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True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the ACC to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 12.

More Stats from Week 12: Big 12 | Big Ten Pac-12 | SEC


ACC Stats to Know from Week 12

1990: The last time NC State finished with less than 10 touchdown passes in a season
With two games left this year, NC State has thrown for just eight touchdown passes. Brandon Mitchell and Pete Thomas have combined for just five of those scores, with receiver Rashard Smith tying Mitchell with one this year. The Wolfpack threw for at least 31 touchdown passes in three out of the last four seasons and have not had a season of fewer than 10 since 1990. With games against East Carolina and Maryland remaining, NC State should get to 10 before the final snap. However, the drop-off in production at quarterback is largely why NC State will miss out on a bowl game for the first time in three years.

7.1: Yards per carry by Duke running back Josh Snead – second in school history
An underrated cog in Duke’s turnaround this season has been the rushing attack and its offensive line. The Blue Devils have five players with at least 41 carries, including quarterbacks Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette. Jela Duncan and Josh Snead are the team’s top running backs, combining for 965 yards on 159 attempts. Snead has been the team’s home-run threat, averaging 7.1 yards per carry on 68 attempts. The junior ranks second in school history with a 7.1 average, with Ace Parker (1935) owning the school record at 7.4. If Snead continues to perform as he did against Miami (138 yards), he could finish 2013 with the school record in yards per carry.

257: Total yardage by Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown against Virginia Tech
The Terrapins did not put on an offensive clinic against the Hokies, as the offense managed just 319 yards on 65 plays. With a receiving corps short on options due to injuries, Maryland put the game in the hands of quarterback C.J. Brown. The senior responded by recording 257 of the Terrapins’ 319 yards. Brown’s 122 rushing yards tied his season high, while his touchdown pass against the Hokies was his first since Sept. 21 against West Virginia.

2.4: Pittsburgh’s yards per carry in its last seven games
The Panthers’ offensive line was a huge question mark coming into 2013, and this unit has struggled through the first 10 games. The Panthers have allowed 37 sacks, which ranks as the most in the ACC. Pass protection isn’t the only issue for this unit, as Pittsburgh is averaging 2.4 yards per carry in its last seven games. The Panthers rushed for only 46 yards against North Carolina and were held to -5 against Georgia Tech. Only once in ACC play this year has Pittsburgh rushed for more than 100 yards (Duke). In order for the Panthers to get bowl eligible, the offensive line and rushing attack has to perform better in the final two games.

2001: The last time North Carolina had a five-game winning streak
The Tar Heels earned their fourth consecutive victory of 2013, defeating Pittsburgh 34-27 in Week 12. The win over the Panthers moved North Carolina one step closer to bowl eligibility and improved Larry Fedora’s team to 4-3 in ACC play. The Tar Heels have won four games in a row for the second time under Fedora, and with a victory over Old Dominion this Saturday, would have their first five-game winning streak since 2001.

40: Points allowed by Miami in three consecutive losses
Miami’s three-game losing streak has likely ended any hopes the Hurricanes had of winning the Coastal Division. But that’s not all of the bad news coming out of Coral Gables for coach Al Golden. For the first time in school history, Miami has allowed at least 40 points in three consecutive games. The Hurricanes rank 11th in the ACC against the run, ninth against the pass and 10th in the conference in yards allowed. Coordinator Mark D’Onofrio has coached with Golden since 2004, so there’s little reason to expect a coaching change this offseason. However, if this unit doesn’t improve in 2014, Golden may be forced to change coordinators.

12-1: Wake Forest’s record against Duke in its last 13 games
Duke’s path to a Coastal Division championship still has two difficult hurdles to clear. The Blue Devils play rival North Carolina in the season finale, while a trip to Winston-Salem to play Wake Forest awaits this Saturday. Duke hasn’t had much luck in Winston-Salem recently, losing six out of its last seven trips. However, the Blue Devils won 34-27 at Wake Forest last year. A win over the Demon Deacons would move Duke one step closer to bowl eligibility, while also giving David Cutcliffe’s team a chance to win 10 games for the first time in school history.

14-10: Virginia Tech’s record over the last two years
While 14-10 represents a winning record, it’s a clear drop-off for a program that recorded at least 10 wins for eight consecutive years (2004-11). Under Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech has not recorded back-to-back seasons of fewer than eight wins since 1991-92. The Hokies are just 8-7 in ACC play over the last two years and a loss to Virginia on Nov. 30 would equal the program’s losses in conference play from 2004-08.

24: Points needed by Florida State to break single-season record by an ACC team
Florida State’s offense is on a record-setting pace this year and needs only 24 points to set an ACC record for most points scored in a season. The Seminoles set the conference mark last year, recording 550 in 14 games. But this year’s offense is on pace to shatter that mark in 2013. Florida State should easily record 24 points against Idaho this Saturday and may have 600 overall points by the bowl game.

272.7: Amount of yards Andre Williams needs to average in final three games to break NCAA single-season record
It’s probably unrealistic to expect Boston College running back Andre Williams to average 272.7 yards per game over his final three contests. But after rushing for 339 yards against NC State, anything is possible for this senior back. Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders set the single-season rushing record with 2,628 yards in 1988, and UCF’s Kevin Smith, TCU’s LaDainian Tomlinson, Tulane’s Matt Forte, Penn State’s Larry Johnson, Connecticut’s Donald Brown, California’s J.J. Arrington and Rutgers’ Ray Rice are the only players since 2000 to top 2,000 yards. Williams plays Maryland and Syracuse to close out ACC play, and both teams rank near the bottom of the conference against the run. The senior will also have a bowl game to chase Sanders’ record. It’s unlikely, but Williams is on a roll and should easily top 2,000 yards.

1982: The last time Virginia won two games
Can Virginia avoid its first season of double-digit losses since 1981 this year? The Cavaliers close 2013 with a road trip to Miami, followed by a home matchup against rival Virginia Tech. Virginia desperately needs something good to happen in the final two games to build momentum for the offseason, and coach Mike London continues to get a vote of confidence from his athletic director. While London is expected to return in 2014, 2013 is shaping up to be one of Virginia’s worst seasons in recent memory. The Cavaliers are likely to finish 2-10, which is the program’s worst record since 1982. And Virginia has not lost 10 games since 1981.

117: Yards Syracuse had before its final two possessions against Florida State
Just how dominant was Florida State’s defense against Syracuse? The Orange had only one drive over 20 yards until the fourth quarter, and four of their first-half possessions resulted in a three-and-out. Once the Seminoles began to substitute on defense, Syracuse was able to move the ball more in the fourth quarter. The Orange recorded 130 yards on 31 plays on their final two drives, which was more than the 117 yards the team had through its first 11 drives.

1: Wins needed by Clemson to record three consecutive double-digit win seasons
Clemson is off to a 9-1 start and should earn victory No. 10 with a matchup against Citadel this Saturday. Even with quarterback Tajh Boyd likely less than full strength due to a collarbone injury suffered against Georgia Tech, the Tigers should have little trouble improving to 10-1. With a win over Citadel, Clemson will earn its third consecutive season of double-digit victories. That’s only the second time in program history the Tigers have accomplished this feat, as Danny Ford led Clemson to 10 wins in each season from 1987-89.

13.2: Yards per touch by Georgia Tech running back Robert Godhigh
Georgia Tech’s offense has been inconsistent at times this season, but senior Robert Godhigh has been one of the team’s most-explosive players. Godhigh is averaging 13.2 yards per touch and has seven touchdowns this year. According to Georgia Tech’s game notes, 55 percent of Godhigh’s touches have resulted in a first down or touchdown. And consider this: Godhigh is a former walk-on.

Teaser:
Amazing ACC College Football Stats from Week 12
Post date: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/amazing-pac-12-college-football-stats-week-12
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True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the Pac-12 to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 12.

More Stats from Week 12: ACC | Big 12 Big Ten | SEC

Pac-12 Stats to Know from Week 12

.9: Stanford’s holds USC rushing offense to .9 yards per carry
USC scored a 20-17 upset win over Stanford on the heels of a rushing offense that was shut down by the Cardinal defense to the tune of 23 yards on 27 carries for a 0.9 average. USC entered the game ranked 68th in the nation in rushing at 171.1 yards per game. The Trojans’ offense did their damage early with three scoring drives in the first half before being limited to zero or negative yards on 10 of their first 15 second-half plays.

9: USC beats Stanford a ninth straight time the game after facing Cal
USC has followed up its game with Cal by playing Stanford the following week on 19 occasions. And on the last nine occasions, the Trojans have defeated their oldest rival. Saturday’s win ended Stanford’s four-game winning streak in the series — its longest such streak in the series dating back to 1905. USC had not played the Cardinal the game after Cal since 2008.

9 part II: Washington State has had 10-plus receivers catch a pass in nine games this season
In its 24-17 win at Arizona Saturday, 11 Washington State receivers caught a pass. It marked the eighth straight game 10-plus receivers have caught a pass for the Cougars, and nine games this season altogether. Nine of the 11 receivers Saturday caught at least two passes. Dom Williams led the way with seven catches for 75 yards.

.97: Mariota now atop NCAA career list in interception percentage
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota became the NCAA’s career leader in interception percentage at 0.97 percent (600 or more attempts) in Saturday’s win over Utah. He also extended his Pac-12 record to 353 pass attempts without an interception.

10: Oregon’s seventh-ranked rushing offense limited to 10 first-half yards
The Utah defense limited the Oregon run game to 10 first-half yards before surrendering 135 in the second half. The 145 total yards on the ground is less than half of what the Ducks averaged entering Saturday’s win — 301.6 yards per game for seventh in the NCAA.

13: Cal now has longest losing streak within the Pac-12
Thirteen is the new 14 as Cal’s loss to Colorado gives the Bears the distinction of longest losing streak inside the Pac-12. Colorado stopped its 14-game skid within the conference with a 41-24 victory Saturday. Cal has now lost 13 straight Pac-12 games, 15 straight to FBS teams and has allowed 40-plus points in eight games this season.

419: Yards gained in scoring drives alone for Colorado
A long Pac-12 conference losing streak was stopped with some long drives for Colorado Saturday. The Buffs scored on six of their 14 drives, totaling 419 of their 485 yards on the scoring drives alone. They scored on drives of 71, 87, 75 and 49 in the first half, and added 70- and 67-yard scoring possessions in the second half. Cal gained 411 yards altogether.

2: Washington on the losing end for the second time this season after outgaining an opponent
Washington has topped its opponent in total offensive yards in eight of its 10 games this season. The two times the Huskies were outgained they lost, and UCLA made it two times this season an opponent defeated Washington despite being outgained. The Bruins won 41-31 on the scoreboard, and lost 432-406 in total yards. Stanford’s Oct. 5, 31-28 win after being outgained 489-279 was the other defeat. Oregon (631-376) and Arizona State (585-212) are the only two to outgain the Huskies this year, both resulting in UW losses.

4: Arizona defense posts second straight four-sack game
The Wildcat defense followed up last week’s season-high, four-sack game against UCLA with another four-sack effort to Washington State — both home losses. That makes for 12 sacks for Arizona in the last five games after posting six in the first five games.

100: Cooks becomes fifth Pac-12 player to reach 100 catches in a season
Brandin Cooks ended Oregon State’s 30-17 loss to Arizona State with nine catches for 99 yards and now has 100 on the season. He is just the fifth Pac-12 player to reach the century mark in a season. He became OSU’s single-season reception leader on his fourth catch of the game, surpassing Markus Wheaton (2012) and James Rodgers’ (2009) 91 catches.

Teaser:
Amazing Pac-12 College Football Stats from Week 12
Post date: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/amazing-stats-nfls-week-11
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Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of the game. Any game, for that matter.

Some fall on the sabermetric side of things, while others like to keep it simple and use the ol' eyeball test. In the football world, that means total offense, total defense and points scored versus points per play and defensive efficiency ratings. Rational and logical arguments can be made for the legitimacy and relevance of both sides of the stats spectrum.

With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from Week 11 of the NFL season:

1: Undrafted rookie QBs to throw 3 TDs and 0 INTs in a single game
The Oakland Raiders had to start quarterback Matt McGloin, a rookie undrafted free agent from Penn State, against Houston on the road this weekend. McGloin, who completed just 57.4 percent of his passes in college, threw for 197 yards and three touchdowns, along with no turnovers, while leading his team to a 28-23 victory over the Texans. He became the first undrafted rookie quarterback in the common draft era (1967) to throw for at least three touchdowns and no interceptions in a game. It extended Houston’s franchise-record losing streak to eight. And, oh by the way, it was McGloin’s first career start and his performance has some talking about a quarterback controversy in Oakland.

0: Sacks or knockdowns of Peyton Manning by Kansas City
The Chiefs came into Week 11 leading the NFL in sacks (36.0) and Denver had allowed eight quarterback sacks in its last three games — wins over Washington and San Diego and a loss to Indianapolis. But on Sunday night in primetime with the AFC West hanging in the balance, the maligned Broncos' offensive line played flawless football. Peyton Manning wasn’t sacked and didn’t even touch the ground in the 27-17 win over previously unbeaten Kansas City. Manning finished with 323 yards passing and a touchdown in the key divisional win, which puts Denver back in control of AFC home-field advantage — with a road trip to Kansas City looming in two weeks.

209: London Fletcher's NFL-record consecutive starts by a linebacker
The Redskins fell to 3-7 with a crushing divisional loss to Philadelphia this Sunday. However, veteran linebacker London Fletcher made history. The Ironman tackler started his 209th consecutive game to pass Derrick Brooks for the all-time NFL record for a linebacker. It also was Fletcher’s 250th consecutive game played, trailing only Jeff Feagles (352), Brett Favre (299) and Jim Marshall (282) among the longest consecutive games played streaks in NFL history.

113: Minutes Baltimore and Chicago were delayed due to weather
In a critical game for both teams fighting for the playoffs, the Ravens' trip to Chicago was delayed for nearly two full hours due to severe weather in the middle of the first quarter. An estimated 70 tornadoes touched down in the Midwest Sunday afternoon and it made for a long and muddy afternoon at Soldier Field. Not only was the game delayed 113 minutes but Baltimore kicked a field goal with three seconds to go to send the contest into overtime. With 8:41 left in the extra period, Robbie Gould nailed a 38-yard field goal to give Chicago the win in a game that took five hours and 16 minutes to complete. Baltimore falls into last place in the AFC North while Chicago is now tied for the lead in the NFC North.

31: Second-quarter points for the Bengals
Cincinnati fell behind divisional rival Cleveland 13-0 at the end of the first quarter on Sunday. But two Andy Dalton touchdown passes, a blocked punt touchdown, fumble recovery touchdown and 41-yard Mike Nugent field goal gave the Bengals a 31-13 halftime lead. The 31-point second quarter was the most points scored in any quarter in the franchise’s history. The win keeps the Bengals unbeaten at home (5-0) and, coupled with the Browns' and Ravens' losses, gives them a 2.5-game lead in the AFC North.

16,005: Matthew Stafford's Lions franchise-record passing yards
Stafford threw for 362 yards in the painful road loss to the Steelers on Sunday. He’s third in the NFL this year behind only Peyton Manning and Drew Brees with 3,198 yards after topping at least 4,900 yards in each of the last two seasons. He passed Bobby Layne (15,710) to become the Detroit Lions' all-time career leader with 16,005 yards passing. It took Stafford just 55 games to top Layne, who needed 97 games to set the original benchmark. More importantly, with a chance to take full control of the NFC North, the Lions lost 37-27 to a Steelers team that had won just three times all year.

22-38: Last year's division champs record in 2013 (minus New England and Denver)
Of the eight division winners in 2012, only two — New England and Denver — are leading their division in 2013 and only three (along with San Francisco) are currently slotted into the playoffs. Houston and Atlanta are both 2-8 after going a combined 25-7 last year. The defending Super Bowl and AFC North champion Ravens are 4-6. Washington won the NFC East with a 10-6 record but is 3-7 this year. Green Bay went 11-5 and won the NFC North but is 5-5 and missing Aaron Rodgers. The Texans (8), Falcons (4), Packers (3), Redskins (2), 49ers (2) and Ravens (1) have lost a combined 20 games in a row. The eight division winners in 2012 combined to go 92-35-1 and those same eight teams are 38-42 this year — but 16 of those wins come from the Patriots (7-3) and Broncos (9-1).

413: Days since the Eagles last won at home
The Eagles had lost 10 consecutive home games in Lincoln Financial Field dating back to a 19-17 win over the Giants on Sept. 30, 2012. The Eagles were 3-1 at that time before proceeding to lose 11 of their last 12 games and making a coaching switch to Chip Kelly. It was also the last time Philadelphia had a winning record. After topping the Redskins 24-17 at home this weekend, both of those streaks have been snapped. Phily is above .500 and has a win in front of the home fans for the first time in 413 days. More importantly, the Eagles are alone atop the NFC East standings with huge games against NFC playoff hopefuls Arizona, Detroit, Chicago and Dallas over the final month — three of which will come at home.

7,923: Marques Colston's Saints franchise-record receiving yards
Maybe fantasy players undervalue Marques Colston but Saints fans and opposing coaches certainly do not. Colston is already the Saints' all-time leading receiver with 571 receptions and 60 touchdowns. But after five receptions for 80 yards in the critical come-from-behind 23-20 win over the 49ers, Colston has more receiving yards than any player in Saints history. He passed Eric Martin (7,854) with 7,923 yards career receiving yards — which also puts him in the top 100 in NFL history (91st).

Teaser:
Amazing Stats from the NFL's Week 11
Post date: Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /nascar/jimmie-johnson-little-flare-just-keeps-winning-nascar
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When I think of Jimmie Johnson and Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup championship performance, I’m reminded of a simple analogy Rick Hendrick brought up after the race.

“I like to use the Parcells quote,” the winning car owner said. “You are what your record says you are.”

So many critics have assailed Johnson through the years as the lynchpin to the sport’s dying popularity. He’s too politically correct. He drives the best equipment. Crew chief Chad Knaus, not the driver, is the reason for dynasty-like success. The men he’s chasing – Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, with seven titles apiece – would wipe the floor with Johnson in equal race cars. It’s as if some schmuck off the street could get selected, man the No. 48 and be sitting in the same spot. Donovan McNabb’s off-the-cuff remarks echoed Friday about race drivers not being athletes only feeds into that line of thinking.

It’s all categorically unfair to Johnson, on-track, to being the most decorated Cup champion in history. On paper, he already has six titles at age 38. His 66 victories place him eighth all-time; that includes each of the sport’s four crown jewels (Charlotte, Darlington, Daytona, Indianapolis) more than once. No one ever, outside of Petty or maybe David Pearson, has been so accomplished in this sport under age 40.

Unlike the Petty, Pearson and Earnhardt, Johnson does it while putting in an A-plus fitness regimen. A runner, Johnson wants to tackle the Boston Marathon next year. He’s also succeeded with a rotating pit crew, overcoming growing pains as many longtime members of the program have moved onward in recent years. He’s a new breed that’s made the most of his “upper class” circumstances at Hendrick Motorsports; even the New York Yankees, with the highest payroll in Major League baseball, still have to win those games. So why is Johnson chastised for doing his job better than anyone else?

“He doesn't wave the flag a lot,” added Hendrick. “He does so many things for charity, “Make a Wish.” They raise money, build houses, do things. He doesn't try to do things to gain attention or say, ‘Look at me.’ He's more about letting his actions speak for himself.”

That’s a far cry from what this sport was built on, with men like Earnhardt, whose actions were designed to rile the fan base (and attract new ones). But that shouldn’t take away from all Johnson has accomplished … and all he will accomplish. Being a marketer’s nightmare or generating bad ratings doesn’t leave you outside the Hall of Fame.

It’s time to respect Mr. Johnson, regardless of what you think of him personally for the way in which he’s reset the record book. We’re watching one of the greatest drivers of all time at his best. There should be more excitement surrounding that and records he’ll set that will take decades to break.

A final “Through the Gears” we go …


FIRST GEAR: Championship drama? Yawn.  Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson
As expected, Johnson and Co. remained in position to take the title from the start of the Ford EcoBoost 400 in Homestead, Fla. Besides some overplayed contact with Matt Kenseth on a restart with 74 laps to go, the race was run as smooth as could be. That’s what happens when you need just a 23rd-place run, right? Kenseth, for his part, led the most laps and posted a runner-up finish but knew, in the end, his effort would be in vain.

“I told them that I didn’t really care,” he said in terms of Johnson’s running position.  “Didn’t really need to know unless he was in the garage and something happened to him and then we were just going to make sure we didn’t run into the wall. Other than that, we were just going to run the race, call the race and try to win.”

Kevin Harvick, who ran 10th, settled for a distant third in points although just being in position to grab the title mathematically was good enough for him. Johnson sealed this deal in Phoenix, and everybody knew it; Sunday was like a coronation.



SECOND GEAR: Denny gets it together just in time  Denny HamlinTo say 2013 was a nightmare for Denny Hamlin would be putting it lightly. An early tete-a-tete with Joey Logano led to a hard Fontana crash and a back injury that still lingers. Out a month, he returned behind the curve, still in obvious pain and struggled to adapt to NASCAR’s new Gen-6 chassis. For much of the summer, internal strife was the rumor and crew chief Darian Grubb was on the “hot seat” to return in 2014.

But come Chase time, this team silently put it together with four top-10 finishes in the final six races of the season. That included Sunday’s win, where Hamlin capitalized during a track position shuffle that left teammate Kenseth mired in traffic. Touting new therapy techniques, which have helped his back immensely, the run kept alive a streak of eight straight seasons where the veteran has reached Cup Victory Lane.

“It just gives us huge momentum,” said Hamlin of the team’s surprising performance. “We started kicking things into gear about two months ago and then, to come here to Miami and back it up with a win — this is something we can think about for the entire winter.”

Hamlin still has a long way to go in order to be considered a 2014 title contender. Offseason surgery is still very much a possibility. But this victory, done in front of some major FedEx executives, did a lot to ease long-term concerns at the No. 11.



THIRD GEAR: Solid endings from drivers to watchFor Dale Earnhardt Jr., a title or a win was not in the cards this year. But a strong run at Homestead, where he collected yet another top-5 result, gives hope for better days in 2014.

“Ever since I started working with (crew chief) Steve (Letarte) and that whole team I hadn't wanted the years to end,” he said after running third. “We seem to get better as the season goes. You would just love to go to another race next week.”

Ending the year fifth in points, his best since suiting up with Hendrick, you’ve got to think the No. 88 is on track for a breakthrough trip to Victory Lane in 2014. Further back, reigning champ Brad Keselowski ran a strong sixth and has the right attitude after righting a disastrous year in the Chase.

“A champion is forever,” he said after falling to 14th, the best of the non-Chasers in 2013. “It might not be reigning, but you’re still a champion forever. I’m proud of that. I’m looking forward to the opportunities in the future to become a two-time champion. It didn’t happen this year, but there’s a long road in front of us.”

Kudos, too, to Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who was 22nd at Homestead but earned Rookie of the Year honors over girlfriend Danica Patrick. Significant improvement late in the season leaves him as a guy to watch in 2014.


FOURTH GEAR: The end of an era
Dave Blaney. Jeff Burton. Mark Martin. Ken Schrader. Between them, they have over 60 victories and 2,500 starts on the Cup level. Add in Bobby Labonte, who finished up his 2013 season at Phoenix and those numbers creep far higher.

What do all of them have in common? Come 2014, they’ll be retired — or running the series on just a part-time basis. For a man like Martin, at age 54, the move had been expected since February. I knew the second he asked for his own copy of the results after running third in this year’s Daytona 500. After several aborted “retirement tours,” it was time.

Same for Labonte, Blaney and Schrader. Burton? You wonder whether, at age 46, he has another year or two left in him. A likely part-time ride at Michael Waltrip Racing allows us to find out, but it’s also a sign of how fragile these top-tier rides are these days. Jeff Gordon is sitting here at age 42. Tony Stewart is the same, coming off a major leg injury. How many more years before they’re pushed to the side … or come to their own realization that it’s time to step aside.

Right now, that sounds totally ridiculous. But reality could be sooner than you think. Hendrick reportedly met with NAPA this week to try and ink a deal with Chase Elliott, Gordon’s likely replacement. He’s only two years away from being Cup ready. And how about guys like Greg Biffle? At 45, he enters into the last year of his contract with Roush Fenway Racing and 3M in 2014. Think he’s got an automatic extension? Look what happened to good buddy Kenseth …

No matter what, best wishes to these men who helped define NASCAR’s peak era in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Thy all will be greatly missed.



OVERDRIVEJust what was Paul Menard doing bringing a car on fire into the pits? The YouTube-like explosion that followed, after his right rear Goodyear overheated and exploded, could have left several people seriously hurt. … Kyle Larson ran a quiet 15th for Phoenix Racing, his best run to date on the Cup level. Look for bigger and better from the rookie come 2014. … Homestead put on phenomenal Truck and Nationwide Series shows this weekend. So why was Sprint Cup so tame? It’s another indictment against the Gen-6 chassis, which seems headed for major revisions in the offseason.


Follow Tom Bowles on Twitter: @NASCARBowles
Photos by Action Sports, Inc.
 

Teaser:
Four things we learned following Jimmie Johnson's sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in Homestead, Fla.
Post date: Monday, November 18, 2013 - 16:50
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Utah Utes, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/utah-qb-travis-wilson-out-remainder-2013
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Utah quarterback Travis Wilson has been ruled out for the remainder of 2013 with a concussion. Wilson suffered the concussion against Arizona State and did not play in the loss at Oregon.

Wilson’s career is also in jeopardy, as neurological testing revealed a pre-existing condition. More will be known about Wilson’s status in the future, but the Utah signal-caller will be out for the rest of the year, forcing backup Adam Schulz into the starting lineup.

Wilson finishes 2013 with 1,827 yards and 16 touchdowns, while he rushed for three scores in a 51-48 loss against Oregon State this year.

 

Teaser:
Utah QB Travis Wilson Out for Remainder of 2013
Post date: Monday, November 18, 2013 - 14:44
Path: /golf/6-amazing-stats-weekend-golf
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Mid-November is historically a part of golf's Silly Season, but the adjusted PGA Tour schedule and the global nature of the game have combined to add significance to the sport's holiday schedule. This weekend saw the climax of the European PGA Tour's Race to Dubai and a coronation of the world's hottest player; the final event on the PGA Tour's calendar for 2013; and the Australian Masters, which lured the current holder of the American Green Jacket to his homeland for a shot at a Masters two-fer.

 

Here's a weekend recap in numerical form:

 

2 Two Tours, two season crowns for Henrik Stenson, who became the first golfer to win the PGA Tour's FedExCup and European Tour's Race to Dubai in the same season. Stenson's final-round 64 gave him a six-shot win in the season-ending World Tour Championship Sunday in the United Arab Emirates, clinching the Race to Dubai title. "It is still taking a little time to sink in what I've achieved this week as was the case when I won the FedExCup but then it just kept getting better and better as the days went on and I am sure this will be the same," Stenson said after posting six birdies and an eagle. "I have managed to do something very, very special here this week by winning both in America and the Race to Dubai."

 

7 Since the Scottish Open in July, Henrik Stenson has been on a run that rivals Tiger Woods at his peak. In the 12 worldwide tournaments over that span, Stenson has finished in the top 3 in seven of them, including three wins — the Deutsche Bank and Tour Championship to clinch the FedExCup, and the World Tour Championship to clinch the Race to Dubai.

 

0 Despite Stenson's staggering turnaround this season — he finished 111th in FedExCup points in 2012 before winning the big prize in 2013 — he will possess exactly zero PGA Tour Comeback Player of the Year awards to show for it. That's because the Tour did away with the award after the 2010 season, replacing it with the Courage Award. "The waters got a little muddled when (Steve) Stricker won it in back-to-back years (2006-07),” said Paul Goydos, a member of the policy board. “We had to define what this award would be. We went more along the lines of courage and overcoming something that was difficult."

 

$21.9 million Stenson's combined earnings on the PGA and European Tours for the 2013 season check in at about $21.8 million — the $10 million bonus for the FedExCup, $6.4 million in season earnings on the PGA Tour, and $5.5 million in European earnings.

 

2 Adam Scott won in his Australian homeland for the second consecutive weekend, successfully defending his Australian Masters crown the week after winning the Australian PGA. Scott fended off Matt Kuchar and a strong field at Royal Melbourne despite faltering on the back nine and losing a five-shot lead. Scott will shoot for the Australian Triple Crown in two weeks at the Australian Open in Sydney.

 

29 Harris English played 29 holes on Sunday at the rain-delayed OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, pulling away for a four-shot win, his second career PGA Tour victory.

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, November 18, 2013 - 11:37
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-november-18-2013
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Nov. 18.

 

• To get you through a Monday morning, here are 20 factoids about 20 Victoria's Secret models, including lead NFL WAG Gisele Bundchen (pictured).

 

A (quite possibly drunk) moron slid down a railing and then fell from the third deck to the second deck at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium yesterday. Proving that there's no justice in the world, the person he fell on got the worst of it. Speaking of Buffalo, Deadspin has taken a peculiar interest in the Bills over the last couple of weeks. Enjoy.

 

Jason Babin came away with a trophy after his encounter with Andre Ellington. That's gotta hurt.

 

• Is it just me, or does Tom Brady have a weird Dexter vibe in this NBC promo?

 

According to this story, there are 14 NFL head coaches in varying stages of job distress. Almost half. Sounds about right.

 

The Bring-Tebow-to-Jacksonville movement is just sad and desperate now.

 

• Saturday was insane in college football, but nobody brought the insanity quite like Auburn and Georgia.

 

• Since we can't get enough football, here's a rundown of the evolution of the game and its various forms and offshoots throughout the world.

 

• This makes me feel old and sad: Len Bias would have turned 50 today.

 

• Possible Sasquatch sighting: There's a 6-4, 400-pound high school running back rampaging through the wilds of Washington state.

 

• A Belmont fan serenaded UNC's James Michael McAdoo with Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" while he was at the free throw line yesterday, apparently wrecking his concentration.

 

 

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, November 18, 2013 - 10:38
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/2013-legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-12
Body:
Alabama and Florida State appear to be on a crash course to meet in the BCS championship game, remaining as the top two teams in the Legends Poll this week.
 
Second-ranked FSU gained ground on No. 1 Alabama in the rankings after the Crimson Tide’s lackluster 20-7 performance against Mississippi State. The Seminoles picked up two first place votes after pounding Syracuse 59-3.
 
Unbeaten Ohio State and Baylor remained at No. 3 and No. 4. And Oregon rounded out the top 5.
 
No. 6 Auburn moved up a spot after its miraculous victory over rival Georgia. Auburn was followed by Clemson, Missouri, Stanford and South Carolina in the rankings.
 
No. 23 USC moved into the rankings this week after knocking off then-No. 5 Stanford at home Saturday night. And No. 24 Duke made its first ever appearance in the Legends Poll top 25 after beating Miami, which fell out of the rankings.
 
No. 25 Minnesota was the other newcomer this week.
 
Texas and Georgia also dropped out of the top 25.
 
To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll
 
THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25
RKTEAMRECORDPOINTSPV RK
1AlabamaAlabama (14)10-03981
2Florida StateFlorida State (2)10-03862
3Ohio StateOhio State10-03663
4BaylorBaylor9-03544
5OregonOregon9-13306
6AuburnAuburn10-13137
7ClemsonClemson9-12978
8MissouriMissouri9-12929
9StanfordStanford8-22555
10South CarolinaSouth Carolina8-225011
11Texas A&MTexas A&M8-224010
12Oklahoma StateOklahoma State9-123212
13Michigan StateMichigan State9-121313
14UCLAUCLA8-216118
15WisconsinWisconsin8-215716
16LouisvilleLouisville9-115314
17LSULSU78-314315
18Fresno StateFresno State9-012519
19OklahomaOklahoma8-210317
20UCFUCF8-110220
21Arizona StateArizona State8-28822
22Northern IllinoisNorthern Illinois10-08421
23USCUSC8-378-
24DukeDuke8-238-
25MinnesotaMinnesota8-218-

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

Teaser:
2013 The Legends Poll Top 25: College Football Week 12
Post date: Monday, November 18, 2013 - 10:34
Path: /nfl/new-england-patriots-vs-carolina-panthers-game-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Tom Brady and the 7-2 New England Patriots travel to Charlotte to take on Cam Newton and the 6-3 Carolina Panthers, on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" at 8:30 p.m. ET from Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers, winners of five straight, are enjoying their longest winning streak since 2005. Their 10-9 victory over the 49ers last week silenced several critics, many of whom pointed to the Panthers' four-game winning streak being a result of playing teams with a combined record of 9-28, a .243 winning percentage.

Meanwhile, the Patriots have battled injuries and inexperience all season, yet they still find themselves amongst the AFC's elite as they sit atop the AFC East. This is the fifth meeting overall between these two franchises. The regular season record sits at 2-2. New England, however, holds the all-time advantage thanks to its thrilling 32-29 victory over Carolina in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

3 Things to Watch

Belichick After the Bye

No one is better at utilizing the bye week to prepare a team for a stretch run in the second half of the season than Bill Belichick. In four different seasons Belichick has posted an 8-0 record following the Patriots' bye and in three different seasons he has led his team to a 7-1 mark. Under Belichick, the Patriots are 10-3 the week after their bye. In fact, the Patriots are an astonishing 87-24 coming off of their bye week since 2001, including 26-4 over the last three years.

Can Tom Brady move the ball against the Panthers Defense?

Did we see the return of the old Brady and the potent Patriots offense in their 55-point explosion against Pittsburgh or was that simply a flash in the pan? The 55 points were the most scored by New England since 59 against Indianapolis in Week 10 last year. With a 151.8 QB rating, Brady posted the fourth-highest passer rating of his career and his first rating over 150 since Week 11 of the 2010 season. It was Brady's first 400-yard, four-touchdown performance since Sept. 12, 2011. It appears the addition of a healthy Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola, along with the developing Kembrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson, has been a jolt of energy into a Patriots offense that has been sluggish at times this year. New England is averaging 34.4 points per game in its last four contests. While questions still surround the consistency of the New England offense, the Carolina defense has proven themselves week-in and week-out in 2013. The Panthers are second in the NFL in total defense and in points allowed, as they are giving up just 283.3 yards and 12.8 points per game. Additionally, Carolina boasts the NFL's fifth-best passing defense and second-best rushing defense. The Panthers haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher since C.J. Spiller went for 103 back in Week 2 this year. Carolina has held three different quarterbacks under 200 yards passing and hasn't allowed a 300-yard passer since Russell Wilson threw for 320 yards in the season opener. Last week, the Panthers held the 49ers to just 46 passing yards, the fewest by a San Francisco team since 2005.

Patriots' banged-up secondary vs. Panthers' WRs

Perhaps the most important factor for this game will be the health of New England cornerback Aqib Talib. The Patriots will already be thin in their secondary, as cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and safety Steve Gregory have been ruled out for tonight. Talib has been out since Week 6 with a hip injury, but he is listed as questionable this week. All signs continue to point to Talib returning this week and shadowing Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith in coverage. Talib's return would be a huge bonus for the Patriots as he's absolutely shut down the opponent's top targets this year. The combination of Stevie Johnson, A.J. Green, Jimmy Graham and Vincent Jackson have averaged 2.75 receptions, 33.5 yards, and .25 touchdowns per game against Talib. Without Talib, Cam Newton and Smith could go off and turn this game into a shootout. That's something New England doesn't want facing linebacker Luke Kuechly and the fierce Carolina D.

Key Player for New England: Stevan Ridley, RB

The third-year pro from LSU has been the stabilizing force for the New England offense. Ridley has six touchdowns in his last four games and 393 yards rushing in his last 82 carries. Ridley better be ready for some tough sledding against the NFL's second-ranked rush defense. If he is able to run effectively against this stout Carolina defense, it should open up passing lanes for Tom Bray to worth with and also slow down the Panthers' pass rush.

Key Player for Carolina: Cam Newton, QB

Newton hasn't put up some of the gaudy numbers we've seen from him in his first two NFL seasons. Still, he's spread the ball around effectively to the trio of Steve Smith, Greg Olsen and Brandon LaFell. All three have over 30 catches and 400 receiving yards. Newton hasn't been ultra sharp the last two weeks, as he's thrown just one touchdown and three interceptions. In the three games before that, however, he threw six touchdowns with no picks. The biggest difference in Newton's game this year is he hasn't run the ball as much as previously. He has yet to post more than 50 yards rushing in a game and has just four rushing touchdowns.

Final Analysis

You have to love the way Carolina head coach Ron Rivera has his defense playing. The Panthers looked awfully impressive last week against San Francisco, but I'm still not convinced this Carolina team is for real. Last week's victory was actually their first victory against a team with a winning record. The Patriots just seem much more battle-tested and battle-strong. At the end of the day, if you give Tom Brady and Bill Belichick a whole extra week to prepare, you're in for a long night.

New England 24, Carolina 23

Teaser:
New England Patriots vs. Carolina Panthers Game Preview and Predictions
Post date: Monday, November 18, 2013 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/amazing-college-football-stats-week-12
Body:

Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of the game. Any game, for that matter.

Some fall on the sabermetric side of things, while others like to keep it simple and use the ol' eyeball test. In the football world, that means total offense, total defense and points scored versus points per play and defensive efficiency ratings. Rational and logical arguments can be made for the legitimacy and relevance of both sides of the stats spectrum.

With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:

Fourth and 18: Auburn's final offensive play of the game against Georgia
With more 30 seconds left on the clock and facing a fourth and 18 on his own 27-yard line, quarterback Nick Marshall dropped back and heaved the football down the field. Two Bulldogs collided and tipped the pass into the air and a streaking Ricardo Louis snatched it (with a bobble) out of the air and strolled into the endzone in front of a rabid Jordan-Hare Stadium. The play (watch it below) won the game and kept the Tigers SEC — and BCS — championship hopes alive for two more weeks before Alabama comes to town. For the first time in history the Iron Bowl is an SEC West winner-take-all situation when Alabama comes to visits Jordan-Hare in two weeks.

Bonus Bama Tidbit: AJ McCarron leads Alabama all-time with 8,146 yards of total offense and tied Jay Barker with 35 career wins.

29: Brandon Connette's Duke school-record rushing TD
In a crazy back-and-forth 48-30 win over Miami that featured 1,108 yards of offense and three lead changes, quarterback Brandon Connette led Duke to its sixth straight win and eighth victory overall this season. He scored four rushing touchdowns from 1, 2, 3 and 4 yards out and added a 22-yard scoring strike to Shaq Powell. Connette, who doesn't even start at quarterback, has scored more rushing touchdowns than any other player in Duke history. He has 12 rushing touchdowns this season, pushing his career total to 29 and isn't even the starter. Connette has 13 passing touchdowns and just six interceptions passing this year. With two games left — at Wake Forest and at North Carolina — the Blue Devils are alone atop the ACC Coastal Division.

27: Consecutive Big 12 games Kansas lost before Saturday
The Jayhawks last defeated a Big 12 team on Nov. 6, 2010 when Kansas topped Colorado in come-from-behind fashion 52-45. Since that day, Kansas had lost 27 straight conference games and had failed to be competitive in 2013 with anyone not named Louisiana Tech or South Dakota until the 31-19 win over West Virginia on Saturday. It's a huge win for embattled coach Charlie Weis. Running back James Sims posted a career-best 211 yards and three rushing touchdowns in the win. On the flip side, Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen may be haunted by his team's performance in Lawrence. West Virginia is 6-11 in Big 12 play since joining the league, one year after winning the Big East and hanging 70 on Clemson in the Orange Bowl.

16: Turnovers forced by Vanderbilt during its last four games
After forcing just seven turnovers in the first seven games of the season, the Commodores defense has carried Vanderbilt to a third straight bowl game for the first time in school history. Vandy used a familiar narrative, topping Kentucky 22-6 by capitalizing on four Wildcats interceptions. In fact, Kentucky entered the game leading the nation with just two interceptions thrown all season before the 'Dores picked off Jalen Whitlow four times. The Commodores have won three out of four games and are now plus-9 on the season in turnover margin — good for second in the SEC and tied for fourth nationally.

465: Cartel Brooks NCAA single-game rushing record
A few weeks after Western Connecticut's Octavias McKoy set the NCAA single-game rushing record with 455 yards, Heidelberg University's Cartel Brooks put himself atop the all-division rushing record book. The junior tailback carried for 465 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Baldwin Wallace this weekend, setting the all-time NCAA single-game rushing record. The Heidelberg Student Princes — yes, that's right — are a Division-III school located in Tiffin, Ohio.

554: Wisconsin rushing yards against Indiana
Michigan State and Ohio State are on a collision course in the Big Ten championship game, but few teams in the nation are playing as well as Wisconsin. The Badgers rushed for 554 yards — 10 shy of the school record and the most by any FBS team in 2013 — against Indiana in a 51-3 romp in Camp Randall. It marked the third time his season Gary Andersen had three backs go over 100 yards rushing in the same games. James White (205 yards, TD), Melvin Gordon (146 yards, TD) and Corey Clement (108 yards, 2 TD) led the way, while star wide receiver Jared Abbrederis was just 14 yards shy of joining them (three carries, 86 yards, 2 TD). Even more impressively, the Badgers held the Hoosiers offense to 224 yards and three points. Indiana, who came into the weekend averaging 527.1 yards of offense and 43.1 points per game, had not scored fewer than 13 points in any half this year. Wisconsin shut Indiana out in the first half and allowed just a field goal in the second.

634: Andre Williams rushing yards over the last two weeks
Jim McElwain and Colorado State got to bowl eligibility by leaning on running back Kapri Bibbs for 603 yards and 10 touchdowns over the last two weeks. Except, Bibbs isn't even leading the nation rushing over that span. That honor goes to Boston College's Andre Williams, who rushed 40 times for a school- and ACC-record 339 yards and two touchdowns in an easy win over NC State. He has carried 72 times for 634 yards and four scores in the last two weeks, giving him the second-best two-week rushing total in NCAA history. Texas' Ricky Williams rushed for 668 yards in his Heisman campaign of 1998. Williams leads the nation in rushing at 181.0 yards per game and his 1,810 yards are already a new ACC and Boston College single-season rushing benchmark. He needs 364 more yards to top Montel Harris for the Eagles all-time career rushing lead (3,735). Most importantly, with the sixth win of the year, Steve Addazio has taken a team that won two games last year to the postseason in just his first season in Chestnut Hill.

3: Consecutive wins by Oklahoma State in Austin
Oklahoma State have played the Texas Longhorns 28 times and have lost 23 of them. However, with a commanding 38-13 win in Austin over Texas in Week 12, Mike Gundy has won three straight trips to Darrell K. Royal Texas Memorial Stadium. The Pokes win snapped the Longhorns six-game winning streak and knocked Texas out of Big 12 contention for the time being. Mack Brown finds himself quickly back in bad graces of the Burnt Orange fans in Austin as Texas has failed to beat a ranked team at home since 2008 — against Oklahoma State. Texas was held without a second half touchdown at home versus a Big 12 foe since 1999.

202: Points allowed by Texas Tech in a four-game losing streak
Kliff Kingsbury led his alma mater Texas Tech to seven straight wins to begin his coaching tenure in Lubbock. Things have gotten ugly quickly, however, as his team lost a fourth straight game this weekend when Baylor hung 63 points on the struggling Tech defense. The Red Raiders have allowed at least 38 points in every loss and more than 50 per game during the losing streak. The problems were exemplified on Saturday in Arlington. Texas Tech started hot by jumping out to a 20-7 lead with a few minutes left in the first quarter. But Baylor stormed back to boat race Tech's maligned defense 56-14 over the final three quarters. The Bears are on pace to break every major team offensive statistic in FBS history and Tech has allowed 202 points in four games.

Teaser:
Amazing College Football Stats from Week 12
Post date: Monday, November 18, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/ranking-top-10-college-football-coaches-players
Body:

The following is a list of the best college players among the current crop of FBS college football coaches. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier tops the list, but Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald and Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury had prolific careers in their playing days. This ranking does not take into account coaching records — only how these coaches performed during their playing careers.

Ranking the Top 10 College Football Coaches as Players

1. Steve Spurrier, QB, Florida (1963-65) — now at South Carolina
A native of Johnson City, Tenn., Spurrier was a two-time All-American and the winner of the Heisman Trophy in 1966. As a senior, he threw for 2,012 yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 61.5 percent of his passes. In 2006, the Gainesville Sun ranked Spurrier No. 2 on its list of the top 100 Gators from the first century of Florida football.  

2. Pat Fitzgerald, LB, Northwestern (1993-96) — now at Northwestern
Fitzgerald was key part in one of the greatest turnarounds in the history of college football. He was a two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time consensus All-American at linebacker for the Wildcats in the mid-1990s. Northwestern went a combined 6–15 in Fitz’s first two seasons but broke through with a 10–2 record in ’95, highlighted by a Big Ten title and appearance in the Rose Bowl.

3. Kliff Kingsbury, QB, Texas Tech (1999-2002) — now at Texas Tech
Kingsbury was the first in a long line of successful quarterbacks at Texas Tech during the Mike Leach era. As a senior, he completed 67.3 percent of his passes for 5,017 yards with 45 TDs and 13 INTs — numbers that earned him National Offensive Player of the Year honors from the AP. Kingsbury ended his career in Lubbock with 12,423 passing yards and 95 touchdowns.

4. Mike Gundy, QB, Oklahoma State (1986-89) — now at Oklahoma State
Gundy broke into the starting lineup midway through his freshman season and went on to throw for 7,997 yards and 54 touchdowns for the Cowboys. Gundy, who had the luxury of playing in the same backfield with Barry Sanders and Thurman Thomas, led the Pokes to two 10-win seasons.

5. Kyle Whittingham, RB/LB, BYU (1978-81) — now at Utah
Now the boss at Utah, Whittingham starred for the rival BYU Cougars in the late 1970s and early ’80s. He was named WAC Defensive Player of the Year in 1981 and capped off his career by earning Defensive MVP honors of the 1981 Holiday Bowl.

6. Bob Stoops, DB, Iowa (1979-82) — now at Oklahoma
Stoops was a four-year starter at defensive back for Hayden Fry at Iowa and earned first-team All-Big Ten honors as a senior. The Hawkeyes won a share of the Big Ten title in Stoops’ junior season and made the school’s first appearance in the Rose Bowl since 1959.

7. P.J. Fleck, WR, Northern Illinois (1999-03) — now at Western Michigan
Fleck’s coaching career is off to a rocky start, but he was a big-time playmaker during his time at Northern Illinois. As a senior in 2003, he caught 77 passes for 1,028 yards and six touchdowns for the 10–2 Huskies.

8. Kevin Sumlin, LB, Purdue (1983-86) — now at Texas A&M
Sumlin has a well-deserved reputation as one of the top offensive coaches in the nation, but he was linebacker during his days at Purdue. He was a four-year starter for the Boilers and ended his career with 375 tackles.

9. Willie Taggart, QB, Western Kentucky (1995-98) — now at South Florida
Taggart played for Jack Harbaugh (father of Jim and John) during his time at Western Kentucky. He was a four-year starter and a two-time finalist for the Walter Payton Award, given to the top player in the Division I-AA ranks.

10. Gary Pinkel, TE, Kent State (1970-73) — now at Missouri
Pinkel was a two-time All-MAC tight end at Kent State, where he teamed with Nick Saban and Jack Lambert to play for legendary coach Don James.

Teaser:
Ranking the Top 10 College Football Coaches as Players
Post date: Monday, November 18, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR News & Notes, NASCAR, News
Path: /nascar/forty-great-johnson-wins-sixth-nascar-sprint-cup-championship
Body:

It was hard to envision Jimmie Johnson and his No. 48 team fumbling away a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship on Sunday.

Entering the season finale in Homestead, Fla., the group that won five consecutive titles from 2006-10 held a comfortable 28-point cushion over Matt Kenseth in NASCAR’s Chase standings. In four of those championship seasons Johnson held serve with the points lead in the final race. In a fifth, he overcame a 15-point deficit in the final event to win “one for the thumb.”

In the Ford EcoBoost 400, Johnson’s Chad Knaus-led team — in typical workmanlike fashion — proved that when it controls its own destiny, may be the best the sport has seen. Having to finish 23rd or better to clinch the championship, Johnson and Knaus engineered a solid seventh-place finish and claimed title No. 6 for team owner Rick Hendrick’s No. 48 team.

“We were in position to win a lot throughout the course of the year,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, we gave a bunch away. But at the end of the day we won the big prize. That helped us through some of those races that got away — focusing on the big prize.

“We didn't leave many points on the table (in the Chase). I can look back on a few tracks and think we could have had a few more points, but it really was a strong 10 weeks. Last year we had eight great weeks and didn't come up with it. Matt had nine (this year). You have to have 10 great weeks to be the champion and we got it done this year.”

His chief rival, Kenseth, ran as sterling a race as one could. Having won the pole, he spent a large part of the South Florida afternoon leading the field, logging a race-high 144 laps on point. He could not follow through with the win — not that it would have mattered in the championship picture. Instead, that went to Kenseth’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Denny Hamlin, who was winless in 2013 prior to Sunday.

“Obviously it's been a great year, best year I've ever had,” Kenseth said of his first season with JGR. “It was a great night. Jimmie and that team are obviously unbelievable — never seen anything like this in the sport and probably will never see anything like it again. It's amazing with as tight as the rules are, multi-car teams, information sharing, and all that stuff, it's amazing they can figure out how to do that year after year.”

Johnson’s 48 and Kenseth’s 20 teams were the class of the field throughout the season, even if the standings didn’t always reflect it. The duo combined to win 13 of the 36 races beginning with the season’s opening event, the Daytona 500. In that race, Kenseth lost an engine while leading around the mid-point, which opened the door for Johnson to earn his second victory in the “Great American Race.” Kenseth answered two weeks later with a win in Las Vegas … and the race was on.

By the time the Chase began in September, the two were positioned atop the standings after NASCAR’s points reset. Kenseth drew first — and second — blood, with consecutive playoff wins in New Hampshire and Chicagoland. Predictably, Johnson returned with a victory volley in Dover.

Kenseth’s final statement came in Martinsville in Chase race No. 7. At one of Johnson’s best tracks, the No. 20 team out-pointed the 48 to tie the pair at the top of the standings in a performance many considered an upset. True to form, though, Johnson responded resoundingly, thoroughly dominating the next race in Texas.

It was in the season’s penultimate event where Kenseth finally stumbled. A crippling 23rd-place run in Phoenix, on an afternoon that found Johnson third, all but made the finale’s title tilt in Homestead a formality.

While Johnson did not lead a lap on Sunday, it was largely an incident-free affair for his team. Only a quirky restart that witnessed contact between the two point leaders gave anyone reason for pause. Though Johnson crunched a wheel well in the scramble, a caution period just laps later gave his crew the chance they needed to repair the minimal damage.

From there, it was simply counting down the laps — at which point, the comparisons began. Johnson’s sixth title finds him one short of the record seven earned by Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt. And while comparing and ranking competitors of different eras in any sport is largely an exercise in futility, that rarely stops the masses from doing so.

Johnson, a California native raised in a working-class family, has never quite known how to respond to the “all-time greats” inquiries. That didn’t change following yet another championship at NASCAR’s premier level.

“It's not like me to think in that light. It's just not me,” Johnson shrugged. “I guess I need to open my mind to it because the numbers speak for themselves. I find myself in a touchy situation at times where my quiet approach can be looked at as arrogant or cocky, and that is the furthest thing from the truth in what I'm trying to portray.

“Honestly, I'm just trying to, I don't know, say the right things and keep my mind in the right space. I haven't let a lot in and it's led to more success. It's kept my work ethic intact — kept me honest and humble. I like that about myself. I don't know if I want to open my mind and let it in, where I stand in the sports world. It's not time for that in my eyes.”

That’s not to say he doesn’t welcome a fun rivalry with a fellow great or two.

“Michael Jordan has given me a hard time that I only won five,” Johnson said with a broad smile. “I can't wait to send him a text and say, ‘Hey, buddy, I've caught up!’”

Richard Petty. Dale Earnhardt. Michael Jordan. Jimmie Johnson. Maybe it’s simply within the company one’s name is mentioned that’s most telling. Regardless of rank, it’s rarified air.


Follow Matt Taliaferro on Twitter: @MattTaliaferro
Photo by Action Sports, Inc.

Teaser:
Jimmie Johnson holds off Matt Kenseth to win his sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.
Post date: Sunday, November 17, 2013 - 22:41
Path: /college-football/post-week-12-bcs-rankings-and-projections
Body:

So begins the Ohio State vs. Baylor debate.

What started last week as a three-team discussion between Ohio State, Baylor and Stanford is down to two, and the margin is getting slimmer. A little more than a thousandth of a point in the BCS separates undefeated Ohio State and Baylor in a debate between the Big Ten and the Big 12, the traditional power and the upstart.

But the debate seems moot at this point for a couple of reasons:

• If Alabama and Florida State remain undefeated, Baylor and Ohio State are out of the championship game picture. The gulf between the top two and the rest is all but impenetrable. The Crimson Tide and Alabama claim the top two spots in both polls and every computer.

• If Baylor beats Oklahoma State next week, the Bears will move ahead of Ohio State in the BCS. Baylor has a road team against the No. 10 Cowboys compared to Ohio State’s matchup with a team that just lost 51-3.

Post-Week 12 BCS Rankings and Projections
Moving Up

No. 4 Baylor. The Bears only moved up one spot in the BCS standings thanks to Stanford’s loss to USC. Baylor remains behind No. 3 Ohio State, but the gap keeps closing. The Bears are fourth in the coaches’ and Harris polls, both a spot behind Ohio State. The 63-34 win over Texas Tech, though, moved Baylor from No. 5 in the computer average to No. 3, making the computers the only place where Baylor has an edge over Ohio State ... for now.

Moving Down

No. 3 Ohio State. The Buckeyes are hanging on to No. 3 by a fingernail, thanks to the edge in the human polls. Ohio State dropped from fourth to fifth in the computer average after the 60-35 win over Illinois. This week, just 0.0013 of a point separates Ohio State from Baylor in the BCS average. A Baylor win over Texas Tech narrowed the gap, so a Baylor win over Oklahoma State road would seem to put the Bears ahead of Ohio State for good, if both remain undefeated. If there’s any hope for Ohio State, potential Big Ten championship game opponent Michigan State rocketed up from No. 16 to No. 13 after a win over Nebraska.

Quick BCS Projections

BCS Championship Game: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Florida State
Rose: Oregon vs. Ohio State
Orange: Clemson* vs. Wisconsin*
Sugar: Auburn* vs. UCF
Fiesta: Baylor vs. Fresno State
*at-large selection

Key Games this Week

No. 16 Northern Illinois at Toledo (Wednesday). The Huskies actually dropped a spot despite their biggest win of the season over Ball State. Thank Michigan State for that. The Spartans moved from No. 16 to No. 13 after defeating Nebraska. Another win over a quality MAC opponent on national television is mandatory for Northern Illinois to remain a BCS contender. A loss by No. 15 Fresno State, though, is looking like the only way NIU gets a BCS bid.

No. 4 Baylor at No. 10 Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State’s win over Texas last week makes this the Big 12 championship game of the week. The Cowboys will be highest-ranked team Baylor will face for the remainder of the season and the only road game against a bowl team.

No. 19 Wisconsin at No. 25 Minnesota. With Notre Dame and a second team from the Pac-12 unlikely for the BCS, Wisconsin is a strong candidate for an at-large bid to a BCS game as long as the Badgers move up five spots into at-large consideration. The Badgers face a Minnesota team that has won four in a row and still controls its own destiny for the Big Ten title game.

Other Observations

• Does Auburn have reason to worry? The Tigers would appear to be a no-brainer for the Sugar Bowl if Alabama wins the Iron Bowl and goes to the national championship game. One lingering concern would be Missouri at No. 8. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Missouri beats Ole Miss and Texas A&M, loses to Alabama in the SEC title game and remains at No. 4 thanks to upsets in the ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten in the final weeks. Such a finish would garner an automatic BCS bid.

• Wisconsin seems to be a favorite for an at-large BCS spot, but a loss to Minnesota would end that bid. Teams like Baylor, Oklahoma State, Arizona State and UCLA are hoping for a Badgers slip up.

• The computers love Auburn and Arizona State. The computers don’t love Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.

Notes on BCS selection:


• Automatic BCS bids go to the top two for the title game, the champions of the ACC (Orange Bowl), Big 12 (Fiesta), Big Ten (Rose), Pac-12 (Rose) and SEC (Sugar). The American’s automatic bid is not tied to a particular bowl.



• Notre Dame receives an automatic bid if it finishes in the top eight.



• A champion from a non-automatic qualifying league (Conference USA, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt and non-Notre Dame independents) receive an automatic bid if it finishes in the top 12 of the standings or if it finishes in the top 16 and ahead of a champion from a non-AQ conference.



• To be eligible for an at-large BCS bid, a team must have nine or more wins and finish in the top 14 of the BCS standings.



• Once automatic tie-ins are placed, the selection order for BCS bids goes as follows: 1. The bowl losing the BCS No. 1 team to the championship game, 2. The bowl losing the BCS No. 2 team, 3. The Orange Bowl, 4. The Sugar, 5. The Fiesta.

Teaser:
Post-Week 12 BCS Rankings and Projections
Post date: Sunday, November 17, 2013 - 21:17
Path: /college-football/boston-colleges-andre-williams-earns-national-player-week-honors
Body:

Not long ago, Boston College has one of the most consistent programs in the country. The Eagles reached 12 consecutive bowl games from 1999-2010, including a streak of eight consecutive wins.

Thanks to Andre Williams, those streaks have a chance to start anew.

Williams entered the week perhaps as one of the most underrated running backs in the country. After rushing for an ACC-record 339 yards in a 38-21 win over NC State, Williams will be overlooked no more.

In one day, Williams made Boston College bowl eligible for the first time in three seasons, set the ACC single-season rushing record and earned Athlon Sports National Player of the Week honors.

Williams leads the nation in total rushing yards (1,810) by nearly 400 yards and yards per game (181) by more than 30 yards per game.

“He's certainly, without a doubt, one of the more dominant players in college football,” Boston College coach Steve Addazio said. “He's an unselfish guy who realizes that he has a great offensive line in front of him and he realizes that this is a team game.”

Athlon Sports Week 12 National Awards

National Offensive Player of the Week: Andre Williams, Boston College
Boston College continued its impressive first season under new coach Steve Addazio, as the Eagles defeated NC State to 38-21 to improve to 6-4 overall. Williams has carried the offense this season, and the senior gashed the Wolfpack defense for 339 yards and two touchdowns. The 339 yards were an ACC single-game record. Williams has 634 yards in his last two games and has rushed for at least 166 in each of his last four contests. Even though Williams is considered a power back, he has at least one run of 56 yards or longer in each of his last four games. The senior has 1,810 yards in 2013, which is a Boston College single-season record. With three games left, Williams has a chance to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark.

National Defensive Player of the Week: K.J. Morton, Baylor
Last week, Baylor’s run defense was the key to the victory over Oklahoma. Against Texas Tech, a defensive back was the key defender. The dreadlocked Morton finished with the wild stat line of nine tackles, three tackles for a loss, a forced fumble, a sack and an interception. His athletic, leaping pick of Baker Mayfield on a corner blitz was one of the highlights of the game and a key turning point.

National Freshman of the Week: Myles Jack, UCLA
USC's Dion Bailey made the defensive play of the weekend with his late red zone interception of Kevin Hogan, but the legend of Myles Jack is growing in Westwood after another two-way performance in a critical home win over Washington. The freshman linebacker collected five tackles and a pass broken up on defense to go with 13 rushing attempts, 59 yards rushing and four offensive touchdowns. He has 179 yards rushing and five scores in two games as a two-way player. This is the team's No. 2 tackler we are talking here. He has vaulted himself to the top of the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year conversation with his last two games and has a chance for another signature moment against Arizona State with the division title on the line next weekend.

National Coordinator of the Week: Glenn Spencer, Oklahoma State

The moving parts on Oklahoma State’s offense have been the key storyline for the Cowboys’ season, but the one constant has been the defense and its ability to force turnovers. Against Texas, Oklahoma State extended its streak of 18 consecutive games with a takeaway. The Cowboys’ three interceptions led Oklahoma State in the 38-13 win over Texas that kept the Pokes in Big 12 contention. Star cornerback Justin Gilbert was the star for Spencer’s D Saturday with two interceptions, including a 48-yard pick six.

Athlon Sports Week 12 Conference Awards

ACC
Offense: Andre Williams, Boston College
Defense: Kareem Martin, North Carolina
Freshman: Ryan Switzer, North Carolina
Coordinator: Kurt Roper, Duke

Big 12
Offense: James Sims, Kansas
Defense: K.J. Morton, Baylor
Freshman: Shock Linwood, Baylor
Coordinator: Glenn Spencer, Oklahoma State

Big Ten
Offense: Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
Defense: Kurtis Drummond, Michigan State
Freshman: Christian Hackenberg, Penn State
Coordinator: Dave Aranda, Wisconsin

Pac-12
Offense: Connor Halliday, Washington State
Defense: Myles Jack, UCLA
Freshman: Myles Jack, UCLA

SEC
Offense: Aaron Murray, Georgia
Defense: C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Freshman: Kelvin Taylor, Florida
Coordinator: Bob Shoop, Vanderbilt

Teaser:
Boston College's Andre Williams earns National Player of the Week honors
Post date: Sunday, November 17, 2013 - 16:12
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Golden Arm award
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Transamerica is a proud sponsor of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. The award is presented each year by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Education Foundation to the nation’s top college quarterback based on character, citizenship, scholastic achievement, leadership qualities, and athletic accomplishments. Candidates must be a graduating senior or fourth-year junior on schedule to graduate with their class. As a leading financial services company, Transamerica takes pride in being there for those moments when our customers say, “It’s real now.” Moments like the birth of a new baby, the opening of a new business, college acceptance, retirement, and other key milestones. By showing our support for the young men on the Top 30 watch list, we look forward to seeing them thrill fans around the country and experience moments during the season and beyond when they say, “It’s real now.”

1. Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
Jordan Lynch once again came through in a big way to keep Northern Illinois in the hunt for a BCS bowl spot. Lynch completed 26 of 32 pass attempts for 345 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but he also rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns to help Northern Illinois on their way to a 48-27 win against Ball State. Lynch’s 36-yard pass midway through the fourth quarter broke a 27-27 tie and minutes later he took off for a 16-yard touchdown run. The win also pushed Northern Illinois in front of Ball State in the MAC West division championship hunt. No quarterback in the nation is putting up the kind of numbers Lynch is down the stretch.

2.  Tajh Boyd, Clemson
Keeping Clemson in the BCS at-large conversation, Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd did a little bit of everything in a Thursday night victory over Georgia Tech. Boyd completed 20 of 26 pass attempts for 340 yards and four touchdowns. In addition, Boyd was also second on the team in rushing with 43 yards and a touchdown. Boyd had touchdown passes of 41 yards and 76 yards in the second quarter as Clemson started to open things up and he had a hand in two more touchdowns in the third quarter to really put the game away early on.

3. Aaron Murray, Georgia
Although Georgia came up short against Auburn thanks to a lucky bounce off a deflected pass, Aaron Murray did everything he could to give his team a chance to pull out the win. Trailing 37-17 in the fourth quarter, Murray led three separate touchdown drives to give Georgia a surprising lead. Murray threw for 415 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for two more, including a run up the middle on a fourth down to give the Bulldogs what would turn out to be a short-lived lead.

4. Connor Shaw, South Carolina
It was a rough game for Connor Shaw and South Carolina, but when his team needed him Shaw came through with the plays to overcome a stingy Florida defense. Shaw completed just 14 of 28 pass attempts for 213 yards and a touchdown, but his lone touchdown play came in the fourth quarter to give his team the only lead they would need on the night.

5. Keith Wenning, Ball State
Another quarterback who came up on the wrong end of the scoreboard, Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning still had one of the top performances of the week by a Golden Arm Award finalist. Going head-to-head against Jordan Lynch and Northern Illinois, Wenning was impressive. Ball State’s top offensive player completed 35 of 49 pass attempts for 324 yards and a touchdown and he even rushed for one as well. One costly mistake may not have had much of an impact on the end result, but Wenning will keep Ball State in good bowl position in the MAC’s postseason line-up.

Sponsored by Transamerica.

Teaser:
The Golden Arm award is presented to the top senior quarterback by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Foundation.
Post date: Sunday, November 17, 2013 - 15:26
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-12-awards-and-power-rankings
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Andrew who?

For a day, Kansas football took center stage in Lawrence as the Jayhawks ended three years of Big 12 futility with their first conference win since Nov. 6, 2010.

Kansas had been in close games during the 0-27 stretch before, but the Jayhawks finally found a game they could close out against a wounded and lackluster West Virginia team.

James Sims led the way with 211 rushing yards, earning Athlon’s Big 12 offensive player of the week honors, but he wasn’t the only standout in key games this week.

Offensive numbers were huge this week in the league, but key defensive performances earned mention for Baylor and Oklahoma State.

Big 12 Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings

Offensive player of the week: James Sims, Kansas
For the first time in a long time, Kansas gets a tip in on the football side with an easy choice for Big 12 offensive player of the week. Sims rushed for 211 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries in the 31-19 win over West Virginia, a victory that ended the Jayhawks’ 27-game Big 12 losing streak. Powered by a 68-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, Sims’ effort was the best rushing day by a Kansas player since 2001.

Defensive player of the week: K.J. Morton, Baylor
Last week, Baylor’s run defense was the key to the victory over Oklahoma. Against Texas Tech, a defensive back was the key defender. The dreadlocked Morton finished with a wild stat line of nine tackles, three tackles for a loss, a forced fumble, a sack and an interception. His athletic, leaping pick of Baker Mayfield on a corner blitz was one of the highlights of the game and a key turning point.
 

Freshman of the week: Shock Linwood, Baylor
Linwood stepped in last week for an injured Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin last week against Oklahoma, but against Texas Tech, he carried the load from the start. The redshirt freshman rushed for 187 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries against a regressing Texas Tech run defense. Linwood has rushed for 100 yards in three consecutive games and has only 76 fewer rushing yards than Seastrunk.

Team of the week: Oklahoma State
The question last week was how did Stanford lose to Utah. The question this week is how did Oklahoma State lose to West Virginia. The Cowboys needed two months to round into form, but that loss on 30-21 in Morgantown robs the Big 12 of an undefeated team and an even juicier matchup this week against Baylor. In any event, Oklahoma State looked every bit the part of a Big 12 championship contender by taking care of Texas before halftime in Austin. Clint Chelf suddenly made the Texas defense look vulnerable against mobile quarterbacks again with 95 rushing yards, and the Oklahoma State D held the Longhorns to 4.5 yards per play.

Coordinator of the week: Glenn Spencer, Oklahoma State
The moving parts on Oklahoma State’s offense have been the key storyline for the Cowboys’ season, but the one constant has been the defense and its ability to force turnovers. Against Texas, Oklahoma State extended its streak of 18 consecutive games with a takeaway. The Cowboys’ three interceptions led Oklahoma State in the 38-13 win over Texas that kept the Pokes in Big 12 contention. Star cornerback Justin Gilbert was the star for Spencer’s D Saturday with two interceptions, including a 48-yard pick six.
 

RankTeamLWRecordResultThis Week 
119-0, 6-0W, Texas Tech 63-34at Oklahoma State 
239-1, 6-1W, at Texas 38-13Baylor 
327-3, 6-1L, Oklahoma State 38-13Off 
448-2, 5-2W, Iowa State 48-10at Kansas State 
556-4, 4-3W, TCU 33-31Oklahoma 
657-4, 4-4L, Baylor 63-34Off 
784-7, 2-6L, at Kansas State 33-31Off 
874-7, 2-6L, at Kansas 31-19Off 
9103-7, 1-6W, West Virginia 31-19at Iowa State 
1091-9, 0-7L, at Oklahoma 48-10Kansas 

 

Teaser:
Big 12 Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Post date: Sunday, November 17, 2013 - 14:01
Path: /college-football/2013-pac-12-week-12-awards-and-power-rankings
Body:

One week after Oregon thought its title hopes were dashed, Coach O provided hope for more than just his USC Trojans. Ed Orgeron is quickly becoming the story of the conference after an upset win over Stanford at home in dramatic fashion. And it puts the Ducks back into the Pac-12 driver's seat.

Meanwhile, the South Division race got even more interesting with Arizona State and Washington holding serve while USC has officially tossed its name in the championship hat. With two weeks to play, this league is still completely wide open and its why it might be the best league in the nation.

There will be an obvious theme in this week's Pac-12 superlatives.

Offensive Player of the Week: Connor Halliday, QB, Washington State
Don't look now, but the Cougars are one win away from the postseason after winning their third Pac-12 game of the year — all on the road. Halliday completed 36 of his 53 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns. He methodically worked his team down the field late in the fourth quarter and connected with Isiah Myers with 2:15 left in the game for a 25-yard game-winning touchdown strike. Halliday led his offense to 27 first downs and has his team poised to not only make a bowl game but potentially a winning record if Wazzu can top Utah at home and Washington on the road to end the year. Only Oregon State's Sean Mannion has more passing yards in the league than Halliday's 3,417.

Defensive Player of the Week: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
USC's Dion Bailey made the defensive play of the weekend with his late red zone interception of Kevin Hogan, but the legend of Myles Jack is growing in Westwood after another two-way performance in a critical home win over Washington. The freshman linebacker collected five tackles and a pass broken up on defense to go with 13 rushing attempts, 59 yards rushing and four offensive touchdowns. He has 179 yards rushing and five scores in two games as a two-way player. This is the team's No. 2 tackler we are talking here. He has vaulted himself to the top of the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year conversation with his last two games and has a chance for another signature moment against Arizona State with the division title on the line next weekend.

Team of the Week: USC
The Trojans have done it again, moving to 5-0 in the Pac-12 since switching coaches after a gutsy 20-17 win over Stanford at home. It was as physical a game as fans will see in the league all season and the much-depleted Men of Troy traded blows with the top ranked team in the conference for 60 minutes and came out victorious. USC allowed just two sacks, Stanford's lowest total in four games, and passed for more yards than the Cardinal had allowed in six weeks. The Trojans defense got big stops in its own territory on defense in the second half and forced two critical second-half Kevin Hogan interceptions. The Trojans are now tied with UCLA for second play in the South and still have an outside chance at playing for a Pac-12 title.

Coordinator of the Week: Ed Orgeron, USC
No, he technically isn't a coordinator. But the elevated defensive assistant-turned-interim head coach deserves to be credited with the remarkable turn around at USC. The Trojans topped Stanford for their fifth straight league win since Orgeron was named head coach and his late-game fourth-down gamble led to USC's first win over Stanford in five tries. His offense has been averaging over 30 points per game and his defense is one of the Pac-12's best. Orgeron doesn't deserve mention as a candidate to get the USC job full-time but he has done an excellent job and his players would "run through a wall for that man," as Cody Kessler said after the game. Colonel Reb is no longer crying.

Freshman of the Week: Sefo Liufau, QB, Colorado
The freshman quarterback from Tacoma, Wash., got Colorado into the Pac-12 win column for the first time in 2013. Liufau had the best game of his young career, by completing 23-of-36 passes for 364 yards and three touchdowns in the blowout 41-24 win over Cal. He set a career high for yards and touchdowns while tying his career high for pass attempts. Only Cal quarterback Jared Goff has more yards of total offense in the league this year among freshman than Liufau — and the Buffs just beat Goff head to head.
 

Pac-12 Post-Week 12 Power Rankings:

RankTeamLWRecordThis WeekNext Week
1(2)9-1, 6-1W, Utah, 44-21 at Arizona
2(1)8-2, 6-2L, USC, 20-17Cal
3(3)8-2, 6-1W, Oregon St, 30-17  at UCLA
4(4)8-2, 5-2W, Washington, 41-31Arizona St
5(6)8-3, 5-2W, Stanford, 20-17at Colorado
6(5)6-4, 3-4L, UCLA, 41-31at Oregon St
7(7)6-4, 4-3L, Arizona St, 30-17 Washington
8(9)5-5, 3-4W, Arizona, 24-17Utah
9(8)6-4, 3-4L, Washington St, 24-17 Oregon
10(10)4-6, 1-6L, Oregon, 44-21at Washington St
11(11)4-6, 1-6W, Cal, 41-24USC
12(12)1-10, 0-8L, Colorado, 41-24 at Stanford

 

Teaser:
2013 Pac-12 Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Post date: Sunday, November 17, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /college-football/2013-big-ten-week-12-awards-and-power-rankings
Body:

Fans in the Big Ten need to start getting used to — and excited about — the idea of a Michigan State and Ohio State showdown in the Big Ten title game. Both teams stayed unbeaten in conference play with key road victories over division foes. The nation's best defense against a team that hasn't lost a game in two years coached by a two-time BCS national champion?

Yes, please.

Here are the Big Ten's Week 12 Superlatives:

Offensive Player of the Week: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
Ohio State scored 60 points but the road win against Illinois was tougher than expected. Hyde was the star of the day for the Buckeyes. He rushed 24 times for 246 yards and four touchdowns, including two fourth-quarter scoring runs of more than 50 yards (51, 55). He also caught two passes for 26 yards and a fifth touchdown through the air. Braxton Miller had a huge day as well (150 passing yards, 2 TD, 184 rushing yards, TD), but Hyde was once again the workhorse of the offense. His 246 yards tied Archie Griffin for the third-highest rushing total in school history (Eddie George, 314; Keith Byars, 274).

Defensive Player of the Week: Kurtis Drummond, S, Michigan State
The Spartans remain on a path headed for Indianapolis with another excellent defensive performance on the road by forcing five turnovers against Nebraska. Drummond was responsible for two of them with an interception and forced fumble in a key Legends Division game. The junior defensive back and team's leading tackler collected 10 total tackles. With a win in either of its last two games or a Minnesota loss in either of its games (they face each other in the season finale), the Spartans will clinch the division.

Team of the Week: Michigan State
The Spartans haven't officially clinched the Legends Division title — they need one more win in either of their last two games (or a Minnesota loss) — but the 41-28 win in Lincoln all but sealed a trip to Indianapolis for Mark Dantonio's bunch. The defense forced five turnovers, Connor Cook provided timely passing for the offense (193 yards, TD, 0 INT) and tailback Jeremy Langford went over 100 yards for the fifth straight time (32 carries, 151 yards, 3 TD). It was a thorough, across the board win for the Spartans and it keeps Michigan State on track to meet Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game — what would be Dantonio's second division title in three seasons.
Coordinator of the Week: Dave Aranda, Wisconsin
The Indiana Hoosiers came into Madison knowing it had to win to make a bowl game. And with an offense averaging 527.1 yards and 43.1 points per game — both second to only Ohio State in the Big Ten — Kevin Wilson thought he had a chance. Aranda's unit made sure that wasn't the case. The Badgers defense held Indiana to just a season-low 224 yards and season-low three points. Indiana had scored no fewer than 13 points in any half all season but were shutout in the first half and kicked just the lone field goal in the second. Wisconsin now boasts the sixth-rated total defense (287.8 ypg) and fifth-rated scoring defense (14.0 ppg) in the nation.

Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State

The true freshman got his team to six wins for the second straight season under Bill O'Brien. Hackenberg completed 16-of-23 passes for 212 yards with two total touchdowns in the 45-21 win over Purdue at home. After the Boilermakers closed the gap to seven points to start the second half, the star quarterback led three scoring drives in four possessions to put the game out of reach for the Nittany Lions. That is two non-losing seasons for a team under heavy NCAA sanctions.
 
Big Ten Post-Week 12 Power Rankings:
 TeamLWRecordThis WeekNext Week
1.(1)10-0, 6-0W, Illinois, 60-35Indiana
2.

(2)9-1, 6-0W, Nebraska, 41-28 at Northwestern
3.

(3)8-2, 5-1W, Indiana, 51-3at Minnesota
4.

(5)8-2, 4-2Bye Wisconsin
5.

(4)7-3, 4-2L, Michigan St, 41-28at Penn St
6.(6)7-3, 3-3W, Northwestern, 27-19 (OT)at Iowa
7.

(7)

6-4, 3-3

ByeMichigan
8.

(9)6-4, 3-3W, Purdue, 45-21Nebraska
9.

(8)4-6, 2-4L, Wisconsin, 51-3at Ohio St
10.

(10)4-6, 0-6L, Michigan, 27-19 (OT) Michigan St
11.

(11)3-7, 0-6L, Ohio St, 60-35 at Purdue
12.

(12)1-9, 0-6L, Penn St, 45-21Illinois

 

Teaser:
2013 Big Ten Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Post date: Sunday, November 17, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /college-football/sec-week-12-awards-and-power-rankings
Body:

The game of the day in the SEC — and the nation — took place at Jordan-Hare Stadium, where Auburn beat Georgia in a game that will be talked about for decades. Elsewhere, Vanderbilt reached bowl-eligibility for the third straight season with a 22-6 win over Kentucky; Alabama remained perfect with a sluggish 20-7 victory over Mississippi State; and South Carolina edged Florida 19-14 in a closer-than-expected battle in Columbia.

SEC Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings

Offensive Player of the Week: Aaron Murray, Georgia
Murray engineered a comeback for the ages … that was thwarted by one of the most amazing endings in recent college football history. Playing rival Auburn for the final time, the senior quarterback led Georgia on three fourth-quarter scoring drives that turned a 20-point deficit into a 38-37 lead. The final Georgia touchdown came on a 5-yard run from Murray on 4th-and-goal with 1:49 remaining. Murray ended the game with 33 completions for 415 yards and two touchdowns but was on the painful end of a legendary finish.

Defensive Player of the Week: C.J. Mosley, Alabama
His stats weren’t overwhelming — eight tackles and one forced fumble — but Mosley led an Alabama defense that limited Mississippi State to 197 total yards in a 20-7 win over the Bulldogs in Starkville. Mosley, a senior linebacker, is the overwhelming favorite to earn SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Team of the Week: Auburn
The dream Iron Bowl matchup is now a reality thanks to a miracle ending that gave Auburn a 43-38 win over Georgia at Jordan-Hare Stadium. For a few anxious moments — when Georgia grabbed a 38-37 lead with under two minutes to play — it appeared as though Auburn had let it all (as in 20-point fourth-quarter lead) slip away. But angst turned into delirium shortly thereafter when Nick Marshall hooked up with Ricardo Louis for a 73-yard score on what might be the most memorable touchdown pass in the history of Auburn football. The Tigers are now 10-1 overall and 6-1 in the SEC, and they host No. 1 Alabama in two weeks. Last year at this point, Auburn was 2-8 overall and 0-7 in the SEC after losing at home to Georgia 38-0.

Coordinator of the Week: Bob Shoop, Vanderbilt
Kentucky marched 75 yards on 12 plays for a touchdown on its first possession but managed only 187 yards on 51 snaps — and no points — the rest of the game. The Wildcats did not have a drive that went for more than 40 yards in the final three and a half quarters, and they did not penetrate the red zone after their initial possession. The Commodores have held three of their last four SEC opponents to under 350 yards.

Freshman of the Week: Kelvin Taylor, Florida
With a redshirt freshman (Skyler Mornhinweg) making his first career start at quarterback, Florida leaned heavily on its running game. And Taylor, a true freshman and the son of Gator legend Fred Taylor, delivered with career highs of 96 yards and two touchdowns to lead a Florida rushing attack that netted 200 yards on 41 attempts in a 19-14 loss at South Carolina. Taylor has 345 in his last five games.

RankTeamLWRecordLast WeekNext Week
1210-0, 7-0W, Miss. State 20-7Chattanooga
2210-1, 6-1W, Georgia 43-38Bye
338-2, 4-2Byeat LSU
448-2, 6-2W, Florida 19-14Coastal Caro.
559-1, 5-1Byeat Ole Miss
677-3, 3-3W, Troy 51-21Missouri
766-4, 4-3L, Auburn 43-38Kentucky
887-3, 3-3ByeTexas A&M
996-4, 3-4W, Kentucky 22-6at Tennessee
10104-6, 3-5L, S. Carolina 19-14Ga. Southern
11124-6, 1-5L, Alabama 20-7at Arkansas
1211

4-6, 1-5

ByeVanderbilt
13132-8, 0-6L, Vanderbilt 22-6at Georgia
14143-7, 0-6ByeMiss. State

 

Teaser:
SEC Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Post date: Sunday, November 17, 2013 - 12:23
Path: /college-football/2013-acc-week-12-awards-and-power-rankings
Body:

The ACC lacked a marquee game for Week 12, but there was plenty of intrigue in the six-game slate.

Duke defeated Miami 48-30 to assume sole possession of first place in the Coastal Division. The Blue Devils still have to play Wake Forest and North Carolina, but coach David Cutcliffe’s team is in the driver’s seat to play Florida State in Charlotte in early December.

North Carolina moved one step closer to bowl eligibility with a 34-27 win at Pittsburgh, while Boston College earned the all-important sixth victory by knocking off NC State 38-21.

Florida State and Clemson handled their opponents with ease, and Maryland got bowl eligible with a 27-24 upset of Virginia Tech.

The ACC had plenty of highlights from individual players in Week 12, including Duke quarterback Brandon Connette and Clemson signal-caller Tajh Boyd, but here are Athlon’s picks for the award winners in the conference from Saturday’s action.

ACC Week 12 Awards and Recap

Offensive Player of the Week: Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
Boston College continued its impressive first season under new coach Steve Addazio, as the Eagles defeated NC State to 38-21 to improve to 6-4 overall. Williams has carried the offense this season, and the senior gashed the Wolfpack defense for 339 yards and two touchdowns. The 339 yards were an ACC single-game record. Williams has 634 yards in his last two games and has rushed for at least 166 in each of his last four contests. Even though Williams is considered a power back, he has at least one run of 56 yards or longer in each of his last four games. The senior has 1,810 yards in 2013, which is a Boston College single-season record. With three games left, Williams has a chance to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark.

Defensive Player of the Week: Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina
The Tar Heels’ defense has struggled at times this season, but this unit has played better in recent weeks, and Martin delivered the ACC’s top defensive performance in the 34-27 win at Pittsburgh. The senior wrecked havoc on the Panthers’ young offensive line, recording eight tackles (three tackles for a loss), 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Martin recovered one fumble, picked up two quarterback hurries and broke up one pass. After 10 games, Martin has 10 sacks and 16 tackles for a loss and ranks second among Tar Heel defenders in tackles.

Team of the Week: Duke
After 12 weeks, Duke is stands alone atop the ACC Coastal standings. No, that’s not a misprint. Under coach David Cutcliffe, the Blue Devils have made significant improvement over the last two seasons, and after a 48-30 victory over Miami, Duke is on the doorstep of its first ACC Championship appearance. The Blue Devils rallied from a 17-7 deficit after the first quarter to lead 21-20 at halftime. Miami led 30-28 late in the third quarter, but Duke owned the final quarter, scoring 17 unanswered points to close out the victory. With a struggling passing attack, the Blue Devils turned to their ground game. Four players recorded at least seven carries, including quarterback Brandon Connette (37 yards, four touchdowns), and Shaquille Powell, who scored on a 33-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. By beating Miami, Duke earned its 14 win in its last two years, which is more than the program recorded from 1999-2007.

Coordinator of the Week: Kurt Roper, Duke
Largely due to the play of their offense, the Blue Devils assumed control of the Coastal Division with a 48-30 win over Miami on Saturday. With Anthony Boone struggling in recent weeks, Roper and coach David Cutcliffe turned to a two-quarterback system and the ground attack to beat the Hurricanes. Boone completed 11 of 15 passes (with no interceptions), while backup Brandon Connette threw for 81 yards and one touchdown and added four touchdowns on 11 rushing attempts. The Blue Devils gashed Miami for 358 yards, with Josh Snead (15.3 ypc) leading the way. The 358 yards were the most under Cutcliffe, while the five rushing touchdowns were the most since 2010.

Freshman of the Week: Ryan Switzer, WR, UNC
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston was solid once again in the blowout win over Syracuse, but North Carolina receiver Ryan Switzer edges Winston for the freshman of the week honor. The freshman didn’t make much of an impact on offense, catching just two passes for 21 yards. However, Switzer returned two punts for touchdowns, including one for 61 yards with less than five minutes remaining, which proved to be the game-winning score for North Carolina.

ACC Post-Week 12 Power Rankings

RankTeamRecordThis WeekNext Week
110-0, 8-0W, Syracuse 59-3Idaho
29-1, 7-1W, Georgia Tech 55-31Citadel
38-2, 4-2W, Miami 48-30at Wake Forest
47-3, 3-3L, Duke 48-30Virginia
57-4, 4-3L, Maryland 27-24Bye Week
66-4, 5-3L, Clemson 55-31Alabama A&M
75-5, 4-3W, Pittsubrgh 34-27Old Dominion
86-4, 3-3W, NC State 38-21at Maryland
95-5, 2-4L, North Carolina 34-27at Syracuse
105-5, 3-3L, Florida State 59-3Pittsburgh
116-4, 2-4W, Virginia Tech 27-24Boston College
124-6, 2-5Bye WeekDuke
133-7, 0-7L, Boston College 38-21East Carolina
142-8, 0-6Bye Weekat Miami

 

Teaser:
ACC Week 12 Awards and Power Rankings
Post date: Sunday, November 17, 2013 - 11:40
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The New Orleans Saints host the San Francisco 49ers this afternoon at 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX in a game that could carry significant playoff implications as the NFC postseason picture continues to develop. The Saints (7-2) are in first place in the NFC South looking to maintain their winning ways at home and stay at least a game ahead of the surging Carolina Panthers. The 49ers (6-3) are trying to keep pace with the NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks and also bounce back from last week’s disappointing home loss to the Panthers.

Head coach Sean Payton’s Saints have yet to lose in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome this season and are coming off of their best performance of the season last week in which they posted 49 points and an NFL-record 40 first downs against Dallas. Jim Harbaugh’s 49ers have played very well on the road (3-1), but the offense led by quarterback Colin Kaepernick has struggled on more than one occasion. The 49ers managed just nine points and 151 yards of offense in last week’s 10-9 loss at home to Carolina. 

3 Things to Watch

Saints’ Home Cooking
New Orleans is one of five teams undefeated at home (5-0) this season, joining Denver, Kansas City, New England and Seattle in this distinction. The Saints’ dominance in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, however, goes far beyond their perfect record. In five home games, the Saints are averaging 35.2 points and 463.6 yards per game on offense, including the 49 points and 625 yards they put up on Dallas last Sunday night. It hasn’t just been the offense flexing its muscles in front of the raucous home crowd either. The defense, which has gone from the NFL’s worst to one of the top units under first-year coordinator Rob Ryan, is allowing just 15 points and 287.4 yards per home contest. The Saints are an entirely different team in the Big Easy than on the road, as the Superdome has become one of the loudest and most intimidating home environments in the NFL. San Francisco is somewhat familiar with this, although the 49ers were the ones who came out victorious in a 31-21 decision last season in the Superdome. There’s one rather large caveat when it comes to that game however. Head coach Sean Payton was suspended all of the 2012 season for his role in the Saints’ Bountygate scandal, and his absence clearly showed as the team stumbled to a 7-9 record. With Payton on the sidelines, the Saints have won 13 in a row at home. It’s safe to say that Cajun food isn’t the only type of home cooking happening down in the Big Easy.

“Dome Sweet Dome” for Kaepernick?
As was referenced above, this will not be Colin Kaepernick’s first game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Besides beating New Orleans in Week 12 of the 2012 regular season, San Francisco returned to the Superdome two months later to play Baltimore in Super Bowl XLVII. Now while the 49ers came up short against the Ravens, Kaepernick played pretty well in both of these games and perhaps the somewhat familiar surroundings can help jumpstart what has been a very inconsistent 2013 campaign for the athletic, dual-threat quarterback. In two games at the Superdome last season, Kaepernick was 32-of-53 passing (60.4 percent) for 533 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions and he also rushed 13 times for 89 yards (6.8 ypc) and two scores. Those numbers may not jump off of the page, but they are considerably better than what he’s been averaging this season. In nine games, Kaepernick has a total of 12 touchdowns (9 pass, 3 rush) to go along with nine turnovers (5 INTs, 4 fumbles). He is completing 56.4 of his passes for an average of only 186.1 yards per game and his rushing average is down (5.8 ypc compared to 6.6 in 2012) as well. The 49ers are still winning games, but they are dead last in the NFL in passing offense. Can Kaepernick rediscover last season’s form in the dome? It remains to be seen, but two potential obstacles in the way are the absences of wide receiver Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis. Crabtree is recovering from a torn Achilles he sustained in late March and while he is closer to returning, he is considered a longshot at best to play this afternoon. Meanwhile, Davis sustained a concussion last week and will need to pass the mandatory tests before he is cleared to face the Saints. In the Super Bowl loss to the Ravens in February, Crabtree and Davis combined for 11 catches, 213 yards and a touchdown. So while it may be a familiar scene for Kaepernick this afternoon, he likely won’t see the same faces when he drops back and scans the field for an open target.

Which Defense Stands Tall?
San Francisco is sixth in the NFL in total defense and fourth in scoring defense, which is not a surprise to anyone who closely follows the league. However, it’s New Orleans’ defense that’s opening many people’s eyes in 2013, as the Saints are just behind the 49ers in both categories. First-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has done nothing short of a miracle in turning around a unit that set an NFL record for yards allowed (7,042) last season into one of the league’s stingiest in 2013. Statistically speaking, only seven total yards and eight points separate these two defenses. The 49ers have done a little better job stopping the run, while the Saints are giving up less than 200 yards passing per game. The Saints’ defense has been at its best at home, using its attacking style to create pressure (29 sacks, tied for 8th in the NFL) and force teams to make mistakes (15 takeaways). The 49ers have allowed more than 300 yards passing to a team just once and that was Green Bay back in Week 1. On the road, San Francisco’s defense is yielding 291 yards and less than 17 points per contest. New Orleans’ high-powered offense will no doubt be one of the toughest tests San Francisco has faced this season, but the reality is that even if the 49ers’ defense is able to slow down Drew Brees and company, the Saints’ stop-unit could have just as much say, if not more, in the outcome of this game.

San Francisco Key Player: Frank Gore, RB
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been very inconsistent as a passer this season, putting more pressure on Gore to carry the load on the ground. The veteran workhorse is sixth in the NFL in rushing with 700 yards and tied for third with seven rushing touchdowns. Gore is averaging 4.3 yards per carry this season and, not surprisingly, has been instrumental in the 49ers’ success. In the team’s six wins, Gore is averaging 86.7 yards rushing per game. That drops to 60 yards per contest when the 49ers lose, and all seven of Gore’s rushing touchdowns have come in victories. As well as New Orleans’ defense has played this season, teams have said some success running the ball (117.7 rushing ypg). The 49ers obviously need Kaepernick to be more productive when he drops back to throw, and a strong game from Gore could go a long ways towards making his quarterback’s job easier.

New Orleans Key Player: Mark Ingram, RB
The Saints are more known for their passing attack, but that doesn’t mean head coach Sean Payton totally ignores the ground game. New Orleans is 23rd in the NFL in rushing offense at 97.8 yards per game, but posted a season-high 242 yards in last week’s 49-17 rout of Dallas. Pierre Thomas and Darren Sproles have been the primary ball carriers this season, but it was Ingram who broke out in a big way against the Cowboys. Prior to this past Sunday night, Ingram had totaled 50 yards rushing on 21 carries (2.4 ypc), as a toe injury and ineffectiveness had limited him to just three games. Against Dallas, Ingram exploded for 145 yards on just 14 carries (10.4 ypc) running over Cowboy defenders and refusing to let the first would-be tackler bring him down, looking every bit of the Heisman Trophy winner he was as a sophomore at Alabama in 2009. The Saints don’t need 100-plus yards out of Ingram every game, although they will gladly take it. They just need their 2011 first-round pick to be the between-the-tackles runner they drafted him to be. When effective, Ingram is the powerful, punishing rusher that rounds out the Saints’ talented backfield trio. In other words, a productive Ingram gives head coach Sean Payton and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael yet another weapon to play with, which is pretty much the last thing an opposing defensive coordinator wants to worry about.

Final Analysis

This game could have serious playoff implications by the time the dust settles in the NFC. New Orleans is trying to stay ahead of Carolina in the NFC South, while San Francisco can ill afford another loss with NFC West-leading Seattle already three games up on the 49ers in the win column. San Francisco may be the defending NFC champs, but this is a team still searching for its identity on offense, while the Saints have shown they are much more than just Drew Brees throwing the ball all over the field.

The Saints have been near unstoppable at home this season and while I don’t expect Brees and company to march down the field at will; I do think Sean Payton and his quarterback will be able to find some plays that work against the 49ers’ defense. On the other side of the ball, the Saints’ defense adds to Collin Kaepernick’s woes, as the 49ers lose their second game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in a span of less than 10 months.

New Orleans 24, San Francisco 20

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San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints Preview and Prediction
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The AFC’s top two teams go head-to-head when the Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos get together tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC. The Chiefs (9-0) are coming off of a bye looking to go two games up on the Broncos (8-1) in the AFC West. This is the first of two meetings between the division rivals, with the rematch set for Dec. 1 in Kansas City.

First-year head coach Andy Reid has directed a remarkable turnaround of a Chiefs team that went 2-14 last season. The Chiefs’ defense is largely responsible for this, as linebacker Derrick Johnson and his running mates rank first in the league in points allowed. For the Broncos, interim head coach Jack Del Rio is filling in for a recovering John Fox, as the Peyton Manning-led offense is putting up more than 40 points per game and has yet to really be stopped by any team.

4 Things to Watch

No. 1 Offense vs. No. 1 Defense – Something’s Got to Give
Denver is far and away No. 1 in the NFL in scoring offense at 41.2 points per game. The Broncos have scored 40 or more points five times and their season low is 28, which came last week against San Diego. Kansas City is tops in scoring defense, giving up just 12.3 points per game. The Chiefs have held three opponents to seven points or fewer and the most they have allowed are 17 (twice). This is the head-to-head matchup everyone will be watching, as no defense has been able to hold Peyton Manning and the Broncos’ offense to less than 397 yards of offense. The Chiefs have allowed that many in a game just twice and also lead the league in sacks (36) and takeaways (23). Denver has made a habit of running away with games, as its 371 points through nine games is a NFL record and it has outscored teams by 133 points or 14.8 per game. Even though Kansas City is averaging nearly 18 points fewer per game (23.9) than Denver, the Chiefs have still outscored the opposition by 104 because of their stingy defense. The Broncos have been able to control the tempo and direction of games all season with their offense. The Chiefs have done the same, but with their defense. Whichever unit handles its toughest challenge yet will more than likely be well positioned to win tonight.

Protecting Peyton
It’s no secret. The key to Denver’s prolific offense is No. 18. A surefire, first-ballot Hall of Famer, the four-time MVP has raised his production to another level this season. In nine games, Manning has thrown for 3,249 yards, 33 touchdowns and just six interceptions. To put it another way, Manning is averaging more yards passing per game (361) than 20 NFL teams are in total offense and his 33 touchdown passes alone account for more points (198) than 12 teams have scored this season. While it’s certainly true that Manning has the benefit of throwing to some talented pass-catchers like wide receivers Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker and tight end Julius Thomas, the running game led by Knowshon Moreno and the offensive line deserve a fair share of credit too. According to ProFootballFocus.com, the Broncos’ offensive line ranks as the top unit in the league, which is impressive considering the team is without All-Pro starting left tackle Ryan Clady and have employed Manny Ramirez, normally a guard, at center all season. As a whole this unit has allowed just 13 sacks, which is the second-fewest in the league, although eight of these have come in the past three games. Manning is not known for being a mobile quarterback, especially now at 37 years old, and he has taken some pretty big hits recently. He sustained a sprained ankle a few games ago, and re-aggravated the injury last week against the Chargers. While the ankle injury won’t prevent him from playing, it has had a noticeable effect on his mobility as well as the crispness and velocity of his intermediate and deep passes. Kansas City leads the league with 36 sacks, as linebackers Tamba Hali and Justin Houston have combined for 20. Denver’s offensive line already has its work cut out for them, but Manning’s ankle injury only makes it even more critical that the front line finds a way to hold the Chiefs’ pass rush at bay and keep Manning’s jersey clean. The Broncos can ill afford to lose their lead horse.

The Von Miller Effect
Kansas City’s defense has far better statistics than Denver, but that doesn’t mean the Broncos’ unit should be overlooked. While Denver is giving up nearly 50 yards more (374.9 ypg to 326.9) per game and more than twice as many points (26.4 ppg to 12.3) per contest compared to Kansas City, a big reason for this is the success of the Broncos’ offense and the fact that most of the games have been blowouts. To put it simply, Denver has given up a lot of yards and a fair amount of points in what is known as “garbage time.” That said, the Broncos’ defense has had its issues, especially against the pass, but it’s been a different unit over the past three games. In its first six games, Denver yielded more than 400 yards per game. In their last three contests, the Broncos have given up less than 310 yards per game. So what has changed over the last month? How about the return of All-Pro linebacker Von Miller? After missing the first six games due to suspension, Miller has picked up right where he left off last season when he finished second to Houston’s J.J. Watt in the voting for Defensive Player of the Year. Miller’s presence has recharged the entire Denver defense, which is playing its best football of the season. This defense has produced eight sacks and six takeaways over its last three games and also is holding teams to fewer than 190 yards passing per game during this span. The statistics may not match up but the Broncos’ defense is just as capable of taking over a game as its counterpart, and no doubt it would certainly like to prove just as much tonight.

Charles in Charge
While Kansas City’s defense has been outstanding in preventing other teams from scoring, the Chiefs’ offense has had to do its part as well. Head coach Andy Reid may have had the most to do with the team’s turnaround in 2013, but another new Chief shouldn’t be overlooked. Quarterback Alex Smith has made the most of his fresh start, as the former San Francisco starter has done just what the coaching staff has asked him to do since trading for him in the offseason. Smith’s statistics pale in comparison to Peyton Manning’s, but the two quarterbacks run entirely different offenses. Smith deserves plenty of credit for his steady play, as he has accounted for 10 total touchdowns (9 pass, 1 rush) with just four interceptions. However, Kansas City’s offense begins and ends with running back Jamaal Charles. The Chiefs’ most productive offensive weapon, Charles ranks fifth in the NFL in rushing with 725 yards. He is fourth in the league in carries (170) and also has posted a team-leading 47 receptions for 389 yards. Charles is second only to LeSean McCoy in both yards from scrimmage (1,114) and total touches (217). All told, Charles is accounting for 37.2 percent of the Chiefs’ total offense this season, so he will need to find a way to do some damage when he gets the ball tonight. His task won’t be easy, however, as Denver is fourth in the league in rushing defense (87.0 ypg). The most yards on the ground the Broncos have given up to any player this season is 93 (Alfred Morris), so that would be a good number for Charles to aim for tonight. In fact, if Charles is able to run the ball successfully not only will he be doing his offense a favor, he also will be helping his defense by keeping the ball out of Manning’s hands.

Kansas City Key Player: Dwayne Bowe, WR
Even before Sunday, Bowe’s season could only be labeled as disappointing. After signing a five-year, $56 million contract extension, Bowe has struggled to develop any sort of consistent chemistry with new quarterback Alex Smith. Bowe is second to running back Jamaal Charles in receptions with 33, but he has totaled just 369 yards (11.2 ypr) and two touchdowns. Supposedly the Chiefs’ best vertical threat, Bowe has three catches of 20 yards or more. Things only got worse for Bowe when he was arrested early Sunday, during the team’s bye week, for marijuana possession and speeding. Bowe has already been suspended once by the NFL, four games in 2009 for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, but his latest legal matter is covered by a different policy. That is the main reason why Bowe will be on the field tonight, as both the Chiefs and the NFL are prohibited, under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement (CBA), from disciplining Bowe until the matter is resolved by the police and the legal system. The bottom line is Bowe’s arrest is an off-the-field matter and distraction the Chiefs didn’t want to have to deal with, especially this week. As it relates to his legal issues, it doesn’t matter one way or the other how well he plays. As it relates to his teammates, however, tonight would be the perfect time for Bowe’s production to start matching up with his paycheck. 

Denver Key Player: Knowshon Moreno, RB
Kansas City has Jamaal Charles, but Denver has its own productive running back in Moreno. Largely an afterthought after the Broncos selected Wisconsin’s Montee Ball in the second round of April’s draft; Moreno has earned the starting job due in large part to his pass-protection skills, and has certainly made the most of his opportunities. Moreno enters this week 17th in the NFL with 521 yards rushing, but his eight rushing touchdowns are second only to Adrian Peterson. Moreno is not a workhorse, averaging 14 carries per game, but he’s also been a presence in the passing attack (37 rec., TD) and has yet to lose a fumble in 160 total touches. More importantly, he’s one of the reasons why Peyton Manning has been sacked just 13 times, as he’s adept at picking up the blitz and taking care of his assignments in pass blocking. Kansas City leads the league in sacks (36), but the Chiefs have been somewhat susceptible to the run this season, giving up 118.6 yards rushing per game. With Manning dealing with a lingering ankle injury, Moreno’s dual role as rusher and pass protector bears even more importance tonight. For once, it may be in Denver’s best interests to keep the ball out of Manning’s hands and instead let Moreno carry the load.

Final Analysis

It’s not often that you have two NFL teams that have lost a total of one game face off in the middle of November. Other than the records, however, Denver and Kansas City have little in common. The Broncos have been doing it with offense, the Chiefs defense. Denver has a Hall of Fame-bound quarterback, while Kansas City has a signal-caller who fits the mold of “game manager” to a tee. Even the head coaches are opposites, as Andy Reid hails from an offensive background and Broncos’ interim head coach Jack Del Rio is the team’s defensive coordinator.

It’s easy to understand why the focus for this game has been on Denver’s offense vs. Kansas City’s defense and that would be the case even if Peyton Manning wasn’t walking around on a gimpy right ankle. However, I think the deciding factor will be which of the unheralded units, the Broncos’ defense or the Chiefs’ offense, makes the bigger contribution.

In the end, I think Manning and company are able to put together enough scoring drives and the defense makes the game-saving play late in the fourth quarter to earn the narrow victory. And whether this matchup plays out like a classic confrontation or not just remember, these two teams will do it all again in just two weeks.

Denver 23, Kansas City 20

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Kansas City Chiefs vs. Denver Broncos Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, November 17, 2013 - 09:00
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Fortune is strange in college football.

The last time Georgia encountered Nick Marshall, the Bulldogs had dismissed the then-cornerback and two teammates. Marshall went to junior college and reinvented his career as a quarterback before Auburn decided to take another chance on a JUCO signal caller cut loose by an SEC school.

Marshall’s transformation into a top-notch SEC quarterback has been evident for several weeks, but the lucky bounces off the hands of a Georgia defensive back — a member of his former position group, mind you — will set up a winner-take-all Iron Bowl for the SEC West.

On the other side of the country, fortune favored Ed Orgeron in ways also only seen in college football. At Ole Miss in 2007, a failed fourth-and-1 gamble in the fourth quarter of the Egg Bowl against Mississippi State resulted in a loss that ultimately spelled the end for the colorful Orgeron in Oxford.

Six years later, Orgeron only became a head coach again because his boss at USC, Lane Kiffin, had been fired midseason. Orgeron, who was 3-21 in the SEC, reinvented his coaching career with an undefeated start at USC, but, like Marshall, his career came full circle Saturday.

Faced with a fourth-and-2 at Stanford’s 48, Orgeron and USC called for a pass play to the hobbled receiver Marqise Lee. Orgeron’s team, this time, converted, setting up the game-winning field goal attempt that delivered a thrilling win that had become all too rare at USC.

As Auburn’s win set up the most anticipated Iron Bowl since at least the Cam Newton era and probably decades before that, USC’s win changed the national championship race.

Stanford is out of the discussion as the top one-loss team, and Oregon is back in control of the Pac-12 North. Thanks to a coach that a was more or less a cartoon character a month ago.

As we saw yet again in this sport, fortune is strange.

Three and Out: College Football Week 12 Recap

Three Things We Learned from Auburn 43, Georgia 38


This was the play of the year. Marshall’s Miracle. The Prayer on the Plains. Ricardo’s Ricochet. Hail Aubie. Whatever nickname it gets, Ricardo Louis’ 73-yard touchdown catch off the hands of two Georgia defenders will be one of the most memorable plays in Auburn history. Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall had thrown 16 passes in the previous three games combined as the Tigers dominated with the ground game. Winning a game on a pass play never seemed likely. But in a year when Auburn went from 3-9 to 10-1, anything his possible.
 



The Iron Bowl is going to be wild. The state of Alabama has two weeks to contemplate the possibilities of a winner-take-all Iron Bowl for the SEC West with Alabama’s national championship hopes on the line. The win sets up the first Alabama-Auburn game with both teams in the top six since 1994 when No. 4 Alabama defeated No. 6 Auburn 21-14. The two teams haven’t met as top-five opponents since 1971. It’s going to be tough to remember Alabama has a game next week. Sorry, Chattanooga.

Aaron Murray’s career has been heartbreaking. Murray will finish his career as the most productive SEC quarterback in a handful of categories. He’s won his share of games, but he’ll always be tied to this game and other close calls. That’s unfortunate because Murray led a great fourth-quarter performance as the Bulldogs battled from down 20 in the final 9:35 on the road. This season has been marked by a rash of injuries on the Bulldogs' offense that caught up with Georgia in losses to Missouri and Vanderbilt, less than a year after an ill-fated final series on the goal line against Alabama in SEC Championship Game. Murray's career will end with records and the Georgia quarterback on the other end of signature moments for other teams.

Three Things We Learned from Oklahoma State 38, Texas 13

Oklahoma State is still a ball-hawking defense. A sign the Cowboys are indeed back to contending for the Big 12 championship is the ball-hawking defense that led the 2011 team. On Saturday, the back end of Oklahoma State’s defense kept Texas quarterback Case McCoy guessing all afternoon. McCoy threw three interceptions, including two picks to Justin Gilbert. A pro prospect at corner, Gilbert returned one of those for a back-breaking 43-yard touchdown.

Clint Chelf has transformed the offense. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy hasn’t handled quarterback conundrums with the most deft touch with the media over the years, but it’s tough to argue he’s made the wrong decisions. Clint Chelf started the opener for Oklahoma State before he was pulled for J.W. Walsh early in the opener. Walsh handled the job for a bit, then struggled, and Gundy gave it back to Chelf against TCU on Oct. 19. Chelf, declared off limits to the media weeks ago due to constant questions about the quarterback derby, looks like he won’t give up the job for the rest of the senior year. In Chelf, Oklahoma State finally has the dual threat it needs — previously Walsh had been labeled the “runner” and Chelf the “passer.” Against Texas, Chelf completed 16 of 22 passes for 197 yards with two touchdowns and an interception while leading the Pokes in rushing (95 yards, two touchdowns). And he did this without his top receiver, Josh Stewart.

Texas’ found something it couldn’t rebound from. The Longhorns came back from two embarrassing losses to BYU and Ole Miss, questions about Mack Brown’s job status and injuries to linebacker Jordan Hicks and quarterback David Ash. Two injuries, though, caught up to the Longhorns this week. The middle of the field was open for Chelf in the run game, thanks in part to the absence of defensive tackle Chris Whaley. And the Texas run game without Johnathan Gray was pedestrian. Texas rushed for 151 yards and averaged 3.5 yards per carry against the Cowboys.

Moving the Chains

Baylor’s depth. Before the last two weeks, Levi Norwood and Shock Linwood were featured players in Baylor’s mop-up efforts in the second half. Now, they are indispensible in Baylor's Big 12 title bid. Norwood entered the game with 19 catches this season, though he did star on punt returns. He did both as Baylor easily erased an early two-touchdown deficit in the 63-34 win over Texas Tech. Linwood, taking a bigger role due to the absence of Tevin Reese, caught seven passes for 156 yards and two touchdowns while adding a punt return for a score. With Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin out for a second game, Linwood rushed for 187 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries.

Cody Kessler and Marqise Lee, USC. The Trojans offense has been growing to this moment at Stanford, but the transformation from the team that lost to Washington State early in the season remains stark. Then, the passing game was inept, and defending Biletnikoff winner Marqise Lee was all but invisible. On Saturday, USC coach Ed Orgeron put the game in their hands, even though Lee was hobbled when he was kicked in the shin earlier in the game. The Stanford run defense was dominant as usual, holding the Trojans to 23 yards on the ground, so it had to come down to the passing game. Kessler was 25 of 37 for 288 yards with a touchdown, including the key fourth-down pass to Lee that set up the game-winning field goal.

Duke’s miracle season. It’s two weeks before Thanksgiving and Duke controls its own fate for the ACC championship game. The Blue Devils defeated Miami for the first time since 1976 with a 48-30 victory that went back-and-forth until the final quarter. David Cutcliffe’s incredible turnaround at Duke is well-established, but here are a few more notables: Duke has won eight games for only the 14th time in school history. And with road trips to Wake Forest and North Carolina to round out the season, Duke could win 10 games during the regular season. The Blue Devils have never won more than nine games in school history. The only coach to win nine games at Duke was Wallace Wade in the 30s and 40s.

False Starts

Ohio State. No, it might not be fair to be critical of a team that won 60-35, but Urban Meyer has been careful to show us how dominant the Buckeyes can be in routs of Penn State and Purdue. It's time to highlight an Ohio State team that was far from perfect. A better team than Illinois on Saturday may have been able to take advantage of Ohio State’s miscues. Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller opened the game with a 70-yard touchdown run as Ohio State scored the first 28 points. Illinois narrowed the lead to two touchdowns in the third quarter. Ohio State built another big lead, but Illinois again narrowed the game to a two-score game with 8:49 to go. The game turned into a rout, but Ohio State was happy to leave the door open.

Related: Illinois coach Tim Beckman exchanges words with offensive coordinator

Nebraska’s turnovers. The Cornhuskers crawled back in the second quarter against Michigan State, narrowing a 20-7 halftime deficit to 27-21 entering the fourth. The undoing for Nebraska wasn’t its defense, for once. Instead, it was five turnovers (four fumbles and an interception) as Michigan State never gave the ball away in a 41-28 win that kept the Spartans in control of the Big 12 Legends.

The Big 12’s imports. Texas A&M and Missouri have been major success stories in the SEC. Their replacements in the Big 12 have not. West Virginia and TCU went 0-for-the state of Kansas on Saturday, with both ending bowl streaks. The Mountaineers will miss the postseason for the first time since 2001 thanks to an embarrassing loss to Kansas, and TCU lost 33-31 to Kansas State to miss a bowl for the first time since 2004. Both teams have dealt with injuries and key losses, but identical 6-11 records in the Big 12 probably aren’t what they had in mind. West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen was particularly frank:
 

Heisman Movers

Jameis Winston, Florida State. The investigation surrounding a sexual assault complaint against Winston will continue to cast a shadow over the quarterback. On the field, though, Winston had a rebound game of sorts, completing his first 10 passes in the 59-3 rout of Syracuse. Winston completed 19 of 21 passes for 277 yards and was interception-free for the first time in five games.

Marcus Mariota, Oregon. The performance Saturday says Mariota’s knee is still an issue. The Ducks quarterback carried only four times for 11 yards against Utah, but he rebounded from the loss to Stanford with a standout passing day. Mariota completed 19 of 26 passes for 288 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Despite the injury, Mariota is maintaining a ludicrous 25-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ration. Helping his case is the possibility of getting into the Pac-12 championship game thanks to the Stanford loss.

Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois. When the Huskies faced Ball State on Thursday, Northern Illinois hadn’t faced a bowl-bound team since the opener against Iowa. Lynch answered the call in a marquee game against another MAC contender by completing 26 of 32 passes for 345 yards with two touchdowns and rushing for 123 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. Lynch led two unanswered scoring drives to give NIU a 48-27 win. Lynch has completed 80 percent of his passes with 14 total touchdowns in his last three games.

Stat Watch

It Can’t Get Much Worse, Right?
Colorado 41, Cal 24
FAU 41, Southern Miss 7
Memphis 23, USF 10

Three Close Calls
Alabama 20, Mississippi State 7
Louisville 20, Houston 13
South Carolina 19, Florida 14

QB Recruits Who Can’t Arrive Soon Enough
David Blough, Purdue
William Crest, West Virginia
Will Grier, Florida

Three Angry Coaches
Tim Beckman, Illinois
Will Muschamp, Florida
Mark Richt, Georgia

Bowl Eligible
Boston College
Maryland
Vanderbilt

Bowl Ineligible
NC State
TCU
West Virginia

Best Games Next Week
Arizona State at UCLA
Texas A&M at LSU
Baylor at Oklahoma State
2 of 18. Michigan’s third-down performance in a win over Northwestern. In another sign of all the things that could go wrong for Northwestern this season, Michigan was 2 of 18 on third down and was stopped from the 4 on a fourth-down attempt against the Wildcats. The Wolverines still managed to beat Northwestern 27-19 in triple overtime for the Wildcats’ sixth consecutive loss.

1,118. Wisconsin rushing yards against Indiana the last two seasons. The most lopsided series in the Big Ten in recent years? Why not Wisconsin-Indiana. The Badgers rushed for 554 yards in a 51-3 win over Indiana on Saturday, giving the Badgers 1,118 rushing yards against the Hoosiers in the last two meetings. Four different Badgers have had a combined five 100-yard games against Indiana the last two years.

228.3. Nebraska’s rushing average the last three years against Michigan State. For whatever reason, Michigan State’s stifling run defense hasn’t been able to corral Nebraska since the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten. Michigan State allowed 182 rushing yards to Nebraska on Saturday, nearly twice as much as the season-high against the Spartans all year. Nebraska is the only opponent in the last 15 games to top 100 yards rushing against the Spartans, and the Cornhuskers have done it twice.

Buried on the Depth Chart

Cincinnati in AAC contention. The Bearcats quietly remain in contention for the American’s BCS bid after demolishing Rutgers 56-17 to move to 5-1 in the league. The Bearcats’ passing game is peaking at the right time as three Cincinnati passers combined to pass for 507 yards and six touchdowns against the Scarlet Knights. Cincinnati finishes the season against Houston and Louisville and does not face UCF this season. The Bearcats would have loved to watch UCF lose to Temple on Saturday, but Cincinnati should kick itself for losing by 6 to lowly USF on Oct. 5. In the event of a two-way tie between UCF and Cincinnati, the highest-ranked team in the BCS would get the automatic bid. That assumes a Bearcats win over Louisville in the season finale.

North Carolina. On balance, the season will be a disappointment for North Carolina after the Tar Heels started 1-5. Still, North Carolina is alive for the postseason after defeating Pittsburgh 34-27 for its fourth consecutive win. The game-winning touchdown came in unorthodox fashion as Ryan Switzer returned a punt 61 yards for a touchdown — his second of the game — with 4:46 to go. The Tar Heels will get to six wins if they can beat either Old Dominion or Duke.

Washington State. The Cougars picked up their third Pac-12 road win of the season with a 24-17 victory over Arizona on Saturday, putting Wazzu one win away from bowl eligibility. This season has become, more or less, what a handful of preseason pickers (including Athlon) thought 2012 would be for Mike Leach at Washington State. On Saturday, Arizona was sloppy with two fumbles and two missed field goals, but Washington State finally looked like a competent team on both sides of the ball. The Cougars will need to beat either Utah at home or Washington on the road to reach a bowl game for the first time since 2002.

Three Reasons for Fans to Go Bonkers

Kansas’ long wait for a Big 12 win. After a 31-19 win over West Virginia, Kansas students stormed the field. For many, it was the first time they had seen the Jayhawks beat a Big 12 team. The win ended Kansas’ 27-game losing streak to Big 12 teams and was the first KU win over a team in the current Big 12 lineup since Oct. 10, 2009 against Iowa State. The Jayhawks have watched early leads and competitive games slip away this year, but this one wasn’t even close. Kansas led by 10 at halftime, rushed for 315 yards and led by as much as 24 until the final five minutes.

Maryland in a bowl game. Terrapins coach Randy Edsall jumped around on the field after quarterback C.J. Brown ran in a touchdown in overtime, reveling with good reason. Maryland’s 27-24 win over Virginia Tech makes the Terrapins bowl eligible for the first time during a star-crossed tenure under Edsall. The Terps went 2-10 in his first season and had so many quarterback injuries last year that a linebacker finished the year at the position. The issues continued this year when the productive receiving duo of Stefon Diggs and Deon Long were lost for the season in the same game against Wake Forest against Oct. 19. Maryland probably hoped to be more of a factor in the ACC this season, but an eight-win regular season isn’t out of the question with remaining games against Boston College at home and NC State on the road.

This Catch from UCF. The Knights, who remain in the lead for the American’s automatic BCS bid, really had no business having to fight for a win over a one-win Temple team. But that’s the way it ended up as Temple took a 36-29 lead with 2:04 left. Blake Bortles completed this miracle 30-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Worton to tie the game with 1:06 remaining. After Temple’s quick three-and-out, UCF got the ball back and completed a 64-yard pass play to set up the 24-yard field goal to win 39-36.
 

Three Big-Time Runners

Andre Williams, Boston College. Williams’ season has been under-the-radar for anyone outside of ACC territory. That should change. Williams rushed for 339 yards and two touchdowns on 42 carries in the 38-21 win over NC State on Saturday, giving him an ACC-record 1,810 rushing yards this season. With three regular season games and a bowl to play, Williams is going to shatter the previous ACC record held by Virginia’s Thomas Jones (1,798 yards in 1999).

Carlos Hyde, Ohio State. Hyde rushed for 246 yards and four touchdowns on 24 carries against Illinois, becoming the fifth tailback to top 200 yards against the Illini defense. Hyde joins Indiana’s Tevin Coleman, Penn State’s Bill Belton, Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah and Washington’s Bishop Sankey. That list includes 200-yard backs in three consecutive games.

Dominique Brown, Louisville. Teddy Bridgewater didn’t have an overwhelming performance, so it was up to a former Louisville quarterback to carry the day against Houston. Now a running back, Brown rushed for a career-high 137 yards and two touchdowns, including a huge third quarter. The effort kept Louisville among the one-loss ranks with a 20-13 win over Houston.

Teaser:
College Football Week 12 Recap: Auburn's miracle, Oklahoma State's statement
Post date: Sunday, November 17, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-11-injury-updates-adrian-peterson-maurice-jones-drew-ben-tate-ryan-mathews
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Several workhorse running backs are nursing injuries entering Week 11. Are any in danger of not playing today?

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks
Peterson did not participate in practice on Thursday or Friday, as the Vikings wanted to give him extra time to rest his sore groin. He is Probable and expected to be ready to go for this afternoon. If you own Peterson you’re playing him, even if he is matched up against Seattle’s physical defense. The Seahawks have had some issues with their run defense recently, and there’s no doubt Peterson is capable of taking advantage should these problems continue.

Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Arizona Cardinals
MJD missed some practice time this week because of a knee injury, but he was a full go on Friday and is considered Probable. It has been a struggle for Jones-Drew this season, averaging just 3.0 yards per carry, but he’s in absolutely no danger of losing any of his touches. The Cardinals are third in the NFL in rushing defense, so don’t be surprised if it’s another disappointing day at the office for MJD.

Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans vs. Oakland Raiders
Tate’s broken ribs still haven’t healed completely, but he is listed as Probable and will get the start today. Dennis Johnson will get a few carries, but Tate is the Texans’ primary back for the rest of the season and is pretty much a must-start.

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego Chargers at Miami Dolphins
Mathews is on the injury report with a hamstring issue, but he was able to practice fully on Friday and is considered Probable. After posting back-to-back 100-yard games in the two games prior to the Chargers’ Week 8 bye, Mathews has rushed for a total of 93 yards in his last two outings. He has scored a touchdown in two of his last three games, but Danny Woodhead is very much a part of the offensive game plan, so Mathews’ value is no more than a RB2 with upside.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers
Jacobs must be improving, because he is Questionable this week after being Doubtful and missing his third game in a row last week. It really doesn’t matter if Jacobs plays or not, as Andre Brown has replaced Jacobs as the primary ball carrier and Brown is the Giant back you want to own.

Already Ruled Out

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders – McFadden will miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury. This is good news for Rashad Jennings owners, as he has 283 total yards in his last two games. The going may be a little tougher today against Houston, but considering the Raiders will be starting rookie Matt McGloin instead of Terrelle Pryor at quarterback, Jennings is probably the only Raider you would even consider starting.

Done For the Season

Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans – Injured reserve (back)

Mike James, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Injured reserve (broken ankle)

Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Injured reserve (shoulder)

David Wilson, RB, New York Giants – Injured reserve (neck)

Teaser:
Week 11 Injury Updates: Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ben Tate, Ryan Mathews
Post date: Sunday, November 17, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-11-calvin-johnson-cecil-shorts-michael-floyd-mike-wallace
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At this point of the season very few fantasy relevant wide receivers aren’t dealing with some sort of bump or bruise. Are any of these injuries serious enough to prevent them from taking the field in Week 11?

Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson, WRs, Detroit Lions at Pittsburgh Steelers
Johnson’s knee injury is still enough of an issue that he missed two days of practice this week. Still with a Probable designation, there’s no reason to not expect him to suit up against the Steelers. Pittsburgh’s pass defense has been pretty good this season, but this is Megatron we are taking about. As long he is playing, you are starting Johnson. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that Burleson will be lining up alongside him. Despite practicing the past two weeks for the first time since breaking his forearm in September, Burleson is considered Doubtful. Whether he’s still not healthy enough to get back on the field or the coaching staff just doesn’t think he’s ready, don’t count on Burleson this week. This means that Kris Durham will serve as the Lions’ No. 2 wide receiver, making him a possible WR3/WR4/flex option against the Steelers.

Cecil Shorts and Mike Brown, WRs, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Arizona Cardinals
Shorts (right) is still dealing with a lingering groin injury, which is impacting his ability to practice. He is listed as Probable, so there’s no reason to not expect him to play, but he also faces a pretty tough matchup this week in Cardinals’ cornerback Patrick Peterson. Shorts is the Jaguars’ No. 1 target, but quantity may not equal quality this week. Brown is dealing with an ankle injury, but he’s also Probable and should play. He has yet to take full advantage of replacing a suspended Justin Blackmon as the starter opposite Shorts, so it’s hard to expect that to change this week against a solid Arizona passing defense.

Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts, WRs, Arizona Cardinals at Jacksonville Jaguars
Floyd injured his shoulder last week and is listed as Questionable. He was limited in practice both Thursday and Friday, but head coach Bruce Arians said he expects Floyd to play. Roberts is dealing with a knee injury, but he is Probable, making him more of a certainty than Floyd. The Cardinals haven’t exactly thrived in the passing game this season and everyone knows that Larry Fitzgerald is the No. 1 target. Floyd is the No. 2 wideout with Roberts serving as the slot receiver. Floyd and Roberts more or less compete for looks behind Fitzgerald, so unless Floyd is ruled out prior to kickoff (1 p.m. ET), he and Roberts appear to be very risky options this week.

Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins vs. San Diego Chargers
Wallace is listed as Questionable because of a hamstring injury, but he said he fully expects to play, barring a setback. The later kickoff time (4:05 p.m. ET) complicates matters somewhat, especially considering Wallace’s general lack of production. The highly paid vertical threat has two 100-yard games and just one TD catch in his first season in a Dolphins uniform. Already relegated to WR2/WR3 status, it may not be worth the headache to wait long enough to see if Wallace suits up against the Chargers.

Eddie Royal, WR, San Diego Chargers at Miami Dolphins
Royal is making a habit out of not practicing during the week yet still playing come Sunday. Royal’s toe injury continues to prevent him from practicing and has resulted in a Questionable designation for the fourth straight week. However, Royal has yet to miss a game, so it seems likely this pattern will continue. Royal’s value is clearly tied to his ability to get in the end zone (7 TD catches), so keep that in mind should you decide to roll the dice once again with a “hobbled” Royal.

Teaser:
Injury Updates Week 11: Calvin Johnson, Cecil Shorts, Michael Floyd, Mike Wallace
Post date: Sunday, November 17, 2013 - 06:30

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