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John Elway the front office suit is much like John Elway the quarterback. The man is always in a hurry, always looking for a competitive edge, always trying to pull off the next big play. And so it was that, in the aftermath of the Broncos’ shocking 2012 playoff exit, Elway wasted exactly zero time wallowing in the disappointment. Instead, he did something. Sign the top-rated guard in free agency. Check. Provide a parachute for Wes Welker when his relationship with the Patriots’ front office was in freefall. Check. Use a second-rounder on a Heisman Trophy finalist running back to keep the pressure off Peyton Manning. Check.

Having taken a proactive path to improve what already loomed as the most talented roster in the AFC, Elway, like everyone else out there, can sum up the Broncos’ 2013 season in a hurry: Super Bowl or bust.

Athlon Sports AFC Power Ranking: 1st

Related: 2013 Denver Broncos Schedule Analysis

Offense
Manning called the right audible when he decided to join the Broncos after being shown the door in Indianapolis. He would have been the MVP of the league if not for Adrian Peterson’s incredible comeback from knee surgery. And now Manning has even more weapons: The Broncos signed two of the most attractive names in free agency, Welker and former Chargers guard Louis Vasquez, who figures to amp up a running game featuring rookie tailback Montee Ball.

Manning doesn’t just make his teammates better; he creates instant stars. Case in point: Receiver Demaryius Thomas, whose career before 2012 had been defined by injuries and unfulfilled potential. Having caught 94 balls for 1,434 yards and 10 touchdowns, Thomas looms as one of the most dangerous deep threats in the league. And when Manning wants to move the chains with short stuff, he can turn to Welker (118 catches with the Pats) or Eric Decker, whose 13 touchdown catches led the team. It’s a foursome unmatched on any other roster in the league.

If Welker makes an already potent receiving corps even more dangerous, Ball could do the same for the running game. He has a lot of wear and tear on his body (663 carries in his final two seasons at Wisconsin), but Elway and Co. believe he’ll provide an upgrade for the running game. If so, the Broncos can virtually name that score.

And no, the upgrades don’t end with the ball-handlers. Vasquez, a 335-pound masher at right guard, was the team’s No. 1 target in free agency. His presence gives the Broncos one of the league’s premier offensive lines, one that could be better than ever if young right tackle Orlando Franklin continues to make strides as a pass-blocker. Vasquez' addition is even more important considering what has already happened to the Broncos at center. Starting center Dan Koppen tore his ACL in late July while backup J.D. Walton will miss at least the first six games after being put on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list as he continues his recovery from multiple offseason ankle surgeries. Manny Ramirez, who started 11 games at right guard last season, is penciled in as the starting center with vetean Steve Vallos behind him on the depth chart.

Defense
There was a time not so long ago when the Broncos were undersized on the defensive line. No more. Defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio wants big bodies who can clog the middle and create push, opening opportunities for players on the perimeter to make plays.

Derek Wolfe saw playing time in the middle last year as a rookie, but at 300 pounds, he doesn’t fit the profile of a Del Rio tackle. Enter free agent Terrance Knighton, a player Del Rio drafted at Jacksonville, and No. 1 draft pick Sylvester Williams. Knighton goes 330, give or take a Big Mac or two, and Williams 313. With so much size in the middle, Wolfe should be a bigger factor in the pass rush at defensive end. Then there’s strong-side linebacker Von Miller, arguably the most feared pass-rusher in the league. Miller is a once-in-a-lifetime player who could make a run at the all-time sack record after racking up 18.5 last season. Unfortunately, Miller will miss the first six games of the season after being suspended by the NFL for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Denver signed veteran Paris Lenon to help fill the void, but everyone in the linebacking corps will need to step up while Miller is out.

After losing defensive end Elvis Dumervil in free agency, the Broncos considered Dwight Freeney and John Abraham but signed ex-Chargers defensive end Shaun Phillips, he of the 9.5 sacks in 2012.

The Broncos are solid in the secondary after the signing of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who’s hungry to re-establish himself after signing a one-year deal, but they need someone to step up and anchor the middle at linebacker, a gaping hole since the days of Al Wilson. Nate Irving, a third-rounder in 2011, will be given every opportunity to win the job. If he struggles, the defense could be hard-pressed to stage an encore from 2012, when the Broncos were one of the stingiest run defenses in the league.

The bottom line? The Broncos lack depth at some positions but have a handful of premier defensive players and a talented coordinator who figures to be a hot commodity on the head-coaching market after the season.

Specialists
If you’re the rest of the AFC West, this is just wrong. The Broncos, that is, having not only Manning and a handful of other stars, but also the most electrifying return man in the league. At least Trindon Holliday can stake a claim to the title after his performance in the Broncos’ playoff loss to Baltimore when he became the first player in NFL history to record kickoff and punt returns for touchdowns in the same playoff game. His signing with the Broncos during the 2012 season was the move that gave Denver arguably the best special teams in the league.

Kicker Matt Prater is the most accurate kicker in league history from 50 yards-plus. Not bad for a guy who was cut by Detroit, Miami and Atlanta and failed tryouts with Green Bay and Minnesota before finding a home in Colorado. Then there’s punter Britton Colquitt, whose net averages for the past three seasons read like this: 36.6, 40.2 and 42.1. Yes, Colquitt, like Prater, benefits from Denver’s mile-high air, but he’s the real deal.

Final Analysis: 1st in AFC West
With the clock ticking on the 37-year-old Manning, the Broncos’ window for winning a Super Bowl is closing. But frankly, there’s no reason to believe they can’t win two with No. 18 under center. Remember all that talk about those surgical procedures on Manning’s neck? No, you probably don’t because any concerns about his physical condition died early last season. And by the time he threw his 37th touchdown pass, any notion of Manning not being his old self was ancient history. If anything, he’ll be more comfortable in his skin this season. Not only that, but he also has Welker around to provide a security blanket on third down.

Add in a defense that includes Miller (less the six games he will sit out) and future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey, and the Broncos are loaded for another Super Bowl run. They should dominate the weak AFC West, putting them in position to have home-field advantage in the playoffs. If it comes down that way, don’t count on them botching the opportunity this time around. The Broncos were embarrassed by how last season ended, and had to watch as the Ravens, a team that needed an 11th hour miracle to beat them in the playoffs, went on to win the Super Bowl.

Order your 2013 Denver Broncos Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine here

2013 Athlon Sports NFL Team Previews:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimoreHoustonDenver
MiamiCincinnatiIndianapolisKansas City
New EnglandClevelandJacksonvilleOakland
NY JetsPittsburghTennesseeSan Diego
    
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
DallasChicagoAtlantaArizona
NY GiantsDetroitCarolinaSt. Louis
PhiladelphiaGreen BayNew OrleansSan Francisco
WashingtonMinnesotaTampa BaySeattle

 

Teaser:
Denver Broncos 2013 NFL Team Preview
Post date: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /nfl/san-francisco-49ers-2013-nfl-team-preview
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The 49ers made a stunning run to the NFC title game two years ago in coach Jim Harbaugh’s rookie season, only to fall 20–17 in overtime to the New York Giants on a cold, rainy night at Candlestick Park. Last season the 49ers regrouped and reached the Super Bowl but lost 34–31 to Baltimore when their final drive died at the Ravens’ 5-yard line after three straight Colin Kaepernick incomplete passes.

After taking two huge steps forward in their quest to win the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl, the 49ers appear to have all the pieces in place to take the final step and accomplish that feat this season. But history tells us how hard it will be.

Twenty straight Super Bowl losers failed to reach the Super Bowl the following season. Only two teams in NFL history won a Super Bowl the year after losing the ultimate game. The last? Miami, 41 seasons ago. Only five other Super Bowl losers — including Buffalo three straight years — advanced that far the next season.

Of course that’s just the kind of challenge Harbaugh loves. And it helps to have a team packed with Pro Bowl players.

Athlon Sports NFC Power Ranking: 1st

Related: 2013 San Francisco 49ers Schedule Analysis

Offense
Two years ago, the 49ers ran an ultra-conservative, just-don’t-screw-things-up offense that was overshadowed by one of the NFL’s most dominant defenses. And now? With the dual-threat Kaepernick under center from Day 1, the 49ers’ offense will demand as much if not more attention than their shutdown defense.

Kaepernick made his first NFL start in Week 11 last season against the Chicago Bears, filling in for Alex Smith, who suffered a concussion the week before against St. Louis. Kaepernick passed for 243 yards and two touchdowns in a 32–7 win on the Monday Night Football stage. That was enough to convince Harbaugh to make a dramatic QB switch. Kaepernick started every game the rest of the season, and Smith was traded to Kansas City in March.

Offensive coordinator Greg Roman did a masterful job retooling the 49ers’ offense in midseason to fit his young QB’s exceptional running ability and arm strength. Roman hit opposing defenses with a heavy dose of zone-read out of the Pistol formation, an offense Kaepernick ran in college at Nevada. Now Roman will have an entire offseason and training camp to refine his offense and devise new ways to take advantage of Kaepernick’s strengths.

The 49ers boast one of the NFL’s best offensive lines and most diverse running attacks, which became even more dangerous once Kaepernick joined running back Frank Gore in the starting backfield. The 49ers can still hammer away at opposing defenses with their power running game and creative blocking schemes. But now those defenses also have to prepare for Kaepernick and the zone-read. He rushed for 415 yards and five touchdowns on just 63 carries last year. Gore, meanwhile, showed no signs of slowing down. He rushed for 1,214 yards, giving him 8,839 for his career, an ongoing 49ers record. The 49ers return all five starting offensive linemen, including left tackle Joe Staley and left guard Mike Iupati, a pair of Pro Bowl picks last year. This group should only get better.

Wide receiver Michael Crabtree had a breakout year, catching 85 passes for 1,105 yards and nine touchdowns, all career highs. He won't have the chance to exceed those this season, however, as he tore his Achilles in late May. As expected, he has been placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, but there's a chance he may be able to return before the end of the regular season. Veteran Mario Manningham also will start the season on the PUP list as he continues his recovery from a knee injury he sustained in December. This makes the offseason acquisition of ex-Raven Anquan Boldin, a three-time Pro Bowl pick who the 49ers traded for in March, even more important. Boldin and explosive tight end Vernon Davis will serve as Kaepernick's primary targets, but other options need to emerge. Fourth-year pro Kyle Williams, former Kansas City Chief Jon Baldwin and fourth-round pick Quinton Patton are among the candidates who could contribute. Williams caught 14 passes for the 49ers last season, while Baldwin was acquired via trade from Kansas City in exchange for A.J. Jenkins, San Francisco's first-round pick in 2012. The hope is that a change of scenery will help Baldwin recapture the form that the Chiefs saw in him when they took him in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.

Defense
The 49ers return nine of 11 starters from a dominant defense that ranked third overall and fourth against both the run and pass. Five of those returning starters are coming off Pro Bowl seasons: outside linebacker Aldon Smith, inside linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman, strong safety Donte Whitner and defensive lineman Justin Smith.

In other words, the 49ers are stacked again, despite losing free safety Dashon Goldson to Tampa Bay, nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga to Philadelphia and backup defensive lineman Ricky Jean Francois to Indianapolis as free agents. Rookie Eric Reid, a first-round pick from LSU, won the battle during training camp to replace Goldson. Should Reid falter or struggle early, the 49ers have another solid option at free safety in free agent pickup Craig Dahl, who started all 16 games for the Rams last season, making 78 tackles and intercepting one pass. He’s played 70 games with 42 starts over five NFL seasons. The 49ers also found their replacement for Sopoaga during camp. Third-year pro Ian Williams will get the starting nod at defensive tackle with former Kansas City Chief and free agent acquisition Glenn Dorsey slotting in behind him.

The strength of San Francisco’s defense will again be against the run, with Justin Smith, Willis, Bowman and Whitner leading the way. Willis underwent surgery to repair a fractured right hand in early August, but the All-Pro tackle machine is expected to be available to play in Week 1.

The 49ers’ secondary showed some vulnerability during the postseason when opposing teams threw eight touchdown passes in just three games. San Francisco signed free agent Nnamdi Asomugha, a former Pro Bowl corner, who will try to resurrect his career after two rough years with the Eagles. The ex-Raider will fill the nickel slot as the projected starter there, Chris Culliver, tore his ACL earlier in training camp and has been placed on injured reserve.

In just his second NFL season and first as a starter, outside linebacker Aldon Smith had 19.5 sacks, second in the league behind J.J. Watt’s 20.5. Smith will be counted on again to supply most of the pass-rush pressure, but strong-side linebacker Ahmad Brooks is coming off a 6.5-sack season and has shown a knack for getting to the quarterback on blitzes.

Specialists
Kicker David Akers had a nightmare season, and the 49ers made no effort to re-sign him. They quickly signed free agent Phil Dawson, who is coming off his first Pro Bowl season at age 38. Considering how bad Akers was last year, Dawson should be a decided upgrade. Dawson made 29-of-31 attempts last year for the Cleveland Browns, including all seven tries from 50-plus yards. He’s 14-of-15 from 50-plus over the past two seasons. Last year, Akers was 9-for-19 from 40-plus. Andy Lee, a four-time All-Pro pick, returns to handle the punting duties. Last year he averaged 48.1 yards per punt with a net of 43.2, tied for first in the NFL.

LaMichael James should provide a big-play threat as a kick returner. As a rookie last year, he averaged 29.8 yards on 14 returns. Punt returner Ted Ginn Jr. left as a free agent. Kyle Williams, who underwent ACL surgery in December, will contend for the job.

Final Analysis: 1st in NFC West
It’s Super Bowl or bust. With their roster loaded with Pro Bowl players, the 49ers are all but a lock to make the playoffs, but they’ll face a fierce battle from Seattle in the NFC West and might have to travel the tougher wild card route. If Kaepernick stays healthy, the 49ers could well wind up back in the Super Bowl with a chance to make history.

Order your 2013 Athlon Sports NFL Preview magazine here

2013 Athlon Sports NFL Team Previews:

AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC West
BuffaloBaltimoreHoustonDenver
MiamiCincinnatiIndianapolisKansas City
New EnglandClevelandJacksonvilleOakland
NY JetsPittsburghTennesseeSan Diego
    
NFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC West
DallasChicagoAtlantaArizona
NY GiantsDetroitCarolinaSt. Louis
PhiladelphiaGreen BayNew OrleansSan Francisco
WashingtonMinnesotaTampa BaySeattle

 

Teaser:
San Francisco 49ers 2013 NFL Team Preview
Post date: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: Funny, videos, Overtime
Path: /overtime/ronnie-lott-flips-over-his-chair-during-pac-12-broadcast
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Ronnie Lott got a little too enthusiastic talking about UCLA-Nevada during the postgame show on the Pac-12 Network Saturday night and ended up rolling his chair right off of the set. Wheee...THUD!

 

Teaser:
Ronnie Lott got a little too enthusiastic talking about UCLA-Nevada during the postgame show on the Pac-12 Network Saturday night and ended up rolling his chair right off of the set.
Post date: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 09:10
All taxonomy terms: videos, Overtime
Path: /overtime/northwestern-fan-video-terribly-awesome
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What happens when Northwestern beats Cal? Apparently Wildcats fans bust out their VHS copy of "Top Gun" and get to editing a cheesy celebration video. Enjoy.
 

Teaser:
What happens when Northwestern beats Cal? Apparently Wildcats fans bust out their VHS copy of "Top Gun" and get to editing a cheesy celebration video.
Post date: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 08:50
Path: /college-football/acc-2013-post-week-1-power-rankings
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Considering the bad losses suffered by some of the other BCS leagues, Week 1 was a solid debut for the ACC in 2013.

Clemson scored a huge victory against Georgia, which should propel the Tigers into a top-five spot in most weekly polls. Clemson should be unbeaten when Florida State comes to Death Valley in October.

As expected, Miami and Georgia Tech had no trouble with their Week 1 competition. And Virginia Tech and North Carolina struggled to hang with their SEC opponents. The Hokies still need to work on their passing attack, while the Tar Heels clearly have some issues on defense.

At the bottom of the conference, Wake Forest, Boston College and Duke were solid this week. And Syracuse hung tough against Penn State in a neutral site matchup.

More Post-Week 1 Power Rankings: Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

ACC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

RankTeamLWAnalysis
11Clemson (1-0, 0-0): The Tigers claimed the ACC’s best victory of Week 1, edging Georgia 38-35. Quarterback Tajh Boyd made an early Heisman statement with 312 total yards and five scores. Clemson’s defense gave up 545 yards, but the Bulldogs’ offense is one of the best in the nation, and there were a few positives for coordinator Brent Venables to build on this week. The Tigers shouldn’t be tested over the next few weeks, with their next big game coming on Oct. 19 in Death Valley against Florida State. Next Week: South Carolina State
22Florida State (1-0, 1-0): All of the offseason talk in Tallahassee centered on redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston. And after Monday night’s debut in the Steel City, it’s clear Winston is already one of the ACC’s best quarterbacks. Winston completed 25 of 27 throws for 356 yards and four scores, while adding 25 yards and one touchdown on the ground. A rebuilt defense gave up 10 points in the first half but held the Panthers to just one field goal in the final two quarters. Even though there’s a lot of new faces in the lineup, Florida State is going to be the thick of the national championship hunt.
33Miami (1-0, 0-0): With a huge matchup against Florida next week, FAU was the perfect tune-up for the Hurricanes. After ranking as one of the worst in the ACC last year, Miami’s defense is under the spotlight in 2013. So far, the Hurricanes appear to be better on that side of the ball. FAU managed only two field goals and averaged just 3.3 yards per play. Of course, the Owls aren’t the best competition, but Miami should have some confidence going into Week 2. Next Week: Florida
45Georgia Tech (1-0, 0-0): As expected, the Yellow Jackets rolled to an easy 70-0 victory over Elon. There’s not a ton for coach Paul Johnson to glean from this matchup, but the defensive effort is something to build on for the rest of the year. Georgia Tech allowed just 253 yards and scored two defensive touchdowns. Six different players scored rushing touchdowns against the Phoenix, and quarterback Vad Lee threw for 189 yards and two scores. The Yellow Jackets first real test of the season won’t occur until Sept. 14 against Duke. Next Week: Bye
54Virginia Tech (0-1, 0-0): Yes, the Hokies were manhandled in Week 1, but let’s not penalize them too much for losing to the No. 1 team in the nation. There’s no question Virginia Tech’s defense is among the best in the ACC. However, the offense still left a lot to be desired on Saturday. Quarterback Logan Thomas completed only five passes, and if you take away Trey Edmunds’ 77-yard touchdown run, the Hokies managed only 135 yards of total offense. Week 1 was rough, but we will get a better idea about Virginia Tech’s offense in future weeks. Next Week: Western Carolina
66North Carolina (0-1, 0-0): Just as we mentioned with Virginia Tech, it’s tough to penalize the Tar Heels for losing a game most didn’t give them a chance to win. South Carolina’s advantage in the trenches was simply too much for North Carolina, while the defense remains a work in progress. The Gamecocks recorded 406 total yards and gashed the Tar Heels for 228 yards on the ground. With Georgia Tech coming up on Sept. 21, addressing the defense is a top priority for coach Larry Fedora. Next Week: MTSU
78Maryland (1-0, 0-0): The Terrapins were one of the ACC’s most-impressive teams in Week 1. Of course, we don’t want to overreact too much to a bad FIU team, but there were plenty of signs for optimism for coach Randy Edsall. Quarterback C.J. Brown recorded 386 total yards and five scores in his return from a torn ACL, and junior college recruit Deon Long was impressive (nine receptions). After nearly losing to William & Mary in last year’s opener, this is a much better start for Edsall’s team. Next Week: Old Dominion
89NC State (1-0, 0-0): Dave Doeren’s debut in Raleigh was a success. The Wolfpack easily dispatched Louisiana Tech (40-14), and there was plenty to success on both sides of the ball. However, the mood was dampened with the injury to quarterback Brandon Mitchell. The senior was a good fit for NC State’s spread attack, but he will miss at least four weeks with a foot injury. With Mitchell out, Pete Thomas is expected to start. Not having Mitchell is a huge blow, but the Wolfpack play only one conference game the rest of September. Next Week: Richmond
910Virginia (1-0, 0-0): Coach Mike London was feeling a little pressure after a disappointing 2012 season, but the Cavaliers responded with a huge win over BYU in Week 1. Inclement weather delayed this game for over two hours, and the sloppy conditions contributed to some of the struggles for both offenses. Virginia’s defense allowed the Cougars to record 362 yards but a late interception put the offense in position to record the game-winning score with less than three minutes to play. Although the Cavaliers did just enough to beat BYU, they need a better effort on both sides of the ball to knock off Oregon. Next Week: Oregon 
107Pittsburgh (0-1, 0-1): The Panthers ran into a buzzsaw named Jameis Winston on Monday night, losing 41-13 to Florida State. Pittsburgh has plenty to work on for both sides of the ball after the loss. Quarterback Tom Savage played well early, but the offense sputtered in the second half. Although the defense struggled to contain Winston and the Seminoles’ receiving corps, most teams will struggle to stop that combination in 2013. Losing the ACC opener isn’t what Pittsburgh fans wanted, but this team should improve as the season progresses.
1111Wake Forest (1-0, 0-0): As with most FBS-FCS matchups, it’s hard to glean much from Wake Forest’s win on Thursday night. But the Demon Deacons held Presbyterian to just two first downs and only 151 total yards – a good sign for a defense that returns eight starters. Also, the offensive line gave up only one sack, and with top receiver Michael Campanaro sidelined, Jonathan Williams stepped up with five receptions and 143 yards. There were plenty of positive signs in the opener for Wake Forest, but the rest of the ACC will find out more about coach Jim Grobe’s team after Week 2. Next Week: at Boston College (Friday)
1213Syracuse (0-1, 0-0): Scott Shafer was the only first-year ACC coach to lose in Week 1, but Saturday’s loss to Penn State certainly wasn’t an embarrassing effort. With a new staff and quarterback, getting to a bowl game isn’t going to be easy. Making his first career start, quarterback Drew Allen showed promise (189 yards), and the defense forced four turnovers. The Orange has plenty of work to do, but there are positives to build on going into Week 2. Next Week: at Northwestern
1312Duke (1-0, 0-0): The Blue Devils snapped a five-game losing streak with an easy 45-0 victory over North Carolina Central. Quarterback Anthony Boone was sharp in his second start, and the defense has plenty to build on after holding N.C. Central to just 184 yards and zero points. The Blue Devils will face tougher competition the rest of September, starting with a road date against Memphis and continuing with ACC games against Georgia Tech and Pittsburgh. Next Week: at Memphis
1414Boston College (1-0, 0-0): The Steve Addazio era in Chestnut Hill opened with a 24-14 win over pesky FCS opponent Villanova. The Eagles had to sweat a bit in the first half but took control in the second half. There were plenty of positives for Addazio to build on, especially with an efficient effort from quarterback Chase Rettig (285 yards) and running back Andre Williams (114 yards). And the defense was aggressive under new coordinator Don Brown (four sacks). There’s a lot to like after Addazio’s debut, but Friday’s matchup against Wake Forest will give us a better idea of how Boston College shapes up with the rest of the ACC. Next Week: Wake Forest (Friday)


ACC Week 1 Awards

Offensive Player of the Week: Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Boyd was the catalyst for Clemson’s 38-35 victory over Georgia. The senior quarterback took advantage of a rebuilt Bulldogs’ secondary, throwing for 270 yards and three touchdowns on 18 completions. Boyd also added 42 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. With Boyd at the controls, Clemson’s offense is one of the nation’s best. And the senior quarterback should be near the top of the Heisman watchlist after his Week 1 performance. 

Defensive Player of the Week: Anthony Harris, SS, Virginia
Harris was everywhere in Virginia’s 19-16 win over BYU on Saturday afternoon. The junior recorded 11 tackles and one sack, but those numbers didn’t represent his impact on the game. Harris blocked a punt early in the third quarter and recorded a key interception with the Cavaliers leading 16-12 with just three minutes to play. After Harris’ picked off BYU quarterback Taysom Hill, he tossed the ball to Henry Coley, who ran 27 yards to put Virginia in prime scoring position. 

Team of the Week: Clemson
The Tigers scored the best victory of Week 1, defeating Georgia 38-35 behind a raucous home crowd in Death Valley. Quarterback Tajh Boyd threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns, running back Roderick McDowell chipped in 132 yards on the ground, and receiver Sammy Watkins grabbed six passes for 127 yards and one touchdown. The defense also stepped up in the second half, harassing quarterback Aaron Murray and limiting the Bulldogs to 14 points after scoring 21 in the first half. Clemson was picked by most to win the ACC, and outside of matchups against Georgia Tech and Florida State, there are few landmines for the Tigers on the schedule. It’s only Week 1, but Clemson’s win over Georgia could loom large in the national title discussion.  

Coordinator of the Week: Mike Locksley, Maryland
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris called a terrific game on Saturday night, but let’s spread the wealth a bit and give a tip of the cap to Locksley. The Terrapins recorded 576 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per play in the 43-10 win over FIU. Quarterback C.J. Brown shredded the Panthers’ defense for 281 yards and three touchdowns through the air and another 105 yards and two scores on the ground. Maryland would like to see its production from the running backs increase over the next few weeks, but Saturday’s game was a good sign for offense.

Freshman of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
The offseason hype certainly lived up to Winston’s debut. The redshirt freshman was nearly flawless in his debut, completing 25 of 27 passes (and one of the incompletions was debatable) for 356 yards and four touchdowns. Winston also added 25 yards and one score on the ground. The Alabama native was incredibly poised in his first start, and his emergence will make Florida State a factor in the national championship picture.

5th Down

• NC State quarterback Brandon Mitchell suffered a foot injury in the first half against Louisiana Tech. He is expected to miss four to six weeks.

• Georgia Tech returned two interceptions for touchdowns against Elon. The Yellow Jackets 70-point win was the biggest margin of victory for an ACC school since Florida State beat Western Carolina 69-0 in 2008.

• Wake Forest played 10 freshmen against Presbyterian on Thursday night. Prior to the season opener, coach Jim Grobe had played just 22 true freshman in his 12 seasons in Winston-Salem.

• Oklahoma transfer Drew Allen started at quarterback for Syracuse in the opener against Penn State. Allen threw for 189 yards on 16 completions but also tossed two picks.

• Duke recorded its first shutout since 1989 with a 45-0 victory over North Carolina Central on Saturday night.

Teaser:
ACC 2013 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Post date: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2013-post-week-1-power-rankings
Body:

There was plenty of good news for the Pac-12 in Week 1. But there was one bad loss that won’t be easy to forget for some time – at least in Corvallis, Ore.

Oregon easily handled Nicholls State in the debut of coach Mark Helfrich, while Washington scored a huge victory over Washington. UCLA was impressive in its victory over Nevada, and USC was just too much for Hawaii – even with a struggling quarterback situation.

Week 1 of the 2013 season certainly won’t be forgotten at Oregon State anytime soon. The Beavers were shredded by FCS opponent Eastern Washington and lost 49-46. Although Oregon State should eventually get on track, it’s a bad moment for a program that was ranked in the top 25 by some this preseason.

More Post-Week 1 Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

Pac-12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

RankTeamLWAnalysis
11Oregon (1-0, 0-0): Chip Kelly is gone, but there wasn’t much of a difference in the Ducks’ performance – at least through Week 1. Against an overmatched Nicholls State squad, Oregon recorded 772 yards and 66 points. Those totals are even more impressive when you consider the Ducks held the ball for just 19:46. Touted true freshman running back Thomas Tyner did not play in Week 1 due to injury, but he is expected to return to the field soon. Next Week: at Virginia
22Stanford (0-0, 0-0): Stanford began the 2013 season with a bye week. The Cardinal have few glaring holes, but the extra week should have allowed the team to work on the passing game. Quarterback Kevin Hogan is expected to emerge as one of the Pac-12’s top quarterbacks, but the sophomore needs more help from his receiving corps: Next Week: San Jose State
37Washington (1-0, 0-0): The Huskies secured the Pac-12’s best victory of Week 1, dominating Boise State 38-6. Both sides of the ball delivered in the opening of new Husky Stadium. The defense held Boise State to six points and just 175 passing yards, while the offense recorded 592 yards and 33 first downs. Quarterback Keith Price appears to be regaining his form of 2011, as he threw for 324 yards and two scores against the Broncos. For a program that has finished 7-6 for three straight seasons, Washington needed to win the opener to get over seven victories in 2013. Next Week: Bye
43Arizona State (0-0, 0-0): The Sun Devils had a bye week on Saturday and will hit the field on Thursday night for their first game. Coach Todd Graham’s team is Athlon’s pick to win the Pac-12 title in 2013. Next Week: Sacramento State (Thursday)
56UCLA (1-0, 0-0): The Bruins opened their Pac-12 South title defense with a convincing 58-20 victory over Nevada. 41 of UCLA’s 58 points came in the second half, including five rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Brett Hundley had an efficient performance, while Jordon James clearly emerged as the Bruins’ No. 1 running back with 155 yards and one touchdown on 21 attempts. UCLA’s secondary was a huge concern going into the season, but Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo managed just 164 passing yards. Next Week: at Nebraska (Sept. 14)
65USC (1-0, 0-0): It wasn’t pretty, but USC left Hawaii with a 1-0 record. The quarterback battle between Cody Kessler and Max Wittek will continue into Week 2, as neither passer was able to move the ball consistently through the air. Although the passing game is a work in progress, the offensive line might be a bigger concern. USC allowed three sacks to Hawaii and struggled to get its rushing game on track in the first half. The defense was a bright spot for coach Lane Kiffin, as the Trojans recorded seven sacks against the Warriors. Next Week: Washington State
78Arizona (1-0, 0-0): The Wildcats didn’t have to sweat much in their opening, beating Northern Arizona 35-0. Star running back Ka’Deem Carey was suspended for the opener, but he wasn’t needed as backup Daniel Jenkins had 139 rushing yards on 12 carries. B.J. Denker got the start at quarterback and had a solid performance, while backup Javelle Allen had a 61-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Next Week: at UNLV
89California (0-1, 0-0): Even in a losing effort, the Golden Bears were one of the Pac-12’s most impressive teams in Week 1. True freshman quarterback Jared Goff turned heads with his performance, throwing for 445 yards and two touchdowns on 63 attempts. Receivers Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper each caught over 10 passes, while the defense held Northwestern to just one offensive touchdown in the second half. Although Dykes and his staff would prefer to open the season with the win, there’s nothing for California to be ashamed about. And this team will be a handful for the rest of the Pac-12 in 2013. Next Week: Portland State
910Utah (1-0, 0-0): Even though the Utes have played only one game this year, it’s clear the hire of Dennis Erickson as offensive coordinator should pay dividends. Quarterback Travis Wilson threw for 302 yards and two scores against Utah State’s defense, while three running backs had 10 carries or more, resulting in 148 overall rushing yards for the Utes. After missing out on a bowl game last year, Utah needed to get 2013 off to a good start. With Weber State up next, the Utes should be 2-0 going into a key conference matchup against Oregon State on Sept. 14. Next Week: Weber State 
1011Washington State (0-1, 0-0 ACC): The Cougars lost their Week 1 non-conference matchup against Auburn, but coach Mike Leach has to be pleased with the progress of his team. Washington State found a rushing attack (120 yards), and quarterback Connor Halliday seemed to have a better grasp of the offense (344 yards). The defense also held Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall to just 99 passing yards. Washington State’s offensive line will get another tough test against an active USC front on Saturday. Next Week: at USC
1112Colorado (1-0, 0-0): What a difference a coaching staff makes. Colorado made one of the offseason’s top coaching hires by pulling Mike MacIntyre away from San Jose State. And MacIntyre and his staff showed just how much this team will be improved this year with a 41-27 win over Colorado State in the opener. MacIntyre and coordinator Brian Lindgren turned Connor Wood from a struggling quarterback into one of Week 1’s top performers, throwing for 400 yards and three scores. Receiver Paul Richardson showed no rust from missing all of last season with a torn ACL, catching 10 passes for 208 yards and two scores. The competition gets tougher, but the Buffaloes will be more competitive in the Pac-12 this year. Next Week: Central Arkansas
124Oregon State (0-1, 0-0): The Beavers are better than this ranking, but there’s simply no excuse losing to a FCS team – even a good one like Eastern Washington. Oregon State’s offense certainly wasn’t the problem on Saturday, as quarterback Sean Mannion was outstanding (422 yards and three touchdowns), while receiver Brandin Cooks grabbed 13 receptions. But there were major breakdowns on defense. Oregon State allowed Eastern Washington to record 625 yards and 49 points. The Beavers will rebound, but this was a disappointing performance for a team with top-25 aspirations. Next Week: Hawaii

Pac-12 Week 1 Awards

Compiled by Braden Gall (@BradenGall)

Offensive Player of the Week: Marcus Mariota, Oregon
The Oregon quarterback might be the most enjoyable player to watch in the enitre nation. He is simply effortless in all that he does. Yes, Keith Price and Travis Wilson posted equally impressive numbers against tougher competition, but Mariota is the leader of the Pac-12 frontrunner and he was brilliant on Saturday. He completed 12-of-21 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown while rushing five times for 113 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. That's a 22.6 yards per carry average. His offense totalled 772 yards and scoreed 66 points for Mark Helfrich in his head coaching debut. Also, a tip of the cap in this section needs to go to Colorado receiver Paul Richardson for his monster performance against Colorado State.

Defensive Player of the Week: Dion Bailey, USC
Dion Bailey moved from undersized linebacker to head-hunting safety this offseason and the move paid off in a big way in week one. New coordinator Clancy Pendergast watched his unit stifle former USC coordinator Norm Chow's offense all night led in large part by Bailey. He led the Trojans in tackles with seven and added both a sack and an interception to his stat sheet. The Trojans allowed just 231 yards of offense and only 32 yards rushing in the 30-13 win over Hawaii.

Team of the Week: Washington
Many thought Washington could pull the slight upset over the ranked Broncos but few saw this type of domination coming for the Huskies. As new Husky Stadium was christened in style by handing Boise State their worst loss since 2005 (48-13, Georgia). Both sides of the ball looked excellent as Keith Price threw for over 300 yards, while Bishop Sankey rushed for 161, each scoring two touchdowns along the way. The defense held Boise State to three points in each half and kept the Broncos out of the endzone all night long. This might have been the most impressive win nationally (other than maybe Clemson) and it could not have come at a more critical time for Steve Sarkisian.

Coordinator of the Week: Justin Wilcox, Washington

Chris Petersen doesn't know what the Woodshed looks like but he found out in a large way against one of his own. Wilcox coached under Petersen as the defensive coordinator of the Broncos from 2006-09 before moving to Seattle by way of Tennessee. Well, the pupil taught the master a few things late on Saturday night as the Huskies defense dominated the game. The six points were the fewest scored by Boise State since being shutout in 1997 by Washington State and it was just the third time since that blanking that Boise State failed to reach at least 10 points in a game. Needless to say, what Wilcox accomplished Saturday night doesn't happen very often.

Freshman of the Week: Addison Gillam, LB, Colorado
The Buffaloes scored a huge win over in-state rival Colorado State on Sunday, and Gillam was a key piece in defense’s performance. He recorded 14 stops (with two tackles as a loss), along with two sacks and one pass breakup. Gillam was a big reason why Colorado State managed just 94 rushing yards.


5th Down

How times does any team on any level produce over 500 yards of offense, convert on 50-percent of third downs, not turn the ball over a single time and get beat? That is what happened to Oregon State this weekend when it lost in heart-breaking fashion to lower-tier power Eastern Washington. To fans outside of Corvallis, it was a game to remember featuring six lead changes in the final 20 minutes of game time. A big tip of the cap to EWU starting quarterback Vernon Adams who had the game of his life. He threw for 411 yards and four touchdowns while running for 107 yards and two more touchdowns. Those numbers would be sick against lower level competition but in Reser Stadium against a Top 25 opponent? Oregon State has some flaws it needs to work through and after one weekend, it appears Washington might be the top challenger to Oregon/Stanford Pac-12 North supremacy, not the Beavers.

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It began with blowouts in Minneapolis and Bloomington on Thursday night. Saturday got started with more one-sided affairs in Madison, Columbus and Ann Arbor. It all ended with an thoroughly entertaining Week 1 finale in Berkeley. And in between, there was heart-break in Iowa City and West Lafayette.

The Big Ten went 10-2 with wins over the Pac-12, ACC and Mountain West (twice). However, Darrell Hazell debuted at Purdue in atrocious fashion against the American Athletic Conference (Cincinnati) while the embattled Kirk Ferentz watched his team choke away an important win against the MAC (Northern Illinois).

More Post-Week 1 Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

 

Big Ten Post-Week 1 Power Rankings:

 TeamLWAnalysis 
1.-Ohio State (1-0, 0-0): Urban Meyer should be ecstatic after Week 1. His team won fairly easily by nearly three touchdowns but also struggled just enough to offer his staff plenty of coaching points. Ohio State allowed Buffalo to hang around for most of the game, had nine penalties and lost the turnover battle. That said, the Buckeyes extended the nation's longest winning streak to 13 games. Next Week: San Diego State 
2.
 
-Michigan (1-0, 0-0): The Wolverines posted its highest-scoring opener since 1905 by crushing Central Michigan. Devin Gardner made a few mistakes but was solid, and Brady Hoke was able to get plenty of key freshmen plenty of experience in the blowout. Michigan will need it when Notre Dame comes to town this weekend. Next Week: Notre Dame 
3.
 
-Nebraska (1-0, 0-0): Fans in Lincoln better hope that the scare Wyoming gave them wasn't a sign of things to come but rather a wake-up call. This team neeeds to develop toughness and killer instinct on defense after allowing more than 600 yards of offense to the Cowboys. Taylor Martinez is excellent, and his supporting cast on offense is outstanding. However, this team has to improve quickly on defense. Next Week: Southern Miss 
4.
 
-Northwestern (1-0, 0-0): Kain Colter may have to sit out a game or two due to a concussion, but the good news is Trevor Siemian is completely capable. Pat Fitzgerald has some work to do on defense but his squad delivered in an important status win for the program on the road. Next Week: Syracuse 
5.
 
-Wisconsin (1-0, 0-0): The Gary Andersen Era got underway in impressive fashion and the Badgers looked a lot like what fans in Madison have watched for the last few decades. The Badgers pounded the football on the ground and played stingy defense in the easy win over UMass. More importantly, quarterback Joel Stave returned to action by accounting for three touchdowns. Next Week: Tennessee Tech 
6.
 
-Penn State (1-0, 0-0): Christian Hackenberg is officially a Big Ten quarterback. And he is 1-0 as a starter. The true freshman phenom was more than adequate as the Lions outlasted a physical Syracuse team. Allen Robinson sat out the first half on a coach's decision and exploded for 133 yards and a TD in the second half. Next Week: Eastern Michigan 
7.
 
-Michigan State (1-0, 0-0): Michigan State looks a lot like Michigan State after one week. The defense is nasty — it scored twice against Western Michigan — and the offense looks mediocre at best — it scored one offensive touchdown. Andrew Maxwell (21 att.) and Connor Cook (16 att.) split time so the QB battle in East Lansing is far from over. Next Week: USF 
8.
 
-Minnesota (1-0, 0-0): The all-important third year of the Jerry Kill era began slowly but ended in impressive fashion. Thanks to three combined defensive and special teams touchdowns, the Gophers pulled away in the second half against UNLV. Quarterback Philip Nelson began his first full season as the starter by scoring three times. Next Week: at New Mexico State 
9.
 
-Indiana (1-0, 0-0): Eventually, Kevin Wilson will have to pick a quarterback, but for now, his offense is just fine. Tre Roberson got the start but both Nate Sudfeld and Cam Coffman saw snaps as the trio combined for six touchdown passes. The Hoosiers set a Memorial Stadium record with 73 points, which was just three shy of the all-time school record of 76. Next Week: Navy 
10.
 
-Iowa (0-1, 0-0): The Hawkeyes had never lost to Northern Illinois in eight tries but the heartbreaking last-second loss to the Huskies is a horrible omen for embattled head coach Kirk Ferentz. Jake Rudock played well in his first start but threw a costly interception that cost Iowa the game. Next Week: Missouri State 
11.
 
-Purdue (0-1, 0-0): This was as bad a coaching debut as could have been expected for Darrell Hazell. The Boilermakers were sloppy, unproductive, inefficient and didn't belong on the same field as the Bearcats. And their schedule includes three BCS bowl teams in the next four weeks. Next Week: Indiana State 
12.
 
-Illinois (1-0, 0-0): It wasn't pretty and it was much closer than Tim Beckman would have liked but Illinois got an important win over Southern Illinois. The Illini needed a goal line stand in the final minute to beat the Missouri Valley foe, due in large part to an offense that lack any semblance of balance (415 yards passing, 49 yards rushing). The Orange Crush has to be better on the ground if it expects to improve in 2013 Next Week: Cincinnati 

Big Ten Week 1 Awards and Superlatives:

Offensive Player of the Week: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
The Wisconsin running backs were outstanding, Braxton was Braxton, so was Taylor Martinez and, I can't believe I'm saying this, but Nathan Scheelhaase led his team to victory. But it's about time the nation looked at Allen Robinson as one of the game's best. Bill O'Brien suspended the star wideout for the first half of the neutral field bout with Syracuse without so much as a peep out of the locker room as to why. His absence was felt in a big way as PSU managed only 89 passing yards and a slim 6-3 edge at the half. Robinson caught the first pass of the second half for a first down and the second for a 51-yard touchdown. He was all over the field and turned a true freshman quarterback into a veteran signal caller by catching seven passes for 133 yards entirely in the second half of the 23-17 win. Penn State finished with 296 yards of passing offense, which would've ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten a year ago.

Defensive Player of the Week: Collin Ellis, LB, Northwestern
They may have been on tipped passes but when you score two defensive touchdowns, you are the P.O.W. The first came at a critical time late in the third quarter with Northwestern down by four, when Ellis took a Jared Goff pass 59 yards to paydirt to give the Wildcats the lead. Then again, this time up by three with eight minutes to go in the game, Ellis plucked another Cal throw out of the air and went 40 yards for six points to essentially end the game. This was the best win of the weekend for the league — and for more on that...

Team of the Week: Northwestern
Most of the Big Ten either won easily against over-matched opponents or was disappointed by poor play — and, in Iowa and Purdue cases, lost. But Northwestern lost Kain Colter to an "upper body" injury (it looked like a shoulder to us) on the game's first series and managed to defeat Cal in Berkeley 44-30. Yes, the Cats allowed more than 500 yards of offense but this game was supposed to be much tougher than the 2012 records indicated. Credit Pat Fitzgerald, and possibly one questionable targeting penalty, for the way Northwestern battled adversity in a home opener for a Golden Bears team flush with energy behind head coach Sonny Dykes' debut. This was an important win and likely the best in the conference this weekend.

Coordinator of the Week: Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State
The Spartans defensive coordinator is one of the nation's best and few assistants nationally mean as much to their team's success as Narduzzi. Michigan State has what appears to be an anemic offense once again this fall and wins will have to come by way of the defense. Against Western Michigan in Week 1, Narduzzi's bunch pitched a gem. His unit allowed 204 total yards, 4-of-20 third down conversions, forced four turnovers and, oh by the way, scored more touchdowns (2) than the Spartans offense (1). This defense will be nasty once again, but one has to wonder if Sparty can contend in the Legends Division against offensively minded teams like Michigan, Nebraska and Northwestern with little to no support from the offense?

Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
By the time it is all said and done, this award might be renamed The Hackenberg. In his first career start in his first career game as a true freshman, Hackenberg led his team to a win over a BCS team in Syracuse (in a pseudo-road environment). He looked, at times, like a freshman, but his overall ability is way too impressive to ignore. He finished 22-of-31 for 278 yards, two key second-half touchdowns and two interceptions. The touted freshman has special upside and has already justified his lofty recruiting status.

5th Down
The Indiana Hoosiers are looking to make it to the postseason for just the second time since 1993 and it was obvious in Week 1 that it's a distinct possibility. Indiana set a school record with 45 first-half points, a Memorial Stadium record with 73 points — just three shy of an all-time school record — and did so with three different quarterbacks. Tre Roberson started the game, threw six passes, carried the ball five times and scored twice. Nate Sudfeld then stepped in to attempt 17 passes, four of which went for touchdowns. And Cam Coffman got seven attempts. Kevin Wilson has a wealth of options under center and a host of talented skill players surrounding them. It appears the quarterback race in Bloomington will be fascinating to watch all season long.

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Two Big 12 teams lost to FCS programs, and a third had a scare. TCU lost its marquee game to open the season.

Yet the Big 12 is more or less where though it would be.

The teams at the top are flawed, and there remains little obvious separation. Oklahoma State, our preseason pick to win the league, remains on top after its first game despite a sputtering effort from its offense. Oklahoma and Texas won in routs, but both the Sooners and Longhorns showed enough room for improvement to make us wary.

If we learned anything, the bottom half of the league — Kansas State, Iowa State and West Virginia — showed that they’re a ways off from competing with the top half of the conference.

More Post-Week 1 Power Rankings: ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big 12 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

RankTeamAnalysis
1.Oklahoma State (1-0, 0-0): The Cowboys didn’t look like a finished product on offense in the first game as J.W. Walsh took over the starting role. Parker Graham moved over from guard to play left tackle, vacated when Devin Davis suffered as season-ending knee injury. Despite the shifting on the line, though, the Cowboys didn’t give up a sack. Oklahoma State will have plenty of opportunities to tinker more against UTSA and Lamar in the next two week. This week: at UTSA
2.Oklahoma (1-0, 0-0): Bob Stoops insisted his team would have a similar offensive approach to years past with Trevor Knight at quarterback. Baloney. Knight was shaky as passer (11 of 28) with one interception and three more near-picks. But OU was content to let him run, though, as he rushed for a team-leading 103 yards on 13 carries, a rare feat for a Sooners QB. Oklahoma’s run defense was excellent against ULM, something that will be in focus in Game 2. This week: West Virginia.
3.Texas (1-0, 0-0): Texas has to wonder which offense is going to show up at BYU this week. David Ash threw two interceptions in the first half as the Longhorns trailed 7-0. Thereafter, Texas needed only 16 plays and less than 5:30 of game time to score five touchdowns in the second and third quarters. A matchup against BYU looks little less formidable, though, after the Cougars lost 19-16 at Virginia. This week: at BYU
4.TCU (0-1, 0-0): The Horned Frogs kept the loss to LSU close on a turnover and kickoff return for a touchdown, perhaps masking an ineffective passing game and lackluster defense. Casey Pachall and Trevone Boykin combined to complete 15-of-28 passes for 5.2 yards per attempt as the Horned Frogs had difficulty sustaining drives with either quarterback. This week: Southeastern Louisiana.
5.Baylor (1-0, 0-0): Baylor had little trouble in its opener against Wofford. Even if it was against an overmatched FCS program, Bryce Petty looked like he’ll fit into the Art Briles' quarterback tradition as he completed 19-of-24 passes for 312 yards with two touchdowns. Week 2 matchup we’re waiting to see: Lache Seastrunk against Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack, the best player on the field in the opener against Ohio State. This week: Buffalo
6.Texas Tech (1-0, 0-0): Kliff Kingsbury may have a dilemma when presumptive starter Michael Brewer returns from injury next month. Baker Mayfield flourished in his first start, which ended with three fourth-quarter touchdown passes. Kingsbury treated Mayfield nothing like a true freshman walk-on, entrusting him to throw 60 passes in Texas Tech’s 87 plays against SMU. The Red Raiders get a warm up before facing TCU on Sept. 12. This week: Stephen F. Austin
7.Kansas State (0-1, 0-0): An uncharacteristic Bill Snyder performance in so many ways for the Wildcats in the opener. The offensive line and run game were a mess as K-State rushed for only 41 yards on 1.8 yards per carry. K-State finished 2 of 10 on third down and reached the red zone only once as North Dakota State scored the final 17 points. The Wildcats will be on upset alert again in week 2. This week: UL Lafayette
8.West Virginia (1-0, 0-0): At least Houston transfer Charles Sims delivered in the opener, rushing for 120 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. The Mountaineers went for a balanced offense as the simplified passing game looked, well, simple against William & Mary. Odds are quarterback Paul Millard will need to be more productive Saturday. This week: at Oklahoma
9.Iowa State (0-1, 0-0): The overachieving Cyclones may be returning to Earth. The front seven is clearly rebuilding after allowing 6.9 yards per carry against Northern Iowa and 21-of-28 passing. Quarterback Sam Richardson showed potential in the Pistol formation, but the Cyclones still settled for field goals late. This week: Off
10.Kansas (0-0): The Jayhawks need all the perpetration they can get after losing 11 in a row last season. Kansas’ last win was over South Dakota State on Sept. 1 last year, so maybe that’s a good omen. This week: South Dakota

Big 12 Week 1 Awards


Offensive player of the week: J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State
Mike Gundy started his season with Clint Chelf at quarterback against Mississippi State, but only two series later, Oklahoma State needed a change. That’s no problem for J.W. Walsh, who was the second man up last season when then-freshman starter Wes Lunt went down with an injury. Oklahoma State inserted the dual-threat Walsh into the lineup Saturday and added a few tweaks that turned out to spark the Cowboys to a 21-3 victory. Running the option out of the shotgun in a four-man backfield, Walsh led the Cowboys in rushing with 125 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He also completed 18-of-27 passes for 135 yards.

Defensive player of the week: Corey Nelson, Oklahoma
Oklahoma linebacker Corey Nelson led a stifling effort against UL-Monroe, an encouraging development for a Sooners defense that struggled last season. Leading the way to bottle up quarterback Kolton Browning, Nelson had eight tackles, two tackles for a loss and a sacks as ULM averaged 1.7 yards per carry in the 34-0 win.

Freshman of the week: Baker Mayfield, Texas Tech
When Mike Leach coached Texas Tech, it seemed he could just plug any quarterback into his system and get a 400-yard passing day. It’s fitting then that Leach’s first quarterback at Tech has the same touch as a head coach. In his head coaching debut, Kliff Kingsbury sent out Baker Mayfield, a true freshman walk-on to take the first snaps. Mayfield looked neither the part of a freshman nor a non-scholarship player as he completed 43 of 60 passes for 413 yards with four touchdowns in a 41-23 win over SMU on Friday. Both Mayfield and SMU starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert graduated from high school powerhouse Lake Travis (Texas).

Team of the week: Oklahoma State
The Big 12 favorite scored the biggest non-conference win for the league with a 21-3 victory over Mississippi State. It wasn’t always pretty, but the Cowboys again showed their ability to adjust on the fly on offense and showed a new look with a standout defense.

Coordinator of the week: Glenn Spencer, Oklahoma State
The Oklahoma State offense needed time to figure out its personnel and an approach that would work against Mississippi State. Glenn Spencer’s defense, though, did more than just hold serve. Oklahoma State limited Mississippi State to 333 total yards and a field goal, the first time the Cowboys held a major conference opponent to less than a touchdown since 1995. Oklahoma State was at its best in the third quarter when it held Mississippi State to 10 total yards and no first downs. The Cowboys added 10 tackles for a loss after averaging 6.9 per game last season.

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It’s only Week 1, but if the early indications are true, the SEC is deeper and better than 2012. LSU showcased the next wave of talent in a win over TCU, Ole Miss picked up a good road win over Vanderbilt, Arkansas handled Sun Belt favorite UL Lafayette, and Tennessee and Auburn scored victories under a new coaching staff.

Alabama didn’t have the best offensive outing against Virginia Tech, but the Crimson Tide are still the No. 1 team in the SEC and in the nation. 

South Carolina secured a solid non-conference victory over North Carolina on Thursday night, while Georgia lost by three points on the road to Clemson.

More Post-Week 1 Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12

SEC Post-Week 1 Power Rankings

RankTeamLWAnalysis
11

Alabama (1-0, 0-0): The beating was far less thorough than most anticipated, but Alabama was never really threatened in its 35-10 win over Virginia Tech at the Georgia Dome. The Crimson Tide’s offense was underwhelming (206 total yards), but Bama scored two touchdowns on special teams and one on defense. Next Week: Bye

23

South Carolina (1-0, 0-0): The Gamecocks recorded a workmanlike 27–10 win over North Carolina on Thursday night. South Carolina flashed its big-play ability early when Connor Shaw hooked up with Shaq Roland on a 65-yard touchdown toss in the first quarter. From that point, Steve Spurrier leaned on his rushing attack; Mike Davis led the way with 115 yards (9.6-yard average), and Brandon Wilds chipped in with 64 yards on 12 rushes. Next Week: at Georgia 

32Georgia (0-1, 0-0): The Bulldogs missed a great opportunity to make a statement in Week 1. Georgia played well at times, but Mark Richt’s team made too many mistakes to beat a team as talented as Clemson on the road. Todd Gurley was sensational (154 yards on 12 carries), and Aaron Murray completed 20-of-29 for 323 yards, but the Georgia defense had no answer for the Clemson attack. Next Week: South Carolina 
45LSU (1-0, 0-0): The Tigers were very impressive in their 37–27 win  over TCU in Arlington, Texas. The offense, under the guidance of new coordinator Cam Cameron, picked up 448 total yards and converted 13-of-19 on third down. The new-look LSU defense held TCU to 259 yards. Next Week: UAB
54Texas A&M (1-0, 0-0): Johnny Manziel’s return from suspension and his subsequent behavior in the second half made national headlines, but the bigger story was the Texas A&M defense. Yes, the Aggies weren’t at full strength, but Rice rolled up 509 yards of total offense, including over 300 on the ground. That is not a good sign. Next Week: Sam Houston State
66Florida (1-0, 0-0): The Gators were dominant on defense, holding a potent Toledo offense to just over 200 yards and a pair of field goals. Jeff Driskel was efficient at quarterback, completing 17-of-22 for 153 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions. The Gators will have to prove they can throw the ball down field as the schedule toughens up in the coming weeks. Driskel’s longest completion was to tight end Trey Burton for 26 yards. Next Week: At Miami (Fla.)
78Ole Miss (1-0, 1-0): The only team with an SEC win on the young season, Ole Miss showed some toughness by coming back from 11 points down in the second half to beat Vanderbilt in Nashville. After being held to 10 points in the first half, the Rebels scored four touchdowns in the final two quarters. Next Week: SE Missouri State.
87

Vanderbilt (0-1, 0-1): The Commodores rallied for a late score to grab a 35-32 lead over Ole Miss with under two minutes to play, but the defense let Rebel tailback Jeff Scott scamper 75 yards for the winning score just two plays later. Senior quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels, making his first SEC start, threw for 300 yards, and All-America wide receiver Jordan Matthews caught 10 passes for 178 yards. Next Week: Austin Peay

913Arkansas (1-0, 0-0): The Hogs disposed of a solid UL Lafayette team with surprising ease, outgaining the Ragin’ Cajuns 522-to-274 en route to the 34-14 win. Brandon Allen, the new starting quarterback, threw for 230 yards, and two tailbacks (Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins) rushed for over 100 yards. Last year, Arkansas opened the season by losing at home to a Sun Belt team. Not this year. Next Week: vs. Samford
109Mississippi State (0-1, 0-0): Mississippi State looked good early but did not play well in the final three quarters of a sluggish 21-3 loss to Oklahoma State in Houston. The biggest surprise: The Bulldogs failed to score a touchdown against a defense that gave up well over 400 yards per game last season. Starting quarterback Tyler Russell was forced to leave the game with an apparent head injury in the second half. Next Week: vs. Alcorn State
1111Tennessee (1-0, 0-0): In arguably the biggest mismatch on the Week 1 slate (nationally, not just in the SEC), Tennessee shut out Austin Peay 45-0 in Butch Jones’ debut as the Vols’ head coach. UT jumped out to a 42-0 lead at the half and coasted through the final two quarters. Quarterback Justin Worley completed 11-of-13 for 104 yards and three touchdowns. Next Week: vs. Western Kentucky
12 12Missouri (1-0, 0-0): It was a bit of a struggle early — Murray State led Mizzou 14–13 after one quarter — but the Tigers dominated the final 45 minutes on their way to a 58–14 win. Missouri rolled up 694 total yards — 372 on the ground and 336 through the air. The highlight of the day: Henry Josey, making his first appearance since injuring his knee late in the 2011 season, rushed for 113 yards on 13 carries. Next Week: Toledo
1310Auburn (1-0, 0-0): The Tigers did a lot of good things in a 31–24 win over Washington State, but keep in mind that Wazzu was arguably the worst BCS conference team in the nation last season. The Cougars appear to be much improved, but we won’t know how to evaluate this Auburn win until we see more of Washington State. Still, a win is a win, and Auburn didn’t have too many of those last season. Next Week: Arkanas State
1414Kentucky (1-0, 0-0): The Mark Stoops era got off to a rough start with a 35-26 loss to Western Kentucky at LP Field in Nashville. And there was nothing fluky about this game: Western Kentucky was the better team. Kentucky went with Jalen Whitlow at quarterback. He did some good things with his legs but threw for only 78 yards on 15 attempts. Maxwell Smith, who appears to be a better fit for Neal Brown’s “Air Raid” offense, played relatively well off the bench. Next Game: Miami (Ohio)

SEC Week 1 Awards 

Offensive Player of the Week: Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
His team came up short, but Matthews was sensational in Vanderbilt’s 39–35 loss to Ole Miss. The senior wide receiver caught 10 passes for 178 yards and one touchdown, highlighted by a 42-yard grab on 4th-and-18 in the final two minutes. That catch, in double-coverage, came just moments after Matthews threw up at midfield after taking a blow to the stomach. Earlier in the second half, he missed time while dealing with cramps. Matthews has averaged 121.6 yards receiving in his last 13 SEC games.

Defensive Player of the Week: Robenson Therezie, Auburn
The Auburn defense intercepted a total of two passes during the entire 2012 season. Therezie matched that number by himself on Saturday night. The junior safety intercepted Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday to thwart a drive at midfield in the first quarter and then delivered arguably the play of the game when he picked off a pass in the end zone in the final five minutes with Auburn ahead by seven points. Therezie also added seven tackles.

Special Teams Player of the Week: Christion Jones, Alabama
Jones scored three touchdowns — one on a punt return, one a kickoff return and one on offense — to lead Alabama to a 35–10 win over Virginia Tech. The junior wideout is the second player in the past 10 years to score on a punt and kick return in the same game. His third touchdown came on a 38-yard reception in the third quarter. 
 
Team of the Week: LSU
The Tigers were perhaps the most impressive SEC team of the opening weekend. Les Miles’ club looked good on both sides of the ball, outgaining TCU 448-to-259 en route to a 37–27 win over the Horned Frogs in Arlington, Texas. LSU has now won 42 consecutive non-conference games.

Coordinator of the Week: Cam Cameron, LSU
There wasn’t much not to like in Cameron’s debut as the play-caller at LSU. The Tigers rolled up 448 yards of offense against a TCU team that led the Big 12 in total defense last season. LSU showed nice balance (251 yards passing, 197 yards rushing), was tremendous on third down (13-of-19) and only committed one turnover. Zach Mettenberger had some nice moments, but the senior quarterback only completed 50 percent of his passes — a number that Cameron would like to see increase in coming weeks.

Freshman of the Week, Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
There were some freshmen with gaudier stats, but none had a bigger impact on his team’s win than Treadwell, the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver recruit. After catching only one pass in the first half, Treadwell set the tone for the Ole Miss offense in third quarter by catching eight passes on the Rebels’ two long scoring drives. He capped off the second drive with a 2-point conversion that cut the Vanderbilt lead to 28–25. The 6-3, 215-poud Illinois native ended the game with nine catches for 82 yards.

5th Down

Ole Miss snapped a three-game losing streak to Vanderbilt. The Rebels had lost six of the last eight against the Commodores.
• It shouldn’t be a surprise, but Arkansas had two 100-yard rushers in Bret Bielama’s debut. Jonathan Williams gained 151 yards on 18 carries, and freshman Alex Collins chipped in with 131 yards on 21 rushes.
• Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron completed 10-of-23 for 110 yards against Virginia Tech. It was the fewest completions for McCarron as a starter against an FBS opponent and it was only the second time in his career he has completed less than 50 percent of his passes. He went 12-of-25 against Florida as a sophomore in 2011.
• Mississippi State, which lost to Oklahoma State 21–3, failed to score a touchdown for the first time since losing to LSU 19–6 in September 2011. The Bulldogs have now lost six of their past seven games, with each loss coming by at least 14 points.
• Florida held Toledo to 205 total yards in its 24–6 win in Gainesville. The Rockets returned nine starters from an offense that averaged 445.2 yards per games a year ago. It was Toledo’s worst offensive showing since gaining 183 yards in a 41–2 loss to Arizona in Week 1 of the 2011 season.

 

Teaser:
SEC 2013 Post-Week 1 Power Rankings
Post date: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 07:11
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-ranking-big-tens-coaches-2013-14
Body:

The Big Ten once again has perhaps the deepest bench of coaches in the country.

It shouldn’t be surprising, then, then that teams like Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin had a hotly contested battle for the regular season title in the Big Ten last season. Each week in 2013-14 seemed to feature a different Big Ten team in the national spotlight.

In other words, if you’re going to get angry at Athlon for ranking your team’s coach third, fourth or fifth in the Big Ten, at least wait to see the national rankings.

The league features Tom Izzo and Thad Matta, whose longevity, consistency, regular season success and postseason wins put them at the top. Not far behind are Tom Crean and John Beilein, who revived proud programs, and Bo Ryan, who defies the odds each season with a contender each year despite a lower recruiting profile.

*A few things to note as we are ranking coaches: We are attempting to look at the whole package of gameday acumen, recruiting, player development, and regular-season and postseason success. We are also keeping in mind a coach’s career trajectory.

And now, on to the debate. Feel free to chime in at @AthlonSports on Twitter or Athlon Sports on Facebook.

Other conference coach rankings: ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East

1. Tom Izzo, Michigan State
Record (all at Michigan State): 439-178 overall (.712), 209-95 Big Ten (.693)
NCAA Tournament: 39-16, six Final Fours, one national championship
Tom Izzo will have two McDonald’s All-Americans on his roster in 2013-14 in Keith Appling and Gary Harris, a rarity for the longtime Spartans’ coach. Few coaches have weathered the changes in college basketball as well as Izzo — the changes in the NBA Draft rules, the ups and downs in the Big Ten and all the challenges that come with recruiting. Izzo has assembled the Big Ten’s most consistent program without a glut of first-round draft picks (none since 2006) or early entries to the NBA Draft (none during the one-and-done era). Consider this: Appling and Adreian Payne are looking to avoid becoming the first senior class to play all four years with Izzo and miss the Final Four.

2. Thad Matta, Ohio State
Record: 352-104
Record at Ohio State: 250-73 overall (.774), 111-45 (.712)
NCAA Tournament: 22-11, two Final Fours
More often than not, Matta has had the most talented roster in the Big Ten, especially since the Thad Five led the Buckeyes to the national championship game in 2007. The Buckeyes have advanced to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament in four consecutive seasons, though the 2011 team that stalled in the Sweet 16 was a major postseason disappointment. In 13 seasons as a head coach at Xavier, Butler and Ohio State, Matta has claimed at least a share of a regular season title an astoudning eight times.

3. John Beilein, Michigan
Record: 415-260
Record at Michigan: 112-85 overall (.589), 55-53 Big Ten (.509)
NCAA Tournament: 13-8, one Final Four
Beilein is, in college basketball coaching terms, a self-made man. He’s never been an assistant, making his route to Michigan that much more unique. But now that he’s made the journey from community college to Le Moyne to Canisius to Richmond to West Virginia to Ann Arbor, we’re getting an idea of what Beilein can do at a Big Ten powerhouse. Beilein is the most successful coach at Michigan since the Fab Five days, and he shows little signs of slowing down. He’s signed elite recruits like Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III while developing a point guard Ohio State ignored in its own backyard (Trey Burke) into the national player of the year.

4. Bo Ryan, Wisconsin
Record: 321-140
Record at Wisconsin: 291-113 overall (.720), 144-60 Big Ten (.705)
NCAA Tournament: 16-12
The 2013-14 season was further testament that no matter what happens, Bo Ryan will have a top-four team in the Big Ten. Point guard Jordan Taylor moved on, then heir apparent Josh Gasser was lost for the season with a torn ACL in October. No matter, Wisconsin still finished 12-6 in the Big Ten, finishing in the top four in the league ever season under Ryan. Ryan has good reason to be confident in his formula: He’s been able to develop players in his system year in and year out. In 11 seasons at Wisconsin, Ryan’s teams have ranked in the top 10 in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency eight times and in the top 30 of offensive efficiency eight times. The only knock, though, is Wisconsin’s bad luck in the NCAA Tournament. The Badgers haven’t advanced beyond the Sweet 16 since 2005.

5. Tom Crean, Indiana
Record: 274-178
Record at Indiana: 84-82 overall (.506), 33-57 Big Ten (.367)
NCAA Tournament: 9-7, one Final Four
Crean has brought Indiana back to national prominence in a way that’s been lacking since the Bob Knight era. Crean reestablished Indiana’s recruiting clout in state, starting with the signing of Cody Zeller and continuing with Yogi Ferrell and Jeremy Hollowell. After a breakthrough season which saw Indiana win only its second post-Knight Big Ten title, it’s time to see if Crean can keep Indiana on top.

6. Matt Painter, Purdue
Record: 201-100
Record at Purdue: 176-95 overall (.649), 84-56 Big Ten (.600)
NCAA Tournament: 8-7
Painter knew he would be rebuilding after the Robbie Hummel, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore class left campus. The Boilermakers performed admirably under the circumstances in a loaded Big Ten last season, finishing 8-10. This could be a key season for Painter, though, as his program enters the second season of the post-Hummel era.

7. Fran McCaffery, Iowa
Record: 305-227
Record at Iowa: 54-50 overall (.519), 21-33  Big Ten (.389)
NCAA Tournament: 2-5
McCaffery resurrected Iowa to NIT status the last two seasons, and he should have the Hawkeyes in contention for their first NCAA Tournament since 2006. If Iowa reaches the Tourney, it will be the fourth reclamation job McCaffery has led to the Big Dance, joining Lehigh, UNC Greensboro and Siena.

8. John Groce, Illinois
Record: 108-69
Record at Illinois: 23-13 overall (.639), 8-10 Big Ten (.444)
NCAA Tournament: 4-3
Groce made an immediate impact at Illinois, leading the Illini to a win in the Maui Invitational, a 12-0 start and victories over Ohio State and Indiana. Not bad for a team that wasn’t nearly as balanced as other top Big Ten programs last season. Groce has an all-time conference record of 42-40 in five seasons as a head coach at Ohio and Illinois.

9. Tim Miles, Nebraska
Record: 86-106
Record at Nebraska: 15-18 overall (.455), 5-13 Big Ten (.278)
NCAA Tournament: 0-1
Nebraska and Penn State are the Big Ten’s toughest jobs, but Miles has two things on his side: Plenty of enthusiasm and a new arena. Miles has already rebuilt one program, improving his win total at Colorado State every season from 2007-08 through 2011-12 and recruiting the core of last season’s 26-9 team.

10. Richard Pitino, Minnesota
Record: 18-14
Record at Minnesota: First season
NCAA Tournament: None
Pitino showed immediately why he’s more than just a famous name. FIU’s basketball program was a mess after three seasons under Isiah Thomas, but Pitino led the Golden Panthers to the brink of the NCAA Tournament in a two-point loss to Western Kentucky in the Sun Belt Tournament final. The 11-9 season in conference was FIU’s first winning league record since 1999-2000.

11. Chris Collins, Northwestern
Record: First season
Northwestern is as hopeful as it’s been in a while with Collins taking over the only major conference program that has never made the NCAA Tournament. For better or worse, Collins takes over a program that has made the NIT in four of the last five seasons, but the former Duke assistant is hopeful to push Northwestern over the edge.

12. Pat Chambers, Penn State
Record: 64-69
Record at Penn State: 22-41 overall (.349), 6-30 Big Ten (.167)
NCAA Tournament: 0-1
As if the Penn State job isn’t tough enough, Chambers has dealt with a season-ending injury to Tim Frazier and a transfer from Jermaine Marshall.

Teaser:
Michigan State's Izzo headlines deep crop of coaches
Post date: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/golden-arm-performances-week-1
Body:

The Golden Arm award is presented to the top senior quarterback by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Foundation. The award is based on performance on the field, character, citizenship and integrity. This year’s watch list includes more than two dozen candidates and each week we will highlight the top five performances among the watch list candidates. 

 

Corey Robinson1. Corey Robinson, Troy 

No quarterback in the history of college football had a more accurate performance than Troy’s Corey Robinson. Robinson set an NCAA record for completion percentage with at least 30 pass attempts, completing 30 out of 32 passes for 319 yards in a season opening victory over UAB. Both of Robinson’s incompletions came in the first quarter, so after the middle of the first quarter not one Robinson pass hit the ground.

 

2. Derek Carr, Fresno State 

Perhaps no quarterback in the country had the kind of week Fresno State’s Derek Carr did. After his son was released from intensive care earlier in the week, Carr had a career night in Fresno State’s season opening victory at home against Rutgers. Carr passed for a career high 52 completions for 456 yards and matched a career high with five touchdowns passes. Fresno State needed every one of them, including a short touchdown pass in the final minute to force overtime against the Scarlet Knights.

 

3.  Tajh Boyd, Clemson 

Of all of the match-ups in college football’s opening weekend, few had the quarterback showdown that Clemson and Georgia offered Saturday night. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd had the clear upper hand in this showdown, and not just on the scoreboard. Boyd may not have had the most accurate of performance, but 18 of 30 for 270 yards and three touchdowns against Georgia are still worth respecting. Throw in a pair of rushing touchdowns for good measure.

 

4. Sean Mannion, Oregon State 

Oregon State may have been the victim of one of the handful of FCS upsets but quarterback Sean Mannion had a near career day by completing 37 of 43 attempts for 422 passing yards and three touchdowns in the losing effort. The single game passing total was the second highest of his career, and he averaged 9.8 yards per attempt as he recorded one of the highest passer ratings of the weekend.

 

5. Blake Bortles, Central Florida

Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles was effective and productive in an opening night victory over visiting Akron. Bortles completed 18 of 24 pass attempts for 314 yards, averaging 13.1 yards per attempt and three touchdowns as the Knights cruised to a 38-7 victory over the Zips.

Teaser:
This year’s watch list includes 25 QB candidates and each week we will highlight the top five performances among the watch list candidates.
Post date: Monday, September 2, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/amazing-college-football-stats-week-1
Body:

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

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

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

40:14: Nicholls State time of possession
Nicholls State more than doubled the time of possession battle with the mighty Oregon Ducks (19:46). Yet, somehow the Ducks managed to not only defeat the Colonels but cover the absurd 59-point spread in the 66-3 debut of Mark Helfrich. The Ducks posted 772 yards of offense and averaged over 11 yards per carry on 45 attempts (500 yards) while never possessing the ball for more than 2:34 seconds.

1-10: Aaron Murray against Top 15 ranked teams
Big game Aaron Murray has been anything but in big games against elite competition. He lost to Arkansas (No. 12) and Auburn (No. 2) in 2010 as a freshman. Murray lost to Boise State (No. 5), South Carolina (No. 12), LSU (No. 1) and Michigan State (No. 12) as a sophomore in 2011. And he lost to South Carolina (No. 6) and Alabama (No. 1) a year ago. His lone win against a top 15 team came last year against No. 3 Florida in the Cocktail Party. And even in that win, Murray wasn't very good: 12-of-24 for 150 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in that game.

93.8%: NCAA record completion percentage for Corey Robinson
Troy's quarterback Corey Robinson set the new NCAA benchmark (min. 30 att.) for efficient passing this weekend. In a key 34-31 overtime win over UAB, Robinson completed 30 of his 32 passes for 319 yards and a touchdown. That's a tidy 93.8-percent clip, besting the previous NCAA record held by current Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian. Coach Sark set the record by completing 91.2-percent of his passes for Fresno State in 1995. He was 31-of-34.

15-15: New head coach's records in Week 1
There were 31 new FBS college coaches in college football this fall. All but one, UTEP's Sean Kugler, was in action this weekend. That said, the BCS coaches fared much better, going 10-5, including Temple's loss to Notre Dame. The SEC went 3-1, the ACC 2-1, the Big Ten 1-1 while the Pac-12 and Big 12 combined to go 3-0. The AAC went 0-2.

2: Players who scored on a punt return, kick return and on offense in the same game
Derek Abney, a do-everything dynamo for the Kentucky Wildcats, is believed (according to Kentucky's official bio) to be the only player in NCAA history to have scored a touchdown on a punt return, kick return and pass reception (2002). That is, until Christian Jones did it for Alabama this weekend against Virginia Tech. A 72-yard punt return began the scoring in the game, continued it with a 94-yard kick return touchdown and put the game out of reach with a beautiful 38-yard touchdown strike from A.J. McCarron late in the third.

833: Combined passing yards for Vernon Adams and Sean Mannion
Eastern Washington and its famous Red Inferno football field pulled one of the biggest upsets of the weekend over Oregon State on the road. Quarterback Vernon Adams was the star of the show as he threw for 411 yards through the air while adding 107 yards rushing and two more scores on the ground. On the other sideline, not to be outdone, Sean Mannion threw for 422 yards and three touchdowns in the losing effort. There were six lead changes in the final 20 minutes of play, 61 first downs, 1,157 yards of total offense and 97 combined points.

5: FCS teams defeating major conference teams
To put it in perspective: No more than four FCS teams have defeated major conference teams in a season since 1985, according to footballgeography.com, much less one weekend. The action started Thursday when Towson defeated Connecticut 33-18 for the most lopsided FCS-over-FBS win since 2000. That mark was crushed Saturday when McNeese State defeated USF 53-21. The margin of victory and total points scored were an NCAA record for an FCS opponent over an FBS team. Two-time FCS champion North Dakota State defeated Kansas State 24-21 on Friday, Eastern Washington defeated Oregon State 49-46, and Northern Iowa defeated Iowa State 28-20.

14: NCAA record for career forced fumbles
Wisconsin's Chris Borland jarred the ball loose from a UMass Minuteman early in the game this Saturday. It was his 14th career forced fumble, tying an NCAA record. Borland has been a big-play machine, blocking kicks and punts, creating turnovers and disrupting the offense behind the line of scrimmage his entire career. He now shares the NCAA record with five other players: Cincinnati's Antwan Peek, Arizona State's Terrell Suggs, USC's Kenechi Udeze, Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan and Southern Miss' Cordarro Law.

2,080: Cornelius Greene's school rushing record by a QB
Cornelius Greene was the first African-American starting quarterback for Ohio State in the early 1970s. He also is the all-time leading rusher for the Ohio State Buckeyes as a quarterback. After 77 yards rushing in the season opener against Buffalo, Braxton Miller pushed his career rushing total to 2,063 yards just one game into his junior season. By the end of the first quarter in Week 2, MIller should be become the all-time leading rusher by a quarterback for one of the most historic and prestigious programs in NCAA history.

 

Teaser:
Amazing Week 1 College Football Stats
Post date: Monday, September 2, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/georgia-wr-malcolm-mitchell-out-year-knee-injury
Body:

Not only did Georgia lose Saturday’s game to Clemson, it was costly in the health department.

Running back Todd Gurley suffered a thigh injury against the Tigers, and receiver Malcolm Mitchell is lost for the year due to a torn ACL. In bizarre fashion, Mitchell suffered the injury celebrating Gurley’s 75-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

Mitchell’s loss is a huge setback for Georgia’s offense, but the Bulldogs aren’t without playmakers at receiver. Michael Bennett caught five passes in his return from a season-ending knee injury in 2012, while Justin Scott-Wesley grabbed four passes and Chris Conley nabbed three receptions. And although tight end Arthur Lynch was quiet (one reception), he’s a potential All-American tight end.

Georgia’s offense will miss Mitchell, but the passing attack shouldn’t suffer much, especially with senior quarterback Aaron Murray at the controls.
 

Teaser:
Georgia WR Malcolm Mitchell Out for Year With Knee Injury
Post date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 20:38
Path: /college-football/villanova-perfectly-executes-fake-punt-against-boston-college
Body:

Villanova emptied the playbook on Saturday, as it attempted to pull off an FCS over FBCS upset. The Wildcats were unsuccessful, but they gave Boston College a good fight.

But the best part of Saturday’s game was Villanova’s fake punt early in the first quarter. The Wildcats not only fooled the defense but also faked out the camera crew.

Check out Villanova’s perfectly executed fake punt:

 

Teaser:
Villanova Perfectly Executes Fake Punt Against Boston College
Post date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 20:05
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-1-recap-and-awards
Body:

The standouts in Week 1 in the Big 12 were hardly the most logical suspects.

Our award winners this week include a quarterback who started the game on the bench, a true freshman walk-on, a linebacker from a team that struggled on defense last season and a defensive coordinator at a program where offense is king.

In short, a strange first week for the Big 12 wasn't limited to FCS wins over Kansas State and Iowa State.

Offensive player of the week: J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State
Mike Gundy started his season with Clint Chelf at quarterback against Mississippi State, but only two series later, Oklahoma State needed a change. That’s no problem for J.W. Walsh, who was the second man up last season when then-freshman starter Wes Lunt went down with an injury. Oklahoma State inserted the dual-threat Walsh into the lineup Saturday and added a few tweaks that turned out to spark the Cowboys to a 21-3 victory. Running the option out of the shotgun in a four-man backfield, Walsh led the Cowboys in rushing with 125 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He also completed 18-of-27 passes for 135 yards.

Defensive player of the week: Corey Nelson, Oklahoma
Oklahoma linebacker Corey Nelson led a stifling effort against UL-Monroe, an encouraging development for a Sooners defense that struggled last season. Leading the way to bottle up quarterback Kolton Browning, Nelson had eight tackles, two tackles for a loss and a sacks as ULM averaged 1.7 yards per carry in the 34-0 win.

Freshman of the week: Baker Mayfield, Texas Tech
When Mike Leach coached Texas Tech, it seemed he could just plug any quarterback into his system and get a 400-yard passing day. It’s fitting then that Leach’s first quarterback at Tech has the same touch as a head coach. In his head coaching debut, Kliff Kingsbury sent out Baker Mayfield, a true freshman walk-on to take the first snaps. Mayfield looked neither the part of a freshman nor a non-scholarship player as he completed 43 of 60 passes for 413 yards with four touchdowns in a 41-23 win over SMU on Friday. Both Mayfield and SMU starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert graduated from high school powerhouse Lake Travis (Texas).

Team of the week: Oklahoma State
The Big 12 favorite scored the biggest non-conference win for the league with a 21-3 victory over Mississippi State. It wasn’t always pretty, but the Cowboys again showed their ability to adjust on the fly on offense and showed a new look with a standout defense.

Coordinator of the week: Glenn Spencer, Oklahoma State
The Oklahoma State offense needed time to figure out its personnel and an approach that would work against Mississippi State. Glenn Spencer’s defense, though, did more than just hold serve. Oklahoma State limited Mississippi State to 333 total yards and a field goal, the first time the Cowboys held a major conference opponent to less than a touchdown since 1995. Oklahoma State was at its best in the third quarter when it held Mississippi State to 10 total yards and no first downs. The Cowboys added 10 tackles for a loss after averaging 6.9 per game last season.

Fifth Down

• Half of the Big 12’s primary quarterbacks were not the odds-on favorites when preseason camp began. Oklahoma’s Trevor Knight and Kansas State’s Jake Waters were named starters in preseason practice despite more seasoned players on the roster. Texas Tech’s Baker Mayfield filled in for the injured Michael Brewer. Oklahoma State’s J.W. Walsh relieved Clint Chelf early. And West Virginia’s Paul Millard was not revealed as the starter until he trotted onto the field.

• Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight rushed for 103 yards becoming the first Sooners QB to top 100 yards rushing since Jason White in 2001 — before the eventual Heisman winner had two knee surgeries. Knight also became the first quarterback of the Stoops era to rush for more than he passed (86 yards).

• Oklahoma had its best defensive performance against the run since September 2011. The Sooners held ULM to 1.7 yards per carry and 38 yards on the gorund, the lowest figures since OU held Florida State to 1.04 yards per carry and 27 rushing early in 2011.

• Texas’ 715 total yards against New Mexico State was a school record and the first 700-yard game in school history. Not bad considering that three of the Longhorns’ first five possessions ended in a turnover.

• Baylor’s 69 points against Wofford was the Bears’ highest-scoring game since an 88-0 win over Stephen F. Austin in 1929. That may not seen to be a big deal against an FCU steam, but given the Big 12’s results against other FCS teams, Baylor has reason to be proud.

• Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk has rushed for 100 yards in five consecutive games, a school record. Seastrunk rushed fro 112 yards on 11 carries against Wofford.

Teaser:
Oklahoma State's J.W. Walsh and Oklahoma's Corey Nelson take top honors
Post date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 15:41
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-1-recap-and-awards
Body:

It began with blowouts in Minneapolis and Bloomington on Thursday night. Saturday got started with more one-sided affairs in Madison, Columbus and Ann Arbor. It all ended with an thoroughly entertaining Week 1 finale in Berkeley. And in between, there was heartbreak in Iowa City and West Lafayette.

The Big Ten went 10-2 with wins over the Pac-12, ACC and Mountain West (twice). However, Darrell Hazell debuted at Purdue in atrocious fashion against the American Athletic Conference (Cincinnati) while the embattled Kirk Ferentz watched his team choke away an important win against the MAC (Northern Illinois).

Here are the Big Ten's Week 1 Superlatives:

Offensive Player of the Week: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

The Wisconsin running backs were outstanding, Braxton was Braxton, so was Taylor Martinez and, I can't believe I'm saying this, but Nathan Scheelhaase led his team to victory. But it's about time the nation looked at Allen Robinson as one of the game's best. Bill O'Brien suspended the star wideout for the first half of the neutral field bout with Syracuse without so much as a peep out of the locker room as to why. His absence was felt in a big way as PSU managed just 89 passing yards and a slim 6-3 edge at the half. Robinson caught the first pass of the second half for a first down and the second for a 51-yard touchdown. He was all over the field and turned a true freshman quarterback into a veteran signal caller by catching seven passes for 133 yards entirely in the second half of the 23-17 win. Penn State finished with 296 yards of passing offense, which would've ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten a year ago.

Defensive Player of the Week: Collin Ellis, LB, Northwestern

They may have been on tipped passes but when you score two defensive touchdowns, you are the P.O.W. The first came at a critical time late in the third quarter with Northwestern down by four, when Ellis took a Jared Goff pass 59 yards to paydirt to give the Wildcats the lead. Then again, this time up by three with eight minutes to go in the game, Ellis plucked another Cal throw out of the air and went 40 yards for six points to essentially end the game. This was the best win of the weekend for the league — and for more on that...

Team of the Week: Northwestern

Most of the Big Ten either won easily against over-matched opponents or was disappointed by poor play — and, in Iowa and Purdue cases, lost. But Northwestern lost Kain Colter to a concussion on the game's first series and managed to defeat Cal in Berkeley 44-30. Yes, the Cats allowed more than 500 yards of offense, but this game was supposed to be much tougher than the 2012 records indicated. Credit Pat Fitzgerald, and possibly one questionable targeting penalty, for the way Northwestern battled adversity in a home opener for a Golden Bears team flush with energy behind head coach Sonny Dykes' debut. This was an important win and likely the best in the conference this weekend.

Coordinator of the Week: Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State

The Spartans defensive coordinator is one of the nation's best and few assistants nationally mean as much to their team's success as Narduzzi. Michigan State has what appears to be an anemic offense once again this fall and wins will have to come by way of the defense. Against Western Michigan in Week 1, Narduzzi's bunch pitched a gem. His unit allowed 204 total yards, 4-of-20 third down conversions, forced four turnovers and, oh by the way, scored more touchdowns (2) than the Spartans offense (1). This defense will be nasty once again, but one has to wonder if Sparty can contend in the Legends Division against offensively minded teams like Michigan, Nebraska and Northwestern with little to no support from the offense?

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

By the time it is all said and done, this award might be renamed The Hackenberg. In his first career start in his first career game as a true freshman, Hackenberg led his team to a win over a BCS team in Syracuse (in a pseudo-road environment). He looked, at times, like a freshman, but his overall ability is way too impressive to ignore. He finished 22-of-31 for 278 yards, two key second-half touchdowns and two interceptions. The touted freshman has special upside and has already justified his lofty recruiting status.

5th Down

The Indiana Hoosiers are looking to make it to the postseason for just the second time since 1993 and it was obvious in Week 1 that it's a distinct possibility. Indiana set a school record with 45 first-half points, a Memorial Stadium record with 73 points — just three shy of an all-time school record — and did so with three different quarterbacks. Tre Roberson started the game, threw six passes, carried the ball five times and scored twice. Nate Sudfeld then stepped in to attempt 17 passes, four of which went for touchdowns. And Cam Coffman got seven attempts. Kevin Wilson has a wealth of options under center and a host of talented skill players surrounding them. It appears the quarterback race in Bloomington will be fascinating to watch all season long.

Teaser:
Big Ten Week 1 Recap and Awards
Post date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 13:29
Path: /sec-week-1-recap-and-awards-2013
Body:


Ole Miss topped Vanderbilt in the only Week 1 matchup between SEC teams, but there were several other schools that made a statement in the first weekend of the season. LSU picked up a solid non-conference win over TCU in Arlington; Florida looked great on defense in its win over Toledo; and Auburn knocked off an improved Washington State team in the first game of the Gus Malzahn era.

Offensive Player of the Week: Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt
His team came up short, but Matthews was sensational in Vanderbilt’s 39–35 loss to Ole Miss. The senior wide receiver caught 10 passes for 178 yards and one touchdown, highlighted by a 42-yard grab on 4th-and-18 in the final two minutes. That catch, in double-coverage, came just moments after Matthews threw up at midfield after taking a blow to the stomach. Earlier in the second half, he missed time while dealing with cramps. Matthews has averaged 121.6 yards receiving in his last 13 SEC games.

Defensive Player of the Week: Robenson Therezie, Auburn
The Auburn defense intercepted a total of two passes during the entire 2012 season. Therezie matched that number by himself on Saturday night. The junior safety intercepted Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday to thwart a drive at midfield in the first quarter and then delivered arguably the play of the game when he picked off a pass in the end zone in the final five minutes with Auburn ahead by seven points. Therezie also added seven tackles.

Special Teams Player of the Week: Christion Jones, Alabama
Jones scored three touchdowns — one on a punt return, one a kickoff return and one on offense — to lead Alabama to a 35–10 win over Virginia Tech. The junior wideout is the second player in the past 10 years to score on a punt and kick return in the same game. His third touchdown came on a 38-yard reception in the third quarter. 
 
Team of the Week: LSU
The Tigers were perhaps the most impressive SEC team of the opening weekend. Les Miles’ club looked good on both sides of the ball, outgaining TCU 448-to-259 en route to a 37–27 win over the Horned Frogs in Arlington, Texas. LSU has now won 42 consecutive non-conference games.

Coordinator of the Week: Cam Cameron, LSU
There wasn’t much not to like in Cameron’s debut as the play-caller at LSU. The Tigers rolled up 448 yards of offense against a TCU team that led the Big 12 in total defense last season. LSU showed nice balance (251 yards passing, 197 yards rushing), was tremendous on third down (13-of-19) and only committed one turnover. Zach Mettenberger had some nice moments, but the senior quarterback only completed 50 percent of his passes — a number that Cameron would like to see increase in coming weeks.

Freshman of the Week, Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss
There were some freshmen with gaudier stats, but none had a bigger impact on his team’s win than Treadwell, the nation’s No. 1 wide receiver recruit. After catching only one pass in the first half, Treadwell set the tone for the Ole Miss offense in third quarter by catching eight passes on the Rebels’ two long scoring drives. He capped off the second drive with a 2-point conversion that cut the Vanderbilt lead to 28–25. The 6-3, 215-poud Illinois native ended the game with nine catches for 82 yards.

5th Down

Ole Miss snapped a three-game losing streak to Vanderbilt. The Rebels had lost six of the last eight against the Commodores.
• It shouldn’t be a surprise, but Arkansas had two 100-yard rushers in Bret Bielama’s debut. Jonathan Williams gained 151 yards on 18 carries, and freshman Alex Collins chipped in with 131 yards on 21 rushes.
• Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron completed 10-of-23 for 110 yards against Virginia Tech. It was the fewest completions for McCarron as a starter against an FBS opponent and it was only the second time in his career he has completed less than 50 percent of his passes. He went 12-of-25 against Florida as a sophomore in 2011.
• Mississippi State, which lost to Oklahoma State 21–3, failed to score a touchdown for the first time since losing to LSU 19–6 in September 2011. The Bulldogs have now lost six of their past seven games, with each loss coming by at least 14 points.
• Florida held Toledo to 205 total yards in its 24–6 win in Gainesville. The Rockets returned nine starters from an offense that averaged 445.2 yards per games a year ago. It was Toledo’s worst offensive showing since gaining 183 yards in a 41–2 loss to Arizona in Week 1 of the 2011 season.

 

Teaser:
SEC Week 1 Recap and Awards
Post date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 11:59
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-1-recap-clemson-lsu-make-statements
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The first weekend of college football season delivered in all the ways we hoped it would.

Clemson gave us a legitimate party-crasher for the SEC’s dominance and raised the bar for a Tigers fan base used to having their dreams crushed in the unlikeliest of ways.

LSU and TCU delivered on gamesmanship early as neither suspended stars, Jeremy Hill and Devonte Fields, played, but both TCU quarterbacks did. And a series of wild sequences from the end of the first half to a key turnover to a kickoff return kept things interesting for TCU.

In the personality department, Johnny Manziel was Johnny Manziel and he did so efficiently in less than a half of play.

And then there was the ongoing story of FCS teams rising up to defeat FBS program. The day Saturday ended with eight FBS teams losing to lower-division programs.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 1 RECAP: THREE AND OUT

THREE THINGS WE LEARNED FROM CLEMSON 38, GEORGIA 35

Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Clemson could be in for a special season. The offense is special, no doubt: Tajh Boyd (right) can get the big play, but he also picked up third downs on the ground late in the game, Sammy Watkins flashed his 2011 form, and Roderick McDowell picked up where Andre Ellington left off. The defense needs work, but few teams will be able to stress Clemson like Georgia did. The Tigers have proven they can go toe-to-toe with SEC teams with three wins in four matchups in the last year, but can Clemson get through the ACC unscathed?

The Clemson secondary is still a question. Todd Gurley rushed for a 75-yard touchdown on his first carry of the game, but Georgia averaged 3.6 yards per carry thereafter. That’s a good sign for the Clemson front seven. However, this looks like the same old Tigers’ secondary. Aaron Murray completed 20-of-29 passes for 322 yards, signaling Clemson’s pass defense could be a liability for yet another season.

Georgia could be in trouble next week. Georgia was gassed at times in the second half in the humidity as the defense spent 76 plays on the field against Clemson. Now the Bulldogs have to turn around from a deflating loss to face South Carolina. The Bulldogs potentially will be without starting receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who suffered a knee injury early in the game.

THREE THINGS WE LEARNED FROM LSU 37, TCU 27

The LSU offense: We don’t want to know how the sausage is made. The Tigers have to love the end result with 401 yards and 5.6 yards per play against the stout TCU defense, but there were still signs of the same old LSU offense. Zach Mettenberger (right) made a beautiful behind-the-shoulder throw to Odell Beckham in the second half, but Mettenberger also completed fewer than half of his passes (15 of 32). At the end of the first half, LSU turned a third and goal from TCU’s 2 to a third down at the 12 when the Tigers were called for a delay of game after their own timeout and then were flagged for a false start. And later, Alfred Blue fumbled inside the Tigers' 10 to set up a TCU touchdown — a rare fumble by an LSU running back, but a momentum-changing fumble nonetheless.

TCU is still going to contend in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs lost, but they don’t look like they’re eliminated from Big 12 contention by any means. TCU closed the deficit to a field goal with 8:44 remaining despite playing without its top defensive player Devonte Fields. Meanwhile, the rest of the Big 12 looked far from perfect.

Crazy things happen. LSU brought us the wildest sequence of the weekend at the end of the second half and that was after LSU was called for a delay of game after its own timeout. Then, the Tigers moved back another five yards on a false start. LSU risked letting the clock run out on a scoring attempt when a player lost a helmet, resulting in a 10-second runoff, on a third down play before the presumptive field goal. The officials at first ruled the end of the half thanks to the helmet removal (there were 5 seconds remaining at the time). Nearly the entire TCU team made it off the field before officials reversed the call, noting LSU’s incomplete pass stopped the clock to negate the runoff. After TCU retook the field, LSU kicked a field goal to end the half.

MOVING THE CHAINS

Maryland’s C.J. Brown. The Terrapins finally got a look at what their offense could be when the quarterback position isn’t a revolving door. Even if it was against FIU, C.J. Brown gave Maryland the quarterback play it had been lacking in his first start since missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Brown completed 20-of-24 passes for 276 yards with three touchdowns while rushing for 105 yards and two touchdowns. For better or worse, Maryland’s best playmaker, Stefon Diggs, had only six touches on offense, most of which after the 43-10 win had been decided.

Northwestern without Kain Colter. Northwestern played most of its week 1 game without Kain Colter, who was out with an “upper body injury,” and Venric Mark contributed little. Their absence was felt, particularly in the red zone, but Northwestern still managed to defeat plucky Cal 44-30 on the road. A big heap of the credit goes to Collin Ellis, who had two interceptions returned for touchdowns.

Allen Robinson’s second half. Robinson was suspended for the first half against Syracuse for reasons Bill O’Brien says are between the receiver and the coach. In any event, Robinson transformed a stagnant Penn State offense in the second half.  Robinson caught seven passes for 127 yards with a touchdown in Penn State’s 17-point second half in the Nittany Lions’ 23-17 win. Robinson’s return was boost for freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who completed 22-of-31 passes for 278 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his debut.

FALSE STARTS


Texas A&M’s defense. Johnny Manziel’s first-half suspension was not the biggest concern for the Aggies. Not even close. Texas A&M allowed Rice to put up 508 yards as the defense stayed on the field for 86 plays. Rice averaged 6.1 yards per carry and pushed the Aggies’ defensive line around early in the game. Some of the issues were due to suspensions as nose guard Kirby Ennis, safety Floyd Raven and cornerback Deshazor Everett were suspended for the first half due to offseason arrests. Linebacker Steven Jenkins, defensive end Gavin Stansbury and cornerback De’Vante Harris — all starters — were also suspended for the first two games. Everett returned for the second half, enough time to pick up another suspension after being flagged under the new targeting rule. All those absences will either help build experience among the backups or could end up being a liability when the SEC schedule starts.

Nebraska’s defense. Bo Pelini is having trouble selling his bona fides as a defensive coach these days with Nebraska. The Cornhuskers were shredded at the end of last season by Wisconsin and Georgia. The opener, though, was a new low. Wyoming, a team that went 4-8 last season and ranked 70th in total offense last season, amassed 602 yards and averaged 8.1 yards per play against the Huskers in the 37-34 loss. Making Wyoming’s outburst most puzzling, the Cowboys went 1 of 8 on third down. Nebraska faces UCLA in two weeks.

Boise State. The Broncos have had heartbreakers and losses to inferior teams, but Boise State has never had a performance this bad during the Chris Petersen era. The Broncos lost 38-6 to Washington, giving Boise State its first loss of more than four points since a 39-27 loss to Hawaii in 2007 and its worst loss since 48-13 to Georgia in the 2005 opener.

HEISMAN MOVERS

Tajh Boyd, Clemson. Five total touchdowns in the marquee game of the weekend is enough to put Boyd near the top of the conversation if he wasn’t there already.

AJ McCarron, Alabama. McCarron will have opportunities to make up ground to make voters forget his forgettable performance against Virginia Tech. Receivers dropped passes, the offensive line struggled — Cyrus Kouandjio in particular — and Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller had a standout game with an interception and two pass breakups. But McCarron’s stat line will stick out as he finished 10-of-23 for 110 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois. A loss to Iowa won’t be on the NIU resume this season. And if Lynch is going to make a bid to be a Heisman finalist, he needed a game like he had against Iowa — even if he played little role in the dramatic finish. Lynch completed 25-of-41 passes for 273 yards with three touchdowns while rushing for 55 yards on 23 carries.

STAT WATCH

2. Return game touchdowns for Alabama’s Christion Jones. It takes a special effort to do something that’s never been done at Alabama, but junior receiver Christion Jones managed that. He took the first touch of Alabama’s season back for a touchdown on a punt return. Then he added a 94-yard kickoff return for a score in the second quarter to become the first player since at least 1944 (that’s how far complete records go back) to return a punt and a kickoff for a score for the Tide. Oh, and he added a 38-yard touchdown catch.

5. FCS teams defeating major conference teams. To put that in perspective: No more than four FCS teams have defeated major conference teams in a season since 1985, according to footballgeography.com. The action started Thursday when Towson defeated Connecticut 33-18 for the most lopsided FCS-over-FBS win since 2000. That mark was crushed Saturday when McNeese State defeated USF 53-21. Two-time FCS champion North Dakota State defeated Kansas State 24-21 on Friday, Eastern Washington defeated Oregon State 49-46, and Northern Iowa defeated Iowa State 28-20.

6-13. Iowa’s record in one-score games since 2010. Iowa’s signature ability to win close games is a distant memory. With 1:24 remaining in a tie game, Jake Rudock threw an interception to set up Northern Illinois at the 30-yard line. After two run plays, NIU kicked a 36-yard game-winning field goal for a 30-27 win. Iowa has lost seven in a row and has lost six games decided by one score since the start of the 2012 season.

THREE OBLIGATORY MANZIEL POSTS

 

BURIED ON THE DEPTH CHART

Khalil Mack, Buffalo. A name to remember around the NFL Draft: Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack. He was the best defensive player on the field in Ohio State’s 40-20 win over Buffalo. Mack returned an interception 45 yards for at touchdown to go with 2.5 sacks and nine tackles. The MAC isn’t all about offense.

Southern Miss’ losing streak goes on. The nation’s longest losing streak hit 13 games and figures to go a bit longer. Southern Miss lost 22-15 to Texas State in Hattiesburg, a game that was the Eagles’ best chance for a win until at least October. Southern Miss rounds out September at Nebraska, at Arkansas and at Boise State.

Louisville’s schedule got worse. Everyone knew the Cardinals’ schedule was going to be a liability for their perception and their postseason. Before the Cards even played a game it got worse: Louisville’s opponents went 4-7 in the first week, and the most impressive by a wide margin win was Cincinnati’s 42-7 victory over Purdue. Louisville’s opponents’ other three wins were over Akron, Southern and Robert Morris. Meanwhile, USF and Connecticut lost decisively to FCS teams. Rutgers had the best chance for meaningful win for the American Athletic Conference, but the Scarlet Knights lost 52-51 in overtime to Fresno State.
 

THREE CLOSE CALLS
Nebraska 37, Wyoming 34
West Virginia 24, William & Mary 17
Illinois 42, Southern Illinois 34
WHO SAYS COLLEGE HAS NO PRESEASON?
Baylor 69, Wofford 3
Oregon 66, Nicholls State 3
Michigan 59, Central Michigan 9
BEST THREE GAMES NEXT WEEK
Florida at Miami
Georgia at South Carolina
Notre Dame at Michigan

THREE SUPERSUBS

J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State. Clint Chelf spent all of two possessions as Oklahoma State’s primary quarterback, but it’s tough to argue with Mike Gundy sticking with J.W. Walsh, no matter what Chelf’s family members may say. Once inserted into the lineup, Walsh gave the Cowboys offense a lift running the zone read out of a diamond formation late in the first half. Walsh completed 18 of 27 passes for 135 yards and led Oklahoma State in rushing with 125 yards and a touchdown ion 13 carries. Gundy left little room for controversy by saying Walsh would start the Cowboys’ next game against UTSA.

Jordan Hall, Ohio State. The Ohio State offense isn't all Braxton Miller. With power backs Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith suspended for the opener, Hall took over. The senior rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries in the 40-20 win. Hall missed most of all of last season with a foot injury and then a knee injury. He’s expected to occasionally play the H-back role when Hyde and Smith return to the lineup, but this day will be tough to ignore.

Mack Brown, Florida. Thanks to suspensions and injuries, the Gators were shorthanded throughout the offense. Running back Mack Brown adequately provided the power run game attack Will Muschamp prefers. With Matt Jones out with a viral infection since July, Brown rushed for 112 yards with two touchdowns on 25 carries in the 24-6 win over Toledo. The Gators had been hoping for Brown to take on a greater role in recent years, but entering Saturday, the senior had only 40 carries in three seasons.
 

THREE PLAYERS EJECTED UNDER NEW TARGETING RULE
Deshazor Everett, Texas A&M
Chris McCain, Cal
Terrance Mitchell, Oregon
THREE GREAT DEBUTS
Bret Bielema, Arkansas
Gus Malzahn, Auburn
Bobby Petrino, Western Kentucky
THREE DUBIOUS DEBUTS
Darrell Hazell, Purdue
Skip Holtz, Louisiana Tech
Willie Taggart, USF

THREE INJURY CONCERNS

Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss. The Rebels defeated Vanderbilt 39-35 in a thrilling Thursday night opener, but all is not well in Oxford. Star linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche is out for four to six weeks after suffering a torn meniscus. Meanwhile, starting offensive lineman Aaron Morris is likely done for the season after a torn ACL. Ole Miss has a brutal start to the season after facing Southeast Missouri State next week. The Rebels are at Texas (Sept. 14), at Alabama Oct. 28), at Auburn (Oct. 5), vs. Texas A&M (Oct. 12) and vs. LSU (Oct. 19).

Brandon Mitchell, NC State. If first-year coach Dave Doeren didn’t have enough challenges in turning NC State into an ACC contender, he was dealt another blow with an injury to starting quarterback Brandon Mitchell. The senior was 3-for-3 for 93 yards before leaving the opener with a broken bone in his foot. The Wolfpack still defeated Louisiana Tech 40-14, but NC State rounds out September with Richmond, Clemson and Central Michigan.

Tyler Russell, Mississippi State. The Bulldogs quarterback walked off the field in a daze after a shot to the head in the second half against Oklahoma State. Even if Russell is held out of the next week, the Bulldogs might not be in serious trouble against Alcorn State.

Teaser:
Clemson raises stakes for season, LSU ready to contend for SEC
Post date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 11:44
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-1-recap-and-awards
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Fans need to prepare for a wild season out west if the first weekend was any indication. Sure, division contenders Stanford and Arizona State were on bye while Oregon, UCLA and Arizona rolled to typically one-sided wins against over-matched opponents. But the rest of the league was in a dog fight.

Cal lost a tough one to Northwestern. Oregon State got upset at home against regional FCS opponent Eastern Washington. Utah barely scraped by an in-state rival. Washington State showed marked improvement on the road against an SEC blueblood. And the Washington Huskies made a bold statement that the rest of the Pac-12 better take notice of. Welcome back, college football.

Here are your Pac-12 Week 1 Awards and Superlatives: 

Offensive Player of the Week: Marcus Mariota, Oregon

The Oregon quarterback might be the most enjoyable player to watch in the entire nation. He is simply effortless in all that he does. Yes, Keith Price and Travis Wilson posted equally impressive numbers against tougher competition but Mariota is the leader of the Pac-12 front-runner and he was brilliant on Saturday. He completed 12-of-21 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown while rushing five times for 113 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. That's a 22.6 yards per carry average. His offense totaled 772 yards and scored 66 points for Mark Helfrich in his head coaching debut.

 

Defensive Player of the Week: Dion Bailey, USC

 

Dion Bailey moved from undersized linebacker to head-hunting safety this off-season and the move paid off in a big way in week one. New coordinator Clancy Pendergast watched his unit stifle former coordinator Norm Chow's offense all night led in large part by Bailey. He led the Trojans in tackles with seven and added both a sack and an interception to his stat sheet. The Trojans allowed just 231 yards of offense and only 32 yards rushing in the 30-13 win over Hawaii.

 

Team of the Week: Washington

 

Many thought Washington could pull the slight upset over the ranked Broncos but few saw this type of domination coming for the Huskies. As new Husky Stadium was christened in style by handing Boise State their worst loss since 2005 (48-13, Georgia). Both side of the ball looked excellent as Keith Price threw for over 300 yards while Bishop Sankey rushed for 161, each scoring two touchdowns along the way. The defense held Boise State to three points in each half and kept the Broncos out of the endzone all night long. This might have been the most impressive win nationally (other than maybe Clemson) and it could not have come at a more critical time for Steve Sarkisian.

 

Coordinator of the Week: Justin Wilcox, Washington

 

Chris Petersen doesn't know what the Woodshed looks like but he found out in a large way against one of his own. Wilcox coached under Petersen as the defensive coordinator of the Broncos from 2006-09 before moving to Seattle by way of Tennessee. Well, the pupil taught the master a few things late on Saturday night as the Huskies defense dominated the game. The six points were the fewest scored by Boise State since being shutout in 1997 by Washington State and it was just the third time since that blanking that Boise State failed to reach at least 10 points in a game. Needless to say, what Wilcox accomplished Saturday night doesn't happen very often.

 

Freshman of the Week: Andy Phillips, K, Utah

 

Kickers won't get this award often but Utah's redshirt placekicker deserves a nod for his work against rival Utah State. The former apline skier had never played football before taking the field in a crucial Thursday night game with the Aggies and he was basically perfect. He nailed all three field-goal attempts, including two clutch fourth-quarter kicks, made all three extra points and flipped the momentum of the game with a elegantly placed successful onside kick. Welcome to the world of football Mr. Phillips.

 

5th Down

 

How times does any team on any level produce over 500 yards of offense, convert on 50-percent of third downs, not turn the ball over a single time and get beat? That is what happened to Oregon State this weekend when it lost in heart-breaking fashion to lower-tier power Eastern Washington. To fans outside of Corvallis, it was a game to remember featuring six lead changes in the final 20 minutes of game time. A big tip of the cap to EWU starting quarterback Vernon Adams who had the game of his life time. He threw for 411 yards and four touchdowns while running for 107 yards and two more touchdowns. Those numbers would be sick against lower level competition but in Reser Stadium against a Top 25 opponent? Oregon State has some flaws it needs to work through and after one weekend, it appears Washington might be the top challenger to Oregon/Stanford Pac-12 North supremacy, not the Beavers.

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 Week 1 Recap and Awards
Post date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR
Path: /nascar/atlanta-motor-speedway-nascar%E2%80%99s-raciest-track
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1. Atlanta Motor Speedway is NASCAR’s “raciest” track

The newest version of Bristol Motor Speedway again produced a memorable NASCAR Sprint Cup Series performance last week after several years of uninspired shows. If all goes well and Atlanta Motor Speedway follows its recent trend, Sunday night’s race should be a notable, too.

 

It’s a testament to the well-aged surface of the 1.54-mile track.

 

“It's a track that races really well and it's a lot of fun, especially with it now being a night race,” said Paul Menard. “The race track itself has older pavement, which makes it hands down the raciest track we go to on the schedule. It's kind of a throwback track that we all enjoy racing."

 

The old pavement—it’s the second oldest surface in the Sprint Cup Series, dating to 1997—grinds tires much like the Darlington Raceway of old. That translates to wildly different lap times during the course of a fuel run, thanks to changed handling. Those change often result in more passing, side-by-side racing and riskier pit road decision-making.

 

Essentially, it makes everything a bit “racier.”

 

“You want the asphalt to be worn out,” said Menard’s teammate Kevin Harvick. “I don't know why so many tracks keep repaving without any rocks in them. Rocks wear the tires out and everyone likes to watch the cars slide around when the tires fall off."

 

There may be bad news on the horizon at Atlanta, however. Talk started in 2012 from speedway officials discussing the need for the track surface to be replaced thanks to general deterioration from water freezing and thawing under the surface in the winter.

 

Enjoy it while you can.

 

2. Goodyear rolls new tire to Atlanta to address Gen-6 concerns

The largest overhaul of the racing tire used in NASCAR since teams were forced to switch fully from bias play-constructed tires to radial tires in 1992 is occurring this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

 

After tire tests at the track with the Gen-6 car revealed significant concerns in the tire used for Atlanta’s 2012 race, Goodyear went to the drawing board to find an appropriate solution. The result: A dual-tread tire designed to both handle the high outer temperatures while also adding more grip. The hope is that drivers will turn the extra grip into better racing without fear of a tire failure.

 

On Twitter, defending series champion Brad Keselowski called the tire revolutionary. Clint Bowyer says it’s a proverbial curveball in the important race weekend.

 

“Atlanta is going to be a wild card race heading into the Chase. Goodyear is bringing new tires and I don’t know if anyone knows what exactly to expect,” Bowyer said. “Martin Truex and the No. 56 team took part in the Goodyear tire test at Atlanta in June and we think we have a pretty good handle on it, but you never know until you get there and unload how that will work out exactly.”

 

3. Chase picture wildly in flux with two races left

Keselowski won’t be defending his title. Jeff Gordon won’t be in the Chase for the first time since 2005. And Kurt Busch’s dreams of bringing the No. 78 team to an improbable Chase berth are dashed. Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle all breathe a sigh of relief as they’re in. And Joey Logano makes his first Chase.

 

That’s the reality of NASCAR’s postseason picture as it stands right now. Unfortunately for Truex, Newman, Biffle and Logano, two races remain in the regular season stand before those positions are cemented. That’s fortunate for the likes of Busch, Gordon and Keselowski.

 

Amid the dash for Sunday’s race win will be the story of who will and won’t be in contention for title after Richmond. It’s a tight race, too: Keselowski needs to beat Logano by five points over the next two races (96 points available) to earn an outright, top-10 bid. Busch needs seven points. Gordon needs 12.

 

Truex and Newman—currently the wildcard qualfiers—have to hope they don’t lose more ground while Keselowski, Busch or Gordon win a race.

 

Confused yet? It’s no problem if you are. Just remember Sunday night’s race will have some major implications over each and every position for these six drivers.

 

4. Injuries beset numerous Sprint Cup Series drivers

Between Bristol and a bicycle, an unusual number of NASCAR drivers came down with injuries this week.

 

Truex, already under enough pressure thanks to his shaky Chase position, heads to Atlanta ready to battle with a blue cast—it’s NAPA blue, according to the Michael Waltrip-trained Truex—on his right wrist. He broke a bone in his shifting hand as part of the late multi-car crash at Bristol that left the No. 56 with a DNF.

 

Truex still plans to race in the critical event to help his title hopes.

 

Fellow Toyota driver Denny Hamlin also suffered a hand injury in the same crash, caused when Hamlin’s right-front tire was cut after contact with Brian Vickers. Hamlin revealed that injury during a radio interview Thursday night and said it was causing pain his thumb. Hamlin, the defending Atlanta winner, is wearing a splint but fully expects to race Sunday night.

 

Last, Bobby Labonte—scheduled to drive for Phoenix Racing in Sunday night’s race—suffered a crash on his bicycle Wednesday and spent the night in the hospital for treatment of three broken ribs. Labonte opted to miss Sunday’s start as he recovers.

 

Follow Geoffrey Miller on Twitter: @GeoffreyMiller

Photo: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Teaser:
Geoffrey Miller's Four Things to Watch at Atlanta Motor Speedway
Post date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas A&M Aggies, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/johnny-manziel-taunts-rice-defenders
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Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel spent the first half of Saturday’s game on the sidelines due to a suspension from the offseason autograph scandal. However, Manziel didn’t let that slow him down against Rice, completing 6 of 8 passes for 94 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.

But the postgame chatter about Manziel wasn’t due to his performance. Instead, the sophomore was in the spotlight due to his money gestures after scoring a touchdown, an unsportsmanlike penalty and his jabs with Rice defenders while making an autograph gesture. Coach Kevin Sumlin wasn't happy with Manziel after the game, as the sophomore did not play after his penalty in the fourth quarter.

Check out the reaction from the web compiled in storify by @DavidFox615:
 

Teaser:
Johnny Manziel Taunts Rice Defenders
Post date: Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 21:49
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, NC State Wolfpack, News
Path: /college-football/nc-state-qb-brandon-mitchell-suffers-fractured-foot
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NC State opened the Dave Doeren era with an impressive 40-14 win over Louisiana Tech. However, victory came at a heavy price. Quarterback Brandon Mitchell suffered a foot fracture against the Bulldogs and will be out four to six weeks.

Mitchell transferred to NC State from Arkansas this offseason and was off to a good start, throwing for 93 yards on three completions.

With Mitchell out, NC State will turn to Colorado State transfer Pete Thomas. Against Louisiana Tech, Thomas threw for 212 yards on 15 completions.

Although Mitchell will miss at least four weeks, NC State has favorable matchups against Central Michigan and Richmond in September. Assuming the Wolfpack loses to Clemson, they should be 3-1 in case Mitchell returns to play Wake Forest on Oct. 5.
 

Teaser:
NC State QB Brandon Mitchell Suffers Fractured Foot
Post date: Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 18:06
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Michigan State defensive back Kurtis Drummond had quite the game in the opener against Western Michigan. Drummond returned an interception 21 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter and later followed up that play with a crazy one-handed interception.

It’s only Week 1, but Drummond’s interception might be one of the best defensive plays we see in college football this year.
 

Teaser:
Post date: Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 14:27
Path: /college-football/fau-spikes-ball-fourth-down-video
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It’s the first week of the college football season, so coaches and players are bound to have some rust.

However, FAU committed a silly blunder against Miami on Friday night, which is simply the result of not paying attention to the down marker or scoreboard.

With the Owls trying to score late in the fourth quarter, quarterback Jaquez Johnson was tackled around the 26-yard line with 19 seconds left to play on third down. And instead of trying to get one more play, FAU forgets its fourth down and proceeds to spike the ball. The best part? Watching FAU coach Carl Pelini give the spike symbol to his quarterback.

 

Teaser:
FAU Spikes the Ball on Fourth Down (Video)
Post date: Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 13:23
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-vs-virginia-tech-hokies-2013-game-preview-and-prediction
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Alabama begins its national title defense with a trip to a familiar destination – Atlanta. The Crimson Tide played and won two out of the last four SEC Championships in the Georgia Dome, including last year’s 32-28 thriller over Georgia.

Nick Saban’s team won’t be playing for a berth in the national championship in this trip to Atlanta, and the hype for this matchup has been a subdued. The Crimson Tide is a listed as a three-touchdown favorite in some locations, and Virginia Tech is dealing with a myriad of issues on offense.

The Hokies are coming off a 7-6 season but needed three wins in overtime to get bowl eligible. As a result of the lackluster record, coach Frank Beamer made some changes to his coaching staff. Former Auburn and Temple assistant Scot Loeffler was hired as Virginia Tech’s offensive coordinator, Aaron Moorhead was brought aboard to coach the receivers and Jeff Grimes was appointed the new offensive line coach.

Virginia Tech and Alabama met in Atlanta to start the 2009 season, with the Crimson Tide earning a 34-24 victory. These two teams have played 12 times, and Alabama holds a commanding 11-1 series edge.

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Three Things to Watch

A fresh start for Logan Thomas
After throwing for 3,013 yards and 19 touchdowns and rushing for 469 yards and 11 scores in 2011, Thomas was supposed to be the ACC’s next standout quarterback. Instead, Thomas regressed as a junior and finished with just 2,976 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. The blame for the struggles on Virginia Tech’s offense doesn’t rest solely on Thomas’ shoulders, especially since the rushing attack, receiving corps and offensive line had their own issues. But if the Hokies want to hang around, the senior passer has to have a big game. Mobile quarterbacks have given a few headaches to Nick Saban’s defenses in recent years, and Thomas’ ability to move on the run could be crucial to keeping drives alive. Considering Virginia Tech’s small margin for error, the senior quarterback cannot afford any turnovers.

Alabama’s offensive line against Virginia Tech’s defensive front
If there’s one unit Alabama is concerned about, it has to be the offensive line. With Barrett Jones, D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack departing, it won’t be easy for the Crimson Tide to dominate opposing defenses like they did last year. However, this group should remain among the best in the nation, as left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio is a future first-round pick, and center Ryan Kelly played well in limited action last year. Virginia Tech’s defensive line is the strength of the team, led by senior end James Gayle and tackles Derrick Hopkins and Luther Maddy. With three new starters on the line, Alabama’s pass protection and run blocking will be tested by Virginia Tech’s active defensive line.

Who steps up at running back and wide receiver for the Hokies?
Although Logan Thomas needs to have a big game for Virginia Tech to pull off the upset, the performance of the running game and receiving corps is just as crucial. Last year’s leading rusher (J.C. Coleman) finished 2012 with just 492 yards and did not make the trip to Atlanta due to injury. With Coleman sidelined, the Hokies will turn to redshirt freshmen Trey Edmunds and Chris Mangus on the ground. Redshirt freshman Joshua Stanford and sophomore Demitri Knowles are listed as the starters at receiver for Saturday’s game and the duo combined for 20 catches last year. Tight end Ryan Malleck was ruled out for the year this week due to a shoulder injury, which puts even more pressure on the three key players in the receiving corps: Knowles, Stanford and senior D.J. Coles.

Key Player: Jonathan McLaughlin, OT, Virginia Tech
Starting a true freshman at left tackle is usually enough to give any coach nightmares throughout game week. However, it’s an even bigger concern against a defense like Alabama. McLaughlin was rated as a three-star recruit by Rivals.com and secured the left tackle job this fall. Not only will the true freshman have his hands full against Alabama’s 3-4 defense, but he is also protecting quarterback Logan Thomas’ blindside.

Final Analysis

Even though this game has plenty of appeal in terms of name value, this is a huge mismatch. Virginia Tech just has too many new faces on offense to threaten Alabama. The Hokies could keep this one close in the first half, largely due to their advantage on the defensive line against the Crimson Tide’s offensive line. However, Virginia Tech’s offense will struggle to generate much production on the scoreboard, which allows Alabama to pull away in the second half.

Prediction: Alabama 38, Virginia Tech 13

Teaser:
Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Virginia Tech Hokies Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Saturday, August 31, 2013 - 10:01

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