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When Ohio State clinched the Big Ten East weeks ago, the Buckeyes probably thought they’d spend a week worrying about how to stop Melvin Gordon or whichever running back the Big Ten West sent to Indianapolis.

 

If only this week were that easy.

 

Instead, Ohio State is dealing with a range of emotional and personnel obstacles ranging from tragedy to misfortune.

 

On Nov. 25, the Big Ten declared defensive end Noah Spence, a one-time five-star prospect, permanently ineligible stemming from his second positive drug test for ecstasy back in September. The conference classifies the drug as a “performance enhancer.” Spence hadn’t played all season.

 

Then, early in the fourth quarter of Ohio State’s 42-28 win over Michigan, quarterback J.T. Barrett was lost for the remainder of the season when he suffered a broken leg on a tackle during a run. Barrett had gone from an untested backup to Braxton Miller in the preseason to a Heisman contender.

 

And on Sunday, the Buckeyes learned of the most tragic news. Walk-on defensive lineman Kosta Karageorge, who had gone missing for four days, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Teammates remembered Karageorge’s energy and positivity, though he .

 

“We knew he had a lot of concussions, but we didn’t know he was depressed or anything like that,” Ohio State defensive tackle Michael Bennett said. “He was the most positive out of anybody, which goes to show there was no way to notice it until someone speaks up. Kosta was always positive, always thankful, so appreciative of everything football gave him.”

 

Yet in the face of this, Ohio State remains a College Football Playoff contender. The selection committee ranked the Buckeyes fifth in the most recent top 25, indicating the injury to Barrett was not an automatic eliminator for Ohio State’s national championship aspirations.

 

While selection committee chair Jeff Long did not say the Big Ten title game was a one-game body for work for this new version of Ohio State, it’s clear the Buckeyes, and specifically new quarterback Cardale Jones, has little room for error if Ohio State has any chance of moving into the top four.

 

In any other circumstance, room for error would be understandable.

 

“Every red flag is up, every excuse is out there to not play well, to not win a game, to lose a game,” Meyer said. “You have some really good built-in excuses. To overcome the incredible tragedy that happened last night, this is a real challenge. We're going to watch it very closely. I can tell you this:  (this is an) extremely close team that does a lot of things together and cares about each other.”

Championship Week Previews and Predictions:
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Ohio State vs. Wisconsin

 

Kickoff: 8:17 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV: FOX

Spread: Wisconsin -4

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Cardale Jones

Does Ohio State’s Big Ten championship hopes rest on Jones? That’s not a stretch. The Buckeyes went undefeated in the Big Ten because J.T. Barrett became a Heisman contender through the course of the season. Even if this isn’t a one-player offense — Ezekiel Elliott topped 100 yards and six yards per carry in three of his last four games — Barrett is as close to irreplaceable as any player on a top team. Teammates have raved about Jones’ arm strength and opponents have noted how difficult it will be to corral the 6-foot-5, 250-pound sophomore. But experience is a factor for a quarterback who hasn’t attempted 20 passes during his career.

 

2. Wisconsin’s third quarter

How is this for halftime adjustments: Wisconsin averages 9.6 yards per carry in the third quarter. No team in the country averages even eight in any quarter. The Badgers are led in every quarter by the Big Ten single-season rushing leader Melvin Gordon, but especially in the third quarter. Gordon averages 11.3 yards per carry in the third, and 40.5 percent of his rushing yards have come right after halftime. The Badgers have needed these third-quarter bursts thanks to lackluster first quarters. Wisconsin hasn’t scored a first-quarter touchdown in three games. Meanwhile, the third quarter is the worst for the Ohio State rush defense. The Buckeyes are allowing 4.83 yards per carry in the third quarter, their worst for any frame.

 

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3. Joey Bosa vs. Wisconsin’s offensive line

The traditionally great Wisconsin offensive line, with two All-Big Ten performers on the right side, goes up against the Big Ten defensive player of the year from Ohio State. All of Wisconsin’s offensive line weighs more than 310 pounds and all but center Dan Voltz stands 6-5 or taller. The 6-5, 278-pound Bosa will be tough to contain, though. He has 20 tackles for a loss, 13.5 sacks and four forced fumbles this season. If Gordon is going to get to the second level and if Wisconsin’s quarterbacks are to have any prayer, the offensive line must neutralize Bosa.

 

Final Analysis

 

Through three Big Ten championship games, Wisconsin has won two of them, one of which during Gordon’s breakout game in a 70-31 upset of Nebraska. Ohio State has the most surprising loss in the game’s short history with last year’s 34-24 loss to Michigan State to deny the Buckeyes a trip to the national title game. As far as conference championship games go, the Big Ten has delivered in terms of surprises. What constitutes a surprise in this game, though, remains a question. No. 5 Ohio State is the underdog thanks to the injury to Barrett and a defense that has struggled in the last three games. Wisconsin, though, has a flawed passing game to go with its standout defense and Gordon-led run game. 

 

Big Ten Championship Predictions

 

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
Wisconsin (-4) vs. Ohio StateOSU 35-31Wisc 27-24Wisc 27-24Wisc 28-21
Last week4-35-24-34-3
This season79-3380-3282-3076-36

 

Teaser:
Big Ten Championship Preview and Prediction: Ohio State vs. Wisconsin
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/sec-championship-preview-and-prediction-alabama-vs-missouri
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Alabama and Missouri have met only once as SEC members, but there’s no shortage of familiarity between the two programs, as the Tigers and Crimson Tide are set to met in the SEC Championship game on Saturday afternoon. Alabama coach Nick Saban and Missouri coach Gary Pinkel played under Don James at Kent State and both spent time as graduate assistants with the Golden Flashes to begin their coaching career.

 

But on Saturday, the focus isn’t on the coaching background of Pinkel and Saban, as both teams have plenty to play for in Atlanta. With a win over Missouri, Alabama would solidify its spot in the playoffs and should be the No. 1 overall seed heading into the four-team tournament. The Tigers are No. 16 in the latest committee rankings, which makes a spot in college football’s playoff unlikely. However, Missouri can improve its bowl positioning with a victory over the Crimson Tide. And of course, the chance to win the SEC title is more than enough for the Tigers to be ready for the matchup in Atlanta.
 

The overall series between Alabama and Missouri is tied at two games apiece. The Crimson Tide has won the last two meetings, while the Tigers claimed the first two matchups. Missouri’s wins against Alabama occurred in 1968 and 1975, while the Crimson Tide has won the only matchup between these two programs as SEC members (42-10 in 2012).

Championship Week Previews and Predictions:

 

Missouri vs. Alabama

 

Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: CBS

Spread: Alabama -14.5

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Missouri’s Defensive Line

Despite the departure of two of last year’s standout defensive linemen (Michael Sam and Kony Ealy), Missouri hasn’t missed a beat up front. This group is arguably one of the best in the nation and is headlined by the defensive end pairing of Markus Golden and Shane Ray. The duo has combined for 22 sacks and four forced fumbles this season and rank among the top five tacklers on the team. Alabama’s offensive line may not be as dominant as it was in previous years, but this group is still one of the best in the SEC. The Crimson Tide has allowed only 11 sacks this season and led the way for rushers for average 5.1 yards per carry. Running backs T.J. Yeldon and Derrick Henry have combined for 1,639 yards and 16 touchdowns this year, and despite the emergence of quarterback Blake Sims, Alabama’s offense still revolves around its ground attack. Missouri needs Golden and Ray to create havoc on passing downs, while being tough at the point of attack against the run. In SEC-only matchups, the Tigers led the conference by limiting opponents to just 115 yards on the ground. Of course, it’s easy to poke holes in Missouri’s defensive statistics, as the East Division was the weaker side of the SEC. Indiana, Georgia and Arkansas each rushed for more than 150 yards against this defense. While Golden and Ray are a force off the edge, the Tigers need a big game from tackles Matt Hoch, Lucas Vincent, Harold Brantley and Josh Augusta on the interior. Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson suffered a shoulder injury in the win over Auburn. If Robinson is less than full strength, that’s an opportunity for Golden and Ray to generate pressure on quarterback Blake Sims.

 

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2. Stopping Amari Cooper

In order to pull off the upset, Missouri’s defensive front has to control the pace of the game. If the Tigers get to quarterback Blake Sims, that’s less time the senior has to scan the field and find standout receiver Amari Cooper. The junior has 103 receptions for 1,573 yards and 14 scores through 12 games and is the best receiver Missouri has played in 2014. The Tigers may not have an elite, shutdown cornerback, but coordinator Dave Steckel has a solid overall group. Missouri ranks 25th nationally in pass efficiency defense and limited opposing offenses to just 13 passing scores in SEC games this season. Junior Kenya Dennis or sophomore Aarion Penton will attempt to cover Cooper, but the Tigers could also rely on safety help from Braylon Webb or Ian Simon. Regardless of which defenders line up against Cooper, this is not an easy matchup for Missouri.

 

3. Missouri’s Offense

The 2014 version of Missouri’s offense isn’t as explosive or potent as the 2013 version. Last season, the Tigers averaged 39.1 points per game but that number has dipped to 28.6 in 2014. In addition to the drop in scoring, Missouri’s per-play average has dropped from 6.6 (2013) to 5.3 (2014). Pinpointing the reason for the drop in production is due to a couple of factors, but the Tigers have a balanced attack (2,112 rushing yards, 2,279 passing yards) and are one of the best in the SEC in turnover margin. Quarterback Maty Mauk has experienced his share of ups and downs in his first year as the starter but is coming off his highest passing performance in SEC play (265) yards and has tossed only two picks in Missouri’s last five games. Running back Russell Hansbrough suffered an ankle injury in last week’s win over Arkansas but is expected to play. Hansbrough’s health is critical to the offense, as the Tigers need balance in order to knock off Alabama. The Crimson Tide has been tough to run against all year and has allowed only three scores on the ground all season. Mauk should have opportunities to hit receiver Bud Sasser on big passing plays if Alabama continues to have its share of inconsistent play at cornerback. This is a tough matchup for Missouri’s offense, and considering the Crimson Tide’s elite run defense, the Tigers may need to throw more on Saturday to win. Is Mauk up to the task?

 

Final Analysis

 

Missouri has exceeded preseason expectations once again. The Tigers were picked by most to finish third or fourth in the East this year, but coach Gary Pinkel’s team reached Atlanta for the second consecutive season. While Missouri has reeled off six consecutive wins since a 34-0 loss to Georgia, this is the toughest opponent Pinkel’s squad will play in 2014. Alabama has its weaknesses, but the offense is coming off a huge performance against Auburn, and the defense has been stingy all season. The Crimson Tide enter Saturday’s game nearly a two-touchdown favorite. Can Missouri surprise once again? Or will Alabama win and clinch a playoff spot in the process?

 

SEC Championship Game Predictions
 David
Fox
Braden
Gall
Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
Missouri (+14.5) vs. AlabamaAlabama
38-14
Alabama
38-27
Alabama
34-17
Alabama
34-17
Last Week:5-47-26-36-3
Season Record:83-2888-2387-2489-22

 

Teaser:
SEC Championship Preview and Prediction: Alabama vs. Missouri
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-championship-preview-and-prediction-oregon-ducks-vs-arizona-wildcats-2014
Body:

After 14 weeks, 12 teams, nine conference games and three successful Hail Mary passes, the Pac-12 Championship Game is finally here.

 

And it couldn’t be any juicer. Not even in the mighty SEC.

 

Preseason favorite and Pac-12 goliath Oregon will do battle with upstart, freshman-led Arizona in the fourth annual conference championship game at brand-new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. — the first such contest held on a neutral field.

 

But don’t let the adjectives augment the reality of the situation. Arizona, more specifically Rich Rodriguez, has won two straight against the Ducks and has almost as much of a shot at landing in the College Football Playoff as Oregon.

 

In no other league title game this weekend is there a chance that both teams could win their way into the four-team national playoff tournament. Wisconsin, Missouri and Georgia Tech have virtually zero chance of winning their way into the playoff. When the committee moved Arizona to seventh in the latest rankings, they gave fans in Tucson hope.

 

RichRod's track record against Mark Helfrich gives them hope as well. Over the last 16 games, Oregon is 14-0 against everyone but Arizona and 0-2 against the Wildcats. Better yet, the Ducks are 24-1 in their last 25 games against all other teams and 0-2 against 'Zona.

 

The stakes are as high as it gets. The rivalry is reaching a fevered pitch. On one side, a grizzled veteran coach with a freshman quarterback and star linebacker. On the other, the Heisman Trophy front-runner and a coach desperately trying to prove himself.

 

What more do you need besides ?

Championship Week Preview and Predictions:
|  |  | 

 

Oregon Ducks vs. Arizona Wildcats

 

Kickoff: 9 p.m. ET (Friday)

TV Channel: FOX

Spread: Oregon -14

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Mr. Brilliance vs. Scooby Hustle

There is no better individual matchup in college football this weekend than Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year Marcus Mariota and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Scooby Wright on opposite sides of the line of scrimmage. Mariota hasn’t been at full speed in Oregon's two previous defeats to Arizona, posting his lowest offensive output of the year (277 total yds) this fall and throwing two interceptions against the Wildcats last season. Wright, meanwhile, has been sensational in two meetings against the Heisman front-runner. The Wildcats' defensive leader has 13 total tackles, two for a loss, a forced fumble, an interception and a sack in two games against the Ducks.

 

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2. Oregon’s supporting cast on offense

The Ducks' offensive line wasn’t healthy for the previous meeting in early October but appears to be stabilizing. But it’s not just the improved O-line that should have RichRod and defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel concerned. Since the Arizona game, Royce Freeman has established himself as a workhorse power back, Byron Marshall has been moved to receiver and is flourishing, and Dwayne Stanford has developed into a consistent threat on the outside. Not to mention Devon Allen’s ability to take the top off the defense, which has become a defensive coordinator's nightmare. Most will focus on the offensive line getting healthier and providing Mariota more time to operate — which is critical — but the rest of the offense around Mariota has become more dynamic since the last time these two met and 'Zona should be concerned.

 

3. Is the spotlight too big for the freshman?

In the first meeting, it was Mariota who was flustered and Anu Solomon who looked like the cagey vet in a hostile environment. Arizona’s freshman quarterback went on to produce 308.8 yards of total offense per game and 28 total touchdowns in just his first season on a college gridiron. But Solomon has dealt with nagging injuries in November and is at the end of a longer season than he's ever played — even in four state championship runs in high school. His completion percentage dipped late in the year before bouncing back against Arizona State. He should assume Oregon will attack him with waves of defenders from different formations in an effort to throw the rising star off kilter. He needs to handle the spotlight, manage the huddle and distribute the ball effectively to pull off the upset. He was capable in high school and it led to championships, so odds are he will be capable once again.

 

Final Analysis

 

These are two of the more dynamic offensive teams in the nation. Both teams like to the run the ball — try more than 5,000 yards combined this season — and both quarterbacks like to get out in space and make plays. The experience and talent edge lies heavily in Oregon’s favor, as does the motivational edge, making a third straight upset difficult to predict. However, the Wildcats have one significant advantage in Rich Rodriguez. He basically invented the Oregon offense and his 3-3-5 defense has proven to be effective against all types of spread offenses. Rodriguez claims “a couple of turnovers, great individual effort and a little bit of luck” are the reasons Arizona has topped Oregon the last two meetings. He will need plenty of all three to knock off the mighty Ducks on Friday night. 

 

Pac-12 Championship Predictions
 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Oregon (-14) vs. ArizonaUO, 45-35UO, 38-23UO, 49-28UO, 38-31
Last Week:4-35-25-24-3
Season Record:64-2769-2270-2167-24

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 Championship Preview and Prediction: Oregon Ducks vs. Arizona Wildcats 2014
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-week-15-preview-and-predictions
Body:

There is one Power 5 league that is playing a semi-full slate of games this weekend and it’s the league embroiled with the most controversy.

 

TCU appears to be the better overall football team currently, as the College Football Playoff Committee clearly has stated. However, it shouldn’t sit well with anyone that Baylor could be THE Big 12 champion and own head-to-head bragging rights over TCU and still get left out in favor of the Frogs despite a virtually identical resume.

 

Both sides of the argument have a legitimate case but Baylor fans can wrap up this discussion with just a few words:

 

“Why do we even play the games then?”

 

With that in mind, bring on the final weekend.

Championship Week Previews and Predictions:
|  | 

 

Week 15 Big 12 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas St (off) at Baylor
7:45 p.m., ESPN

The criticism the Big 12 is taking for lacking a “true champion” is complete nonsense. If the Baylor Bears win on Saturday, they will be the Big 12 champions. Technically, Kansas State is still alive as well but would need some serious help from Iowa State (don’t hold your breath). Either way, this is arguably the most critical game of the season for Baylor (after beating TCU, of course) and, like it or not, style points will matter. Sitting three spots behind the Frogs, Bryce Petty knows he needs to play extremely well just one week after sustaining a serious concussion. Jake Waters is a worthy adversary on the other side of the field, producing game-winning moments all season long. In four career meetings, Art Briles has defeated Bill Snyder three times, including a 52-24 victory the last time KSU came to Waco.

 

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2. Oklahoma St (+19.5) at Oklahoma
3:30 p.m., FS1

Never before has The Bedlam Series meant less to college football or the Big 12. In recent years, with league championships hanging in the balance, this rivalry had elevated itself to near-Red River Shootout status. But after eight combined losses and multiple injuries to multiple quarterbacks, this game has left little to be desired. Unless, your name is Samaje Perine or Mason Rudolph. The promising young freshmen offer some optimism for both teams, especially the Cowboys who need to pull off a massive road upset to get to a ninth consecutive bowl game. Mike Gundy is 1-8 against Bob Stoops in this rivalry and even a tremendous performance from Rudolph is unlikely to help the Pokes pull off the upset.

 

3. Iowa St (+34) at TCU
Noon, ABC

This game certainly matters on a national level as TCU can only hurt itself this weekend against the Cyclones. Anything other than a dominating performance could cause the Playoff Committee to reevaluate its current Big 12 pecking order. The Horned Frogs do not control their own destiny in the Big 12, despite what Bob Bowlsby will tell you, so Gary Patterson needs some help from Kansas State to win a league championship. Although, it may not need that help to get a shot at winning a national championship.

 

Off: Kansas, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia

 

Big 12 Predictions:

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
KSU at BaylorBU, 38-35BU, 37-27BU, 35-31BU, 38-34
OSU (+19.5) at OUOU, 40-20OU, 30-17OU, 48-21OU, 38-17
ISU (+34) at TCUTCU, 51-13TCU, 41-10TCU, 48-7TCU, 45-13
Last Week:3-14-04-04-0
YTD:61-1160-1265-764-8

 

Teaser:
Big 12 2014 Week 15 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/acc-championship-preview-and-prediction-florida-state-vs-georgia-tech-2014
Body:

Florida State and Georgia Tech meet for the second time in three seasons in the ACC Championship, and both programs head into this matchup with plenty at stake. The Seminoles have won 28 games in a row and need a victory to stay in the mix for a spot in college football’s new four-team playoff format. The Yellow Jackets are in the driver’s seat to make an appearance in the Orange Bowl if Florida State makes the four-team playoff, and coach Paul Johnson’s team may still land there even with a loss on Saturday night.

 

It’s been a rebound year for Georgia Tech after going 14-13 in the two previous seasons. The Yellow Jackets won 10 games, including key rivalry matchups against Clemson and Georgia. Johnson was named ACC Coach of the Year for Georgia Tech’s success in 2014, and the seventh-year coach has the program poised to finish in the final Associated Press poll for the first time since 2009.


On the other sideline, Florida State isn’t as dominant as it was in 2013, but the Seminoles are still one of the best teams in the nation. Coach Jimbo Fisher’s team enters the ACC Championship with three consecutive wins by five points or less, and the Seminoles have solid road wins over Miami and Louisville, along with a neutral site affair against Oklahoma State.

 

Florida State owns a 13-9-1 series edge over Georgia Tech. The Seminoles won 12 consecutive games against the Yellow Jackets from 1992-03. Georgia Tech won back-to-back matchups in 2008-09, but Florida State won the last meeting between these two teams in 2012 in a 21-15 victory in the ACC Championship. 

Championship Week Previews and Predictions:
|  |  | 

 

Georgia Tech vs. Florida State

 

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET (Saturday)

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: Florida State -4

 

Three Things to Watch

 

1. Florida State’s Run Defense
Stopping Georgia Tech’s option offense is going to be a handful for Florida State’s defense, especially on just one week to prepare. The Seminoles do have some experience against the option this year, as they played FCS opponent Citadel and allowed 250 rushing yards on 56 attempts. In eight ACC contests, Florida State allowed 133.6 rushing yards per game and limited opponents to 3.5 yards per carry. Anytime a defense matches up against an option attack, it’s important to play assignment football. Of course, that’s easier said than done, especially after Florida State’s defensive line was banged up in the win over Citadel. Facing a team that uses cut blocks is not something defensive linemen particularly enjoy, but the Seminoles have the talent to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and end Mario Edwards Jr. earned All-ACC honors this season and are two of the best players against the run in the ACC. Georgia Tech’s leading rusher is quarterback Justin Thomas (861 yards), but B-backs Zach Laskey and Synjyn Days will do the heavy lifting on the ground. Laskey averages five yards per carry, while Days has a 5.9 mark in 12 games. Thomas doesn’t throw it often, but he averages 17.8 yards per completion. Even though receiver DeAndre Smelter is out due to a knee injury, if Thomas, Days and Laskey produce on the ground, it should open up downfield passing opportunities for the passing game. If Florida State limits Georgia Tech’s big plays on the ground, it will extend its winning streak to 29 games.

 

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2. Turnover Battle
Florida State knows every possession against Georgia Tech is going to be valuable. The Yellow Jackets dominate the time of possession (averaging 34:02 per game), which limits the overall opportunities by the other offense. In the Seminoles’ win over Florida, they recorded 13 possessions (including end of half kneel downs). Against Citadel, Florida State had only nine offensive possessions. In addition to its ability to control the clock and limit offensive possessions, Georgia Tech has the best turnover margin in the ACC (+11) and has generated 27 takeaways this year. On the flipside, Florida State has been generous with giving the ball away, as it has lost 27 turnovers in 12 games. In last week’s win over Florida, the Seminoles lost four turnovers and still managed to win. However, against the Yellow Jackets, Florida State cannot afford to have a similar performance in the turnover department. It’s pretty simple to see Georgia Tech’s formula for a win on Saturday night: Control the clock and keep quarterback Jameis Winston on the sideline and win the turnover battle. If the Yellow Jackets are +2 or +3 in turnover margin on Saturday night, there’s a good chance Johnson’s team hoists the ACC trophy.

 

3. Georgia Tech’s Defense

Even if Georgia Tech’s offense has success against Florida State’s defense, will the Yellow Jackets get stops against the Seminoles? Statistically, Georgia Tech’s defense has struggled in 2014. The Yellow Jackets rank 13th in the ACC in yards per play allowed (6.1) and seventh in points allowed (24.1 ppg). This unit also ranks low in the conference in sacks (18 – 12th in the ACC) and struggled to get off the field on third downs. However, this unit played better in the second half of the season, limiting Clemson to just six points on Nov. 15, held Georgia to 24 points after the Bulldogs entered the season finale by scoring at least 34 points in their last three games and has forced 17 turnovers over the last five games. Despite their recent performance, the Yellow Jackets are going to have their hands full on Saturday night. Florida State’s offense averages 34.6 points per game and is third in the ACC by recording 6.3 yards per play. Quarterback Jameis Winston has tossed 17 picks this year, but the sophomore is still one of the best passers in the nation and is capable of carrying this offense to another national title. Winston has plenty of help from his supporting cast, which includes standout receiver Rashad Greene (86 catches) and a rising star in freshman running back Dalvin Cook (5.9 ypc). If Winston limits his mistakes, and Florida State doesn’t turn the ball over against an opportunistic defense, all signs point to the Seminoles being able to move the ball – and rather successfully.

 

Final Analysis

 

The star power in this matchup is clearly with Florida State. Winston, Cook and Greene are capable of scoring 30-40 points if the Seminoles don’t make careless mistakes with the ball. On the defensive side, Georgia Tech’s option offense on a week to prepare is going to be tough for the Seminoles. Keep an eye on third downs – can Florida State put the Yellow Jackets in long-yardage situations? The worst scenario for the Seminoles would be for Georgia Tech’s offense to dominate time of possession and win the turnover battle. Will Florida State clinch a playoff spot and win its third ACC title in three years? Or will the Yellow Jackets spoil the Seminoles’ unbeaten season and win its first ACC title since 2009.

 

ACC Championship Predictions
 David
Fox
Braden
Gall
Steven
Lassan
Mitch 
Light
FSU (-4) vs. GTFSU 35-28FSU 34-31FSU 31-27GT 31-30
Last Week:4-56-35-45-4
Season Record:82-3083-2983-2980-32

 

Teaser:
ACC Championship Preview and Prediction: Florida State vs. Georgia Tech
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-quarterback-rankings-week-14
Body:

Even though there’s been a change atop the quarterback leaderboard, Aaron Rodgers maintains his spot atop Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Week 14. Andrew Luck tossed a season-best five touchdown passes against Washington, allowing him to move past Peyton Manning for the top spot in fantasy points. Meanwhile, Ryan Fitzpatrick ruled Week 13 with a career-best six touchdown passes in the win over Tennessee. Fitzpatrick’s 51.3 fantasy points is the second highest this season by any player (Ben Roethlisberger, 56.8 in Week 8), although it’s highly likely few were able to capitalize on this performance given his low ownership rate. And don’t bank on a repeat showing from Fitzpatrick, even with another appealing matchup this week (at JAC). Fitzpatrick barely cracks our top 20 this week, while Rodgers, Manning and Luck are at the head of the class. 

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Aaron RodgersGBvs. ATL (Mon.)
2Peyton ManningDENvs. BUF
3Andrew LuckINDat CLE
4Drew BreesNOvs. CAR
5Tom BradyNEat SD
6Tony RomoDALat CHI (Thurs.)
7Russell WilsonSEAat PHI
8Matthew StaffordDETvs. TB
9Jay CutlerCHIvs. DAL (Thurs.)
10Ryan TannehillMIAvs. BAL
11Ben RoethlisbergerPITat CIN
12Philip RiversSDvs. NE
13Eli ManningNYGat TEN
14Cam NewtonCARat NO
15Matt RyanATLat GB (Mon.)
16Colin KaepernickSFat OAK
17Ryan FitzpatrickHOUat JAC
18Mark SanchezPHIvs. SEA
19Colt McCoyWASvs. STL
20Andy DaltonCINvs. PIT
21Joe FlaccoBALat MIA
22Shaun HillSTLat WAS
23Alex SmithKCat ARI
24Teddy BridgewaterMINvs. NYJ
25Brian HoyerCLEvs. IND
26Josh McCownTBat DET

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

 

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Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Quarterback Rankings: Week 14
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-running-back-rankings-week-14
Body:

Le’Veon Bell led off this list last week and he didn’t disappoint, but it was the return of another workhorse that prompted a change on Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for Week 14. After missing the past two games because of a groin injury, Arian Foster was back at it this past Sunday for the Texans. Foster didn’t fill up the box score, but he got 24 touches (105 total yards, TD) and this week faces a Jacksonville defense that’s been generous to opposing RBs. Meanwhile, Bell exploded for 254 total yards (159 receiving) in the Steelers’ loss to the Saints and he remains a top-three option this week. The hottest RB right now, however, is Denver’s C.J. Anderson, who has a whopping 335 yards rushing in his last two games. Anderson faces a tough task Sunday against Buffalo’s defense, but we still like him as a top-10 option. There also are some injury situations worth paying attention to this week, including Jamaal Charles (swelling in knee), Rashad Jennings (ankle), and Andre Ellington (hip pointer). 

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Arian FosterHOUat JAC
2DeMarco MurrayDALat CHI (Thurs.)
3Le'Veon BellPITat CIN
4Matt ForteCHIvs. DAL (Thurs.)
5Eddie LacyGBvs. ATL (Mon.)
6Marshawn LynchSEAat PHI
7Justin ForsettBALat MIA
8Jamaal CharlesKCat ARI
9C.J. AndersonDENvs. BUF
10LeSean McCoyPHIvs. SEA
11Alfred MorrisWASvs. STL
12Mark IngramNOvs. CAR
13Tre MasonSTLat WAS
14Joique BellDETvs. TB
15Ryan MathewsSDvs. NE
16Rashad JenningsNYGat TEN
17Jeremy HillCINvs. PIT
18Lamar MillerMIAvs. BAL
19Daniel HerronINDat CLE
20Isaiah CrowellCLEvs. IND
21Frank GoreSFat OAK
22Giovani BernardCINvs. PIT
23Denard RobinsonJACvs. HOU
24Fred JacksonBUFat DEN
25Chris IvoryNYJat MIN
26LeGarrette BlountNEat SD
27Jonathan StewartCARat NO
28Steven JacksonATLat GB (Mon.)
29Bishop SankeyTENvs. NYG
30Shane VereenNEat SD
31Jerick McKinnonMINvs. NYJ
32Latavius MurrayOAKvs. SF
33Doug MartinTBat DET
34Andre WilliamsNYGat TEN
35Trent RichardsonINDat CLE
36Chris JohnsonNYJat MIN
37Terrance WestCLEvs. IND
38Marion GriceARIvs. KC
39Darren SprolesPHIvs. SEA
40Matt AsiataMINvs. NYJ
41Pierre ThomasNOvs. CAR
42Reggie BushDETvs. TB
43Carlos HydeSFat OAK
44Darren McFaddenOAKvs. SF
45Charles SimsTBat DET
46Alfred BlueHOUat JAC
47Roy HeluWASvs. STL
48Andre EllingtonARIvs. KC

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit .

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Running Back Rankings: Week 14
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-wide-receiver-rankings-week-14
Body:

Another week, another breakout performance by a young wideout, but not one that shakes up Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for Week 14 too much. Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins topped all of his peers with his 238-yard, two-touchdown showing against Tennessee. While Hopkins is certainly a must-start option, he checks in near the back of our top 20 this week, a testament to the depth of this position. Dez Bryant is our pick for No. 1 based on his Thursday night matchup against Chicago’s depleted, inexperienced secondary. Plenty of usual suspects in the top 10, including Julio Jones, who is coming off of a career-high 189 yards receiving against Arizona. Atlanta will take on Green Bay on Monday night, a matchup full that also will feature Jordy Nelson (No. 3), Randall Cobb (No. 10) and, most likely, Roddy White (No. 25, but didn’t play last week because of an ankle injury).

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Dez BryantDALat CHI (Thurs.)
2Demaryius ThomasDENvs. BUF
3Jordy NelsonGBvs. ATL (Mon.)
4Calvin JohnsonDETvs. TB
5Antonio BrownPITat CIN
6A.J. GreenCINvs. PIT
7Odell Beckham Jr.NYGat TEN
8Julio JonesATLat GB (Mon.)
9Josh GordonCLEvs. IND
10Randall CobbGBvs. ATL (Mon.)
11Emmanuel SandersDENvs. BUF
12T.Y. HiltonINDat CLE
13Alshon JefferyCHIvs. DAL (Thurs.)
14Brandon MarshallCHIvs. DAL (Thurs.)
15Mike EvansTBat DET
16DeAndre HopkinsHOUat JAC
17Kelvin BenjaminCARat NO
18Mike WallaceMIAvs. BAL
19DeSean JacksonWASvs. STL
20Jeremy MaclinPHIvs. SEA
21Golden TateDETvs. TB
22Brandon LaFellNEat SD
23Torrey SmithBALat MIA
24Keenan AllenSDvs. NE
25Roddy WhiteATLat GB (Mon.)
26Jarvis LandryMIAvs. BAL
27Julian EdelmanNEat SD
28Kenny StillsNOvs. CAR
29Anquan BoldinSFat OAK
30Andre JohnsonHOUat JAC
31Jordan MatthewsPHIvs. SEA
32Sammy WatkinsBUFat DEN
33Marques ColstonNOvs. CAR
34Steve SmithBALat MIA
35Vincent JacksonTBat DET
36Mohamed SanuCINvs. PIT
37Reggie WayneINDat CLE
38Stedman BaileySTLat WAS
39Kendall WrightTENvs. NYG
40Robert WoodsBUFat DEN
41Martavis BryantPITat CIN
42Michael CrabtreeSFat OAK
43Doug BaldwinSEAat PHI
44Michael FloydARIvs. KC
45Rueben RandleNYGat TEN
46Eric DeckerNYJat MIN
47Percy HarvinNYJat MIN
48Greg JenningsMINvs. NYJ

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 14
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-tight-end-rankings-week-14
Body:

Coby Fleener had a banner day last week, but it’s the expected return of a teammate that impacts his position on Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings for Week 14. Fleener led all TEs with 127 yards and two touchdowns last week, but Dwayne Allen is expected to return after missing the past two games because of an ankle injury. Allen had better fantasy numbers than Fleener before the injury, which is why he’s ranked slightly ahead of his teammate. At the top it’s still Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham with an optimistic view on Julius Thomas’ potential return after a two-game absence (ankle).

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Rob GronkowskiNEat SD
2Jimmy GrahamNOvs. CAR
3Julius ThomasDENvs. BUF
4Greg OlsenCARat NO
5Delanie WalkerTENvs. NYG
6Martellus BennettCHIvs. DAL (Thurs.)
7Antonio GatesSDvs. NE
8Jason WittenDALat CHI (Thurs.)
9Jordan ReedWASvs. STL
10Travis KelceKCat ARI
11Larry DonnellNYGat TEN
12Dwayne AllenINDat CLE
13Kyle RudolphMINvs. NYJ
14Coby FleenerINDat CLE
15Heath MillerPITat CIN
16Jordan CameronCLEvs. IND
17Charles ClayMIAvs. BAL
18Owen DanielsBALat MIA
19Jared CookSTLat WAS
20Mychal RiveraOAKvs. SF
21Zach ErtzPHIvs. SEA
22Vernon DavisSFat OAK
23Scott ChandlerBUFat DEN
24Jermaine GreshamCINvs. PIT

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:
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

Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Tight End Rankings: Week 14
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-14
Body:

After what St. Louis did to Oakland last week, how can the Raiders’ opponent not lead off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings for Week 14? The Rams shut out the Raiders 52-0, racking up six sacks, five takeaways (3 INTs, 2 fumbles), and a touchdown (34 fantasy points, Athlon scoring) in the process. Oakland will host San Francisco on Sunday, which is why the 49ers are our choice for No. 1. St. Louis is just two spots behind, as Houston’s matchup against Jacksonville is slightly more appealing than the Rams’ (at WAS). And don’t sleep on Minnesota (No. 9). The Vikings draw the lowly Jets at home a week after a dominating effort against the Panthers (28 fantasy points), including two blocked kicks which resulted in touchdowns.

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

 

 

RankPlayerOpp
1San Francisco 49ersat OAK
2Houston Texansat JAC
3St. Louis Ramsat WAS
4Detroit Lionsvs. TB
5Minnesota Vikingsvs. NYJ
6Arizona Cardinalsvs. KC
7Seattle Seahawksat PHI
8Miami Dolphinsvs. BAL
9Denver Broncosvs. BUF
10Green Bay Packersvs. ATL (Mon.)
11Philadelphia Eaglesvs. SEA
12New England Patriotsat SD
13Kansas City Chiefsat ARI
14Baltimore Ravensat MIA
15Indianapolis Coltsat CLE
16New York Giantsat TEN

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

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit 

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 14
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-kicker-rankings-week-14
Body:

Stephen Gostkowski is No. 1 in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings for Week 14, but he’s ceded his standing as the most productive at the position, at least for now. Instead that distinction currently belongs to Cody Parkey. The rookie is now leading both the NFL and fantasy in scoring after booting four field goals and three PATs in the Eagles’ 33-10 Thanksgiving win in Dallas. Parkey is probably locked in as a top-five option the rest of the way. Elsewhere, Connor Barth made the most of his Denver debut, connecting on a franchise-tying five field goals in his first game in a Broncos uniform. Barth checks in at No. 7 this week with Denver set to host Buffalo on Sunday.

 

Positional Rankings: I I I I I

 

2014 NFL Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Stephen GostkowskiNEat SD
2Adam VinatieriINDat CLE
3Cody ParkeyPHIvs. SEA
4Mason CrosbyGBvs. ATL (Mon.)
5Steven HauschkaSEAat PHI
6Justin TuckerBALat MIA
7Connor BarthDENvs. BUF
8Dan BaileyDALat CHI (Thurs.)
9Matt BryantATLat GB (Mon.)
10Phil DawsonSFat OAK
11Matt PraterDETvs. TB
12Caleb SturgisMIAvs. BAL
13Shaun SuishamPITat CIN
14Dan CarpenterBUFat DEN
15Randy BullockHOUat JAC
16Nick NovakSDvs. NE

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

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Kicker Rankings: Week 14
Post date: Thursday, December 4, 2014 - 06:30
Path: /nba/nba-recap-ad-spoils-durant%E2%80%99s-return-mavs-beat-bulls-2ot-classic-curry-shines
Body:

Kevin Durant returned last night, and it didn't go as well as his buddy back into action last Friday night. Granted, the competition was much tougher: Westbrook slaughtered the lowly, 'Melo-less Knicks, while the Oklahoma City Thunder rolled into the Smoothie King Center to take on New Orleans Pelicans Tuesday night. And last year’s MVP, Durant, got a rude awakening from the man who’s leading the race this year, Anthony Davis.

Durant had 27 points on 9-of-18 shooting in the matchup, but it wasn’t enough. Davis overwhelmed OKC with 24 points, 10 rebounds, six steals, four assists and four blocks as the Pellies took the win, 112-104. The Thunder’s tough sled back to playoff positioning is underway, and it’s clear that it won’t be easy.

Nothing came easy for the Chicago Bulls or Dallas Mavericks at the United Center last night, either. Though the Mavericks pulled out a win, it took two overtimes and a lot of Monta Ellis heroism (38 points) to get it done. They also had to survive this sensational shot from an otherwise spotty Derrick Rose, which beat the buzzer to send the contest into its second extra session:

Dallas got a bit bailed out in the 132-129 victory, as Chicago’s Kirk Hinrich made perhaps the season’s stupidest foul at the end of regulation to gift Ellis three free-throws that brought them back into the game. "one of the dumber fouls."

Over in Oakland, though, Steph Curry was making clutch shooting count for wins again. The Golden State Warriors continued to roll, winning their tenth straight, 98-97 over the upstart Orlando Magic. And they couldn’t have done it without one big shot from their star:

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 16:25
All taxonomy terms: Monthly
Path: /monthly/hottest-holiday-gifts-sports-fans
Body:

TomTom Runner Cardio GPS watch

Runners rejoice. A built-in sensor measures your heart rate without the need for an awkward chest strap. The large, easy-to-read display makes it a cinch to monitor your distance, speed, calories and more, even during a strenuous run. Set up takes only a few minutes and we recommend syncing it to your computer to track your long-term progress. It worked so well, in fact, that we almost forgot how much we disliked running. Almost.

$269.99;  

 

 

Adidas miCoach Smart Ball

Whether for yourself or a group of kids your coaching, this high-tech soccer ball takes the game to a whole new level. Download the app, synch it to the ball via Bluetooth, and start kicking. It monitors your power (we managed 58 mph), ball rotation, ball-strike location and trajectory. The app features challenges, training videos and tracks your progress. Charging takes about an hour and lasts about a week (roughly 2,000 kicks). In other words, your leg will run out of steam long before the battery does.

$300; 

 

Coleman 50 Quart Xtreme Wheeled Cooler

This party cooler on wheels keeps your beverages and food frigid even during the hottest of tailgating days. We love the telescopic handle and the fact that you can stand 2-liter bottles upright, or pack in 84 cans of soda (wink, wink). Best of all, Coleman helps you show your team pride with your favorite pro or college football team logo prominently displayed on the front.

$39.99;

 

Notre Dame Fantasy Camp

If you’ve ever watched the movie “Rudy” and thought, “Hey, I should do that.” Well, now you can. Sort of. Suit up in Fighting Irish gear, dress in the locker room, attend mass, and play a (flag) football game at the stadium, all under the guidance of Coach Brian Kelly’s staff, as well as current and legendary players. In previous years, campers at the multi-day event (June 1-5, 2015) have rubbed elbows with Joe Theismann, “Rocket” Ismail and Tim Brown.

$4,995;

 

FIFA 15

If you watched the World Cup this year and thought, “What’s the big deal? I can do THAT.” Trust us, you can’t. But you can live out your soccer fantasies via one of EA Sports’ best titles. The graphics are stunning, the game-play feels authentic, and you never have to leave your couch to tell your friends that you just bicycle kicked one past goalkeeping great Tim Howard.

$59.99 (PS4);

 

Axe Bat Slowpitch Softball

The creator of the Axe Bat was inspired by hitting legend Ted Williams, who used to swing an axe as part of his off-season training. We tested it and were amazed at how much more pop we got off the bat, simply based on the extra leverage from the axe-shaped handle. It left us asking, “Why would you ever use a regular bat?”

$299.99;

 

Four Roses Small Batch

Four bourbon recipes were expertly selected by the Master Distiller at the peak of maturation to create a perfectly balanced small batch bourbon that offers a mellow symphony of rich, spicy flavors along with sweet, fruity aromas and hints of sweet oak and caramel. At least that's what Four Roses says. All we know is that it tastes amazing, goes down sma-oooth and had us cheering even when our team got clobbered.

$25.99;

 

SensoGlove: The World’s First Digital Golf Glove

Finally — a glove to tell you what you’re doing wrong instead of an annoying playing partner. Made of the highest quality cabretta leather, SensoGlove is easy-to-use with built-in digital sensors that automatically tell you which finger is ruining your golf swing for a consistently accurate, smooth and powerful swing.

$89;

 

 

Mizuno JPX-850 Driver

Mizuno gets in on the customization kick with the JPX-850, which allows for 10 unique settings (4 neutral, 3 draw, 3 fade) to change launch angle and spin rate. By using twin 8-gram weights, which can be placed on either a central sliding rail or two lateral slots, golfers have the ability to customize the driver to fit their swing needs and, in turn, create the perfect launch conditions and spin rates to bomb drives down the middle of the fairway. Now if I could only customize my swing to look like Ernie Els’.

$399;

 

ManGrate

This American-made hunk of cast-iron goodness rests on your existing grill grates and turns it into a near steakhouse-quality grill. These portable grates reduce flare-ups, help seal in the meat’s juices and leave picture-perfect grill marks. It’s easily the greatest grilling innovation since fire.
$76.99 (two grates & brush);

 

Gary Player: A Game for Life 3 DVD Instructional Series

Gary Player has traveled more miles than any other athlete. In the process, he won nine majors, so he’s worth listening to. Player shares tips on sand play, efficient practice, short game, course management and fitness for a roadmap to improved play. Keep your cooped-up golfer entertained this winter with simple tips, fun stories and lifestyle advice from the Black Knight himself.

$99.95;

 

Nike Aeroloft Jacket

We’ve all been there: You get cold, so you put on a jacket, but then you get hot, and your golf swing gets constricted. The swoosh has an answer. Nike designers, with help from the Nike Explore Team Sport Research Lab, created an insulated performance jacket that allows the body to retain heat while regulating the temperature to keep the athlete comfortable. In other words, the down fill provides lightweight warmth, and the perforations provide ventilation, assisting the body's natural ability to regulate body temperature by dispersing excess heat.

$220;

 

Chimp Kettlebell

The growing popularity of CrossFit has made kettlebells a common site at many gyms. If you’ve been thinking about trying it out at home, look no further. This 36-pound, chip-resistant piece of ape-faced iron has an enlarged handle for increased grip strength and is balanced to perfection. Worst-case scenario: it’ll make a great door stop in your man cave.

$84.95;

 

Topps’ Major League 25th Anniversary Wax Pack

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the iconic 1989 baseball movie, Major League, Topps is offering limited edition wax packs featuring cards of classic characters like Roger Dorn, Jake Taylor, Eddie Harris, Rachel Phelps and, of course, Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn. Winning.

$12.99;

 

Players First: Coaching from the Inside Out by John Calipari and Michael Sokolove

An inside look into the coaching and leadership philosophies of Kentucky Wildcats basketball coach John Calipari, arguably the most controversial figure of the “one-and-done” era of NCAA hoops. The book chronicles Calipari’s first four seasons in Lexington, including his 2012 national title team.

$21.77 (hardcover);

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 12:19
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-december-3-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Dec. 3:

 

, as did many other lovely ladies.

 

.

 

. I suddenly like Tom Brady a little more.

 

.

 

.

 

.

 

.

 

.

 

.

 

.

 

. Gross.

 

• A kid got to skate with some pros but got destroyed in the process.

 

--Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 10:54
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/arizona-cardinals-mathieu-has-fractured-thumb-may-miss-3-weeks
Body:

Tempe, AZ (SportsNetwork.com) - The Arizona Cardinals are dealing with many key injuries following Sunday's 29-18 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.

 

The Cardinals watched safety Tyrann Mathieu (thumb), right guard Paul Fanaika (ankle) and running back Andre Ellington (hip pointer) exit the game early. In addition, left tackle Jared Veldheer suffered an ankle injury late in the contest.

 

Mathieu has a broken left thumb and his status for Sunday's game against Kansas City is unknown. He was at the doctor as Arizona coach Bruce Arians met with the media Monday.

 

Arians said Mathieu could have a pin inserted in the thumb to help it heal, a procedure that would cost him three weeks. There is also a chance Mathieu will be able to cast it up and play.

 

Fanaika, Ellington and Veldheer will be monitored as the week progresses.

 

Arians also said that wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who has missed the past two games with a sprained MCL in his left knee, should be able to practice on Wednesday.

 

Linebacker Matt Shaughnessy (knee) is expected to play Sunday. He has been practicing but wasn't allowed to be activated until this week after being placed on the injured reserve-designated to return list earlier this season.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 10:37
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/st-louis-rams-players-not-fined-over-ferguson-protest
Body:

New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - The NFL will not issue any discipline to five St. Louis Rams players who displayed a show of support to the protesters in nearby Ferguson, Missouri prior to Sunday's game against the Oakland Raiders.

 

As the Rams' offense was introduced, wide receivers Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, Kenny Britt and Chris Givens and tight end Jared Cook all stood together and raised their arms to pay homage to those who protested a recent grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting African-American teenager Michael Brown in August.

 

The verdict triggered a wave of riots and looting in the St. Louis suburb.

 

The St. Louis Police Officers Association condemned the players' actions while calling upon the NFL to hand out some sort of punishment, but the league denied that request in a statement issued Monday.

 

"We respect and understand the concerns of all individuals who have expressed views on this tragic situation," NFL vice president of communications Brian McCarthy said in the statement.

 

Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said after his team's 52-0 win over the Raiders that he was unaware of the players' intentions to conduct the gesture, which drew the ire of SLPOA and prompted the organization to demand a public apology from the NFL.

 

"The St. Louis Police Officers Association is profoundly disappointed with the members of the St. Louis Rams football team who chose to ignore the mountains of evidence released from the St. Louis County Grand Jury this week and engage in a display that police officers around the nation found tasteless, offensive and inflammatory," the SLPOA stated.

 

"I know that there are those that will say that these players are simply exercising their First Amendment rights," said SLPOA business manager Jeff Roorda. "Well, I've got news for people who think that way -- cops have first amendment rights, too, and we plan to exercise ours. I'd remind the NFL and their players that it is not the violent thugs burning down buildings that buy their advertiser's products. It's cops and the good people of St. Louis and other NFL towns that do. Somebody needs to throw a flag on this play. If it's not the NFL and the Rams, then it'll be cops and their supporters."

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 10:33
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/pettine-cleveland-browns-not-ready-make-qb-decision
Body:

Berea, OH (SportsNetwork.com) - Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel?

 

Browns coach Mike Pettine isn't ready to make that decision just yet.

 

Pettine said Monday he'll announce on Wednesday who will start at quarterback for this Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts. He added that general manager Ray Farmer will be in on the meetings.

 

"Not ready to make a decision on that at this point," Pettine said. "Not leaning one way or the other."

 

Hoyer was benched early in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 26-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Manziel stepped in and engineered an 8-play, 80-yard drive that he capped with a 10-yard touchdown scramble.

 

Manziel, of course, performed his "money sign" celebration following his first NFL touchdown. He ended the game 5-of-8 for 63 yards, forcing the Browns into a critical decision about the team's future of the quarterback position.

 

Hoyer completed 18-of-30 passes for 192 yards and two interceptions before being benched. In the past three games, Hoyer has thrown only one touchdown pass and six interceptions.

 

Manziel, selected with the 22nd overall pick in May's draft, doesn't shy away from the spotlight. He was fined $12,000 by the NFL for a hand gesture (flipping the bird) that he made in a preseason loss to the Washington Redskins.

 

The flashy Manziel recently made headlines for an altercation that took place at an apartment complex in Cleveland last week, as a fan alleged that the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner and his "entourage" assaulted him and his brother.

 

The 7-5 Browns enter Sunday's game tied with Pittsburgh and Baltimore for second place in the AFC North.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 10:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/titans-qb-zach-mettenbergers-injury-not-serious
Body:

Nashville, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Tennessee Titans quarterback Zach Mettenberger's shoulder injury is not believed to be serious, head coach Ken Whisenhunt told reporters on Monday.

 

The Titans are hopeful he'll be able to play Sunday against the Giants.

 

Mettenberger suffered a Grade 1 sprain of his AC joint following a big hit from J.J. Watt in the third quarter of Sunday's 45-21 loss to the Texans.

 

Jake Locker, who was replaced by Mettenberger as the Titans' starter last month, came on in relief, and his first pass was intercepted. Locker was picked off twice and tossed for 91 yards and a touchdown on 6-of-12 throws.

 

Mettenberger threw for 184 yards with a touchdown and an interception before leaving.

 

Whisenhunt also provided an update on wide receiver Justin Hunter, who suffered a lacerated spleen Sunday and was taken to an area hospital. Whisenhunt said he should be released in the next day or two, but didn't comment on Hunter's status going forward.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 10:28
All taxonomy terms: Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James, NBA
Path: /nba/lebron-james-doesn%E2%80%99t-want-all-star-game-cleveland
Body:

The Cleveland Cavaliers just began a campaign to get the 2018 NBA All-Star Game at the Quicken Loans Arena. LeBron James, as has been a trend for him lately, has already publicly reminded everybody who’s boss in Ohio, and undermined his franchise’s momentum with the effort.

"It would be too much for me," , before his team’s 11-108 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks, in which James collected 26 points and 10 assists. "It would be too much for me. I think it would be great for us to host (the All-Star game), but hopefully I'm no good in that year if we get it. Too much for me. I don't want it. My family, friends — I don't want it. Too much.”

In his second time around with the Cavs, James has been able to get things the way he wants them so far. He seems to hold more authority over his roster than rookie coach David Blatt, often acting as a de facto disciplinarian for a crew that he, at least partially, hand-picked. Mike Miller, James Jones and Shawn Marion were recruited by James this summer, while Tristan Thompson is largely believed to have survived the Kevin Love trade because he shares an agent with James, Rich Paul.

LeBron’s also already taken to the media, before, to critique fellow Cavs. Kyrie Irving’s ballhogging has been noted in so many words by the King, and he’s also openly wondered about the legitimacy of some of Blatt’s pedagogy. James has pushed the envelope in terms of how powerful a figure can be as an NBA player. He’s got an organization in the palm of his hand — and if he threatened to enter free agency again (a possibility in 2015, as James’ new contract has an opt-out clause) he could easily hold dominion over quite a few other teams, too.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 10:18
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-2014-championship-weekend
Body:

The original reality TV show is sports. No contrived setting where seven strangers living in a house or one bachelor searching for love can match the excitement the Iron Bowl delivered last fall.

 

The beauty of college football lies in its complete unpredictability and drama. Here are some outrageous predictions for Week 15.

 

Note: The point of this column is to have some fun and make some outlandish predictions. Please react accordingly.

 

Two top 5 teams will lose

 

Something crazy always happens on Championship Weekend in college football. Four 10-win teams will face four top-six teams in championship games and Baylor hosts Kansas State. With six teams vying for four spots, the committee should be rooting hard for two top-five teams to lose this weekend. Never fear, it will happen. (My bet is Baylor and Ohio State).

 

There will be no controversy with the final four

 

Yup, the most outlandish of all predictions is that there will be no story when the Playoff Committee announces the final four. Should two of the top five lose (as I’m predicting), then the committee will have an easy job picking the top four. And as I predicted at the beginning of the season, the only story when the tournament is set is that there won’t be a story.

 

The Big 12 will have one true champion

 

No matter who wins the Baylor-Kansas State game, the Big 12 will have one true champion. Tiebreakers have been a part of determining championships in sports for a century and why should it change now? If Baylor wins, it will have played everyone in the Big 12 and won the league fair and square. If Kansas State wins, TCU will have played everyone in the Big 12 and won the league fair and square. Give the Big 12 a break, it’s not like some other leagues…

 

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The American Athletic Conference will have three "true" champions

 

Unlike the Big 12, the AAC will have a tie atop their conference standings but won’t have a clear-cut tiebreaker. Memphis is in the clubhouse at 7-1 and UCF will likely beat ECU to finish 7-1 as well. Cincinnati needs to beat Houston at home to also join the mix at 7-1. Unfortunately, UCF didn’t play either Memphis or Cincy so there is no way to know who the true champion is in the AAC. A three-way tie without tiebreakers is the real joke, not the Big 12.
 

A Heisman preseason front-runner will win the Trophy at a school that’s never won the award

 

This is outrageous because a true preseason front-runner hasn’t won the Heisman Trophy in years (Ricky Williams? Ron Dayne?). When Marcus Mariota exacts his revenge upon Arizona this Friday, look for the Oregon Ducks to win their first-ever Heisman Trophy. Mariota was the preseason favorite and has gone essentially wire-to-wire as the best player in the game.

Teaser:
Outrageous College Football Predictions: 2014 Championship Weekend
Post date: Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/expert-poll-week-14-heisman-trophy-voting
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Athlon Sports has formed a Heisman Trophy committee. Each week, we will ask 13 members of the national college football media to rank their top candidates for the Heisman Trophy.

 

Each voter will rank their top five candidates, with each first-place vote getting five points and each last-place vote getting one point.

 

The Panel:

 

, FOX Sports

, Big Ten Network 

, CBS Sports

, SBNation

, Sports Illustrated

, NFL.com

, Big Ten Network

, Bleacher Report, B/R Radio

, MrSEC.com

, Athlon Sports

Athlon Sports

, Athlon Sports

, Athlon Sports, SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

 PlayerTeamPts1st2nd3rd4th5th
1.Marcus Mariota6513----
2.Melvin Gordon51-121--
3.Amari Cooper36-1101-
4.Trevone Boykin21--271
5t.Scooby Wright6---14
5t.Tevin Coleman6---14
7.Dak Prescott4---2-
8.J.T. Barrett3---11
9.Cody Kessler3----3

Dropped out: Bryce Petty, Brett Hundley 

 

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The Top 3:

 
1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon

Mariota is playing on another planet. With a national title hanging in the balance on the road against an archrival, Mariota accounted for six touchdowns and more than 400 yards of total offense. Among all players, his 9.31 yards per play is No. 2 nationally (New Mexico's Jhurell Pressley), his 342.2 yards per game is No. 5, his 36 passing touchdowns are No. 2 and his 190.2 passer rating is No. 1. Should he exact revenge on Arizona in the Pac-12 title game, the Heisman Trophy will land in Eugene for the first time in history.

 

Season Stats: 3,470 yds, 68.6%, 36 TDs, 2 INTs, 636 rush yds, 11 TDs

 

2. Melvin Gordon, Wisconsin

In a winner-take-all situation against an archrival, Gordon was excellent once again. In fact, in the most critical situations, Gordon was dominant in the final three weeks of the regular season against Nebraska (408 yds, 4 TD), Iowa (200 yds, 2 TD) and Minnesota (151 yds, TD). He is leading the nation in rushing yards (2,260) and rushing touchdowns (26). He needs 368 yards to break Barry Sanders’ single-season rushing record and has two games to do it. In any other year, Gordon would have locked up the Heisman over the last three weeks.

 

Season Stats: 283 att., 2,260 yds, 26 TDs, 17 rec., 151 yds, 2 TDs

 

3. Amari Cooper, Alabama

With a trip to the College Football Playoff on the line, Cooper posted the best game of his career. The Crimson Tide wideout was the difference-maker for Alabama against Auburn in the second half, catching 13 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns. He is third nationally with 103 receptions, second with 1,573 yards and second with 14 touchdowns. Should Cooper finish among the top three in Heisman voting, it would be the highest showing by a wide receiver since Larry Fitzgerald was the runner-up in 2003.

 

Season Stats: 103 rec., 1,573 yds, 14 TDs 

Teaser:
Expert Poll: Week 14 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: SEC, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/sec-big-12-challenge-preview-and-prediction
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For a challenge between the strongest major conference from top to bottom a year ago (the Big 12) against the most top heavy (the SEC), this year’s event has surprisingly interesting matchups.

 

The headliner, Texas’ trip to Kentucky, matches two teams with Final Four aspirations and star-studded frontcourts. Arkansas and Iowa State should meet in an entertaining up-and-down affair. The matchup in Morgantown features one overachieving team (West Virginia) with one still struggling to find its way (LSU).

 

Of course, there are a few clunkers. Missouri-Oklahoma and Baylor-Vanderbilt would be more interesting in other seasons. Perhaps Florida-Kansas could use a Gators team that’s not stumbling into Lawrence.

 

For the Big 12, the challenge is a chance to establish the kind of depth that allowed the league to send seven of its 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament. For the SEC, the challenge is an opportunity to undo some of those embarrassing losses from the first three weeks of the season.

 

WEDNESDAY

 

Auburn at Texas Tech

9 p.m., SEC Network

Bruce Pearl and Tubby Smith won two games apiece when the former was at Tennessee and the latter was at Kentucky. Both are building from the ground up at their new jobs. Texas Tech is projected to finish last in the Big 12 but took LSU to overtime earlier this season. Auburn hopes to get a boost by the return of Antoine Mason from an ankle injury. Mason, a transfer from Niagara, is the nation’s top returning scorer this season.

 

THURSDAY

 

LSU at West Virginia

7 p.m., ESPN2

West Virginia is off to a surprising start at 7-0 this season, headlined by a 78-68 win over Connecticut on Nov. 23. The Mountaineers, in the NIT a year ago, lead the nation in forcing turnovers on 32.4 percent of possessions, according to KenPom.com. LSU is one of the nation’s most disappointing teams early in the season. Johnny Jones has an NCAA-caliber roster, but the Tigers have lost to Old Dominion and Clemson.

 

Baylor at Vanderbilt

7 p.m., ESPNU

Baylor’s chances to win at Memorial Gym will improve if point guard Kenny Chery is healthy. He’s missed the last three games, including a 64-54 loss to Illinois in which Baylor had nine assists and 15 turnovers. Vanderbilt will have a size advantage with 6-10 sophomore Damian Jones against an uncharacteristically small Baylor lineup.

 

Arkansas at Iowa State

9 p.m., ESPN2

This has potential to be the most entertaining game of the SEC-Big 12 Challenge. The two teams are averaging a combined 170 points per game and both are in the top 25 in tempo, according to KenPom.com. After being on the NCAA fringe for a few years under Mike Anderson, Arkansas will look to pick up a key non-conference win while Iowa State will look to come back from a 72-63 loss to Maryland on Nov. 25.

 

TCU at Ole Miss

9 p.m., ESPNU

TCU won’t win the Big 12, but it could win the state of Mississippi. The Horned Frogs have defeated Mississippi Valley State and Mississippi State already this season. The Rebels, though, will be the toughest of the three. Ole Miss, like most SEC schools, has taken a bad non-conference loss (Charleston Southern), but came back to defeat Creighton and Cincinnati in a Thanksgiving tournament.

 

FRIDAY

 

Texas at Kentucky

7 p.m., ESPN

We’ve been burned before saying this, so tread lightly when we say the following: Texas is legit. The Longhorns entered the season with the most experience in the Big 12, and they’re playing like it. Texas defeated Iowa and Cal in Madison Square Garden, and most impressively, the Longhorns defeated Connecticut on the road without point guard Isaiah Taylor. Winning in Lexington against this squad without Taylor (broke wrist) will be a tougher task. With its deep cast of bigs, Kentucky will be a tough matchup in an area that’s usually an advantage for Texas with Jonathan Holmes, Myles Turner and Cameron Ridley.

 

Florida at Kansas

9 p.m., ESPN

Kansas has rebounded since Kentucky dominated the matchup in Indianapolis. The Jayhawks handled Rhode Island, Tennessee and Michigan State in the Orlando Classic during the Thanksgiving weekend. Worth watching will be the use of the Jayhawks’ freshmen. Cliff Alexander has yet to start, and Kelly Oubre isn’t even cracking 10 minutes per game. Florida didn’t have nearly as much success in its holiday tournament, losing to Georgetown and North Carolina in the Battle 4 Atlantis. Injuries and suspensions have shortened Billy Donovan’s bench, but while last year’s Florida team found a way to win shorthanded, this team is struggling.

 

Missouri at Oklahoma

9:30 p.m., ESPNU

Oklahoma was billed as a sleeper contender in the Big 12, especially after Houston transfer TaShawn Thomas was declared eligible. The Sooners have yet to look the part, especially on the offensive end of the floor by shooting less than 40 percent from the floor in losses to Wisconsin and Creighton. That said, the Sooners should cruise at home against a rebuilding Missouri team that was outclassed by Arizona and Purdue in Maui.

 

SATURDAY

 

Oklahoma State at South Carolina

Noon, ESPNU

Oklahoma State’s Le’Bryan Nash (18.3 points per game) and Phil Forte (17.2) are doing just fine without Marcus Smart and Markel Brown, thank you very much. The Cowboys are 6-0 but have yet to play a true road game. Meanwhile, the rebuilding job at South Carolina is still a slow go. The Gamecocks have already lost to Charlotte and Akron.

 

Kansas State at Tennessee

3:15 p.m., ESPN2

Kansas State needs a confidence boost in a major way. Bruce Weber’s squad was projected as an NCAA team, but the Wildcats have already lost to Long Beach State on the road and by 33 to Pittsburgh in the Maui Invitational. Those are not the kinds of things top-half Big 12 teams should be doing. An NCAA investigation stemming from Donnie Tyndall’s days at Southern Miss is looming over the Volunteers as they’re simply struggling to put a competitive team on the court.

 

Athlon Sports Staff Picks

 

GameDavid FoxBraden GallMitch LightNathan Rush
Auburn at Texas TechTexas TechAuburnAuburnAuburn
LSU at West VirginiaWest VirginiaWest VirginiaWest VirginiaWest Virginia
Baylor at VanderbiltVanderbiltBaylorVanderbiltVanderbilt
Arkansas at Iowa StateIowa StateArkansasIowa StateIowa State
TCU at Ole MissOle MissTCUOle MissOle Miss
Texas at KentuckyKentuckyKentuckyKentuckyKentucky
Florida at KansasKansasKansasKansasKansas
Missouri at OklahomaOklahomaOklahomaOklahomaOklahoma
Oklahoma State at South CarolinaOklahoma StateOklahoma StateSouth CarolinaOklahoma State
Kansas State at TennesseeKansas StateKansas StateKansas StateKansas State
Final TallyBig 12 7-3Big 12 7-3Tie 5-5Big 12 6-4

 

Teaser:
SEC-Big 12 Challenge Preview and Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-playoff-rankings-analysis-week-15
Body:

In general, the best advice about the weekly playoff rankings is to take a deep breath and move on.

If there’s a time before the final playoff pairings to wonder just what is going on in that committee room in Dallas and wonder if some teams were better off with the BCS, this is that time.

 

Again, panic is not advised, but if that's your bag, we grant you permission.


TCU and Baylor have identical records in the same conference. Baylor defeated TCU by three points on the field yet TCU is three spots ahead of Baylor in the rankings. TCU is a playoff team this week. Baylor is not.

Meanwhile, Florida State is the only undefeated team in the country, yet the Seminoles are fourth. Florida State is a playoff team this week, but next week...

The selection committee is less than a week from setting the first College Football Playoff matchups in the history of the sport, and we have more questions than answers.

Let’s start with the Big 12, where the irony of the league’s “One True Champion” slogan is not lost.

In the event that No. 6 Baylor defeats No. 9 Kansas State and No. 3 TCU defeats Iowa State in the final week, Baylor and TCU will be tied for the lead of the only Power Five conference that doesn’t have a title game.

The selection committee will not play the role of tiebreaker. Neither will the Big 12, which will declare teams co-champions in case of a tie.

“We will not determine a champion for the Big 12,” said selection committee chairman Jeff Long, the athletic director at Arkansas. “We have not had the discussions on what if there is a co-champion.”

And despite the head-to-head result in Waco, Long says the committee believes TCU to be the better team. TCU has defeated three teams with winning records (No. 20 Oklahoma, Minnesota and West Virginia) while Baylor has defeated two teams with winning records (No. 20 Oklahoma and TCU).

In essence, that makes TCU’s 30-7 win over to four-loss Minnesota one of the most important results of the season.

“I can tell you it is contributing,” Long said. “But I can’t put a value on how much that MInnesota victory is contributing to the difference between the two teams.”

And then there’s Florida State. During the BCS era, the idea of the lone undefeated power conference team slipping out of the championship picture would be unfathomable.

 

Yet Florida State, thanks to a series of uneven play and close games against the ACC schedule and unusually weak Florida and Notre Dame teams, has put the Seminoles at No. 4.

Long won’t entertain predicting scenarios in which an undefeated FSU fails to make the playoff, but he said the Seminoles are in a “strong position” at No. 4. Florida State plays No. 11 Georgia Tech in Charlotte in the ACC title game.

FSU may be in a strong position. Perhaps TCU is, too. But the selection committee now is facing a situation where all four teams in Week 14 could win and yet one or more could be out of the top four in Week 15. Either that, or the committee could devalue a head-to-head result in the name of “body of work.”

Or they could all hope for the right loss to keep the huffing and puffing to a minimum.

“We’re waiting for results now,” Long said. “We’re waiting for teams to complete their body of work. We work hard not to project out. With that regard, the top four teams to this point are ranked where the committee believes they should be.”

 

College Football Playoff Rankings: Dec. 2
1. Alabama10. Mississippi State18. Clemson
2. Oregon11. Georgia Tech19. Auburn
3. TCU12. Ole Miss20. Oklahoma
4. Florida State13. Wisconsin21. Louisville
5. Ohio State14. Georgia22. Boise State
6. Baylor15. UCLA23. Utah
7. Arizona16. Missouri24. LSU
8. Michigan State17. Arizona State25. USC
9. Kansas State  

Notables:

 

Wait and see on Ohio State

The selection committee wasn’t ready to pass judgement on the injury to quarterback J.T. Barrett just yet. The Buckeyes are ranked fifth despite a season-ending injury to their Heisman contender. Long wouldn’t call it a one-game body of work for a Cardale Jones-led Ohio State team, but it sure feels that way. The committee’s directive is to take injuries into account, and few injuries will have much of an impact as Barrett’s at this stage of the season.

“We're going to be watching how he plays and how he leads that team, and that's certainly part of the evaluation that the committee will weigh,” Long said. “But it's a team game.”

 

 

Who Should Worry:

 

 

Baylor


A bit of a mea culpa: We’ve had TCU in this spot for two consecutive weeks only to watch the Horned Frogs move to No. 3. Now, Baylor may be the one in trouble. The selection committee has been consistent in ranking TCU ahead of Baylor despite the head-to-head result. Perhaps defeating Kansas State will change that, but a three-spot gulf feels awfully tough to overcome without help.
 

 

Who Should be Pleasantly Surprised:

 

Arizona

In the event of chaos at the top of the rankings, perhaps no team is better positioned than Arizona at No. 7. The Wildcats moved up from No. 11 after a win over Arizona State to become the highest-ranked two-loss team. Arizona can help its case in the Pac-12 title game against No. 2 Oregon. The three other conference title game participants facing playoff contenders are ranked outside of the to 10 (No. 11 Georgia Tech, No. 13 Wisconsin and No. 16 Missouri).

 

 

 

If the Season Ended Today:

 

National Semifinals:

Sugar: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Florida State

Rose: No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 TCU

 

Other bowls (projected)

Cotton: No. 6 Baylor vs. No. 5 Ohio State

Fiesta: No. 22 Boise State* vs. No. 7 Arizona

Orange: No. 11 Georgia Tech^ vs. No. 8 Michigan State

Peach: No. 9 Kansas State vs. No. 10 Mississippi State

*automatic Group of 5 bid

^automatic ACC bid to Orange Bowl

Teaser:
College Football Playoff Rankings Analysis: Week 15
Post date: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 19:30
Path: /college-football/8-coaching-candidates-replace-brady-hoke-michigan
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Michigan is the second Big Ten coaching position to open this offseason, as coach Brady Hoke was fired on Tuesday. Hoke went 31-20 in four seasons with the Wolverines, including an 11-2 record in 2011. However, since leading Michigan to a Sugar Bowl appearance and winning 11 games, the Wolverines are just 20-18 and missed out on a bowl in 2014.

 

Hoke was hailed as a “Michigan Man” when he was hired in 2011. Will the Wolverines look for a “Michigan Man” and hire Les Miles or Jim Harbaugh? Or will outside names appeal to interim athletic director Jim Hackett?

 

8 Candidates to Replace Brady Hoke at Michigan

 

Steve Addazio, head coach, Boston College

Addazio wouldn’t be a splashy, name hire like Jim Harbaugh or Les Miles, but he’s a good coach that would win a lot of games at Michigan. In two years at Boston College, Addazio is 14-11 and has recorded a .500 record in conference play in both seasons. Prior to taking over in Chestnut Hill, Addazio spent two years at Temple and went 13-11 during that span. Before taking over the top spot at Temple, Addazio coached at Florida from 2005-10 under Urban Meyer, spent three years at Indiana (2002-04) and also had stops at Notre Dame and Syracuse. Addazio’s style of play and emphasis on toughness would fit in well in the Big Ten.

Mike Gundy, head coach, Oklahoma State
Gundy is 82-44 since taking over as Oklahoma State’s head coach in 2005. Considering he works at his alma mater, Gundy isn’t necessarily looking to leave Stillwater, but reports have indicated there could be friction between the head coach and athletic director Mike Holder. Under Gundy’s direction, the Cowboys have played in eight consecutive bowl games and finished No. 3 nationally in 2011. Gundy’s name also popped up in connection with the opening at Florida and Nebraska. Is he really interested in leaving his alma mater? That’s the big question with Gundy.
 

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Jim Harbaugh, head coach, San Francisco 49ers

Harbaugh would be a home run hire for Michigan. But does he want to leave the NFL? Harbaugh played at Michigan from 1983-87 and has been a successful coach at three different jobs. Harbaugh went 29-6 in three years at San Diego, 29-21 in four seasons with Stanford and is 43-16-1 with the 49ers. While Harbaugh is certainly in play at his alma mater, staying in the NFL is also a possibility. If Harbaugh wants to come back to Michigan, he should be Michigan’s No. 1 target.

 

Jerry Kill, head coach, Minnesota

Kill wouldn’t be the flashiest of hires, but he’s a proven coach at five college jobs. The Kansas native is 25-25 in four seasons with the Golden Gophers, which includes a 9-7 mark in Big Ten play over the last two years. Prior to taking over at Minnesota, Kill spent two years at Northern Illinois (23-16), seven seasons at Southern Illinois (55-32), went 11-11 at Emporia State and 38-14 at Saginaw Valley State (1994-98). While Kill has a good job at Minnesota, Michigan is one of the elite coaching jobs in college football. Wouldn’t necessarily move the needle nationally, but Kill would win a lot of games in Ann Arbor.

 

Les Miles, head coach, LSU
If Jim Harbaugh is the No. 1 candidate at Michigan, then Miles should be a close No. 2 or 1b. The Ohio native played under Bo Schembechler in Ann Arbor and coached at Michigan as an assistant from 1980-81 and 1987-94. Miles left Ann Arbor for Oklahoma State in 1995 and was elevated to head coach after a three-year stint with the Dallas Cowboys in 2000. From 2001-04, Miles guided Oklahoma State to a 28-21 record with three bowl appearances. Miles took over at LSU in 2005 and is 103-28 during his tenure in Baton Rouge.

 

Jim McElwain, head coach, Colorado State

McElwain is believed to be one of the frontrunners to replace Will Muschamp at Florida. But if he doesn’t land the job in Gainesville, the Montana native should be in the mix at Michigan. McElwain coached at Alabama under Nick Saban from 2008-11 and has previous experience as an assistant at Fresno State, Michigan State, Louisville and in the NFL with the Raiders. McElwain has thrived at Colorado State after a 4-8 mark in his first season, guiding the Rams to an 8-6 record and a bowl appearance in 2013 and a 10-2 mark in 2014.

 

Dan Mullen, head coach, Mississippi State

Mullen has spent the past six seasons at Mississippi State, recording a 46-30 record during that span. The Bulldogs also recorded four consecutive bowl appearances and will extend that streak to five in 2014. While coaching in the SEC is an attractive destination for all coaches, Mississippi State is one of the toughest jobs in the SEC. Mullen elevated the Bulldogs into playoff contention this season and led the program to a 10-2 record, which was its first season of double-digit wins since 1999. Prior to Mississippi State, Mullen worked as Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Florida from 2005-08 and worked under Meyer at Bowling Green (2001-02) and Utah (2003-04) as an assistant. Mullen is clearly capable of winning at a high level. And it’s much easier to win at Michigan than in the brutal SEC West.  

 

Greg Schiano, former Rutgers/Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach
Schiano has been out of coaching since he was fired at the end of the 2013 season in Tampa Bay. In two years with the Buccaneers, Schiano was just 11-21. However, Schiano was a successful college coach, recording a 68-67 mark at Rutgers from 2001-11. While his record was barely over .500, Schiano inherited a struggling program and transformed the Scarlet Knights into a consistent winner. Prior to his stint with Rutgers, Schiano worked as an assistant at Miami.

 

Longshots

 

Pat Fitzgerald, head coach, Northwestern
Fitzgerald turned down Michigan in 2011. Would he be interested in leaving after a 5-7 record at Northwestern in 2014?

 

Pep Hamilton, offensive coordinator, Indianapolis Colts

A name to remember in future seasons, as Hamilton has helped mentor Andrew Luck over the last few years in Indianapolis (and at Stanford).

 

John Harbaugh, head coach, Baltimore Ravens

If Jim won’t leave the NFL, would John Harbaugh be an option?
 

Tom Herman, offensive coordinator, Ohio State

A rising star in the coaching ranks but needs a chance to run another program before jumping to a Power 5 job.

 

Butch Jones, head coach, Tennessee

Jones is a Michigan native but is reportedly not a candidate at Michigan.

 

Pat Narduzzi, defensive coordinator, Michigan State

Would be an excellent choice, but Narduzzi would be unlikely to leave Michigan State for Michigan.

Teaser:
8 Coaching Candidates to Replace Brady Hoke at Michigan
Post date: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 16:34
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-8-college-football-rankings-week-15
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Late in the third quarter, Alabama was struggling to score enough points to beat Auburn. The Crimson Tide’s quarterback Blake Sims, had thrown three interceptions and Alabama trailed Auburn 36-27. With 3:30 left in the third quarter, Sims connected with Amari Cooper for a 75-yard touchdown pass. 

 

The Crimson Tide rolled on to score 28 unanswered points. The final score of the Iron Bowl was 55-44, with Bama coming out on top in the game and stayed at No. 1 in the Legends Poll receiving 12 of the 13 first place votes this week.

 

Oregon clobbered Oregon State in this year’s Civil War 47-19 and moves up to the No. 2 slot. The Ducks’ Marcus Mariota accounted for 6 TDs and looks to be the frontrunner for this year’s Heisman Trophy.

 

Florida State dropped down to No. 3, after hanging tough against in-state rival Florida and pulling out another win 24-19 to become the only undefeated team through the regular season at 12-0. The Seminoles’ defense continually came up big stopping the running attack of the Gators. They received one first place vote from the Legends.

 

TCU Horned Frogs leaped to No. 4 after demolishing the Texas Longhorns on Thanksgiving night 48-10. Baylor remained at No. 5 by just squeaking past Texas Tech 48-46.

 

Ohio State struggled past Michigan 42-28, moving up one spot to No. 6. Even though they won, they lost true freshman quarterback Barrett to an ankle injury. The Buckeyes will have to play the Big 10 conference chamapionship with a new quarterback.

 

Arizona comes in at No. 7 after beating Arizona State 42-35 and earned the right to a rematch against Oregon in the Pac 12 conference championship to be played next weekend. Arizona has beaten the Oregon Ducks the last two times they played and gave them their only loss earlier this season.

 

Michigan State crushed Penn State 34-10 and moved to No. 8.

 

RKTEAMRECORDPOINTSPV RK
1AlabamaAlabama (12)11-11031
2OregonOregon11-1893
3Florida StateFlorida State (1)12-0792
4TCUTCU10-1666
5BaylorBaylor10-1465
6Ohio StateOhio State11-1457
7ArizonaArizona10-213-
8Michigan StateMichigan State10-212-

 

To see the individual votes by coach, visit .

 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 16:18

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