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Path: /college-football/final-bcs-analysis-alabama-notre-dame-title-game

The most drama in the BCS selection was settled by the most dramatic game of the season when Alabama defeated Georgia 32-28 in the SEC Championship Game.

While the Notre Dame-Alabama championship game was clear from the final seconds in Atlanta, the most unlikely BCS crasher wasn’t revealed until Sunday afternoon.

Northern Illinois became an automatic bid, giving the Huskies a series of firsts in MAC and BCS history: Northern Illinois is the first MAC team to play in the BCS and the first team from a non-automatic qualifying conference to reach the BCS despite a loss. NIU reached the Orange Bowl by a BCS rule triggering an automatic bid for a non-AQ conference to play in BCS game as long as it finished in the top 16 and finished ahead of a champion of an AQ conference.

By rule, Northern Illinois is an automatic bid to the BCS, but the snubs -- Oklahoma, Clemson and a slew of SEC teams -- have gripes for being left out of the five major bowl games. The bowls themselves, however, had little choice as the BCS rulebook won over the eye test.

Related College Football Content
Week 14 Recap: Alabama wins SEC classic
Who votes in the Harris Poll?

Here are a few more observations from the final release of the BCS standings:


BCS Standings
Dec. 2

Coaches' Poll Harris Poll Comp. Avg. Last Wk.
1. Notre Dame 1 1 1 1
2. Alabama 2 2 3 2
3. Florida 4 4 2 4
4. Oregon 3 3 6 5
5. Kansas St. 6 6 T-4 6
6. Stanford 8 7 T-4 7
7. Georgia 5 5 11 5
8. LSU 7 8 7 7
9. Texas A&M 9 9 10 9
10. S. Carolina 10 10 9 10
11. Oklahoma 11 11 8 11
12. Florida St. 12 12 16 13
13. Oregon St. 14 14 12 15
14. Clemson 13 13 15 14
15. N. Illinois 16 16 19 21
16. Nebraska 21 18 13 12

Northern Illinois. Clearly, the first MAC team in a BCS game is the big winner. But a series of events had to occur to put Northern Illinois in the Orange Bowl as the Huskies weren’t one of the top two candidates for a BCS bid going into the final week of the season. Kent State and Boise State were considered more likely possibilities at the time. But Northern Illinois defeated Kent State 44-37 in overtime for the MAC, moving the Huskies from No. 21 to No. 15 in the BCS. Aiding NIU’s move was a rout by then-No. 12 Nebraska in the Big Ten title game and losses by Nos. 16-18 in the rankings in the final week of the season. With the Wisconsin win over the Cornhuskers, Northern Illinois ended up ranked ahead of two AQ conference champions.

Oklahoma and Georgia. Georgia lost the SEC title on the final play, and Oklahoma lost an outright Big 12 title with a loss on Sept. 22 to Kansas State. With all automatic bids exhausted, Oklahoma was left to the Cotton Bowl. Despite stumping by Alabama coach Nick Saban, Georgia had no place to go in the BCS. At No. 7, the Bulldogs were the highest ranked team to be left out in the BCS as No. 15 Northern Illinois, No. 21 Louisville and unranked Wisconsin will all play BCS games.

BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (JAN. 7): No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Alabama. A ratings bonanza will pit the Alabama run game against Manti Te’o and the formidable Irish run defense.

ROSE BOWL (JAN. 1): No. 6 Stanford vs. Wisconsin. This is a rematch of the 2000 Rose Bowl, in which Wisconsin defeated an 8-3 Stanford team. This team, the Badgers are the team with the mediocre record at 8-5.

ORANGE BOWL (JAN. 1): No. 12 Florida State vs. No. 15 Northern Illinois. The MAC champs have every reason to have a chip on their shoulders after being derided as undeserving of their automatic bid. Florida State has ample talent, but after the Noles allowed NC State and Georgia Tech to hang around, does NIU have a shot?

SUGAR BOWL (JAN. 2): No. 3 Florida vs. No. 21 Louisville. Louisville coach Charlie Strong was the defensive coordinator for both of Florida’s titles under Urban Meyer. This is an intriguing matchup against another defensive stud in Will Muschamp.

FIESTA BOWL (JAN. 4): No. 4 Oregon vs. No. 5 Kansas State. Whose tempo will win out? Chip Kelly wants to run as many plays as possible. Bill Snyder is methodical. An interesting chess match.

Disagreement among the human polls and computers pushed Northern Illinois into the BCS. How did NIU end up at No. 15 when none of the elements ranked the Huskies that high? Northern Illinois ranked 16h in the Harris and coaches’ polls and 19th in the computers, yet ranked 15th in the BCS. Meanwhile, the Harris and the coaches both ranked Boise State ahead of Northern Illinois. The answer is the havoc in the title games - Big Ten title game loser Nebraska ranked 13th in the computers, 21st in the coaches and 18th in the Harris; UCLA ranked 17th in the Harris and computers and 19th in the coaches. And even though the human voters favored Boise State, the computers hammered the Broncos with a No. 22 ranking. That mess allowed NIU to ascend to No. 15.

All 10 BCS slots went to automatic qualifiers. The six champions of Big Six leagues were automatic qualifiers, as was Notre Dame. Northern Illinois earned its bid by finishing better than 16th and ahead of the Big East and Big Ten champions. Florida and Oregon also earned automatic bids by BCS rules. The Gators earned an automatic bid by finishing third, and Oregon followed suite by finishing fourth. In terms of selection, the Sugar selected Florida, followed by Kansas State to the Fiesta, Louisville to the Sugar and Northern Illinois to the Orange.

Seven SEC teams in the top 10. A sign of SEC dominance or a sign that no other conference could supply top flight teams? The SEC had seven teams in the top 10 -- No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Florida, No. 7 Georgia, No. 8 LSU, No. 9 Texas A&M, No. 10 South Carolina.

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

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

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

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

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

<p> Alabama-Notre Dame clear BCS championship pairing, but Northern Illinois rocks final rankings.</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 20:12
Path: /news/georgias-aaron-murray-gets-rocked-alabama-defender

The SEC Championship matchup between Alabama and Georgia might have been the best played game in 2012. The Bulldogs had a chance to win late, but the Crimson Tide defense held on the final drive to clinch a spot in the national title. 

And considering this game matched two of the best defenses in the nation, it was no surprise there were plenty of hard hits. At the end of the first half, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray tossed an interception and was leveled by Alabama defensive lineman Quinton Dial. Considering how important protecting the quarterback is, it's a surprise there wasn't a penalty called on Alabama. 


<p> Georgia's Aaron Murray Gets Rocked By Alabama Defender</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 16:47
All taxonomy terms: Nebraska Cornhuskers, Big Ten, News
Path: /news/nebraska-wr-kenny-bell-destroys-wisconsin-defender

Nebraska didn't have many highlights from Saturday night's loss to Wisconsin, but there were a few noteable plays for the Cornhuskers. 

In addition to Taylor Martinez's ridiculous touchdown run, receiver Kenny Bell destroyed Wisconsin defensive back Devin Smith on a third-quarter pass, which was called back due to a penalty. However, the block on Smith might be one of the most vicious hits in college football this season.

<p> Nebraska WR Kenny Bell Destroys Wisconsin Defender&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 15:31
All taxonomy terms: Nebraska Cornhuskers, Big Ten, News
Path: /news/nebraskas-taylor-martinez-escapes-wisconsin-defense-touchdown-run

Nebraska had a horrible showing in Saturday's Big Ten Championship, but quarterback Taylor Martinez had a ridiculous touchdown dash in the first half, which might be one of the best runs in recent memory.

Wisconsin was able to bring a rusher that was virtually untouched by Nebraska's offensive line, which forced Martinez to retreat back to the eight-yard line. From there, it was a series of moves and then nothing but pure speed to give Martinez the 76-yard touchdown run.

<p> Nebraska's Taylor Martinez Escapes Wisconsin Defense on Touchdown Run</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 13:12
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-14-recap-alabama-wins-sec-classic

This is not a sentiment often noted with the BCS: Good thing the championship game is more than a month away.

Otherwise, good luck topping the game of the year in Atlanta. Every play and every decision was magnified in the SEC Championship Game. Every time a running back fought for an extra yard (and it happened a lot) a national championship seemed it was at stake.

The championship bout in Atlanta ended with Nick Saban relieved, it seemed, and Mark Richt frustrated.

The SEC title game wasn’t the only one with drama. Other than the Big Ten championship game, every conference title game was closely contested. Even non-title games with championship implications -- Louisville over Rutgers on Thursday, Oklahoma over TCU -- came down to the final minutes.


A classic national championship game is in the making. Alabama’s Eddie Lacy (181 yards, two touchdowns) and T.J. Yeldon (153 yards, one touchdown) were interchangeable in their ability to slice through and punish the Georgia defense. Now, both will run into Notre Dame’s likely Heisman finalist Manti Te’o and the No. 5 rush defense. Beyond the backs vs. the linebacker, the battle will be just as fascinating in the trenches. The Alabama offensive line took control in the second half against Georgia. It will have to do the same against tackle Stephon Tuitt and the Irish front. And if Georgia proved anything, it’s that Alabama’s run defense may be vulnerable, too.

Amari Cooper may be the difference maker again on Jan. 7. It may be too much to call Alabama’s leading receiver a secret weapon, but he seemed to be that against Georgia. The first sign was a 44-yard grab on first down contested by Georgia’s star safety Bacarri Rambo in the first quarter. The second sign was the game-winning touchdown. After Alabama went almost exclusively to the run game, the Tide stunned Georgia’s defense with a play-action pass on first down for a 45-yarder to Yeldon for the game-winning touchdown. Other than Oklahoma, Miami and USC (minus Matt Barkley), Notre Dame hasn’t played many consistent passing threats.

Second guessing is easy. The most second-guessed decision in the SEC Championship Game will be Georgia’s decision to run a play from the Alabama 8-yard line in the final seconds rather than spiking the ball to stop the clock. The decision set off a series of unfortuntate events for Georgia: Alabama’s C.J. Mosley tipped Aaron Murray’s pass at the line, and a reserve receiver caught the pass in bounds as time expired. Georgia coaches will hear about that decision for years to come, but before that, Nick Saban was second-guessed, too. Alabama elected to go for a two-point conversion with 4:19 to go in the third quarter. The extra two points meant Georgia couldn’t settle for a field goal, setting in motion the costly blunder at the end of the game. Then again, the game may not have been as dramatic if not for Saban’s timeout blunder at the end of his first half, a mishap that resulted in a 22-yard field goal as time expired. The takeaway: The margin was razor-thin in Atlanta.

This is only the beginning for both teams. Stanford will head to the Rose Bowl after scoring 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter against UCLA, but both programs can expect to remain among the leaders of the Pac-12 for years to come. Both lose their star running backs -- Johnathan Franklin and Stepfan Taylor -- but reached the title game with redshirt freshman quarterbacks. Stanford’s mobile and composed Kevin Hogan defeated the Oregon schools and UCLA twice in his first four career starts, and he should be behind one of the Pac-12’s best offensive lines for years to come. Stanford’s major defensive losses are huge in linebackers Shayne Skov and Chase Thomas, but the Cardinal have most of the defense intact for 2013. UCLA is in good shape, too, with Hundley’s dynamic talent reversing field on the Bruins’ quarterback woes. The Bruins had a young offensive line this season and look to return linebackers Anthony Barr and Jordan Zumwalt on defense. USC’s doing some soul-searching after a disappointing season, and the NFL may be able to lure Chip Kelly from Oregon. That leaves the door open for UCLA and Stanford to take over.

UCLA learned something from the first meeting. Whether or not UCLA put in full effort in last week’s meeting with Stanford, the Bruins adjusted to Stanford’s defense in the rematch. The Cardinal never allowed a team to rush for 200 yards in a game all season and held eight (including UCLA the first time around) to fewer than 100. But with the Rose Bowl on the line, UCLA rushed for 284 yards against Stanford. The Bruins ran away from the aggressive Stanford defense, enabling Johnathan Franklin to rush for 194 yards and two touchdowns (he ran for 65 a week earlier). Hundley had twice as many carries as he did in the first meeting, rushing for 83 yards and a touchdown on 16 attempts.

Stanford is in rare company. Making three consecutive BCS games isn’t all that uncommon. Eight teams have done so, but it’s still jarring to list Stanford in a cast of college football powers that includes USC, Ohio State, Oregon, Oklahoma, Florida State, Miami and Wisconsin considering Stanford never went to the postseason from 2002-08. With Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw, however, Stanford is one of two to make its run despite a coaching change. Butch Davis and Larry Coker combined for four consecutive BCS bids at Miami.

Oklahoma in the clutch. No one can say the Sooners didn’t earn a share of the Big 12 title. The Sooners finished the season winning four consecutive one-score games, including the last three going down to the wire. Unlike the West Virginia and Oklahoma State games, though, the Sooners’ 24-17 win over TCU ended on a defensive stand. After Oklahoma missed field goal that knuckled wide left, TCU drove to the Oklahoma 12-yard line. TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin had a touchdown run called back on a hold and then failed to convert on a pass into the end zone from the 15 to seal the Sooners’ win.

Wisconsin. At least if Wisconsin is going to be the first five-loss team to play in the Rose Bowl, the Badgers will take a 70-point effort to Pasadena. Montee Ball and freshman Melvin Gordon both topped 200 yards for Wisconsin’s 539 rushing yards in the 70-31 win over Nebraska. True, the Cornhuskers are one of only two teams with winning records Wisconsin defeated this season (Utah State was the other), but Wisconsin’s five losses came either by a field goal or in overtime or both. The Badgers bring an 8-5 record to the Rose Bowl, but also enough game film to concern Stanford.

Lache Seastrunk, Baylor. An Art Briles offense centered around a running back may be a strange sight, but the Baylor coach will have the personnel suited for it next season with quarterback Nick Florence gone. The Oregon transfer Seastrunk rushed for 178 yards in the 41-34 win over Oklahoma State, giving him 693 yards and five touchdowns in the final five games. The most remarkable feat, though, was his 76-yard touchdown run in which he pulled up with a quadricep injury -- more than 40 yards short of the goal line.

Nebraska’s defense. The Cornhuskers used to be renowned for their defense, right? Bo Pelini is a defensive-minded coach, right? Then explain what happened in Indianapolis. By the time Wisconsin asked running back James White to take a direct snap at the goal line, fake a run and throw to a wide open Sam Arneson in the end zone, the Badgers had no need to try to fool the hapless Nebraska defense. That Arneson touchdown catch made the score 42-10. At the end of the first half. Nebraska gave up more rushing yards (539) than any game in school history against Wisconsin. Thanks to a touchdown in the final minute, the 70-31 loss remained in a tie for third for the most lopsided championship game loss in FBS history.

Florida State’s complacency. The reason Florida State fell out of the BCS title race in early October was a loss to NC State when the Seminoles let the Wolfpack hang around to score the final 17 points The same nearly happened against Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship Game. Florida State jumped to a 21-3 lead in the second quarter but did little after that. The Seminoles needed a late interception to finally put Georgia Tech away in a 21-15 win.

Texas’ run game. The Longhorns faced the top two run defenses in the Big 12 in the final two weeks of the season, but the numbers are still are still tough to fathom. Texas rushed for 86 yards against TCU and then 99 yards against Kansas State -- both lower than the averages for the two defenses. With Malcolm Brown and stud freshman Johnathan Gray in the backfield, those totals may be tough for Texas to swallow.

Collin Klein, Kansas State. The only top Heisman contender playing this weekend, Klein kept pace. He got one cheap chance at a touchdown on a one-yard touchdown -- when defensive back Nigel Malone dropped the ball short of the goal line after an interception -- but didn’t need it to pad his stats by the end of the game. Klein didn’t have a career game, but he had his best game in the last three weeks. Klein was 8 of 14 for 184 yards with a touchdown and an interception and rushed for 103 yards and two touchdowns. A solid outing, but perhaps not enough to sway voters.

Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville. The Heisman field for 2012 is pretty much set, so Bridgewater’s moment does more to build his case into next season. The sophomore turned in one of the most gutty performances of the season as he went for 20 for 28 for 263 yards with two touchdowns an an interception in the 20-17 win over Rutgers to seal a BCS bid Thursday. A broken wrist on his non-throwing hand prevented him from taking snaps under center and an ankle injury from a week earlier hobbled him all game. Yet he turned in the play of the night with a perfectly threaded 30-yard throw to Andrell Smith to set up the game-winning field goal.

Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois. The first-year Huskies quarterback entered the season with no fanfare. That will change going into 2013. In the MAC Championship Game win over Kent State on Friday, Lynch passed for 200 yards and rushed for 100 for the eighth time this season.


• Stanford and Wisconsin (Rose)
• Kansas State (Fiesta)
• Florida State (Orange)
• Boise State
• Northern Illinois
• Oklahoma
• Bowling Green
• Central Michigan
• Western Kentucky

4. SEC championships for Nick Saban. Only five coaches have more SEC titles -- Bear Bryant, Johnny Vaught, Vince Dooley, Steve Spurrier and Gen. Robert Neyland -- than Saban. He’s going to have a hard time catching Bryant’s record of 14, but Saban is the first SEC coach to win multiple conference titles at two schools (LSU in 2001 and ’03, Alabama in 2009 and ’12).

23 of 24. Geno Smith’s season ended where it began -- with more touchdown passes than incomplete passes. The West Virginia quarterback completed 23 of 24 passes for 407 yards with three touchdowns in a 59-10 win over Kansas. His completion percentage (95.8) matched the single-game FBS mark. Tennessee’s Tee Martin also went 23 of 24 in a game against South Carolina in 1998.

1,771. Rushing yards by Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch this season. Lynch’s total broke the record for a quarterback set by Michigan’s Denard Robinson (1,702) in 2010.

Arkansas State’s Sun Belt title. The Red Wolves won their second consecutive Sun Belt title under a first-year coach and made it look easy. The Red Wolves defeated Middle Tennessee 45-0 in a de facto Sun Belt title game. Whether he’s been playing for Hugh Freeze or Gus Malzahn, Arkansas State quarterback Ryan Aplin continued to flourish. He completed 19 of 21 passes for  238 yards with two touchdowns against the Blue Raiders.

Oregon State’s rout. They don’t call them guarantee games for nothing. Making up for an opener (and paycheck) scheduled with Nicholls State, Oregon State defeated the 1-10 Southland team 77-3. The original kickoff was set for the first week of the season but was rescheduled due to Hurricane Isaac. The game continued, allowing Oregon State to break its record of 76 points scored against Williamette in 1931.

Close the door on the WAC. The final WAC football game went out with a whimper as Texas State defeated New Mexico State 66-28. Louisiana Tech, San Jose State and Utah State were among the success stories in the final year of football in the WAC, which was established in 1962. But the final game featured a team in its first year in the FBS (Texas State) defeating on one of the least successful teams (New Mexico State) in conference history.

Landry Jones, Oklahoma. As has been a trademark for most of his career, Jones balanced a costly bad play with a few standout ones. Jones gave TCU one of its few early scoring opportunities with a poor decision throwing into coverage for an interception to set up a short touchdown in the second quarter. Jones immediately made up for it on the ensuing drive, going 6 of 7 with a 24-yard touchdown pass.

Anyone lining up for Texas. The Longhorns’ quarterback roller coaster continues. Case McCoy started against Kansas State in place of David Ash and handled himself well, completing 26 of 34 passes for 314 yards with two touchdowns. But he also threw two interceptions in the loss. For the second consecutive season, the Longhorns’ bowl game may be a game for a Texas quarterback to either win or lose the job.

Taylor Martinez, Nebraska. Before the Big Ten Championship Game got out of hand in the second quarter, Martinez showed the best and worst of what he has to offer. First came an interception returned 29 yards for a touchdown and then the top offensive play of the game -- yes, including Wisconsin. Martinez scrambled 90-something yards for a 76-yard touchdown on a run reminiscent of Virginia Tech’s Michael Vick or Iowa State’s Seneca Wallace.


Butch Jones, Cincinnati. The Bearcats coach may get his due in the coaching carousel soon enough, but he led Cincinnati to a share of the Big East title with a 34-17 win over Connecticut. In the last five seasons, the Bearcats have won two outright Big East titles (2008-09 under Brian Kelly) and two shared titles (2011-12 under Jones). With a rebuilding effort on offense, not much was expected of Cincinnati this season, but it may have been one of the better coaching jobs in the country.

Bill Blankenship, Tulsa. Perhaps his ascendency from a longtime high school coach in Tulsa to the Golden Hurricane’s head coach cuts into his notoriety. In any event, Blankenship deserves his due for leading Tulsa to its first Conference USA title since 2005 and a 14-2 record in the league in two seasons. A heads-up play by Tulsa’s Trey Watts, son of former Oklahoma quarterback J.C. Watts, sent the game to overtime when Watts picked up a rolling ball after a punt to return it 54 yards for a touchdown.

Trevone Boykin, TCU. The Horned Frogs freshman only went 3-5 as a starter, but the position is in good hands. Considering Boykin became a surprise starter only when Casey Pachall left the team after the first month of the season, that’s high praise. Boykin came within a holding penalty of sending Saturday’s game with Oklahoma to overtime, only a week after a win over Texas. Next season, Boykin will have a full season to prepare as the primary quarterback, and he’ll suddenly be one of the only returning starters in the Big 12.

<p> Razor-thin margin propels Alabama over Georgia in the SEC title game, more big moments are coming for UCLA and Stanford, Klein keeps pace in Heisman race.</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 10:25
Path: /fantasy/week-13-injury-updates-brandon-weeden-titus-young-cecil-shorts-justin-blackmon

Depending upon your fantasy league setup, this is likely the last week of the regular season for you. If not, then you have a two-week push left to get into the postseason. Here are some updates on injured players, their status for the Week 13 games or the outlook for their replacements.

Brandon WeedenBrandon Weeden, QB, Cleveland Browns vs. Oakland Raiders
The concussion Brandon Weeden suffered in Week 12 will not keep him out of the Browns' game in Oakland today. He was cleared to practice from the beginning of the week and took all the first-team snaps this week. Weeden draws an Oakland team that is ranked 28th against fantasy QBs. The Raiders have given up three touchdowns to quarterbacks each of the last three games (Andy Dalton, Drew Brees and Joe Flacco). Josh Freeman had two in Week 9. That's 11 TDs to QBs in four weeks. Overall, the Raiders have allowed mutli-TD games to quarterbacks on six of 11 games. Weeden is certainly a starter in two-QB leagues and keep in mind he has had eight double-digit games, including six of 16 points or greater, as a rookie this season.


Titus Young, Ryan Broyles, WRs, Detroit Lions vs. Indianapolis Colts
Sent home from the team facility in preparation for the Week 12 game, Titus Young did not play in the Thanksgiving game against visiting Houston. A week earlier against Green Bay, he had one catch for 24 yards on six targets and was benched late in the game. Young, who was sent home from the facility once before this year, was back at practice this week to get ready for the Colts, but how much can you trust a guy deactivated for a game just a week earlier? Ryan Broyles stepped in to grab six balls for 126 yards on 12 targets. That is just the second time a receiver not named Calvin Johnson has garnered double-digit targets this season. Unless Young has a dramatic and unlikely turnaround, Broyles is here to stay. If you have not already, you probably should snag Broyles for the fantasy playoff run.


Cecil Shorts, Justin Blackmon, WRs, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Buffalo Bills
Chad Henne has come in and breathed life into the Jaguars offense from his QB position. Rookie Justin Blackmon and second-year man Cecil Shorts have been both the reason and the benefactors of the improved play. Both receivers are listed as probable today  Blackmon with a groin and Shorts with a hamstring. They saw limited practice on Friday but should be good to go against a Bills defense that is ranked 23rd against fantasy receivers in PPR scoring. It is disconcerting to see two receivers on the rise, playing against a fantasy defense on the decline, and both have injury issues. I would not play either as WR2s but would consider them as flex plays.

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Brandon Weeden, Titus Young, Ryan Broyles, Cecil Shorts, Justin Blackmon updates</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 06:20
Path: /fantasy/week-13-injury-updates-lesean-mccoy-bryce-brown-demarco-murray-ben-roethlisberger

Depending upon your fantasy league setup, this is likely the last week of the regular season for you. If not, then you have a two-week push left to get into the postseason. Here are some updates on injured players, their status for the Week 13 games or the outlook for their replacements.

LeSean McCoy, Bryce BrownLeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, RBs, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys (Sunday night)
That's how you step into a key fantasy position as a rookie, Nick Foles. Bryce Brown did not disappoint in the least as he replaced LeSean McCoy (concussion) in the lineup and ripped of 178 yards and two scores on 19 carries. He added four catches for 11 yards. Brown will get another crack at it this week when as McCoy is still out with his concussion. Brown draws a Cowboys defense that is ranked eighth against RBs in PPR scoring. However, rookie Alfred Morris just went for 113 and a score on 24 carries against Dallas last week. It is the seventh time a back has scored double digits against the Cowboys this season and the fourth straight game it has happened. Brown is a high RB2 this week.


DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday night)
Is the tease over? Remember two weeks ago when DeMarco Murray was so close to returning and the next week? Here we are in Week 13 and it looks like we will finally see Murray for the first time since the foot injury he suffered in Week 6. Felix Jones did an admirable job in Murray's sted, scoring in double digits in PPR in five of the six games Murray has missed. Jones has done it with catches and four scores but little yardage. There might be some fear in a time share, but Jones is questionable himself with his sore knees. Beware, however, as the Eagles are 11th against fantasy RBs in PPR and only Alfred Morris (18.3) has scored over 13 points against them since Week 5. 

UPDATE: ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning Murray could be relegated to a limite role upon his return.

FANTASY UPDATE: You'd be hard pressed to use a guy coming off such a long lay off and said to be in a limited role when he does return. If you have been playing Felix Jones as a flex, keep it that way and don't expect much more than flex points from either back.

Ben RoethlisbergerBen Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Ben Roethlisberger was ruled out of today's game against Baltimore on Friday due to rib and shoulder injuries. This will be the third straight game he will miss, but all signs point to Big Ben making his return in Week 14 against San Diego. As fantasy players depending upon Roethlisberger to help lead us to a title, him missing Week 13 is good news so he hopefully does not miss Weeks 14-16. Roethlisberger has scored no less than 16 points in any game (outside of Week 10 Kansas City game he was injured in) and has scored 20 or more in five of eight full games.

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, DeMarco Murray, Ben Roethlisberger Updates</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 06:20
Path: /fantasy/week-13-injury-updates-greg-jennings-michael-vick-nick-foles-andre-brown-david-wilson

Depending upon your fantasy league setup, this is likely the last week of the regular season for you. If not, then you have a two-week push left to get into the postseason. Here are some updates on injured players, their status for the Week 13 games or the outlook for their replacements.

Greg JenningsGreg Jennings, WR, Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Greg Jennings (sports hernia) has been practicing this week and is expected to play for the first time since Week 4. Whether he will start or not then becomes the question. And that worries a fantasy owner that he can be counted on for four quarters. As we found out last week, Jordy Nelson made his bones in just one play (a 61-yard TD on one of two catches). Coach Mike McCarthy said Jennings will be used as dictated by "flow of the game." Last we heard that from a stud fantasy receiver's coach was last week when Mike Smith said it about Julio Jones on his bum ankle. Jones's flow was a 6-for-145 with one-TD day. Play Jennings with caution but a stud is a stud, and much needed in a NFC North where the top three teams are separated by two games.


Michael Vick, Nick Foles, QBs, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys (Sunday night)
Michael Vick will miss his second full game after he failed to pass concussion tests this week. Rookie Nick Foles will step under center again and try to generate an offense once again without LeSean McCoy (concussion) and now without DeSean Jackson (broken ribs, now on IR). Jason Avant, Jackson's replacement, is probable with a hamstring injury. The Cowboys are ranked ninth against fantasy QBs despite allowing six TDs to one interception and 521 yards from the position the last two weeks against rookies. Foles stepped in against Dallas in Week 10 and threw for 219 yards with a score and two turnovers. It's hard to trust Foles when he's thrown for 204 and 119 with no TDs and two interceptions in his last two starts (Carolina and Washington).


Andre Brown, David Wilson, RBs, New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins (Monday night)
Andre Brown's fantasy usage is over as he was placed on IR (designated for return) after suffering a broken fibula last week. In steps David Wilson to see if he can revitalize what has been a disappointing rookie season to this point. It began with a fumble on his second carry in Week 1 and as Week 13 arrives, Wilson has 24 carries for 102 yards with one score and two catches for eight yards. So Wilson's role will increase by attrition with Brown out and Ahmad Bradshaw seemingly always iffy. The Redskins are ranked 12th against fantasy RBs in PPR scoring only because they are ranked 31st against receivers and quarterbacks. Wilson will likely have some success, but that's a big risk to take on a bench player on the final game of Week 13.

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Greg Jennings, Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Andre Brown, David Wilson Updates</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 06:16
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/week-13-injury-updates-rashad-jennings-maurice-jones-drew-jalen-parmele-desean-jackson-jason

Depending upon your fantasy league setup, this is likely the last week of the regular season for you. If not, then you have a two-week push left to get into the postseason. Here are some updates on injured players, their status for the Week 13 games or the outlook for their replacements.

Rashad Jennings, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jalen Parmele, RBs, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Buffalo Bills
Jalen Parmele's one week of mediocre fantasy relevance lasted just that long as the Jaguars' third-string running back suffered a groin injury last week. The injury, the fourth to a Jacksonville starting running back this season, landed Parmele on injured reserve. There is still no sign of Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) returning. Fullback Greg Jones has missed the last four games (hip). So Rashad Jennings gets another crack at this starting running back thing. Jennings, who dealt with a knee injury himself this year, has only reached double digits three times this season. He is only considered flex worthy this week because Chad Henne has sparked the offense stepping in at quarterback for Blaine Gabbert. The Jags draw a Bills team that is 31st against fantasy RBs, so Jennings is worth a shot, but the expectations just cannot be that high.


DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant, WRs, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys (Sunday night)
With DeSean Jackson now on injured reserve with broken ribs, is there anyone in the Eagles' receiving corps that is worth replacing him with in your fantasy lineup? In a word, no. Jason Avant is listed as his back up on the depth chart and now slides to the top of the receiving corps with Jeremy Maclin on the other side. Jackson had 45 catches for 700 yards and two scores this season; Avant has 27 catches for 283 yards and no scores on 38 targets. However, he has not played since a Week 11 loss to Dallas due to a hamstring injury. Avant is expected back this week, but you would have to be pretty desperate to insert him into your lineup for a Sunday night game. Nick Foles has been unimpressive in stepping in for an injured Michael Vick. Outside of Bryce Brown and when LeSean McCoy returns, there are really no other viable Eagle options for the remainder of the fantasy season.


Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman, RBs, Denver Broncos vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This is exactly how we thought the Broncos would replace Willis McGahee, right? Knowshon Moreno goes from inactive for eight games to starting running back in a week, while third-round draft pick Ronnie Hillman goes from 14 touches in the game McGahee goes down to three touches and seven snaps the next week against the Chiefs and their bottom-10 fantasy defense against RBs. Moreno will remain the team's starter "right now," coach John Fox said this week. So consider Hillman irrelevant. But can we trust that Moreno will get the bulk of the snaps against Tampa Bay today? The Buccaneers are 18th against fantasy RBs in PPR scoring and have surrendered double-digit days to the position in nine games. Moreno has the potential to be an RB1 with what the Bucs are allowing, but is at least an RB2 as long as the Broncos continue to relegate Hillman to being just a situational player.

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Week 13 Injury Updates: Rashad Jennings, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jalen Parmele, DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant, Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 06:10
Path: /fantasy/week-13-injury-updates-percy-harvin-jarius-wright-danny-amendola-mikel-leshoure

Depending upon your fantasy league setup, this is likely the last week of the regular season for you. If not, then you have a two-week push left to get into the postseason. Here are some updates on injured players, their status for the Week 13 games or the outlook for their replacements.

Percy HarvinPercy Harvin, Jarius Wright, WRs, Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers
No Percy Harvin again as he will miss his third straight game with an ankle injury. Rookie Jarius Wright will get the start. He has led the Vikings' receivers in targets each of the last two weeks, including a season-high 10 in last week's 28-10 loss at Chicago. Wright caught seven of them for 49 yards. A week earlier, he caught three of five targets for 65 yards, including a 54-yard catch on the team's fifth play to set up his 3-yard TD. The Packers are allowing the seventh-most points to fantasy receivers in PPR scoring this season and are banged up all across the defense. Adrian Peterson should be able to have a solid day and open up opportunities for Wright. He might not be as much of a desperation start as you think. I would play him as a WR3.


Mikel Leshoure, RB, Detroit Lions vs. Indianapolis Colts
An ankle injury kept Mikel Leshoure out of practice on Wednesday and limited him on Thursday and Friday. He is listed as probable and the Lions have been idle since Thanksgiving. If he's active, he's in your lineup. The Colts are ranked 17th against fantasy RBs in PPR scoring but are tied for third in most TDs allowed (11) to the position. The Lions are ranked ninth in points scored from the RB position thanks in part to six TDs from Leshoure and seven double-digit fantasy days. He's a high-end RB2 if he's playing in their early-game matchup against visiting Indianapolis.


Danny AmendolaDanny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers
Danny Amendola exited the Week 12 game early with a foot/heel injury after catching his only target for 38 yards in 12 snaps played. He missed three days of practice this week and is doubtful for today's game against the 49ers. A clavicle injury, followed by an ankle injury and now the foot/heel injury has hindered a receiver already coming back from a missed 2011 with an elbow injury. The last time he faced San Francisco was upon his return from the clavicle injury in Week 10, and he finished with 11 catches for 102 yards on 12 targets. But two more injuries have occurred since, he only made it 12 snaps last week and did not practice this week. The guy that seemingly gets it done with the deck stacked against him might see that stack a little too high this week.

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Percy Harvin, Jarius Wright, Danny Amendola, Mikel Leshoure Updates</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 06:08
Path: /fantasy/week-13-injury-updates-antonio-brown-matt-forte-brandon-jacobs

Depending upon your fantasy league setup, this is likely the last week of the regular season for you. If not, then you have a two-week push left to get into the postseason. Here are some updates on injured players, their status for the Week 13 games or the outlook for their replacements.

Matt Forte

Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears vs. Seattle Seahawks
The ankle injury that knocked Matt Forte out of last week's game in the third quarter has limited the Bears' running back this week in practice. He is listed as questionable and has practiced on a limited basis this week. He practiced on Friday, which is a good sign, and he told reporters on Thursday, "I'm feeling pretty good." The Seahawks allowed three Miami backs to have double-digit days last week; Adrian Peterson was 17-for-182 with two scores and three catches in Week 9 and Frank Gore was 16-for-131 with five catches for 51 yards against Seattle in Week 7. Today's game is in Chicago and it's an early start so you should have ample time to make your decision. If Forte is active, you play him.


Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Antonio Brown, listed as probable with his high ankle sprain, appears ready to return to action for the first time since Week 9. However, the Steelers are still without Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback as they will roll out third stringer Charlie Batch for the second straight week. Batch threw for 199 yards on 34 attempts last week with three interceptions against Cleveland. The Steelers, sans Roethlisberger in Week 11 with Byron Leftwich at QB, lost 13-10 to the Ravens. It is hard to start any Steeler until Roethlisberger returns. Emmanuel Sanders' 12.5 and Chris Rainey's 13.2 points are the most any Pittsburgh non-QB skill player has had since Big Ben's injury.


Brandon JacobsBrandon Jacobs, RB, San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams
A Brandon Jacobs mention only occurs because the same game that sent Kendall Hunter to injured reserve with an ankle injury is the same game Jacobs finally made his 49er debut. Jacobs finished with one carries for one yard. Outside of Hunter's 11.6- and 10-point days in Weeks 4 and 11, only Frank Gore has had double-digit days in the 49ers' backfield. Jacobs has the potential to be a goal line vulture, but could also share carries with LaMichael James, who is set to make his NFL debut this week. If they are not named Gore, it is way too risky to insert another San Francisco RB into your lineup.

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Antonio Brown, Matt Forte, Brandon Jacobs Updates</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 05:50
Path: /nfl/philadelphia-eagles-vs-dallas-cowboys-preview-and-prediction

The Philadelphia Eagles will try to get their first win since late September when they square off against the Dallas Cowboys tonight at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC. The Eagles (3-8) have lost seven games in a row, including a 38-23 loss to the Cowboys on Nov. 11. Meanwhile the Cowboys (5-6) would like nothing more than to get back to .500 by handing their NFC East rivals a second defeat in less than a month. As bad as things have been going for the Eagles this season, they have won the past two meetings played on the Cowboys’ home turf, including last season’s 20-7 victory in Week 16.

When the Philadelphia Eagles have the ball:
Philadelphia’s offense will be without three key playmakers tonight, as Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy (concussions) are both inactive and DeSean Jackson landed on injured reserve after suffering fractured ribs in last week’s loss to Carolina. The Eagles have been respectable on offense, averaging 357.1 yards per game (14th in the NFL), but have struggled to put points on the board. They are averaging less than 17 per contest, which ranks them two from the bottom (30th) of the league in that category. Without their leading passer, running back and wide receiver, yards and points both could be hard to come by against Dallas’ eighth-ranked defense. Rookie quarterback Nick Foles has struggled in his first two career starts under center, while fellow first-year pro Bryce Brown made a lasting initial impression this past Monday. In his first career start, Brown rushed for an Eagles’ rookie record 178 yards and two touchdowns in the 30-22 loss to the Panthers on “Monday Night Football.” Brown also fumbled twice, which somewhat sums up how the Eagles’ season has gone. Philadelphia has turned the ball over 27 times, the second-highest total in the NFL, and also has allowed 34 sacks. These mistakes combined with the injuries are big reasons why the Eagles have lost seven in a row, and have been out-scored 199-118 in the process.

For the most part, the Dallas defense has done its job all season. The Cowboys are eighth in the league in total defense (328.8 ypg), eighth in pass defense (218.4 ypg) and 13th against the run (110.5 ypg). They have allowed 23.8 points per game, but are coming off of last week’s Thanksgiving Day performance in which they gave up 38 points to Robert Griffin III and the Redskins. An inconsistent pass rush (23 sacks, tied for 20th) and inability to generate many turnovers (12 total, only five INTs), have not helped, especially considering the offense’s problems holding onto the ball (23 turnovers, second only to Eagles in NFC).

When the Dallas Cowboys have the ball:
On offense, Dallas’ problem hasn’t been gaining yards, it’s been finishing drives with points. The Cowboys are ninth in the league in total offense, generating 376 yards per game, but only 18th in scoring at 18 points per game. The last four games they have lost have been by seven points or fewer. Quarterback Tony Romo is third in the league in passing yards (3,357), but is 18th in passer rating because of his league-leading 15 interceptions. Romo has attempted the second-most passes in the NFL due to the Cowboys’ inability to run the ball. They rank last in the league in rushing offense at 78.7 yards per game, but that could change once DeMarco Murray returns from his foot injury. Murray has missed the last six games with the ailment, but there’s a decent chance he may be back on the field tonight against the Eagles. If not, the offensive burden will fall yet again to Romo and wide receivers Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten. In particular Bryant has been on a roll of late, with 23 catches, 377 yards and four touchdowns in his last three games combined. Regardless of who is making plays on offense for the Cowboys, one thing is clear — they must do a better job of protecting the football. In addition to Romo’s 15 picks, the Cowboys have fumbled it away eight times, mistakes which have short-circuited many a drive for a team that is a game below .500.

Similar to Dallas, Philadelphia’s defense hasn’t gotten a lot of help from its turnover-prone offense. The Eagles are 15th in yards allowed (345.5 ypg), but only 24th in points allowed (25.6 ppg). They also rank in the middle of the pack when it comes to passing (228.1 ypg, 15th) and rushing (117.5 ypg) defense. Unlike last season, the Eagles have not been able to put consistent pressure on the quarterback. The team’s 18 sacks (28th in NFL) this season are the same number that Jason Babin, who was released by the team earlier this week, alone had in 2011. The Eagles also have just 10 takeaways so far, the fewest in the NFL.

Key Factor:
The Eagles won't have Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy tonight against the Cowboys and DeSean Jackson won't see the field again this season. The coaching staff has turned the offense over to rookies Nick Foles at quarterback and Bryce Brown at running back. Foles has yet to look real comfortable in the pocket and that’s likely not to change against Dallas’ defense. And even though Brown gashed Carolina for 178 yards rushing in his NFL debut, the Cowboys figure to be a tougher test. Both teams are under .500 and have had their share of issues, especially when it comes to turnovers. But this is an Eagles team that has lost seven in a row and, for all intents and purposes, has basically packed it in. After all, they have given up an average of 31.4 points per game over their last five defeats. Just two games behind the Giants, the Cowboys are still alive in the NFC East hunt, while all the Eagles’ fans have left to look forward to is what additional personnel changes will take place in the offseason (if not sooner) and how high will they be picking in the first round of next year’s draft.

Cowboys 34, Eagles 17

<p> Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 05:40
All taxonomy terms: Kansas City Chiefs, NFL
Path: /nfl/kc-police-chiefs-player-commits-suicide

Javon Belcher

Kansas City, MO (Sports Network) - Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed himself Saturday morning at the team's facility, moments after allegedly killing his girlfriend.

Belcher was 25 years old.

According to Kansas City police, Belcher shot his girlfriend multiple times after the two had been engaged in an argument at home. She was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

Minutes after the first shooting, police said Belcher drove to the Chiefs' training facility at Arrowhead Stadium and spoke with team personnel, including head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli, before taking his own life with a gunshot.

"When officers arrived (at Arrowhead Stadium), they observed a black male who had a gun to his head and he was talking to a couple of coaches out in the parking lot," police spokesman Darrin Snapp told reporters outside Arrowhead Stadium. "As officers pulled up and began to park, that's when they heard the gunshot and it appears the individual took his own life."

A report from the Kansas City Star said Belcher and his girlfriend had a daughter, who was only a few months old.

"The entire Chiefs family is deeply saddened by today's events, and our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy, thoughts and prayers for the families and friends affected by this unthinkable tragedy," said Chiefs owner Clark Hunt in a statement. "We sincerely appreciate the expressions of sympathy and support we have received from so many in the Kansas City and NFL communities, and ask for continued prayers for the loved ones of those impacted."

Belcher was in his fourth year with the Chiefs after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Maine. He started 10 of the 11 games he had played this season, registered 38 tackles.

The Chiefs will play Carolina on Sunday at Arrowhead and the game will go on as scheduled.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Chiefs and the families and friends of those who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy," the NFL said in a statement. "We have connected the Chiefs with our national team of professional counselors to support both the team and the families of those affected. We will continue to provide assistance in any way that we can."

<p> Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed himself Saturday morning at the team's facility, moments after allegedly killing his girlfriend.</p>
Post date: Saturday, December 1, 2012 - 20:00
Path: /fantasy/week-13-injury-updates-deangelo-williams-jonathan-stewart-darren-mcfadden-marcel-reece

Depending upon your fantasy league setup, this is likely the last week of the regular season for you. If not, then you have a two-week push left to get into the postseason. Here are some updates on injured players, their status for the Week 13 games or the outlook for their replacements.

DeAngelo WilliamsDeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, RBs, Carolina Panthers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Jonathan Stewart did not make the trip to Kansas City and is out for today's game with an ankle injury he suffered last week. This gives DeAngelo Williams a bigger load. Keep in mind that the Panthers are ranked 28th as a team in PPR points scored by the running back position. DeAgelo Williams had 11 carries  a number he has maxed out at four times since Week 3  and collected 21 yards last week against the Eagles. The Chiefs have allowed 11 double-digit days to fantasy RBs this season, including 111 total yards on 24 touches to Knowshon Moreno last week  the same Knowshon Moreno who was inactive for eight weeks prior to last week's game. Give Williams a look as a low-end RB2 designation, that should be a worst-case scenario.


Darren McFadden, Marcel Reece, RBs, Oakland Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns
Darren McFadden (ankle) is set to be back today and Marcel Reece is expected to remain in the running back role, instead of resuming fullback duties, as the Raiders work McFadden back into game shape. There are so many downsides to the Oakland RB situation this week. One: McFadden is coming back for the first time since Week 9 but is not expected to take over the workhorse role. Two: Reece has been a great, late-season, waiver wire pickup, and what is he going to be now? Three: It's a late start, and you have to make your call on both McFadden and Reece in the next couple of hours. It takes Reece from a clear upper RB2, to a questionable flex and furthers the frustration for McFadden owners this season. And all of this comes when the Raiders are playing host to a Browns team that is ranked 25th against fantasy RBs in PPR. I am taking my chances with Reece as a flex and keeping McFadden on the bench.

UPDATE: ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting on Sunday morning that McFadden is unlikely to play today, tweeting: "After optimism he would play this week, Raiders RB Darren McFadden unlikely to play today vs Cleveland."

FANTASY UPDATE: Reece returns to a clear RB2 role if McFadden is out. The Browns have allowed 14 double-digit outings to RBs, 

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Darren McFadden, Marcel Reece updates</p>
Post date: Saturday, December 1, 2012 - 18:34
Path: /nfl/nfl-picks-against-spread-week-13

A betting preview of every game (against the spread) on Sunday and Monday in Week 13.

Locks of the Week
Three quarterbacks with chips on their shoulders take on two of the most inconsistent teams in the league and the worst squad.

Panthers (-3) at Chiefs
Eight of Kansas City’s 10 losses have come by four or more points; Cam and Co. are riding a wave of momentum into Arrowhead.

Texans (-6.5) at Titans
Despite a 141-yard effort from Chris Johnson, Tennessee lost at Houston, 38–14, in Week 4. Now, it’s coming off a loss at Jacksonville.

Broncos (-7) vs. Buccaneers
Three of Denver’s four wins at Mile High have been by 10 or more points; the other win was by exactly seven points. The one loss was to 10–1 Houston in Week 3.

Straight Up Upsets
Measuring stick games for two teams with pride to play for against a pair of playoff squads that have been up-and-down this year.

Chargers (+2) vs. Bengals
It will be obvious this week whether the Bolts have already turned off the lights on 2012 or if there is still juice flowing through the powder blue roster.

Redskins (+3) vs. Giants
If RG3’s Thanksgiving debut is any foreshadowing of his Monday Night Football debut, there may not be much Big Blue can do about Bob.  

Blowout Bargains
Big numbers have not been kind this season, but there’s a good chance these three division contests get ugly.

Patriots (-9) at Dolphins
In the old days, Tom Brady had trouble in Miami. But that’s back when Jason Taylor was a sack champ and Ricky Williams was taking rushing crowns.

Packers (-9) vs. Vikings
Green Bay discount-double-checker Aaron Rodgers is 4–0 against Minnesota since his good buddy Brett Favre beat him twice back in 2009.

Cowboys (-10.5) vs. Eagles
Betting against Philly rookie Nick Foles is always a good bet; the Eagles lost 38–23 at home to the Cowboys in Week 10, Foles’ first NFL game action.

Sucker Bets
Stay away from these games completely unless you are a hometown homer or a degenerate who has to have action at all times.

Bears (-3.5) vs. Seahawks
Over the past two years, Chi-town is 15–5 with Smokin’ Jay Cutler starting and 0–6 without him.

Jets (-4.5) vs. Cardinals
These two flightless clubs both have 4–7 records and their coaches’ jobs to play for. Now that’s motivation.

Bills (-6) vs. Jaguars
Chad Henne has taken the Texans to overtime and taken down the Titans since taking over for Blaine Gabbert.

49ers (-7.5) at Rams
This is a rematch of the 18th overtime tie in NFL history, Week 10’s entertaining 24–24 NFC West stalemate.

Off the Board
The big board in Las Vegas doesn’t want to touch these games until later on, so we’ll wager on what the final line will be.

Steelers at Ravens (n/a)
Seven of the last nine games in this series have been decided by exactly three points, but not this time. Take the Ravens (-4.5)?

Browns at Raiders (n/a)
The race to the bottom — or top of the NFL Draft order, as it were — starts with this brown-or-blackout. Take the Raiders (-2.5)?

<p> NFL Picks Against the Spread: Week 13, including New York Giants at Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 15:32
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, Golf
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-eleven-links-day-6

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for November 30.

• Yesterday, we featured a slideshow of Bama cheerleaders. Awaiting the Tide should they win tomorrow: the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In the interests of equal time, here's a look at the Irish cheerleaders.

• One of the Powerball winners apparently picked his numbers based on jersey numbers of his favorite Royals. This is the first time since 1985 that being a Royals fan has actually paid off.

• One of those former Royals was Bo Jackson. It's his 50th birthday, which officially makes both him and me old. To celebrate, here's a gallery of 50 vintage Bo photos.

• Time Magazine is soliciting votes for its Person of the Year. Candidates include sports figures Gabrielle Douglas, Michael Phelps and Roger Goodell. Wait, what? Roger Goodell? Might as well vote for Kim Jong Un, who, hilariously, is currently leading the voting. I guess they do have Internet in North Korea.

• Speaking of power-mad commissioners, David Stern plans to punish the star-sitting Spurs after their loss to the Heat last night.

• My favorite headline of the day sits atop this Deadspin story.

The most painful loss in the painful history of Rutgers football happened last night.

• We have a Big Blue crisis on our hands: Last night the Wildcats were held to the lowest point total of the Calipari era, but even more shocking, a senior led Kentucky in scoring. That is not John Calipari basketball, folks.

Rory McIlroy supports the anchored putter ban, based on his admittedly limited experience with the club.

• God bless the Internet: A column on Colin Kaepernick's tattoos unleashed apparently baseless charges of racism over the interwebs.

• Looks like Jon Gruden has turned down Tennessee. Again. Will the Vols finally drop their embarrassing pursuit of Gruden and accept that they're in the Friend Zone? They're starting to look like Duckie from "Pretty in Pink."

• Forty-one years ago today, "Brian's Song" aired for the first time, and grown men wept openly. Here's Billy Dee Williams delivering Gale Sayers' moving soliloquy from that classic film.

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

November 29

• As Alabama makes final preparations for its SEC title game showdown with Georgia, enjoy this gallery of Bama cheerleaders through the years.

• Speaking of the SEC, Georgia has a shot at totally remaking its image this Saturday. No pressure or anything.

• Last night in Boston: just your Garden-variety melee. Judging from Kris Humphries' scratches, Rajon Rondo fights like an eight-year-old girl.

Brandon Marshall says that some players use Viagra to get that extra edge. Comes in handy on fourth-and-inches (h/t Conan O'Brien).

• Michael Jordan was recently banned from a swanky country club for wearing cargo shorts. That brings to mind this amusing Tumblr.

Missy the Missile will soon be humiliating her fellow high school swimmers. I'm expecting Secretariat-at-the-Belmont type results.

• Shortly after making an honest woman out of soccer star Hope Solo, Jerramy Stevens went and got himself busted for possible parole violation. Early indications are that Hope will be flying solo for much of her married life.

• It's early, but so far, Duke has been college basketball's best team, and Mason Plumlee its best player.

Check out this bodybuilder's insane biceps. Somebody's bringing howitzers to this year's gun show.

• I somehow missed this story of the drunk-driving Teletubby yesterday. Boy, is hockey desperate to stay in the headlines.

• Fresh off her triumph in "Liz and Dick," Lindsay Lohan celebrated by punching a woman in the meatpacking district. Yes, I know that's a poorly constructed sentence, but it reads funnier, doesn't it?

• Today's video features a disturbing yet strangely hypnotic musical tribute to the Heisman front-runner. As the top commenter says, it's like watching an episode of "Twin Peaks."


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

November 28

• College football is winding down, meaning that there are some long, cold, lonely months ahead. Enjoy some of our favorite college cheerleader photos to soften the blow.

• It's anchors away in the golf world as of 2016. Golf's ruling bodies are outlawing anchored putting strokes, although players have some time to adjust, which is a good thing, considering that three of the last four major champions use the long stick. Steve Eubanks offers up a dissenting view on the ruling.

• Athlon's Braden Gall goes deep in comparing the Heisman candidacies of Johnny Manziel and Collin Klein.

• The intrigue mounts in the Jon Gruden-to-Tennessee chatter.

• If you hate it when officials think they're part of the show, then you have to hate the NBA's Joey Crawford. It's the law. Check out his audition for Dancing With the Stars.

• This isn't sports, but it caught our attention. Angus T. Jones, the half-man of TV's "Two and a Half Men," ripped his show for being "filth." He might be right, but that's called biting the hand that feeds you. Naturally, he's started backtracking.

• They've made a 30 for 30 short film on the Arnold Palmer — the drink, not the man. It actually looks pretty good. This link explains, and also features one of my favorite "This Is SportsCenter" spots.

• Ever wonder why athletic departments are so concerned with money? Just ask Maryland.

• When you air 514 episodes, it's tough to remember what you did say, 320 episodes ago. Continuity errors in the Simpsons.

• If, for some reason, you need an excuse not to run, here you go. Good enough for me.

• It hasn't been a very good year for Danica Patrick, whose losses included every race as well as her marriage, but that doesn't mean we don't still care. In today's video, Danica discusses her divorce and other matters.

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

November 27

• Athlon recently conducted an anonymous survey with college basketball players at top programs. Among the nuggets we uncovered: Players like 'em some Kim Kardashian. Shocking, I know.

• Few people can be said to have transformed sport as we know it. Marvin Miller, who died today at 95, was one of those people. RIP.

• Three years ago today, Tiger Woods hit a tree with his car, and life was never the same. He surely doesn't want to relive that night, but you might. Here's what Deadspin was saying at the time.

• It's the fifth anniversary of another shocking event, this one far more tragic — the death of Sean Taylor. Some thoughts here from a writer who knew him.

• In case you missed it, Colorado football coach Jon Embree was fired yesterday. He didn't take it well. Fans of awkward press conferences should click here.

• No fan base expresses its anger quite as entertainingly as the folks in Philly. Here's a gallery of some ticked-off Philly fanatics.

There's compelling evidence that Texas coach Mack Brown can identify talent; he just doesn't know what to do with it.

• Jets fans won't have Fireman Ed to heckle any more. He's hanging up the funny hat and Sanchez jersey and slinking off into the sunset.

• I think this is a fair question. Maybe it's time to drop the charade of the student-athlete.

• I know, Twitter is where news is broken these days. But it's also where you go to get gems like these.

• Even with shaved heads, these Colts cheerleaders are strangely hot. And it's for a good cause. Everyone wins.

• Today's video is a couple months old, but it's new to me, so here it is: A Lingerie Football League player goes all Earl Campbell on a hapless defender. I'll leave jokes about her team's name to others.

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

November 26

• I know it's old, in Internet terms. I know you've probably seen it by now. But I just can't get enough of this GIF of Mark Sanchez's forced fumble at the hands, or rather, the cheeks, of his teammate. It's the Jets' 2012 season, captured in one two-second sequence.

• Today's Girl Gallery of the Day features the ever-fabulous 49ers cheerleaders.

This FSU fan needs a quick tutorial on how mirrors function. I think the puzzled lady to her left can help. 

This day in unfortunate headline placements. Today's victim, the South Carolina Gamecocks.

• A Thanksgiving leftover: Ndamukong Suh kicking Matt Schaub right in the giblets.

• Speaking of NFL players behaving badly, Brodrick Bunkley delivered a foot to the head of Alex Boone. Matt Schaub called to say Boone got off easy.

• The most aggressive play all season by a Tennessee defender came courtesy of Smokey the mascot.

Our nominee for the catch of the year in college football, and nominations are closed.

• Okay, fine: One more nomination for catch of the year.

• College football's pecking order in one sentence: Tickets for the SEC Championship game start around $400, while tickets for the ACC Championship game start around $4.00.

• Did Bill O'Brien say what I think he said? You be the judge.

• In today's featured video, superstar ref Ed Hochuli unleashes a debate: Is buttocks a singular or plural word?

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Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-worst-bcs-teams

At the end of college football’s regular season, the focus always shifts to the BCS title and debating the best teams in the nation. However, there’s also the other side of the coin, as the end of the year is a chance to reflect on the worst teams. And when examining the BCS era (1998-2012), there's no shortage of "quality" candidates for this ranking. 

Unfortunately for Colorado fans, the Buffaloes have to rank among the top 10 worst BCS teams since 1998. Although Colorado managed to steal a road win at Washington State, it lost to FCS opponent Sacramento State and only one loss in Pac-12 play was by a touchdown. The Buffaloes’ dismal season cost coach Jon Embree his job and adds even more uncertainty to a program that is just 25-61 over the last seven years.  

Top 10 Worst BCS Teams Since 1998

1. 2008 Washington State
Final Record: 
Don’t be fooled by the two wins on the resume: Washington State was awful in 2008. The Cougars were outscored by an average of 48-14 each game and its only victories came against a bad FCS team (Portland State) and a Washington team that was without quarterback Jake Locker and finished with a 0-12 record. The Cougars were shutout in three Pac-10 games and scored only a field goal against California and UCLA. 

2. 2006 Duke
Final Record: 
One year after posting a 1-10 record, Duke’s struggles on the gridiron continued with an 0-12 season. The Blue Devils lost 13-0 in the opener against Richmond and were outscored 73-0 by Virginia and Virginia Tech. There were signs of progress from 2005, as Ted Roof’s team lost by one to North Carolina and Wake Forest and was defeated by five points to Miami in mid-October.

3. 2003 Temple
Final Record:
Temple was largely uncompetitive from the moment it joined the Big East in 1991. The Owls won just 15 overall games from 1991-99 and went winless in conference play in 1996. The 2003 season included a loss to FCS opponent Villanova, with the only victory coming on the road at MTSU. Temple did have a close call in Big East play, losing 24-23 to Virginia Tech in mid-November. The Owls were booted from the Big East due to their struggles on the field and low attendance after the 2004 season but returned to the conference in 2012. 

4. 2000 Duke
Final Record:
Finding success on the gridiron hasn’t been easy for Duke. However, the 2000-01 seasons were possibly the worst in school history. The Blue Devils were not only winless but largely uncompetitive. Duke was shutout in the opener against East Carolina and lost by at least 30 points five times. The Blue Devils also managed only 155 points, their lowest offensive output in the BCS era. 

5. 2008 Washington
Final Record:
Tyrone Willingham failed to record a winning record during his four-year tenure at Washington, and 2008 was a rock-bottom point for this program. The Huskies went 0-12, which included a 16-13 loss to rival Washington State in Pullman. Washington was largely uncompetitive in Pac-10 play, with only two games decided by a touchdown or less. Losing quarterback Jake Locker certainly didn’t help Washington’s chances, but the Huskies’ leading rusher had just 338 yards, and the defense allowed 38.6 points a game. 

6. 1999 Baylor
Final Record: 
Kevin Steele was brought in to replace Dave Roberts after back-to-back two-win seasons, but his tenure was a major disappointment. The Bears went 1-11 in 1999 and was defeated by an average score of 38-13. Baylor’s only win that season came against North Texas, but the lowlight of the year came in a loss against UNLV. Baylor led 24-21 with less than 20 seconds left and just had to take a knee to seal the victory. Instead of lining up in the victory formation, the Bears ran the ball and fumbled, which was returned 99 yards for a touchdown. Although Steele was trying to set an attitude or mindset for the team, it was a huge error on his part. Baylor won only one Big 12 game during Steele’s four years in Waco.

7. 2001 Duke
Final Record:
After a disastrous 2000 season, the Carl Franks tenure at Duke didn’t get much better in 2001. The Blue Devils failed to record a win for the second season in a row and suffered blowout losses at the hands of Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Franks’ 2001 team was a little better but still one of the worst in BCS history. 

8. 1999 Rutgers
Final Record: 
After going 0-11 in 1997, Rutgers showed some signs of life with a 5-6 record in 1998. However, the Scarlet Knights regressed to a dismal 1-10 record in 1999. The only win of the season was a surprise 24-21 upset over Syracuse, but Rutgers lost 56-28 to a 2-9 Temple in late October. Outside of the victory against the Orangemen, the Scarlet Knights had only two losses decided by 14 points or less and was defeated by an average score of 39-14.

9. 2012 Colorado
Final Record: 1-11
After closing out 2011 with victories in two out of their final three games, even though Colorado had a young team coming back in 2012, there was some hope Colorado could at least match its win total. However, the Buffaloes took a step in the wrong direction, opening the year with bad losses to Colorado State and FCS opponent Sacramento State. Colorado also had a point differential of -338 and scored 17 or fewer points in six Pac-12 games. 

10. 2005 Duke
Final Record:
After four miserable seasons under Carl Franks, Duke turned to Ted Roof to help turn the program back in the right direction. Roof had some initial momentum, but things quickly went downhill. The Blue Devils went 1-10 in 2005, with the one win coming over a VMI team that finished 3-8. Duke had a point differential of -231 and had only one ACC loss was decided by less than 25 points. 

Honorable Mention:

1999 South Carolina (0-11)
2000 Baylor (2-9)
2002 Rutgers (1-11)
2002 Kansas (2-10)
2003 Iowa State (2-10)
2005 Syracuse (1-10)
2006 Stanford (1-11)
2007 Syracuse (2-10)
2007 Baylor (3-9)
2007 Minnesota (1-11)
2009 Washington State (1-11)
2011 Indiana (1-11)
2011 Kansas (2-10)

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<p> College Football's Top 10 Worst BCS Teams</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-14-0

Six conference championship games highlight the Week 14 slate, most notably the Georgia vs. Alabama clash in the SEC. There will also BCS bids on the line in the Big Ten (Nebraska vs. Wisconsin), ACC (Florida State vs. Georgia Tech) and Pac-12 (UCLA at Stanford), and possibly even in the MAC, where the winner of the Kent State vs. Northern Illinois battle could possibly end up in the Orange Bowl.

Georgia (+7) vs. Alabama
We won’t have an official playoff until 2014, but the SEC Championship Game is basically a national semifinal. The winner will punch its ticket to the BCS title game, while the loser is likely out of the mix for a BCS bowl. Alabama is clearly the popular pick, but Georgia is good enough on offense to make the Crimson Tide sweat. Remember, Alabama gave up 435 yards and 418 yards to LSU and Texas A&M, respectively, in consecutive games earlier this month. This is still a great defensive team, but unlike last season, it’s a defense that will give up an occasional first down or two. The concern for Georgia is its defense, specifically against the run. The Bulldogs rank 67th nationally in rushing defense (164.4 ypg) and have given up 190 yards or more in six of their 12 games. Expect to see heavy doses of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon.
Alabama 27–21

Nebraska (-3) vs. Wisconsin
Wisconsin is back in the Big Ten title game despite finishing in third place in the Leaders Division. The two top teams in the division, Ohio State and Penn State, combined for a 14–2 record but are both ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions. So we are left with a .500 Wisconsin club that has lost three of its last four games (though all three defeats were in overtime) rather than Ohio State, which is undefeated and ranked in the top five in the AP poll. There is no denying that Nebraska belongs in this game. The Cornhuskers won the Legends with a 7–1 record and have won six straight games. Nebraska is known for its rushing attack — and rightfully so — but Taylor Martinez has improved as a passer in his third season as a starter.
Nebraska 24–14

UCLA (+8.5) at Stanford (Fri)
UCLA and Stanford get together for the second time in a week. This time the stakes are quite a bit higher — a trip to the Rose Bowl is on the line. Last Saturday, the Cardinal manhandled UCLA at the line of scrimmage en route to a 35–17 victory in Los Angeles. Stanford rushed for 221 yards on 59 carries, led by 142 yards and two touchdowns from Stepfan Taylor. UCLA, on the other hand, only netted 73 yards on the ground, with All-Pac-12 candidate Johnathan Franklin rushing for 65 yards, his second-lowest total of the season. Some have suggested that Stanford didn’t get UCLA’s best effort — the Bruins had already wrapped up the Pac-12 South title — but it’s hard to believe a team would be lacking motivation in its home-finale, especially with a chance to pick up its 10th win of the season. Take the Cardinal to complete the sweep.
Stanford 34–27

Florida State (-14) vs. Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech finished in a three-way tie with North Carolina and Miami in the Coastal Division with a 5–3 league record (and 6–6 overall). The Yellow Jackets, however, are the only team of the three eligible for postseason play, so they will be making the trip to Charlotte to play Florida State. Georgia Tech has had some decent wins, but this is not a team with an impressive résumé. The Jackets have four losses by 16 points or more, including a 21-point loss to Middle Tennessee and a 24-point loss to BYU — both at home. Florida State features a roster good enough to win a national title, but the Seminoles simply didn’t get it done on the field, losing at NC State, 17–16, and at home to Florida, 37–26. The Noles are likely headed to a BCS bowl for the first time since 2006, but this season has been a disappointment.
Florida State 30–20

Northern Illinois (-6) vs. Kent State (Fri)
It’s arguably the most attractive matchup in the 16-year history of the MAC Championship Game, with both Kent State and Northern Illinois ranked in the top 25 in the BCS standings with identical 11–1 records. Kent State, ranked No. 17, can play in a BCS bowl by finishing in the top 16 of the BCS standings. For that to happen, the Golden Flashes need to win and either for UCLA (No. 16) to lose to Stanford or Florida State (No. 13) to lose to Georgia Tech. Northern Illinois, ranked No. 21, has more hurdles to climb to reach BCS riches.
Northern Illinois 34–27

UCF (+2) at Tulsa
This is one of two rematches on championship weekend. Two weeks ago in Tulsa, the Golden Hurricane edged UCF 23–21 in a game that ultimately decided which team would host the C-USA title game. Tulsa outgained UCF 461–to-235 but had trouble punching the ball into the end zone. Last week, after clinching the West title (as well as home field advantage in the championship game), Tulsa lost at SMU 35–27. Bill Blankenship will have his team refocused and ready to play this weekend.
Tulsa 28–20

Louisville (+3) at Rutgers (Thu)
Neither team is playing its best ball of late. Louisville has lost two straight after a 9–0 start, while Rutgers missed an opportunity to clinch the outright Big East title by losing at Pittsburgh 27–6 last weekend. After muscling their way to 234 yards rushing in a key win at Cincinnati two weeks ago, the Scarlet Knights managed only 50 yards on 24 carries against the Panthers. They should get back on track against a Louisville team that has had trouble stopping the run of late. Over the past five games, the Cards have given up an average of 215.0 yards rushing, including 278 to Syracuse two weeks ago and 255 to Temple three weeks ago. That doesn’t bode well for their trip to Jersey on Thursday night. Rutgers should clinch its first-ever Big East title.
Rutgers 27–20

Texas (+11.5) at Kansas State
Kansas State can lock up the Big 12 title and a spot in a BCS bowl with a win over Texas or an Oklahoma loss to TCU. The Wildcats have not played since losing at Baylor two weeks ago when they gave up 580 total yards, including a staggering 342 on the ground. K-State dropped from ninth in the nation in rushing defense to 18th after the Baylor game. Speaking of trouble stopping the run, Texas is allowing 201.5 yards rushing per game — an alarmingly high figure for a team with so much talent. The Horns have also struggled on offense of late, but this team has had its moments this season, scoring 66 at Ole Miss, 41 at Oklahoma State, 45 vs. West Virginia and 56 vs. Baylor. Quarterback Case McCoy will make his first start of the season. David Ash, the starter in the first 11 games, is questionable with a rib injury.
Kansas State 27–20

Oklahoma State (-4) at Baylor
Baylor has bounced back from a four-game losing streak by winning three of its last four games. The Bears are now bowl-eligible for the third straight season for the first time since the early 1990s. As usual, Art Briles’ team is getting it done on offense. Baylor has scored 104 points in its last two games and has topped the 40-point mark in eight of its 11 games. It might take 60 points to win this game, however, when you factor in that Oklahoma State boasts an offense that is averaging 45.6 points per game and Baylor is giving up 38.5 per game. The Pokes scored 48 in an overtime loss to Oklahoma last week with a quarterback (Clint Chelf) who began the season third on the depth chart. Chelf, a junior, will get the start again this weekend. Expect him to put up gaudy numbers.
Oklahoma State 60–49

Oklahoma (-6.5) at TCU
TCU has had better teams and bigger wins, but the Horned Frogs’ 20–13 victory on Thanksgiving night at Texas has to rank among the most gratifying in Gary Patterson’s 12 years as the school’s head coach. Now, the Horned Frogs return home and host the mighty Sooners from Oklahoma. OU has won four straight, though the last three have been by eight points over Baylor, one point over West Virginia and three points, in overtime, over Oklahoma State. The Sooners haven’t exactly been dominant during this winning streak. The offense has been great, most notably quarterback Landry Jones (three games of 400-plus yards), but the defense has allowed an average of 564 yards in its last three games. However, don’t expect TCU to put up a big number on OU this weekend. The Frogs are averaging only 26.7 points in regulation (they’ve had two games go to overtime) this season against FBS opponents. To win this game, TCU will have to keep the score in the 20s or low 30s.
Oklahoma 30–17

Last week: 5–5 overall (4–6 against the spread)
Season: 85–45 overall (70–60 against the spread)

Other games

Middle Tennessee at Arkansas State
The Sun Belt title is on the line in Jonesboro this weekend, but the winner of this game will not be going to the New Orleans Bowl. Louisiana-Lafayette, which can finish no higher than a tie for second place, has already accepted an invite.
Arkansas State 30–24
Cincinnati at Connecticut

UL-Lafayette at FAU
As mentioned above, the Ragin’ Cajuns already know their postseason fate — a return trip to the New Orleans Bowl.
UL-Lafayette 37–17

South Alabama at Hawaii
Norm Chow’s first season at Hawaii hasn’t gone well, but the Warriors do have an opportunity to close on a two-game winning streak.
Hawaii 37–20

Boise State at Nevada
Boise State’s last trip to Reno ended in a shocking overtime loss that cost the Broncos a spot in a BCS bowl. There’s not nearly as much at stake this time around.
Boise State 34–23

Nicholls State at Oregon State
This game was originally scheduled for Week 1 but had to be pushed back due to Hurricane Isaac. Nicholls State is 1–9 with its lone win over Evangel.
Oregon State 51–0

Pittsburgh at South Florida
Pittsburgh has an opportunity to become bowl-eligible with a win this weekend, which could mean a third-straight trip to the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham.
Pittsburgh 23–17

New Mexico State at Texas State
New Mexico State has lost 10 straight and does not have a win over an FBS opponent. This is arguably the worst team in the country.
Texas State 38–20

Kansas at West Virginia
Charlie Weis’ first season at Kansas will end with only one win — over South Dakota State in Week 1 — but the Jayhawks were competitive in many of their losses.
West Virginia 49–30

<p>  </p> <p> Six conference championship games highlight the Week 14 slate, most notably the Georgia vs. Alabama clash in the SEC. There will also BCS bids on the line in the Big Ten (Nebraska vs. Wisconsin), ACC (Florida State vs. Georgia Tech) and Pac-12 (UCLA at Stanford), and possibly even in the MAC, where the winner of the Kent State vs. Northern Illinois battle could possibly end up in the Orange Bowl.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 05:30
Path: /college-football/sec-championship-preview-and-prediction-alabama-vs-georgia

These two traditional powers—Alabama and Georgia—will play for the first time in the SEC Championship Game and for only the fifth time overall since 1995. The stakes couldn’t be higher: The winner will play Notre Dame for the BCS National Championship and the loser likely will be squeezed out of the BCS mix.

Much has been made about Georgia’s relatively soft SEC schedule, but it’s important to note that both Georgia and Alabama only played two of the other four SEC teams ranked in the top 10 of the latest BCS standings. Georgia beat No. 4 Florida and lost to No. 10 South Carolina, while Alabama beat No. 7 LSU and lost to No. 9 Texas A&M. Alabama did play Michigan out of conference, but the strength of these two teams’ schedules is about the same.

It’s dangerous to compare results, but just for fun: Alabama and Georgia had four common opponents (Missouri, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Auburn); Alabama won all four games by a total score of 168–37, while Georgia won all four by a total score of 167–74.

So who wins on Saturday? Good question.

Other Championship Game Previews
| Big Ten | Pac-12

Conference Previews
Big 12
| Big East

When the Alabama Crimson Tide have the ball:
Alabama has built a reputation under Nick Saban as a smashmouth team that relies on its defense and running game. While that is true to a large degree, this team is still adept at throwing the ball down the field. In fact, Alabama as a team ranks No. 1 in the nation in passing efficiency thanks to the work of quarterback A.J. McCarron. The junior averages 9.46 yards per attempt (second-best in the nation) and has thrown 25 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

The Tide, however, will be without one of their primary targets for the remainder of the season. Junior Kenny Bell, second on the team with 431 receiving yards, was sidelined with a broken leg in the win over Auburn on Saturday. McCarron still has quality targets at his disposal, most notably Amari Cooper and Kevin Norwood, but Bell, who averaged 25.4 yards per reception, was Alabama’s top deep threat.

The running game is powered by true freshman T.J. Yeldon and junior Eddie Lacy, who both rank among the top five in the league (min. 100 carries) in yards per attempt. Lacy leads the team with 1,001 yards and 14 touchdowns; Yeldon is second with 847 yards and 10 TDs. And it’s on the ground where Alabama figures to have the most success attacking the Georgia defense. The Bulldogs rank 67th nationally in rushing defense (164.4 ypg) and have given up 190 yards or more in six of their 12 games.

Alabama is versatile enough to beat Georgia on the ground or through the air, but it would be a surprise if Lacy and Yeldon each don’t get at least 12-to-15 carries.

When the Georgia Bulldogs have the ball:
The Bulldogs are one of the most balanced offensive teams in college football, ranking 39th nationally (and fourth in the SEC) in rushing and 35th (and fourth) in passing. The Dawgs feature one of the top quarterbacks in the country in junior Aaron Murray, who has thrown for 3,201 yards and hasn’t thrown an interception in the past four games. Georgia, like Alabama, is dealing with some injuries at wide receiver. Michael Bennett was off to a strong start to his sophomore season (24 catches for 345 yards in five games) before tearing the ACL in right knee against Tennessee. And senior Marlon Brown, who has 27 receptions for 469 yards, was lost with an ACL tear in his left knee against Ole Miss. With Bennett and Brown out of the lineup, Tavarres King and Malcolm Mitchell, who began the year playing cornerback, have been the primary weapons down the field. The Dawgs also have two tight ends (Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome) with at least 10 catches.

Georgia’s running game appeared to take a hit when Isaiah Crowell, who rushed for 850 yards as a freshman in 2011, was kicked off the team over the summer. No worries. Georgia plugged in two highly touted true freshmen, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, who combined to rush for 1,858 yards and 222 touchdowns. Both had their moments, but Gurley emerged as the primary ball-carrier and finished the regular season as the SEC’s leading rusher in league play by averaging 95.3 yards per game. Gurley averaged 5.8 yards per carry vs. SEC competition, second only to Alabama’s Lacy for players with over 100 carries.

Statistically, Alabama features the nation’s No. 1 defense, but Georgia is good enough on offense to make the Crimson Tide sweat. Remember, Alabama gave up 435 yards and 418 yards to LSU and Texas A&M, respectively, in consecutive games earlier this month. This is still a great defensive team, but unlike last season, it’s a defense that will give up an occasional first down or two.

Final Analysis
These teams are quite similar. Georgia’s a bit more explosive on offense, but Alabama’s more formidable on defense and has the edge on special teams. You also have to give the advantage to Alabama in coaching. The bottom line: Georgia is very good. Alabama is great.
Alabama 27–21

  David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Alabama vs. Georgia Alabama 35-21 Alabama 24-23 Alabama 27-20 Alabama 27-21
Last week 7-2 7-2 6-3 7-2
Season 90-22 95-17 95-17 94-18

<p>  </p> <p> These teams are quite similar. Georgia’s a bit more explosive on offense, but Alabama’s more formidable on defense and has the edge on special teams. You also have to give the advantage to Alabama in coaching. The bottom line: Georgia is very good. Alabama is great.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 05:30
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-13-award-watch

This week will mark the final chance for award contenders to make their final pitches to voters across the country.

Heisman contenders Johnny Manziel, Manti Te’o and Braxton Miller have finished their seasons, so Collin Klein will have the opportunity to make the final statement. And he’s not just vying for the Heisman.

Athlon Heisman poll | Analysis: Klein v. Manziel | Historic Heisman field

Maxwell Award
Finalists: Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o
Biggest snub: Ohio State’s Braxton Miller
Our leader: Klein
Though the Maxwell and Heisman essentially honor a player of a similar description -- the player or the year or the most outstanding player -- they’ve rarely been in lockstep over the last decade. Auburn’s Cam Newton in 2010 and Florida’s Tim Tebow in 2007 are the only players since 2000 to win the Maxwell and the Heisman in the same year. Maxwell winners include Andrew Luck (2011), Colt McCoy (2009), Brady Quinn (2006), Vince Young (2005) and Eli Manning (2003). Since we have Manziel as our Heisman frontrunner and each of the last nine winners were quarterbacks, we select Klein as our Maxwell frontrunner.

Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Finalists: Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller
Biggest snub: Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch
Our leader: Klein
Klein has one more game to stake his claim on national awards compared to Manziel, but it’s tough to ignore a redshirt freshman playing for a first-year coach setting SEC records in his program’s year in the league. Manziel led the SEC in rushing and set conference records in total offense for a single game and single season.

Doak Walker (Top running back)
Finalists: Wisconsin’s Montee Ball, Oregon’s Kenjon Barner, UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin
Biggest snub: Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey
Our leader: Carey
Voters can't, but we can still vote for Carey even if he’s not a finalist. The Wildcats running back leads the nation in rushing at 146.4 yards per game. Carey rushed for 742 yards and seven touchdowns in his final three games.

Biletnikoff Award (Top wide receiver)
Finalists: West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey, USC’s Marqise Lee, Baylor’s Terrance Williams
Biggest snub: West Virginia’s Tavon Austin
Our leader: Lee
In a disappointing year for USC, Lee was the bright spot. He caught 112 passes for 1,680 yards with 14 touchdowns. Though he and Robert Woods entered the season as one of the best tandems in the country, Lee finished with twice as many yards.

Mackey Award (Top tight end)
Finalists: Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, Stanford’s Zach Ertz, Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Biggest snub: Arizona State’s Chris Coyle
Our leader: Ertz
Ertz led the nation’s tight ends with 818 receiving yards, a total on which he can build in the Pac-12 title game against UCLA.

Outland Trophy (Top interior lineman)
Finalists: North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper, Alabama’s Barrett Jones, Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel
Biggest snub: Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt
Our leader: Jones
Jones has been the frontrunner for offensive line awards all season and has done little to change that perception. Can that continue against Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones?

Rimington Trophy (Top center)
Finalists: To be named Dec. 1
Our leader: Jones, Alabama
Others: Kansas State’s B.J. Finney, Clemson’s Dalton Freeman

Nagurski Trophy (Defensive Player of the Year)
Finalists: South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Alabama Dee Milliner, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, Florida State’s Bjoern Werner
Biggest snub: Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene
Our leader: Te’o
Te’o’s case for national defensive player of the year is nearly ironclad. He’s the anchor of the nation’s No. 6 defense and No. 5 run defense. His seven interceptions is second in the nation. The next most picks for a linebacker is four.

Bednarik Trophy (Defensive Player of the Year)
Finalists: South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o
Biggest snub: Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene
Our leader: Te’o

Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)
Finalists: South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, Alabama’s Barrett Jones, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones
Biggest snub: Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore
Our leader: Clowney
Both Joneses will have a chance to build their cases in the SEC Championship Game, but Clowney is our leader for now after recording 4.5 sacks in the upset at Clemson last week. He had 9.5 tackles for a loss in his final four games played (he missed the game against Wofford).

Butkus Award (Top linebacker)
Finalists: Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Oregon’s Dion Jordan, LSU’s Kevin Minter, Alabama’s C.J. Mosley, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o
Biggest snub: Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene
Our leader: Te’o

Thorpe Award (Top defensive back)
Finalists: Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks, Alabama’s Dee Milliner, Fresno State’s Phillip Thomas
Biggest snub: Florida’s Matt Elam
Our leader: Thomas
Milliner may walk away with the award, especially if he shines in a in a matchup against Aaron Murray in Atlanta, but Thomas shouldn’t fly under the radar. He’s leading the nation with eight interceptions, including two touchdowns. He also was tied for second in the Mountain West with 12 tackles for a loss.

Groza Award (Top kicker)

Finalists: Florida State’s Dustin Hopkins, Tulane’s Cairo Santos, Florida’s Caleb Sturgis
Biggest snub: Ball State’s Steven Schott
Our leader: Santos
Santos in the only kicker with more than 15 attempts who is perfect on field goals. The Green Wave junior is 21 of 21 including 12 made field goals from longer than 40 yards.

Ray Guy Award (Top punter)
Finalists: Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Allen, Florida’s Kyle Christy, Ball State’s Scott Kovanda
Biggest snub: Texas A&M’s Ryan Epperson
Our leader: Allen
The defending Ray Guy winner led the nation with 48 yards per kick as Louisiana Tech led the country in net punting (43.5).

Freshman of the Year
Our leader: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Breaking SEC records held by Cam Newton and Tim Couch is a good way to start a career. Not to mention defeating then-No. 1 Alabama on the road. Even in a year with standout redshirt freshman quarterbacks, Manziel leads the pack.
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Dixon, TCU’s Devonte Fields, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota

Coach of the Year
Our leader: Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly
O’Brien and Meyer overcame more adversity, and Snyder deserves a lifetime achievement awards. But from a standpoint of exceeding expectations and overcoming limitations, Kelly is the leader. The Notre Dame offense is average -- something that has to stick in Kelly’s craw -- but the defense carried the Irish to an unexpected undefeated season and title game appearance.
Others: Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, Kansas State’s Bill Snyder

Broyles Award (top assistant)
Finalists: Georgia’s Mike Bobo, Notre Dame’s Bob Diaco, Texas A&M’s Kliff Kingsbury, Stanford’s Derek Mason, Florida’s Dan Quinn
Biggest snub: Oregon State’s Mark Banker
Our leader: Kliff Kingsbury, Texas A&M
Kingsbury helped set records as Mike Leach’s first quarterback at Texas Tech and did the same as the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M. The Aggies set an SEC record with 552.3 yards per game.

<p> As the season winds down, players like Collin Klein, Jarvis Jones and Barrett Jones can challenge for Maxwell, Davey O'Brien, Lombardi Awards</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 05:20
Path: /college-football/big-ten-championship-preview-and-prediction-nebraska-cornhuskers-vs-wisconsin-badge

The second annual Big Ten Championship game features two of the Midwest’s football powers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The corn-fed Big Red from Lincoln will battle with the dairy-fed Big Red from Madison, but only one team actually won their division.

These two met back in October in the Big Ten opener at Memorial Stadium — remember those polarizing adidas uniforms? — and Nebraska came away with its first big comeback win of the year. The 30-27 win propelled the Huskers to a 7-1 mark in league play and a Legends Division crown. Dating back to 2009, this is Bo Pelini’s third conference championship game in four seasons, but a win would be the Cornhuskers' first league title since 1999. It would also send Nebraska to Pasadena for the first time since 2002 when it lost to Miami in the BCS National Championship Game.

The Badgers, after losing six assistant coaches, started slowly on offense this fall before finding their stride in mid-season. However, Wisconsin’s schedule toughened up in the final month of play and it lost three of its last four. Bret Bielema’s squad finished 4-4 in the league with losses in the division to Ohio State and Penn State — the two teams that actually finished ahead of the Badgers in the Leaders Division standings. That said, all five of Wisconsin’s losses were by seven points or less this fall, including three overtime defeats. A win for the Badgers would give UW its third consecutive Big Ten championship and third straight trip to the Rose Bowl — the first Big Ten school to do so since Michigan from 1977-79.

Either way this one goes, a historic Big Red program will invade Pasadena. And the best broadcast team in the business, FOX’ Gus Johnson and Charles Davis, will bring fans the call at 8:17 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. 

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| Pac-12 | SEC

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When Wisconsin has the ball

The Badgers' offense lost their renowned offensive coordinator, the best QB in the history of the program and three first-team All-Big Ten lineman from 2011. It showed early on with major struggles coming against Northern Iowa, Oregon State and Utah State. After an offensive line coaching move and quarterback switch, the UW offense flourished. Redshirt freshman quarterback Joel Stave and Heisman finalist Montee Ball finally gave the Badgers a two-dimensional offense. However, late in the Michigan State game, Stave was lost for the year to a broken collarbone and eventually fifth-year senior Curt Phillips got the nod under center.

Phillips has limitations throwing the football, but has proven to be clutch, throwing game-tying touchdown strikes with seconds left on the clock against both Ohio State and Penn State in his last two games. He is obviously at his best when Ball and the Badgers’ traditional power running game are effective. This team has averaged over 240 yards rushing per game three seasons in a row and Ball has scored seven times in two games against Nebraska. The star tailback is one rushing touchdown from setting the all-time NCAA record (73) and he’s already the all-time total touchdown leader in NCAA history (79).

The Huskers' defense has had its deficiencies over the past few seasons, but first-year coordinator John Papuchis — who is the youngest solo defensive coordinator in the nation — has fostered marked improvement this season. His team leads the nation in passing defense and has been able to pressure the quarterback with more regularity. Linebacker Will Compton and defensive end Eric Martin headline a defense that is much stronger at the point of attack than it was a year ago and coverman Ciante Evans is developing quickly into a star on the back end. Phillips will be tested mightily by the nation’s top passing defense, so the offense will once again run through its deep stable of running backs that features not only Ball but also James White (693 yards, 8 TD) and Melvin Gordon (354 yards, 2 TD).

When Nebraska has the ball

The Nebraska offense starts and ends with Taylor Martinez. The redshirt junior quarterback led the Big Ten in passing efficiency and total offense while steering the league’s No. 1 offense. He has been masterful in the second half, leading his team from behind against Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan State and Penn State with big plays on the ground and efficient passing. T-Mart completed 17-of-29 passes for 181 yards, rushed for 107 yards on 13 attempts and scored three times in the 17-point second-half comeback against Wisconsin in October.

The league’s top rushing attack isn’t just Martinez, however. Rex Burkhead returned to the lineup in the season finale after dealing with major knee issues all season to lead his team to victory over Iowa. His valiant performance in the second half pushed the Huskers into the title game and provides the offense with another ball carrier. Ameer Abdullah (1,071 yards, 8 TD) and Imani Cross (289 yards, 6 TD) have filled in admirably throughout the year and now Pelini finds himself with a glut of talent in the backfield.

He might need as many bodies as he can find against the Badgers' No. 12-rated rushing defense (111.3 ypg). Linebackers Mike Taylor, who is the nation’s leading tackler over the last two seasons, and Chris Borland, who missed the last two games with injury, are expected to be at full strength for this title bout. The rest of the non-descript Wisconsin defense is fundamentally sound and well coached but not overtly talented. Look for Martinez’ ability to break contain with his legs to be the deciding factor once again. 

Final Analysis

One team has better players, has a better record and won the first meeting of the year. The other is missing its starting quarterback and has lost three of its last four. Pelini has won 10 games and played in a conference championship game in three of the last four years. However, his team has also lost four games in each of his four seasons in Lincoln. This weekend’s showdown would end all of those streaks and send the Huskers to Pasadena for only the third time in school history and would give Pelini his first championship. There are no excuses for Nebraska this time around.


Athlon Editor Championship Prediction YTD Big Ten Record
Braden Gall Nebraska 30, Wisconsin 20 80-16
Mitch Light Nebraska 24, Wisconsin 14 76-20
Steven Lassan Nebraska 27, Wisconsin 24 79-17
David Fox Nebraska 28, Wisconsin 14 77-19

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Pac-12 Championship Game Preview: UCLA vs. Stanford

SEC Championship Game Preview: Alabama vs. Georgia

<p> Big Ten Championship Preview and Prediction: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Wisconsin Badgers</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-basketball/kentuckys-first-road-test-highlights-sec-big-east-challenge

If the unofficial start of the SEC-Big East Challenge began in the Bahamas on Friday, the Big East is in good shape.

Louisville defeated SEC newcomer Missouri 84-61 in a Battle 4 Atlantis semifinal, but, of course, the game was not part of the official Challenge, which begins Thursday and continues through Saturday. Neither Louisville nor Missouri are taking part in the 12-game event.

The field, though, is filled with interesting matchups, including Kentucky’s first road game of the season, a pairing of two surprise teams in Tennessee and Georgetown, and a meeting of two teams who saw their aircraft carrier-openers canceled in Florida and Marquette.

Some games are must-see events. Others are duds. We hope this helps you sort them out.

Best game: Kentucky at Notre Dame
The Wildcats play their first true road game of the season against a team that’s tough to beat on its home court -- Notre Dame is 34-1 in South Bend the last two-plus seasons. The Irish are a veteran team, starting two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore, so this will also be a key test for the Wildcats’ freshmen. Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin have the talent advantage, but Notre Dame’s experience and defensive pressure could cause problems for the Wildcats.

Don’t overlook: Tennessee at Georgetown
The Hoyas seem to perform better when they’re out of the preseason spotlight. Despite playing with a roster of 10 freshmen and sophomores, this season has been no exception. Georgetown defeated UCLA 78-70 in the Legends Classic -- a final that doesn’t look as impressive after the Bruins lost to Cal Poly on Sunday. But Georgetown also took Indiana to overtime thanks to a comeback in the final four minutes. Tennessee has aspirations of making noise in the SEC this season but lost its toughest game thus far to Oklahoma State 62-45. Jarnell Stokes has delivered for the Volunteers with 13.8 points and eight rebounds per game, but he could use help in the frontcourt once Jeronne Maymon is healthy.

Mismatch: Syracuse at Arkansas
Syracuse is doing just fine with assist machine Michael Carter-Williams running the point. Despite sophomore point guard B.J. Young and junior forward Marshawn Powell returning, Arkansas has been one of the biggest disappointments early this season with losses to Pac-12 bottom feeder Arizona State and Wisconsin in the Las Vegas Invitational.

Snoozer: Villanova at Vanderbilt
Viewers may already know Rutgers-Ole Miss and DePaul-Auburn won’t be great games. That’s true. But don’t be fooled by name recognition in Villanova-Vanderbilt. The two teams are a combined 5-6. On Friday, Vanderbilt lost 50-33 to Marist -- yes, that’s a final score -- and Villanova previously lost by 18 to Columbia.

Most to gain: Marquette
The Golden Eagles’ lone loss this season was on a desperation heave at the buzzer against Butler in Maui. After missing out on the winners’ bracket in the Maui Invitational and a season opener against Ohio State due to court conditions on the USS Yorktown, Marquette will have another opportunity for a resume-building game at Florida. Two of the cornerstones for Marquette have been up and down so far -- Jamil Wilson was shut out against Butler but scored 30 total points against Mississippi State and USC while Vander Blue is nursing a knee injury.

Most to lose: Cincinnati
The Bearcats have played well this season, though they won’t be tested by a ranked opponent until Dec. 27 against New Mexico, and after that, not until Big East play. Led by veterans Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati could contend in the Big East, but a loss at home to a mid-level SEC team might change that perception.

Players to watch:
Ryan Harrow, Kentucky. The Wildcats weren’t hurt by Harrow’s absence due to an illness and a family matter. Without Harrow, freshman Archie Goodwin has drawn comparisons to Tyreke Evans and Dwyane Wade since taking over the point, and Jarrod Polson was a pleasant surprise off the bench. Big men Nerlens Noel and Kyle Wiltjer also contributed in the assist column. How John Calipari works Harrow, the projected starter at point guard to open the season, back into the lineup will be worth watching.

Scottie Wilbekin, Florida. The Gators point guard had his best game since missing the first three games, including the Georgetown game canceled at halftime, against UCF last week. Against the Knights, Wilbekin came off the bench to score 17 points with eight assists and five rebounds. Florida coach Billy Donovan has been frustrated with starter Mike Rosario’s turnovers, so the Marquette game could be a chance for Wilbekin to claim the starter’s role.

Otto Porter, Georgetown. Prior to the season, Porter was projected as one of the Big East’s breakout players after a late burst last season. The 6-8 forward has delivered. He doesn’t lead the Hoyas in any major category except blocked shots, but he’s been a contributor across the board. He’ll be matched up against another player, Jarnell Stokes for Tennessee, who transformed his own team late last season.

SEC-Big East Challenge Roundtable picks

THURSDAY (All times Eastern) David Fox Braden Gall Mitch Light Mark Ross Nathan Rush
Kentucky at Notre Dame, 7 p.m., ESPN2 Kentucky Kentucky Kentucky Kentucky Kentucky
S. Carolina at St. John’s, 7:30 p.m., ESPNU St. John's St. John's St. John's St. John's St. John's
Marquette at Florida, 9 p.m., ESPN2 Florida Florida Florida Florida Florida
Seton Hall at LSU, 9:30 p.m., ESPNU LSU LSU LSU LSU LSU
Tennessee at Georgetown, 6:30 p.m., ESPN G'town G'town G'town G'town G'town
Georgia at USF, 7 p.m., ESPNU USF USF USF USF Georgia
Syracuse at Arkansas, 8:30 p.m., ESPN Cuse Cuse Arkansas Cuse Cuse
DePaul at Auburn, 9 p.m., ESPNU DePaul Auburn Auburn DePaul DePaul
Mississippi State at Providence, noon, ESPNU Prov. Prov. Prov. Prov. Prov.
Rutgers at Ole Miss, 2 p.m., ESPNU Ole Miss Ole Miss Ole Miss Ole Miss Ole Miss
Alabama at Cincinnati, 3 p.m., ESPN2 Cincy Cincy Cincy Cincy Cincy
Villanova at Vanderbilt, 5 p.m., ESPN2 Nova Nova Nova Vandy Vandy

<p> Kentucky faces Notre Dame in South Bend in SEC-Big East Challenge, but emerging Tennessee and Georgetown teams also meet in a key game.</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 09:00
Path: /nfl/10-potential-replacements-jets-fan-fireman-ed

New York Jets superfan Fireman Ed penned a guest column in the Metro declaring his intentions to quit his unofficial post as the team’s mascot, following the 49–19 Thanksgiving Day massacre loss to the rival New England Patriots.

The man known to some as Ed Anzalone, former firefighter at Ladder 28 in Harlem, but to many as Fireman Ed, a crazed Jets fanatic and season-ticket holder since 1976, will no longer lead the “greatest chant in all of sports,” as he calls it. Fireman Ed will not lead the famed, “J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!” cheer ever again because of more frequent “confrontations with other Jets fans.”

“I love the guy’s passion and energy he would bring,” said Jets coach Rex Ryan. “He’s a great fan. I really admire him. He was great. If we do our job on the field, that ‘Jets’ chant will continue.”

After losing Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes, the Jets must now fill the void left by their recently retired superfan, who “will attend games as usual, just not as Fireman Ed.”

So who's going to fill Fireman Ed's shoes? Here are 10 candidates who would be perfect to take over as New York’s No. 1 Jets fan:

1.Tim Tebow
Mark Sanchez’s backup might be better utilized as the Jets’ top cheerleader in the stands at MetLife Stadium rather than the highest profile bench player on the planet. Any role would have to be more productive than Tebow’s current purgatory — which has been low-lighted by seven pass attempts and 29 carries for a combined 126 total yards.

In fact, Tebow is indirectly responsible for Fireman Ed’s evacuation. “The stadium has become divided because of the quarterback controversy,” Ed said. “The fact that I chose to wear a Mark Sanchez jersey this year and that fans think I am on the payroll — which is an outright lie — have made these confrontations more frequent.”

Tebow is on the Jets’ payroll and would bring over-the-top positive energy all game long. As the J-E-T-S cheerleader, Tebow would probably be more mixed up in the quarterback controversy than he already is — whether he wore his own No. 15 jersey or supported Sanchez by wearing a green No. 6 just like Fireman Ed.

2. PSY
Maybe “J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!” has run its course. Imagine “Gangnam Style” remixed as “Gang Green Style.” Maybe it’s time to get the New York crowd back on their high horses and dancing with a remix from the South Korean K-pop star PSY. Jets bowties would spread like wild fire.


3. The Village People
Fireman Ed likes to dress up, so do these guys. There’s a cop, chief, cowboy, biker and who knows what else. Plus, as an added bonus, these guys have plenty of practice leading large crowds in four-letter songs. Instead of Y-M-C-A, the new Village voice would lead the chant of J-E-T-S. 


4. Jenn Sterger
The former Jets sideline reporter has been a superfan before — becoming internet famous as an FSU Cowgirl, thanks to Brent Musburger commenting that “1,500 red-blooded Americans just decided to apply to Florida State” after seeing her on national television during the 2005 FSU-Miami game.

But the model, actress and hostess really hit the big time when she was involved in a Jets quarterback controversy of a different kind, as the object of Brett Favre’s obsession late in 2010. It’s about time the Jets brought her back into the mix; they should send her a text or leave a voicemail to see if she’s interested.

5. Minka Kelly
Derek Jeter’s former fiancé played a football cheerleader on “Friday Night Lights,” giving her New York sports cred and gridiron cheering chops. She’s also the daughter of one-time Aerosmith guitarist Rick Dufay, so there’s no doubt she would have thousands of rabid fans waving their lighters in the air. Oh, and she's really, really hot. So there's that.

6. Fire Marshal Bill
The Jim Carrey character from “In Living Color” isn’t a fireman but he is a fire marshal who can “show ya something” about surviving the type of dumpster fires these Jets have been battling all season. Fire Marshal Bill Burns would bring electricity to the crowd and dump Gatorade on himself after every win.

7. Mark Gastineau
The chairman of the 1980’s New York Sack Exchange is the father of Kim Kardashian’s BFF Brittny. A former ‘roid rager who would not be intimidated by any confrontations, Gastineau would be the perfect green Hulk to lead Jets cheers. In fact, he already made his mark on the 2012 season during the team’s Ring of Honor ceremony with a drunken acceptance speech that’s Jimmy Traina called “Joe Namath Part II.”

8. Brett Favre
When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way, right? Well, Favre was kind of a Jet back in 2008, when he threw for 3,472 yards, 22 TDs and 22 INTs for the 9–7 Jets. Sure, he missed the playoffs, sent some infamous pictures of his watch and Crocs to a team employee and was fined $50,000 for not cooperating with an NFL investigation. But is that really worse than the season Sanchez is having?

Plus, it would never get so bad where Favre would have to walk away Fireman Ed-style. Just the opposite, a few “F-A-V-R-E! Favre! Favre! Favre!” chants and No. 4 would be back out there as a 43-year-old gunslinger showing Sanchez and Tebow how to play a little throw-and-catch and a lot of show-and-text.

9. Cast of MTV's Jersey Shore
Jets Guidettes like Snooki and J-Woww would be all about the drama that Fireman Ed is trying to get away from. And The Situation, Pauly D, Ronnie and Vinny would be fist-pumping all game and ready to J-E-T-S after G-T-L and t-shirt time. Plus, East Rutherford, N.J., is near their old neighborhood on the Jersey Shore.

10. Rex Ryan
No one is New York or New Jersey talks as big or bold as Rex Ryan, who back-to-backed it up with consecutive trips to the AFC title game early in his reign. But now, Ryan can’t keep his locker room or fan base from splintering. He might as well put on a Sanchez jersey like Fireman Ed — of whom Ryan said, “If he could play linebacker, I’d use him.” And the way the season is going compared to his own unrealistic expectations, Ryan might have some time on his hands next season.


<p> New York Jets fan Fireman Ed penned a guest column in the Metro declaring his intentions to quit his unofficial post as the team’s mascot, following the 49–19 Thanksgiving Day massacre loss to the rival New England Patriots. Fireman Ed will no longer lead the "J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!" cheer. Here's a list of 10 potential replacements for Fireman Ed.</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 05:55
Path: /college-football/pac-12-championship-preview-and-prediction-ucla-bruins-vs-stanford-cardinal

The second annual Pac-12 Championship game isn't exactly what fans were expecting to see entering this season. Oregon and USC were overwhelming favorites to win their respective divisions and potentially battle on Nov. 30 for more than just West Coast supremacy. Best laid plans, right?

Jim Mora instantly instilled toughness at UCLA and his squad finished the regular season 9-3 overall and 6-3 in the league. Most importantly, the Bruins posted a perfect 5-0 mark in the South Division, including a revenge home win over USC to clinch the division crown. 

Stanford, meanwhile, keeps on chugging under Pac-12 Coach of the Year David Shaw. Even though Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin all departed for the NFL and had to be replaced on offense, he led the Cardinal to an identical 8-1 mark in league play this fall. This time with a division-clinching win over Oregon.

The old saying goes familiarity breeds contempt and these two might be the most familiar opponents in the history of the sport. For the second time in six days, the Cardinal and Bruins will battle, but this time, it's for a trip to the Rose Bowl. It marks the first time in college football history two teams have ever played in a season finale and then again in the conference title game.

And Gus Johnson and Charles Davis will be there to call the game at 8 p.m. ET on FOX on Friday night.

Other Championship Game Previews
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Big 12
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When Stanford has the ball

Not too many championship teams make quarterback switches two-thirds of the way through the season. But that is exactly what David Shaw did when, five passes into the game against Colorado, he put Kevin Hogan under center in place of Josh Nunes. All Hogan did in his first three career starts was topple three consecutive ranked opponents to clinch the North Division championship. He completed 72.8 percent of his passes (80-110) for 809 yards and eight touchdowns in the four games in which he led the Cardinal offense. He also rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown on the ground as well. Hogan’s emergence has given this offense a second dimension.

Hogan will face a Bruins' pass rush that has improved infinitely from a year ago under their new head coach. This defensive front finished 110th in the nation in sacks and 81st in rushing defense a year ago, but behind improved play from Anthony Barr and Datone Jones, UCLA ranked 5th in the country in sacks (3.33 spg) and 53rd in rushing defense this fall. If the Bruins expect to close the 35-17 gap from last weekend, it will have to pressure Hogan (15-of-22 last week, 0 INT) and stop the running game (49 att., 221 yards, 3 TD).

While Hogan has stabilized one dimension of the offense, Shaw hasn’t had to worry about his other dimension. Stepfan Taylor is one of the most complete backs in the nation after his second straight 1,300-yard, 10-TD season (1,364 and 11). He ended the season with three consectuive 100-yard efforts against ranked teams, scoring four times in those contests. Taylor has touched the ball 828 times on offense the last three years (38 games, 21.8/game), so expect Shaw to wear out his workhorse tailback in the last regular season game of his career. Especially, considering Taylor needs just 35 yards to break Stanford’s all-time rushing record held by Darrin Nelson (4,169).

When UCLA has the ball

Seven sacks, 7-of-19 on third downs, two turnovers and 334 total yards of offense is what the Stanford defense held UCLA’s high-flying offense to a week ago. Much like the defense, the Bruins have shown marked improvement under the new coaching regime, totaling 475.7 yards per game of offense and 36.0 points per contest. Yet, redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley and star tailback Johnathan Franklin will have to play better this weekend if UCLA expects to win its first conference crown since 1998.

The dynamic backfield duo has been outstanding this fall but the offensive line will have to play its best game of the year if it expects to beat Stanford. The O-Line ranks 118th nationally in sacks allowed per game (3.6/game) and is facing the No. 1 pass rush (4.4/game), the No. 1 rushing defense (71.3 ypg) and the No. 11 scoring defense (16.9 ppg) in the nation. Stanford has four players with at least 5.5 sacks, so trying to stop the versatile front should prove difficult once again.

Hundley and Franklin are closing in on more than one UCLA record. Hundley (3,516 yards total offense, 3,234 yards passing) should easily break Cade McNown’s 1998 single-season record for total offense (3,652) and passing yards (3,470) even with just an average outing Friday night. Franklin needs just 18 all-purpose yards to take over as UCLA’s all-time leader (Maurice Jones-Drew) and just 66 yards rushing to top Karim Abdul-Jabbar’s single-season school record. Additionally, one more win for Mora would give him the most wins by a Bruins first-year coach in program history.

Final Analysis

Stanford’s senior class has won at least 10 games for the third consecutive season but have yet to claim a league championship or play in the Rose Bowl. With a 24-2 home record, this group has added motivation to close out this season with a resounding victory. Look for the Cardinal defensive front to dominate the Bruins up front and give Shaw’s Cardinal their first outright Pac-12 crown since 1999. 


Athlon Editor Championship Prediction YTD Pac-12 Record
Braden Gall Stanford 34, UCLA 17 64-20
Mitch Light Stanford 34, UCLA 27 64-20
Steven Lassan Stanford 24, UCLA 20 63-21
David Fox Stanford 35, UCLA 21 60-24

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Big 12 Week 14 Preview and Predictions

<p> Pac-12 Championship Preview and Prediction: UCLA Bruins vs. Stanford Cardinal</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 05:10
Path: /college-football/acc-championship-preview-and-prediction-florida-state-seminoles-vs-georgia-tech-yel

For the first time in the history of the ACC Championship, Florida State and Georgia Tech will meet for the conference title. Despite being separated by less than 300 miles, these two teams are in opposite divisions in the ACC and have not played since a 49-44 shootout in 2009.

These two teams arrived in Charlotte by taking completely different paths. Georgia Tech closed out the year by winning its last four ACC games to get to 5-3 in conference play, which placed it in a three-way tie with North Carolina and Miami at the top of the Coastal. However, with the Tar Heels and Hurricanes ineligible to play in the postseason, the Yellow Jackets get the nod to represent the Coastal in Charlotte.

On the other side, Florida State went 7-1 in ACC play and finished with a 10-2 overall mark. The Seminoles’ only conference loss was a last-minute 17-16 defeat to NC State. Florida State dominated most of its ACC opponents this season, with only one victory decided by 10 points or less.

Florida State holds a 12-9-1 edge in the overall series, but Georgia Tech has claimed the last two in this series. Yellow Jackets’ coach Paul Johnson is 2-0 in his career against the Seminoles. And this will be the first matchup for Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher against Georgia Tech.

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Big Ten
| Pac-12 | SEC

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| Big East

When the Florida State Seminoles have the ball:

Perhaps the biggest mismatch in this game is the Seminoles’ offense against the Georgia Tech defense. The Yellow Jackets have been struggling to get stops all season and fired coordinator Al Groh after a 47-31 loss to Clemson. Removing Groh didn’t help the defense much, as Georgia Tech has allowed at least 40 points in three out of its last six games. The Yellow Jackets rank sixth or worse in the ACC in total, scoring, sacks per game and pass defense.

Although Florida State’s offense struggled in last week’s loss to Florida, it should be able to have its way against Georgia Tech. The Seminoles are relatively balanced on offense, ranking 26th nationally in rushing (203.8 ypg) and 34th in passing offense (273.7 ypg). If there’s a concern for Florida State’s offense, it has to be turnovers (23 so far this year).

Quarterback EJ Manuel was banged up in last week’s loss to Florida but is not expected to be limited in the ACC Championship. Manuel ranks eighth nationally in pass efficiency and tossed only five interceptions in conference games this season. The senior has no shortage of playmakers around him, headlined by receiver Rashad Greene. The sophomore leads Florida State with 43 receptions for 614 yards and five scores. Kelvin Benjamin ranks second on the team in receiving yards, while Rodney Smith and Kenny Shaw each have 471 yards this season.

Despite losing Chris Thompson to an ACL injury against Miami earlier this year, Florida State still ranks second in the ACC in rushing offense. Sophomores Devonta Freeman and James Wilder have picked up the slack, combining for 1,085 yards and 16 scores this year. Freeman provides the speed, while Wilder adds some power and leads the team with nine rushing scores.

Considering Florida State is averaging 39.8 points per game in conference play, Georgia Tech will have its hands full trying to slow down the Seminoles’ offense. Although the Yellow Jackets can rely on their offense to chew up the clock, the defense could help swing some early momentum by generating a few turnovers. If Georgia Tech fails to get pressure on EJ Manuel and doesn’t win the turnover battle, it’s hard to see the defense being able to slow down the Florida State attack.

When the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have the ball:

Not only are the Yellow Jackets a difficult opponent to prepare for in one week, the Seminoles’ defense must also deal with the news of coordinator Mark Stoops being named as the head coach at Kentucky. Stoops will coach in this game, but it’s fair to wonder if that has distracted from the gameplanning from Florida State.

With a defense that has struggled to get stops this year, Georgia Tech’s offense has had to win plenty of shootouts. The Yellow Jackets have scored at least 30 points in seven out of their eight conference games, including 68 in a win over North Carolina on Nov. 10.

Vad Lee and Tevin Washington have shared the quarterback duties over the second half of the season and that should continue into Saturday’s game. Lee is a better playmaker on the ground (6.0 ypc), but Washington has more experience as a passer and has more experience within the offense.

There’s really no secret or much disguise for what Georgia Tech wants to do on offense. Coach Paul Johnson is committed to an option attack, which is averaging 323.3 rushing yards per game this season. The Yellow Jackets rank near the bottom of the nation in passing and has struggled to develop any go-to receivers. 

Orwin Smith leads the team with 673 yards and five touchdowns, but an ankle injury has clouded his status for Saturday’s game. In addition to leading the team in rushing yards, Smith is also the team’s top big-play threats (9.0 ypc) and ranks first on the team with 17 receptions. Even if Smith can play, he’s likely to be limited.

Outside of Smith, the Yellow Jackets can lean on Zach Laskey, David Sims and Robert Godhigh as key contributors in the backfield. Laskey is a hard-nosed runner and averages a solid 5.2 yards per carry this season. Sims has been limited due to injuries this year but has 351 yards and three scores on 85 attempts.

Considering Florida State has not played a team that runs the option this season, it may take a quarter for Stoops’ defense to settle into the matchup. However, another problem that is developing for the Seminoles is depth on the defensive line. Starter Cornellius Carradine suffered a torn ACL in the loss against Florida, which leaves redshirt freshman Giorgio Newberry or true freshman Mario Edwards, Jr. as the starter.

Final Analysis:

Everything on the stat sheet for this matchup suggests it should be an easy win for Florida State. However, six out of the last seven matchups in this series have been decided by eight points or less, so even though the Yellow Jackets are 6-6, history indicates this matchup will be close on Saturday night. Despite the close matchups in recent years, unless Georgia Tech’s defense plays its best game of the season, Florida State will pull away in the second half for a double-digit victory. The Seminoles simply have too many weapons on offense and despite the loss of Carradine on the defensive line, will prevent any big plays to the Yellow Jackets.


Athlon Editor Championship Prediction YTD ACC Record
David Fox Florida State 42-14 76-20
Braden Gall Florida State 30-17 74-22
Steven Lassan Florida State 34-24 71-25
Mitch Light Florida State 30-20 79-17

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<p> ACC Championship Preview and Prediction: Florida State Seminoles vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 05:09