Articles By All

All taxonomy terms: Pac-12, UCLA Bruins, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-uclas-makeover
Body:
This feature appears in all editions of the Athlon Sports 2012-13 College Basketball annual.

Ben Howland was dead and buried. After a three consecutive Final Four appearances and 30-win campaigns from 2005-06 through 2007-08, UCLA had become mediocre in what had quickly become a downtrodden Pac-12.

Speculation regarding his job security was in ample supply. Then, a national story surfaced about how he’d apparently lost control of his program and one of his star players. Former players took shots at his style of play and skeptics even poked fun at him for hiring an AAU coach from across the country on his staff.

“It was tough,” Howland says. “Probably as difficult a year as I’ve ever had in coaching.”

With all the off-court issues, though, one glaring issue in Westwood stood out above everything else over the last few years — the talent level. It just wasn’t up to UCLA standards.

The dropoff began with the Class of 2008, one that was lauded by just about every recruiting guru. Jrue Holiday, J’Mison Morgan, Drew Gordon, Jerime Anderson and Malcolm Lee. All were considered top-50 players nationally and, as a group, were supposed to help Howland and the program sustain its recent excellence.

Holiday averaged 8.5 points per game before leaving for the NBA after his freshman season. Morgan transferred to Baylor and has been a bust. Gordon bolted six games into his sophomore season after clashing with Howland. Anderson graduated this past season after a disappointing four-year college career. Lee left following his junior campaign and was a second-round pick in the NBA Draft.

The next group was nearly as heralded, with five more players holding a ranking in the top 100. The class was as disappointing as its predecessor.

Tyler Honeycutt underachieved for the majority of two seasons before, like Lee, leaving to become a second-round pick in the NBA Draft. Mike Moser left after logging just 4.7 minutes per contest as a freshman and has turned into a bona fide star and potential first-round pick at UNLV. Brendan Lane started eight games in three seasons before transferring to Pepperdine. Anthony Stover was a complete non-factor before being kicked off the team for academics this past offseason.

And then there’s Reeves Nelson.

Nelson was different. The tough, hard-playing forward was plenty talented enough, but he was a disaster off the court who killed team chemistry. After multiple chances from Howland — probably a few too many — Nelson was finally jettisoned from the program early in the 2011-12. But it didn’t come quick enough as Nelson’s issues became a public embarrassment to Howland and his once-tight grip on this program.

There have been other misses since the vaunted 2008 and 2009 classes. The four-man 2010 group included Matt Carlino, who left and is thriving at BYU. De’End Parker and Norman Powell arrived in 2011, and Parker is already history, leaving for San Francisco. The list seemingly goes on and on with players who didn’t plan out for one reason or another.

But now everything appears to have changed.

The 14–18 record in 2009-10 has become a distant memory. So is last season’s disaster, one in which UCLA failed to make the NCAA Tournament for the second time in the past three seasons. Moreover, UCLA’s struggles have coincided with a conference-wide slump during the last three seasons. There’s a new chapter in UCLA basketball, at least that’s what Howland and Bruins fans hope. Optimism is high the Bruins can return to their glory days, not the ones when they were hanging banners in the John Wooden Era, but the ones when they were competing for national titles shortly after Howland arrived from Pittsburgh.

Howland has added arguably the nation’s top recruiting class, one that stacks up with John Calipari’s haul in Lexington and Sean Miller’s group at Arizona. Simply, that’s what has changed the expectations in Westwood.

Now Josh Smith’s weight will no longer be the primary focus at UCLA. The Wear twins — David and Travis — won’t have to be anything more than they truly are, which is perform as solid players. North Carolina transfer Larry Drew II can be a role player, maybe even a bench guy. That’s because UCLA has added arguably the two best freshmen in the country.

Shabazz Muhammad comes in as the consensus top-ranked player in the nation. He’s a big, strong and athletic wing from Las Vegas who brings a much-needed toughness mentality to the program. Muhammad had long been considered a favorite to land at UCLA — with the aid of adidas — but Kentucky and other top programs made strong pushes for his services. Muhammad could well wind up being the top pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and should be Howland’s go-to guy from the moment he first takes the court at Pauley Pavilion whenever that may be. The NCAA’s eligibility review of Muhammad was ongoing into late August.

“He’s a great player,” Howland says. “He can do a lot of different things for us and will do a lot of different things for us that we haven’t had recently.”

Then there’s Kyle Anderson, a 6-9 point forward who passes the ball in a similar manner former North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall exhibited in his two years in Chapel Hill. Anderson, no matter what position he plays in Howland’s offense, will have the ball in his hands often because his best asset is his ability to make those around him better.

“He facilitates,” Howland says. “That’s what he does best, but his perimeter shot has improved over the past year.”

These two guys, Muhammad and Anderson, changed the complexion of the entire program. They will give Howland new life, a second chance to get this storied program back on track.

Howland still has pressure on him now, though, maybe even more so with the influx of talent. He can’t swing and miss at the NCAA Tournament again, especially with the addition of Muhammad, Anderson and another top-25 player, Georgia big man Tony Parker.

“It’s all about expectation level here,” Howland says. “That’s what happens when you have the history of UCLA and when you go to three Final Fours in a row.”

Muhammad will be the centerpiece of the team. Anderson should make teammates like the Wear twins and Smith more effective with crisp passes that will be converted into easy layups. And Parker has the natural ability to push Smith for playing time in the middle. There’s a second talented freshman out of Georgia, 6-5 wing Jordan Adams, as well as junior guard Tyler Lamb and sophomore Norman Powell.

There are reasons for the lack of success over the past three seasons. Sure, the talent on the West Coast — and specifically California — has been down. But UCLA is also guilty of misevaluating some key players. The Bruins also have had chemistry issues and untimely defections to the NBA Draft.

 “We’ve had so many guys leave early,” Howland says. “It’s not easy to reload every year.”

Holiday, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo all left early. But more recently, the departures of Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee, who bolted despite being sure-fire second round picks, hampered the Bruins a year ago.

But premature defections, even to the NBA,  haven’t been worthy of a free pass for Howland & Co. Not for the elite program out West.

The preseason polls are likely have UCLA in the top 25, perhaps in the top five. Howland is full of smiles these days, knowing he’ll have enough to compete with anyone in the league and nearly anyone in the entire country.

“I’m excited about this season,” he says. “But we need to go out and prove it. Rankings don’t mean anything. People can project all they want, but it’s about performance. I think we have a chance to be a really good team, but we need to go out and win games.”

Howland loses his starting backcourt of Lazeric Jones, who was the team’s leading scorer a year ago at 13.5 points per game, and Jerime Anderson, who never came close to fulfilling the potential he brought with him to UCLA. While Jones did have a solid season last year, the duo of Muhammad and Kyle Anderson will be instant upgrades — even with their youth and inexperience.

The Wear twins combined to average 21.7 points and more than a dozen boards per game last season. It’s unlikely they’ll ever be college stars, as many pegged throughout their high school careers before they landed at North Carolina. But they can be solid frontcourt players now that they are surrounded with top-tier talent.

Then there’s the rotund, ultra-talented big man, Smith, who can’t seem to get his weight issues under control — something that could end up costing him a career at the next level. Smith averaged a mediocre 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds last season and enters his junior season as a forgotten man of sorts due to his uninspiring play and lack of consistent production.

The 6-5 Lamb had a solid sophomore campaign, averaging 9.0 points per game. He certainly fill a role, whether it be starting on the wing or coming off the bench.

The Wears aren’t the only ex-North Carolina players in L.A. Drew II is another local kid who left Chapel Hill and wound up back close to home. But his role is uncertain now with the arrival of Anderson.
 
“They’ll definitely be playing together at times,” Howland says of a potential Anderson-Drew backcourt. “Larry can facilitate pretty well himself.”

But the Drew Experiment down in the ACC didn’t work well. Then-freshman Kendall Marshall supplanted him midway through the 2010-11 season, prompting Drew to abruptly leave Chapel Hill instead of accepting his role as a backup. Plenty of observers say Drew and his talent level are better-suited as a reserve, but Howland could wind up going with him as a starter, especially early in the season.

Roles will be important for Howland to establish — as will leadership and a defensive philosophy.

The holdovers will need to allow Muhammad and Anderson to come in and not only be the focal points on the court, but also leaders. These guys bring in a much-needed attitude, as well as a physical (Muhammad) and mental (Anderson) toughness that has sorely been lacking in the last few years.

Howland, over the years, has been known as a guy who won’t alter his system. Tough, hard-nosed man-to-man defense has been a staple throughout most of his career as well as an offensive system with limited freedom — something that caused several of his former players to complain.

Howland admits that he’ll likely stick with man-to-man defense, although he understands that his guards, who aren’t overly athletic, won’t be able to pressure the ball as he was able to do in the past.

With the recent struggles, it’s easy to forget what Howland has done over the past nine seasons at UCLA. There have been three Final Four appearances, more than 200 victories and no shortage of pros who have come though the program. He’s brought in heralded guys like Love and Holiday and also developed under-the-radar ones such as Westbrook and Darren Collison.

The program has had stellar seasons in 2006, ’07 and ’08. Then disappointing ones in 2010 and ’12.

“It’s all about expectations,” Howland says. “And I’m OK with that.”

Now we’ll see if this recruiting class, unlike the ones a few years ago, can help the Bruins live up to the hype.

-By Jeff Goodman, CBSSports.com

@AthlonSports

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

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball: UCLA's Makeover</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 17:06
Path: /college-football/lsu-alabama%E2%80%99s-biggest-threat-national-title
Body:

The college football season is only four weeks old, but the general feeling from most of the nation is there is a clear No. 1 team - Alabama. A lot will happen and plenty can change between now and the end of the season, but is LSU the biggest obstacle to another title by the Crimson Tide?

Is LSU Alabama's Biggest Threat to a National Title?

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
Although LSU did not look great in a 12-10 win over Auburn on Saturday, the Tigers still appear to be the biggest threat to another Alabama national title. Any team that’s going to defeat Alabama needs to have an elite defense, and that’s still the Tigers. The road trip to LSU may be the only threat to Alabama during the regular season, but Georgia or South Carolina could be problematic as well in a potential SEC championship game. Either way, Alabama’s biggest threat would seem to come from the SEC rather than any potential foe in the title game -- assuming that opponent isn’t an SEC team again.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
A road trip to LSU on Nov. 3 is the toughest current game left on the schedule, but I am not ready to say that it will be the toughest challenge. Georgia, Florida and South Carolina all have defensive lines that match-up well Bama in a potential SEC title game with the Bulldogs also offering an offense that could put the Tide defense to the test as well. Florida State could provide an equally tricky match-ups should they all get to the national title game. But my pick for the national title game was Alabama and Oregon this summer, so the Ducks are in the mix as well. If I had to rank "biggest threats" to Alabama's third national title in four years: 1) Georgia in SEC title game 2) Oregon or Florida State in the BCS title game 3) LSU.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
LSU was unimpressive in a 12-10 win against Auburn, but I still believe the Tigers are Alabama’s toughest obstacle to a national championship. Outside of LSU, Florida State and Oregon seem to be the most likely candidates for the No. 2 spot in the polls. The Seminoles’ defense is one of the best in the nation, and quarterback EJ Manuel appears to be peaking at the right time. However, is the offensive line up to the task? Oregon has the offense to win a title, but how well would its defense matchup against a physical team like Alabama in the trenches? LSU gets a shot against Alabama in Baton Rouge, and it has defeated the Crimson Tide the last two times during the regular season.  The Tigers are a perfect match for Alabama in the trenches, and their offense should be better by early November. I still think the Crimson Tide wins the national championship, but LSU will be their toughest test in 2012.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
LSU hasn’t looked quite as dominant as we expected — though the Tigers are 4–0 with an average margin of victory of 29 points — but I’d still call the Tigers the biggest threat to Alabama’s quest for a second straight national title. The reason? Alabama must beat LSU in Baton Rouge to continue its perfect season. (And yes, I realize that Bama could lose this game and still play in the national title game). There might be some teams who have looked better to date — Oregon, Georgia and Florida State come to mind — but Alabama won’t have to play any of those teams on their home field. That’s a big difference. 

Mark Ross: 
Not if they play the same LSU team that eked out a two-point victory at Auburn last Saturday. That said, the Tigers are the biggest threat to Alabama's repeat national title hopes in that the two will meet on Nov. 3 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in a game that will more than likely determine who wins the SEC West. It's still early, but I don't see a repeat of last season happening, meaning the best way for either the Crimson Tide or the Tigers to be in the best position to earn a berth in the BCS Championship Game is by winning the SEC Championship Game. So in my mind, that first Saturday in November is essentially an elimination game. Lose and your title dreams, both SEC and national, are pretty much dashed. But getting into the SEC title game is just the first step, winning it is the second. To that end, I think Alabama's biggest threat, assuming they win the West, to a national title is whoever makes it out of the East. Right now I give the edge to Georgia, but South Carolina is just as capable, and who knows, Florida could be there in the end if the offense continues to develop and can complement an already stout defense. It may not seem like it at this point, but I think that either the Bulldogs or the Gamecocks can match up pretty well against the Crimson Tide, provided they are healthy and clicking on all cylinders come Dec. 1. So while it does seem highly likely at this point that the SEC will be represented in the BCS title game for the seventh straight season, don't be surprised if the team that plays in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Jan. 13, 2013, comes from the East and not the West.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
Absolutely. I would not discount LSU chances of beating Alabama once again in the regular season just because the Tigers had to win a 12-10 slugfest at Auburn. Wild things happen in SEC night games, and coming into last Saturday the visitor in the LSU-Auburn series had gone 1-11 in the last 12 matchups. Plus, Les Miles’ crew has battled multiple injuries (Alfred Blue, Spencer Ware, P.J. Lonergan and Josh Dworaczyk) to key players. Alabama looks like the better team, but LSU has proven it can play in a defensive battle with the Tide. Additionally, this year’s much-anticipated contest is in Baton Rouge. If the Tide makes it to Atlanta, there will a tough and tested East opponent to beat. But a talented LSU bunch is still the biggest obstacle to the Tide repeating as national champions. 

Related College Football Content

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

Big Ten Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Teaser:
<p> Is LSU Alabama’s Biggest Threat to a National Title?&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 15:49
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/10-twitter-accounts-every-golf-fan-should-follow
Body:

Twitter is a powerful medium in today's sports landscape, and golf is no exception. Golfers, and the journalists who cover them, have taken to Twitter to freely share their wit, their insights, their gripes, their expectations and their dinner plans and workout regimens.

As the Ryder Cup kicks off Sept. 28, be sure to add these timelines to your follow list. You'll notice that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are missing; Tiger's tweets are kinda bland, and Lefty's not on Twitter. They both would be well served to emulate these 10 master Tweeters.
 

@Luke Donald
The former World No. 1 recently learned that social media has a dark side when he took to Twitter to rip the TPC Boston redesign during the Deutsche Bank Championship. He followed that rant with another tweet calling designer Gil Hanse a word that, in polite company, is reserved for a rooster. Apparently, he had intended the tweets to be private messages. The first offending tweet is displayed here; the second isn't fit for our family website. Luke backpedaled and apologized; don't hold his mistake against him. He's worth a follow.


 

@ThePCreamer
Paula Creamer's just so dang adorable. Her current avatar features her snuggling with her impossibly cute puppy; just having that pop up on your feed brightens your day and makes her worth a follow. Paula freely shares her on-course struggles and successes. We're hoping for more of the latter.


 

@JasonSobelGC
Sobel recently took his talents from ESPN to Golf Channel. He's a master tweeter who drops one witty bon mot after another, many of them straight from the course.


 

@stewartcink
Cink's game has suffered lately, but his Tweeting hasn't. This summer, he offered this gem: "Our cat has chlamydia. There goes the reputation." Here's another:


 

@DJohnsonPGA
Dustin Johnson's a big fan of the exclamation point. I'm a big fan of Dustin Johnson, so I can forgive his overuse of punctuation. His enthusiasm is infectious.


 

@Fehertwit
The name says it all. David Feherty doesn't take himself seriously, and that lack of seriousness makes him perfect for Twitter. Golf's clown prince describes his Golf Channel show as "interesting, yet oddly moronic." Kinda captures the man himself, and his Twitter timeline.


 

@IanJamesPoulter
They don't come much more confident than Poulter. In fact, if you're an American looking for a villain to root against in the Ryder Cup, he's your guy. He's heading to Medinah to chew bubble gum and kick butt, and he's all out of bubble gum.


 

@bubbawatson
What you see with Bubba is what you get. The guy wears his heart on his sleeve, whether he's on the Letterman Show, at The Masters or on Twitter. He's apt to share Biblical passages that mark milestones in his spiritual journey, so if you're not into that, he might not be for you. Otherwise, dive in. Almost 700,000 other people have.


 

@McIlroyRory
The kid's getting the hang of this media thing. This week, he killed it on Jimmy Fallon, proving that he's getting more and more comfortable as the face of golf. Some of his 1.3 million Twitter followers may be looking for Caroline Wozniacki updates and photos — she's one of golf's better WAGs — but they get a lot more than that.


 

@PGA_JohnDaly
Golf's rotund everyman in the insanely loud and hideous slacks has mounted a serious comeback from drunkeness and general disgrace, and he's chronicling his journey back to respectability on Twitter. We're rooting for ya, John.


 

I don't always tweet about golf, but if you'd like to add me, I'm @AthlonDoster.

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 13:31
All taxonomy terms: Purdue Boilermakers, Big Ten, News
Path: /news/purdues-punter-cody-webster-throws-behind-back-touchdown-pass
Body:

Purdue has experienced some bad luck with quarterback injuries over the last couple of seasons, but the Boilermakers might have a secret weapon in punter Cody Webster.

Webster is one of the Big Ten's top punters but made quite an impression at quarterback during a flag football game at Purdue.

The punter tossed an impressive behind-the-back 30-yard touchdown pass, which was a key play in leading his team to a 30-7 victory. 

Who says punters can't be weapons on offense?

Teaser:
<p> Purdue's Punter Cody Webster Throws Behind-the-Back Touchdown Pass</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 07:24
Path: /nfl/baltimore-ravens-vs-cleveland-browns-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Two teams on the opposite end of the NFL spectrum will clash tonight when the Baltimore Ravens host the Cleveland Browns at 8:20 pm EST on the NFL Network. The Ravens have the difficult task of a short recovery from an emotional 31-30 Sunday night win over the Patriots, but Ray Lewis and company have beaten Cleveland eight straight times. The Browns are looking for anything positive after an 0-3 start, and Baltimore is a tough place to get well. At least this game will feature the regular NFL referees after an agreement was reached Wednesday night.

When the Baltimore Ravens have the ball:
Quarterback Joe Flacco is off to a great start, leading the AFC with 913 passing yards. His favorite target has been tight end Dennis Pitta, who already has 18 receptions on the season. Second-year wideout Torrey Smith leads Baltimore in receiving yards with 235. And then there is All-Pro tailback Ray Rice, who has compiled over 2,000 total yards in two of the last three seasons and already has three scores this year.

The Browns defense has played decently at times this season, but there must be improvement on the 1,175 yards allowed in three games. Cleveland has been able to pressure opposing passers, totaling nine sacks and an AFC-leading five interceptions this year. Frustrating Flacco and getting some takeaways will be a key for the Browns, but they must be able limit Rice’s production on the ground to do so.

When the Cleveland Browns have the ball:
The rookie tandem of quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Trent Richardson will try to lead a Browns offense that currently ranks 26th in the league in yardage. Cleveland cannot afford to turn the ball over against the Ravens, and Weeden already has six interceptions and has been sacked eight times this year. Finding a way to get the dynamic Richardson more touches will be a key tonight. The Browns challenge becomes even more difficult with receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring) and tight end Alex Smith (concussion) out for this game.

The Ravens defense has plenty of veteran stars like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, but the usually-elite unit has given up over 400 yards per game this year. Weeden should pose less of a threat than signal callers like Michael Vick and Tom Brady, so the key for Baltimore will be stopping Richardson. As long as the rookie runner never gets into a rhythm, the Ravens should be able to stifle the Browns offense.

Key Factor:
This one looks like a mismatch on paper, with Baltimore heavily favored to make it nine consecutive wins over Cleveland. The Browns must win the turnover battle to stay in this game, and they have shown a penchant for harassing opposing signal callers. If the Ravens protect the ball, an easy home win should follow.

Prediction:
Ravens 27, Browns 13


---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

Teaser:
<p> Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/5-biggest-surprising-nfl-season-so-far
Body:

The Arizona Cardinals spent the summer locked in a quarterback controversy, which is usually a death knell for NFL teams. When it was over, they settled on a player who played collegiate ball at Fordham. And then he got hurt.

So, of course, they are one of only three 3-0 teams left in the NFL, right? Makes perfect sense.

It’s hard to believe anybody outside the Cardinals offices even imagined such a hot start was possible – especially since their first three games included a trip to New England and a home game against the supposedly dangerous Philadelphia Eagles. But after they hammered Philly 27-6 on Sunday, the NFL and its fans have no choice but to take notice. The Cardinals are the biggest surprise in the NFL, and they have everyone wondering if they’re for real.

We’ll all find that out soon enough, just like we’ll find out if any of the other surprises have staying power through the next 14 weeks. And there have been plenty of surprises in this wacky opening to the season. Here are the biggest five:

1. The 3-0 Arizona Cardinals After barely beating the Seattle Seahawks in their opener they shocked everyone with a win at New England and that thumping on Philly. Kevin Kolb, filling in for the injured John Skelton, has been everything the Cardinals thought he’d be when they acquired him from Philadelphia. And that’s really the key, because everyone knew he had weapons in receiver Larry Fitzgerald and a diverse rushing attack with Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells.

The real surprise? Their young defense has grown up and they play a hard-hitting, stingy style, much like the San Francisco 49ers did when they shocked everyone last season. Through three games they are ranked seventh in the NFL and are giving up a tiny 13.3 points per game.

 

2. Vikings QB Christian Ponder Seriously, if you were going to bet on one quarterback from last year’s rookie class to be ranked fifth in the NFL through the first three games, how many would you have guessed before you got to Ponder? His 104.9 rating has him ahead of the likes of Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Drew Brees and Tom Brady.

OK, sure it’s only three games and his rating is largely on the strength of his no interceptions. But he’s still been an impressive 68 of 97 (70.1 percent) for 713 yards and four touchdowns. The Vikings are also a somewhat surprising 2-1.

 

3. The 0-3 New Orleans Saints Maybe because of Bounty-Gate this shouldn’t have been such a surprise, but for all the Saints lost they still had a dangerous offense and a Top 5 quarterback in Drew Brees. But Brees has been uncharacteristically inaccurate this season, completing just 54.7 percent of his passes and throwing five interceptions to go with his seven touchdowns. Add in a terrible defense and the Saints are a bigger mess than anyone could have imagined.

 

4. Titans RB Chris Johnson Last year was a terrible one for Chris Johnson, and he still managed to top 1,000 rushing yards and catch 57 passes. It made it look like just a blip on his radar and that he’d be primed for a bounce back year. Instead, he smacked into rock bottom, rushing 33 times for 45 yards in the first three games. That’s not a misprint, it’s actually 1.4 yards per carry. He has no touchdowns either. That makes him the biggest fantasy football bust on the planet and one of the biggest busts of any kind in the entire league. Even if someone thought Johnson was on the downslope at age 27, no one thought his decline would be this steep.

 

5. The 1-2 Green Bay Packers Forget about the replacement ref fiasco at the end of their game Monday night. They should never have been so close to the Seahawks anyway. No, 1-2 is not a disaster for this team, but it’s certainly a surprise considering they were 15-1 last season. Heading into this season, dating back to Christmas 2010 and including the postseason, the Packers had been on a 21-2 tear. Now they’ve lost two of three and their high-powered offense is ranked 25th in the league? Maybe they should be 2-1, but either way they don’t look like themselves at all.

—By RALPH VACCHIANO

Teaser:
<p> From Chris Johnson to the Arizona Cardinals, we never saw these coming</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 06:13
Path: /college-basketball/college-football-predictions-10-key-games-week-5
Body:

College football’s Week 5 action features a key showdown in the Big Ten, West Virginia’s first-ever Big 12 game and Texas’ trip to Stillwater to battle Oklahoma State.

10 Biggest Games of Week 5

Ohio State (+3) at Michigan State
After opening the Urban Meyer era with four straight wins at home — some closer than the natives would have liked — the Buckeyes make the short trip to East Lansing for the Big Ten opener for both schools. 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. Andrew Maxwell’s numbers aren’t horrible, but MSU ranks 108th as a team in passing efficiency and doesn’t really have many proven downfield threats. Le’Veon Bell has been the primary weapon for the Spartans’ offense, but he hasn’t exactly been a model of consistency. The junior has two games with over 200 yards and two games with under 100. Slowing down Bell will be the key for the Ohio State defense.
Ohio State 17, Michigan State 13

Baylor (+12.5) at West Virginia
Baylor is proving there is life after Robert Griffin III. The Bears improved to 3–0 with a 47–42 win at ULM last Friday night. Nick Florence, RG3’s backup the past three seasons, completed 25-of-39 passes for 351 yards and four touchdowns, to lead Baylor past a solid ULM club that opened the season with an overtime win at Arkansas and an OT loss at Auburn. West Virginia, meanwhile, has cruised to a 3–0 start with home wins over Marshall, James Madison and Maryland. The Mountaineers are 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, Baylor 34

Tennessee (+13) at Georgia
Georgia looks more and more like a legitimate national championship contender with each passing week. The Bulldogs were sharp on both sides of the ball in an easier-than-expected 48-3 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday night. Aaron Murray has been spectacular at quarterback, and the Bulldogs are getting great production from true freshman tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Tennessee is 3–1, but all is not well in the land of the Volunteers. Derek Dooley’s club struggled with Akron last weekend for the first three-plus quarters before pulling away late. The defense, under the tutelage of Nick Saban disciple Sal Sunseri, is making too many mistakes. A secondary that was exposed during the 37–20 loss to Florida two weeks ago will have a very difficult time against the balanced Georgia attack.
Georgia 38, Tennessee 17

Texas (-2.5) at Oklahoma State
Is Texas back? That has been a popular question early in the 2012 season. Our answer: We think. The Longhorns, as expected, have been very good on defense. The offense, specifically the passing attack, has been better than expected — though the competition hasn’t been great. Sophomore David Ash ranks third in the nation in passing efficiency thanks in large part to his 7-to-0 TD-to-INT ratio. 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, Oklahoma State 17

Stanford (-6) at Washington (Thu)
This is an intriguing game between one program eager to prove it has staying power (Stanford) and one program attempting to climb the food chain in the Pac-12 (Washington). Stanford is 3–0 and has one of the best wins by team in college football this season, a 21–14 victory over USC in Week 2. Washington is 2–1 but played poorly in its only true test this season. The Huskies managed just 157 yards of offense in a 41–3 loss at LSU. The offense, which was a strength a year ago, has scored only 24 points in two games vs. FBS opponents. Junior Keith Price will have to be at his best to give Washington a chance to win.
Stanford 28, Washington 23

Arkansas (+13) at 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. There are many culprits, but enemy No. 1 has to the pass defense. Saturday night, Rutgers sophomore Gary Nova threw for 398 yards — 99 more than his previous career high — and five touchdowns in the Scarlet Knights’ win in Fayetteville. This week, Arkansas’ challenge will be even greater as they leave the state for the first time this season. Texas A&M redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel has emerged as one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the nation. Manziel has rushed for 262 yards and five touchdowns and also thrown seven touchdowns without an interception in 86 attempts. This one could get ugly.
Texas A&M 41, Arkansas 20

Oregon State (+3) at 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. The Beavers are getting it done by passing the football and playing outstanding defense. Sean Mannion, the strong-armed sophomore, has completed 53-of-82 passes for 655 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. The defense, a weakness a year ago, held Wisconsin to seven points (the Badgers’ lowest total since October 2008) — and UCLA to 20 (20.7 below its average heading into the game). 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. Matt Scott, who had played so well in his first three games under RichRod, completed only 50 percent of his passes and was intercepted three times.
Oregon State 23, Arizona 17

Wisconsin (+12) at Nebraska
Wisconsin has been one of the most disappointing teams in the nation through the early part of the season. Yes, the Badgers are 3–1, but they beat Northern Iowa by five, Utah State by two (when USU missed a 37-yard field goal in the final seconds) and UTEP by 11. But there is still plenty of time to turn things around. Wisconsin is 0–0 in the Big Ten and plays in a division (the Leaders) in which two teams are ineligible for the Big Ten Championship Game. Bottom line: Wisconsin doesn’t need to be very good to reach the league title game; the Badgers just need to be better than Illinois and Purdue. 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 a team that is still capable of running the ball well (we think).
Nebraska 27, Wisconsin 20

Virginia Tech (-7) vs. Cincinnati (Landover, Md.)
We are four weeks into the college football season, yet Cincinnati has only played two games — and only one vs. an FBS opponent. The Bearcats did well in that one game, beating Pittsburgh 34¬–10, but this team is still a mystery. George Winn has stepped in for Isaiah Pead at tailback and has 242 yards in two games. Munchie Legaux has been a playmaker at quarterback (142 yards rushing, 413 yards passing), but he threw two interceptions against Delaware State two weeks ago. Virginia Tech bounced back from its troubling loss at Pittsburgh to beat a decent Bowling Green team 37–0 in Blacksburg. Logan Thomas wasn’t sharp at quarterback (he completed only 11-of-26 attempts), but the Hokies ran the ball well, with 246 yards on 43 carries. 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, Cincinnati 24

NC State (+2.5) at 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. NC State has won three straight after opening the season with a 35–21 loss to Tennessee in Atlanta. The schedule, however, hasn’t been too taxing. The Wolfpack won at UConn, which is mildly impressive, before beating South Alabama and The Citadel with ease. Mike Glennon has looked good at times — he was brilliant for a stretch vs. Tennessee — but needs to play well on a consistent basis to give this team a chance at being relevant in the ACC Coastal race.
Miami (Fla.) 27, NC State 20

Last week: 6–4 overall (5–5 against the spread)
Season: 27–13 overall (21–19 against the spread)

By Mitch Light

@AthlonMitch

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> College football’s Week 5 action features a key battle in the Big Ten, West Virginia’s first-ever Big 12 game and Texas’ trip to Stillwater to battle Oklahoma State.</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 06:02
Path: /college-football/sec-week-5-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The SEC slate in Week 5 of the college football season is highlighted by the Arkansas-Texas A&M matchup in College Station and Tennessee’s trip to Georgia. On paper, neither game is expected to be too close — both home teams are favored by about two touchdowns, but these are still compelling matchups.

Other Week 5 Previews and Predictions

 ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 

SEC Top Storylines to Watch in Week 5:

1. Can James Franklin get it going on the ground
James Franklin emerged as one of the top young quarterbacks in the nation last season because of his ability to hurt defenses with his arm and his legs. In his first season as the starter, Franklin threw for 2,865 yards and 21 touchdowns and added 981 yards and 15 scores on the ground. Nationally, only four quarterbacks rushed for more yards than Franklin in 2011. This year, however, the running element has been missing from his game. He has netted only 70 yards and has failed to rush for a touchdown in three games. Part of this can be blamed on his lingering shoulder injury (though he has 35 rushing attempts in his two games vs. FBS competition) and part can be attributed to the quality of competition he has faced. Franklin picked up 39 yards on six carries in the opener against Southeastern Louisiana but gained a combined 31 yards on 35 carries in SEC games vs. Georgia and South Carolina, two of the elite defensive teams in the nation. Both the Bulldogs and Gamecocks were able to get pressure on Franklin without blitzing too often, which allowed the defenses to drop seven players in coverage, and thus limited Franklin’s ability to find openings in the secondary when he was flushed out of the pocket. The question moving forward: Will he enjoy success running the ball against teams not named Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama? The next two games will serve as a barometer. The Tigers head to UCF this week and then host Vanderbilt on Oct. 6.

2. Can Knile Davis return to form?
You might not have noticed — because there are so many other problems with the Arkansas football program — but Knile Davis has been alarmingly unproductive in 2012. A first-team All-SEC back in 2010, Davis missed the entire ’11 season due to an ankle injury. But he was declared 100 percent healthy over the summer and was expected to be a key cog in the Razorbacks’ attack. Hasn’t happened. In four games, Davis has rushed for 208 yards on 64 carries for an average of only 3.3 yards per carry. There are 26 players in the SEC (with at least 30 carries) who have a better yards-per-attempt average than Davis. This week, Davis and the Hogs face a Texas A&M defense that gave up only 106 yards rushing to Florida in its only game vs. an AQ conference opponent.

3. Can the Aggies kill a wounded Hog?
This appears to be a great time to play Arkansas. The Razorbacks, a preseason top-15 team, have lost three straight games and are under the “leadership” of a lame-duck coach who has no chance of being retained once his 10-month contract expires. So, easy win for the Aggies? Maybe not. Arkansas is still a talented team that might actually benefit from leaving the Natural State for the first time this season. There are no distractions on the road. The Hogs can take an “us against the world” mentality into Kyle Field and play with nothing to lose. Meanwhile, there is considerable pressure on Texas A&M to win this game. Beginning with next week’s trip to Ole Miss, the Aggies play five of their next six on the road, and the one home game is against LSU. A&M cannot afford to drop to 0–2 at home in SEC play if it hopes to remain relevant throughout the 2012 season. 

4. Can Tennessee limit the big play?
We were told not to be surprised if the Tennessee defense gave up some big plays while making the transition to Sal Sunseri’s 3–4 scheme. Well, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. Through four games, the Volunteers have allowed 20 plays from scrimmage of 20 yards or more, which is tied with Arkansas for the most in the SEC. Included in those 20 “big plays” are three that went for at least 70 yards. Only Washington State has allowed more nationally. This could spell trouble this weekend in Athens. Guess who leads the nation in offensive plays of 20 yards or more? That’s right, Georgia with 35. The Bulldogs currently rank 13th in the nation in total offense (530 ypg) and have scored 41 points or more in all four games. Tennessee is a 13-point underdog at Sanford Stadium. The Vols must find a way to limit Georgia’s big plays to keep things close.

5. Can Marlon Brown contribute on a consistent basis?
Marlon Brown arrived at Georgia as one of the elite recruits from the Class of 2009. The Memphis native was ranked as the No. 2 wide receiver and the No. 14 overall prospect by Athlon Sports. Through three seasons, Brown was largely considered a bust. He had a total of 18 catches for 291 yards against SEC opponents, with 121 of those yards coming in one game (at Vanderbilt last season). This season, however, Brown has emerged as one of Aaron Murray’s favorite targets. The senior has 16 catches for 264 yards, including 13 for 222 and three touchdowns in the Dawgs’ two SEC games. The key now will be for Brown to maintain this level of production as the season progresses.

6. Can South Carolina continue its dominance against 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. The Gamecocks outgained UK 639-to-97 and limited the Cats to five total first downs. Following the game, Steve Spurrier offered the following assessment of his opponent: “Kentucky has a heck of a punter, I know that.” There was a time, however, when Kentucky had the upper hand in this rivalry. UK won five of the first eight after South Carolina joined the league in 1992.

7. Who will take snaps for the Wildcats?
Entering last weekend, Kentucky ranked 13th in the nation and first in the SEC in passing with 322 yards per game. But with starter Maxwell Smith sidelined with a shoulder injury, the Wildcats’ offense struggled mightily. Morgan Newton, a senior who stepped in for Smith, had a nightmarish stat line: 7-of-21 for 48 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. The Wildcats are optimistic that Smith will be back, but one thing is clear: Newton, a former 4-star recruit, will not be receiving meaningful snaps. True freshman Jalen Whitlow received all of the work with the second team this week and will get the start if Smith has a setback. Whitlow had been receiving a lot of work with the second team in practice since the season-opening loss to Louisville, but the coaching staff felt more comfortable sending Newton, who has 17 career starts, to play against Florida at the Swamp. “When Max went down, we just felt like he (Jalen) wasn’t ready, wasn’t quite ready to go in (and play) in that type of environment,” UK coach Joker Phillips said earlier this week. “I’ve been down there when we put a freshman quarterback in there, and it’s pretty tough. And we just felt like we wanted to start Morgan. And we did. Didn’t work out. Didn’t play as well as we would have liked. But we still think that that was the right decision.”

8. Can LSU develop a consistent passing attack for the upcoming stretch of games?
There has been some consternation in Baton Rouge about LSU’s offense — specifically the passing attack. Zach Mettenberger, expected by many (including me!) to be the missing piece at quarterback, has been rather ordinary through three games. He has by no means been bad; he just hasn’t been a difference-maker. The Tigers rank 98th in the nation in passing with 194.5 yard per game, but that is a bit misleading. When you run the ball as well as LSU does — and when you are so often nursing a big lead — there isn’t much of a need to fling the ball all over the field. This week, LSU should have no problem moving the ball — either on the ground or through the air — against the mighty Towson Tigers, the alma mater of former New York Giant Dave Meggett. But take a look at the Tigers’ upcoming schedule, a five-game stretch that features road trips to Florida and Texas A&M and home dates with South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi State. LSU will have to be balanced on offense to navigate that brutal stretch without a loss.

9. Can the Ole Miss defense stop the run?
At first glance, it would appear Ole Miss has done a decent job stopping the run. The Rebels rank 40th in the nation and seventh in the SEC in rushing defense, allowing 125.3 yards per game. That, however, doesn’t really tell the story. In its only game vs. a quality opponent (Texas in Oxford), Ole Miss gave up 350 yards on the round. That’s an alarming number for a team that is preparing to visit Tuscaloosa to take on the mighty Crimson Tide. The Alabama offense is quite capable of throwing the forward pass with efficiency, but the Tide are at their best when running the ball with their stable of outstanding tailbacks. It will be considered a victory for the Ole Miss defense if Alabama rushes for less than 250 yards on Saturday night.

10. Can Bama stay perfect in the red zone?
The Alabama offense has entered the red zone 18 times this season. And 18 times the Crimson Tide have put points on the board. Eleven other teams in the nation have been perfect in the red zone, but only Oklahoma State, with 20, has more trips inside the 20-yard line. Prior to last week, Alabama had scored a touchdown on all but one of its 12 red zone opportunities, but the Crimson Tide were forced to settle for field goals on three of their six trips inside the 20 in a 40–7 win vs. Florida Atlantic.

By Mitch Light

  David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Missouri (+3) at UCF Missouri 28-17 Missouri 27-21 Missouri 27-24 Missouri 30-28
Arkansas (+13.5) at Texas A&M Texas A&M 35-28 Texas A&M 34-28 Texas A&M 34-27 Texas A&M 41-20
Tennessee (+13) at Georgia Georgia 31-17 Georgia 34-21 Georgia 34-20 Georgia 38-17
South Carolina (-20.5) at Kentucky South Carolina 42-7 South Carolina 37-10 South Carolina 38-10 South Caroina 27-6
Towson at LSU LSU 56-3 LSU 49-3 LSU 62-3 LSU 41-0
Ole Miss (+31) at Alabama Alabama 49-7 Alabama 41-14 Alabama 45-7 Alabama 38-17
Last Week 9-1 9-1 9-1 9-1
Season Record 37-8 40-5 40-5 39-6

Teaser:
<p> The SEC slate in Week 5 of the college football season is highlighted by the Arkansas-Texas A&amp;M matchup in College Station and Tennessee’s trip to Georgia. On paper, neither game is expected to be too close — both home teams are favored by about two touchdowns, but these are still compelling matchups.</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:50
All taxonomy terms: Ryder Cup, Golf, Monthly
Path: /golf/ryder-cup-numbers
Body:

The 2012 Ryder Cup begins Friday at famous Medinah Country Club outside Chicago, and the United States will try to regain the title from the European squad. In 2008, the U.S. team reclaimed the Cup at Valhalla after three consecutive Euro victories. However in 2010, Europe won it back at Celtic Manor in Wales. Davis Love will captain the U.S. squad at Medinah, while Spaniard José María Olazábal will lead the European contingent. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk are the veterans on an American team that has four Ryder rookies, while Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy lead a dynamic Euro squad. Here’s a statistical look at golf’s top team competition:

1: Number of winning Ryder Cup teams on which Tiger Woods has played. Woods has played in the Ryder Cup six times, but the U.S. won only one of those — in 1999. He missed the 2008 U.S. victory due to injury.
 
45: The number of feet Justin Leonard’s birdie putt traveled on the 17th green at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass., clinching the half-point necessary for the U.S. to come back from 4 points down and win the Ryder Cup in 1999.
 
9: Appearances, including this year, by Phil Mickelson in the Ryder Cup. In fact, he has also played on nine U.S. Presidents Cup teams and has never required an at-large selection.
 
0: Times 2010 European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie lost in singles during his career, going
6-0-2 for a total of 7 points.
 
7: Major championships won by Jack Nicklaus before he played in his first Ryder Cup. Nicklaus was not eligible to compete until 1969, due to restrictions no longer in place having to do with status as a PGA professional.
 
11: Ryder Cup veterans on the 2012 European team.
Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts is the only Ryder Cup rookie on the European squad.
 
1979: The year the Ryder Cup added players from continental Europe to Great Britain & Ireland.
 
18-8-5: European captain Jose Maria Olazabal’s Ryder Cup record in seven appearances.
 
9-12-5: U.S. captain Davis Love III’s Ryder Cup record in six appearances.
 
8-7-1: Record, in favor of Europe, since 1979, when the matches began to include all of Europe.
 
1993: The year when the U.S. last won a Ryder Cup on foreign soil.
 
Ryder Cup Career Records

Most Appearances
Nick Faldo      11


Most Career Points
Nick Faldo      25


Most Singles Points
Five Players tied with 7:
Colin Montgomerie      (6-0-2)
Billy Casper      (6-2-2)
Lee Trevino      (6-2-2)
Arnold Palmer      (6-3-2)
Neil Coles      (5-6-4)


Most Foursome Points
Bernhard Langer      11½


Most Four-Ball Points
Ian Woosnam, Jose Maria Olazabal      10½


Best Match Winning Percentages
(Min. three matches)
Jimmy Demaret      100% (6-0-0)
Jack Burke     87.5% (7-1)
Horton Smith     87.5% (3-0-1)
Walter Hagen     83% (7-1-1)
J.C. Snead     81.8% (9-2)


Youngest Player
Sergio Garcia     1999 (19 yrs., 258 days)


Oldest Player
Ray Floyd     1993 (51 yrs., 20 days)
 
The last 12 Ryder Cups
 
Year     Venue     Winning Team     Score
2010     Celtic Manor     Europe     14½ to 13½
2008     Valhalla     United States     16½ to 11½
2006     The K Club     Europe     18½ to 9½
2004     Oakland Hills     Europe     18½ to 9½
2002     The Belfry     Europe     15½ to 12½
1999     The Country Club     United States     14½ to 13½
1997     Valderrama     Europe     14½ to 13½
1995     Oak Hill     Europe     14½ to 13½
1993     The Belfry     United States     15 to 13
1991     Kiawah Island     United States     14½ to 13½
1989     The Belfry     Europe *     14 to 14
1987     Muirfield Village     Europe     15 to 13
*retained Cup with tie
 

Teaser:
<p> Ryder Cup: By the Numbers</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:50
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-5-preview-and-predictions
Body:

With only four games involving Big 12 teams, this is a light week in the schedule. But what the Big 12 lacks in quantity, it may make up for it in early signpost games for conference contenders.

A week after Kansas State’s upset of Oklahoma in Norman reset the picture at the top of the conference, teams like Texas, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Baylor will have key games setting the tone for October.

Other Week 5 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big 12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions:

Which defense will make the most important big play in Morgantown?
West Virginia’s first Big 12 opponent isn’t Texas or Oklahoma, but this matchup with Baylor in Morgantown could be one of the week’s best thanks to two top-10 pass offenses. We know West Virginia can throw the ball. Geno Smith passed for 338 yards and three touchdowns against Maryland last week. His completion percentage of 69.8 percent was great, but it was his lowest of the season by nearly 20 points. Nick Florence isn’t Robert Griffin III, but he’s topped 300 passing yards in each game this season with 11 total touchdowns. This game may come down to a defensive play or two with both teams ranking eighth or lower in the Big 12 in total defense. Which defense makes that play, though, is anyone’s guess. Baylor second in the Big 12 in takeaways (West Virginia is sixth) while West Virginia leads the league in sacks and tackles for a loss (Baylor is seventh and sixth in those categories, respectively).

Is David Ash a Big 12 title-winning quarterback?
With the Longhorns’ defense and run game, Texas doesn’t need quarterback David Ash to be Colt McCoy or Vince Young. He just can’t be the David Ash of last season. So far, Ash has been much improved from 2011, and Texas’ offense is humming along at seventh in scoring and 16th in yards per game. Ash, who threw an interception every 21.6 attempts last season, has yet to throw a pick in 72 attempts in 2012. He’s already passed for 703 yards and seven touchdowns and notched a road win. But the schedule hasn’t been overly challenging, and the road win was over Ole Miss. Ash went 22 of 40 with 139 yards and two interceptions against Oklahoma State in Austin last season.

Where has Oklahoma State’s ballhawking defense gone?
Oklahoma State isn’t sure if Wes Lunt or J.W. Walsh will play quarterback Saturday, but either way, the Cowboys will be going with a freshman. A bigger question might be on the Oklahoma State defense. A year after leading the nation in takeaways -- and being among the Big 12 leaders each season under defensive coordinator Bill Young -- the Cowboys have forced only three turnovers this season. Two of those came against a woefully overmatched Savannah State team in the opener. Oklahoma State forced three turnovers or more in nine individual games last season. No matter the quarterback, Oklahoma State might need a key play on defense to overcome Texas.

Is Texas Tech’s defense for real?
Even Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville conceded the Red Raiders’ defense is probably more in between where it was last season on defense (114th of 120) and where it is now (first in total defense and pass efficiency defense). Where on that scale this defense falls might be answered against Iowa State. The Cyclones aren’t in the mold of an up-and-down offensive team like many in the Big 12, but Iowa State is a tougher opponent than any of Texas Tech’s foes so far, Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico. Iowa State will present a test for the Texas Tech defense against a balanced offense on the road.

Can Iowa State’s defense limit Texas Tech’s Seth Doege?
The Cyclones rank second in the nation in pass efficiency defense through their first three games, frustrating above-average quarterbacks in the process. Both Tulsa quarterback Cody Green and Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg completed fewer than half their passes against Iowa State while throwing two interceptions apiece. Now here comes Texas Tech’s Seth Doege. The senior is 52 of 67 for 659 yards with 11 interceptions in his last two games.

How much stat-padding can Casey Pachall do against SMU?
Statistically, SMU is one of the nation’s worst defensive teams -- despite a shutout and 10 takeaways against Stephen F. Austin. Allowing 59 points to Baylor and 48 to Texas A&M will do such things. Despite TCU’s inauspicious start in the red zone (9 of 16 with only six touchdowns), Pachall leads the nation in pass efficiency. SMU should provide the Horned Frogs opportunities to build confidence after a few shaking outings in scoring range against Kansas and Virginia.

Week 5 Big 12 Predictions:

Week 5 Big 12 games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Baylor (+12.5) at West Virginia West Virginia 42-28 West Virginia 37-31 West Virginia 41-31 West Virginia 44-34
Texas Tech at Iowa State (+2.5) Iowa State 31-24 Iowa State 21-17 Texas Tech 31-30 Iowa State 27-23
TCU at SMU (+16) TCU 28-10 TCU 31-17 TCU 38-17 TCU 38-13
Texas at Oklahoma State (+3) Texas 35-21 Texas 30-21 Texas 31-27 Texas 31-17
Last week 4-1 4-1 3-2 4-1
Overall 27-3 26-4 25-5 27-3

By David Fox

@DavidFox615

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Teaser:
<p> Big 12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:48
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-5-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The 2012 season is turning into one of the best fans have seen out West in years and it has a chance to get even better. Oregon State and Arizona State made huge statements last week, but both have huge road tests this weekend that will prove if they belong in conference contention. Otherwise, all eyes across the college football world should be on the Pac-12 this Thursday evening.

Pac-12's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 5:

1. Who wants to challenge Oregon?
Stanford and Washington square-off Thursday evening in a game that will likely decide the No. 2 slot in the Pac-12 North. Both teams have had two weeks to prepare for this one and the winner will be the top challenger to the Oregon Ducks in the North. The Huskies, who have been outscored 106-21 in the last two meetings with the Cardinal, begin a four-week stretch that will determine their entire season. After Stanford, Washington visits Oregon, hosts USC and visits Arizona. Meanwhile, Stanford's run isn't much easier with a home game against 'Zona and a road trip to Notre Dame coming up. As if there wasn't enough already riding on this primetime national TV game. 

2. Oregon State defense vs. Arizona offense
The 2-0 Beavers are likely asking, what about us in the North? Mike Riley's bunch boasts the No. 2 rushing defense in the nation and have allowed a total of 27 points thus far in 2012. Despite what fans saw last week from Arizona, the Matt Scott/Ka'Deem Cary-led Wildcats offense is still one of the nation's best. Scott is still leading the league in total offense and Carey has more than one big play up his sleeve for this weekend. If Oregon State wants to be taken seriously in the North, it will have to come up with its second straight road upset (Arizona is a three-point favorite). This is a classic Letdown Alert situation as the Beavers are coming off of an emotional road upset while 'Zona returns home after being shutout 49-0 against Oregon.

3. Arizona State to face first starting quarterback
Assuming nothing tragic happens to Cal starting quarterback Zach Maynard between now and Saturday afternoon, the Sun Devils will actually have to play against someone else's first-string quarterback. Jordan Wynn was the starting quarterback at Utah but has retired from the game, giving way to Jon Hays. Missouri's James Franklin sat out two weeks ago against Arizona State. Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase didn't play in Week 2 against ASU. And in Week 1, Todd Graham's guys knocked out Lumberjack starter Cary Grossart early in the game. As a result, the Sun Devils have surrendered more than 150 passing yards only once and have yet to allow a 200-yard passer. Opposing quarterbacks are averaging 139.8 yards per game with eight INTs and only three TD passes. Maynard and his talented trio of pass-catchers — Keenan Allen, Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs — will easily present the toughest test to date for the Sun Devils' secondary.

4. Cal's 1-3 record is very deceiving
All that may matter to Cal boosters and administrators is the win-loss record, but the 1-3 mark in Berkeley likely has no effect on Arizona State head coach Todd Graham. Cal lost in a nail-bitter at home to a very good Nevada team and has losses to USC and Ohio State on the road. This team is much better than its record indicates and brings a host of elite play-makers on offense into a must-win situation at home. And Graham knows his team will have to click on all cylinders to win a tough road test over the Bears. 

5. How will injuries affect Arizona-Oregon State?
Matt Scott is dealing with a hip injury he sustained on the first drive against Oregon. He is starting for sure, but how will the bum hip impact his ability to run the zone-read option? The talented Oregon State backfield of Sean Mannion, Storm Woods and Malcolm Agnew all missed practice on Monday. Mannion was back on the field after dealing with a sore throwing arm. Woods (ankle) and Agnew (calf) both returned to work on Tuesday as well. Will any of these key players experience any lingering effects? Only time will tell.

6. I wouldn't want to be a Buffalo this weekend
UCLA was flying high when the Oregon State Beavers grounded their 3-0 start last weekend in Los Angeles. Johnathan Franklin rushed for 431 yards in the Bruins first two games but has mustered only 155 yards on 37 carries in the last two. The inability to run the ball cost UCLA the win last week, but didn't slow down star quarterback Brett Hundley. The redshirt freshman has three 300-yard efforts in his first four career games and should have this offense back on track this weekend against the lowly Buffs. The three-touchdown underdog will have to get a huge game once again from Jordan Webb (345 yards passing, four total TD last week) to even have a chance to stay with the angry Bruins.

7. What can we learn from the Ducks visit to Seattle?
There is likely to be a heavy Duck contingent in the semi-road game against Washington State in Seattle this weekend. After Wazzu lost to Colorado at home in heart-breaking fashion, it's hard to see the Cougars keeping pace with Oregon. So what can we learn about the Ducks? Chip Kelly flashed a few wrinkles on offense last week against Arizona, namely a tight end turned power back named Colt Lyerla. He fills the only void on an already explosive unit as a short yardage and goal-line specialist. As usual, fans never know what they will see from the Oregon offense.

8. Athlon's Weekly Player of the Year Watch
One POY awards list this week had De'Anthony Thomas listed as the front-runner with Johnathan Franklin, Taylor Kelly and Matt Barkley listed as the top challengers. While those names are all deserving, others like Matt Scott, Ka'Deem Carey, Marcus Mariota, Kenjon Barner, Stepfan Taylor, Brett Hundley, Keith Price, Marqise Lee, Keenan Allen, Robert Woods, Marquess Wilson, Sean Mannion, Brandin Cooks and even Silas Redd aren't too far behind. The point being, it is impossible to narrow this POY race to three names and the depth of offensive play-making skill in the Pac-12 is second to none (not even the SEC).

Week 5 Pac-12 Predictions:

Week 5 Pac-12 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Stanford (-7) at Washington Stanford, 27-21 Stanford, 28-23 Stanford, 27-24 Stanford, 35-24
Arizona St (+2.5) at Cal Cal, 28-24 Cal, 27-24 Arizona St, 31-27 Arizona St, 28-21
UCLA (-20.5) at Colorado UCLA, 38-20 UCLA, 35-21 UCLA, 45-17 UCLA, 38-14
Oregon St (+3) at Arizona Arizona, 30-24 Oregon St, 23-17 Arizona, 31-28 Oregon St, 35-28
Oregon (-29) at Washington St Oregon, 49-21 Oregon, 51-10 Oregon, 55-17 Oregon, 56-10
Last Week: 2-3 3-2 3-2 3-2
Yearly Totals: 28-11 28-11 28-11 26-13

Bye: USC, Utah

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 5 Previews and Predictions
Big East Week 5 Previews and Predictions

Big Ten Week 5 Previews and Predictions

Big 12 Week 5 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 5 Previews and Predictions

College Football Week 5 Upset Predictions

Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections

Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:48
Path: /college-football/acc-week-5-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The ACC was in the spotlight last week, as Florida State and Clemson squared off in Tallahassee for a meeting of top-10 teams. Week 5 doesn't have many marquee matchups in the ACC, but there are enough games to provide some intrigue. Miami hosts NC State in a critical conference game for both teams, while Virginia hopes to hold off an upset bid by Louisiana Tech, and Florida State travels to Tampa to take on South Florida. 

Other Week 5 Previews and Predictions

Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

ACC's Top Storylines for Week 5

Which defense will make enough plays to win: NC State or Miami?
In two ACC games this year, Miami has scored a combined 83 points. NC State scored 21 in the opener against Tennessee and 10 against Connecticut in Week 2 but has recorded at least 31 points in each of its last two games. Both teams have momentum on their side this week, especially as both sport a 3-1 record after last Saturday’s action. The Hurricanes seem to be hitting on all cylinders on offense, as quarterback Stephen Morris threw for a career-high 436 yards against Georgia Tech, while freshman Duke Johnson is averaging eight yards per carry. NC State’s offense isn’t as flashy, but quarterback Mike Glennon is one of the best in the nation, and the rushing attack got a boost with freshman Shadrach Thornton rushing for 145 yards in the win over Citadel. With both offenses capable of scoring over 30 points, this game will be decided by a few stops on defense. The Hurricanes need to get pressure on Glennon, and the Wolfpack’s offensive line is allowing 3.5 sacks per game. If Miami is able to get to Glennon, NC State will have a hard time winning this game. When the Hurricanes have the ball, keep an eye on the matchup of Morris versus the Wolfpack’s secondary. NC State cornerback David Amerson is one of the best in the nation, and Morris has thrown one pick in three out of Miami’s four games this year.

Can Virginia Tech get its rushing game on track?
Throw out games against Austin Peay and Bowling Green, and the Hokies are averaging just 77.5 rushing yards per game and has yet to score a touchdown on the ground. Contributing to the struggles is a reworked offensive line and the lack of a standout running back. In last week’s game against Bowling Green, the running back rotation had a shakeup, with Tony Gregory leading the way with 11 carries. Redshirt freshman Michael Holmes was expected to be the team’s No. 1 back, but he has just 151 yards on 35 attempts so far this season. Saturday’s matchup against Cincinnati will be the final tune-up for Virginia Tech, as the schedule the rest of the way features just ACC matchups. Cincinnati’s defense is allowing 123.5 rushing yards per game but is averaging four sacks a contest. Even though the Bearcats had some key personnel depart from the line, this group isn’t a pushover. Virginia Tech can win this game without a big day from the running backs, but it’s crucial this group develops a pecking order among the running backs and finds some consistency from the offensive line with the rest of the ACC schedule approaching.

Will Florida State avoid a letdown against South Florida?
On paper, everything points to a blowout win by Florida State on Saturday night. The Seminoles clearly showed they are one of the best teams in the nation in last week’s win over Clemson, but there’s that pesky letdown word that always seems to circulate after a big victory. The Seminoles lost to South Florida in their only meeting, dropping a 17-7 game in Tallahassee in 2009. There’s no question the talent level has increased for Florida State since then, while the Bulls enter Saturday’s game with nine losses in their last 12 games. In his first career start, South Florida quarterback B.J. Daniels totaled 341 yards and two touchdowns against Florida State, but he’s also failed to fully develop into one of the nation’s top 25 quarterbacks. Another problem for South Florida has been its defense, which is allowing 384.5 yards a game. Florida State is clicking on all cylinders on both sides of the ball right now, and unless the Seminoles turn in an uninspired, flat performance, the Bulls won’t pull off another upset over their in-state foe.

Does Boston College have any answer for Clemson’s offense?
After a 1-2 start and road games against Army, Florida State and Georgia Tech upcoming, Saturday’s game against Clemson is a big one for Boston College. The Eagles still have slim bowl hopes, but a loss to the Tigers would put them at 1-3 with five road games remaining and a late season home date against Notre Dame in mid-November. Boston College’s offense has shown improvement under coordinator Doug Martin, averaging 26.3 points and 412.7 yards per game. Quarterback Chase Rettig has not thrown an interception the last two weeks and ranks first in the ACC in total offense per game. But is that enough to beat Clemson? Probably not. The Tigers scored 37 points on one of the nation’s best defenses last week and face a Boston College defense allowing nearly 400 yards per game. The Eagles should be able to move the ball, but their defense will have a hard time slowing down Clemson’s Tajh Boyd (QB), Andre Ellington (RB) and DeAndre Hopkins (WR). The Tigers suffered a blow to their receiving corps on Thursday night, as receiver Sammy Watkins won't play due to abdominal virus.

Is it time for Virginia to switch quarterbacks?
Throw out the Cavaliers’ performance against FCS opponent Richmond and the statistics for Virginia’s offense are rather pedestrian. The Cavaliers rushed for just 32 yards against Penn State and have thrown just as many interceptions (4) as touchdowns (4) in their last two games. Quarterback Michael Rocco is completing 60.2 percent of his passes but has struggled in back-to-back games. Backup Phillip Sims has played in every game this year, throwing for 174 yards and three touchdowns on 18 completions. Although Rocco has struggled, the offensive line has failed to open rushing lanes for the running backs, and the Cavaliers rank 97th in rushing offense going into Week 5. Rocco will start this Saturday, but Mike London could have a quick hook if the offense is stuck in neutral early in the game. With a high-scoring Louisiana Tech team coming to Charlottesville, the Cavaliers can’t afford to fall behind 20-0 once again.

Can Duke move closer to bowl eligibility?
The Blue Devils are off to a 3-1 start for the first time since 2008 and making a bowl game isn’t too far out of reach. Duke needs to catch a few breaks the rest of the way, beginning this Saturday against Wake Forest. The Blue Devils have not defeated the Demon Deacons since 1999, but there have been close calls along the way, including last year’s 24-23 loss in Durham. Although the rushing attack still needs work, Duke’s defense is showing signs of improvement, ranking 19th nationally with three sacks per game and allowing 106.5 rushing yards per game. Quarterback Sean Renfree is also off to a good start, throwing for nine touchdowns and 1,078 yards. However, the biggest concern for the Blue Devils has to be a secondary that ranks 74th nationally and has yet to face a quarterback/receiver combination like Wake Forest’s Tanner Price and Michael Campanaro. This is David Cutcliffe’s best team in his tenure at Duke, and the pieces are in place to get six wins. However, if the Blue Devils want to go bowling, they have to snap a 12-game losing streak to the Demon Deacons, especially with the schedule only getting tougher the rest of the year.

Easy Wins for North Carolina, Georgia Tech
After back-to-back losses against Wake Forest and Louisville, North Carolina got back into the win column with a solid 27-6 victory over East Carolina. Even more important for the Tar Heels was the return of running back Giovani Bernard, who rushed for 50 yards and chipped in 52 yards on six receptions. North Carolina should have no trouble moving to 3-2 this Saturday, as 0-4 Idaho visits Chapel Hill. The Vandals are coming off a three-point loss to Wyoming in overtime but were handled 63-14 by LSU on Sept. 15. After blowing a 36-19 lead against Miami, MTSU should be the perfect Week 5 opponent for Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets should be able to take out their frustrations against the Blue Raiders, while figuring out a few answers on defense. Georgia Tech allowed Miami to throw for 436 yards, while adding 173 on the ground last week. 

Week 5 ACC Predictions

Week 5 ACC Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
MTSU at Georgia Tech GT 42-10 GT 37-17 GT 45-13 GT 48-10
NC State at Miami Miami 21-17 NC State 24-21 NC State 27-24 Miami 27-10
Duke at Wake Forest Duke 28-21 Wake 34-31 Wake 30-27 Duke 21-20
Idaho at North Carolina UNC 35-7 UNC 37-14 UNC 48-13 UNC 41-3
Louisiana Tech at Virginia La. Tech 28-14 La. Tech 31-28 La. Tech 38-31 La. Tech 41-23
Clemson at Boston College Clemson 42-21 Clemson 42-20 Clemson 38-17 Clemson 31-14
Virginia Tech vs. Cincy (Landover) VT 28-21 VT 31-21 VT 30-20 VT 27-24
Florida State at South Florida FSU 38-14 FSU 34-14 FSU 38-13 FSU 31-13
Last Week: 8-1 8-1 8-1 8-1
Season Record: 35-5 36-4 35-5 35-5


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

Teaser:
<p> ACC Week 5 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:46
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-5-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The Big Ten is having a rough year. Possibly its worst of the BCS era. But that doesn't mean there isn't great football still left on the schedule. Conference play begins this weekend with a trio of unbeaten teams and at least four juicy match-ups (sorry, Purdue and Indiana). With the entire nation fixed on East Lansing this weekend, the Big Ten needs a showcase performance from the league's top two coaches and what could be the top two players (Braxton Miller, Le'Veon Bell).

Big Ten's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 5:

1. Bring on conference play...please!
The struggles for the Big Ten have been well documented, but a dramatic conference season could make the first four weeks a distant memory. And Week 5 gets Big Ten play kick-started in style. Ohio State and Michigan State could be the best two teams in the league and has the Mark Dantonio, who won a national title at Ohio State, backstory. The corn-fed Big Red will host the dairy-fed Big Red in what should be a fashionable showdown of tailbacks, unique uniforms and revenge. A rivalry trophy is on the line in Iowa City. And two new coaches who don't like each other do battle in Illinois. Let the games begin.

2. Quarterback differential will decide the big game
Braxton Miller has been not only the Big Ten Player of the Year through four weeks but could be considered the top challenger to Geno Smith for the Heisman Trophy (if voting took place today, of course). His ability to complete clutch throws and pick up key first downs with tough runs makes him the best player on the field this weekend in East Lansing. His counterpart is Andrew Maxwell, who ranks 12th in the league in passer efficiency (that's last). Let's compare the numbers:

Miller: 754 yards, 61.2% passing, 14 total TD, 2 INT, 441 yards rushing
Maxwell: 869 yards, 56.6% passing, 3 total TD, 3 INT, minus-18 yards rushing

3. Sparty has to win the battle in the trenches
If it comes down to quarterback play, Ohio State will win. But the Spartans can win if it controls the line of scrimmage. Le'Veon Bell is the Big Ten's top rusher and has single-handedly carried MSU to wins over Boise State and Eastern Michigan. If John Simon and the rest of the Buckeyes' front line of defense can stop Bell, few believe Maxwell can win the game with his arm. Meanwhile, Ohio State's traditional rushing attack has been questionable at best, but it should have its full complement of players for the first time this fall. Jordan Hall, Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith all expect to see action. William Gholston, who has been underwhelming thus far in 2012, might be the most important player on the field. He has to play better to stop Miller and Company.

4. Recruiting-gate: Bill O'Brien vs. Tim Beckman
During the summer months following the announcement of the Penn State sanctions, Tim Beckman openly and actively recruited current Penn State players to come to Illinois. The result of the questionable tactics? One reserve offensive lineman Ryan Nowicki defected from Happy Valley to Champaign. And one frosty relationship developed between the new Leaders Division coaches. And Penn State players haven't forgotten either — Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year candidate Mike Mauti in particular. Beckman was simply trying to improve his team within the framework of the rules, but in the process, he gave O'Brien and the Lions plenty of extra motivation for this weekend's showdown.

5. Floyd of Rosedale Trophy
From 2001 to 2009, the Golden Gophers defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes just once, claiming the famous pork trophy only in 2006. However, the Gophers have won two straight, including a one-point win last Halloween that seems to have jump-started the Jerry Kill era in the Twin Cities. Minnesota enters this weekend undefeated (4-0) while Iowa has struggled mightily through four games. Quarterback MarQueis Gray won't play according to Kill, so a wounded Hawkeye team is very dangerous — especially, considering Minnesota hasn't won in Iowa City since 1999. The wise guys in Vegas know that the records don't count in this one as Iowa is a touchdown favorite.

6. Keep an eye on that first quarter
Ohio State has been a notorious slow starter this season, trailing and being shutout by Miami (Ohio) and UAB after one quarter. Wisconsin has scored a total of five points (no, and it wasn't even a safety) in the first quarter this season and was shutout by both Utah State and Oregon State. Iowa trailed after one against Northern Iowa and Iowa State while trailing at halftime to all three FBS opponents. Illinois was outscored 35-7 in the first by Louisiana Tech and Arizona State. And Michigan State has been shut out in its last two first quarters. Seemingly bucking the trend, however, is the Nittany Lions. They have outscored four teams 35-0 in the first quarter and 55-9 in the first half. 

7. Revenge a dish best served Big Red
It was a night game in Madison on Oct. 1, 2011. That was the first time Nebraska played a Big Ten football game. And it wasn't pretty. Wisconsin rushed for 231 yards and scored seven offensive touchdowns while Taylor Martinez threw three interceptions in the 48-17 destruction of the Cornhuskers. Welcome to the Big Ten, right? Well, the tables have turned rather quickly. Martinez is the league's best quarterback currently, the offense is the best in the league and a struggling, injured Badgers team limps into one of the most hostile environments in the nation. This one could get ugly quickly — and should make soon-to-be retired Nebraska legend Tom Osbourne smile. 

8. College GameDay comes to Big Ten country
The last time ESPN brought its flagship Saturday morning program to the Big Ten, Michigan State defeated Wisconsin on a Hail Mary in arguably the best game played anywhere last fall. This is the sixth time Gameday has been in East Lansing and Sparty is 2-3 in those games. Each of the last four has been a one-score game with an average margin of 4.3 points. This bodes well for fans of both teams, fans of the Big Ten and the national TV audience that will likely be tuned in.

9. Northwestern could be only team left unbeaten
The Wildcats are a double-digit favorite over Indiana and are at home. So assuming Northwestern begins the year 5-0 with a win, there is a very good chance they are the lone team left unblemished in a down Big Ten. If Iowa and Michigan State can win at home, Pat Fitzgerald's bunch will be the only team in the league left without a loss with road trips to Penn State and Minnesota looming.

10. Unsung tailbacks could turn into heroes
Mark Weisman has rushed for six touchdowns and 334 yards on 51 carries in his last two games. If Iowa wants to hurt the improving Minnesota defense, the walk-on fullback will have to be effective again. Venric Mark has been on a tear for Northwestern and should be heavily involved in Northwestern's quest for 5-0. Giving Mark the ball will keep the league's No. 1 passing attack (yes, that's Indiana) off the field. Rod Smith has been worked back into the Ohio State rotation of late and could be a big factor against the Spartans front seven. In Lincoln, fans can expect five or six running backs to get the ball with third-string names like Melvin Gordon and Imani Cross potentially playing big roles. And Bill Belton could be back for Penn State this weekend.

Week 5 Big Ten Predictions:

Week 5 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Indiana (+10.5) at Northwestern N'Western, 31-20 N'Western, 28-7 N'Western, 34-17 N'Western, 28-7
Penn State (+2) at Illinois Penn St, 20-14 Penn St, 21-10 Illinois, 24-20 Penn St, 21-10
Minnesota (+7.5) at Iowa Iowa, 24-21 Minnesota, 28-21 Iowa, 27-24 Minnesota, 28-21
Marshall (+17) at Purdue Purdue, 27-14 Purdue, 35-14 Purdue, 31-27 Purdue, 35-14
Ohio St (+3) at Michigan St Ohio St, 24-17 Ohio St, 24-21 Ohio St, 23-20 Ohio St, 24-21
Wisconsin (+12.5) at Nebraska Nebraska, 34-21 Nebraska, 35-17 Nebraska, 27-20 Nebraska, 35-17
Last Week: 6-4 8-2 7-3 8-2
Yearly Totals: 46-12 45-13 49-9 47-11

Bye Week: Michigan

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 5 Previews and Predictions
Big East Week 5 Previews and Predictions

Big 12 Week 5 Previews and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 5 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 5 Previews and Predictions

College Football Week 5 Upset Predictions

Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections

Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Week 5 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:46
Path: /college-football/big-east-week-5-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Four weeks into the season, and it’s tough to figure what to make of the Big East in 2012. Last week was not good. That much is clear: Big East teams lost to two MAC programs. Syracuse dropped a winnable game against Minnesota and a backup quarterback. Temple’s best chance to upset Penn State in quite a while fizzled with a 24-13 loss.

Yet at the same time, Rutgers defeated Arkansas on the road. Despite the struggles in Fayetteville, this should remain a bragging point for the Scarlet Knights. And just a week ago, Big East teams were 3-0 against ACC programs.

This week, Cincinnati will get its crack at Virginia Tech, which is two weeks removed from a loss to Pittsburgh. That may be the league’s best chance at a statement game this week as USF may be overmatched with Florida State. Louisville and Connecticut will face teams that are a combined 1-5 this season.

Other Week 5 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC


Big East Top Storylines to Watch in Week 5:

Can Walter Stewart disrupt Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas as much as he disrupted Pitt’s Tino Sunseri?
Defensive end Walter Stewart led a defensive effort against Pittsburgh in Week 2 that included 10 tackles for a loss and six sacks for the Bearcats. Stewart himself accounted for 3.5 tackles for a loss, two sacks and a forced fumble. Although Pitt quarterback Tino Sunseri has been excellent the last two weeks, Cincinnati may have a different test against Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas. The Hokies quarterback can escape a pass rush (588 running yards since last season). He’s tough to bring down at 6-foot-6. And he has a NFL arm strength. Thomas bounced back from his three-interception day against Pitt with 144 passing yards, 65 rushing yards and three total touchdowns against Bowling Green (albeit on 11-of-26 passing with an interception). Even if Thomas is struggling, Cincinnati must answer the call against an above average quarterback.

Which Cincinnati offense will show against Virginia Tech?
In the season debut for Cincinnati quarterback Munchie Legaux and running back George Winn against Pitt, the Bearcats looked like a big-play offense. In the second game, Cincinnati’s offense looked more problematic with six turnovers, including four from Legaux. The question is which offense will show up after an open date against Virginia Tech, which is traditionally one of the nation’s stronger defenses.

How will Louisville respond to the last six quarters of football?
For a Big East favorite and a top-25 program, Louisville hasn’t been at its best over the last game and a half. North Carolina outscored Louisville 27-3 in the fourth quarter two weeks ago, and Louisville played close with FIU last week in a 28-21 win on the road. Teddy Bridgewater didn’t have his best game against FIU, and the defense has had its lapses. In another road game (the Cards' second in a span of three consecutive away dates), Louisville should have success against Southern Miss. Although the Eagles went 12-2 and won the Conference USA title last season, Southern Miss is struggling mightily in an 0-3 start in 2012. The Eagles’ closest loss was by 10 at home against East Carolina. Louisville should make easy work of Southern Miss. If not, then Rutgers maybe the clear team to beat in the Big East.

Is there any magic left in the bottle for USF against Florida State?
The only game between Florida State and USF was a 17-7 loss for the Seminoles in B.J. Daniels’ first career start for the Bulls. Since then, USF hasn’t been the program on the rise many predicted it would become. Instead, the Bulls have gone 19-19 since one of the program’s signature wins. The Bulls' inconsistency has continued this season through last week’s 31-27 loss to Ball State. USF’s defense was ineffective against the Cardinals, so what hope is there against a team that has amassed at least 600 yards in three games this season, including 667 against Clemson last week? USF will try to catch Florida State napping again this season, but this probably isn’t the 7-6 FSU team the Bulls beat in 2009.

Hey, UConn, you want to stop the Big East’s losing streak against the MAC?
Big East teams lost twice to MAC programs last week, both on the road (UConn to Western Michigan, USF to Ball State). For a league that has battled a credibility program for several years, that’s not a positive development, to say the least. The Huskies should be able to stop the bleeding against Buffalo, a 1-2 team that has lost by 16 to Kent State and by 22 to Georgia. UConn’s offense has showed some signs of life with 333 passing yards and 92 rushing yards against Western Michigan. Alas, the defense let up, particularly against the pass, in a 30-24 Huskies loss.

Week 5 Big East Predictions:

Week 5 Big East games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Buffalo (+16) at Connecticut UConn 21-7 UConn 20-7 UConn 34-7 UConn 30-3
Cincinnati (+6.5) vs. Virginia Tech Va. Tech 28-21 Va. Tech 31-21 Va. Tech 30-20 Va. Tech 27-24
Florida State at USF (+17) FSU 38-14 FSU 34-14 FSU 38-13 FSU 31-13
Louisville at Southern Miss (+10) Louisville 35-14 Louisville 34-21 Louisville 34-10 Louisville 28-7
Last week 4-3 3-4 3-4 4-3
Overall 19-8 19-8 17-10 18-9

By David Fox

@DavidFox615

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 5 Previews and Predictions
Big Ten Week 5 Previews and Predictions

Big 12 Week 5 Previews and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 5 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 5 Previews and Predictions

College Football Week 5 Upset Picks

Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections

Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

Teaser:
<p> Big East Week 5 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:44
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-countdown-no-13-unlv-preview
Body:
Visit the online store for UNLV 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. 13 UNLV.

Back in the 1980s and early ‘90s, when Jerry Tarkanian was chomping towels and a great white shark hung from the rafters at the Thomas & Mack Center, there was no hotter ticket in Las Vegas than for UNLV basketball. No, not even Wayne Newton, Engelbert Humperdinck or the Chairman himself, Frank Sinatra, could match the drawing power of the Runnin’ Rebels, who went to three Final Fours over a five-year span and won the 1990 national championship.

That excitement began to dwindle, however, after the popular Tarkanian was forced out following the 1991-92 season after a lengthy and at times ugly NCAA investigation. The Rebels, once one of the premier programs in college hoops, haven’t even won a conference title since sharing the Mountain West championship in 2000.

But entering the 2012-13 campaign under second-year coach Dave Rice, a reserve on Tarkanian’s NCAA title-winning team, it appears that the buzz is finally back for Runnin’ Rebels basketball in Glitter Gulch.

Part of the reason for enthusiasm is the entertaining, run-and-gun dunk-filled play — welcome to “Lob” Vegas — that Rice incorporated during a 26-win debut season that included a 90–80 upset of then-No. 1 North Carolina. Another reason is a highly decorated group of transfers and a recruiting class ranked in the top 10 in the nation by ESPN and No. 12 by Scout.

When some of the newcomers showed up to take part in a summer league game at a local junior high school on a record-breaking 116-degree July afternoon, over 3,000 fans crammed into the gym. And the games were streamed live by a team fan site for those who couldn’t make it.

Yep, you could say the fever is back for Runnin’ Rebel basketball.

FRONTCOURT
On paper this has the makings of the school’s best front line since the Larry Johnson-Stacey Augmon-David Butler era. The big news is that forward Mike Moser, the Mountain West Newcomer of the Year and the school’s first honorable mention AP All-American since Marcus Banks in 2003, decided to return for his junior season after going through the NBA evaluation process. The versatile 6-8 forward had 15 double-doubles while leading the team in scoring (14.0 ppg) and rebounding (10.5 rpg) and also leading the MWC in steals (1.9 spg).

Starting center Brice Massamba and third-team All-MWC forward Chace Stanback, a three-year starter, must be replaced. But Rice has more than his share of options, including a pair of former McDonald’s All-Americans — 6-9 sophomore Khem Birch, a transfer from Pittsburgh who becomes eligible in December, and 6-8 freshman Anthony Bennett from nearby Findlay Prep. Bennett is projected as a first-round pick in some 2013 mock NBA Drafts.

There’s more. Both senior Quintrell Thomas, who began his career at Kansas, and 6-11 junior Carlos Lopez return. After the NCAA denied Connecticut transfer Roscoe Smith’s request to play immediately, the Rebels turn to a pair of highly touted freshman — Savon Goodman and 6-9 shot-blocker Demetris Morant— for depth.

BACKCOURT
Although steady point guard Oscar Bellfield, a four-year starter, departs, the Rebels have good depth and experience at the position. Athletic senior Anthony Marshall, a second-team All-MWC pick and also a member of the league’s all-defensive squad, returns after finishing third on the team in scoring (12.2 ppg) and steals (1.5 spg) and second in rebounding (5.1 rpg) and assists (4.5 apg). Marshall, a local product nicknamed “The Mayor,” is a fan favorite for his acrobatic highlight-reel dunks. Senior Justin Hawkins, arguably the league’s top lockdown defender and sixth man, also returns.

Three newcomers are expected to expected to make major impacts — sophomore Bryce Dejean-Jones, a transfer from USC who starred in practice while redshirting, and true freshmen Katin Reinhardt and Daquan Cook. Reinhardt, the Los Angeles Times’ 2012 Player of the Year, has been compared by Rice, a former BYU assistant, to ex-Cougars’ star Jimmer Fredette for his long-range shooting and playmaking abilities.

FINAL ANALYSIS
There is little doubt that big things are on the horizon for the Runnin’ Rebels under Rice, who guided UNLV to the NCAA Tournament in his first year and followed that up with one of the nation’s top recruiting classes. The big question will be how long it takes for all the new faces to jell. The rebuilt Rebels figure to battle a veteran and talented San Diego State squad for the Mountain West title.

@AthlonSports

Athlon College Basketball Countdown So Far:
20. Florida

19. Notre Dame

18. Memphis
17. Baylor
16. Missouri

15. San Diego State

14. North Carolina

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball Countdown: No. 13 UNLV Preview</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-positional-rankings-week-4
Body:

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 4 Start or Sit

Note: Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are on bye this week.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

DEFENSIVE SCORING
0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points

KICKER SCORING
PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings: Week 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:25
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-wide-receiver-rankings-week-4
Body:

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Calvin Johnson DET vs. MIN  
2 A.J. Green CIN at JAC Victimized 'Skins (183 yards) last week.
3 Julio Jones ATL vs. CAR  
4 Larry Fitzgerald ARI vs. MIA Is last week (9-114-1) a sign of things to come?
5 Andre Johnson HOU vs. TEN  
6 Percy Harvin MIN at DET  
7 Roddy White ATL vs. CAR  
8 Greg Jennings GB vs. NO Big target could be taking Lambeau Leap against Saints.
9 Victor Cruz NYG at PHI  
10 Hakeem Nicks NYG at PHI Should be back after missing Week 3 (foot).
11 Vincent Jackson TB vs. WAS Skins giving up most fantasy points to WRs.
12 Steve Smith CAR at ATL Called out Cam, will it affect chemistry?
13 Brandon Lloyd NE at BUF Carving out role in Patriots' aerial attack.
14 Brandon Marshall CHI at DAL (Mon.)  
15 Demaryius Thomas DEN vs. OAK Could have big day against Raiders' thin secondary.
16 Miles Austin DAL vs. CHI (Mon.)  
17 Stevie Johnson BUF vs. NE  
18 Wes Welker NE at BUF Big part of offensive game plan last week vs. Ravens.
19 Dwayne Bowe KC vs. SD  
20 Jordy Nelson GB vs. NO Put up big numbers in home games last season.
21 DeSean Jackson PHI vs. NYG  
22 Eric Decker DEN vs. OAK Had 136 yards in loss to Texans.
23 Torrey Smith BAL vs. CLE (Thurs.)  
24 Dez Bryant DAL vs. CHI (Mon.) Austin has out-performed Bryant to this point.
25 Marques Colston NO at GB Been slowed by foot injury.
26 Malcom Floyd SD at KC Clearly Rivers' top WR target.
27 Jeremy Maclin PHI vs. NYG Back at practice after missing last week (hip).
28 Santonio Holmes NYJ vs. SF  
29 Denarius Moore OAK at DEN  
30 Michael Crabtree SF at NYJ First to try and take advantage of Revis-less Jets.
31 Kenny Britt TEN at HOU  
32 Lance Moore NO at GB  
33 Pierre Garcon WAS at TB Foot issue has Garcon questionable for another week.
34 Nate Washington TEN at HOU  
35 Danny Amendola STL vs. SEA Hawks secondary will be tough test.
36 Nate Burleson DET vs. MIN Continuing to produce as Lions' No. 2.
37 Anquan Boldin BAL vs. CLE (Thurs.) No longer Ravens' No. 1 option.
38 Brandon LaFell CAR at ATL  
39 Randall Cobb GB vs. NO Returned KO for TD in pro debut in '11 vs. Saints.
40 Mike Williams TB vs. WAS  
41 Andrew Hawkins CIN at JAC Showing a knack for the big play.
42 Titus Young DET vs. MIN Did not practice Wednesday (knee).
43 Brian Hartline MIA at ARI  
44 Sidney Rice SEA at STL  
45 Robert Meachem SD at KC  
46 Golden Tate SEA at STL Looking to build off of 2-TD effort on MNF.
47 Laurent Robinson JAC vs. CIN Passed concussion tests, should play Sunday.
48 Mario Manningham SF at NYJ  
49 Greg Little CLE at BAL (Thurs.) Little having big problems bringing in passes.
50 Randy Moss SF at NYJ  
51 Jerome Simpson MIN at DET Makes season debut after three-game suspension.
52 Kevin Ogletree DAL vs. CHI (Mon.) Hasn't done much since Week 1 coming out party.
53 Andre Roberts ARI vs. MIA  
54 Davone Bess MIA at ARI  
55 Kevin Walter HOU vs. TEN  
56 Kendall Wright TEN at HOU Rookie getting plenty of looks from Locker.
57 Santana Moss WAS at TB  
58 Jon Baldwin KC vs. SD  
59 Donald Jones BUF vs. NE  
60 Cecil Shorts JAC vs. CIN Caught 80-yarder to beat Colts last week.
61 Ramses Barden NYG at PHI Could still produce even as Giants' No. 3.
62 Brandon Gibson STL vs. SEA  
63 Justin Blackmon JAC vs. CIN Rookie yet to have much of an impact.
64 Jeremy Kerley NYJ vs. SF Been productive with limited opportunities he's gotten.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Additional Week 4 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 4 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:23
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-quarterback-rankings-week-4
Body:

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

Indianapolis and Pittsburgh on are bye this week.

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Aaron Rodgers GB vs. NO Motivated QB + Saints porous D = Fantasy Bonanza
2 Tom Brady NE at BUF Career 46:17 TD:INT ratio in career vs. Bills.
3 Drew Brees NO at GB  
4 Robert Griffin III WAS at TB No. 1 fantasy scorer at his position.
5 Matt Ryan ATL vs. CAR No. 2 behind Griffin, 8 TD, 1 INT thus far.
6 Eli Manning NYG at PHI  
7 Peyton Manning DEN vs. OAK Raiders gave up 384 yards, 4 TD to Big Ben last week.
8 Matthew Stafford DET vs. MIN Left last week's game, Shaun Hill will go if he can't.
9 Michael Vick PHI vs. NYG Twice as many INT (6) as TD (3).
10 Cam Newton CAR at ATL  
11 Philip Rivers SD at KC Looking to bounce back after rough Week 3.
12 Joe Flacco BAL vs. CLE (Thurs.)  
13 Tony Romo DAL vs. CHI (Mon.) Bears allowing fewest fantasy points to QBs.
14 Matt Schaub HOU vs. TEN May not be called on to pass b/c of running game.
15 Josh Freeman TB vs. WAS Skins giving up most fantasy points to QBs.
16 Alex Smith SF at NYJ  
17 Andy Dalton CIN at JAC Has had back-to-back 300-yd/3-TD games.
18 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF vs. NE Has 17 TD vs. 6 INT in last 7 September games.
19 Carson Palmer OAK at DEN  
20 Jay Cutler CHI at DAL (Mon.) Has 1 TD, 5 INT in last two games.
21 Christian Ponder MIN at DET  
22 Kevin Kolb ARI vs. MIA So far, so good - 4 TD, 0 INT in 3 games.
23 Matt Cassel KC vs. SD  
24 Russell Wilson SEA at STL Will MNF finish carry over against Rams?
25 Sam Bradford STL vs. SEA Rams second only to Packers in sacks allowed.
26 Jake Locker TEN at HOU Nice game against Lions, Texans much tougher test.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Additional Week 4 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 4 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings: Week 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:20
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-tight-end-rankings-week-4
Body:

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Jimmy Graham NO at GB  
2 Rob Gronkowski NE at BUF Still in the Top 10, despite slow(er) start.
3 Tony Gonzalez ATL vs. CAR "Old" man is No. 1 at his position.
4 Vernon Davis SF at NYJ His 4 TDs are tops (tied, Heath Miller) among TEs.
5 Martellus Bennett NYG at PHI Pretty much a must-start option now.
6 Antonio Gates SD at KC Hoping to shake slow start (7-65-0).
7 Jermichael Finley GB vs. NO  
8 Dennis Pitta BAL vs. CLE (Thurs.) Quickly becoming a favorite target of Flacco's.
9 Brandon Pettigrew DET vs. MIN  
10 Kyle Rudolph MIN at DET Young TE and QB developing chemistry.
11 Brent Celek PHI vs. NYG Leads all TEs in yards.
12 Owen Daniels HOU vs. TEN  
13 Fred Davis WAS at TB Finally showed some signs (7-90) last week.
14 Jason Witten DAL vs. CHI (Mon.) Getting the looks, not catching the ball.
15 Greg Olsen CAR at ATL Caught seven passes last week.
16 Jared Cook TEN at HOU Hurt shoulder late last week, monitor status.
17 Jermaine Gresham CIN at JAC Posted best numbers yet (5-64-1) last week.
18 Jacob Tamme DEN vs. OAK Suffered ankle injury last week, could be limited.
19 Scott Chandler BUF vs. NE  
20 Anthony Fasano MIA at ARI  
21 Marcedes Lewis JAC vs. CIN  
22 Brandon Myers OAK at DEN Suffered concussion last week, check status.
23 Joel Dreessen DEN vs. OAK Starting to take away targets from Tamme.
24 Dallas Clark TB vs. WAS  
25 Rob Housler ARI vs. MIA  
26 Ed Dickson BAL vs. CLE (Thurs.)

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Additional Week 4 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 4 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings: Week 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:16
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-running-back-rankings-week-4
Body:

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Arian Foster HOU vs. TEN Titans 29th in rushing defense.
2 Ray Rice BAL vs. CLE (Thurs.)  
3 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC vs. CIN MJD already back in top 5 among RBs.
4 LeSean McCoy PHI vs. NYG Hoping to back up trash talk against G-Men.
5 Marshawn Lynch SEA at STL Beast mode could be in full effect vs. Rams.
6 Adrian Peterson MIN at DET  
7 Jamaal Charles KC vs. SD Back in charge after 233-yard effort.
8 Darren McFadden OAK at DEN  
9 Ryan Mathews SD at KC Should see even more touches against Chiefs.
10 Frank Gore SF at NYJ Jets allowing 150 yards rushing per game.
11 Doug Martin TB vs. WAS  
12 BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN at JAC BJGE should have success vs. Jags.
13 DeMarco Murray DAL vs. CHI (Mon.) Bears will be tough test.
14 Trent Richardson CLE at BAL (Thurs.) Rookie could be in for long night.
15 Michael Bush CHI at DAL (Mon.) Forte's status for this week uknown.
16 Stevan Ridley NE at BUF Hope Week 3 (13 att) is exception, not rule.
17 Reggie Bush MIA at ARI Knee checked out OK, but watch status closely.
18 Michael Turner ATL vs. CAR  
19 Darren Sproles NO at GB  
20 Cedric Benson GB vs. NO Saints giving up most fantasy points to RBs.
21 Alfred Morris WAS at TB Looks to be entrenched as No. 1 back.
22 Mikel Leshoure DET vs. MIN Can he top 100-yard debut?
23 Steven Jackson STL vs. SEA  
24 Andre Brown NYG at PHI No longer the starter, but has earned a role.
25 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG at PHI Named the starter, but will share with Brown.
26 Chris Johnson TEN vs. HOU Texans not what struggling CJ needs.
27 Ryan Williams ARI vs. MIA Now the starter with Beanie Wells on IR.
28 Tashard Choice BUF vs. NE Less appealing if injured Bills return.
29 Jonathan Stewart CAR at ATL Hoping toe/ankle issues are over with.
30 DeAngelo Williams CAR at ATL  
31 Ben Tate HOU vs. TEN Solid flex option vs. Titans.
32 Shonn Greene NYJ vs. SF Powell breathing down his neck.
33 Willis McGahee DEN vs. OAK Rib injury could limit/sideline him.
34 Daniel Thomas MIA at ARI If Reggie sits, Thomas gets the start.
35 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL vs. CAR  
36 Pierre Thomas NO at GB  
37 Mark Ingram NO at GB  
38 Fred Jackson BUF vs. NE Even if he plays, expect limited impact.
39 Lance Ball DEN vs. OAK Should start if McGahee doesn't play.
40 Bilal Powell NYJ vs. SF Time to shine with Greene struggling.
41 Shaun Draughn KC vs. SD Peyton Hillis (ankle) questionable.
42 Danny Woodhead NE at BUF  
43 Daryl Richardson STL vs. SEA  
44 Lamar Miller MIA at ARI  
45 Kendall Hunter SF at NYJ  
46 Toby Gerhart MIN at DET  
47 Jackie Battle SD at KC Chargers' goal-line back?
48 Kevin Smith DET vs. MIN  

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Additional Week 4 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 4 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings: Week 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:15
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-4
Body:

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

Rk Player OPPONENT Notes
1 Houston Texans vs. TEN  
2 Seattle Seahawks at STL Had 8 sacks on MNF, Rams have allowed second-most (12).
3 Baltimore Ravens vs. CLE (Thurs.) Short turnaround, but facing rookie QB/RB in their house.
4 Arizona Cardinals vs. MIA Cards 2nd in points allowed at 13.3 per game.
5 San Francisco 49ers at NYJ Don't look for Jets to get Ground N Pound going this week.
6 Chicago Bears at DAL (Mon.) Ranked 6th in both rushing and passing yards allowed.
7 Dallas Cowboys vs. CHI (Mon.) Giving up league-low 250 yards per game.
8 Green Bay Packers vs. NO Winless Saints get Pack at worst time possible.
9 Atlanta Falcons vs. CAR Dirty Birds hoping to continue Cam's frustrations.
10 Philadelphia Eagles vs. NYG Eagles' secondary looks to slow down G-Men's aerial attack.
11 New York Jets vs. SF  
12 New York Giants at PHI Giants planning to force more mistakes from Vick, Eagles.
13 Denver Broncos vs. OAK  
14 New England Patriots at BUF  
15 Miami Dolphins at ARI  
16 Detroit Lions vs. MIN

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

DEFENSIVE SCORING
0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points

 

Additional Week 4 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers

Week 4 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:14
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-kicker-rankings-week-4
Body:

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 David Akers SF at NYJ
2 Justin Tucker BAL vs. CLE (Thurs.)
3 Mason Crosby GB vs. NO
4 Stephen Gostkowski NE at BUF
5 Matt Bryant ATL vs. CAR
6 Jason Hanson DET vs. MIN
7 Sebastian Janikowski OAK at DEN
8 Nate Kaeding SD at KC
9 Garrett Hartley NO at GB
10 Blair Walsh MIN at DET
11 Shayne Graham HOU vs. TEN
12 Matt Prater DEN vs. OAK
13 Greg Zuerlein STL vs. SEA
14 Lawrence Tynes NYG at PHI
15 Robbie Gould CHI at DAL (Mon.)
16 Dan Bailey DAL vs. CHI (Mon.)

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

KICKER SCORING
PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Additional Week 4 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Week 4 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings: Week 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:09
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-5-upset-predictions
Body:

College football's Week 5 schedule is relatively quiet in terms of top 25 matchups. Although there are few marquee games to watch this Saturday, it's weekends like this one that can spring a few upsets. Athlon's panel of editors is back, along with a guest contributor to give you the top upset predictions for Week 5. 

College Football's Week 5 Upset Picks

Dave Bartoo (@CFBMatrix), CFBMatrix.com, Missouri (+3) over Central Florida
This was the pick in my pre-season selections in March and there is no reason to change it (not that I ever do).  I about fell out of my chair when I saw Mizzou getting +3 to open the week.  In the last 6 years, the Tiger, when the Matrix picks them to win in on the road have just 2 losses.  Conversely, UCF under O’Leary is an underachieving train wreck.  Everything I see points to Mizzou.  They have a coaching advantage and a huge talent gap advantage.  Don’t let the last 2 weeks set a Gambler Fallacy into your mind.  Missouri was supposed to lose those two games against elite teams.  In essence, those are two losses they cashed in exchange for the SEC payday.  While I prefer the home dog, the Tigers roll into UCF and roll over the Knights.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Iowa State (+2.5) over Texas Tech 
So we’re really making Iowa State and Paul Rhoads underdogs at home against Texas Tech. OK. If you insist. Texas Tech is second in the nation in total offense and first in total defense. No doubt, the Red Raiders are improved, but they’ve played Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico. Iowa State will be much tougher. The Cyclones’ most impressive win might not even be the 95 victory at Iowa. Maybe it’s 38-23 over Tulsa, which is a much closer gauge of what Iowa State will see against Texas Tech. In that game, Iowa State held Tulsa quarterback to 23-of-49 passing with two interceptions. Seth Doege is a veteran quarterback with better receivers, but I’ll put my trust in the Iowa State defense.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Ohio State (+3) at Michigan State
These two teams are very well coached, are very physical along the line of scrimmage and have arguably the top two defenses ni the Big Ten. But the Buckeyes have one major advantage and you can bet Urban Meyer will take advantage of it. Braxton Miller will be the best player on the field and when the play breaks down, he has been brilliant. Meanwhile, Andrew Maxwell has yet to prove he can win a game with his arm. Expect Meyer to stack the box against Le'Veon Bell in an effort to force Maxwell into key third-down situations. Give me the Bucks to win a close one on the road.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): NC State (+3) at Miami
Is it time to buy into Miami? Only time will tell but last week’s win over Georgia Tech was impressive. The Hurricanes’ defense struggled to get stops, but the offense scored a season-high 42 points and recorded 609 yards. NC State has flown under the radar since losing to Tennessee in the season opener. The Wolfpack have picked up wins over Connecticut, South Alabama and Citadel the last three weeks, and cornerback David Amerson seems to have his confidence back after a disappointing performance in the opener. Although the Hurricanes have scored 38 or more points three times this season, the Wolfpack will present a tougher challenge on defense, especially in the trenches where they are averaging 3 sacks per game. Miami’s secondary has yet to face a quarterback of Mike Glennon’s caliber, which should test a unit that is allowing 226.3 yards per game. Expect a close matchup, but NC State’s edge on defense should be the difference.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): Rice (+5) over Houston
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, meanwhile, has played relatively well. The Owls are 1–4 with a win at Kansas and losses to UCLA, Louisiana Tech and Marshall (in double-overtime). As expected, Rice has been horrible on defense, but the offense has been solid; the Owls have scored at least 24 points in all four games and are averaging over 220 yards rushing and passing. Houston has the more talented roster, but Rice might be the better team. Rice 41, Houston 37

Mark Ross: Rice (+5) over Houston
This Conference USA battle of in-state rivals features two of the worst defenses in the nation, statistically anyways, so expect lots of offense. Rice is second-to-last among the 120 FBS teams in total defense (546.8 ypg), while Houston is just one spot ahead of them at No. 118 (536.3 ypg). The Owls are dead last in scoring defense with the Cougars coming in at No. 117, as both teams are giving up more than 40 points per game. The difference here is with the offenses, which is surprising since Houston has more of a reputation on that side of the ball. Make no mistake, however, this is not the same Cougars' offense that we've seen in recent years, as they and the Owls are basically even when it comes to total offense numbers. The Owls' offense, which is scoring nearly 12 more points per game than the Cougars, is led by dual-threat quarterback Taylor McHargue, who is currently 13th in the nation in total offense (321 ypg). Cougars quarterback David Piland is fourth in the nation in this category, as he's averaging nearly 350 yards passing per game, but the offense has had all sorts of issues with ball security (No. 105 in turnover margin). In the end, Rice's more-balanced offense, led by McHargue, will out-gain and out-score Piland and the Cougars in what figures to be a high-scoring affair. In other words, I wouldn't hesitate to start any Owls or Cougars I have on my fantasy roster and may even have to check to see if any are available to pick up.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): Ohio State (+3) at Michigan State
This will be the Buckeyes first road contest under Urban Meyer, but I believe OSU’s quarterback advantage will be able to overcome the raucous atmosphere in East Lansing. Obviously these are two physical teams built around running the ball and solid defense, so expect a tight, low-scoring affair. The Ohio State defense has had some issues against the pass (104th in the nation) this season, but I do not see Spartans signal caller Andrew Maxwell being able to consistently move the ball through the air. The difference in this one will be Buckeyes dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller, who is electric in the open field and can make big plays at any time. Special teams will also play a critical role in a close game, and I’ll take Ohio State to prevail on the road and go to 5-0 on the season.

Related College Football Content

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

Big Ten Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 5 Preview and Predictions

 

Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 5 Upset Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:07
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-5-start-or-sit
Body:

Many readers have asked if we can expand our weekly rankings.  We could, but what we strive to do is use our Start/Bench and Emergency Starters lists to expand our ranking in a creative way.  What makes theCFFsite unique is that in articles such as the one you are about to read, we will never include the obvious selections.  Simply put, you will rarely see players ranked in our top ten listed on a Start/Bench or Emergency Starters list.  We want to help you make the tough decisions of deciding on a RB#2, WR#3, or FLEX.  You guys, the readers, have helped make pieces like this one and the Emergency Starters list extremely well received.  Your feedback has been tremendously helpful in growing theCFFsite.  Our goal is to be the most interactive college fantasy football resource.  Please, keep the emails and twitter interactions coming.                 

Start

Colby Cameron, QB-Louisiana Tech at Virginia

Cameron leads a Bulldogs attack that is third in the nation in scoring at 54.7 points per game.  In three games this season, the senior quarterback has thrown eleven touchdowns without an interception.

Charles Sims, RB-Houston at Rice

Now that Sims is back and participating at full speed, he should find plenty of running room against a Rice defense giving up over 300 yards rushing per game.

Todd Gurley, RB-Georgia vsTennessee

Gurley may not be getting more than 20 touches per game, but the freshman has topped the century mark three times and has scored in every game.

Mark Weisman, RB-Iowa vs Minnesota

Fellow running back Damon Bullock will most likely miss this week’s game against the Gophers, so expect the bruising sophomore to carry the ball another 20-25 times.

Alex Amidon, WR-Boston College vs Clemson

Amidon has at least six catches and 99 yards receiving in every game this season and should get a lot of opportunities this week, as the Eagles will try to keep pace with the Clemson offense.

Mike Evans, WR-Texas A&M vs Arkansas

We’re expecting the 6-5 freshman to have one of his biggest games of the season against an Arkansas defense giving up over 312 passing yards per game.

Josh Stewart, WR-Oklahoma St vs Texas

After back-to-back nine-catch games, Stewart is starting to become the most consistent receiving threat the Cowboys have.

Michael Edwards, WR-UTEP at East Carolina

Running back Nathan Jeffery received a lot of attention after his big game against Oklahoma to open the season, but receiver Michael Edwards is starting to become a legitimate fantasy factor.  This week, the Miners face an East Carolina defense giving up 312 yards passing per game.


Bench

Kain Colter, QB-Northwestern vs Indiana

Colter injured his wrist last game, but is expected to start this week against Indiana.  However, he has not thrown a touchdown pass since the first week of the season and the Wildcats’ offense goes through running back Venric Mark.

Taylor Martinez, QB-Nebraska vs Wisconsin

Even though Martinez has thrown for nine touchdowns and has improved his accuracy as a passer, we expect the Huskers to give Wisconsin a heavy dose of Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah.

Knile Davis, RB-Arkansas at Texas A&M

Davis’ best rushing performance this season was in Week One when he ran for 70 yards against Jacksonville State.  This week, Davis and the Razorbacks hit the road to face the nation’s 18th ranked rushing defense.

Jordan Hall, RB-Ohio St at Michigan St

We expect Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller to do most of his damage outside of the pocket, but the Spartans’ 11th ranked rushing defense should keep Hall bottled up between the tackles.

Cameron Marshall, RB-Arizona St at Cal

If Marshall wasn’t scoring touchdowns, he’d be dropped in almost every league format.  Expect freshman running back D.J. Foster to lead the Sun Devils in rushing at the end of the season.

Bishop Sankey, RB-Washington vs Stanford

Sankey had an impressive showing two weeks ago against Portland State when he ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns, but this week he faces the nation’s No. 1 rushing defense.

Michael Holmes, RB-Virginia Tech vs Cincinnati

Holmes has been named the starter for this week’s game against the Bearcats, but Tony Gregory led the Hokies in rushing last weekend and may be on the field more than any other back this Saturday.

Devin Smith, WR-Ohio St at Michigan St

If quarterback Braxton Miller can create some opportunities outside the pocket, Smith could be in line for some big plays.  However, we expect those opportunities to be limited in East Lansing against the nation’s 13th ranked pass defense.

Alex Neutz, WR-Buffalo at Connecticut

Last week, Neutz only caught two passes against Kent State and one reception was a Hail Mary pass that went for a touchdown in the closing seconds of the first half.  This Saturday, the Bulls will be without running back Branden Oliver, which means the nation’s 11th ranked pass defense will zero in on the Bulls’ next-best playmaker. 

 

by Joe DiSalvo, thecffsite.com

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Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 5 Start or Sit</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 03:56
All taxonomy terms: Nebraska Cornhuskers, Big Ten, News
Path: /college-football/tom-osbourne-his-5-greatest-moments-nebraska
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When he succeeded Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne didn’t imagine he would spend 25 years as Nebraska’s head coach. He figured the best-case scenario was maybe five years.

“Bob always had a built-in grace factor because he turned the program around,” Osborne has said. “I wasn’t going to have that opportunity because I was more of a caretaker.” 

Osborne was a native son, a Nebraskan who had been a multi-sport athlete at both Hastings (Neb.) High and Hastings College. He hadn’t planned to pursue coaching. Rather, it was going to be a means to an end. After a brief professional football career, he sought a job on Devaney’s first staff at Nebraska while working on a post-graduate degree. Devaney offered room and board, and he accepted.

After earning a doctorate in educational psychology, however, Osborne chose coaching over the classroom, a choice that produced remarkable results. Every one of his teams won at least nine games and played in bowl games. The 25 consecutive bowl trips made by his teams are an NCAA record for a coach; Bear Bryant is second with 24. And Osborne coached the Cornhuskers to three national championships in his final four seasons, compiling a record of 60–3 in his final five seasons, all with 11 or more victories.

His teams won or shared 13 conference titles, and his winning percentage of .836 (255–49–3) was the nation’s best among active coaches before he retired. His percentage ranked fifth all-time in Division I.

Osborne emphasized the journey rather than the destination, and his philosophy was expressed in the title of an autobiographical book he wrote, More Than Winning. He stepped aside after the third national championship — becoming the first coach ever to retire after winning a national title — for health and personal reasons. The field at Memorial Stadium is named in his honor. And he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998, after the Hall’s three-year waiting period was waived.

Five years ago he was named the school's athletic director, and yesterday the 75-year-old Osborne announced he would be retiring on Jan. 1, 2013. 

In recognition of his career at Nebraska, we look back at five great moments that helped define Osborne's legacy.
 

Osborne Finally Beats OU
Nebraska 17, Oklahoma 14
Nov. 11, 1978

Senior monster back Jim Pillen recovered a Billy Sims fumble at the Nebraska 3-yard line with 3:27 remaining to preserve Osborne’s first victory against Oklahoma. The Sooners, undefeated, untied and ranked No. 1, fumbled nine times, losing six. Sims, the Heisman Trophy winner that season, lost two of the fumbles in the fourth quarter, as top-ranked Oklahoma tried in vain to overcome a 24-yard Billy Todd field goal with 11:51 remaining. Sims, who had rushed for 200 or more yards in three consecutive games, scored both of the Sooner touchdowns, on runs of 44 and 30 yards. Nebraska countered with touchdown runs by Rick Berns and I.M. Hipp, in the second and third quarters. The victory put the Cornhuskers in position to play Penn State in the Orange Bowl for the national championship. But a week later, Missouri upset Nebraska, also in Lincoln, leading to an Orange Bowl rematch with Oklahoma.

No Guts, No Glory
Miami 31, Nebraska 30
Jan. 2, 1984

Osborne almost certainly could have had his first national championship had he been willing to settle for a tie. That was the consensus, anyway. The Cornhuskers, ranked No. 1 throughout the season, would have remained undefeated with a Scott Livingston extra-point kick. But Osborne opted for a 2-point conversion attempt that would have meant victory. Miami’s Ken Calhoun deflected Turner Gill’s pass enough that it glanced off I-back Jeff Smith incomplete. Nebraska rallied from a 31–17 fourth-quarter deficit, with Smith, who was playing for an injured Mike Rozier, scoring two touchdowns in the final 6:55, the second with 48 seconds remaining. Miami had built a 17–0 first-quarter lead, but the Cornhuskers battled back to tie less than two minutes into the second half. Their first touchdown came when guard Dean Steinkuhler picked up an intentional fumble and ran 19 yards. Nebraska didn’t leave the Orange Bowl with a national title, but Osborne and his team left with national respect for playing to win. Said Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger: “This was a championship game, and (Osborne) went after it like a champion.”

Osborne Gets His National Title
Nebraska 24, Miami 17
Jan. 1, 1995

At halftime of the Orange Bowl game, Osborne reminded the Cornhuskers that if they kept “hammering” away, Miami’s defense would wear down. And so it did, though there were some anxious moments among Nebraska fans when the Hurricanes increased their lead to 17–7 less than two minutes into the second half. They wouldn’t score again, however. The Cornhuskers got two of the points back quickly, when rush end Dwayne Harris tackled Miami quarterback Frank Costa for a safety. But the offensive persistence didn’t begin to pay off until midway through the fourth quarter, when fullback Cory Schlesinger scored two touchdowns in a span of 4 minutes and 52 seconds to give Osborne his first national championship. Tommie Frazier, who had been sidelined by blood clots throughout Big Eight play, returned to start at quarterback. But Brook Berringer got Nebraska on the scoreboard with 19-yard pass to tight end Mark Gilman in the second quarter, after Miami had jumped out to a 10–0 lead on their home field.

Frazier Frustrates Florida
Nebraska 62, Florida 24
Jan. 2, 1996

The play didn’t appear all that special at first. On second-and-5 from his own 25-yard line late in the third quarter of the Fiesta Bowl game against No. 2-ranked Florida, quarterback Tommie Frazier faked a handoff to fullback Brian Schuster and for a split-second appeared to consider a pitch to I-back Clinton Childs. He kept the ball, however, and ran 75 yards for the touchdown that defined his Cornhusker career. He broke seven or eight tackles during the first 20 yards, after which he was untouched by a Gator defender. “They kept contacting me, but I kept my legs going,” Frazier explained following the 62–24 victory that gave Nebraska a second consecutive national championship and established the 1995 Huskers as perhaps the greatest team in college football history.
 

Missouri Miracle
Nebraska 45, Missouri 38 (OT)
Nov. 8, 1997

Everyone remembers the final play in regulation, Matt Davison’s touchdown catch of a ball thrown by Scott Frost that deflected off the foot of Shevin Wiggins. But what preceded the catch at Missouri’s Faurot Field was dramatic as well. With 1:02 remaining, Nebraska took over at its own 33-yard line. Nine plays later, without benefit of timeouts, Frost had directed the Cornhuskers to the Missouri 12-yard line. Only seven seconds remained. The tying touchdown came on third down.
Nebraska lost the coin toss and had the ball first in overtime, scoring in three plays, the third a 12-yard run by Frost for his fourth touchdown. He finished with a career-high 141 rushing yards, and I-back Ahman Green rushed for 189 as the Cornhuskers rolled up 528 total yards. Missouri gained 386 yards, with quarterback Corby Jones accounting for 293 passing and rushing. The Tigers went ahead 38–31 with 4:39 remaining.
Spurred by the Missouri Miracle, the Huskers sent Osborne out with a share of a third national title, completing an unbeaten season with a 42-17 Orange Bowl win over Tennessee.

Teaser:
<p> Tom Osborne: His 5 Greatest Moments at Nebraska</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 18:02

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