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This past Sunday, San Francisco and St. Louis finished their divisional tilt in a tie, much to the surprise of the participants, meaning there was no memorable, game-winning play that took place. NFL history is full of just such moments, but it’s those endings that make you stand up, shake your head in disbelief and in your best Jack Buck impression shout “I don’t believe what I just saw!” that really stand out. Here are our choices for the craziest, most improbable, have-to-be-seen-to-be-believed game-ending moments in NFL history.

(Listed in chronological order, most recent to earliest)

Sept. 24, 2012 – Green Bay at Seattle
Replacement Refs Leave Lasting Impression in Their Final Game

In what ended up being the final game officiated by the replacement referees, the final play of this Monday night game in Seattle provided one of the strangest endings to an NFL game ever. From the determination and subsequent debate of “simultaneous possession” to the bizarre scene of a needless extra point taking place some 10 minutes after the final play, the ending to this game featured many sights never seen before. It also represented the last time the replacement referees would be seen, as the “real” officials were back on the job that Thursday following this debacle that played out in front of a national primetime audience.

 

Dec. 19, 2010 – Philadelphia at New York Giants
DeSean Jackson’s Punt Return Caps Eagles’ Furious Comeback Against Giants

The Eagles trailed the Giants 24-3 at halftime, but scored three touchdowns in a little more than a six-minute span in the fourth quarter to draw even. Then with just 14 seconds left, the Giants were forced to punt, and rookie punter Matt Dodge was instructed by Giants’ head coach Tom Coughlin to punt the ball away from DeSean Jackson. Dodge didn’t follow through on those orders and Jackson ended up taking the punt back 65 yards for the game-winning score. Not only was that the longest game-winning touchdown on the final play of regulation since 1960, it also ended up being the deciding game in the NFC East race. Both teams were 9-4 entering this game, but thanks to this improbable, last-second victory, the Eagles grabbed a one-game lead over the Giants. That was all the difference as both finished with identical 10-6 records, but the Eagles won the NFC East title by virtue of their 4-2 divisional record. Even though they won 10 games, the Giants didn’t even make it into the playoffs that season.

 

Dec. 21, 2003 – New Orleans at Jacksonville
Saints Execute (Almost) Everything to Perfection

Trailing Jacksonville 20-13 with just six seconds left, New Orleans had the ball on their own 25. Aaron Brooks threw a pass downfield to Donte’ Stallworth, who caught the ball at the 50, broke a few tackles and then flipped the ball to fellow wide receiver Michael Lewis. Lewis pitched it to running back Deuce McAllister, who then lateraled it to wideout Jerome Pathon. Pathon took it the final 21 yards for the score. After just having pulled off the seemingly impossible, the Saints lined up for what figured to be the easiest part of this miraculous comeback attempt, the PAT. Alas, that was not to be, as the normally reliable John Carney missed the potential game-tying kick wide right. Besides going from the ecstasy of victory to the agony of defeat in a matter of moments, the 20-19 loss also eliminated the Saints from playoff contention. Talk about your kick in the you-know-where.

 

Nov. 6, 2000 – Minnesota at Green Bay
Antonio Freeman - “He did what?”

This Monday Night Football matchup in 2000 between division rivals Minnesota and Green Bay went into overtime. The Packers got the ball first in the extra period and Brett Favre proceeded to drive his team to the Vikings’ 43-yard line. From there, Favre dropped back and threw the ball in the direction of Antonio Freeman, who was covered pretty well by a Vikings defender who actually got his hands on the pass. The ball seemed to fall incomplete next to Freeman’s body, but he got up off the ground with it and ran towards the end zone, much to the surprise of the Vikings’ defense. As Freeman celebrated with a “Lambeau Leap,” replays showed that Freeman somehow managed to keep the ball off of the ground the entire time it bounced around his body. After a lengthy review, the play stood, giving the Packers the win. Widely recognized as one of the most incredible catches in NFL history, play-by-play announcer Al Michaels summed up everyone’s reaction best when he said, “He did what?”

 

Jan. 8, 2000 - Buffalo at Tennessee
“The Music City Miracle”

The 1999 season was a memorable one for the Tennessee Titans and their fans in many ways, highlighted by what took place in the 2000 AFC Wild Card game. The playoff game between the Titans and Buffalo Bills was a close-knit affair, one that featured three lead changes in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter. The Bills took a 16-15 lead on a field goal with 16 seconds left. Unbeknownst to anyone at the time, all that did was set the stage for one of the greatest all-time finishes to a football game. Fullback Lorenzo Neal fielded the kick off at the 25 and then immediately handed it to tight end Frank Wychek. Wychek started running toward the right sideline, and then turned around and lateraled the ball across the field to wide receiver Kevin Dyson. Dyson did the rest, sprinting down the left sideline 75 yards for the score. A lengthy review upheld the play, and thus “The Music City Miracle” was born.

 

Nov. 25, 1993 – Miami at Dallas
Leon Lett’s Thanksgiving to Forget

Even though this Thanksgiving Day game between the Cowboys and Dolphins was already memorable in that it was being played in a rare snow and sleet storm, Lett made sure this one would never be forgotten. Trailing 14-13 with 15 seconds remaining, the Dolphins attempted a 41-yard field goal to take the lead, but the kick was blocked. For reasons known only to him, Lett attempted to recover the ball, but instead slipped on the snow-covered field. If he had just left the ball alone, the Cowboys would have taken over possession and been able to run out the remaining time on the clock. Instead, his “muff” offfered the Dolphins a second chance, as they fell on the ball at the one-yard line and the clock was stopped with three seconds remaining. The shorter field goal attempt was successful, allowing the Dolphins to snatch victory from the seeming jaws of defeat and handing Cowboys' fans a bitter pill to swallow on a day known for eating.

 

Nov. 19, 1978 – Philadelphia at New York Giants
Herm Edwards and “The Miracle at the Meadowlands”

It’s a play that’s been immortalized by NFL Films and is the indisputable highlight of Herm Edwards’ playing career. The Giants led the Eagles 17-12 with 31 seconds to play. The home team also had the ball and needed to run just one more play to seal the victory. After receiving the snap, instead of taking a knee, Giants quarterback Joe Pisarcik tried to hand the ball to his fullback, Larry Csonka. Csonka never got it, however, as the ball hit his hip and bounced away. Edwards, who played cornerback for the Eagles, picked it up and ran it back 26 yards for the game-winning score that stunned the Giants team and fans in the stands.

 

Sept. 10, 1978 – Oakland at San Diego
“Holy Roller”

Whether you call it the “Holy Roller” or “Immaculate Deception,” the play that ended this game between the Raiders and Chargers is also one of the most controversial in NFL history. The Chargers led the Raiders 20-14 with 10 seconds left in the game, but the Raiders had the ball on the San Diego 14-yard line looking to tie the score. Oakland quarterback Ken Stabler dropped back to pass, but a Charger defender hit him, causing him to lose the football. Running back Pete Banaszak recovered the ball and flipped it forward to tight end Dave Casper. Casper, seemingly unable to get a firm grip, proceeded to roll the ball toward the end zone, eventually falling on it in the end zone as time expired. The Raiders kicked the extra point to win 21-20 thanks to a play that forced the NFL to change the rules regarding fumbles.

 

Dec. 28, 1975 – Dallas at Minnesota
The NFL’s Original “Hail Mary”

A staple of the modern day lexicon when it comes to game-winning touchdown passes, the origins of the “Hail Mary” in NFL lore go back to a NFC playoff game in 1975 between the Cowboys and Vikings. Trailing 14-10 on the road with just 1:50 left, Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach and the offense began what turned out to be the game-winning drive from their own 15. A spectacular sideline catch by wide receiver Drew Pearson on fourth and long got the Cowboys to midfield with just 37 seconds left. Following an incompletion, Staubach dropped back to pass with 32 ticks left on the clock and threw a desperation heave in the direction of Pearson, who made the catch at the five and backed his way into the end zone with 24 seconds left on the clock. The Cowboys would win the game 17-14. Afterwards during a post-game interview, Staubach, a devoted Catholic, said of the play, “I closed my eyes and said a Hail Mary.”

 

Dec. 23, 1972 – Oakland at Pittsburgh
The “Immaculate Reception”

One of the most iconic plays in football history, the “Immaculate Reception” has stood the test of time despite having occurred almost 40 years ago. Besides being known for its greatness, the play also is recognized as being one of the most controversial ones in NFL history. Following a 30-yard touchdown run by Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler, the Steelers found themselves trailing the Raiders 7-6 at home with just 1:17 left. Facing a fourth-and-10 on their own 40-yard line with 22 seconds remaining, Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw a pass to halfback John Fuqua around the Raiders’ 35. Raiders safety Jack Tatum collided with Fuqua, jarring the ball loose, sending it backwards and setting the stage for fullback Franco Harris. Harris, who was initially blocking on the play, scooped up the tumbling ball before it hit the ground, stiff-armed a Raiders defender and rambled into the end zone to give the Steelers the improbable win. The rest, as they say, is history.

— Published on Nov. 14, 2012

Teaser:
<p> 10 Craziest Game Endings in NFL History</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 06:15
Path: /nfl/miami-dolphins-vs-buffalo-bills-preview-and-prediction
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Two AFC East teams in need of a win will meet on Thursday Night Football, when the Buffalo Bills host the Miami Dolphins tonight at 8:20 pm EST on the NFL Network. The Bills have lost three in a row and five of their last six games to fall to 3-6 on the season. Two weeks ago the Dolphins had won three in a row to get to 4-3 on the year, but losses to the Colts and Titans have Miami back under the .500 mark.

When the Buffalo Bills have the ball:
Buffalo has been fairly solid on offense this season, ranking sixth in the league with 143.1 rushing yards per game. Both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller have been productive backs, although Jackson has missed time with a knee injury and will be out for this game with a concussion suffered in last week’s loss at New England. Spiller has been excellent with 632 rushing yards and an NFL-best 7.3 yards per carry. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has 17 touchdown passes against 10 interceptions this season, but seven of those picks have come in two games.

The Miami defense has played decent football overall, but this unit has struggled in recent weeks. The Dolphins gave up a rookie-record 433 passing yards to Andrew Luck of the Colts two weeks ago and an easy 126 rushing yards to Tennessee’s Chris Johnson in last Sunday’s blowout loss. Even with that subpar performance, Miami still ranks fifth in the NFL against the run. The Dolphins will key on Spiller tonight, while also trying to improve on their paltry total of 11 takeaways in nine games.

When the Miami Dolphins have the ball:
The Miami offense ranks 26th in the league in yardage (323.9 per contest), but there were bound to be some issues with a new system and a rookie quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. The Dolphins ran the ball well early but have not produced on the ground lately. Reggie Bush was benched after a first-quarter fumble last week, and Miami must find a way to get him going again. This would be the game for Bush to up his production, and a solid rushing performance would greatly help Tannehill. The rookie threw three interceptions versus Tennessee last Sunday, and he has only one touchdown pass over the last three games.

The Buffalo defense has simply been terrible this season, ranking 31st in the league with 410 yards allowed per contest and dead-last in scoring at 31.7 points per game. Dave Wannstedt’s crew is also the worst run unit in the NFL, giving up a staggering 163.7 yards per game on the ground. That obviously must stop if the Bills are going to get back near .500, and limiting Bush will be the focus tonight. Much like Miami, the Bills have struggled to cause turnovers with only 11 on the season.

Key Factor:
Both teams should play desperate football in the one, and the quarterback that is most effective should lead his team to victory. Fitzpatrick can be really bad at times, but he gives Buffalo a chance to win in most weeks. Tannehill must avoid interceptions against the Bills and let the running game be effective. The Dolphins have won six of the last eight in this series, but we’ll take the Bills with the home crowd to win a close ball game tonight.

Prediction:
Bills 23 Dolphins 20
 

Teaser:
<p> Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 05:30
Path: /college-football/sec-week-12-preview-and-predictions
Body:

All 14 SEC teams are in action this weekend, but there are only three games involving two league teams. And all three feature at least one team that needs to win to keep its bowl hopes alive. Tennessee is 4–6 and needs to beat Vanderbilt this week and Kentucky next week to get to the six-win mark. Arkansas, also 4–6, has a tougher road. The Hogs need to win at Mississippi State and beat LSU in Fayetteville on the Friday after Thanksgiving. And Ole Miss, at 5–5, needs to win one more game, either at LSU this weekend or vs. Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl. 

Other Week 12 Previews and Predictions

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

SEC’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 12:

1. Can Ole Miss pick up win No. 6 in Baton Rouge?
After losing at Georgia and at home to Vanderbilt, Ole Miss is down to two more opportunities to pick up that elusive sixth win. Conventional wisdom suggests the Rebels have a better chance of beating Mississippi State at home than LSU in Baton Rouge. And while that is probably true, the Rebels do have a history of playing very well at Tiger Stadium. Ole Miss is 4–4 in their last eight games in Baton Rouge with three of the losses coming by three points or fewer and the other by seven points. One of the most noteworthy wins in the series came in 2008, when Houston Nutt’s first Rebel team won 31–13 at Tiger Stadium. That is the last time LSU has lost by more than 10 points at home. Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, a Mississippi native who was a member of Ed Orgeron’s staff from 2005-07, knows the history of this series quite well. “One of the earliest memories I have is sitting in the stands and hearing exactly how the Ole Miss fans felt about LSU in almost any game,” Freeze says. “You always remember the Billy Cannons and all of those things. It's quite clear to me the rivalry that this is and how well Ole Miss usually plays LSU.”

2. Can we now call LSU a passing offense?
Something strange is happening in Baton Rouge. For the first time since November 2010, LSU has had more yards passing than rushing in two consecutive games (against FBS opponents). Two weeks ago, the Tigers threw for 296 yards and rushed for 139 in a 21–17 loss to Alabama. Last Saturday, they threw for 273 and rushed for 119 in a 37–17 win against Mississippi State. The reason for this new-found success in the passing game has been the improved play of quarterback Zach Mettenberger. In his first four SEC games, Mettenberger completed 46.2 percent of his passes with one touchdown and two interceptions; in his last two games, he has completed 66.2 percent with three touchdowns and no picks. It’s not likely we will ever see a Les Miles-coached team fling the ball all over the field on a consistent basis, but it’s a positive sign that the Tigers are able to throw the ball down the field when needed.

3. Can Mississippi State slow down the Arkansas passing attack?
Mississippi State’s secondary has taken a beating in recent weeks. The Bulldogs have given up an average of 280 passing yards during their three-game losing streak. After seven games, all wins, MSU ranked 21st nationally in pass defense, allowing an average of 188.6 yards per game. After losses to Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU, the Dogs have dropped to 43rd (216.0 ypg). This week, Arkansas comes calling. The Razorbacks have been one of the biggest disappointments in the nation, but they still do one thing very well — throw the ball down the field. The Hogs ranks 19th nationally in passing offense (302.6 ypg) and lead the SEC with eight passing plays of 50 yards or more. Arkansas isn’t as balanced as State’s three previous opponents, but this offense is more than capable of putting up a bunch of points on what has become a suspect Mississippi State defense.

4. Can Arkansas score some touchdowns?
There’s one stat that best illustrates Arkansas’ struggles in 2012. And it’s quite simple: The Razorbacks aren’t scoring enough touchdowns. Last year, with Bobby Petrino calling the plays, Arkansas scored 32 touchdowns in eight SEC games. This year, the Hogs have scored 16 touchdowns in six league games. There are mitigating factors — injuries to some key personnel, losses to graduation at wide receiver, etc. — but this is still a significant decrease in production. As a result, a team that was hoping to contend for an SEC West title is now fighting for bowl-eligibility.

5. Which SEC team is most at risk to losing to a FCS opponent this week?
No SEC team has lost to a member of the FCS ranks since Ole Miss opened the 2010 season with a 49–48 loss to Jacksonville State. This week, there are an unprecedented seven games featuring an SEC team vs. an FCS opponent. The league figures to win all seven, but there are a few teams that should be on upset alert. Kentucky, which is 1–9, hosts Samford (7–3) in the final home game of the Joker Phillips era. South Carolina takes on a solid Wofford team that is 8–2 overall and 6–2 in the SoCon. The schools have met twice in the past seven years, with Carolina winning 27–20 in 2006 and 23–13 in ’08. Struggling Auburn hosts Alabama A&M, which has a gaudy 7–3 record but plays in the weak SWAC. The biggest mismatch has to be Western Carolina vs. Alabama. The Catamounts are 1–9 and are allowing 519.8 yards and 40.0 points per game. It’s a safe bet that Alabama will bounce back from its only loss of the season with a comfortable win.

6. Can Vanderbilt do the unthinkable — end the season with a winning SEC record?
There have been a lot of firsts at Vanderbilt this season. Among the highlights: The Commodores have become bowl-eligibile for the second-straight season for the first time in school history; they recorded their first SEC shutout since 1968; and they have won three straight on the road in the SEC for the first time ever. Another significant milestone can be reached with a victory over Tennessee on Saturday — a winning record in the SEC. This has happened only one time since 1959, when Whit Taylor led the Dores to a 4–2 mark in league play in 1982. Since the SEC expanded in 1992, Vanderbilt has won more than two conference games only twice, 2005 (3–5) and 2008 (4–4).

7. Can the Tennessee defense step up?
Tennessee is allowing an average of 511.2 yards and 43.7 points in SEC games — staggering numbers for a program that has produced so many great defensive players over the past two decades. This weekend, the Vols face a Vanderbilt team that has some nice weapons but is far from an offensive juggernaut. The Commodores have scored 67 points over the last two weeks (in wins at Kentucky and Ole Miss) but had scored 19 or fewer in their first five SEC games. Tennessee’s suspect secondary will be challenged by the league’s most productive wide receiver duo — Jordan Matthews (1,003 yards) and Chris Boyd (686 yards). Historically, the Vols have made life very difficult on the Commodores. Tennessee has only lost to Vanderbilt once since 1982 and has only allowed the Dores to score more than 28 points once (in 2004) since 1987. This season, however, has defied history — for both schools.

8. Can Dorial Green-Beckham finish strong?
He’s had some big catches, but it’s fair to say that Missouri’s Dorial Green-Beckham, the nation’s top-ranked recruit in the Class of 2012, hasn’t been quite as productive as most expected. In nine games, DGB has caught 22 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns. His most productive game was against Florida two weeks ago, when he caught six passes for 73 yards, but his biggest catch came last week in the overtime win at Tennessee. Facing 4th-and-12 from the 25-yard line with under one minute to play, Mizzou quarterback James Franklin found Green-Beckham alone in the corner of the end zone for a game-tying touchdown. DGB added a 10-yard touchdown reception in the third overtime. With two regular-season games remaining, plus a potential bowl game, Missouri would love to see Green-Beckham close his rookie campaign on a strong note.

9. Can Joker Phillips win his last game at Commonwealth Stadium?
Joker Phillips will coach his last game in Lexington on Saturday against Samford. It will be an emotional day for a man who has spent the majority of his adult life at the University of Kentucky. The Franklin, Ky., native played for the Cats from 1981-84 and served on the UK staff in some capacity for 19 of his 25 years in coaching. Phillips has a 12–23 record overall and a 4–19 mark in the SEC in his two-plus seasons as the head coach. The high-water mark of his tenure was a 10–7 win over Tennessee — the program’s first over the Vols since 1984 — in the final week of the 2011 season. The low point had to be a 40–0 loss to Vanderbilt two weeks ago before fewer than 20,000 at Commonwealth Stadium. This Saturday, the Cats host Samford, which is 7–3 in the FBS ranks, and then close the Phillips era with a trip to Knoxville to play Tennessee.

10. Who will win the SEC rushing title?
Two freshmen have separated themselves from the field in the quest for the SEC rushing title. Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, with 1,014 yards, leads Georgia true freshman tailback Todd Gurley, who has 973 yards while sharing time with fellow rookie Keith Marshall. Gurley has a slight edge in yards per carry (6.53 to 6.50), but Manziel has more touchdowns (15 to 11). Vanderbilt true freshman Brian Kimbrow leads the league in yards per carry (7.20) but only has 55 attempts. Among players with at least 100 attempts, Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon tops the list with 6.61 yards per carry.

@AthlonMitch

  David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light

Arkansas at Miss. State

Miss. State 35-21

Miss. State 31-28 Miss. State 27-24 Miss. State 31-24
W. Carolina at Alabama

Alabama 52-3

Alabama 41-7

Alabama 55-0

Alabama 41-0

Jacksonville St. at Florida

Florida 24-10

Florida 31-7

Florida 45-10

Florida 31-7
Wofford at South Carolina S. Carolina 38-10 S. Carolina 31-7

S. Carolina 41-17

S. Carolina 31-13
Ga. Southern at Georgia

Georgia 35-17

Georgia 34-10

Georgia 51-20

Georgia 44-13
Alabama A&M at Auburn

Auburn 28-7

Auburn 44-10

Auburn 41-10

Auburn 37-10
Ole Miss at LSU

LSU 35-14

LSU 24-17

LSU 34-20

LSU 37-21

Sam Houston St. at Texas A&M

Texas A&M 42-13

Texas A&M 41-10

Texas A&M 56-20

Texas A&M 48-10
Syracuse at Missouri

Syracuse 28-21

Missouri 38-31

Missouri 31-27

Missouri 30-27

Tennessee at Vanderbilt Vanderbilt 28-24 Vanderbilt 31-28

Vanderbilt 34-31

Vanderbilt 30-27
Samford at Kentucky

Kentucky 24-7

Kentucky 24-10

Kentucky 34-17

Kentucky 24-10
Last week 5-2 4-3 5-2 5-2
Season 72-20 78-14 79-13 77-15

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> All 14 SEC teams are in action this weekend, but there are only three games involving two league teams. And all three feature at least one team that needs to win to keep its bowl hopes alive. Tennessee is 4–6 and needs to beat Vanderbilt this week and Kentucky next week to get to the six-win mark. Arkansas, also 4–6, has a tougher road. The Hogs need to win at Mississippi State and beat LSU in Fayetteville on the Friday after Thanksgiving. And Ole Miss, at 5–5, needs to win one more game, either at LSU this weekend or vs. Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl.&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 05:09
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-12-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The Oregon-USC rematch Pac-12 championship game has felt like a foregone conclusion for much of the 2012 calendar year. However, it's very possible both teams could lose this weekend — and that would essentially put Stanford and UCLA into the championship game. What a twist that would be in Week 12, right? Those are two of the best games of the year in the Pac-12 and are two of the marquee showdowns nationally this weekend. Sit back and enjoy.

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

1. Can Kevin Hogan score enough to keep up with Oregon?
The Ducks' defense has allowed some yards this year — 377.7 per game — and some points — 22.3 per game. Now, most of those yards and points have come in the second half with reserves getting a majority of the snaps. However, the Ducks' defense makes big plays. It has forced 29 turnovers, one away from the national lead, and has scored half a dozen defensive and special teams touchdowns. Stanford’s sophomore quarterback Kevin Hogan is making just his second career start after throwing two interceptions in his first start last weekend. Needless to say, he will have to play flawless football against the swarming Ducks defense if the Cardinal expect to keep it close, much less win.

2. Will nagging injuries in Oregon’s backfield be a factor?
Both Marcus Mariota (shoulder) and Kenjon Barner (hand/wrist) left the game last weekend with what appeared to be minor injuries. They both returned to the game and, Mariota in particular, finished with a huge performance. There isn’t a more physical defensive front west of the Mississippi and Chip Kelly can bet that David Shaw has instructed his law firm of Murphy, Thomas and Shov to be extra physical with those diminutive Duck ball-handlers. Because if they are fully healthy, there isn't a defense in America than can actually stop Oregon.

3. Has UCLA's offense closed the 50-point gap?
USC crushed the Bruins in the most demoralizing way possible last fall: 50-0. But this UCLA team isn’t the same group that mailed in the last two months of the 2011 season. The Bruins have a new coach, the elite talent in the defensive front is finally developing and redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley has supercharged the offense — an offense that ranked 10th in scoring and 11th in passing in the Pac-12 last year. This fall, Hundley trails only Johnny Manziel nationally for total offense by a freshman (301.1 ypg) and has accounted for 13 touchdowns against only two interceptions during UCLA’s four-game winning streak. This offense, which is scoring 15 more points per game and ranks 3rd overall in the league, will have to be balanced and efficient to keep pace with USC.

4. Can the UCLA front seven get enough pressure on Matt Barkley?
UCLA was 112th nationally and 11th in the Pac-12 in sacks in 2011. It was 11th in rushing defense at 190.7 yards per game. This season, UCLA ranks fourth nationally in sacks at nearly four per game and is fourth in the Pac-12 in rushing defense (144.6 ypg). This is due in large part to Jim Mora’s new staff instilling toughness and physicality in a group of former four- and five-star recruits. Anthony Barr has developed into a premiere pass rusher, Eric Kendricks is playing like his older brother Mychal who won Pac-12 defensive player of the year last fall at Cal and names like Datone Jones and Cassius Marsh are beginning to live up to their lofty recruiting status. This front seven must slow the USC rushing attack and must pressure Matt Barkley to keep the Bruins in the game.

5. The mystery of Matt Scott and what it could mean
The Wildcats' offense scored 56 points and rolled up 574 yards last week without Matt Scott under center. However, that was Colorado. And while Utah has had its struggles at times, it is still a proud team fighting for bowl eligibility at home. The Utes had bounced back to win two straight but were totally stymied last week on offense in Seattle. Moving the football shouldn’t be a problem against the Cats, so Arizona backup B.J. Denker — should Scott not be able to play — will have to be as efficient as he was last weekend (12-14, 136 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT). It would help if record-setting star tailback Ka’Deem Carey gets more than the five total offensive touches he got in last year’s 31-24 home loss to Utah.

6. QB controversy in Corvallis?
It appears that Mike Riley brought Sean Mannion back too quickly two weeks ago when he threw four interceptions in the season’s first loss to Washington. Cody Vaz had proven to be more than capable, and last week, nearly pulled off the win over Stanford. But a late injury at an inopportune time forced Mannion back into action, and now, fans have no clue who will be under center against Cal. Now, it shouldn’t matter who starts this weekend as Cal has all but given up on 2012. But for a top 20 team who still has to play its undefeated archrival, quarterback issues is the worst thing Riley could be dealing with at this stage of the season.

7. Arizona State eyes bowl eligibility
Four weeks ago, the Sun Devils were 5-1 and boasted the league’s No. 1 total defense. After allowing 162 points and 452.8 yards per game (and no fewer than 424), this team is 5-5 and could end up home for the holidays if it cannot win this weekend. A road win at Arizona in the season-ending rivalry game seems unlikely, so allowing a Washington State team entrenched in locker room turmoil win in Sun Devil Stadium would be completely unacceptable. Look for Taylor Kelly and the defense to get back on track against the teetering Cougars.

8. What the hell is happening in Pullman?
Seriously? What is going on? Is Marquess Wilson simply a disgruntled over-pampered baby with an axe to grind after quitting on his team? Or is Mike Leach a hard-nosed, abrasive coach who has a track record of abusing his players in an unprofessional manner? My opinion? The truth lies somewhere in the middle. I have a tough time believing a wide receiver who has quit on his friends and teammates to publicly narc on his coaching staff and university. However, Leach has also dealt with strange doings at Texas Tech as well. Only time will tell about what is taking place in Pullman. One thing I do know, a 0-9 Pac-12 season will fray a lot of nerves.

Week 12 Pac-12 Predictions:

Week 12 Pac-12 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Washington at Colorado Washington, 38-14 Washington, 41-7 Washington, 45-17 Washington, 42-17
Washington St at Arizona St Arizona St, 31-20 Arizona St, 34-17 Arizona St, 44-17 Arizona St, 35-17
USC at UCLA USC, 41-38 USC, 41-34 USC, 38-34 UCLA, 35-31
Stanford at Oregon Oregon, 38-21 Oregon, 48-28 Oregon, 41-24 Stanford, 31-28
Arizona at Utah Arizona, 31-27 Arizona, 31-17 Arizona, 27-24 Arizona, 28-21
Cal at Oregon St Oregon St, 30-13 Oregon St, 31-17 Oregon St, 27-10 Oregon St, 35-14
Last Week: 6-0 6-0 6-0 6-0
Yearly Totals: 57-15 57-15 56-16 51-21

Bye: None

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Big 12 Week 12 Previews and Predictions

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Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections

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Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Week 12 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 05:06
Path: /college-football/acc-week-12-preview-and-predictions
Body:

With the season winding down, the Week 12 slate in the ACC could bring some much-needed clarity to the conference title game. If Florida State beats Maryland, the Seminoles would clinch the Atlantic Division title. The Coastal Division is still murky, but Duke and Miami would appear to have the inside track. However, Georgia Tech's late-season surge has it in the mix, while there's still uncertainty on whether or not the Hurricanes will be able to play in any postseason game this year.

Other Week 12 Previews and Predictions

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

ACC's Top Storylines for Week 12

Can Virginia keep the momentum going?
The Oct. 27 bye week seems to have rejuvenated Virginia. The offense scored 74 points in its last two games, which is easily the best two-game stretch in 2012. Quarterback Michael Rocco sparked the passing attack last week, throwing for 300 yards and four scores against Miami. The rushing attack has four touchdowns over the last two weeks, which is nearly as many as the team had through the first eight games (6). While the late-season surge has moved Virginia closer to a winning record, it still needs two wins to get bowl eligible. Thursday night’s matchup with North Carolina is the 117th meeting between these two schools and there’s a lot on the line for both teams. The Cavaliers need a win to stay alive for a bowl game, while the Tar Heels can still win the Coastal Division – even though they are ineligible for the postseason. After allowing 40 points to Miami last week, Virginia’s defense will be under fire once again, especially as it tries to stop North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard. If the Cavaliers knock off the Tar Heels, it would setup a showdown with rival Virginia Tech, with the loser staying home for the postseason.

Duke or Georgia Tech: Which defense will make enough plays to win?
With two weeks remaining, it’s anyone’s guess which team will come out on top in the Coastal Division. Duke controls its destiny in the division but needs to beat Georgia Tech this Saturday and Miami next week to play for the ACC Championship. While getting to 6-4 and their first bowl game since 1994 is a great accomplishment for coach David Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils, this team has lost three out of its last four games and has been outscored 104-27 in its last two matchups. Duke’s defense struggled to contain the playmakers Florida State and Clemson had on offense, but Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech is a different type of problem for co-coordinators Jim Knowles and Jim Collins. The Yellow Jackets average 324.4 yards per game on the ground and have scored at least 30 points in four out of their last five games. Georgia Tech’s offense has also found a spark from backup quarterback Vad Lee, who has four rushing scores over the last two contests. Duke has not defeated the Yellow Jackets since 2003. However, the last two matchups have been decided by 10 points or less, including a 38-31 shootout in Durham last year. There’s no question the Blue Devils should be able to score on Georgia Tech’s defense. However, considering the success the Yellow Jackets have had against Duke’s defense the last few years, the defense needs to step up if the Blue Devils want to earn their seventh win and remain in the driver’s seat for the Coastal Division title.

Does NC State’s defense have an answer for Clemson’s offense?
Even though Florida State is expected to handle Maryland and clinch the ACC Atlantic crown on Saturday, there’s still plenty for Clemson to play for against NC State. If the Tigers win their last two games, they should have a good shot at claiming an at-large spot in one of the BCS bowls. Clemson’s offense has been on fire this season, scoring at least 37 points in every ACC game. Quarterback Tajh Boyd ranks second nationally in passing efficiency and has thrown 13 touchdowns over the last three games. With Boyd and receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins hitting on all cylinders, it’s a tough assignment for NC State’s secondary to slow down Clemson’s passing offense. The Wolfpack rank 95th nationally in pass defense but have allowed just 13 passing touchdowns this year. It may seem like a tired cliché but stopping the Tigers’ offense starts in the trenches. NC State is averaging three sacks a game and has to disrupt Boyd’s timing if it wants to have a shot at the upset. The Wolfpack have been a difficult team to figure out this year. With a win over Florida State and a loss to Virginia, Tom O’Brien’s club has been hard to figure out. Can the Wolfpack make it two in a row over Clemson? It’s unlikely, but you just never know what will happen in the ACC.

Will Virginia Tech snap its three-game losing streak?
Even though the Hokies still have a chance to finish 6-6 and make a bowl game, there’s no question this is one of the most disappointing teams in the nation. Virginia Tech was picked by many to finish in the top 15 and was a heavy favorite to win the Coastal. Instead of setting up a rematch against Florida State or Clemson in the ACC Championship, the Hokies need wins over Boston College and Virginia just to get 6-6. Virginia Tech enters Saturday’s contest with a three-game losing streak but has won the last four matchups against the Eagles. While the Hokies have something to play for, Boston College is just trying to salvage any bit of good news from a 2-8 start this year. Even though the Eagles won their last ACC game at home, it’s hard to see Virginia Tech losing in Chestnut Hill. Quarterback Logan Thomas will be a handful for a Boston College defense allowing 228.4 rushing yards per game, while the Hokies’ shouldn’t have much trouble slowing down an Eagles’ offense that is very one-dimensional.

Who will claim bragging rights in South Florida?
Miami steps out of conference for the final time this season, as it hosts USF on Saturday. These two teams have met four times, with the Hurricanes holding a 3-1 edge in the series. There’s been no shortage of intrigue over the last two matchups, especially with both games decided by three points. The Bulls have been one of the Big East’s top disappointments and lost quarterback B.J. Daniels for the season in their last game against Connecticut. Although Miami is still fighting to get bowl eligible and lost last week at Virginia, it still has a chance to play for the ACC title. With Daniels sidelined, redshirt freshman Matt Floyd or junior Bobby Eveld will get the start for USF. However, the bigger concern for the Bulls could be trying to stop a Miami offense that has scored 70 points in its last two games. The Hurricanes are also struggling on defense, but with a USF offense that’s breaking in a new quarterback and lacks a breakaway threat at running back, Miami shouldn’t allow 30 points this week. Even though the Bulls are shorthanded, don't expect Skip Holtz's team to go quietly on Saturday afternoon. While both teams need a victory, there are two underlying storylines to this matchup - bragging rights in South Florida and as usual, the battle for recruits within the state.

Does Maryland have any shot to beat Florida State?
Anything can happen each Saturday during the college football season, but let’s be realistic: Barring a complete collapse by the Seminoles, the Terrapins aren’t going to beat Florida State. With a matchup against in-state rival Florida next week, there’s a chance the Seminoles could be caught peeking ahead. However, Maryland would need a lot of breaks to go its way, which includes finding an offense after scoring just 23 points the last two weeks. Shawn Petty has stepped into a difficult situation at quarterback, so it’s hard to fault the true freshman for the struggles on offense. And his job could be even more difficult on Saturday, especially if receiver Stefon Diggs and running back Wes Brown are out due to injuries once again. If the Terrapins want to keep this one close, the defense will need its best effort of the season. Maryland ranks 16th nationally in total defense and is allowing 24 points a game. If the defense can force a few turnovers and keep the offense within striking range, there’s a chance for the Terrapins to hang around. However, with the firepower on Florida State’s sideline, Maryland will need the perfect effort to score a huge upset.

Wake Forest’s offense vs. Notre Dame’s defense
With two games remaining, Wake Forest still needs one victory to get bowl eligible. Unfortunately for the Demon Deacons, there’s very little room to breathe on the schedule, as they play at Notre Dame this week and take on Vanderbilt on Nov. 24. The Demon Deacons lost 24-17 to the Fighting Irish last year, so this team should have some confidence going into Saturday’s game in South Bend. However, if Wake Forest wants to have any shot at an upset, it has to find a way to spark the offense. The Demon Deacons rank 106th nationally in scoring and 111th in total offense per game, which also ranks near the bottom of the ACC in both categories. Notre Dame has one of college football’s best defenses, and Wake Forest’s patchwork offensive line will be tested by a talented Irish’ front seven. If the Demon Deacons can protect quarterback Tanner Price, he should have some opportunities to connect with go-to receiver Michael Campanaro. Although the passing game needs to click, the rushing attack is important, especially since Wake Forest needs to find a way to slow down the Notre Dame pass rush and keep the defense off balance.

 

Week 12 ACC Predictions

Week 12 ACC Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
UNC at Virginia UNC 32-24 UNC 35-21 UNC 34-30 UNC 37-34
Florida State at Maryland FSU 49-7 FSU 45-10 FSU 38-7 FSU 41-0
Virginia Tech at Boston College Va. Tech 21-14 Va. Tech 38-21 Va. Tech 31-13 Va. Tech 23-13
USF at Miami Miami 35-10 Miami 34-24 Miami 30-20 Miami 27-14
Duke at Georgia Tech Ga. Tech 35-31 Ga. Tech 34-28 GT 45-34 GT 44-30
NC State at Clemson Clemson 31-21 Clemson 41-28 Clemson 38-24 Clemson 37-21
Wake Forest at Notre Dame Notre Dame 28-10 Notre Dame 24-10 Notre Dame 34-10 Notre Dame 24-6
Last Week: 3-3 4-2 4-2 4-2
Season Record: 63-18 61-20 58-23 66-15


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


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Louisville’s not playing this weekend, but the developments from last week loom over the Big East. The fall of the league’s last remaining undefeated team opened other teams to grab some notoriety, either in the standings or rankings.

Rutgers is the only undefeated team in league play, but the Cardinals’ loss re-opened the door for Cincinnati, whose only Big East loss was Oct. 26 to Louisville. The Big East could take another interesting turn when the Scarlet Knights and Bearcats face off in Nippert Stadium this week.

Other Week 12 Previews and Predictions

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

Big East’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 12:

Will Jawan Jamison be ready for Rutgers?

Jawan Jamison practiced this week on the injured right ankle that knocked hime out of last week’s win over Army. His return will be critical for the Rutgers offense. The Scarlet Knights have struggled to score in the first half since September, and Jamison is their best offensive weapon. Not only is Jamison Rutgers' far-and-away leading rusher, he’s third on the team in receiving. If he’s hobbled, sophomore Savon Huggins will get carries (52 this year, 10 of which came last week). But most of the responsibility may fall on Gary Nova, who has suddenly become turnover prone with eight interceptions in the last three games. Six of those picks were in the loss to Kent State on Oct. 27.

Can Cincinnati’s Brendon Kay and George Winn crack the Rutgers defense?
Cincinnati got what it wanted out of its quarterback change from Munchie Legaux to Brendon Kay. The new senior quarterback was consistent and turnover free in the win over Temple, but facing Rutgers will be a different test. Big East quarterbacks are completing only 49.6 percent of their passes with two touchdowns and 10 interceptions against the Scarlet Knights. The same has been true of the Rutgers defense against the run. Big East opponents have averaged only 82.3 rushing yards per game against the Scarlet Knights. Of course, those statistics don't count out a loss to Kent State (355 total yards) and wins over Arkansas (492 total yards) and Army (282 rushing yards). The cracks are there for Rutgers’ defense. Kay and conference-leading rusher George Winn will try to do what no one in the Big East has been able to do this season.

Will USF burn a redshirt or play a redshirt freshman quarterback against Miami?
USF coach Skip Holtz is in a bit of a quandary. His four-year starting quarterback, B.J. Daniels, is out for the year, and his most experienced backup, Bobby Eveld, planned on taking a redshirt this season. When Daniels suffered his season-ending leg injury against Connecticut, redshirt freshman Matt Floyd stepped in. Eveld, though, is a junior who has played against this week’s opponent, Miami, twice before. The Bulls’ margin for error to reach a bowl game is slim as USF must defeat Miami, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh to finish the season. Eveld is the veteran while Floyd, a dual-threat quarterback, may be in USF’s long-term plans.

Once again, has Syracuse put it all together... this time... really?
Syracuse has struggled with consistency for most of the last two seasons. Even when the offense moved the ball on a regular basis, the Orange found away to sabotage itself either through turnovers of special teams gaffes. Now, Syracuse has won three of the last four, the latest a 45-26 win over previously undefeated Louisville that was never in question. Syracuse has a chance for a winning regular season, but the Orange will have to win road games, something that’s not always been easy this season. Balance has been the key the last four games as Syracuse has rushed for an average of 227.3 yards and passed for 277.8 yards during this hot streak.

Who’s going to start in the Temple backfield?
Starting running back Montel Harris left the Cincinnati loss with a knee injury. Starting quarterback Chris Coyer was pulled in a 34-10 loss. Coach Steve Addazio says it’s possible Harris, Temple’s only consistent offensive threat, could return this week against Army. He also says three quarterbacks are competing for the starting job -- Coyer, Juice Granger (who was 7 of 15 for 86 yards and a touchdown against Cincinnati) and Penn State transfer Kevin Newsome. Temple still has Matt Brown at running back, so the quarterback decision may be more telling for the future.

Week 12 Big East Predictions:

Week 12 Big East Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Temple at Army Army 17-14 Temple 28-14 Temple 28-24 Temple 17-14
Rutgers at Cincinnati Cincinnati 28-17 Rutgers 31-20 Rutgers 27-24 Cincinnati 27-17
USF at Miami Miami 35-10 Miami 34-17 Miami 30-20 Miami 27-14
Syracuse at Missouri Syracuse 28-21 Missouri 33-28 Missouri 31-27 Missouri 30-27
Last week 2-2 2-2 2-2 2-2
Overall 38-18 39-17 38-18 38-18

by David Fox

@DavidFox615

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Kansas State is one win away from clinching a share of the Big 12 championship and a BCS bid, but the Wildcats have greater aspirations. The Wildcats are no longer the underdog in the Big 12 or nationally, rising to No. 1 in the BCS this week. They’ll try to remain in the title game picture with a dangerous (on offense) Baylor team in Waco this week.

That’s not the only game in the Big 12 this week, but all eyes will be on Kansas State even as Oklahoma tries to state its BCS case, West Virginia tries to reverse course and Oklahoma State tries to keep its offense going despite quarterback questions.

Other Week 12 Previews and Predictions

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

Big 12’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 12:

How does Kansas State handle being No. 1?

So much of Kansas State’s identity is tied to its role of underdog. The Wildcats started last season unranked and finished 10-3. That didn’t help them in 2012, starting 22nd in the Associated Press poll and 27th in the preseason Athlon rankings. Many of their recruits have been overlooked by teams like Texas and Oklahoma, and a handful of others have had to go the junior college route. So, here’s Kansas State as the BCS No. 1 for the final two games of the season, starting this week at Baylor. With a national title game in sight, Kansas State’s response to the pressure of being the hunted will be intriguing, especially this week against Baylor’s potent offense. Kansas State has played top offenses before, but that included a West Virginia team that was beginning to fade and an Oklahoma State team that lost its quarterback partway through the Wildcats’ 44-30 win. Despite its 4-5 record, Baylor’s offense hasn’t let up all season, topping 424 yards in every game this year.

Which offensive player will star for Oklahoma against West Virginia?
Players from each of the last four teams who faced West Virginia earned Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors the week after they faced the Mountaineers. If that trend continues when the Sooners visit Morgantown, who will be the player to earn such honors. Of course, one candidate is Landry Jones, who has topped 250 passing yards in all but one game this season. Coach Bob Stoops expects center Gabe Ikard back, so that could open up the run game. The Sooners are two weeks removed from Brennan Clay rushing for 167 yards against Iowa State, and he’s not even the primary running back. Of Oklahoma players with at least 20 carries, all but Blake Bell average better than six yards per carry. Bell, a short-yardage specialist, still managed to run for a 55-yard touchdown last week against Baylor. But facing West Virginia also may bode well for receiver Kenny Stills -- two of the four Big 12 Offensive Players of the Week against West Virginia were wideouts.


How does Mike Gundy sort through his quarterback situation?
The Cowboys are 6-3 and fourth in the nation in total offense despite starting three quarterbacks this season. Not many teams could say the same, but now Mike Gundy has a dilemma. Clint Chelf, the third of those QBs, was 22 of 31 for 292 yards with four touchdowns and an interception in a 55-34 win over West Virginia last week. Freshman Wes Lunt, who opened the season as the starter, returns healthy. Gundy said this week Chelf has made fewer mistakes than Lunt or J.W. Walsh, who was believed to have a season-ending knee injury but practiced this week. Chelf may be the best quarterback right now, but Lunt’s long-term potential was the choice back in spring.

How worried should Texas Tech be about its run defense?
Texas Tech allowed 390 rushing yards last week to Kansas, dropping the Red Raiders’ rush defense from 125.9 yards per game to 152.3 in a single week. At first glance, that number may be skewed. After all, the 41-34 Texas Tech win went to double overtime. But Kansas still averaged 6.8 yards per carry in a game in which the Jayhawks attempted only 15 passes (completing six). In other words, Texas Tech knew Kansas would lean heavily on the run and still managed to get gashed in the run game. It’s a concern but also the only time Texas Tech allowed an opponent to top six yards per carry all year. Even with a quarterback quandary, Oklahoma State will strive for balance, but Joseph Randle is one of the Big 12’s best runners.

Will West Virginia find answers before the season is over?
The Mountaineers had nine dropped passes two weeks ago. Energy and effort has been inconsistent last week, players said. And then there have been turnovers (six in the last three weeks). Not only has West Virginia lost four in a row, the Mountaineers have been sloppy during the losing streak. In the last two weeks, the offense has bounced back to a degree, scoring 72 points in the last two games after scoring 28 total against Texas Tech and Kansas State. With Oklahoma this week and Iowa State and Kansas to finish up, West Virginia is running out of opportunities to make a statement before the postseason.

Can Iowa State turn its defense in time for a winning season?
Without linebacker Jake Knott, Iowa State allowed 593 yards to Oklahoma and 609 yards to Texas the last two weeks. At least the Cyclones have been balanced in their defensive ineffectiveness during that span. Iowa State’s last two opponents -- Kansas and West Virginia -- are struggling, too, but both teams can at least move the ball at times in one phase of the game. Kansas averages 213 rush yards per game, West Virginia averages 348 yards per game passing. Iowa State (5-5) will need to find answers fast if it’s going to finish the season with a winning record.

Week 12 Big 12 Predictions:

Week 12 Big 12 Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Texas Tech at Oklahoma St. Oklahoma St. 35-21 Oklahoma St. 31-21 Oklahoma St. 38-34 Oklahoma St. 34-30
Oklahoma at West Virginia Oklahoma 38-24 Oklahoma 41-31 Oklahoma 45-31 Oklahoma 55-30
Iowa State at Kansas Kansas 21-17 Iowa State 27-24 Iowa State 27-24 Kansas 24-20
Kansas State at Baylor K-State 42-27 K-State 38-31 K-State 48-34 K-State 44-28
Last week 4-1 5-0 4-1 5-0
Overall 49-14 50-13 48-15 52-11

by David Fox

@DavidFox615

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There is very little left in the Big Ten to be determined. Nebraska shouldn't be tested by either Minnesota or Iowa, so their ticket is all but punched to the title game. Wisconsin already has their hotel reservations in Indianapolis. 

However, there are some quality games to be seen this weekend. There are two great games in East Lansing and Madison. And coaches could be fighting for their jobs at Purdue, Iowa and dare I say, Illinois? Still plenty left to watch in the Midwest.

Big Ten's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 12:

1. Can the Badgers' underrated defense stop Braxton Miller?
The Wisconsin Badgers are going to Indianapolis regardless of how the final two games turn out — two tough ones against Ohio State and Penn State. However, if the Badgers can defeat both, they will claim a 5-0 record in the Leaders Division, taking the bad taste of ineligibility out of Jim Delany’s mouth. Wisconsin is rated No. 1 in the Big Ten in rushing defense and is No. 2 in the league in scoring. They haven’t allowed more than 16 points in a game since a road loss to Nebraska back in Week 5. Braxton Miller on the other hand, is well rested and is the front-runner to win Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. His team has averaged 46.2 points per game in its last five contests. Something has to give.

2. Buckeyes' D-Line vs. Wisconsin’s O-Line
The Badgers have rediscovered their ground game, rushing for a school-record 564 yards in last week’s dominating performance. A far cry from the horrendous first month of the season that saw Bret Bielema make an offensive line coaching switch just a few games into the season. Ohio State, meanwhile, struggled early to stop people, but is also rounding into form. On the ground, it allowed 74 yards to Illinois, 32 to Penn State and 117 to Purdue in its last three games. It had the week off to prepare for the burly Badgers and should they slow Montee Ball and company, Wisconsin will be hard pressed to defeat the Buckeyes with Curt Philips or Danny O’Brien under center. 

3. Can Northwestern finally win a big game?
The Wildcats have seven wins this fall. A home win over Vanderbilt is the best win of the season. Against Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State, Pat Fitzgerald’s team held their own but couldn’t steal a win, despite holding a double-digit lead in all three games. They get one more crack at a legit Big Ten power in East Lansing this weekend. Michigan State has played improved football of late and should be riding a two-game winning streak if not for some late-game heroics by Taylor Martinez and a few bad calls from the refs. At home, one has to think the Spartans' talent edge wins out once again and leaves Coach Fitz wondering what if once again.

4. Over/Under: 100 rushing attempts in East Lansing
The key to the sneaky good game between Northwestern and Michigan State will obviously be the ground game. Northwestern runs the ball 46.1 times per game and has topped the 50 attempt mark four times this year. Michigan State totes the rock 36.7 times per game with star runner Le’Veon Bell ranking behind only Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson in carries this season. Bell (283 carries, 1,249 yards, 10 TD) is leading the Big Ten in attempts and yards. Venric Mark (189 carries, 1,181, 10 TD) is No. 3 in carries and No. 3 in rushing. If either player gets to 30 carries, it could spell victory in a key bowl pecking order showdown in the Legends Division. I will take the over. 

5. Michigan seeks revenge over Iowa
The reeling Hawkeyes and embattled coach Kirk Ferentz have major issues to deal with in Iowa City. This program has essentially paid Ferentz $1 million per win this season and that simply won’t fly. One thing he has been able to do, however, is beat Michigan. He has won three straight over Michigan and was one of only two teams to defeat the Wolverines last season. You can bet that Denard Robinson on senior day in Ann Arbor won’t forget what has happened against the Hawkeyes during his time at Michigan. 

6. Will Rex Burkhead play on Senior Day?
Rex "Superman" Burkhead entered his final year in Lincoln as one of college football’s favorite sons. He is a hard worker who leads his team by example and can literally do anything on a football field. Well, a couple of knee issues have kept No. 22 off of the field for most of the year. He has played in only five games and has 47 total carries for 405 yards and three touchdowns. With Nebraska poised for a Big Ten title game and potential Rose Bowl, having Sexy Rexy healthy for the final two games of the year seems more important than a sure-fire win over Minnesota. But this is senior day in Lincoln and it would be a shame not see to Burkhead at least take the first snap and get the first carry, even if he takes a knee and trots off of the field with his head held high. We are rooting for you, Rex.

7. What to watch for in Happy Valley
There really isn’t much intrigue in the Indiana-Penn State game this weekend aside from the Hoosiers' far-fetched bowl dreams. There is no Senior Day to monitor or coaching rumors to speculate on. A miraculous road win over Penn State and then another road win over Purdue would actually get Indiana to a bowl game, but Penn State should roll and quietly earn its seventh win of the season. In and of itself, that is a great story for the Nittany Lion faithful who needed a quality season after having to deal with the last 12 months. If IU shows up like it did last weekend, this one will be in the books very early. 

8. Can Danny Hope keep his bowl hopes alive?
More importantly, can he keep his paychecks coming from Purdue University? Had his team not snatched victory from the jaws of defeat last weekend in Iowa, he might be staring at the unemployment line this winter. However, that vicotry has given Purdue new life as the final two games are very winnable. The Boilermakers face Illinois and Indiana to wrap up the year and two wins would get Hope’s team bowl eligible for the second straight season. If Robert Marve has more late-game heroics, it could save the coaching staff in West Lafayette. Otherwise, this is a tough game to get excited about.

Week 12 Big Ten Predictions:

Week 12 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Northwestern at Michigan St Michigan St, 27-24 Northwestern, 24-16 Michigan St, 27-24 Northwestern, 28-14
Indiana at Penn St Penn St, 31-20 Penn St, 37-27 Penn St, 34-24 Penn St, 35-14
Iowa at Michigan Michigan, 38-17 Michigan, 30-17 Michigan, 31-13 Michigan, 31-10
Ohio St at Wisconsin Ohio St, 27-17 Ohio St, 24-20 Ohio St, 27 Ohio St, 35-21
Purdue at Illinois Purdue, 24-14 Purdue, 28-14 Purdue, 24-20 Purdue, 17-10
Minnesota at Nebraska Nebraska, 41-20 Nebraska, 31-17 Nebraska, 34-17 Nebraska, 38-14
Last Week: 4-1 4-1 4-1 4-1
Yearly Totals: 69-15 65-19 70-14 65-19

Bye Week: None

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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The 2012 college football season has officially entered the home stretch. With bowl games officially around the corner, there's not much time for teams to get eligible or make up ground in a conference title race. 

College Football Week 12 Upset Predictions

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Stanford (+20.5) at Oregon 
May as well go big on the upset pick, that’s why I’m going to pick Stanford over Oregon. Injuries piled up last week for the Ducks against Cal, though Oregon expects most of its hobbled defensive linemen and running back Kenjon Barner back. I’m sure Oregon is confident it can win despite the injuries, but it was shocking how quickly and how often players went to the sideline for Oregon against Cal. Of course, no one is fully healthy this time of year. But Stanford is getting stronger, thanks primarily to the emergence of Kevin Hogan as starting quarterback. Making his first road start at Autzen won’t be easy, but he’ll be able to rely on Stepfan Taylor and the nation’s No. 1 rush defense in Eugene.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Ohio State (+3) at Wisconsin
In a light weekend of quality matchups, this game is one of the more intriguing showdowns for Week 12. Ohio State is coming off a much-needed bye week, while Wisconsin clinched a spot in the Big Ten title game with a win over Indiana. The Buckeyes have lost two out of their last three games in Madison and the only victory in that stretch was decided by three points. The off date came at a good time for Ohio State, as quarterback Braxton Miller was banged up from a busy first 10 weeks of the season. The sophomore leads the team with 184 carries and has totaled 2,919 yards and 27 touchdowns. The Buckeyes need a big game from Miller but that won’t be easy against a defense that has not allowed more than 16 points in each of its last five games. Wisconsin’s offense misses Joel Stave at quarterback, but the rushing attack has started to find its groove over the second half of the season. I think this game will be close once again, but as Miller has done throughout 2012, he’ll make one key play that clinches the victory for Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ defense has struggled with teams that can spread the field and throw the ball, but this should be a good matchup for Ohio State, especially considering Wisconsin ranks 108th nationally in passing offense. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): Northwestern (+6.5) at Michigan State
Northwestern is 7–3 overall and has had double-digit leads in the second half off all three losses — at Penn State, vs. Nebraska and at Michigan. This team could easily be in thick of the Legends Division race. Michigan State, a preseason top-20 team, has been a big disappointment in 2012. The Spartans are 5–5 overall and tied for last place in the Legends with a 2–4 record. The culprit has been an offense that is averaging only 19.7 points per game. Running back Le’Veon Ball has done his part, averaging 106.5 yards in Big Ten games, but Andrew Maxwell simply hasn’t been good enough at the quarterback position. The stout Spartan defense will pose some problems for Northwestern’s run-based offense, but Michigan State will have trouble scoring enough points to win this game — even at home. Northwestern 24–16 

Mark Ross: UCF (+3) over Tulsa
In what could be a preview of the Conference USA title game, the two current division leaders face off in Tulsa. UCF and Tulsa have identical conference (6-0) and overall records (8-2), but in some ways the Knights need this game more than the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa holds a two-game lead in the West over SMU, whom they play next week. Even if the Hurricane lose to the Knights, all they have to do is beat the Mustangs on Nov. 24 to secure their spot in the C-USA Championship Game. On the other hand, UCF is up only one game on East Carolina. Even though the Knights hold the tiebreaker over the Pirates, a road win over the Hurricane would all but ensure them the East crown as a home date with UAB is all that remains after this game. As far as this game goes, both teams like to run the ball, and even though Tulsa leads the conference in both rushing offense and defense, I think it's the Knights' rushing attack, with a helping hand from its defense (No. 1 in C-USA in both total and scoring defense), that is the difference in this one. UCF has faced a little stiffer competition outside of conference play, highlighted by close early-season losses to Ohio State and Missouri, compared to Tulsa (road losses to Iowa State and Arkansas). I also think the Knights are a little more balanced on both sides of the ball than the Hurricane. These two teams may very well end up playing each other again on Dec. 1, but whether that happens or not, I see the Knights winning this round. 

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): Rutgers (+6.5) at Cincinnati
The Bearcats performed well on offense versus Temple last week, with Brendon Kay getting his first career start after he replaced at interception-laden Munchie Legaux at quarterback. And Cincinnati has the Big East’s leading running attack with George Winn, plus home-field advantage in this game. However, I am going to take the 8-1 Scarlet Knights to play their usual stingy defense and win in the Queen City. Khaseem Greene and company rank fifth nationally in   scoring defense (13.4 points per game allowed), and they were able to shut down the UC running attack in last year’s 20-3 victory. Jawan Jamison and the RU offense will have a challenge against the Bearcats defense, but I see Kyle Flood’s team winning a low-scoring affair and staying unbeaten in conference play.

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 12 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 12 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 12 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 12 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 12 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 12 Preview and Predictions

Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 12 Upset Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 04:58
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-positional-rankings-week-11
Body:

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

2012 NFL Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings

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

Week 11 Start or Sit

Week 11 Waiver Wire

Note: Minnesota, the New York Giants, Seattle and Tennessee are all on bye this week.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

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

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

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings: Week 11</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 04:40
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-quarterback-rankings-week-11
Body:

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

Minnesota, the New York Giants, Seattle and Tennessee are all on bye this week.

2012 NFL Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Aaron Rodgers GB at DET A-Rodg is 6-1 in career vs. Lions, 16 TDs, 4 INTs.
2 Drew Brees NO at OAK Raiders gave up 341-3 to Flacco last week.
3 Tom Brady NE vs. IND First game vs. Colts' new franchise QB.
4 Peyton Manning DEN vs. SD Manning put up 309-3-1 in Week 6 win in SD.
5 Robert Griffin III WAS vs. PHI RGIII comes off of bye to face Eagles for 1st time.
6 Matt Ryan ATL vs. ARI Threw for career-high 411 yards in loss to Saints.
7 Matthew Stafford DET vs. GB Has thrown 3 TD passes in two of last 3 games.
8 Andrew Luck IND at NE Patriots allowing fourth-most fantasy points to QBs.
9 Carson Palmer OAK vs. NO Has posted 782-6-4 in last two games combined.
10 Cam Newton CAR vs. TB Buccaneers last in pass defense (321 ypg).
11 Tony Romo DAL vs. CLE Two straight games w/o an INT.
12 Josh Freeman TB at CAR Hasn't thrown an interception in 4 games.
13 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF vs. MIA (Thurs.) Dolphins are 28th against the pass.
14 Andy Dalton CIN at KC Torched Giants for 4 TD passes last week.
15 Philip Rivers SD at DEN Six TOs (4 INTs, 2 fumbles) in Week 6 L to Broncos.
16 Matt Schaub HOU vs. JAC Only threw for 195 yards last time out vs. Jags.
17 Joe Flacco BAL at PIT Has 10:4 TD:INT ratio in 8 games (4-4) vs. Steelers.
18 Sam Bradford STL vs. NYJ Steady, solid (275-2-0) in last week's tie vs. 49ers.
19 Alex Smith SF vs. CHI (Mon.) Sustained concussion last week, expected to play.
20 Ryan Tannehill MIA at BUF Trying to shake off 3 INTs vs. Titans last week.
21 Brandon Weeden CLE at DAL Cowboys are No. 7 in pass defense.
22 Nick Foles PHI at WAS Should make first career NFL start in place of Vick.
23 Byron Leftwich PIT vs. BAL Big Ben (shoulder) out at least a week, if not more.
24 John Skelton ARI at ATL Getting very little help from offensive line.
25 Mark Sanchez NYJ at STL Completed just 9 passes (124-0-1) vs. Seahawks.
26 Jason Campbell CHI at SF (Mon.) Cutler (concussion) not expected to play.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 11 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 11 Waiver Wire

Week 11 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings: Week 11</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 04:39
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-running-back-rankings-week-11
Body:

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

Minnesota, the New York Giants, Seattle and Tennessee are all on bye.

2012 NFL Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Arian Foster HOU vs. JAC Foster has two straight 100-yard games.
2 Ray Rice BAL at PIT Steelers gave up 100 to Jamaal Charles last week.
3 LeSean McCoy PHI at WAS Heavier workload likely w/ Vick (concussion) out.
4 Doug Martin TB at CAR Has 100+ total yds. of offense in 5 straight games.
5 Stevan Ridley NE vs. IND Leads all RBs in first downs (54).
6 Jamaal Charles KC vs. CIN Posted third 100-yard effort vs. Steelers last week.
7 C.J. Spiller BUF vs. MIA (Thurs.) Spiller will be busy with F. Jackson (concussion) out.
8 Alfred Morris WAS vs. PHI Rookie is 7th in league in rushing (793) yards.
9 Trent Richardson CLE at DAL Rookie gets opportunity to shine in Jerry's House.
10 Willis McGahee DEN vs. SD Gained 56 yards on ground vs. Chargers in Week 6.
11 Frank Gore SF vs. CHI (Mon.) Kaepernick, Bears D both could limit Gore's impact.
12 Matt Forte CHI at SF (Mon.) No Cutler makes matchup with 49ers even tougher.
13 Ryan Mathews SD at DEN Still looking for first 100-yard game of season.
14 Reggie Bush MIA at BUF (Thurs.) Bills have yielded most rushing TDs (14) to RBs.
15 Steven Jackson STL vs. NYJ Posted first 100-yard game of season against 49ers.
16 Michael Turner ATL vs. ARI Held to season-low 15 yards last week by Saints.
17 Mikel Leshoure DET vs. GB Packers tied for 10th in rushing defense.
18 Marcel Reece OAK vs. NO Did his part as rusher and receiver last week.
19 Felix Jones DAL vs. CLE Will see fewer carries if Murray (foot) is back.
20 BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN at KC Chiefs held Steelers to only 95 yds. rushing.
21 Shonn Greene NYJ at STL Greene is averaging only 3.7 yards per carry.
22 LaRod Stephens-Howling ARI at ATL Falcons only 25th against the run.
23 Jonathan Stewart CAR vs. TB Not taking advantage of opportunity as lead back.
24 Daniel Thomas MIA at BUF (Thurs.) If Reggie falters, he'll see even more touches.
25 Darren Sproles NO at OAK May be able to return from hand surgery this week.
26 Jonathan Dwyer PIT vs. BAL Led team in carries and yards against Chiefs.
27 Donald Brown IND at NE More carries (14 to 12) than Ballard last week.
28 James Starks GB at DET Should get more work than Alex Green.
29 Rashad Jennings JAC at HOU Texans have not allowed a rushing TD this season.
30 Chris Ivory NO at OAK Has made an impact in Sproles' absence.
31 Mark Ingram NO at OAK He's been a different runner in last few weeks.
32 Vick Ballard IND at NE Patriots are 9th against the run.
33 Isaac Redman PIT vs. BAL Got the start, but Dwyer did more damage.
34 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL vs. ARI Has 13 receptions over last three games.
35 Danny Woodhead NE vs. IND Scored rushing and receiving TD last week vs. Bills.
36 Alex Green GB at DET James Starks expected to get bulk of carries.
37 DeAngelo Williams CAR vs. TB Slowly earning coaching staff's trust back.
38 Pierre Thomas NO at OAK Could see reduced role if Sproles (hand) is back.
39 Michael Bush CHI at SF (Mon.) Averaged 11.3 ypc last week, but also fumbled.
40 Joique Bell DET vs. GB Productive if he makes touches count.
41 Peyton Hillis KC vs. CIN Got 10 carries (30 yds.) against Steelers.
42 Kendall Hunter SF vs. CHI (Mon.) Gore's sore ribs could result in more work vs. Bears.
43 Daryl Richardson STL vs. NYJ Averaging 8.4 attempts over last 5 games.
44 Ben Tate HOU vs. JAC Could be back (hamstring) this week.
45 Taiwan Jones OAK vs. NO May get opportunity to impress this week.
46 Ronnie Brown SD at DEN Has 3+ catches in every game he's played.
47 DeMarco Murray DAL vs. CLE May be back (foot) this week, monitor status.
48 Rashard Mendenhall PIT vs. BAL May return (Achilles) this week, monitor status.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 11 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 11 Waiver Wire

Week 11 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings: Week 11</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 04:38
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-wide-receiver-rankings-week-11
Body:

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

Minnesota, the New York Giants, Seattle and Tennessee are all on bye.

2012 NFL Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Calvin Johnson DET vs. GB Put up 12-207-1 last week against Vikings.
2 A.J. Green CIN at KC Has caught a TD in eight straight games.
3 Reggie Wayne IND at NE Leads NFL w/ 69 receptions, but only 3 TDs.
4 Roddy White ATL vs. ARI Has posted back-to-back 100-yard games.
5 Demaryius Thomas DEN vs. SD Put up 2-27-1 in Week 6 against Chargers.
6 Marques Colston NO at OAK Has a TD in five of last six games.
7 Wes Welker NE vs. IND No TDs in last three games.
8 Vincent Jackson TB at CAR Only 4-47 against Panthers in Week 1.
9 Julio Jones ATL vs. ARI Left w/ shin injury, but returned to game.
10 Brandon Marshall CHI at SF (Mon.) Lone offensive bright spot (8-107) vs. HOU.
11 Larry Fitzgerald ARI at ATL Only one 100-yard game, 4 TDs thus far.
12 Eric Decker DEN vs. SD Saw five-game streak w/ TD end last week.
13 Steve Smith CAR vs. TB Bucs allowing second-most pts. to WRs.
14 Randall Cobb GB at DET Cobb has five TDs in last three games.
15 Andre Johnson HOU vs. JAC Had just 3 rec., 21 yds. in Week 2 vs. Jags.
16 Denarius Moore OAK vs. NO Saints allowing most fantasy pts. to WRs.
17 Miles Austin DAL vs. CLE Last TD came in Week 7.
18 Jordy Nelson GB at DET Should be ready after injuring ankle last game.
19 Dez Bryant DAL vs. CLE Averaged 29 ypc on 3 rec. last week.
20 Stevie Johnson BUF vs. MIA (Thurs.) Only one TD since Week 3.
21 Torrey Smith BAL at PIT Both catches last week went for TDs.
22 Mike Wallace PIT vs. BAL Leftwich, not Big Ben will be pulling trigger.
23 Danny Amendola STL vs. NYJ Caught 11 for 102 in return from injury.
24 DeSean Jackson PHI at WAS Averaging 16.3 ypc.
25 James Jones GB at DET Tied for 2nd in league with 8 TD catches.
26 Dwayne Bowe KC vs. CIN No TDs since Week 4.
27 Jeremy Maclin PHI at WAS Dealing with back strain, watch status.
28 Brandon Lloyd NE vs. IND Colts giving up fourth-most fantasy pts to WRs.
29 Malcom Floyd SD at DEN Has a TD in two straight games.
30 Mike Williams TB at CAR Averaged 32 yards on two catches last week.
31 Brian Hartline MIA at BUF (Thurs.) Tenth in the NFL in receiving yards (741).
32 Darrius Heyward-Bey OAK vs. NO Saints have given up 14 TD catches to WRs.
33 Michael Crabtree SF vs. CHI (Mon.) Has caught three TDs in last two games.
34 Lance Moore NO at OAK Had 7 rec. for 91 yards last week vs. Falcons.
35 Cecil Shorts JAC at HOU Put up 6-105-1 last week vs. Colts.
36 Titus Young DET vs. GB Hauled in fourth TD catch last week.
37 Jeremy Kerley NYJ at STL Has seen 8+ targets each of last 3 games.
38 Anquan Boldin BAL at PIT Steelers have allowed only 7 TD rec. by WRs.
39 Andre Roberts ARI at ATL Averaged 21.5 ypc last week vs. Packers.
40 Danario Alexander SD at DEN Put up 5-134-1 last week vs. Tampa Bay.
41 Donnie Avery IND at NE Only TD catch came in Week 1.
42 Josh Gordon CLE at DAL Long plays haven't been there last 2 games.
43 Santana Moss WAS vs. PHI Left last game w/ concussion, should be OK.
44 Emmanuel Sanders PIT vs. BAL Seven targets, only 2 rec. last week.
45 Brandon LaFell CAR vs. TB Bucs have given up most rec. (140) to WRs.
46 Laurent Robinson JAC at HOU Has 15 catches, 24 targets in last two games.
47 Davone Bess MIA at BUF (Thurs.) Has 42 catches, but no TDs.
48 T.Y. Hilton IND at NE Two rushes (30 yds.), no catches last week.
49 Brandon Stokley DEN vs. SD Posted 4-48-1 vs. Chargers in Week 6.
50 Greg Little CLE at DAL Cowboys have given up 6 TD passes to WRs.
51 Leonard Hankerson WAS vs. PHI Just one TD catch on the season.
52 Chris Givens STL vs. NYJ Inactive (suspended) last week, monitor status.
53 Harry Douglas ATL vs. ARI Stepped up when Jones left w/ injury.
54 Justin Blackmon JAC at HOU Longest catch on the season is 36 yards.
55 Donald Jones BUF vs. MIA (Thurs.) Posted 6-74-1 last week against Patriots.
56 Andrew Hawkins CIN at KC Caught first TD since Week 3 last week.
57 Stephen Hill NYJ at STL Didn’t catch a pass last week vs. Seahawks.
58 Randy Moss SF vs. CHI (Mon.) Two or fewer rec. in each of last six games.
59 Brandon Gibson STL vs. NYJ Just three rec. in each of last two games.
60 Ryan Broyles DET vs. GB Only one catch for 6 yards last week.
61 Mario Manningham SF vs. CHI (Mon.) Just one catch for 20 yards last week.
62 Kevin Walter HOU vs. JAC Groin issue has bothered him last few weeks.
63 Kevin Ogletree DAL vs. CLE No catches last week, scored TD in Week 9.
64 Earl Bennett CHI at SF (Mon.) Not seeing enough targets to be relevant.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 11 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 11 Waiver Wire

Week 11 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 11</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 04:37
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-kicker-rankings-week-11
Body:

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

Minnesota, the New York Giants, Seattle and Tennessee are all on bye.

2012 NFL Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Matt Bryant ATL vs. ARI
2 Stephen Gostkowski NE vs. IND
3 Sebastian Janikowski OAK vs. NO
4 Justin Tucker BAL at PIT
5 Jason Hanson DET vs. GB
6 David Akers SF vs. CHI (Mon.)
7 Greg Zuerlein STL vs. NYJ
8 Connor Barth TB at CAR
9 Robbie Gould CHI at SF (Mon.)
10 Matt Prater DEN vs. SD
11 Shayne Graham HOU vs. JAC
12 Garrett Hartley NO at OAK
13 Mason Crosby GB at DET
14 Dan Bailey DAL vs. CLE
15 Nick Novak SD at DEN
16 Kai Forbath WAS vs. PHI

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 11 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Week 11 Waiver Wire

Week 11 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings: Week 11</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 04:35
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-tight-end-rankings-week-11
Body:

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

Minnesota, the New York Giants, Seattle and Tennessee all are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Jimmy Graham NO at OAK Three straight games with at least one TD.
2 Rob Gronkowski NE vs. IND Has five TD catches in last 3 games.
3 Tony Gonzalez ATL vs. ARI Broke out of scoring slump w/ 2 TDs.
4 Jason Witten DAL vs. CLE Has 6+ receptions in 6 straight games.
5 Antonio Gates SD at DEN Had best game (9-81-2) in Week 6 vs. DEN.
6 Heath Miller PIT vs. BAL Has 4+ receptions in every game but one.
7 Owen Daniels HOU vs. JAC Did not play (hip) last week, monitor status.
8 Vernon Davis SF vs. CHI (Mon.) No touchdowns since Week 3.
9 Greg Olsen CAR vs. TB Put up 9-102-2 against Broncos last week.
10 Aaron Hernandez NE vs. IND DNP (ankle) last week, monitor status.
11 Jermaine Gresham CIN at KC Only 3 catches, but did have TD last week.
12 Brandon Pettigrew DET vs. GB Caught just his second TD pass last week.
13 Dustin Keller NYJ at STL  
14 Brent Celek PHI at WAS Redskins allowing second-most pts. to TEs.
15 Scott Chandler BUF vs. MIA (Thurs.) Posted 8-65-1 against Patriots last week.
16 Dwayne Allen IND at NE Fleener (shoulder) ruled out this week.
17 Brandon Myers OAK vs. NO Sustained concussion last week, monitor status.
18 Jermichael Finley GB at DET Should be rested and healthy coming off of bye.
19 Dennis Pitta BAL at PIT Caught first TD since Week 3 last week.
20 Joel Dreessen DEN vs. SD Chargers have allowed only 2 TDs to TEs.
21 Logan Paulsen WAS vs. PHI Has 14 catches in last 3 games.
22 Jacob Tamme DEN vs. SD His only TD so far came back in Week 1.
23 Rob Housler ARI at ATL Falcons have allowed sixth-most fantasy pts. to TEs.
24 Dallas Clark TB at CAR Made his one catch count (TD) last week.
25 Anthony Fasano MIA at BUF (Thurs.) Has just one reception in each of last 3 games.
26 Marcedes Lewis JAC at HOU Only 2 TDs, last one coming in Week 4.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 11 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 11 Waiver Wire

Week 11 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings: Week 11</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 04:26
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-11
Body:

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

Minnesota, the New York Giants, Seattle and Tennessee are all on bye.

2012 NFL Week 11 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

Rk Player OPPONENT Notes
1 Houston Texans vs. JAC Texans gave up 6 pts, forced 4 TOs in win over Bears.
2 Chicago Bears at SF (Mon.) Lead league with 19 INTs, 30 total takeaways.
3 San Francisco 49ers vs. CHI (Mon.) 49ers likely will face Campbell, not Cutler.
4 Denver Broncos vs. SD Broncos forced six turnovers in Week 6 win vs. Chargers.
5 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. BAL Steelers No. 1 in total and pass defense.
6 Baltimore Ravens at PIT Ravens prepare for Leftwich, not Big Ben.
7 Atlanta Falcons vs. ARI Falcons give up season-high 31 pts in loss to Saints.
8 Cincinnati Bengals at KC Bengals picked Eli off twice, sacked him 4 times.
9 Dallas Cowboys vs. CLE Cowboys get first defensive/special teams TDs of season.
10 New York Jets at STL Jets are 6th against pass, 30th against run.
11 St. Louis Rams vs. NYJ Jets' offense continues to struggle.
12 Green Bay Packers at DET Packers had extra week to rest up, prepare for Lions.
13 Washington Redskins vs. PHI Redskins likely to face rookie Foles instead of Vick.
14 New England Patriots vs. IND Patriots' 29th-ranked pass defense to be tested by Luck.
15 Tampa Bay Buccaneers at CAR Can Newton take advantage of Bucs' pass D (No. 30)?
16 Arizona Cardinals at ATL No. 2 pass defense vs. No. 4 pass offense.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 11 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers

Week 11 Waiver Wire

Week 11 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 11</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 04:24
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-12-sit-or-start-report
Body:

The 2012 college fantasy season is winding down but most importantly, Week 12 is all about the playoffs. 

Start

Keenan Reynolds, QB-Navy vs Texas St

Reynolds has been red-hot over the past three weeks and faces a Texas State defense allowing 211.7 rushing yards per game.

 

Jordan Parker, RB-MTSUat South Alabama

After carrying the ball 32 times for 149 yards two weeks ago against Western Kentucky, Parker has proven that he can be a workhorse back.  This week, the freshman running back faces a South Alabama defense giving up over 150 rushing yards per game.

 

Storm Woods, RB-Oregon St vs Cal

After rushing for 94 yards on 15 carries last week against the nation’s No. 1 run defense, Woods is primed to reach the century mark for the first time since Week 5.

 

Tre Mason, RB-Auburn vs Alabama A&M

Mason is nothing more than a one-week value play, but a matchup against Alabama A&M makes him worth a Week 12 start.

 

Justin Brown, WR-Oklahoma at West Virginia

We’re expecting Brown to have his biggest game of the season against the nation’s worst pass defense.  West Virginia is allowing over 340 yards per game in the air and has allowed 27 touchdown passes.

 

JD McKissic, WR-Arkansas St at Troy

McKissic will attempt to find the end zone for the first time since week seven against a defense that has given up 22 touchdown passes and is allowing 255.6 passing yards per game.

 

Jamison Crowder, WR-Duke at Georgia Tech

Expect Crowder to get a lot of looks this Saturday against a defense giving up 256.3 passing yards per game.

 

Bench

David Fales, QB-San Jose St vs BYU

Fales has had a nice five-game stretch, but the competition gets much tougher this week when he takes on the Cougars’ 10th-ranked pass defense.

 

Jawan Jamison, RB-Rutgers at Cincinnati

On Monday, Jamison was 50-50 to play with an ankle injury.  Even if the junior running back can give it a go on Saturday, he’ll be facing a Cincinnati defense that has only allowed 130 rushing yards per game and seven rushing touchdowns through nine games.

 

Marcus Sales, WR-Syracuse at Missouri

Sales has only caught six passes over the past two games, so we are not going to risk our playoff lives with a cold receiver on the road against a solid SEC defense.

 

Zac Stacy, RB-Vanderbiltvs Tennessee

Stacy is probable to play this week against Tennessee, but he has only totaled 18 carries over the past three games.  Without the guarantee of a 20-plus carry game, fantasy owners would be wise to sit him in the semi-finals.

 

Tyler Bray, QB-Tennessee at Vanderbilt

Bray has thrown 13 touchdown passes in the past three games, but this week he faces a Vanderbilt defense that has only given up five touchdown passes all season.

 

by Joe DiSalvo

For Start/Bench advice from Joe DiSalvo, send an email to:  joe@thecffsite.com

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 12 Sit or Start Report</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 03:30
All taxonomy terms: MLB, Monthly
Path: /monthly/has-any-major-league-baseball-player-ever-come-back-team-he-started-three-times
Body:

Has any major league baseball player ever come back to the team he started with three times? 

— Larry Luttrell, Lubbock, Texas
 

When you think of well-traveled ballplayers, you think of Rickey Henderson, and sure enough, Rickey had four separate tenures with the Oakland A’s. He broke in with the A’s as a 20-year-old in 1979, spending six largely successful seasons before heading east for a stint with the Yankees. He returned to Oakland during the 1989 season, helping the A’s win the World Series that year and then earning AL MVP honors in 1990. He was dealt to Toronto at the trade deadline in 1993 and helped the Blue Jays win a World Series, before returning to the Bay for the 1994 season. After stints in San Diego and Anaheim, Rickey returned to Oakland for one final season, leading the league in steals (with 66) and walks (with 118) as a 39-year-old in 1998. Henderson wasn’t done as a player, hanging on for five more seasons, but 1998 was his last year in the familiar yellow and green. 
Teaser:
<p> Has any major league baseball player ever come back to the team he started with three times?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 15:07
All taxonomy terms: Miami Marlins, MLB
Path: /mlb/miami-marlins-all-fire-sale-team
Body:

The Miami Marlins didn’t have a good first year. Even with a new stadium, a new name, new unis, it was still the same old Marlins as it related to on-field results. This week, the Marlins traded away every highly paid contributing member of their organization not named Giancarlo Stanton.

Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and Josh Johnson were traded this week to Toronto (assuming MLB approval) for a disgruntled mediocre shortstop, two other Blue Jays and a host of talented prospects from their minor-league system.

This isn’t the first time, however, that the Marlins' front office has completely decimated its roster. At least, this time it happened for a reason — a 69-93 record in 2012. The two previous fire sales happened directly after winning World Series in 1997 and 2003.

The collection of bizarre and sometimes insane maneuvers has created a who’s who of traded Marlins. Here is Athlon Sports' Marlins' All-Fire Sale Team. And this list below doesn’t include two huge trades that also appeared to be give-ups: Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis to Detroit in 2007 and Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett and Guillermo Mota in 2006 to Boston. Or the give-up on Hanley Ramirez this mid-season that was really the only quality chip the Marlins got in return for Beckett, Lowell and Mota.

Note: To be included on this list the player must have been traded immediately after either the 1997 or 2003 World Series Championships or included in the ridiculous salary dump that took place this week.

The Marlins' All-Fire Sale Team:

C: Pudge Rodriguez
This Hall of Famer might be one of the greatest catchers to ever play the game and he was clearly the most important and most valuable player on the 2003 championship squad. He hit .297 with 16 homers, 85 RBIs, 90 runs scored and played in 144 games behind the plate. Other options at backstop include Charles Johnson, who started on the 1997 title team and was traded in May of 1998. This is also the team that traded away Mike Piazza after only five games in a Marlins uniform.

1B: Derrek Lee
After six years, 129 homers, 417 RBIs and an .822 OPS in South Florida, the Marlins got rid off one of the most underrated first basemen of his era. A tremendous athlete who also stole 51 bases in his Marlins career, Lee had an excellent glove at first and was one of the key cogs to the 2003 World Series run.

2B: Emilio Bonifacio
This speedster has dealt with injuries, but he has played all over the outfield and infield in South Florida. He hit .271 and stole 103 bases in four seasons with the Marlins and had his best season in the majors in 2011.

3B: Jeff Conine
In his first stint with the Marlins, Conine hit .291 with 98 homers and 422 RBIs in five seasons yet was discharged following the 1997 championship. He eventually returned to South Beach and has become a strange staple of the franchise (he actually played 25 games in 2003 as well). Bobby Bonilla was also traded shortly after the 1997 title in the Charles Johnson, Gary Sheffield trade. Miguel Cabrera was also sent packing but it came four years after the 2003 World Series in which he played as a 20-year old.

SS: Jose Reyes
The $106-million man had a solid first season in Miami. He hit .287 with 40 stolen bases, 86 runs scored, 60 extra-base hits and led the league in plate appearances (716). I guess they learned enough in year one of a six-year deal to send him packing.

OF: Moises Alou
The batting glove-less Alou is a career .303 hitter in over 7,000 at-bats. He played for one year for the Marlins during their World Series run in 1997, hitting .292 with 23 homers and 115 RBIs. He played in Houston the next four seasons.

OF: Gary Sheffield
Okay, this one was shoe-horned a bit since he didn’t technically get traded until May. This guy has 509 career dingers and a career .292 batting average and he went on to play a decade more of baseball in Los Angeles, New York (both teams) and Detroit.

OF: Devon White
He certainly wasn’t the superstar centerfielder he was when Toronto won its back-to-back World Series titles, but he was still a very productive member of the Marlins for two seasons. He had a great glove in center and produced 23 bombs, 35 stolen bases and 110 runs scored in less than 800 at-bats in two seasons for the Marlins. He played four more years for three more teams after departing South Beach.

SP: Josh Johnson
Certainly, injuries have plagued the young phenom’s upside all his career. But when healthy, there have been few pitchers as dominant as Jo-Jo. He led the NL in ERA (2.30) in 2010 and boasts a career 3.15 ERA in 916.2 career innings pitched. He is 56-37 as a starter on some bad Marlins teams and should he stay healthy, could become an ace once again in the AL East.

SP: Kevin Brown
The six-time All-Star led the league in ERA in 1996 (1.89) and 2000 (2.58) and has always been considered one of the nastier pitchers of his era. He went 16-8 with a 2.69 ERA in 237.1 innings in 1997 as the ace of the Marlins' championship staff. He pitched eight more seasons in the bigs for the Padres, Dodgers and Yankees.

SP: Al Leiter
The 19-year vet helped take multiple franchises to the World Series including his championship run with the Marlins in 1997. He then landed as a Met and served as the ace for them — going 46-26 in three years following his departure from Miami. 

SP: Mark Buehrle
After 12 dependable and championship-caliber seasons in Chicago as a White Sox, Mr. Consistent signed a big contract with Miami. He won 13 games with a 3.74 ERA in over 200 innings pitched. What more do you want from a No. 2? Not enough to justify the money at 34 years of age obviously.

RP: Robb Nen
Nen was the shutdown closer the Marlins used to help win the 1997 championship. He saved 35 games, struck out 81 batters in 74.0 innings and went 9-3 overall. He went on to save at least 40 games in four of his last five seasons — all with the Giants immediately following the 1997 World Series.

- By Braden Gall

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> The Florida/Miami Marlins have made a habit of trading away all of their good players.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 14:28
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-10-key-games-week-12-0
Body:

College football's Week 12 schedule is highlighted by two huge battles in the Pac-12. Stanford visits Oregon in a game that likely will decide the South Division champion, while USC makes the short trip to UCLA for the game of the year in the South.  

Stanford (+20.5) at Oregon
It’s a testament to Oregon’s dominance that the Ducks are favored by nearly three touchdowns against the second-best team in the Pac-12 North — and maybe the second-best team in the entire league. Stanford has been solid in 2012, with an overall mark of 8–2 and a 6–1 record in the league. Oregon, however, has been completely dominant. Consider the following: The Ducks have won their seven Pac-12 games by an average margin of 33.7 points and are outgaining their opponents by 161.8 yards per game. USC is the only team that has made Oregon sweat, but the Ducks still led by 10 points or more for all but six minutes in their 62–51 win at the L.A. Coliseum. Stanford will have to run the ball effectively against Oregon’s ordinary rush defense (fifth in the league) and hope to force some turnovers.
Oregon 48–28

Ohio State (+3) at Wisconsin
Wisconsin wrapped up a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game with an emphatic 62–14 win at Indiana on Saturday. The Badgers rushed for an astounding 564 yards and seven touchdowns, led by Montee Ball (198 yards) and James White (161). UW’s dominance on the ground allowed the coaching staff to protect quarterback Curt Phillips, an oft-injured fifth-year senior who was making his first career start. Phillips only attempted seven passes for the entire game. The Badgers figure to need some semblance of offensive balance against Ohio State on Saturday. The Buckeyes rank 16th nationally in rushing defense, though they did give up 223 yards on the ground to Nebraska and 224 to California. Ohio State has a two-game lead on Wisconsin in the Leaders Division but is not eligible for postseason play due to NCAA sanctions.
Ohio State 24–20

USC (-4) at UCLA
USC has been arguably the most disappointing team in the nation in 2012. UCLA has been one of the biggest surprises. The result: UCLA is one-half game up on its cross-town rival in the Pac-12 South and controls its own destiny to play in the league title game. The Bruins’ roster isn’t stocked with elite players but does have star power at two crucial positions — quarterback (Brett Hundley) and tailback (Johnathan Franklin). Hundley, a redshirt freshman, ranks second in the Pac-12 in total offense (301.1 ypg), and Franklin, a senior, ranks sixth nationally in rushing (127.0 ypg). The key for UCLA, however, will be on defense, where the Bruins must find a way to slow down the USC passing attack. UCLA ranks 103rd in the nation in pass defense and has given up 22 pass plays of 30 yards or more, the most in the Pac-12. That number figures to increase after Marqise Lee and Robert Woods are done with the UCLA secondary.
USC 41–34

Rutgers (+6.5) at Cincinnati
Rutgers is the only unbeaten team in Big East play after Louisville’s loss on Saturday at Syracuse. The Scarlet Knights, though, have the toughest remaining schedule of the contenders, with trips to Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and a home game with Louisville. A bigger concern for coach Kyle Flood has to be his team’s performance of late. The Knights lost at home to Kent State two weeks ago and then struggled with Army this past weekend. Rutgers was outgained 337-to-252 and didn’t hold its first lead until midway through the fourth quarter. Cincinnati rolled past Temple 34–10 in Brendon Kay’s first start at quarterback. Kay, a senior who beat out Munchie Legaux, completed 13-of-21 for 244 yards and two touchdowns and added 71 yards on the ground. The Bearcats are playing good football and are the better team.
Cincinnati 27–17

Duke (+12.5) at Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech has played its way into the ACC Coastal Division race with consecutive wins at Maryland and North Carolina. The Yellow Jackets, 4–3 in the league, need to beat Duke this Saturday and then for Duke to beat Miami the following week. That would leave Tech all alone in first place with a 5–3 record. Duke controls its own destiny but needs to win at Georgia Tech and beat Miami at home to claim its first-ever division crown. Duke’s first order of business is finding a way to slow down Georgia Tech’s powerful offense. The Jackets rushed for 380 yards and seven touchdowns and threw for 208 yards and one score (on only seven completions) in a 68–50 win at North Carolina on Saturday. This is not a good matchup for a Duke team that ranks 85th in the nation in rushing defense and has given up an average of 43.8 points in its last four games.
Georgia Tech 44–30

Northwestern (+6.5) at Michigan State
Northwestern is 7–3 overall and has had double-digit leads in the second half of all three losses — at Penn State, vs. Nebraska and at Michigan. This team could easily be in thick of the Legends Division race. Michigan State, a preseason top-20 team, has been a big disappointment in 2012. The Spartans are 5–5 overall and tied for last place in the Legends with a 2–4 record. The culprit has been an offense that is averaging only 19.7 points per game. Running back Le’Veon Ball has done his part, averaging 106.5 yards in Big Ten games, but Andrew Maxwell simply hasn’t been good enough at the quarterback position. The stout Spartan defense will pose some problems for Northwestern’s run-based offense, but Michigan State will have trouble scoring enough points to win this game — even at home.
Northwestern 24–16

Oklahoma (-10.5) at West Virginia
This was expected to be one of the marquee games in the Big 12 this season. But that was before we knew just how bad West Virginia would be at preventing their opponents from gaining yards and scoring points. In league play, the Mountaineers are giving up an average of 517.8 yards and 51.0 points per game. Last weekend, Oklahoma State became the third team this season to score at least 55 points against WVU. Oklahoma could be the fourth. The Sooners have scored 35 points or more in all but one league game, a 24–19 loss to Kansas State in September. Landry Jones isn’t having a Heisman-worthy season, but the senior quarterback is averaging just under 300 yards passing per game and has 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions. It will be a shock if he doesn’t have at least 20 touchdowns after Saturday’s trip to Morgantown.
Oklahoma 55–30

UCF (+3) at Tulsa
These two teams likely will meet again in the Conference USA title game in a few weeks, with the winner serving as the host. Tulsa hasn’t missed a beat since Todd Graham bolted for Pittsburgh two years ago. Bill Blankenship, who coached in the high school ranks until 2005, is 13–1 in C-USA since taking over at his alma mater. The Golden Hurricane have two losses in 2012, at Iowa State by 15 and at Arkansas by four. UCF, too, has only lost to AQ conference teams, by 15 at Ohio State and by five at home to Missouri. The Knights struggled at home against a bad Southern Miss team in mid-October, but have been very impressive against the rest of the league.
UCF 31–27

Ole Miss (+18.5) at LSU
Ole Miss is now 0-for-2 in its attempts to become bowl-eligible. The Rebels appeared to be in control Saturday night against Vanderbilt after taking a 23–6 lead early in the third quarter, but the Commodores stormed back to claim a 27–26 win on a touchdown with just over one minute to play. Ole Miss has played well in recent trips to Baton Rouge: The Rebels are 4–4 in their last eight at Tiger Stadium with three of the losses coming by three points or fewer and the other by seven points. LSU has played well offensively the past two weeks, due in large part to the improved play of quarterback Zach Mettenberger. In his first four SEC games, Mettenberger completed 46.2 percent of his passes with one touchdown and two interceptions; in his last two games, he has completed 66.2 percent with three touchdowns and no picks.
LSU 37–21

Syracuse (+4) at Missouri
This is a strange late-season non-conference game between two 5–5 teams searching for a sixth win to become bowl-eligible. There is far more pressure on Missouri, who still has to play at Texas A&M, to win this game. Syracuse, on the other hand, ends the season with Temple, which has lost four straight. This team will still get its sixth win at some point. Syracuse is coming off its best performance of the season, a surprisingly easy 45–26 victory at home against previously undefeated Louisville. The Orange ran for 278 yards and threw for 246, and have now had at least 475 yards in each of their last five games. Missouri won its first SEC road game last week — 51–48 in four overtimes at Tennessee — despite giving up 432 passing yards. That has to be a concern for Gary Pinkel and his staff. Syracuse, as mentioned, as been on a roll offensively, and quarterback Ryan Nassib has been productive all season.
Missouri 30–27 

Last week: 9–1 overall (8–2 against the spread)
Season: 75–35 overall (59–51 against the spread)
 

@AthlonMitch

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> College football's Week 12 schedule is highlighted by two huge battles in the Pac-12. Stanford visits Oregon in a game that likely will decide the South Division champion, while USC makes the short trip to UCLA for the game of the year in the South. &nbsp;</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 10:15
Path: /nascar/backseat-drivers-fan-council-35
Body:

NASCAR reacted this week to Jeff Gordon intentionally wrecking Clint Bowyer at Phoenix and the melee between the crews, but was its penalty enough? Members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council debate what should have been done and what they would do if Bowyer exacts revenge this weekend at Homestead. Those are just among a few of the topics the Fan Council debated. Here’s what they said:


What should NASCAR have done in regards to the Jeff Gordon-Clint Bowyer incident on and off the track?
On Monday, NASCAR announced it had fined Jeff Gordon $100,000, docked him 25 points and placed him in on probation until Dec. 31. NASCAR did not penalize Clint Bowyer but fined Bowyer’s crew chief, Brian Pattie, $25,000 and placed him on probation until Dec. 31 (crew chief is responsible for the team). Gordon’s crew chief, Alan Gustafson, was placed on probation until Dec. 31. Fan Council members were asked what they would have done:

33.7 percent would have suspended Jeff Gordon for Homestead
23.3 percent would have issued no penalties at all
16.5 percent would have fined Gordon, Bowyer & crew members
12.6 percent would have done “other”
7.4 percent would have suspended Gordon and instigators of melee and fined Gordon, Bowyer and crew members
6.5 percent would have suspended instigators of the garage fight for Homestead

What Fan Council members said:
• Jeff Gordon needs to be suspended. And that is coming from someone who got into the sport because of him. Kyle Busch got "parked" for wrecking Hornaday at the Texas Truck race last year. Gordon didn't just take out Bowyer, he also took out Joey Logano and Aric Almirola, who had nothing to do with the feud. Fining Jeff won't do anything, since he’s earned more than just about anyone in the sport's history. $100,000 is chump change for Gordon. Sit him out.

• Boys have at it. ENOUGH SAID!

• Donate $50,000 to each of Jeff and Clint's charities and throw a ticker-tape parade in their honor for waking us all up from a season-long slumber and giving sports outlets not known for their coverage of NASCAR to realize it exists! At the most, I'd pick the "fine everybody" option. But I still say this is what NASCAR needed.

• I think what Gordon did was unacceptable and not appropriate at all. He should be suspended for one race with a $100,000 fine.

• Make Gordon and Bowyer pay the expenses for the 20 and 43 cars.

• Gordon is not one to do this type of thing often, the crew members were charged up and lost control and the melee ensued. I don't think that penalizing them will do any good. I'm not sure you could tell who the instigators were of that mess. Just let it be and move on.

• Gordon's blatant disregard for NASCAR's black flag definitely needs to be addressed. As well as whomever it was that "jumped" Gordon in the garage area. As far as Bowyer's alleged contact with Gordon on track, chalk that up to competitive racing — incidental and lacking true malice. To lie in wait, however, speaks to intent and the collateral damage that could have been avoided is inexcusable.

• Without a Kyle Busch-like rap sheet, I feel all they can do is put Gordon on probation. If Bowyer pays him back next year, then it's deserved ... as is probation at that time for him as well.


If you were NASCAR, would you be OK with it if Clint Bowyer retaliated and wrecked Jeff Gordon at Homestead this weekend?

51.7 percent said No
48.3 percent said Yes

What Fan Council members said:
• They did say "Boys have it" so I think Bowyer would be within his rights to retaliate.

• If I were NASCAR ... no. Drivers shouldn't use their cars to retaliate. As a fan ... you bet I want to see Bowyer retaliate. :D

• I don't really believe any driver should retaliate with their car. If you're pissed off someone ruined your day, when you get out of the car, go find them and settle it face-to-face, man-to-man, or fist-to-face. The fighting was the most exciting part of the whole race! At least Clint wanted to settle it right. As exciting as it might be to have him dish out some payback, I really hope he doesn't do it on track.

• I would be OK with it. Emotions ON THE TRACK are very good and needed in this sport. All anybody does these days is talk. People watch when there's controversy like Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick or Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards.

• Two wrongs don't make a right; someone will eventually get hurt.

• Premeditated retaliation at a high-speed track is unacceptable. Gordon's actions were heat of the moment. A calculated act carried over to another event should be a more serious offense.

• I would be fine with it. An eye for an eye, right?
 

Teaser:
<p> Dustin Long and the Backseat Drivers Fan Council weigh in on the Jeff Gordon/Clint Bowyer penalties, Kevin Harvick leaving Richard Childress Racing and they grade a crazy race in Phoenix.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 09:53
Path: /nfl/5-most-dangerous-nfl-teams-under-500
Body:

Ten weeks into the NFL season and there’s a pretty clear line between who’s in and who’s out. There are patterns beginning to emerge, as well as powers. The playoff picture is beginning to take shape.

But it would be a mistake for teams to look forward toward the Lombardi Trophy in the distance without at least glancing a few times in their rearview mirror. If they do, they’ll notice a bunch of sub-.500 teams who may really loom larger than they appear.
 
Here are the five most dangerous “losing” teams in the NFL right now. All of them still have a shot at the playoffs. And all of them should be making the teams in front of them in the standings worry – at least a little bit:
 
New Orleans Saints (4-5)
 
There is no team in the NFL that wants to play the Saints right now, especially after the way they knocked off the undefeated Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. They remain an explosive offense (the NFL’s second-best passing attack) that can out-score anyone and the Superdome remains one of the loudest and toughest places to play.
 
And now they’re rolling. They are 4-1 after they got off to a disastrous 0-4 start under the weight of the BountyGate scandal. This is not a team that was short on talent. It was a team that had too many outside influences. Those are still there, to an extent, but they’ve become part of New Orleans’ new normal and now the Saints have learned to thrive.
 
It may be too late for them to catch the Falcons (8-1) in the NFC South, but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5-4) should be frightened, along with all the other wild-card contenders in the NFC.
 
San Diego Chargers (4-5)
 
The enigmatic Phillip Rivers and the strange coaching of Norv Turner tends to make life tough on this team, which has now lost four of its last five games. They also head into a dangerous two-week stretch with a road trip to Denver and home game against the tough Baltimore Ravens after that.
 
So yes, this could fall apart in a hurry. But this team can play a little defense (seventh in the NFL) and it would be a mistake to completely count out this Rivers-led offense. He’s struggling without departed receiver Vincent Jackson, but he has weapons on his team if he could just manage to find them. He’s done it in the past, and if he can do it again this team is capable of a little run.
 
They better beat the Peyton Manning-led Broncos (6-3) on Sunday, though, otherwise the AFC West will likely be out of reach.
 
Dallas Cowboys (4-5)
 
Don’t look now, but Tony Romo and Dez Bryant are showing signs of clicking and becoming what could eventually turn into one of the most dangerous QB-WR combos in the NFL. Running back DeMarco Murray is coming back, too. And the Cowboys, despite all their problems, have the NFL’s eighth-ranked defense.
 
Also, it’s worth noting, that the Cowboys’ recent two-game losing streak that dropped them under .500 including a narrow loss to the defending Super Bowl champion Giants and another narrow loss in Atlanta against the NFL’s last undefeated team. That’s not exactly a major crisis (except in Jerry Jones’ world).
 
Are they good enough to catch the Giants (6-4)? They were good enough to beat them on Opening Night in New York. The Giants also have lost two straight games and are in their annual second-half swoon. The Cowboys could be just a half-game out by the time the Giants return from their bye on Sunday night, Nov. 25.
 
Cincinnati Bengals (4-5)
 
The Bengals announced their return to relevancy with authority on Sunday with a 31-13 humiliation of the Giants. They flashed the talent that had made up their underachieving defense and showed everyone why the combination of quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver A.J. Green is something to be feared.
 
Everyone knew that going into the season, but the Bengals fell apart with four straight losses – including inexcusable ones to the Miami Dolphins and Cleveland Browns. They were in all four of those games, which is something to consider but not enough of a positive for a true contender. The way their defense played against the Giants – now that’s the sign of a contender.
 
It’s unclear if there’s really an opening in the NFC North, though. The Ravens (7-2) lost Ray Lewis, but have somehow managed to survive and thrive anyway. But the loss of Ben Roethlisberger for the Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) could be just the opening the Bengals need.
 
Tennessee Titans (4-6)
 
It’s hard to like a team with the NFL’s 25th-ranked offense and the 29th-ranked defense. Jake Locker hasn’t done a whole lot to inspire confidence as a playoff-caliber quarterback and he’s hardly surrounded with excellent weapons. Chris Johnson is experiencing a revival at running back (862 yards on 5.1 yards per carry), but is that enough for a team that can’t stop anyone else from scoring?
 
Probably not, especially in a division led by the Houston Texans (8-1) and, not far behind them, the Andrew Luck-led Indianapolis Colts (6-3).
 
Here’s why there’s hope, though. Down the stretch they face the awful Jacksonville Jaguars twice, the dysfunctional Jets once and they get another shot at Luck’s Colts. If Luck experiences any type of second-half fade – certainly possible for any rookie quarterback -- that might just be enough to get the Titans to 8-8.
 
Would that be good enough in a wild-card race where the Steelers (6-3) and Colts (6-3) are the leaders? Probably not. But if the Titans can ride their rushing attack, they might not just go away.
 
By RALPH VACCHIANO
Teaser:
<p> Despite their record, these teams still have a shot at the playoffs</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 09:30
Path: /college-football/5-college-football-coaches-who-will-be-fired-end-2012-season
Body:

Gene Chizik

Coaching changes are inevitable at the end of every college football season. With only a few weeks left in the regular season, some coaches still have a chance to save their job. Gene Chizik, Derek Dooley, Jeff Tedford, Frank Spaziani and Danny Hope? File those five names away as coaches who will be packing up their office in a few weeks.

5 College Football Coaches Who Will Be Fired at the End of 2012

Gene Chizik, Auburn
Record at Auburn: 32-18 (4 years)

While Chizik’s overall record isn’t bad, the three seasons outside of a 2010 national championship have been very mediocre. Auburn is just 18-18 outside of 2010 and has struggled to generate an offense since Cam Newton departed for the NFL. Auburn’s SEC record is 15-16 under Chizik’s watch and could be headed for its first winless season in conference play since 1980. While Chizik and his staff have recruited as well as anyone nationally, the talent hasn’t translated into wins. When top talent isn’t producing, it’s a bad sign for the coaching staff when it comes to player development and putting them into the right schemes to succeed. Even though Chizik is only two years removed from a national title, Auburn cannot afford to fall further behind in the SEC, especially with Texas A&M’s arrival and Ole Miss and Mississippi State showing improvement.

Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Record at Tennessee:
15-20 (3 years)

Dooley didn’t inherit a perfect situation at Tennessee, but the program has yet to show marked progress under his watch. The Volunteers had two coaches in the two years prior to Dooley’s arrival, which created some instability on Rocky Top. However, a 15-20 record and a 4-18 mark in SEC play is not enough to get a fourth season at Tennessee. The Volunteers’ struggles within the conference continued in 2012, as they opened 0-6 and need wins against Vanderbilt and Kentucky just to get bowl eligible. Dooley’s decision to hire Sal Sunseri as the defensive coordinator has backfired, as Tennessee ranks 111th nationally in total defense, 110th in points allowed and is registering just 1.3 sacks per game. Although it seems to take two years to implement a 3-4 scheme, it’s never a good idea for a coach on the hot seat to hire a coordinator that can’t provide a quick fix in the first season.

Danny Hope, Purdue
Record at Purdue: 20-27 (4 years)

With Saturday’s win over Iowa, Hope still has a chance to lead Purdue to a bowl game this year. The Boilermakers need wins over Illinois and Indiana to get back to the postseason for the second time in Hope’s tenure. Although Purdue could get back to a bowl, the program has yet to show much progress under Hope’s watch. In four seasons, the Boilermakers are 20-27 overall and just 11-19 in Big Ten play. Even if Purdue makes it to a bowl game this year, a handful of key contributors will finish their eligibility at the end of 2012, which will only make it more difficult to record a winning mark next season.

Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Record at Boston College: 22-27 (4years)

Spaziani was promoted to head coach after Boston College’s messy divorce from Jeff Jagodzinski. The long-time assistant did his best to keep the program on track in the first two years, recording a 15-11 mark and playing in two bowl games. However, the Eagles have been trending in the wrong direction over the last two seasons. Boston College went 4-8 in 2011 and is likely headed for a 2-10 finish in 2012. Spaziani’s overall mark in Chestnut Hill is 22-27, while a 4-10 record the last two seasons in conference play isn’t much better. With a new athletic director in place (Brad Bates), Spaziani’s tenure will be coming to an end at the conclusion of 2012.

Jeff Tedford, California
Record at California: 82-56 (11 years)

Tedford is probably the toughest coach on this list to evaluate. The California native owns the record for the most wins in school history (82) and led the program to eight bowl games during his tenure. However, the Golden Bears have been headed in the wrong direction since an 8-5 season in 2009. Over the last three years, California is just 15-21 and a 3-8 (with one game remaining) mark in 2012 is the worst of Tedford’s career. Although Tedford has done a lot of good things at California, it’s probably time for the program to go in a different direction. With a newly renovated stadium, it’s not going to be easy to find the money to buy out Tedford, which may be enough for the embattled coach to keep his job through 2013.

5 Others in Danger:

David Bailiff, Rice – Bailiff has won four games in each of the last three seasons and still has a chance to make a bowl in 2012. However, his overall mark is 27-44, and the Owls failed to build on the 10-3 season in 2008.

Bobby Hauck, UNLV – Progress has been slow under Hauck’s watch at UNLV. The Rebels are 6-30 during his tenure and even though this team has shown some improvement, finishing 2-11 in 2012 could be enough to spell the end of his time at UNLV.

Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss – Johnson is just in his first season at Southern Miss but has been a total disaster. The Golden Eagles are in the midst of their worst season in school history, recording an 0-10 start after winning Conference USA’s Championship last year.

Mike Price, UTEP – Price’s tenure at UTEP got off to a good start, recording a 16-8 record through the first two seasons. However, the program has failed to build off of that mark and will have its seventh consecutive losing season since Price arrived in 2004.

DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State – Winning in Las Cruces is never easy, but Walker is 10-38 through four seasons and only one loss in 2012 (1-9) was decided by 10 points or less.

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Teaser:
<p> 5 College Football Coaches Who Will Be Fired at the End of the 2012 Season</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 05:50
Path: /college-football/manziel-klein-and-teo-could-create-historic-heisman-field
Body:

Even a year after a Baylor quarterback won the Heisman -- beating out the eventual No. 1 overall draft pick and a running back from would-be national champion Alabama -- the 2012 Heisman race is shaping up to have one of the most non-traditional fields the award has seen.

The Heisman can be a predictable honor. In most cases, Heisman contenders play offensive skill position for national championship contenders or traditional powers.

That trend is changing beyond Griffin. Two defensive players have been finalists in the last three years. A sophomore won the award for the first time in 2007. And two more sophomores won thereafter.

Taken on their own, all these unique Heisman contenders aren’t rare anymore, but 2012 could have a historically unique Heisman field.

Here’s why:

THE FRESHMAN: Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel
After last week’s performance in the 29-24 upset of No. 1 Alabama, Manziel has moved from the fringes of the Heisman debate to a potential frontrunner along with Collin Klein. His 379.4 yards of total offense per game outpaces the SEC record held by Kentucky’s Tim Couch in 1998, and his 1,014 rushing yards are second only to Cam Newton among SEC quarterbacks. The closest a freshman has come to winning the Heisman was Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson, who finished 328 points behind USC’s Matt Leinart. Since World War II, only five freshmen have finished in the top 10 of voting -- Peterson, Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick (third in 1999), San Diego State’s Marshall Faulk (ninth in 1991), Florida’s Emmitt Smith (ninth in 1987) and Georgia’s Herschel Walker (third in 1980). As a redshirt, though, Manziel’s candidacy as a freshman contender has a bit of an asterisk. And he may not be the only redshirt freshman to finish in the top 10 of Heisman voting, as Oregon redshirt freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota makes a push late in the season.
Last freshman winner: None

Related: Manziel vs. Klein Heisman comparison

THE FIRST-TIMERS: Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Oregon’s Kenjon Barner.
Two of the last three Heisman winners -- Griffin for Baylor and Mark Ingram for Alabama -- became their schools’ first Heisman winners. From 2001-08, five schools won Heisman trophies. And those programs (Florida, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Nebraska) all had multiple Heisman winners prior to the 2001. Oregon has been more or less a regular in the Heisman voting since ’01 with LaMichael James, Dennis Dixon and Joey Harrington all finishing within the top five, none higher than third. The closest Kansas State has come to the Heisman was 1998 when Michael Bishop finished second to Texas’ Ricky Williams, and that was by a then-record of 1,563 points. With Klein the presumed frontrunner this season and Mariota a freshman, both schools could notch Heisman winners in the coming years.
Last first-time winner for a school: Baylor’s Robert Griffin (2011)

THE LINEBACKER: Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o
Defensive players are at a disadvantage for the Heisman from the get-go. They don’t show up in highlights nearly as often as an offensive skill players. Their statistics aren’t readily available in a standard box score. And even some of those numbers -- such as subjective tackle stats -- are vulnerable to skepticism. It takes a big-play defensive player dominating in big games to crack the club of Heisman finalists. Think of LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu in 2011 and Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh in 2009. Michigan's Charles Woodson is the last defensive player to win the award in 1997, but like Mathieu, he was a standout kick returner. If Te’o cracks the Heisman top five, he and Suh will be the only purely defensive players to do so since 1991.
Last defensive winner: Michigan’s Charles Woodson (1997)

THE RECEIVER: USC’s Marqise Lee
The most stunning part of Lee’s race for the Heisman may not be that he’s a wide receiver. It’s that he likely has outpaced the preseason Heisman frontrunner on his own team -- and a Heisman frontrunner in quarterback Matt Barkley who is connected directly to his success as a receiver. In a span of two weeks, Lee produced the top two of the top four single games in terms of all-purpose yards with 469 against Arizona and 408 yards against Oregon, though both were losses. Lee is more than two decades removed from the heyday of receivers in the Heisman voting: From 1987-91, two receivers won the Heisman (Michigan’s Desmond Howard and Notre Dame’s Tim Brown) and a third (Notre Dame’s Raghib Ismail) was a runner-up. Since 1991, only one receiver earned more than 300 points in the balloting. Pittsburgh’s Larry Fitzgerald was a narrow runner-up in 2003 by 128 points for the Heisman to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White.
Last wide receiver winner: Michigan’s Desmond Howard (1991)

THE SANCTIONED: Ohio State’s Braxton Miller
Ohio State’s choice to play in a bowl last season -- a loss to Florida in the Gator Bowl -- may have cost the Buckeyes the postseason this year. Even worse, it’s a decision that may end up costing Ohio State a Big Ten title and a BCS championship game appearance. However, there’s no NCAA rule against a player from a sanctioned team winning the Heisman or any other postseason awards. Last season, USC’s Matt Barkley finished sixth in the voting despite facing the final year of a bowl ban. Moreover, a player has won the Heisman after being punished personally for NCAA violations. Ohio State’s Troy Smith won the award in 2006, a year after he was suspended for receiving $500 from a booster. Miller was not implicated in the NCAA scandal that forced Jim Tressel to resign two years ago, so the closest parallel to Miller may be Houston’s Andre Ware. The Cougars quarterback remains the only player to win the Heisman from a team banned from the postseason and television appearances.
Last winner from a school on probation: Houston’s Andre Ware (1989)

Teaser:
<p> Manziel, Klein and Te'o could create historic Heisman field</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 05:22
Path: /college-football/rutgers-cincinnati-or-louisville-which-team-wins-big-east-title
Body:

With Louisville's loss to Syracuse, the battle to win the Big East title is a three-team race once again. The Cardinals, Rutgers and Cincinnati are in the mix to win the conference championship, with the Bearcats and Scarlet Knights matching up this Saturday. 

Rutgers, Cincinnati or Louisville: Which Team Wins the Big East Title?

Mark Ennis, Manager of Big East Coast Bias (@Mengus22):
I think Louisville wins the title because I think Louisville will win its final two games. If you look at the teams that have really challenged Louisville, they've been teams that work from the spread, no-huddle offense. Offenses that work from pro sets, that run the ball with a fullback and try to pass from play-action, haven't been quite as difficult for Louisville to defend. Rutgers, almost all season, has gotten just enough offense and a ton of help from its defense and special teams to make up for what is lacking. Teams with a solid passing game (like Arkansas, and like Louisville) have moved the ball through the air on that defense. I suspect the game on the final Thursday of the regular season will be a low-scoring game that comes down to avoiding mistakes, and that Louisville will generate just enough offense to win the game and the conference. 

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
Louisville remains the team to beat in the Big East, though the Cardinals were not impressive against Syracuse last week. I credit that loss to two things: First, Syracuse, a pretty good team on paper, played a perfect game for the first time all season. Second, Louisville had been flirting with an upset for several weeks now. The Cardinals finally got bit, but the Cardinals are good enough to turn around and finish out the season as Big East champions. The season-ending injury to Senorise Perry is concerning, but this is Teddy Bridgewater’s offense. And given Rutgers’ inability to score in the first half for the last six weeks, I can’t see the Scarlet Knights defeating Cincinnati this week, much less Louisville at the end of the season.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
Even though Louisville is coming off a loss to Syracuse, I still think the Cardinals win the Big East. With a matchup against Connecticut at home this Saturday, Louisville will have an opportunity to fix some of the problems in last week’s loss to the Orange. The Rutgers-Cincinnati game is a tossup this weekend, but the conference should be decided in the Louisville-Rutgers game on Nov. 29. The Bearcats’ chances of winning the conference have increased with Syracuse’s upset over the Cardinals, along with Brendon Kay’s insertion into the starting lineup at quarterback. However, even if Cincinnati knocks off Rutgers, I’ll take Louisville to knock off Rutgers in the season finale. The Scarlet Knights have won the last two matchups against Louisville, but I think the edge in that matchup still goes to the team (Cardinals) with a better coach (Charlie Strong) and quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater).  

Mark Ross: 
Louisville got its wake-up call last week as Syracuse handed the Cardinals their first loss of the season, dashing any dreams of a undefeated season in the process. However, all is certainly not lost for Charlie Strong's team as they still control their own destiny as it relates to the Big East title and a BCS bowl berth. Rutgers is leading the conference right now with an unblemished 4-0 mark, but the Scarlet Knights still have to go to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh before finishing the regular season by hosting Louisville. While the Bearcats could hand the Knights their first conference defeat this Saturday, I'm looking at the Thursday night primetime season finale in Piscataway, N.J., on Nov. 29 as the deciding factor in the Big East race. Even if Rutgers enters this game 6-0 in the conference, Louisville, behind Big East Player of the Year Teddy Bridgewater, will defeat the Knights on their home field to win the Big East title, not to mention earn a trip to a BCS bowl, by virtue of the Cardinals' head-to-head wins against both Rutgers and Cincinnati. The Cardinals won't finish this season undefeated, but that doesn't mean their 2012 campaign won't be one for the history books.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
I’m going to take Khaseem Greene and the Rutgers defense to carry the Scarlet Knights to their first-ever Big East championship. There was the slip up against Kent State (the Golden Flashes are 9-1), but first-year coach Kyle Flood has Rutgers unbeaten in league play with three challenging games to go. The trip to Cincinnati this Saturday will be difficult, as RU’s fifth-rated scoring defense (13.4 ppg) tries to stop George Winn and the league’s leading rushing attack. The Bearcats looked great versus Temple with Brendon Kay replacing Munchie Legaux at quarterback, but the Scarlet Knights dominated this one last year. I’ll take Jawan Jamison and the offense to control the clock and win at UC, and then beat Pittsburgh and Louisville. The Cardinals have an excellent record, but Charlie Strong’s crew has played inconsistently this season. All three teams could take the crown, but Rutgers stingy defense should make the difference.

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Teaser:
<p> Rutgers, Cincinnati or Louisville: Which Team Wins the Big East Title?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 05:15

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