rookie QB Ryan Tannehill will threaten that?

Then there’s the Arizona rush defense. No touchdowns have been surrendered to a tailback — on the ground or in the air — and in non-PPRs no back has reached double digits. Even in PPRs, Marshawn Lynch (10.7) and LeSean McCoy (11) just barely cracked the double-digit barrier.

I’m sorry, but if a semi-healthy Lynch and healthy McCoy didn’t get it done against Arizona, a questionable Bush with a knee injury in a late game is going nowhere near my lineup.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Post date: Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 07:35
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-4-matthew-stafford-matt-forte-willis-mcgahee-1

There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 4 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and what you should consider.

Matthew StaffordMatthew Stafford, Detroit Lions QB vs. Minnesota Vikings

The quarterback injured his right hip in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter of the Lions’ game at Tennessee in Week 3. He returned to practice on Thursday, practiced in full on Friday and should be healthy enough to go against the visiting Minnesota Vikings.

If Stafford’s playing then you’re playing him.

The Vikings’ defense is ranked 18th against opposing fantasy quarterbacks, but they have not faced anything close to a QB like Stafford. Minnesota has played Blaine Gabbert, Andrew Luck and Alex Smith. All three quarterbacks have thrown for at least 200 yards and the Vikings have surrendered five touchdowns to one interception.

In two games against Minnesota last season, Stafford threw for 302.5 yards per game with four touchdowns and no interceptions.


Matt ForteMatt Forte, Chicago Bears RB vs. Dallas Cowboys (Monday night)

“Matt Forte continues to get better” and “he’s questionable for the game” Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith said this week of his star running back who returned to practice this week as he battles an ankle injury suffered Sept. 13.

Does he “get better” enough to play Monday night in Dallas? Is this a decoy to make the Cowboys waste time preparing for Forte, who thinks he will play.

Unless you have Michael Bush, it’d be pretty irresponsible to have Forte in your starting lineup when games kickoff today. And don’t go grab Felix Jones, Khalil Bell or Armando Allen as a fail-safe, either. This is why you draft, and hopefully you drafted qualify backups to address injured players like Forte.

As a Forte owner in multiple leagues, I would like to see him sit the next two weeks, get another week of rest during the Week 6 bye and then be at full strength when he has to face run defenses like Houston, San Francisco, Seattle, Minnesota twice and Arizona the rest of the fantasy season.

Yikes. Maybe he should play these next two weeks, have great success and then we can sell high.


Willis McGahee, Denver Broncos RB vs. Oakland Raiders

Denver running back Willis McGahee is listed as probable after a rib injury he suffered against Houston last week. The Broncos play host to the Raiders in a late game Sunday afternoon, so a probable, 30-year-old running back with a rib injury does not necessarily scream confident start. 

However, McGahee said this week “all systems go on my end,” and he does have 50 carries on the season — 30 more than his other backfield mates combined.

Oakland’s defense is ranked 25th against fantasy running backs. The Raiders have only faced one true feature back in Reggie Bush. He ran for 172 yards and two scores and caught another three balls for 25 yards.  San Diego and Pittsburgh combined for just 35 running back carries against the Raiders for 68 yards — but Oakland allowed 231 yards and a score and 384 yards and four scores through the air with no interceptions in either game.

So this could tell you two things: An injured McGahee might not be needed as much and Peyton Manning could have a field day against this Raiders’ secondary.

If you have a better option than McGahee, I might go with it.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Post date: Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 07:18
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-4-hakeem-nicks-dwayne-bowe-dexter-mccluster

There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 4 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and what you should consider.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday night)

Hakeem NicksWe’ve gone from foot to knee with high draft pick Hakeem Nicks and the Giants receiver will miss his second straight game after being declared out on Saturday.

What a tease.

We should’ve been happy that he was out there for the Wednesday night kickoff in Week 1 and followed up a lukewarm opener with a 10-for-199 and a touchdown performance in Week 2. However, he injured his knee in that receiving clinic against Tampa Bay and now we start to get worried.

We heard he was close last week before not even traveling with the team to Carolina for last Thursday’s game Carolina. Then news started circulating on Friday he went from meh to doubtful to Saturday being listed as out for the Sunday night game against the Eagles.

Time to start worrying about Nicks?

Well, Eli Manning has a reliable tight end again in Martellus Bennett. I called Bennett a “value” in this year’s Athlon Sports Fantasy Magazine, noting that when Manning had a reliable tight end from 2005-10, that position averaged 49.7 catches, 607.5 yards and 5.5. TDs over those six seasons — or 143.5 points for a season in PPR, which is easily top-10 tight end material.

Manning has Victor Cruz still doing his thing. Manning has Ramses Barden stepping in for Nicks last week to the tune of 10 catches for 162 yards.

Nicks has yet to play 16 games in a season and injuries are becoming a concern. Barden is available in 74 percent of Yahoo leagues as of this writing and is at least a WR3 or flex play tonight.

Dwayne Bowe WR and Dexter McCluster, RB/WR, Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers

Dexter McClusterDwayne Bowe is questionable with a groin injury but likely to play and Dexter McCluster is also questionable after suffering the nasty elbow injury last week against New Orleans.

Bowe appeared on the injury report Thursday and but did have a limited outing on Friday. McCluster, listed as a RB/WR in Yahoo leagues, a RB in ESPN leagues and a WR in CBS leagues, saw light work on Friday.

There’s a chance both are game-time decisions but can you start either against a San Diego defense that is fifth against fantasy receivers? The Chargers have allowed three touchdowns but no receiver has more than five catches of 67 yards and they have faced a pass-happy Carson Palmer, Jake Locker when the Titans were getting blown out and Matt Ryan, who spread 15 targets, 10 catches, 122 yards and a score to Julio Jones and Roddy White.

If Bowe goes you start him. He has 31 targets the last two games and 37 for the season. He has turned that into 18 catches for 234 yards and two scores — and he’s in a contract year.

McCluster, after receiving 10 targets the first week (six catches for 82 yards), he has received nine combined the last two weeks for seven catches and 60 yards.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Post date: Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 07:15
Path: /nfl/new-york-giants-vs-philadelphia-eagles-preview-and-prediction

Two teams coming off drastically different Week 3 results will battle tonight when the Philadelphia Eagles host the New York Giants at 8:20 pm EST on NBC. The defending Super Bowl champions went to Carolina 10 days ago and absolutely dominated the Panthers 36-7. On the other hand, the Eagles traveled to Arizona last Sunday and were blown out by the Cardinals by a 27-6 mark. Philadelphia has owned this rivalry in recent years, winning seven of the last eight contests including a playoff game.

When the Philadelphia Eagles have the ball:
The Philly offense has put up major yardage (1,249) through three games but only has 47 points to show for the effort. The obvious factor in the lack of scoring is turnovers, and the Eagles lead the league with 12. Quarterback Michael Vick was harassed into five sacks and two fumbles against Arizona, and the banged-up Philadelphia offensive line must play better versus New York. The Eagles will need to get elite back LeSean McCoy more than the 16 touches he had last week.

The Giants defense has played decently versus the run but has given up 785 passing yards in three games. The vaunted New York pass rush will look to improve on its six sacks this season, but the Giants do have six interceptions on the year. The key against Philadelphia will be stopping McCoy on the ground and forcing Vick into more mistakes and turnovers.

When the New York Giants have the ball:
Quarterback Eli Manning already has 1,011 passing yards, and he has found some new weapons this season. Tight end Martellus Bennett has 15 receptions and three touchdowns on the year, and backup receiver Ramses Barden got the start in place of ailing wideout Hakeem Nicks (also out tonight) against Carolina and tallied nine catches for 138 yards. New York also had a big-time performance against the Panthers from backup running back Andre Brown, who produced 113 rushing yards and two touchdowns filling in for the injured Ahmad Bradshaw.

The Philly defense ranks fifth in the NFL, including third-best in the league against the pass. The Eagles allowed only 29 rushing yards in last November’s win over the G-men, and they will need a repeat performance on Sunday night. If Juan Castillo’s group can stop the New York running attack, then it will have an opportunity to harass Manning. The Eagles have five interceptions and seven sacks this season, and they will need to force the Giants into a lack of balance.

Key Factor:
This divisional battle should be a tight contest, and winning the turnover battle will be critical. The Eagles have been able to move the ball all season, but the giveaways have to stop to stay in the NFC East race. Manning has been solid through the three games, but the Eagles pass defense will provide a major challenge. We’ll go with Eagles to protect the ball and win a close one in front of a raucous Philadelphia crowd.

Eagles 27 Giants 24

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> New York Giants vs. Philadelphia Eagles Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 07:15
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-4-pierre-garcon-evan-royster-stephen-hill

There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 4 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and what you should consider.

Pierre Garcon, WR and Evan Royster RB, Washington Redskins vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Pierre GarconPierre Garcon is still living off the 88-yard screen pass for a score he caught in Week 1 against the Saints. However, it is that play that has kept the Redskins’ big free-agent signing off the field for the last two games and is expected to do the same this week.

Rich Campbell of the Washington Times was told by a source that Garcon would “try to play” in today’s game at Tampa Bay. Of course, it is a late-afternoon game, so there is no try, only do.

Even a try could net Garcon points as the Buccaneers are second to only the Redskins in points allowed to fantasy receivers this season and Garcon caught two balls for 146 yards and two scores against Tampa Bay last season. So how about just those two plays, Pierre and then you can get back to the sidelines?

Evan Royster is dealing with a sprained patellar tendon but did return to a full practice on Friday. Roy Helu is on injured reserve and Ryan Grant just joined the team, so if Royster plays he should have the backup role to Alfred Morris.

In three games this season, Royster has just nine touches for 55 yards.

Since teams are having a field day on the Bucs’ pass defense in fantasy, the rush defense looks respectable — ranked sixth against fantasy running backs. They held Dallas’ DeMarco Murray to 38 yards and a score last week. Andre Brown had 71 yards and a touchdown a week earlier and Carolina rushed just seven times with its RBs in Week 1.

There is no way you are starting Royster in any capacity and Garcon is a WR2 if he plays. Yes, it is a late game for the Redskins-Bucs, but seven of the 14 remaining games in Week 4 are 4:05 starts or later. So there’s a chance that the debate between Garcon and another receiver in your starting lineup can be made without worrying about the 1 p.m. games.

Stephen Hill, WR, New York Jets vs. San Francisco 49ers

You weren’t thinking of starting Stephen Hill were you? He’s not even on your redraft-league roster anymore, right?

Well, just in case the answer is yes to either, the rookie receiver from Georgia Tech did not practice all week as he battles a hamstring injury and is listed as doubtful for today’s early game against San Francisco.

Hill is also battling not having any catches the last two weeks.

After his Week 1 statline read six targets, five catches, 89 yards and two scores he was one of the top waiver wire claims. Forgetting that Mark Sanchez was his quarterback, fantasy owners ran to the wire to grab Hill. The next two weeks have included nine targets, including seven last week, with no catches.

Jeremy Kerley, already a double-digit fantasy scorer in PPR leagues twice this season, will benefit from no Hill. San Francisco is ranked 14th against fantasy receivers but the Jets are ninth-best in the league when it comes to production from fantasy receivers.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Post date: Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 07:11
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-4-ahmad-bradshaw-jonathan-stewart-jacob-tamme

There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 4 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and what you should consider.

Ahmad Bradshaw, New York Giants RB vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday night)

Ahmad BradshawAhmad Bradshaw is set to return from a game-and-a-half hiatus after a bulging disk in his neck sidelined the Giants No. 1 running back. In his sted, Andre Brown has looked more than capable of holding down the starting job — 184 yards, three scores and five catches for 36 yards.

Well, great. A No. 1 back already with an injury history, a journeyman back that has made due in his short time as the No. 1 and a Sunday night game.

What do the Giants do with two healthy, productive backs? What do you do with the two backs in your lineup?

Well, first the matchup. The Giants’ defense is taking on Michael Vick, who has looked terrible so far this season and has been more than willing to turn the ball over to the Giants. The Giants love to pass the ball — no matter who’s in or out of the lineup — and for the most part the Eagles have been pretty good at defending that the last year-plus.

So it is back to what do the Giants do with two healthy backs?

Last year when it was Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs — or D.J. Ware in Bradshaw’s absence — let’s just say it was not fun fantasy.

Only four times when both Bradshaw and Jacobs were in together (10 games) did one of the two get over 16 carries. Bradshaw led on three such occasions — 17-4, 26-5 and 16-7 — and Jacobs once at 19-8.

Bradshaw did lead in carries in all but two games in which they played together, and when he did Jacobs was relegated to nine or less carries each of those eight times.

The bright side for Bradshaw last season was that he still had 10 double-digit fantasy days. The dark side is that Brown certainly brings something different than Jacobs did last year.

This is a tough call to make, particularly with it being a Sunday night game.

I would still roll with Brown for one week on the assumption Bradshaw is eased back in and hope for the best. This would almost be a show-me game to see how Bradshaw looks and if he blows up, oh well, you know he’s back and pop in the lineup for Week 5.

Jonathan Stewart, Carolina RB vs. Atlanta Falcons

Jonathan StewartMuch like the Giants’ running back situation, two healthy backs is not necessarily a good thing in regards to fantasy.

Jonathan Stewart has battled a toe injury and that’s about as non-knee related bad as it can get for a running back. He’s great when he plays but he also has DeAngelo Williams and Mike Tolbert to contend with, in addition to QB Cam Newton running the ball.

This offense looked miserable last Thursday against the Giants and the Falcons don’t offer much of a reprieve.

But back to the usage of backs.

Stewart played in all 16 games last season, starting three and carrying 142 times for 761 yards and four scores. His 47 catches for 413 yards and a score made the low carries somewhat tolerable. Williams played in 16, started in 14 and had 155 carries for 836 yards and seven scores. He added 16 catches for 135 yards. Then the team adds Tolbert, the TD vulture/replacement for whichever of the starters inevitably goes down.

I have never drafted any of these three in any league in any year and I am in eight leagues per season. I just don’t want to deal with headaches like this. And now we add the fact that they take on a Falcons team that actually knows how to play defense now.

Willis McGahee’s 25.4 points in PPR leagues makes him the only back to go above 12 points this season against the Falcons, and it took him getting 24 of Denver’s 30 RB touches to do that.

It’s hard to picture Carolina hanging around for long in this one, and it’s hard to picture any one of these three backs being a factor. You might get an early score or a very late score from one, but wouldn’t you rather trust someone that can continue to produce in the middle 30 minutes?

Jacob Tamme, Denver Broncos TE vs. Oakland Raiders

OK, when I saw Jacob Tamme go down against the Texans last week and there was a tear in his sock I thought for sure that was a bone coming through. I watched that thing on the DVR like the Zapruder film. There was no tear in the sock when he ran the route and when the play ended, he was hurt and there was a tear in the sock.

Move along further in the game, and Tamme was out there when the Broncos made their last-ditch effort with the multiple laterals on the final play and it was Tamme who last touched the ball. I went from thinking: “Did I just see an L.T.-Theismann injury?" To "does Tamme lose points for touching the last lateral?”

When it was all said and done, Tamme ends up on the injury report this week as probable with a groin injury. He is likely to play and is getting looks from QB Peyton Manning; he just isn’t doing anything with said looks.

The concern of whether you should’ve drafted Tamme or Joel Dreessen is no longer an issue. Tamme has 19 targets (13th in the league) to Dreessen’s nine. However, Tamme only has 10 catches for 87 yards and a score this season.

Old man Brandon Stokley is a problem as he is getting in the way of more production for Tamme and Eric Decker, but unless you’ve already gone to the wire and picked up Martellus Bennett, Brent Celek or Thursday night bust, Dennis Pitta, then there’s really nowhere you can go at tight end.

If Tamme is playing you play him and take solace in the fact that the Broncos take on a Raiders team that is 23rd against fantasy tight ends with 19 catches for 263 yards and a score.  

— Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Post date: Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 07:04
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-4-steven-jackson-jeremy-maclin-doug-baldwin

There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 4 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and what you should consider.

Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams vs. Seattle Seahawks

Steven Jackson did not practice until Friday and that was on a limited basis. Now he gets Seattle’s defense — ninth best against fantasy running backs with 119 yards allowed on the ground and two scores and 18 catches for 136 yards and no scores allowed through the passing game.

Jackson is a RB3 — barely — through three weeks of the NFL season. He is the 36th-best fantasy back currently with 41 carries for 140 yards, six catches for 36 yards and no touchdowns via ground or air.

And whether it is Jackson, Daryl Richardson or current bust Isaiah Pead, the Rams are the third-worst team in the league in regards to fantasy RB production. They have just 259 yards and 10 catches for 63 yards with no scores either rushing or receiving.

Jackson ran for 42 yards with three catches for 19 yards in the first meeting at Seattle last season (Week 11) and followed with a 20-for-63-yard performance on the ground, a 3-for-60 performance through the air and one rushing score in a Week 14 home game.

The ONLY saving grace for Jackson in this game is his history indoors. He has played 78 of his 118 career games indoors and scored 43 of his 52 rushing touchdowns inside. But that’s where indoors stops.

Since he has nearly doubled his indoor games versus his outdoor games, Jackson’s yards per game and per carry are nearly identical and his catches and receiving yards per game are nearly identical.

Bottom line: If he were to miraculously have a good game today, sell, sell, sell.


Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants (Sunday night)

Listed as probable, Jeremy Maclin practiced in full every day this week and is expected to be back in the lineup Sunday night against the Giants. It is a friendly matchup for Maclin, however, it is a not-so-friendly matchup for his quarterback, Michael Vick.

This is a tough call, due to Vick’s play at quarterback through three weeks.

Do you start a No. 1 receiver against a Giants team that is fifth worst against fantasy receivers this season, having allowed five receivers to eclipsed 70 yards and having allowed five touchdowns?

Or do you think that Vick’s play — six interceptions and three fumbles to three touchdowns — being put to the test against the Giants solid pass rush will make it a bad day for both?

Vick, regardless of his turnovers and TD production, has thrown for 317, 371 and 217 yards in the first three games and Maclin drew a team-high 14 targets in the only full game he’s played this season (Week 1 at Cleveland).

You roll with Maclin, who was Vick’s favorite target at 7.4 a game (13 games) last season, and expect there will be plenty to go around in a game with a line of 47.5.


Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks vs. St. Louis Rams

Doug Baldwin is only being mentioned for two reasons: He is on the injury report (shoulder) and he had a preseason grade that made him a WR4.

Oops! The second-year receiver has three catches for 13 yards on seven targets in two games. He plays with a rookie quarterback in Russell Wilson who has thrown for 153 or less in the first three games and is completing 57 percent of his passes.

You can only play two Seahawks until further notice: RB Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle defense/special teams.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Post date: Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-4-jared-cook-kenny-britt-mikel-leshoure

There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 4 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and what you should consider.

Jared Cook, TE and Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans vs. Houston Texans

Jared Cook is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury that forced an early exit from the Week 3 win over Detroit, which included a 61-yard touchdown for the inconsistent tight end. Kenny Britt, playing in his second game since last year’s season-ending knee injury, also lasted just one half before an ankle injury sent him to the sidelines. He too is listed as questionable.

After not practicing on Wednesday, Cook returned on Thursday and Friday. Now he gets a Texans team that is third best against tight ends, having allowed nine catches for 90 yards and a score through three games. Jacob Tamme had 10 targets for the Broncos against the Texans last week and finished the game with three catches for 31 yards.

And if a three-game sample’s not enough, the Texans were third best in 2011 as well. Cook went 4-for-63 on seven targets in the Week 17 meeting and 2-for-22 and a TD in the Week 7 meeting.

Six targets is the high for Cook this season and he received that number each of the first two weeks. The first week he turned it into four catches for 64 yards and he followed with a 3-for-23 performance in Week 2. Last week, he caught all four of his targets before the injury, finishing with 77 yards and the 61-yard touchdown.

Britt did not practice all week with the bum ankle and is not expected to play. And as they are doing to the tight end position, the Texans are not giving up much to fantasy receivers — also third best against the position. They have allowed just one receiving score to receivers and only 30 of 64 targets have been completed for 402 yards.

Mikel Leshoure, RB, Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings

What an NFL debut Mikel Leshoure had against the Titans last week. Yes, it was the Titans and their miserable run defense — fourth worst against fantasy running backs this year — but it was still his first full-speed, regular-season game since college.

However, following the 26-carry, 100-yard, one-touchdown and four-catch, 34-yard effort, Leshoure enters the Vikings game off of three straight limited practices with a groin injury. He is listed as questionable but is expected to play.

The Lions had no problem with Leshoure being the bellcow against the Titans as Kevin Smith, who had 35 touches the first two weeks, did not touch the ball against Tennessee.

The matchup today for Leshoure is not necessarily favorable. The Vikings are tops in the NFL against fantasy running backs, having allowed no scores and no rusher to eclipse Maurice Jones-Drew’s 77 yards in Week 1. And no back has more than MJD’s three Week 1 receptions.

Conversely, Minnesota is ranked 18th and 20th against fantasy QBs and WRs and Lions’ QB Matthew Stafford enters with a bum hip. Perhaps they rely more on Leshoure, but it is likely you have better options in the running game this week.

It is an early game so you will know the status of all involved.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Post date: Sunday, September 30, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Miami Hurricanes, News
Path: /news/miami-hurricanes-have-pathetic-crowd-against-nc-state

It's no secret Miami has had trouble drawing fans since its home games have moved to Sun Life Stadium. However, Saturday's game against NC State might have been a new low. 

This picture tweeted by @ByCasagrande shows a ridiculously sparse crowd just after the first quarter.

The school announced the attendance was 38,510, but the pictures clearly indicate a crowd less than that number.

Considering Miami was one of college football's premiere programs in the 1990s and early 2000s, the attendance numbers at Sun Life Stadium have to at least stir some discussion about building a venue that's closer to campus.  

<p> Where have Miami Hurricanes' fans gone?</p>
Post date: Saturday, September 29, 2012 - 11:20
Path: /college-football/texas-longhorns-vs-oklahoma-state-cowboys-preview-and-prediction

Kansas State fired the first shot in the Big 12 title race last weekend, and the focus shifts to Oklahoma State and Texas this Saturday. As the Wildcats’ victory over Oklahoma showed last week, the race to win the Big 12 title is wide open. The Cowboys are the defending Big 12 champs, but winning the conference crown won’t be easy with a freshman quarterback. Texas is a team on the rise, but just like Oklahoma State, its title hopes rest on an unproven quarterback.

This will be the first Big 12 contest for both teams and even though it’s still the first month of the season, there’s plenty on the line in this matchup. The Cowboys lost to Arizona in non-conference play, while Texas is 3-0 with wins over Ole Miss, Wyoming and New Mexico.

Storylines to Watch in Texas vs. Oklahoma State

Who will start at quarterback for Oklahoma State?
True freshman Wes Lunt started all three of Oklahoma State’s games this season but suffered a knee injury in the win over Louisiana-Lafayette. The Cowboys did not release an injury report on Friday, so there’s not much clarity in his status. If Lunt can’t play, redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh will get the nod under center. Walsh threw for 347 yards on 21 completions against the Ragin’ Cajuns and added 73 yards and one score on the ground. Lunt is a better pocket passer, while Walsh is more capable of making plays with his legs. By not releasing an injury report, the Cowboys will keep everyone guessing until pregame warmups.

Is Texas' defense ready to dominate?
The Longhorns expected to have one of college football’s best defenses coming into 2012, but they are off to a slow start through the first three games of the season. Texas ranks 34th nationally in yards allowed and 28th in points allowed per game. The numbers aren’t terrible, but this unit is capable of playing at a higher level. The Longhorns suffered a huge blow on Friday night, as linebacker Jordan Hicks was ruled out of Saturday’s game with a hip injury. Considering the non-conference competition wasn’t all that tough, Texas’ coordinator Manny Diaz likely saved a few tricks for Big 12 play. Expect an aggressive gameplan from the Longhorns, while the defensive end combination of Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor will test Oklahoma State’s offensive line.

Can David Ash continue his strong start?
Quarterback play was Texas’ biggest unknown coming into 2012. However, the coaching staff has to feel pretty good about their situation going into Week 5. David Ash has thrown for 703 yards and seven touchdowns through the first three games, while adding 58 yards and one score on the ground. With the depth at running back and talent on defense, Texas doesn’t need Ash to be Colt McCoy. However, he needs to make a few big plays and most importantly, take care of the ball. Oklahoma State’s defense is allowing 27.7 points per game and gave up 320 passing yards to Arizona’s Matt Scott. With those numbers in mind, Ash will have opportunities to make plays through the air, and he may need to hit a few passes to help open up rushing lanes.

Final Analysis

It’s only the first Big 12 game for both teams, but this is a key contest in the conference title picture. This matchup is a good barometer of where both teams stand on a national level and provide a little clarity to a Big 12 title race that should be very competitive. Oklahoma State is still an unknown, largely due to the uncertain quarterback situation. With a win in Stillwater, Texas can stamp its place as a top-10 team and a national title contender.

Expect the Longhorns to turn up the intensity on defense, as they will key on stopping Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle. Stopping Randle is no easy task, but Texas wants Walsh or Lunt to prove they can win this game through the air. The Longhorns' offense won’t hit many big plays, but quarterback David Ash will do just enough to win. 

Prediction: Texas 31-24

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 5 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 4

<p> Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Saturday, September 29, 2012 - 07:53
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Links, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlon%E2%80%99s-essential-eleven-links-day-18

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for September 28.

• Bob Condotta of The Seattle Times has the story on Washington’s upset of No. 8 Stanford last night at CenturyLink Field.

• The Ravens beat the Browns, 23-16, last night to move to 3-1 on the season. However, the Baltimore defense has looked vulnerable through four games.

• presents some of the best Oktoberfest beers for your enjoyment.

• Dave Miller of the National Football Post looks at the upcoming make-or-break stretch for Tennessee’s Derek Dooley.

• ESPN Big Ten blogger Brian Bennett previews the Ohio State-Michigan State matchup, where Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller could be the difference.

• Gotta love this guy making the most of a flood.

• CBS’ Jeff Goodman has a good piece on the maturation of Mountain West Player of the Year Jamaal Franklin of San Diego State.

• Who will get the blame if the Angels miss the playoffs after an offseason of huge spending?

• The 0-3 New Orleans Saints have the difficult task of facing a must-win at Lambeau Field against the 1-2 Packers.

• The NBA is going to enact procedures against floppers. Vlade Divac already retired, right?

The regular NFL officials are back, and we look forward to more moments like this one.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

September 27

• When the Ravens and Browns meet tonight, the regular NFL officials will return to the field after reaching a labor agreement with the league. It will be nice to have Ed Hochuli, Mike Carey and the old crew back blowing calls.

Omaha World-Herald columnist Tom Shatel looks at the incredible legacy on Nebraska’s Tom Osborne, who will retire at the end of the year.

• They couldn't just call it 'chicken' soup?!

• CBS’ Dennis Dodd details the struggles of Big Ten football.

• Georgia and Tennessee will meet in a big SEC East contest on Saturday. Instead of breaking down quarterbacks and 3-4 defenses, we’ll let these cheerleaders get you fired up for the game. Enjoy.

• Rangers third baseman and former Dodger Adrian Beltre reacts to Eric Gagne’s claim that 80 percent of his teammates were using performance-enhancing drugs.

• The Michigan State defense against elusive Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller will be a great matchup this weekend.

• SB Nation ranks the top 100 college basketball players for the 2012-13 season.

• It must be getting near October when Jon Gruden’s name starts being mentioned by SEC fans.

• So Seahawks receiver Golden Tate now admits he pushed off on Green Bay’s Sam Shields on the last play of the Monday Night Football debacle? Thanks for clearing that up big man.

• The South Park character Butters came out with a new “energy drink” on last night’s episode. The fact that the commercial for “Butters’ creamy goo” involved Tom Brady and Jim Rome just makes perfect sense.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

September 26

• ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reports that a deal between the NFL and its regular referees is imminent, with a goal of the officials returning this weekend. 

• Former Cy Young winner Eric Gagne has a new book in which he states that 80 percent of his Dodgers teammates were using performance-enhancing drugs.

• looks at the league’s inconsistent policy on suspending players for helmet-to-helmet hits this season.

• It looks like Carmen from Spy Kids has, uh, grown up a little.

• The University of Minnesota-Crookston had a little issue painting the logo on its football field. Great Googly Moogly!

• Mississippi State will wear all-white uniforms against Texas A&M on November 3, commemorating when the schools played in a blizzard in the 2000 Independence Bowl.

• Does Oklahoma still have elite talent?

• The National League Cy Young decision will be a very interesting vote.

• Infamous Alabama fan, Harvey Updyke, is back in trouble. Shocker.

• The health news for North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams has been positive after his surgery to remove a tumor from his kidney.

• A little Green Bay local news humor after the Packers were robbed on Monday Night Football.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

September 25

• All of the NFL conversation today is focused on the botched call by the replacement referees that cost the Packers a win in Seattle on Monday Night Football. ESPN NFC North blogger Kevin Seifert says the league got what it deserved with its substitute officials.

• The Packers-Seahawks debacle was the latest and most egregious of many blown calls by the replacement referees this season, and it set off a media and social network firestorm.

• Bleacher Report’s Michael Felder looks at the SEC’s current rankings and what some pollsters may do later in the year to teams from college football’s best league.

• Notre Dame has decided to cancel its rivalry game with Michigan after 2014, obviously influenced by the future agreement to play five ACC opponents per season.

These are going to become way too popular with the NFL’s current officiating mess.

• Yahoo’s Jeff Passan has an interesting piece on the handling of White Sox ace Chris Sale versus that of Stephen Strasburg.

• Are the Falcons the NFL’s best team?

• NC State has a good shot at winning its first ACC basketball title in over 20 years.

• Apparently caffeine intake caused blurred vision for Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton.

• looks at the best concerts left in 2012.

• Iman Shumpert of the New York Knicks decides to do a little iPhone 5 testing.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

September 24

• Don Banks of Sports Illustrated looks at the inspiring performance of Ravens receiver Torrey Smith, who starred in a win over the Patriots after his younger brother died in a motorcycle accident earlier in the day.

• The Jets worst fears came true today with the announcement that All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis will undergo season-ending surgery for a torn ACL.

• I think we all should strive to live our lives a little more like “Flathead” every day.

• ESPN Notre Dame blogger Matt Fortuna looks at the huge Irish win over Michigan, which now has ND standing at 4-0.

• The Florida State Seminoles also made a statement on Saturday night with their 49-37 win over Clemson.

• If you live in or have visited California, then you are probably aware of the popularity of “In-and-Out” burgers. Kudos to Oregon State coach Mike Riley for taking the Beavers there after defeating UCLA, 27-20, at the Rose Bowl.

• Could Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera win the American League triple crown, but not the MVP?

• The Titans won a 44-41 overtime thriller over the Lions in one of the wildest, big-play games that the NFL has ever seen.

• Check out this comparison of South Carolina’s Ace Sanders punt return this weekend against Missouri to some Tecmo Bowl video.
• The knee injury to Dolphins running back Reggie Bush may not be as severe as Miami feared.

• So you want to play quarterback in the National Football League? Check out the vicious hit Joe Mays of the Broncos puts on Houston’s Matt Schaub. Ouch.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 12:00
Path: /nfl/nfl-picks-against-spread-week-4

A betting preview of every game (against the spread) on Sunday and Monday in Week 4.

Locks of the Week
Both of these teams have something to prove after shocking results last week.

Seahawks (-3) at Rams
Marshawn Lynch was in “Beast Mode” against the Rams last season, rushing for a combined 203 yards and two TDs in two wins — a 24–7 triumph at St. Louis in Week 11 and a 30–13 victory at home in Week 14. And if it comes down to the final play, you know Golden Tate has got this in the bag.

Bengals (-3) at Jaguars
This is a catfight between two second-year signal-callers, Andy Dalton and Blaine Gabbert. The Jags are probably still hung over after their upset of the Colts last week.

Patriots (-4.5) at Bills
Tom Brady carries an 18–2 mark against the Bills, although one of those two losses did come last season in a 34–31 Week 3 defeat in Buffalo.

Straight Up Upsets
These underdogs don’t look as good as Kate Upton’s Twitter pics, but they look good.

Giants (+1) at Eagles
The Big Blue Wrecking Crew should be able to take advantage of Michael Vick, who has already thrown six INTs and lost three of his five fumbles this season.

Redskins (+3) at Buccaneers
Ride the RG3 bandwagon until the wheels fall off, the rookie has 956 total yards, seven total TDs and just two turnovers through three games.

Backdoor Covers
These underdogs may or may not pull off the straight up upset, but they should keep it close enough to cash in.

Vikings (+4.5) at Lions
The Vikes are riding high after their upset of the 49ers, while the Lions are looking shaky after an epic overtime defeat against the Titans — in a game that Matthew Stafford left injured.

Saints (+8) at Packers
It’s do or die for New Orleans. Sure, Green Bay will be fired up. But the Pack will also be emotionally drained after the Golden Gate fiasco, the short week after Monday night and long flight from Seattle.

Sucker Bets
Stay away completely. These games are meant for local yokels who always bet on their home team, or for degenerates who always have to have action.

Chargers (-1) at Chiefs
Arrowhead ain’t easy. This is a coin toss contest, just like the line says.

Cowboys (-3.5) vs. Bears
Two quarterbacks — Tony Romo and Jay Cutler — with a reputation of stinking it up on national television; this one could go down to the final INT.

49ers (-4.5) at Jets
The Niners looked like an unstoppable juggernaut in Weeks 1 and 2 before choking out in Week 3. Now without Darrelle Revis, the Jets could be in trouble against San Fran.

Cardinals (-6) vs. Dolphins
The rising Phoenix has been on fire thus far this season.

Broncos (-7) vs. Raiders
Still not sure which Peyton Manning will show up. Once the most reliable player around, No. 18 is a wild card until further notice.

Falcons (-7.5) vs. Panthers
A division showdown in Cam Newton’s hometown — where he lost 31–17 in Week 6 last season.

Texans (-12) vs. Titans
The old Houston Oilers return to face the new Houston Texans. It will be tough for CJ1YPC to have a breakout game against the Texans defense.

<p> A gambling preview of every game (against the spread) on Sunday and Monday in Week 4, including Seattle Seahawks at St. Louis Rams, Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars, New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants, Chicago Bears at Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans and San Francisco 49ers at New York Jets.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 09:46
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-5-0

College football’s fifth weekend of action is highlighted Texas' trip to Stillwater to face Oklahoma State, Ohio State's battle with Michigan State and West Virginia's first Big 12 game vs. Baylor. Here’s a prediction on every game this weekend.


No. 110 Hawaii at No. 55 BYU
Norm Chow, the noted offensive guru, is off to a rocky start in his first season as a head coach. The Warriors lost last week at home to Nevada 69–24 to drop to 1–2. The offense is ranked 102nd in the nation, and the defense has given up a total of 118 points in two games vs. FBS foes.
BYU 41-17


No. 75 Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama
In its only game vs. a quality opponent (Texas in Oxford), Ole Miss gave up 350 yards on the ground. That’s an alarming number for a team that is preparing to visit Tuscaloosa to take on the mighty Crimson Tide.
Alabama 49-7

Towson at No. 2 LSU
Towson made the most dramatic improvement in the Division I ranks last season, improving from 1–10 in 2010 to 9–3 in ’11.
LSU 41-0

No. 3 Oregon at No. 100 Washington State
Maybe we expected too much too soon out of Mike Leach at Washington State, but the Cougars have been a disappointment in 2012. The record is a respectable 2–2, but they only beat Eastern Washington by four and UNLV by eight and lost last week at home to Colorado.
Oregon 51-10

No. 42 Tennessee at No. 4 Georgia
This is the eighth time in the Derek Dooley era that Tennessee has been an underdog of 13 points or more. That happened only three times in the 13 seasons prior to Dooley’s arrival.
Georgia 38-17

No. 5 Florida State at No. 57 South Florida
Florida State announced itself as a legitimate national title contender with a 49–37 win over Clemson Saturday night. Now it’s time for the Seminoles to show they can handle prosperity against a South Florida team that lost last week at Ball State.
Florida State 31-13

No. 7 South Carolina at No. 81 Kentucky
We all remember the Saturday night in Lexington two years ago when Kentucky stormed back from a 28–10 deficit in the third quarter to steal a 31–28 victory from South Carolina, ranked No. 10 at the time. That, however, is the only time the Gamecocks have lost to Kentucky since the turn of the century. Carolina has won 11 of the past 12 vs. the Wildcats, highlighted by last season’s 54–3 beatdown in Columbia.
South Carolina 27-6

No. 8 Texas at No. 26 Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State has sandwiched lopsided wins vs. inferior opponents (Savannah State and UL Lafayette) around a 59–38 loss at Arizona. The Pokes are allowing 438.5 yards per game vs. FBS foes. Look for the outstanding Texas defensive line to make life difficult for the Oklahoma State quarterback — either true freshman Wes Lunt (if healthy) or redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh.
Texas 31-17

No. 11 Ohio State at No. 21 Michigan State
Ohio State has struggled on defense the past two weeks, giving up 512 and 403 yards to California and UAB, respectively. The major issue has been stopping the pass; the Bucks currently rank 104th in the nation in pass defense, allowing 277.3 yards per game. Good thing for Ohio State that Michigan State has so much trouble with the forward pass.
Ohio State 17-13

No. 38 Baylor at No. 12 West Virginia

West Virginia is putting up gaudy numbers in the passing game: Quarterback Geno Smith ranks second nationally in total offense, and WVU has two players (Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey) ranked among the top 10 nationally in receiving yards per game. This is an underrated matchup on a rather ordinary slate of games. 

West Virginia 44-34

No. 17 Clemson at No. 74 Boston College
Clemson scored 37 points and gained 426 yards of offense on the road yet still lost by 12 points to Florida State. That’s what happens when your defense allows the opposition to average 8.9 yards per snap. That won’t happen this week.
Clemson 31-14

No. 17 TCU at No. 93 SMU
Here’s an incredible stat (first pointed out by Athlon colleague David Fox): SMU ranks last in the nation in total defense even though the Mustangs did not allow a point in one of its three games. That’s right, SMU is allowing 556.7 yards and 35.7 points per game despite shutting out Stephen F. Austin 52–0 two weeks ago.
TCU 38-13

No. 19 Louisville at No. 96 Southern Miss
These two former C-USA rivals are a combined 4–3. Louisville is 4–0. Southern Miss is 0–3. The Golden Eagles have been brutal on both sides of the ball under first-year coach Ellis Johnson. They rank 115th in the nation in total offense and 104th in total defense.
Louisville 28-7

No. 20 Oregon State at No. 25 Arizona
Expectations were low at Oregon State this season. So naturally, Mike Riley has the Beavers off to a 2–0 start that includes wins against Wisconsin and UCLA. ). Arizona suffered its first defeat of the Rich Rodriguez era on Saturday night, a humbling 49–0 shutout at Oregon. The Wildcats hung around into the second half — they only trailed 13–0 midway through the third — but gave up five touchdowns in the final 22 minutes of the game.
Oregon State 23-17

No. 23 UCLA at No. 99 Colorado
Colorado is back in double-digits in the Athlon Sports 124 after its surprising win at Washington State last Saturday. The Buffaloes had played as poorly as any team in the nation in the first three weeks of the season but somehow found a way to win in Pullman. The winning ways won’t continue.
UCLA 38-13

No. 47 Wisconsin at No. 24 Nebraska
We still don’t know much about Nebraska. The Huskers have defeated three overmatched teams in Lincoln and lost to UCLA in their only game vs. a school from an AQ conference. Even against this soft schedule, Nebraska is having trouble stopping the run. The Huskers have given up 185 yards on the ground to Southern Miss, 355 to UCLA and 148 to Arkansas State. Wisconsin hasn’t been productive on the ground to date, but this is a team that is still capable of running the ball well (we think). 

Nebraska 27-20

No. 28 Boise State at No. 109 New Mexico
Boise State has been held without an offensive touchdown in two of its three games yet is still 2–1 after beating BYU 7–6 last Thursday night. New Mexcio is showing signs of life under first-year coach Bob Davie; the Lobos ended an annoying three-year losing streak to rival New Mexico State with a 27–14 win in Las Cruces last week. I’m sure Walter White was pleased.
Boise State 27-10

No. 60 Arkansas at No. 30 Texas A&M
There are so many words we can use to describe Arkansas’ season to date — debacle, train wreck, dumpster fire, nightmare, etc. One word that can’t be used? Success. Virtually nothing has gone right for the Razorbacks. They are 0–3 vs. FBS opponents, and all three losses have come in the state of Arkansas. Now, John L. Smith takes his show on the road.
Texas A&M 41-20

No. 98 Indiana at No. 31 Northwestern
Northwestern is one of only 15 teams in the nation with a 4–0 record. Three of those wins have come against teams from an AQ conference — Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Boston College. Indiana, meanwhile, has one win vs. an FBS team dating back to the beginning of the 2011 season. That win came in Week 2 against a UMass team that is in its first year in the FBS.
Northwestern 31-23

No. 32 Nevada at No. 106 Texas State
Nevada junior Stefphon Jefferson leads the nation in rushing attempts (122), rushing yards (697) and rushing touchdowns (11). He should run wild this week in San Marcos.
Nevada 41-10

No. 33 Missouri at No. 62 UCF
Missouri finds itself as a three-point underdog on the road to a UCF team that only beat FIU by 13 points last week. The Tigers will be eager to prove that the wrong team is favored.
Missouri 30-28

No. 34 Arizona State at No. 49 California
Unless Zach Maynard, the starting quarterback at Cal, goes down with an injury in the next few days, Arizona State will be facing a team’s No. 1 quarterback for the first time since opening day (vs. Northern Arizona). The Sun Devils played Illinois without Nathan Scheelhaase, Missouri without James Franklin and Utah without Jordan Wynn (who retired from football the week before).
California 27-24

No. 44 Cincinnati vs. No. 35 Virginia Tech (Landover, Md.)
It’s tempting to compare these teams’ common opponent (Cincinnati beat Pitt by 24 points and Pitt beat Virginia Tech by 18 points), but applying the transitive property in college football can be dangerous.

Virginia Tech 27-24

No. 43 NC State at No. 36 Miami (Fla.)
The first thing that comes to mind about Miami football in 2012 is the Canes’ no-show in a 52–13 loss at Kansas State in Week 2. But that’s far from the complete story. Al Golden’s team is 3–1 overall and 2–0 in the ACC with both wins coming on the road. The Canes showed tremendous resolve at Georgia Tech last weekend, rallying from a 36–19 deficit in the second half to defeat the Yellow Jackets in overtime. 

Miami 27-20

No. 118 Middle Tennessee at No. 37 Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech is averaging 42.0 points per game but only has a 2–2 record to show for it — thanks to overtime losses to Virginia Tech and Miami. The Yellow Jackets led Miami last week 36–19 in the second half but surrendered the final 23 points of the game.
Georgia Tech 48-10

No. 52 Texas Tech at No. 39 Iowa State
Keep in mind that the schedule has been ridiculously soft — Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico — but Texas Tech currently ranks first in the nation in total defense (160.3 ypg). That won’t last, especially with Oklahoma, West Virginia, TCU, Kansas State and Texas looming on the Red Raiders’ schedule.
Iowa State 27-23

No. 87 Marshall at No. 40 Purdue
Don’t be surprised if Purdue emerges as one of the better teams in the Big Ten (insert Big Ten joke here). The Boilermakers are 2–1, and their only lose was by three points at Notre Dame.
Purdue 30-17

No. 41 Ohio at No. 124 UMass
Ohio is 4–0 and it’s hard to find a potential loss on the Bobcats’ schedule. UMass is 0-4, and it’s difficult to find a potential win on the Minutemen’s schedule.
Ohio 41-10

No. 46 Louisiana Tech at No. 65 Virginia
Louisiana Tech is 3–0 and has scored over 50 points in all three games. Last week, the Bulldogs disposed of Illinois with surprising ease, beating the Illini 52-24 in Champaign. On a negative note, Tech’s leading rusher, Tevin King, is out for the year after tearing an ACL vs. Illinois.
Louisiana Tech 38-23

No. 101 UNLV at No. 48 Utah State
UNLV suffered a horrible loss in Week 2 (17–14 at home to Northern Arizona), but the Rebels have actually played relatively well in 2012. They have lost two games to AQ conference teams by a combined 11 points (by three to Minnesota in OT and by eight to Washington State), and last week they knocked off Air Force 38–35. Winning in Logan, however, is a tough chore.
Utah State 38-20

No. 50 Minnesota at No. 67 Iowa
It hasn’t exactly been the most difficult slate — and the wins haven’t exactly been dominating — but Minnesota is 4–0 for the first time since 2008. Iowa has played three games vs. AQ conference teams, and all three games have been decided by three points or less. The Hawkeyes beat Northern Illinois by one and lost to Iowa State by three and Central Michigan by one.
Minnesota 21-20

No. 51 ULM at No. 117 Tulane
After opening the 2012 season with three AQ conference teams — and playing quite well in all three — ULM heads to New Orleans to take on a struggling Tulane club. The Green Wave are 0–3 and are coming off a 39–0 loss at home to Ole Miss.
ULM 34-14

No. 53 Western Kentucky at No. 78 Arkansas State
This is a pivotal clash in the Sun Belt. There was no letdown for Western Kentucky last week after its big win at Kentucky. The Hilltoppers pounded Southern Miss 42–17 in Bowling Green to improve to 3–1. Arkansas State is 2–2 but has yet to play a team with comparable abilities. The Red Wolves were big favorites over Memphis and Alcorn State and decided underdogs vs. Oregon and Nebraska.
Western Kentucky 33-30

No. 56 Ball State at No. 104 Kent State
These are two improving programs with outstanding head coaches. Ball State, led by Pete Lembo, is 3–1 with the only loss coming at Clemson. The Cardinals have two wins over AQ conference teams, Indiana and South Florida. Kent State, under the direction of former Ohio State assistant Darrell Hazell is 2–1.
Ball State 33-20

No. 72 Duke at No. 58 Wake Forest
Duke, off to a 3–1 start, appears to be improved, but the Blue Devils have yet to record anything close to a quality win. Wake Forest is also 3–1, and it’s a strange 3–1. The Demon Deacons struggled with Liberty and Army and got blown out (52–0) at Florida State yet beat North Carolina. I smell upset.
Duke 21-20

No. 119 Idaho at No. 59 North Carolina
Idaho made a big move in our weekly rankings, climbing from No. 124 (last) all the way to No. 119. The reason? The Vandals lost in overtime to Wyoming.
North Carolina 41-6

No. 66 Penn State at No. 63 Illinois
Penn State is not a very good team, but the Nittany Lions would be 3–1 if they had a kicker who could make a chip-shot field goal. Illinois has been brutal on defense; the Illini have given up 45 points and 52 points in their two losses (at Arizona State and vs. Louisiana Tech).
Illinois 27-24

No. 73 Toledo at No. 64 Western Michigan
This is a key early season showdown between two teams expectd to be in the hunt for the MAC West title. Western Michigan has played three games vs. AQ conference teams, losing to Illinois (24–7) and Minnesota (28–3) and beating UConn (30–24). Toledo lost in Week 1 in overtime at Arizona. These are two good teams.
Western Michigan 38, Toledo 34

No. 115 Buffalo at No. 68 UConn
As expected, UConn has been very good on defense and very average on offense. The Huskies are 2–2 after losing last week at Western Michigan — their second straight loss to the Broncos.
UConn 30-3

No. 69 Tulsa at No. 97 UAB
Tulsa had a nice win last week, rallying to beat a Fresno State team that had defeated Colorado 69–14 the week before. UAB is 0–3 against a tough schedule. This team isn’t awful.
Tulsa 33-24

No. 94 FIU at No. 76 UL Lafayette
The folks in Lafayette can’t be thrilled that their rivals from the Northeastern part of the state, the ULM Warhawks, have been getting so much national attention.
UL Lafayette 38-30

No. 88 San Diego State at No. 77 Fresno State
With the talent in the state of California, neither of these teams should be ranked so low in our national rankings. Fresno State lost some early season momentum by letting a 13-point first half lead slip away last week at Tulsa.
Fresno State 31-20

No. 95 Central Michigan at No. 79 Northern Illinois
Central Michigan is fresh off its best win of the Dan Enos era, a 32–31 victory at Iowa. Now, we’ll find out if the Chips have staying power. Northern Illinois lost by one point in Week 1 to that same Iowa team but has reeled off three straight since.
Northern Illinois 34-14

No. 85 UTEP at No. 80 East Carolina
East Carolina is struggling on offense without Dominique Davis taking snaps at quarterback. The Pirates rank 118th in the nation in scoring vs. FBS opponents, averaging 13.3 points in three games. The schedule has been tough (South Carolina, Southern Miss and North Carolina, all on the road), but ECU needs to increase its offensive production to be a factor in C-USA East.
East Carolina 21-20

No. 82 San Jose State at No. 89 Navy
San Jose State has won three straight after losing by three points to Stanford in Week 1. The Spartans have scored 38 points or more in all three wins. Navy picked up its first win of the season last week, taking out its early season frustrations on VMI in a 41–3 win. The Middies struggled to score points in their first two games, losses to Notre Dame (50–10) and Penn State (34–7). It will be a bad sign if Navy has trouble moving the ball this weekend.
San Jose State 24-17

No. 86 Troy at No. 121 South Alabama
Troy is 2–2 with two losses (vs. UL Lafayette and Mississippi State) by a combined nine points. The Trojans rolled up 572 yards in the loss to MSU. They should win this game with ease.
Troy 38-13

No. 107 Houston vs. No. 90 Rice
Houston has arguably been the most disappointing team in the nation. Yes, record-setting quarterback Case Keenum is gone, but the Cougars welcomed back 12 starters (including seven on defense) from a team that won 13 games last season. But the 2012 season, under the direction of first-year coach Tony Levine, has been a disaster. Houston has lost all three games, most notably a 30–13 decision at home in Week 1 to FBS upstart Texas State.
Rice 41-37

Rhode Island at No. 92 Bowling Green
Bowling Green looked sharp in a Week 1 loss at Florida but has not played well since. The Falcons struggled at home to beat a bad Idaho team and then lost at Toledo and Virginia Tech by a combined 64–15. Rhode Island is 0–3.
Bowling Green 38-6

No. 113 Colorado State at No. 102 Air Force
It’s an intrastate battle between two struggling programs. Colorado State has dropped three straight since beating Colorado in Week 1. Air Force played well at Michigan in Week 2 but lost to UNLV last weekend. Not good.
Air Force 34-20

Stony Brook at No. 103 Army
Army has scored 77 points in the past two weeks but has nothing to show for it. The Black Knights are 0–3 thanks in large part to a defense that is giving up 491.7 yards and 44.0 points per game.
Army 34-23

No. 105 North Texas at No. 122 FAU
North Texas isn’t bad. The Mean Green are 1–3 but have played relatively well against a tough schedule. Florida Atlantic can catch its breath (to a degree) after playing Georgia and Alabama the past two weeks.
North Texas 30-13

No. 108 Miami (Ohio) at No. 114 Akron
Akron is showing signs of improvement. The Zips, under the direction of Terry Bowden, lost at FIU in overtime in Week 2 and hung with Tennessee until the fourth quarter last weekend in Knoxville.
Akron 28-24

No. 120 Texas-San Antonio at No. 116 New Mexico State
New Mexico State dropped to 1–3 with a disappointing loss at home to rival New Mexico last week. The Aggies were gashed on the ground, giving up 302 yards on 54 carries. UTSA is 4–0 with wins against South Alabama, Texas A&M-Commerce, Georgia State and Northwestern Oklahoma. Not exactly a murderer’s row.
New Mexico State 27-24

Last week: 45-12
Season: 210-49



<p> Predictions on every college football game on the Week 5 schedule. Texas heads to Oklahoma State, Michigan State hosts Ohio State and Tennessee makes the trip to Georgia</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 07:02
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-start-or-sit-week-4

From now until Week 11, every team will get a one-week break from the playing field, which means you obviously won’t be able to start any of those players that given week. Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are the only ones on bye in Week 4, and while it’s just two teams, it still means some owners are out there will have to do without the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Mike Wallace, Reggie Wayne and others this week. Don’t forget that Heath Miller was the top-scoring tight end in all of fantasy football last week.

So as usual, Athlon Sports is here to help you make those important lineup decisions for your Yahoo!, or ESPN fantasy football league with our weekly Start and Sit suggestions. Keep in mind these are merely our suggestions as the ultimate decision comes down to you, the owner.

Week 4 Positional Rankings

Sneaky Start of the Week
Ben Tate, RB, Houston vs. Tennessee
No, Arian Foster’s not hurt, not that I’m aware of anyways, and yes, I do know he’s the lead horse in the Texans’ backfield. However, that does not mean there’s not enough room for two viable fantasy options, especially considering this Sunday’s match up against Tennessee.

First, the Titans are 29th in the league in rushing defense and are giving up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Second, Foster and Tate have shared the load before, and been productive doing so. In Week 2 against Miami, Foster led the way with 28 carries, while Tate got 12, turning them into 74 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 23 yards in that game and has shown himself to be just as reliable as Foster as a receiver.

Last season, Tate scored 9.5 or more fantasy points in eight of the 15 games he played in. Of those eight, three of them came in games in which Foster scored 23.5 or more fantasy points himself. In fact, Foster’s biggest game of the 2011 season was against the Titans in Week 7 when he had more than 115 yards both rushing and receiving and scored three touchdowns (43.9 pts). Despite this, Foster still got 15 carries, which went for 104 yards (10.4 pts).

I’m not saying Foster and Tate are going to run wild like that versus the Titans this time around, although the statistics to this point might suggest otherwise. Rather what I am thinking is that between the Titans’ susceptible rush defense and the Texans’ run-oriented offense, there should be more than enough opportunities to make Tate a very solid flex option this week, if not a borderline RB2, especially if he’s able to find the end zone.

Surprise Sit of the Week
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina at Atlanta
If not for a one-yard touchdown plunge in the third quarter, Newton’s overall line against the Giants last Thursday night would have looked pretty ugly. He completed just 16 of his 30 pass attempts for 242 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. He also was sacked twice and picked up a grand total of five yards on his five other rush attempts.

Prior to the Giants game, Newton had played fairly well. In his first two games, he completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for an average of 227 yards per game. But he had as many interceptions as touchdown passes (two apiece), along with a rushing touchdown and a fumble lost. In total, he currently is No. 18 at his position in fantasy scoring, putting him behind the likes of Michael Vick (and his nine turnovers), second-year signal callers Jake Locker and Christian Ponder, and this year’s No. 1 overall pick, Andrew Luck.

To put it simply, Newton’s fantasy production early on this season is down quite a bit, and I don’t see it getting much better against Atlanta. Last season, Newton scored 78.3 fantasy points through his first three games, which also were the first three games of his NFL career. This season, he’s scored 53.0 fantasy points in his first three games. That’s a difference of 25.3 points or an average of 8.4 points per game.

Then there’s the Falcons defense, which is seventh in the league in pass defense right now and is giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Remember, this is a defense that picked Peyton Manning off three times in the first quarter two weeks ago at home and followed that up by holding Phillip Rivers to just 173 yards through the air, no touchdowns and two interceptions on the road. Newton is still one of the most dangerous players in the league and is always a candidate to break out for a huge game. I just don’t see it happening this week.

Peyton Manning (DEN) vs. Oakland
Yes, I had Manning in the Sit section last week. And even though one could argue he did most of his damage in “garbage” time against the Texans, as the Broncos were trying to come back from a huge deficit, he still delivered. Manning finished with 330 yards, two touchdowns, and most importantly, no interceptions against the Texans, and this week he welcomes Oakland to his new home field. Make that he welcomes with open arms a Raiders defense that’s giving up more than 264 yards through the air and nearly 30 points per game, and has yet to intercept a pass.

Philip Rivers (SD) at Kansas City
Rivers had a forgettable performance last week against Atlanta as he had just 173 yards passing, no touchdowns and threw two picks. His numbers should improve quite a bit this week against Kansas City. While the Falcons are giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, the Chiefs are allowing the third most. The Chiefs have allowed eight touchdown passes and have just one interception in their first three games.

Josh Freeman (TB) vs. Washington
Freeman, like Manning, goes from one side to the other this week if anything because of the opponent. After getting roughed up by Dallas (110 yards, TD, INT, sacked twice) last week, Freeman gets his shot at a Washington defense that’s surrendering the second-most passing yards per game (Tampa is first in this category) and is yielding the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. How bad has it been? Drew Brees, Sam Bradford and Andy Dalton each enjoyed 300-yard, three-touchdown performances against the ‘Skins.

Tony Romo (DAL) vs. Chicago (Monday)
Romo was not able to take advantage of what appeared to be a Start-able situation against Tampa Bay last week, and now finds himself in the exact opposite situation this week. Despite throwing for 283 yards, Romo had just one touchdown and three turnovers (INT, 2 lost fumbles) against the Buccaneers. He could be in for an even rougher Monday night as Chicago is currently sixth in the league in total, rush and pass defense and is giving up the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

Jay Cutler (CHI) at Dallas (Monday)
Cutler was even less impressive than Romo against St. Louis (183 yards, INT) and also faces a much tougher task Monday night against the Dallas defense. The Cowboys are the No. 1 defense in the NFL in yards allowed and are giving up only 137 through the air per game. Pass protection has been an ongoing issue for the Bears, not a good sign for this game, and in his last two games, Cutler has thrown one touchdown pass compared to five interceptions.

Jake Locker (TEN) at Houston
The second-year quarterback had a career day (413 total yards, 2 TD passes) against Detroit last week, so kudos to the kid. But this was against the Lions in a game that was mostly back-and-forth throughout the second half. This week it’s Houston, the No. 2 defense in the league right now and one that’s giving up less than 190 passing yards to the opposition. This also will more than likely be a game in which the Texans will dominate, both on the scoreboard and in terms of time of possession, and one in which I think the Titans will struggle to move the ball. In other words, good luck kid.

Running Backs

BenJarvus Green-Ellis (CIN) at Jacksonville
The Law Firm hasn’t exactly run over the opposition thus far (56 att., 204 yds., 2 TD), but some of that can be attributed to Andy Dalton’s back-to-back 300-yard/3-TD games. Which bring us to this week’s game in Jacksonville. The Jaguars are giving up more than 150 rushing yards per game and the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.  So, on paper anyways, this appears to be as good a week as any to give the ball to BJGE early and often and see what he can do.

Ryan Williams (ARI) vs. Miami
The changing of the guard, if you will, as it applies to Arizona’s backfield started last week against Philadelphia and became official earlier this week. It began when Williams got five more carries (13 to 8) that incumbent starter Beanie Wells  against the Eagles and culminated with the Cardinals Wells on injured reserve due to a severe turf toe injury. Wells will be eligible to return in November, but considering Williams averaged 6.4 yards per carry against the Eagles, his starting days may be over. Regardless, Williams should get the bulk of the carries from here out and I for one am very curious to see what he can do against Miami’s defense. The Dolphins have been pretty stingy yardage-wise (75.5 rushing ypg), but they are still in the top half of the league when it comes to fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs.

Jacquizz Rodgers (ATL) vs. Carolina
Even though Michael Turner is still getting the majority of the carries, the Falcons have stayed true to their word about involving Rodgers in their game plan. Rodgers is second on the team in carries (20) and is just one behind No. 3 wide receiver Harry Douglas in targets (8) so far. Last week against San Diego Rodgers got 10 carries (Turner had 12) and caught five passes, one of which went for a touchdown. Carolina is not only giving up the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, they also have allowed the most receptions (32) to them. Anyone else notice a trend here?

Chris Johnson (TEN) at Houston
Has it really come to this? Sit the guy who ran for more than 2,000 yards just three seasons ago? The answer is a resounding yes considering Johnson’s pitiful production thus far. For one, the starting quarterback (Jake Locker) has more rushing yards than Johnson. Secondly, does anyone really think it will get any better this week against a Houston defense that’s allowed less than 70 yards rushing per game? To put it another way, the Texans are giving up 3.8 yards per carry, which is tied for the 10th lowest average in the league. That’s still 2.4 yards more than what Johnson (1.4 ypc) is averaging. How far the once mighty have fallen.

New York Giants backfield (NYG) at Philadelphia
Congratulations Andre Brown. You rushed for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns in your first career NFL start. Now go back to the bench. Ahmad Bradshaw is expected to return to his starting role after missing last week’s game with a neck injury, but the Giants also have said that Brown will get his share of touches. Translation: this has all the makings of the recent past when Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs shared carries. Everyone who owned either during that time can recall how much fun that wasn’t. As it applies to the present, consider that this situation could play out in such a way that it’s entirely possible that, for example, Brown could end up with the most carries this Sunday against Philadelphia. That still doesn’t mean, however, that Brown ends up with more fantasy points than Bradshaw, as the latter could take the goal-line work from the former and score from close in or do more damage on the receiving end. What it does mean is this: for now I would keep my distance from either, especially since the Eagles have been decent (103.0 ypg) against the run.

Reggie Bush (MIA) at Arizona and Michael Bush (CHC) at Dallas (Monday)
That’s right, pick a Bush, any Bush, and my advice is to leave him on your bench this week. Reggie left last week’s game due to a knee injury, and while no structural damage was found, he has been limited in practice this week. He is adamant about playing, but he’s not the one who has the final say or will determine how much work he gets if he does see the field against the Cardinals. I’m just not sure he will have enough chances to have that big of an impact, neither for the Dolphins nor your fantasy team.

On the other hand, there’s Michael, who was solid (73 total yards, TD), but certainly not spectacular as the Bears’ starting running back against St. Louis. He also reportedly took some pretty hard hits during that game, which is one reason why the Bears brought in several free agents, including Ryan Grant who ended up signing with Washington, earlier this week. There’s also talk that Matt Forte, the incumbent starter who missed last week because of an ankle injury, may be back on Monday night against Dallas. If he plays, Forte will certainly be limited in terms of workload, but that also means less work for Bush. And speaking of Dallas, the Cowboys are tops in the NFL in total defense, although they are giving up 113 yards on the ground per game. Still, between the punishment Bush has already taken, the chance that Forte returns and takes some touches away from him, and the potential for punishment stemming from the match-up with the Cowboys, that seems to be enough reasons to at least give some pause before putting the other Bush in your starting lineup as well.

Wide Receivers

Jordy Nelson (GB) vs. New Orleans
There’s no denying Jordy Nelson has gotten off to a slow start, with just 13 catches for 167 yards (12.8 ypc) and no touchdowns through three games. However, you could say that about all of Aaron Rodgers’ pass-catchers in general. Regardless, Nelson thrived in home games last season with 42 receptions for 816 yards (19.4 ypc) and 13 touchdowns in eight contests. Green Bay is at home against New Orleans this week. The Saints are last in the NFL in total defense and tied for second-to-last in points (34.0) allowed. Maybe it’s just me, but I think we should give Nelson one more chance this week, don’t you?

Eric Decker (DEN) vs. Oakland
In Denver’s first two games, Decker caught a combined nine passes for 108 yards, or an average of 12 yards per catch. Last week against Houston, who currently ranks fourth in pass defense, Decker hauled in eight passes for 136 yards, which translates into an average of 17 yards per catch. Decker has yet to find the end zone, but there’s a good chance that will change this week as Oakland has not only allowed the seventh-most passing yards, but they have yet to pick off a pass (versus six TD passes allowed) either.

Malcom Floyd (SD) at Kansas City
Floyd signs a three-year contract extension earlier this week and ends up on this week’s Start list. Coincidence? Not really when you consider Floyd is far and away Philip Rivers’ favorite target (23) so far. Staying healthy has really been the biggest strike against Floyd in the past, as he’s showing (13 rec., 227 yds., TD) what he can do when’s he able to stay on the field. Next up for the Chargers, who are looking to bounce back after a disappointing showing against Atlanta, is a Kansas City pass defense that’s allowed eight touchdown passes through the first three games.

Steve Smith (CAR) at Atlanta
Smith may have done the right thing in “scolding” his young quarterback after witnessing his sideline demeanor during last week’s loss to the Giants, as he is the veteran leader of the Panthers. However, call me curious in that I want to see if his public admonishment of Cam Newton has any adverse effect, even if it’s minor, on their on-field chemistry. Also, Atlanta has been pretty tough on opposing wide receivers thus far, surrendering just one touchdown catch in three games.

Danny Amendola (STL) vs. Seattle
Amendola erupted (15 rec., 160 yds., TD) against Washington two weeks ago, only to come back to earth (5, 66) last week against Chicago. Seattle’s secondary is big, athletic, physical and pretty deep and have allowed just two touchdown catches to opposing receivers. Put me in the camp that thinks this game will look a lot more like last week rather than what he was able to do in Week 2.

Golden Tate (SEA) at St. Louis
Yes, Tate was the hero, albeit with an assist from the now-unemployed replacement officials, of Seattle’s improbable (dare I say, unwarranted?) last-second win over Green Bay on Monday night. However, don’t overlook the fact that while he scored two touchdowns, he only has a total of six catches so far, and Russell Wilson (57.3 percent completion rate, 434 yards, 4 TD, INT) hasn’t exactly been lighting it up himself. St. Louis hasn’t been that bad (238 yards per game, 2 TD, 5 INT) against the pass either. To me Tate is a perfect example of a boom-or-bust type of fantasy option, although I would characterize him more as the latter rather than the former.

Tight Ends
Tony Gonzalez (ATL) vs. Carolina
Don’t look now, but the “old” man is showing the young pups how this game is played. The 36-year-old future Hall of Famer, who is the No. 1 tight end in fantasy football, also leads his position in targets (28) and receptions (21), while he is second in receiving yards (214) and tied for second in touchdowns (3). Does anyone see any reason why this won’t continue? Yeah, me neither.

Owen Daniels (HOU) vs. Tennessee
Daniels, and not Andre Johnson, currently leads the Texans in targets with 22, and he’s tied for first with the All-Pro wide receiver in receptions with 13. Now there’s little reason to expect this to continue, but don’t be surprised if the tight end hangs close for at least another week. Tennessee has given up the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, which includes five touchdown catches in three games.

Brent Celek (PHI) vs. New York Giants
It may seem like I’m picking on Celek, who went from a Sit two weeks ago to a Start last week and now finds himself on the other side again. But I also should point out that the Philadelphia tight end, who leads his position and the Eagles in receiving yards with 258, has yet to cooperate either. He had a big game (8 rec., 157 yds.) against Baltimore in Week 2 and followed that up with a quiet (2, 36) outing against Arizona. As far as this week goes, let’s just say I’m not crazy about the match-up with the Giants and it looks like Jeremy Maclin will be back at wide receiver, whose presence could mean fewer targets for Celek. Then again it wouldn’t shock me if Celek stays true to his pattern, meaning he will buck my prediction for the third straight week and have a big game. So if that happens and you Celek owners decide to not heed my advice here, you can thank me later.

Jason Witten (DAL) vs. Chicago (Monday)
Even though Witten says he’s healthy, it certainly seems like something is amiss with the All-Pro tight end, even if it’s mental and not physical. If that’s the case, I don’t think anyone would fault him, considering what’s he already gone through this season. And if it’s not the case, there must be some other reason for the fact he’s only connected with Tony Romo eight times on 21 targets for 76 yards (9.5 ypc) and no touchdowns. Until he gets a handle on the ball more consistently, it’s probably best to look elsewhere.

Defense/Special Teams

Seattle at St. Louis
Let’s see, the Seahawks sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times on Monday night and gave up one touchdown and two field goals to the Packers’ offense. The day before, Chicago sacked Sam Bradford six times and picked him off twice, returning one of them for a touchdown. The Rams could only manage six points, which came courtesy of two long field goals (46, 56), against the Bears. This week the Rams host the Seahawks. Can you say repeat?

New York Giants at Philadelphia
I expect the Eagles will get a fair share of yards and put some points on the board against the Giants, so in terms of fantasy output for the G-Men on defense/special teams it comes down to three things – sacks, turnovers and TDs. Fortunately for them, the Eagles have turned the ball over a league-high 12 times, have given up seven sacks (tied for 10th) and, for what it’s worth, they have allowed two defensive scores too. I kind of like the Giants’ chances here.

Denver vs. Oakland
Denver’s defense has been fairly solid, but they have been hurt somewhat (8 TD, 2 INT) by the pass. Enter Oakland and Carson Palmer, who is second in the league in pass attempts (128), third in completions (80) and seventh in yards (879). Palmer has only been picked off twice in all of those attempts, so provided he continue to take care of the ball and have the time, I think he will be able to have success through the air against the Broncos. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if this one turned out to be a fairly high-scoring affair.

Detroit vs. Minnesota
The Lions surrendered more than 400 yards of total offense in last week’s loss to the Titans and will face a much better rushing attack this week in the form of Adrian Peterson. Quarterback Christian Ponder has just one turnover (fumble) this season and is currently fifth in the league in passer rating. I just don’t see the Vikings’ offense making things that much easier this week on the Lions’ defense.


Matt Bryant (ATL) vs. Carolina
The Falcons are tied for third in the league in scoring at 31.3 points per game. The Panthers are tied for 23rd in the league in points allowed, giving up 26.3 per game, and also are allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing kickers. I hope Bryant was expecting to get a lot of rest on the sidelines this week.

Shayne Graham (HOU) vs. Tennessee
The only thing that could prevent this prediction from not coming true as I see it is if Graham ends up kicking just PATs. Either way, I fully expect the Texans to put a lot of points on the board against the Titans.

Mason Crosby (GB) vs. New Orleans
Similar to Graham, I think Crosby will get several chances to show off his leg. It’s just that the majority of the chances will come from the 19-yard-line as an extra point attempt rather than a field goal try from farther out.

Justin Medlock (CAR) at Atlanta
To be honest, I didn’t even know Medlock was the Panthers’ kicker. Then again maybe that’s because he’s attempted just one field goal so far, and it was only from 21 yards out. Not sure fans will see much of him this Sunday in Atlanta either.

— By Mark Ross, published on Sept. 28, 2012

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football: Week 4 Start or Sit</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-5-preview-match-ups-upset-picks-and-storylines-watch

The final weekend of college football action in September certainly won't win many awards for the best slate of games. The Week 5 schedule features some intriguing games (Ohio State-Michigan State), but nothing like college football fans experienced last Saturday with Clemson-Florida State, Kansas State-Oklahoma and Notre Dame-Michigan. However, it's the weeks we least expect to be exciting that end up producing several upsets and close calls among teams ranked in the top 25.

Top Storylines to Watch in Week 5

1. Big Ten Showdown: Ohio State vs. Michigan State
It’s been a difficult first four weeks of the season for the Big Ten. With no marquee non-conference win and no team ranked inside of the top 10, the conference is desperately looking for some good news. Saturday’s Week 5 action should help erase some of the bad memories of non-conference play, especially due to the Ohio State-Michigan State match-up. The Buckeyes appear to be the Big Ten’s No. 1 team but struggled to beat UAB last week. Quarterback Braxton Miller is one of the Heisman frontrunners and takes on a Spartan defense ranked sixth nationally in yards allowed. The Buckeyes want to reduce the pressure on Miller, but the supporting cast needs to step up. Michigan State’s offense has been stuck in neutral for most of the year, with running back Le’Veon Bell averaging 152.5 yards per game despite a lackluster passing attack. Although Ohio State doesn’t want Miller to record 17-20 carries, it may be unavoidable against Michigan State. This one will be close because of the defenses, but Miller should be the difference in this game.

2. Is Texas the Big 12’s frontrunner?
Kansas State’s win over Oklahoma last Saturday shook up the Big 12 pecking order. The Sooners were thought to be the frontrunner, but the door is open for Texas, TCU, Kansas State and Oklahoma State to win the conference title. The Longhorns are off to a solid 3-0 start, with their offense averaging 49.3 points a game. Of course, the competition hasn’t been spectacular, but quarterback David Ash is showing signs of progress. The Cowboys enter Saturday's contest with uncertainty under center. Starter Wes Lunt suffered a knee injury against Louisiana-Lafayette and may not be able to play against Texas. If he can’t go, redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh will get the start. Oklahoma State has won the last two games in this series, but the momentum seems to be shifting back to Texas – especially if Ash continues to take care of the ball, and the defense cuts down on the yards and points allowed.

3. A Big (12) Welcome in Morgantown
West Virginia officially joined the Big 12 on July 1, but reality will sink in on Saturday afternoon. The Mountaineers kick off their first season in the Big 12 with a home date against Baylor. And if you like offense, this is definitely one of the weekend’s must-watch games. West Virginia is averaging 47.3 points a game, while Baylor ranks fifth nationally with an average of 51.3 points a game. Although the Mountaineers are stepping into a new conference and a schedule full of different opponents, this offense should feel right at home in the Big 12. Quarterback Geno Smith should have an opportunity to pad his Heisman resume against a Baylor secondary allowing 315 yards per game, while West Virginia’s new 3-4 scheme will get a test from the Bears’ offense. With a road date at Texas next week, this will provide the Mountaineers a barometer of just how their offense and defense stacks up in their new conference.

4. No letdown for Florida State
Let's go ahead and say it: The Seminoles are back. It’s early, so a lot can change in the national title race, but Florida State announced its presence as a BCS Championship contender with a convincing win over Clemson. Now comes the hard part for the Seminoles – avoiding a letdown. South Florida beat Florida State in its only previous match-up in 2009, but this is a case of programs headed in opposite directions. The Bulls are 19-19 since defeating the Seminoles and are off to a disappointing 2-2 start this season. Although Florida State is coming off of a huge victory, there’s not much to suggest South Florida can hang around in this game. The Bulls rank 64th nationally in total defense, and quarterback B.J. Daniels has been inconsistent. The Seminoles may have a sluggish start, but expect them to pull away from South Florida in the second half. 

5. Big Ten Championship Game Preview?
As mentioned previously with Ohio State-Michigan State, the race to win the Big Ten is wide open. With the Buckeyes banned from the postseason, Wisconsin appears to be the frontrunner to claim the Leaders Division title, but the Badgers haven’t looked like a championship team this year. Joel Stave replaced Danny O’Brien as Wisconsin’s starting quarterback and completed 12 of 17 passes for 210 yards against UTEP. Stave’s performance should give the Badgers some confidence on offense, especially as it appears running back Montee Ball will return from the concussion he suffered against the Miners. Nebraska’s defense has struggled to stop the run this year (177 yards per game), but its offense leads the Big Ten in scoring, total and rushing offense. The Badgers got the best of Nebraska last season, but beating the Cornhuskers in Lincoln won’t be easy. Considering both teams will be in the mix to win the Big Ten title, this could be an early preview of the conference title game in Indianapolis in early December.

6. Georgia on upset alert?
The Bulldogs passed their biggest test so far this year, beating Missouri 41-20 in Week 2. Georgia has the pieces to contend for a national title, but this team will be tested over the next couple of weeks with road games at South Carolina and a neutral site meeting with Florida. The Bulldogs are expected to have some reinforcements this week, as safety Baccari Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree are expected to return from a four-game suspension. Rambo’s return to the lineup is huge, especially against a Tennessee offense that leads the SEC in passing yards per game. Although the Volunteers might be able to hang around with their offense, the defense ranks near the bottom of the conference in points and yards allowed, which is bad news against Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and freshman running back Todd Gurley. This still doesn't mean the Volunteers aren't a dangerous opponent for the Bulldogs, especially with next week’s SEC East showdown against South Carolina looming large. 

Under the Radar Match-ups

Western Kentucky at Arkansas State – Louisiana-Lafayette and FIU should both be a factor, but Western Kentucky and Arkansas State are the favorites to win the Sun Belt title. The Red Wolves have been tested in road trips to Nebraska and Oregon, while the Hilltoppers have wins over Kentucky and Southern Miss. Even though this match-up may not have top 25 implications, these two teams are two of the best from the non-BCS ranks.

Louisiana Tech at Virginia – After demolishing Illinois last week, Louisiana Tech is favored to beat Virginia. The Bulldogs lost running back Tevin King with a knee injury in last week’s game, but this offense is loaded with weapons, including receiver Quinton Patton and quarterback Colby Cameron. The Cavaliers have struggled to find their rhythm on offense and can’t afford to fall behind against one of the nation’s top offenses.

Texas Tech at Iowa State – Oklahoma State at Texas and Baylor at West Virginia will draw more national interest, but this match-up could be one of the most intriguing games in Week 5. The Red Raiders lead the nation in total defense and rank second nationally in total offense. However, this will be Texas Tech’s toughest challenge this year, and the Cyclones have beat the Red Raiders two consecutive seasons.

Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech (Landover, Md.) – FedEx Field will host its second college football game this year, as the Hokies and Bearcats meet in Landover, Md. Virginia Tech’s offense ranks 10th in the ACC with 366.3 yards per game, while the Bearcats rank third nationally by allowing only 8.5 points per contest. Tech has struggled to get its rushing game on track, and Cincinnati’s active front seven won’t make it any easier for the Hokies to establish the ground game.

NC State at Miami – With Clemson-Florida State taking center stage in the ACC last week, the Hurricanes’ victory over Georgia Tech was overlooked. Miami is still a young team with a lot of personnel issues. However, if the Hurricanes knock off NC State, it might be time to consider this team as the biggest threat to Virginia Tech in the Coastal title race.

Are These Teams for Real?

Baylor (3-0) – The Bears will get a rude welcome to Morgantown, as West Virginia is ready for its Big 12 debut. Baylor needed strong second halves to put away Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe, but there is still plenty of firepower on offense, led by senior quarterback Nick Florence.

Duke (3-1) – Is this the year the Blue Devils get back to a bowl game? Duke is off to a 3-1 start for the first time since 2008 and this appears to be David Cutcliffe’s best team since he arrived in Durham. A win over Wake Forest this Saturday would put Duke within two wins of getting to a bowl game.

Minnesota (4-0) – The Golden Gophers are off to a good start in coach Jerry Kill’s second season, but they are largely untested. A road trip to Iowa should give us a better gauge of where Minnesota fits into the Big Ten bowl picture.

Five Quarterbacks Under Pressure

David Ash, Texas – Ash is off to a solid start but Saturday’s match-up against Oklahoma State will be his toughest yet.

Tyler Bray, Tennessee – Saturday’s match-up against Georgia is a good barometer test for Tennessee. The Volunteers fell apart in the second half against Florida, but hanging tough against Georgia would be a good sign for Derek Dooley. Bray has thrown 12 touchdowns so far but had his worst game overall against the Gators.

Andrew Maxwell, Michigan State – If the Spartans want to have any shot at beating Ohio State, Maxwell has to play much better than he has through the first four games.

Zach Mettenberger, LSU – Towson won’t give LSU much of a struggle, but it’s important for Mettenberger to build some confidence with a road date at Florida next Saturday.

Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois – Scheelhaase has been dealing with an ankle injury since the season opener and left last week’s loss against Louisiana Tech early. If the Fighting Illini want to win the Leaders Division, Scheelhaase needs to stay healthy and be a difference maker on offense.

Teams Looking to Bounce Back

Arizona – It wasn’t a surprise Arizona lost to Oregon, but the Wildcats had several chances to score and came up empty-handed, losing 49-0 to the Ducks. Arizona hosts rising Oregon State this Saturday, with the Beavers coming off of an impressive win at UCLA in Week 4.

Clemson – The Tigers were unable to capitalize on their halftime lead against Florida State, eventually losing 49-37. If Clemson wants to have any shot at winning the ACC Atlantic, it needs some help in the form of a few losses from the Seminoles in ACC play, but also needs to take care of business on the road against Boston College. 

Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets’ blew a 36-19 lead last week against Miami, which dropped Georgia Tech’s ACC record to 1-2 and likely ends any hope it had of winning the Coastal. The Yellow Jackets should get back into the win column with MTSU visiting Atlanta this Saturday.

UCLA – The Bruins suffered their first defeat of 2012, losing 27-20 to Oregon State last Saturday. UCLA shouldn’t have much trouble getting back into the win column this week, as the Bruins will travel to Boulder to take on Colorado.

Desperate for a Victory

Arkansas – Can the Razorbacks stop the downward spiral? Arkansas is in the midst of a three-game losing streak and faces a tough road trip to Texas A&M. The Razorbacks have won the last three match-ups against the Aggies, but have not played in College Station since 1991.

California A 1-3 start with a lackluster win over Southern Utah has Jeff Tedford squarely on the hot seat. However, the Golden Bears can get things going back in the right direction with a win over Arizona State this Saturday.

Iowa – Last week’s loss to Central Michigan isn’t sitting well in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes already have a loss to rival Iowa State this season, and the offense ranks last in the Big Ten in scoring. If Iowa loses to Minnesota this Saturday, Kirk Ferentz’s seat is only going to approach scalding hot levels.

Kentucky – After last week’s performance against Florida, do the Wildcats have any fight left? The good news is quarterback Maxwell Smith should start, even though he is dealing with a separated shoulder. The bad news? Kentucky is a heavy underdog and is playing a top-10 team in South Carolina.

Missouri – The Tigers are in a different situation than most of the teams in this category, but Saturday’s game at UCF is a big one for Missouri. The Tigers were easily handled in a road loss against South Carolina last week and need to build some confidence before getting back into SEC play.

Five Upsets to Watch

Marshall (+17) at Purdue
Here’s a stat that may surprise you: Marshall leads the nation in passing offense with 383.5 yards per game. The Thundering Herd has struggled on defense, but their offense is capable of putting a scare into Purdue. The Boilermakers are 2-1, but the victories have been against Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Michigan.
Prediction: Purdue 31-27

Minnesota (+7) at Iowa
Even though the Golden Gophers are 4-0, there are some doubts about this team, especially with a schedule featuring games against UNLV, New Hampshire, Western Michigan and Syracuse. However, Iowa’s offense is struggling under new coordinator Greg Davis, and the Hawkeyes are coming off of a disappointing loss to Central Michigan. The Golden Gophers have beat Iowa two years in a row, but have not won in Iowa City since 1999.
Prediction: Iowa 27-24

Missouri (+3) at UCF
It’s a little surprising to see Missouri as an underdog, but UCF is a dangerous team. The Knights destroyed Boston College in Orlando last season and hung tough against Ohio State in Columbus earlier this year. The Tigers need to jumpstart their offense, as they managed just 10 points in a loss to South Carolina last week.
Prediction: Missouri 27-24

NC State (+3.5) at Miami
The Wolfpack have flown under the radar since losing to Tennessee in Week 1, and quarterback Mike Glennon will give a porous Miami defense all it can handle. The Hurricanes should score on NC State’s defense, but the edge goes to the team with the better quarterback (Glennon).
Prediction: NC State 27-24

Arizona State (+2) at California
The Sun Devils are a slight underdog for Saturday’s match-up against the Golden Bears, as they have not won at California since 1997. California’s offensive line is giving up four sacks a game, which is bad news against an aggressive Arizona State defense.
Prediction: Arizona State 31-27

Bye Week Regrouping

Auburn (1-3) – The Tigers played LSU tough, but moral victories won’t get it done for Auburn. Expect Gene Chizik and his staff to evaluate and tweak the offense, starting wtih quarterback Kiehl Frazier.

Florida (4-0) – So far, so good for the Gators. Florida has emerged as one of the teams to beat in the SEC East and host LSU on Oct 6.

Michigan (2-2) – Despite their lackluster performances against Alabama and Notre Dame, the Wolverines still remain one of the favorites to win the Big Ten title.

Oklahoma (2-1) – Last week’s loss to Kansas State likely knocks Oklahoma out of the national title race, but the Sooners are still in the mix for the Big 12 title.

Rutgers (4-0) – Starting 4-0 wasn’t an unrealistic expectation in the preseason, but not many predicted Rutgers would win at South Florida and Arkansas. The Scarlet Knights are one of the top contenders for the Big East crown and return to action against Connecticut on Oct. 6.

USC (3-1) – Although Lane Kiffin doesn’t say much about injuries, the off date comes at a good time for the Trojans. Center Khaled Holmes will have nearly two weeks to get healthy, while USC can use the practice time to work on its rushing game.

Utah (2-2) – The Utes are reeling after last week’s loss against Arizona State and host USC next Thursday night. The bye week comes at a good time, especially as Utah looks to get running back John White back to full strength from an ankle injury.

Vanderbilt (1-3) – The Commodores can still reach a bowl game, but the offense needs a spark from Jordan Rodgers or Austyn Carta-Samuels at quarterback.

Injuries to Monitor

Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan – Carder is one of the MAC’s top quarterbacks, but he will be sidelined indefinitely with a hand injury. Western Michigan takes on Toledo in a critical MAC West game this Saturday.

MarQueis Gray, QB, Minnesota – A high ankle sprain sidelined Gray against Syracuse, and he’s unlikely to play this Saturday against Iowa. Backup Max Shortell fared well in his absence, so Minnesota’s offense should not suffer much of a drop in production.

Wes Lunt, QB, Oklahoma State – Lunt’s status has been up in the air since he left the Week 3 game against Louisiana-Lafayette with a knee injury. Although the injury isn’t as bad as initially feared, Lunt may not be able to start this week.

Maxwell Smith, QB, Kentucky – Smith was sorely missed in last week’s loss to Florida, but an injured throwing shoulder was simply too much to overcome. The sophomore is expected to return to the lineup against South Carolina this week. However, if he can’t start, Kentucky will have to lean on true freshman Jalen Whitlow under center. 

Tyler Tettleton, QB, Ohio – Tettleton sat out last week’s win over Norfolk State due to a hand injury. Although he won’t be needed much for Ohio to beat UMass, Tettleton is expected to return to the lineup.

Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss – Whether or not Ole Miss has Wallace under center really won’t matter against Alabama. However, the junior college recruit ranks 34th nationally in passing efficiency and averages 224 yards per game. Despite a shoulder injury, Wallace is expected to play.

Shawne Alston, RB, West Virginia – A thigh bruise limited Alston in last week’s game against Maryland, but he is expected to play in West Virginia’s Big 12 opener this Saturday.

Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin – Ball suffered a concussion in last week’s win over UTEP but is cleared to play for Saturday’s game against Nebraska.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson - Watkins was ruled out for Saturday's game against Boston College due to an abdominal virus. 

Chris Gragg, TE, Arkansas - The Razorbacks' 2012 season only got worse last week, as Gragg suffered a knee injury against Rutgers and did not return. He won't play in Saturday's game at Texas A&M.

Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas – The Longhorns could be without one of their top defensive players this Saturday, as Hicks is nursing a hip injury and is questionable to play.

Games to Avoid

Ole Miss at Alabama
The Rebels’ last victory in this series came in 2003 and the last three match-ups between these two teams haven’t been close. Alabama rolled 52-7 in Oxford last year, and it would be a surprise to see Ole Miss keep this one within 25 points. With a bye week coming up, expect Alabama coach Nick Saban to work out all of the kinks before emptying the bench in the fourth quarter.

Towson at LSU
Considering last week’s close call at Auburn, Towson is the perfect Week 5 opponent for LSU. The Tigers should be able to use this game as a tune-up, especially with match-ups against Florida and South Carolina coming up in the next two weeks.

South Carolina at Kentucky
This is a classic case of two programs headed in opposite directions. The Gamecocks could win the SEC title this year, while Kentucky will struggle just to win a game in SEC play. After last week’s dismal showing in the Swamp, the Wildcats need some early momentum in this one – or it could get really ugly.

UCLA at Colorado
Even though the Buffaloes cracked the win column with an upset win over Washington State, they are still one of the worst BCS teams. UCLA suffered its first defeat of the season against Oregon State but should have no trouble putting away Colorado early.

Oregon at Washington State
On paper, this matchup between two of college football’s brightest offensive minds – Washington State’s Mike Leach and Oregon’s Chip Kelly – would figure to provide some fireworks. However, those fireworks may only be from Oregon, as the Ducks pitched a shutout against Arizona last week, while the Cougars are coming off of a disappointing loss to Colorado. This Pac-12 North match-up should get better in the coming seasons, but Oregon simply has too much firepower for Washington State in 2012. 

by Steven Lassan


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<p> College Football Week 5 Preview: Match-Ups, Upset Picks and Storylines to Watch</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 06:50
All taxonomy terms: Pac-12, UCLA Bruins, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-countdown-no-12-ucla
Visit the online store for UCLA and other editions of the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual.

The first practices of college basketball season begin in mid-October, and Athlon Sports 2012-13 preview annuals are starting to arrive on newsstands all over the country.

To prepare for the start of college basketball season, we will preview one team each weekday, counting down to the first official day of basketball practice on Oct. 15, or for some teams on Oct. 12.

We continue our countdown with a preview of No. 12 UCLA.

The UCLA basketball program was teetering on the edge of an abyss, arms waving, frantically grasping at air for anything, just praying not to fall into obscurity.

A third straight season had ended in frustration, a damaging Sports Illustrated feature article served as a stain on the program, and it appeared Ben Howland, who just four years ago was coming off three straight Final Four appearances, lost control of the program he so cherished.

The vultures had descended, antsy fans who seethed over three aborted championship runs now calling for Howland’s head. Three Final Fours bled into three seasons of misery, two of them ending without even a postseason appearance. Things were crashing in.

And then, with one recruiting class, it’s all roses and sunshine in Tinseltown. Howland and his staff brought in arguably the nation’s top class, led by two of the top five recruits in the country in Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson, to unveil in the refurbished Pauley Pavilion. They will join a roster with talent and experience but lacking discipline, with the fate of the season potentially resting on one big man’s broad shoulders.

Suddenly, the abyss does not appear so close.
The big man is Joshua Smith, and he is big. Still big. Very big. As a freshman in ’10-11, he burst onto the scene midway through Pac-10 play, finishing the season at 10.9 points game while averaging almost 22 minutes. By the end of the year, he was routinely scoring in double-figures, including a 16-point, six-rebound performance in a season-ending loss to Florida in the NCAA Tournament.

He lumbered into last season a sleeping giant, heavier than the season before. Smith eclipsed the 26-minute barrier just once as a sophomore, averaging just 17.2 minutes for the year, his season ending with a nine-minute, seven-point, five-foul performance in a loss to Arizona in the Pac-12 Tournament. Done in by a soft midsection and constant foul trouble because of it, Smith’s minutes slipped, his performance dipped, Howland flipped and the Bruins flopped.

If he comes back for Year 3 leaner and meaner, UCLA could contend for the Final Four.

If not, the Bruins will have to count on coveted freshman recruit Tony Parker, as backup center Anthony Stover continues to be sidelined with a shoulder injury.

Either one of the Wear twins — David or Travis — could fill in sparse minutes at the 5, but both are expected to share the power forward duties. They combined for 54.6 minutes per game last season as sophomores after transferring from North Carolina, Travis taking the lead in scoring (11.5 ppg to 10.2) while David maintained the edge in rebounding (6.3 rpg to Travis' 5.9).

And then there’s Muhammad, almost unanimously considered one of the top two recruits in the country, alongside Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel. Muhammad is a dangerous and effective scorer who will play extensively at the 3, and he should contend for Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors. The question is when Muhammad will first play for UCLA. The NCAA is investigating his amateur status. He did not join the Bruins on their exhibition tour in China.

Related: Arrival of Muhammad, Anderson leads makeover at UCLA
Larry Drew II is eligible for a one-year rental after spending the first two-plus seasons at North Carolina. Drew averaged nearly six assists per game as a sophomore before his role was reduced with the emergence of Kendall Marshall.

While Drew is the more traditional point guard and will likely defend the opponent’s point guard, Anderson could become the primary ball-handler early in his career. The prodigious talent is a gifted passer and uses his size to his advantage. At 6-9, he can play three or four positions, and Howland intends to use him as such, maximizing matchups against much smaller opponents.

Drew and Anderson will often be on the court together — Drew, Anderson, Muhammad, Travis Wear and Smith is the likely starting off point — but Tyler Lamb and Norman Powell will play major roles as well. Lamb, a junior, struggled to find confidence in his offensive game last year, shooting just 40.8 percent while averaging 9.0 points. Powell was a key cog defensively for the Bruins and if he becomes more polished offensively, he could see significant time.
The pieces are in place for a UCLA revival in 2012-13. After escaping the miserable digs of the Los Angeles Sports Arena, they return home to an impatient fan base, frothing at the mouth in anticipation. The talent is in place, recruiting clicking on all cylinders and a pair of freshmen are expected to propel the Bruins back into title contention.

They are no longer staring down at the abyss, afraid to make one wrong move. No, they are looking up.


Athlon College Basketball Countdown So Far:
20. Florida

19. Notre Dame

18. Memphis
17. Baylor
16. Missouri

15. San Diego State

14. North Carolina

13. UNLV

<p> College Basketball Countdown: No. 12 UCLA</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/georgia-bulldogs-vs-tennessee-volunteers-preview-and-prediction

The SEC never disappoints for intriguing matchups. Even though Week 5 isn’t the best slate of games, Georgia-Tennessee is a contest with national title and SEC Championship implications. The Bulldogs can keep their national title hopes alive with a victory over the Volunteers, but they can’t afford to take Derek Dooley’s team lightly. Georgia has a road date against South Carolina next week, so there’s always a look-ahead factor. The Volunteers are 3-1, but Dooley still has plenty of work to do. Tennessee struggled against Akron last week, while the defense is far from a dominating unit.

The Bulldogs have won three out of the last four games in this series, including a 41-14 blowout victory in 2010. Tennessee has struggled to find success in the SEC recently, winning only one game in conference play last season and three contests in 2010. This matchup won’t make-or-break Dooley’s future, but the Volunteers need to show that the gap between this team and the rest of the SEC is closing.

Four Storylines to Watch in Georgia vs. Tennessee

Suspended players?
Georgia has allowed at least 20 points three times this season but held Vanderbilt to a field goal in last week’s victory. The Bulldogs should have one of college football’s top defenses, but this unit ranks 43rd nationally in yards allowed after four weeks. However, this defense should have a few reinforcements on the way, as linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Bacarri Rambo are expected to return after missing the first four games due to a suspension. The return of Rambo is especially important for the Bulldogs’ secondary, as it looks to slow down Tennessee’s passing attack, which is ranked No. 1 in the SEC.

Tennessee’s passing offense against Georgia’s defense
While getting Rambo back in the mix is a key part of Georgia’s defensive plan to stop Tennessee, the Bulldogs will need a little extra help. The Volunteers have two dynamic playmakers at receiver – Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson – and a dependable tight end in Mychal Rivera. Bray is completing 63.5 percent of his throws and has tossed only three picks this year. Georgia needs to counter with pressure, especially from All-American linebacker Jarvis Jones. The Bulldogs are averaging two sacks per game but need to get more pressure on Bray to throw off the timing of the offense. If the Volunteers can protect the junior quarterback, they will have opportunities to hit big plays. However, if Georgia gets to Bray, it should force a few sacks and turnovers.

Aaron Murray against Tennessee’s secondary
Murray is off to a fast start this season, throwing for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns through the first four weeks. The junior has been one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, and Tennessee’s secondary will have its hands full trying to stop Georgia’s passing attack. The Volunteers rank 66th nationally against the pass, but Akron had some success moving the ball through the air last week. Not only will Tennessee’s secondary have to step up, the pass rush has to be more active. The Volunteers are averaging only 1.3 sacks per game, which won’t get it done on Saturday. If Murray has enough time, he will burn Tennessee’s secondary for 275-300 yards.

Can Tennessee establish its rushing attack?
In order to win games in the SEC, you have to be able to run the ball. So far, that’s been an issue for Tennessee. The Volunteers rank eighth nationally in passing offense but struggled to find any production on the ground against Florida. Putting up numbers against Akron and Georgia State is one thing, but it’s tough sledding to run the ball against Florida and Georgia in the SEC. Running back Rajion Neal is off to a good start, rushing for 356 yards on 80 carries. Neal doesn’t need 150 yards, but he has to help Tennessee’s offense find some balance. 

Final Analysis

With a huge game against South Carolina next week, Georgia has to be careful not to overlook Tennessee. However, all of the matchups in this game suggest the Bulldogs should win comfortably. Quarterback Aaron Murray is off to a great start, while freshmen running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall should pound away at the Volunteers’ defense. With Rambo and Ogletree likely returning for the defense, the Bulldogs should be able to cut their averages on points and yards allowed.

While Tennessee may be able to move the ball, the lack of a consistent running game and difference makers on defense will allow Georgia to pull away in the second half.

Prediction: Georgia 34, Tennessee 20 

by Steven Lassan


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SEC Week 5 Preview and Predictions

<p> Georgia Bulldogs vs. Tennessee Volunteers Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 06:25