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Path: /news/injury-updates-week-3-steven-jackson-greg-jennings-denarius-moore
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There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 3 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and what you should consider.

Steven Jackson, St. Louis RB vs. Chicago Bears

It’s been injuries and boom or bust with St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson the last four years. And here we are in Week 3 dealing with the same issue. 

Jackson (groin) missed all week of practice leading up to today’s game against the Chicago Bears and their ninth-ranked rush defense (84.5 ypg). 

The older he gets and the more the injuries pile up it becomes too difficult to trust Jackson. In 60 games since the start of the 2008 season he has had 23 games of 90-plus yards rushing with 21 total touchdowns. The problem is: you can never get a good feel of when such a game may occur.

No practice. This matchup. No thanks. Look elsewhere.

 

Greg Jennings, Green Bay WR vs. Seattle

Greg Jennings missed the Week 2 Thursday night contest against Chicago with a groin injury. He is questionable for Monday’s game at Seattle but says he should be ready. Jennings has been able to have as much rest as a schedule will allow — save for bye weeks — and it would be a big risk to hope for Jennings to help you close out the Week 3 slate.

It could be a tough matchup for any Green Bay receiver, particularly if the Packers’ offense continues to look as out of sync as it has through two games. The San Francisco and Chicago defenses certainly helped in that regard and Seattle should be able to continue the tough stretch. 

The Seahawks have surrendered just 21 completions for 260 yards and two scores through two weeks — or 48.5 total fantasy points to seven receivers in PPR formats. 

 

Denarius Moore, Oakland, WR vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Looking for a flier in Week 3 that should become a weekly stud very soon? Look no further than Denarius Moore. 

The Raiders play host to Pittsburgh today and Oakland’s defense has not shown the ability to slow anyone down — 57 points and 710 yards allowed the first two weeks. 

Oakland quarterback Carson Palmer is third in attempts (94) and fourth in yards (670) this season. 

Moore returned from a groin injury last week and saw eight targets for three catches and 67 yards before cramps in the South Florida heat sidelined him. Last year’s top receiver, Darrius Heyward-Bey, also had eight targets, pulling down four for 41 yards against Miami.

In seven games together last season, Palmer targeted Moore 46 times for 20 catches, 410 yards and three scores. 

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 07:25
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-3-ryan-mathews-pierre-garcon-heath-miller
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There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 3 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and what you should consider.

Ryan MathewsRyan Mathews, RB, San Diego vs. Atlanta Falcons

Today should be the debut for San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews. His first 2012 debut lasted just one play as he broke his clavicle on his first preseason carry. 

He gets an Atlanta Falcons defense that has already allowed two 85-yard-plus rushers and three scores on the ground to running backs. Jamaal Charles ran for 87 yards in the opener. Willis McGahee ran for 113 yards and two scores last week. Atlanta has also given up nine catches for 60 yards to running backs. 

In a game where the Chargers will want to try and limit the snaps Matt Ryan, Roddy White and Julio Jones get to work with, Mathews could help that along. He also could be eased back into his role as the team’s lead ball carrier. 

It’s hard to gauge what Mathews can do in his return when the already injury-prone back was hurt on his first preseason play. But the matchup, the need for him in this offense makes him at least an RB2 and certainly a flex play.

 

Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins vs. Cincinnati Bengals

We want more of those 88-yard touchdown passes — screen pass or not. It is evident Robert Griffin III gets to air it out just as he did at Baylor and Garcon, the big free-agent acquisition for the team, is the one that will benefit the most on the other end of those deep passes. 

However, he injured his foot in the opener against New Orleans — on that 88-yard TD. He missed last week against St. Louis and is not expected to play today against a pass-friendly Cincinnati Bengals defense.

Garcon was limited in practice on Friday and coach Mike Shanahan said earlier in the week the injury is “nagging a little bit more than I thought it would.” Even if Garcon were to miraculously be active, it is not suggested you start him. You likely got him in the later rounds, so plug in one of your higher picks.

 

Heath Miller, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Oakland Raiders

Heath Miller (ribs) returned to practice Friday and has a pretty good matchup against the host Oakland Raiders today.

Miller, who has been used more as a blocker in previous years, is actually a top-10 tight end currently. And he joins a top-10 list that currently includes Martellus Bennett, Scott Chandler, Dante Rosario and Dennis Pitta.

Miller has seven catches for 69 yards and two scores on 10 targets. He gets an Oakland team that held Antonio Gates to four catches for 43 yards in Week 1, gave up a TD to Anthony Fasano last week and surrendered 65 catches for 826 yards and seven scores to the position last season — ninth-worst in fantasy.

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 07:10
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-starts-week-3-andy-dalton-benjarvus-green-ellis-dennis-pitta
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There are a few key fantasy football players that look to earn big fantasy points in Week 3. Here are three players that are must starts.

Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals QB vs. Washington Redskins

Andy Dalton, QB

Andy Dalton has a few things working in his favor as a solid fantasy play for Week 3. 

The Cincinnati quarterback gets a Washington defense that has been friendly to quarterbacks through two games this season, lost two of its best pass rushers to season-ending injuries a week ago and has his own defense that has been fantasy-QB friendly as well.

Linebacker Brian Orakpo (torn pectoral) and defensive end Adam Carriker (knee) are out for the season — 15.5 sacks gone from the last 18 games — and that should mean more time for Dalton, A.J. Green, Andrew Hawkins and Co. 

The Redskins have already allowed 63 points, 800-plus yards, two 300-plus-yards passers and six touchdown passes to begin the 2012 campaign. New Orleans’ Drew Brees threw for 339 and three scores in a comeback effort that fell short (40-32) and St. Louis’ Sam Bradford threw for 310 and three scores in a 31-28 Rams win.

Last season, the Redskins surrendered nine passing days of at least 250 yards and allowed multi-touchdown pass games seven times. Dalton, as a rookie a year ago, had five games of 250-plus and six multi-TD games. He is coming off a 318-yard, three-TD performance against Cleveland.

Washington’s defense is not the only reason to give Dalton a look; his own defense helps as well. 

The Bengals have allowed nearly 300 yards passing and two touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks in each of the first two games (Joe Flacco 299-2 and Brandon Weeded 322-2).

 

BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Cincinnati Bengals RB vs. Washington Redskins

BenJarvus Green-Ellis is clearly the workhorse in Cincinnati, as expected. He has produced probably above expectations thus far in regards to fantasy. The Law Firm has 39 carries for 166 yards and a score and four catches for 34 yards — or 15 fantasy points per game in a PPR. 

Now he gets a Washington team that was friendly to running backs last week, was friendly to running backs a year ago and, as mentioned above, just lost Orakpo and Carriker for the season.

The Redskins jumped out quickly on New Orleans in the opener and only saw 10 rushing attempts for 32 yards. Darren Sproles did get five catches, 35 yards and a score out of the backfield. Last week’s game against St. Louis was a little more traditional, and the Rams rushed 24 times for 141 yards and had two catches for 19 yards. 

Washington was 15th against fantasy running backs last season, allowing eight backs to rush for at least 88 yards. The Redskins were 21st in rushing TDs allowed (12).

Ellis should continue his run as a solid RB2, certainly a flex, for a Bengals team that is defensively challenged itself and might want to run the ball to slow Robert Griffin III and the Redskins’ offense.

 

Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens, TE vs. New England Patriots

There are a number of factors in favor of starting Dennis Pitta against the Patriots. First, he is quarterback Joe Flacco’s favorite target this season and has been productive with those numbers. Second, New England has seen Tennessee’s Jared Cook and Arizona’s Todd Heap already this season and allowed a combined nine catches on 15 targets for 126 yards from the two tight ends. 

Pitta has 13 catches for 138 yards and a score on 24 targets in 2012 — 15 more targets than Anquan Boldin and 16 more targets than Torrey Smith.

Pitta did go 5-for-41 with a score against New England in the AFC Championship Game last season.

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Must start players for Week 3</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 07:00
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-3-jamaal-charles-antonio-gates-kenny-britt
Body:

There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 3 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and what you should consider.

Antonio Gates, TE, San Diego vs. Atlanta Falcons

A late scratch against Tennessee last week, Antonio Gates (ribs) has practiced fully this week and should be good to go against high-powered Atlanta.

It was too bad Gates missed last week’s home game against a Titans team that has consistently been friendly to opposing tight ends and did not prove to be any different last week. Dante Rosario stepped in and scored three touchdowns.

 The Falcons have allowed nine catches, 102 yards and a score on just 14 targets to tight ends this season. Atlanta was generous to elite fantasy tight ends Jimmy Graham (11-for-124 and two scores in two meetings) and Jermichael Finley (4-for-67) last season.

 

Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee vs. Detroit Lions

Kenny Britt returned to action last week in San Diego after a one-game suspension and a knee injury that knocked him out in Week 3 of the 2011 season. He was expected to be on a limited play count and he was. The receiver was targeted just twice, catching one ball for five yards on 19 snaps. 

Detroit is 10th best against fantasy receivers through two games, having faced St. Louis and San Francisco. Those are not two of the premier passing offenses in the NFL, but neither are the Tennessee Titans.

You would have to figure Tennessee will be down early in this game. The Titans have little to offer in defending Calvin Johnson or Brandon Pettigrew. It should mean more time for Britt to get garbage-time production from Jake Locker. 

Britt was not limited this week and will be needed to help keep a struggling Titans squad in the game. The matchup could not be any better against a thin Lions secondary. The concern is obviously snap count for Britt and lack of work with Locker. 

Britt is the ultimate flier this week. Massive upside on an offense that is as down as it gets.

 

Jamaal Charles

Jamaal Charles, RB, Kansas City vs. New Orleans Saints

Jamaal Charles (knee) tweaked his surgically repaired knee in a blowout loss to Buffalo last week and said he still could have played. 

This week, the inept Chiefs get the Saints generous defense in New Orleans. The question will be whether the Kansas City defense can hang on long enough to keep the running game in play for Charles.

New Orleans allowed rookie Alfred Morris to run for 98 yards and two scores on 28 attempts in the opener and the Carolina duo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart to run for 120 yards and a TD on 25 carries. 

It is there for the taking for Charles to have a good day and show he is back from the knee injury. But the taking is also there for the Saints offense to quickly make the Chiefs’ use of a running game futile.

 

 

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 06:30
Path: /nfl/new-england-patriots-vs-baltimore-ravens-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Two elite teams will be looking to avoid a 1-2 start when the Baltimore Ravens host the New England Patriots tonight at 8:20 p.m. EST on NBC. Much will be made about the heartbreaking nature of Baltimore’s AFC Championship Game loss in New England last season, but the reality is that both of these squads with Super Bowl aspirations need to rebound from excruciating losses last week. The Ravens blew a 10-pont halftime lead in Philadelphia and lost 24-23 to the Eagles, while Patriots suffered a rare 20-18 home defeat to the Arizona Cardinals.

When the Baltimore Ravens have the ball:
It all starts with tailback Ray Rice, who has gone over 2,000 total yards in two of the last three seasons. The diminutive but powerful runner is off to another good start, totaling 167 yards on the ground and ranking second on the team with nine receptions. Quarterback Joe Flacco has found a new favorite target in tight end Dennis Pitta, who leads Baltimore with 13 catches. To beat New England, however, Flacco will need to involve receivers Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin more in the offense.

The Patriots defense struggled for much of last season, but rookies Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower have already paid dividends this year. New England was able to contain Rice (67 rush yards and just one catch) in last season’s 23-20 AFC title tilt victory, and that will be a key again tonight. Boldin and Smith can be effective if Flacco has time to throw, so the Patriots will look for another three-sack performance like they had last January.

When the New England Patriots have the ball:
Quarterback Tom Brady was rattled in week’s loss to the Cardinals, who had four sacks and an interception. One factor that will help protect Brady is a strong running game, and second-year back Stevan Ridley has 196 yards and a score in two games this season. Receiver Wes Welker only has eight catches (low by his standards) this year, and it will be interesting to see if he is a bigger focus for the offense against Baltimore. With tight end Aaron Hernandez out, the Patriots signed former first-round pick Kellen Winslow Jr. this week.

After a solid Week 1 performance against the Bengals, the Ravens defense allowed 17 second-half points in the Eagles loss. Ray Lewis and company will need to pressure Brady, and Baltimore has compiled six sacks this season. While it’s easy to concentrate on all of New England’s pass catchers, the Ravens must also contain Ridley. Baltimore has allowed 258 rushing in two games, and that must improve versus the Patriots.

Key Factor:
The Ravens allowed an alarming 486 total yards in Philadelphia, the highest total their defense had given up since 1998. They simply must be better against New England’s usually prolific offense. Baltimore’s ability to make Brady uncomfortable in the pocket should decide this game. The Patriots almost never lose twice in row under coach Bill Belichick, so we’ll take New England in a tight thriller.

Prediction:
Patriots 27 Ravens 23


---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 

Teaser:
<p> New England Patriots vs. Baltimore Ravens Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 23, 2012 - 06:14
Path: /college-football/florida-state-seminoles-vs-clemson-tigers-preview-and-prediction
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College football’s premier matchup for Week 4 takes place in Tallahassee. Florida State and Clemson have combined for a 6-0 start, but this will be the first ACC contest for both teams.

Are the Seminoles back? That’s the question hovering over this team for the past couple of years. Although it’s early, Florida State looks like a serious contender for the national title. Sure, the competition has been light through the first three weeks, but the depth and talent in the program is getting back to the levels Florida State had in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Clemson is the defending ACC champs but has won only one matchup in Tallahassee since 1992. The Tigers opened the year with a solid victory over Auburn and handled Ball State and Furman in their next two matchups.

Five Things to Watch in Clemson vs. Florida State

1. Florida State’s defensive line vs. Clemson’s offensive line
There is plenty of firepower for both teams at the skill positions, but the matchup in the trenches will decide this game. Florida State owns one of college football’s top defensive lines and has allowed just 33.7 rushing yards per game through three contests. The headliner is junior Bjoern Werner, who has recorded nine tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks this season. Clemson’s offensive line has not allowed a sack the last two weeks but gave up four in the opener against Auburn. The Tigers have the ACC’s top trio – quarterback Tajh Boyd, running back Andre Ellington and receiver Sammy Watkins – but will struggle to get on track if the offensive line does not perform. Werner isn’t the only standout up front, as Florida State’s line is overflowing with depth, including senior Tank Carradine and sophomore Timmy Jernigan. Considering Clemson’s uncertainty on the offensive line, Florida State should be able to win the battle up front on defense.

2. Clemson’s receivers vs. Florida State’s secondary
With Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins leading the way, the Tigers have one of college football’s best receiving corps. Watkins missed the first two weeks of the season due to a suspension but caught four passes for 52 yards in his return. Hopkins has 26 receptions through the first two weeks, including 13 in the season opener against Auburn. Florida State’s secondary has yet to be tested but leads the nation by allowing just 69.7 passing yards per game. Junior Xavier Rhodes is one of the ACC’s top cover corners, but Clemson will test sophomore Nick Waisome on the other side. With Greg Reid’s dismissal from the team in the offseason, the Seminoles are short on experience at the spot opposite of Rhodes. If Clemson gives quarterback Tajh Boyd enough time to throw, he will have opportunities to find Watkins or Hopkins for big plays downfield.

3. Can Florida State protect EJ Manuel?
The offensive lines are clearly under the microscope on Saturday night. Clemson’s front five will be tested by a deep Florida State defensive front, while the Seminoles are anxious to see how their line performs against the Tigers. Florida State’s offensive line was a question mark all last season and is still a work in progress. This unit paved the way for the Seminoles to rush for 385 yards and four touchdowns last week, but pass protection was an issue. The Tigers are reloading on the defensive front but will be Florida State’s toughest test so far. Expect coach Jimbo Fisher to move Manuel out of the pocket and call some designed runs to slow down Clemson’s pass rush.

4.  Which team will make a play on special teams?
As with any big game, the battle on special teams will be something to monitor. Florida State’s Dustin Hopkins is one of the best kickers in college football, while Clemson’s Chandler Catanzaro has connected on all six of his attempts, and punter Spencer Benton hit a 61-yard field goal against Ball State. Returns are slightly in Clemson’s favor, especially with Watkins’ return to the lineup. The sophomore averaged 25 yards on kick returns last season and took one back for a score. Florida State will counter with Rashad Greene on punt returns, who is averaging 19.6 yards per return and has taken two for scores this year.

5. Chris Thompson vs. Andre Ellington
Neither team was able to generate much of a rushing attack in last season’s game. Florida State managed just 29 yards, while Clemson had 99 on 50 attempts. The Tigers will look to get Andre Ellington involved a little more this season, and the senior is off to a strong start. In the opener against Auburn, he rushed for 228 yards and has four touchdowns in his last two games. Chris Thompson is one of the best stories in college football, as he missed nearly all of last season with a broken back and has shown no ill-effects from that injury, gashing Wake Forest for 197 yards and two touchdowns last week. The team that wins the rushing battle won’t necessarily win the game, but both squads need to get the ball to Ellington and Thompson to give them opportunities to make big plays.

Final Analysis

Not only is this a huge game for the ACC, but both teams need to win to keep alive in the national title hunt. For Florida State, an impressive win over Clemson would help signal this team is officially back as a national title contender. If the Tigers win, it would be a huge boost to their hopes of repeating as ACC champions.

Florida State didn’t have EJ Manuel in last season’s game, yet nearly won in Death Valley. If the Seminoles can protect Manuel, while the defense holds Watkins, Boyd and Ellington in check, Florida State should move to 4-0 and take a commanding lead for the ACC Atlantic title.

Prediction: Florida State 31-24
 

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 4 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 4 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 4 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 4 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 4 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 4 Preview and Predictions

Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 3

15 Worst BCS Teams Since 1998

Teaser:
<p> Florida State Seminoles vs. Clemson Tigers Game Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Saturday, September 22, 2012 - 08:28
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Links, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlon%E2%80%99s-essential-eleven-links-day-17
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This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for September 21.

• College football fans were bewildered last night by BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall’s decision to go for two, while down by one point to Boise State with 3:37 left to go in the game. The Cougars failed on the conversion and lost 7-6 to the Broncos.

• The New York Giants pummeled the Panthers last night, 36-7, with backups Andre Brown and Ramses Barden leading the way.

• Alan Grant of the National Football Post has a wonderful piece on the work of Steve Sabol and NFL Films.

• Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch looks at the return of Chris Carpenter to the Cardinals rotation.

• Mandatory.com asks the question: is the iPhone 5 worth the upgrade?

• After 49ers quarterback Alex Smith was threatened with a fine by the NFL for wearing a San Francisco Giants baseball cap to his postgame presser, SF manager Bruce Bochy showed his support by wearing a 49ers lid yesterday.

• The Florida State-Clemson matchup is huge for the image of ACC football, which is consistently overshadowed by the powerful SEC.

• The Ravens will be seeking revenge against the Patriots on Sunday night.

USA Today’s Bob Nightengale looks at the futures of some big time MLB managers.

• Have a great weekend and be careful out there. Not everyone is as nice as these guys.

• It’s time for a little silliness as we head into the weekend. Louisiana Tech is 2-0 and headed to Illinois for an interesting contest on Saturday night. We have some entertaining scary footage of the Bulldogs offensive line preparing for the big game.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


September 20

• Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News has the latest on the ailing Giants, who will be without Hakeem Nicks and other starters on offense tonight in Carolina.

• Bleacher Report’s Adam Jacobi looks at the struggles of Big Ten football this season.

• USC coach Lane Kiffin continues to be awkward personified. Apparently a question about an injured player was just too much to handle.

• Check out rapper DMX learning how to Google.

• Michigan and Notre Dame will battle Saturday night, so a good ole college prank was in order.

• MRSEC.com looks at the possible falling draft stocks of quarterbacks Tyler Wilson and Tyler Bray.

• Jay Cutler’s play against Green Bay probably drove many Bears fans to smoking, and one has created a site dedicated to “the most apathetic looking athlete in the history of sports.”

• Could San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera still win the National League batting crown despite his 50-game suspension?

• The financial saga Arkansas coach John L. Smith has to be a distraction for the Razorbacks.

• The reduced role of Wes Welker in the Patriots offense has caused a ton of debate in New England.

• We have seen a lot of mascots do pushups after their team scores, but this one turned out a little differently than normal. The Clemson Tiger knocks out 27 pushups in last week’s win over Furman, and then reveals himself as school president James Barker.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


September 19

• North Carolina basketball coach Roy Williams is having surgery today to remove a tumor from his kidney.

• CBS’ Mike Freeman looks at Wes Welker’s reduced role and other NFL issues.

• ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reports that the Big East is currently in a debate over its future 14th football member, and that a 16-team football league is also a possibility.

• Shooter McGavin on the subway?

• The surprising Orioles continued their magic last night with an 18-inning win over the Mariners. Baltimore stayed tied with the Yankees for first place in the AL East.

• A few years after bring drafted third overall by the Titans, free agent Vince Young appears to be in bad financial shape.

• If you’re in the Big Apple, watch out for Lindsay Lohan.

• The NFL conversation is being dominated by referee bashing.

• Did Jalen Rose try to injure Kobe Bryant in the 2000 NBA Finals? Yes he did.

• Michigan may struggle to move the ball against Notre Dame’s defense.

• The pro football and media world lost one of its most influential figures with the passing of NFL Films president Steve Sabol. He and his father Ed were amazing artists in presenting the NFL and its players for decades.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


September 18

• Did an NFL replacement referee really tell Eagles running back LeSean McCoy that he needed the runner to play well for his fantasy team?! Unreal.

• How does Falcons running back Michael Turner celebrate a MNF win and a 2-0 start? By throwing back some drinks and driving 97 MPH at 4 a.m.

• I might forgo this cup of coffee at Starbucks.

• FOX golf columnist Robert Lusetich interviews Greg Norman, who believes that Rory McIlroy is intimidating Tiger Woods.

• CBS’ Gary Parrish has the latest on the NCAA investigation into former Duke basketball player Lance Thomas, who has settled the lawsuit involving a jeweler and nearly $100,000 of merchandise acquired during his time with the Blue Devils.

• With Aaron Hernandez injured, the New England Patriots have signed polarizing tight end Kellen Winslow Jr.

• The Florida Gators second-half success has led to an encouraging 3-0 start.

• Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar is in hot water with MLB after putting a controversial message on his eye black.

• Check out this Tim Lincecum GIF.

• How close is an SEC Network?

• The talk around the NFL after two weeks is being dominated by the bad calls of replacement referees. Many in the media will gripe about anything that is an easy target, but the new refs are definitely in over their heads. ESPN’s Steve Young has some of the best commentary on the subject.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


September 17

• ESPN Pac-12 blogger Kevin Gemmell looks at Stanford’s huge win over USC, including the excellent performance of running back Stepfan Taylor.

• The Arizona Cardinals went into New England and beat the Patriots 20-18, just like we ALL predicted.

• Veteran Giants boss Tom Coughlin was furious with new Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano after Tampa Bay rushed hard into New York’s victory formation.

• Just not sure about this dining establishment.

• Arkansas lost 52-0 at home to Alabama on Saturday, and the “Fire John L. Smith” Facebook page is getting a ton of likes from Razorback fans.

• The Dodgers are concerned that Clayton Kershaw’s absence could last into the beginning of next season.

• Redskins fans are livid with wideout Josh Morgan and his incredibly stupid penalty at the end of the loss to the Rams.

• Notre Dame had a huge win at Michigan State, but the Irish lost starting safety Jamoris Slaughter to a season-ending Achilles tendon injury.

• After an offseason filled with controversy, the 0-2 New Orleans Saints are struggling mightily on the field.

• The St. Louis Cardinals are fighting for the last NL wild card spot, and 2011 postseason hero Chris Carpenter is scheduled to return on Friday.

• There were several great moments during a wild football weekend, but the winning double pass in Western Kentucky’s victory over Kentucky was outstanding. The Hilltoppers made the risky call of going for two in overtime, and here’s what happened…



--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

Teaser:
<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 12:01
Path: /nfl/nfl-picks-against-spread-week-3
Body:

A betting preview of every game (against the spread) on Sunday and Monday in Week 3.


Locks of the Week
Keep riding the hot hands and take two of the NFC’s top teams this season.

49ers (-7.5) at Vikings
San Fran has won back-to-back games by eight points, defeating Green Bay (30–22) and Detroit (27–19), respectively. Expect the Niners defense to engulf the Vikings and cruise for the cover.

Falcons (+3) at Chargers
The Dirty Birds fly to the West Coast to take on the Bolts. Matt Ryan looks like he’s taken the proverbial step forward, put your money where Matty Ice is.


Blowout Bargains
Don’t be afraid of a big spread. Through the season’s first two weeks, 19 of 32 games have been decided by eight or more points.

Bears (-7.5) vs. Rams
Smokin’ Jay Cutler has had 10 days to work out his issues. The Bears should be able to maul these sacrificial Rams.

Saints (-9) vs. Chiefs
The winless Aints will take out the Arrowheads — Gregg Williams style — in a Big Easy blowout at the Superdome.


Straight Up Upsets
These underdogs don’t look as good as Kate Upton’s Twitter pics, but they look good.

Broncos (+3) vs. Texans
Peyton Manning looked like MV-Peyton in Week 1 but was left making Manning faces on Monday night in Week 2.

Buccaneers (+8) at Cowboys
Will young Bucs line up in the Victory Formation? Depends. Is that how Greg Schiano did it at Rutgers?


Sucker Bets
Stay away completely. These games are meant for local yokels who always bet on their home team, or for degenerates who always have to have action.

Jets (-3) at Dolphins
Last season, the Fins ran a nickel defense at the goal line as Tim Tebow led the Broncos to victory.

Bills (-3) at Browns
Rabid fan bases from cities no one wants to live in will watch two of the more exciting young running backs in C.J. Spiller and Trent Richardson.

Redskins (-3) vs. Bengals
RG3 makes his home debut in D.C. against a Cincy club that has dangerous upset upside.

Ravens (-3) vs. Patriots
At least Billy Cundiff and Lee Evans won’t be around to choke out during a rematch of last year’s AFC title game.

Colts (-3) vs. Jaguars
Could be the first of many covers by Andrew Luck against the Jags.

Steelers (-4.5) at Raiders
The Steel Curtain drop by the Black Hole for an old school AFL matchup.

Lions (-4) at Titans
Chris Johnson’s 21 yards on 19 carries is not what fantasy owners were expecting.

Eagles (-4) at Cardinals
Mike Vick vs. Kevin Kolb in a rematch of Eagles training camp 2010.


Monday Money
Another chance to wager for those who have to “get back” or “let it ride” this week.

Seahawks (+3.5) vs. Packers
Home field advantage and an opportunistic ball-Hawk defense will keep Seattle around until the end of a contest that could be decided by a field goal either way.
 

Teaser:
<p> A betting preview of every game (against the spread) on Sunday and Monday in Week 3, including the San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons at San Diego Chargers, Houston Texans at Denver Broncos, New York Jets at Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots at Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers at Seattle Seahawks.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 11:56
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-4-1
Body:

College football’s fourth weekend of action is highlighted by a huge battle in the ACC Coastal Division, an intriguing showdown between Arizona and Oregon in the Pac-12 and Michigan’s trip to Notre Dame in a rare night game in South Bend. Here’s a prediction on every game this weekend.

Friday

No. 37 Baylor at No. 60 UL Monroe
After splitting two overtime decisions against SEC West foes in consecutive weeks — a win at Arkansas and a loss at Auburn — UL Monroe returns home to host Baylor on national television. The Warhawks have been a popular upset pick, but Baylor is also eager to prove itself in the first season post-RG3.
Baylor 38-24

Saturday

No. 121 Florida Atlantic at No. 1 Alabama
Alabama’s defensive numbers are staggering, especially when you consider the Crimson Tide have faced two preseason top 25 teams away from home — Michigan in Texas and Arkansas in Fayetteville. Bama has recorded two straight shutouts and has only allowed points in two of 12 quarters this season.
Alabama 45-0

No. 2 LSU at No. 47 Auburn
The Tigers are 2–5 in their last seven SEC games, and the five losses have come by an average of 28.6 points. That’s a startling regression for a program that won a national championship just two years ago.
LSU 28-14

No. 24 Arizona at No. 3 Oregon
The Rich Rodriguez era is off to a great start in Tucson. The Wildcats are 3–0 and playing an exciting brand of football. Now the real fun begins: A trip to Eugene to face an Oregon team with legitimate national title hopes.
Oregon 48-23

No. 22 Kansas State at No. 4 Oklahoma
It’s rare when a 10-win college football team gets outgained by 450 yards in one of its losses. That’s what happened when Kansas State, 7–0 at the time, hosted Oklahoma last October: The Sooners outgained the Cats 690-to-240 en route to a 58–17 win. It won’t be quite as bad this time around.
Oklahoma 36-21

No. 108 UAB at No. 5 Ohio State
UAB’s tough road trip began with a trip to South Carolina (and a 49–6 loss) and will end in Columbus vs. the Buckeyes. Expect another productive game from sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller.
Ohio State 44-3

No. 53 Vanderbilt at No. 6 Georgia
Vanderbilt quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels will be making his first start (we think) against an SEC opponent. Carta-Samuels has played against quality competition — he faced Texas and BYU twice as well as Boise State, Colorado, Utah and TCU once during his two years at Wyoming — but this Georgia defense will present an enormous challenge.
Georgia 28-10

No. 14 Clemson at No. 7 Florida State
The schedule has been ridiculously easy, but perhaps no team in the history of college football has been as statistically dominant as Florida State three games into the season. The Seminoles have defeated their three opponents — Murray State, Savannah State and Wake Forest — by a combined score of 176–3 and have outgained the opposition by an average of 440.4 yards per game.
Florida State 34-24

No. 83 Maryland at No. 9 West Virginia
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith has thrown for 734 yards in two games. Maryland, as a team, has 775 yards in three games.
West Virginia 41-10

No. 78 Kentucky at No. 10 Florida
Kentucky has lost 25 straight overall to Florida and 16 straight in Gainesville. The Wildcats’ last four trips to the Swamp have been especially gruesome, with the Gators winning by an average score of 39–7.
Florida 38-17

No. 43 California at No. 12 USC
This game features some of the elite skill-position players in the nation — especially at wide receiver — but neither team has played well defensively this season.
USC 30-20

No. 26 Missouri at No. 13 South Carolina
It’s the Battle of Columbia as Missouri and South Carolina meet for the first time ever as members of the SEC. It’s also the battle of the injured quarterbacks. Both Connor Shaw and James Franklin are expected to start. The question is: Can they finish the game?
South Carolina 21-17

No. 16 Michigan at No. 15 Notre Dame
Brian Kelly has a reputation as one of the finest offensive coaches in college football, but his Notre Dame Fighting Irish are getting it done this season on defense. The Irish manhandled Michigan State 20–3 in East Lansing Saturday night and have now allowed a total of 30 points in three games.
Notre Dame 24-21

No. 55 Virginia at No. 17 TCU
Virginia gave up 461 yards rushing last week in a 56–20 loss to Georgia Tech. TCU has given up a total of 450 yards in two games.
TCU 27-17

No. 18 Louisville at No. 96 FIU
The Cards are eager for revenge after losing last September to FIU at home. They should get it. The Golden Panthers have been a disappointment this season.
Louisville 38-14

No. 110 Eastern Michigan at No. 19 Michigan State
The Le’Veon Bell for Heisman talk has cooled over the last few weeks. After bruising his way to 210 yards vs. Boise State in the opener, Bell has a total of 147 yards in the last two games.
Michigan State 38-10

No. 42 Oregon State at No. 20 UCLA
UCLA’s hot start doesn’t seem to be getting enough attention on the national scene. The Bruins, 3–0 under new coach Jim Mora, are averaging 40.7 points and 622.0 yards per game. And those numbers aren’t simply a product of a soft schedule; the Bruins rolled up 653 yards — including 300-plus through the air and on the ground — in a Week 2 win over Nebraska.
UCLA 34-21

Idaho State at No. 23 Nebraska
Idaho State has got to be the first team ever to play Black Hills State and Nebraska in consecutive games. (In case you are wondering, Idaho State beat Black Hills State 38–5. And in case you were wondering, Black Hills State is in Spearfish, South Dakota).
Nebraska 51-3

No. 119 South Alabama at No. 28 Mississippi State
Mississippi State is after its first 4–0 start since the 1999 Bulldogs, coached by Jackie Sherrill, opened the season 8–0 en route to a 10–2 record.
Mississippi State 42-10

No. 29 Rutgers at No. 52 Arkansas
Rutgers isn’t Alabama — which shut out Arkansas 52–0 last week —but the Scarlet Knights are pretty nasty on defense. They ranked eighth in the nation in scoring defense and 14th in total defense in 2011 and have continued their strong play early in the ’12 season. Kyle Flood’s team has also experienced success on the road with wins at Tulane (24–12) and South Florida (23–13).
Arkansas 28-24

No. 61 Miami (Fla.) at No. 30 Georgia Tech
Kansas State rushed for 288 vs. the Canes in a 52–13 win two weeks ago. That’s a troubling number for a Miami team that is preparing to face Georgia Tech’s option attack.
Georgia Tech 37-24

South Carolina State at No. 31 Texas A&M
Redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel is completing 65.2 percent of his passes and has yet to throw an interception in 66 attempts. He’s good.
Texas A&M 41-0

No. 32 South Florida at No. 93 Ball State
Ball State is 2–1 with wins over Eastern Michigan and Indiana sandwiched around a 52–27 loss at Clemson. The Cardinals have been able to move the ball in every game; they had 380 yards (including 252 on the ground) vs. Clemson and 440 yards (200-plus through the air and on the ground) vs. Indiana. This is a solid team that is good enough to beat South Florida straight up.
Ball State 34-31

No. 33 Nevada at No. 107 Hawaii
Nevada features two of the most explosive playmakers in college football. Tailback Stefphon Jefferson ranks second nationally in rushing (176.3 ypg), and quarterback Cody Fajardo is eighth in total offense (362.3 ypg).
Nevada 41-20

No. 120 Akron at No. 34 Tennessee
Terry Bowden will make his first appearance as head coach in an SEC venue since Oct. 17, 1998, when his Auburn Tigers lost at Florida 24–3. Bowden, who went 47–17–1 in five-plus seasons at Auburn, is in his first season as the boss at Akron. Bowden only played Tennessee twice during his time at Auburn, losing 30–29 in the 1997 SEC Championship Game and 17–9 in Knoxville in 1998.
Tennessee 44-3

South Dakota at No. 35 Northwestern
After opening the season with wins over three AQ conference teams, Northwestern dips down into the FCS ranks for what should bean easy win.
Northwestern 41-13

No. 91 Bowling Green at No. 36 Virginia Tech
The Hokies were on the wrong end of one of the most surprising scores of the season: Pittsburgh 35, Virginia Tech 17. Frank Beamer’s club should get back in the win column this week, but the Hokies will have issues the rest of the season unless some playmakers emerge on offense to complement quarterback Logan Thomas.
Virginia Tech 34-13

No. 38 Utah at No. 50 Arizona State
For the third straight week, Arizona State will be facing a backup quarterback. Nathan Scheelhaase (Illinois) and James Franklin (Missouri) were hurt, and Utah’s Jordan Wynn retired from football due to injury after a Week 2 loss to Utah State.
Arizona State 27-17

Norfolk State at No. 40 Ohio
Ohio survived a scare last week but held on for a 27–24 win at Marshall, keeping its dream of a perfect season alive. There is no significant danger of losing this weekend.
Ohio 38-14

The Citadel at No. 41 NC State
This might not be as easy as some Wolfpack fans would like. The Citadel is 3–0 highlighted by a 52–28 win over Appalachian State last week. This is a solid FCS club.
NC State 30-17

No. 86 UTEP at No. 46 Wisconsin
UTEP is playing an AQ conference team for the third time in four weeks. Wisconsin isn’t nearly as formidable as we thought before the season started, but it’s still a very tall order for the Miners to win in Madison.
Wisconsin 24-10

No. 48 Utah State at No. 109 Colorado State
Utah State is a missed 37-yard field goal away from being 3–0 with wins over Utah and Wisconsin. Still, this is a very good team that will challenge Louisiana Tech for supremacy in the WAC.
Utah State 30-7

No. 56 Louisiana Tech at No. 54 Illinois
Louisiana Tech has scored exactly 56 points in its first two games and is ranked No. 56 in the Athlon Sports 124. Very interesting.
Louisiana Tech 31-23

No. 100 Army at No. 57 Wake Forest
Army is up to its old tricks: The Black Knights rank second in the nation in rushing (384.0 ypg) and No. 120 in passing (29.0 ypg). Wake must rebound after a humbling 52–0 loss at Florida State last weekend.
Wake Forest 30-10

No. 68 East Carolina at No. 58 North Carolina
North Carolina came extremely close to completing one of the great comebacks in college football history last weekend. The Tar Heels cut a 36–7 halftime deficit to 39–34 with 4:23 remaining. Louisville fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but North Carolina was unable to punch the ball in the end zone in the final minute. It will be interesting to see how this team responds.
North Carolina 27-10

No. 111 Central Michigan at No. 59 Iowa
Iowa is the only team in the nation that has not converted an extra point vs. another FBS opponent this season. That better not be the case after this week’s game vs. Central Michigan.
Iowa 38-10

No. 84 Temple at No. 62 Penn State
Penn State struggled to beat Temple in Philadelphia last year, escaping with a 14–10 victory at Lincoln Financial Field. And that Nittany Lion team had far more talent than the 2012 version. But this game is at home, and I’d expect Penn State — with a win under its belt — to play well.
Penn State 24-13

No. 63 Connecticut at No. 79 Western Michigan
These two teams played one of the most exciting fourth quarters of the 2011 season. Western Michigan outscored UConn 21–14 in the final 15 minutes en route to a 38–31 win in West Hartford. The two quarterbacks, Johnny McEntree and Alex Carder, combined to throw for 779 yards and nine touchdowns without an interception. Don’t expect as many fireworks this time around.
Connecticut 27-24

No. 65 Syracuse at No. 64 Minnesota
Syracuse is 1–2 and looked much better in its two losses (by one to Northwestern and 13 to USC) than its win (by 11 over Stony Brook). Ryan Nassib has been terrific for the Orange, averaging 379.7 yards passing with nine touchdowns and three interceptions. Syracuse ranked 90th in the nation in total offense last year with 348.2 yards per game. The Orange rank 15th through three games this season with 533.3 per game. This could be a shootout. Take the Orange at the other dome.
Syracuse 41-39

Coastal Carolina at No. 66 Toledo
Toledo is off to a solid start under first-year coach Matt Campbell. The Rockets aren’t quite as explosive on offense as a year ago, but they are 2–1 with the only loss coming in overtime at Arizona.
Toledo 48-10

Gardner-Webb at No. 69 Pittsburgh
College football can be tough to figure out. The same Pittsburgh team that lost by 14 points at home to Youngstown State beat Virginia Tech by 18 points. How does that happen?
Pittsburgh 34-10

No. 82 Southern Miss at No. 70 Western Kentucky
The challenge for Western Kentucky coach Willie Taggart this week — other than scoring more points than Southern Miss — is to keep his team grounded. The Hilltoppers have been the talk of the state after beating Kentucky in overtime in Lexington last week. If the Toppers can play with focus, they should pick up win No. 3.
Western Kentucky 27-23

No. 122 Memphis at No. 71 Duke
Duke should be halfway to bowl-eligibility at about 9 p.m. on Saturday night. Getting three more wins, however, will be a challenge for a program that hasn’t played in the postseason since 1995.
Duke 38-10

No. 73 Fresno State at No. 72 Tulsa
Fresno State delivered one of the epic beatings in recent memory last weekend. The Bulldogs led Colorado 35–0 after one quarter and 55–7 at the half on their way to a 69–14 win. Colorado is bad (obviously), but I think Fresno State is better than we think.
Fresno State 30-28

Alcorn State at No. 75 Arkansas State
Alcorn State has scored a total of nine points in its last two games, losses at James Madison and vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The Braves will need to score about 40 to beat Arkansas State.
Arkansas State 40-3

No. 77 Ole Miss at No. 114 Tulane
Ole Miss tailback Jeff Scott is averaging 10.3 yards per carry in the two games he has played this season. The problem? He has only had 20 rushing attempts. Note to Hugh Freeze: Give Scott the ball.
Ole Miss 31-10

No. 112 Colorado at No. 80 Washington State
There is still a lot of football to be played, but Colorado is in the midst of an historically bad season. The Buffs are 0–3 with losses to Colorado State (which lost to an FCS team the next week), Sacramento State and Fresno State. And while there’s no shame in losing to Fresno State, there is plenty of shame in being down 35–0 at the end of one quarter.
Washington State  41-10

No. 90 Kansas at No. 81 Northern Illinois
Kansas is a 9-point underdog to a team from the MAC. That tells you all you need to know about how far this program has fallen in recent years. Just five years ago, the Jayhawks capped a 12–1 season with a win over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
Northern Illinois 31-30

No. 85 San Jose State at No. 88 San Diego State
San Jose State is very quietly having a solid season. The Spartans are 2–1, and the only loss came by three points at Stanford. This would be a huge win for Mike MacIntyre’s club.
San Jose State 30-27

VMI at No. 87 Navy
Navy should break into the win column this week, but the Midshipmen have not looked very good this year. The schedule has been relatively difficult — Notre Dame in Ireland and at Penn State — but they are averaging only 366.0 yards per game and have scored a total of 17 points.
Navy 41-3

No. 89 Rice at No. 94 Marshall
Rice is scoring some points this year — the Owls have averaged 28.7 against UCLA, Kansas and Louisiana Tech — but is also having trouble stopping the opposition. The Owls rank 117th in total defense and 118th in scoring defense.
Marshall 37-31

No. 92 Air Force at No. 116 UNLV
Air Force leads the nation in rushing, averaging 387.0 yards in its two games, a win over Idaho State and a six-point loss at Michigan. The Falcons could run for 500 yards vs. UNLV.
Air Force 38-17

No 97 Troy at No. 102 North Texas
Troy rolled up 572 yards of offense against Mississippi State in a 30–24 loss last week. To put that in perspective, Auburn had 216 total yards the week before vs. MSU.
Troy 34-20

Stephen F. Austin at No. 99 Texas State
Texas State dips into the FCS ranks after splitting its first two games against in-state foes. The Bobcats stunned Houston in the opener before falling at Texas Tech 58–10.
Texas State 31-13

No. 123 UMass at No. 104 Miami (Ohio)
UMass’ first season in the FBS isn’t going too well. The Minutemen aren’t quite giving up a point per minute, but it’s close (48.3 ppg). Miami quarterback Zac Dysert should have a productive game.
Miami (Ohio) 37-10

No. 105 Wyoming at No. 124 Idaho
Wyoming’s season has taken several disappointing turns. After losing the opener at Texas (no shame), the Cowboys have lost consecutive games at home to Toledo and Cal Poly.
Wyoming 24-10

No. 117 New Mexico at No. 113 New Mexico State
New Mexico State has won three straight in the Battle for the Land of Enchantment. Neither team is very good, but the Aggies are not quite as bad.
New Mexico State 34-20

Last week: 58–9
Season: 165–37
 

By Mitch Light

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> College football’s fourth weekend of action is highlighted by a huge battle in the ACC Coastal Division, an intriguing showdown between Arizona and Oregon in the Pac-12 and Michigan’s trip to Notre Dame in a rare night game in South Bend. Here’s a prediction on every game this weekend.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 07:55
All taxonomy terms: Baylor Bears, Big 12, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-countdown-no-17-baylor
Body:
Visit the online store for Baylor and other editions of the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual.

The first practices of college basketball season begin in mid-October, and Athlon Sports 2012-13 preview annuals are starting to arrive on newsstands all over the country.

To prepare for the start of college basketball season, we will preview one team each weekday, counting down to the first official day of basketball practice on Oct. 15, or for some teams on Oct. 12.

We continue our countdown with a preview of No. 17 Baylor:

A half-dozen college basketball programs have appeared in the Elite Eight two of the last three seasons. Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Florida and Butler are hardly a surprise.

But don’t feel bad if you couldn’t guess No. 6.

Even today, it’s still hard to believe Baylor has become a member of college basketball’s upper class less than 10 years after narrowly escaping the NCAA death penalty. Sparked by coach Scott Drew, the turnaround that has occurred in Waco is one of the most impressive in college basketball history.

Baylor won a school-record 30 games last season before losing to eventual national champion Kentucky in the regional final. Three players were selected in the NBA Draft, and Drew signed a recruiting class that was ranked No. 4 nationally by Scout.com.

Successful as the Bears were a year ago, there could be even better things in store in 2012-13 thanks to what may be the deepest backcourt in the country and the addition of a future NBA Lottery pick in the paint.

“As always,” Drew says, “we’re setting our sites high.”

FRONTCOURT
The Bears took a major hit down low when underclassmen Perry Jones III and Quincy Miller left school early to turn pro and Quincy Acy graduated. All three players — who combined to average 36.1 points and 19.9 rebounds were selected in the NBA Draft.

Still, Baylor will hardly be lacking in the paint. Cory Jefferson would’ve started for almost any Big 12 team last season but was relegated to just 10 minutes per game behind the Bears’ talented frontline. Pencil the 6-9 junior in as a starter along with highly-touted signee Isaiah Austin, a 7-footer who may be the most talented prospect in the entire class of 2012. Austin can bring the ball up the court, swish 3-pointers, beat a defender off the dribble from the perimeter and can score from both mid-range and in the paint. Also a skilled shot-blocker, Austin is projected as a top-five pick in next summer’s NBA Draft.

Drew’s team will also tout a pair of quality backups in J’mison Morgan and Ricardo Gathers. Morgan, who began his career at UCLA, is a former McDonald’s All-American who redshirted last season. Coaches have praised the senior for improving his physical condition and his work ethic. At 6-8 and 240 pounds, Gathers is a banger and rebounder extraordinaire who has drawn comparisons to Acy, although Gathers, a freshman, may be more skilled offensively.

BACKCOURT
The Bears’ biggest strength will be on the perimeter, where they return five guards who averaged at least 10 minutes per game last season. Leading the way is point guard Pierre Jackson, a Cousy Award finalist who had team-highs in points (13.8 ppg), steals (1.8 spg) and assists (5.9 apg) as a junior last season. Jackson is as quick as any guard in the country and shot a respectable 40.8 percent from 3-point range a year ago. If he cuts down his 3.5 turnovers per game he could earn All-American honors.

Joining Jackson in the backcourt will be Brady Heslip, who is regarded as one of the top long-range shooters in America. Heslip connected on 45.5 percent of his shots from beyond the arc in 2012-13, including a 54.2 mark (26-of-48) in the postseason. Senior A.J. Walton, who ranked second on the team in steals (1.3 spg), could also start in Baylor’s three-guard lineup.

Another option is sophomore Deuce Bello, who coaches say improved as much as any Bears player during the offseason. Bello had blossomed into one of the team’s top defenders and offensive rebounders by the end of his freshman year, but now he’s a much better ball-handler and shooter.

Also returning is Gary Franklin, who contributed 10 minutes per game after transferring from Cal. L.J. Rose is a 6-4 freshman who is expected to back up Jackson at point guard.

FINAL ANALYSIS
Proud as they are of their recent success, the Bears are ready to take the next step by winning an outright conference championship for the first time since 1948. It certainly won’t be easy. Kansas has claimed the last eight Big 12 titles — and the Jayhawks will be the favorites to repeat again in 2013.

The keys to Baylor ending Kansas’ streak will be another banner season from Jackson and Heslip, breakthrough performances from Bello and Jefferson and significant contributions from freshmen Austin and Gathers, both of whom must develop quickly. If those things occur, the Bears’ potential is limitless.

@AthlonSports

Athlon College Basketball Countdown So Far:
20. Florida

19. Notre Dame

18. Memphis

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball Countdown: No. 17 Baylor</p>
Post date: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 06:56
Path: /nfl/giants-pummel-panthers-charlotte
Body:

The defending Super Bowl champions took the ‘next man up’ concept to another level on Thursday night. Despite missing three key offensive starters, the New York Giants throttled the Carolina Panthers, 36-7, in a game that was never close. The G-men jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead and never looked back. New York tailback Andre Brown, filling in for the injured Ahmad Bradshaw, had a stellar performance with 113 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Additionally, backup receiver Ramses Barden got the start in place of ailing wideout Hakeem Nicks and produced nine catches for 138 yards. Eli Manning had a very efficient night in completing 27-of-35 passes for 288 yards and a score to tight end Martellus Bennett.

Cam Newton and the Panthers were coming off an excellent offensive game in their win over the Saints last Sunday, but the star Carolina quarterback struggled all night against the New York defense. Newton was held to 242 passing yards and just six yards on the ground while being intercepted three times. Giants linebacker Michael Boley had one of those pilfers, making it his third straight game with an interception. The New York defenders showed great resolve in bouncing back from subpar performances against the Cowboys and Buccaneers to dominate Carolina.

The Giants will now have some time to heal before traveling to Philadelphia on September 30 to battle the Eagles on Sunday Night Football. The Panthers will try to regroup as they prepare for a tough road trip to Atlanta in 10 days.

Teaser:
<p> Giants Pummel the Panthers in Charlotte</p>
Post date: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 06:45
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-start-or-sit-week-3
Body:

Week 3 of the 2012 NFL season has already begun, which means it's time to get those fantasy lineups ready for the rest of this week's action in your Yahoo!, NFL.com or ESPN fantasy football league. It’s still early enough to turn your team’s outlook around, but it all starts with making the right roster moves.

Athlon Sports is to help you make those important decisions each week with our Start and Sit suggestions. Keep in mind these are merely our suggestions as the ultimate decision comes down to you, the owner.

Week 3 Positional Rankings

Sneaky Start of the Week
Matt Cassel, QB, Kansas City at New Orleans
Believe it or not, Cassel is currently No. 12 at his position in fantasy scoring. He’s averaging about 280 yards passing per game and has accounted for a total of four touchdowns (3 pass, 1 rush) through the first two games. It also should be pointed out that he’s turned the ball over five times (3 INT, 2 fumbles).

Still, his inclusion here is more a matter of the competition. Kansas City goes to New Orleans on Sunday to play the Saints. Not only are the Saints the worst defense in the NFL right now in both yards and points allowed; they also are giving up the second-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks (Kansas City has yielded the most). As long as Cassel can limit his turnovers, he could put up some surprising numbers in the Super Dome this Sunday.

Surprise Sit of the Week
Wes Welker, WR, New England at Baltimore
A lot of things can happen in a week, as evidenced by Welker going from the “Start” list to here in seven days. But the reality is that through the first two games, Welker just hasn’t been as big a part of the Patriots’ offense as he has been in recent years.

Some of this can be attributed to the fact that Welker has been ceding some snaps to teammate Julian Edelman, especially when the Patriots have been in two-wide receiver sets. There’s also the presence of tight end Rob Gronkowski and wide receiver Brandon Lloyd, both of whom have more receptions than Welker so far. Whatever the reason, there’s no disputing that Welker’s production so far (8 rec., 109 yards) hasn’t been what we’ve grown accustomed to seeing.

The good news is that Welker is still getting plenty of targets from Tom Brady. His 16 are second only to Lloyd on the team. But it’s clear that he and Brady are having trouble connecting (50 percent catch rate) and he’s yet to find the end zone.

Ironically, Aaron Hernandez’ ankle injury, which will sideline him for several weeks, could actually help Welker, as the Patriots may put more wide receivers on the field. That said, between Welker’s early results, this Sunday’s match up with Baltimore, a team that he has not enjoyed a great deal of success against in his career, and the fact that the Patriots seem to be shifting to more of a run-oriented offense (only 14 fewer rushing attempts compared to passing so far), that’s more than enough reasons to strongly consider leaving him out of your starting lineup.

Quarterbacks
START
Tony Romo (DAL) vs. Tampa Bay
Romo (251 yards passing, TD, INT) and the Cowboys clearly did not enjoy their trip to Seattle last week. Fortunately, they get to return to the comforts of home and get a Tampa Bay defense that Eli Manning and the Giants shredded for more than 500 yards through the air last week. Romo probably won’t throw for quite that many, but he should be able to connect with Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and his other weapons more than enough to put last week’s disappointing showing completely behind him.

Jay Cutler (CHI) vs. St. Louis
Cutler also is looking to bounce back from a rough Week 2 outing as Green Bay picked him off four times and he was sacked seven times. St. Louis’ defense isn’t considered to be on the same level as the Packers, so this should present Cutler with a nice opportunity to regain some confidence, for both himself and in the eyes of his teammates and always-vocal critics. The key for Cutler is to trust his offensive line to give him the time to make the throws that are there, and to not try and force feed Brandon Marshall down the field.

Andy Dalton (CIN) at Washington
Dalton threw for 318 yards, three touchdowns and an interception last week against Cleveland. This week he and the Bengals get a Washington defense that’s ranked 28th in the league overall, and is tied for second-to-last in passing defense. It’s also a defense that has lost two of its best players – defensive end Adam Carriker and linebacker Brian Orakpo — to season-ending injuries.

SIT
Peyton Manning (DEN) vs. Houston
Manning had a really rough start on Monday night in Atlanta, throwing three first-quarter interceptions. He was able to settle down, but in the end he finished with an atypical line of 241-1-3. The Broncos are back home on Sunday, but they will face an even more fearsome defense in Houston, which has given up a total of 392 yards (248 pass, 144 rush) in its first two games. The Texans are more athletic throughout their defense, their secondary is healthier than the Falcons’ was, and I think they will be able to bring even more pressure on Manning. Put it all together and I am expecting this week’s line to look more like last week’s compared to his Week 1 showing (253-2-0) against Pittsburgh.

Josh Freeman (TB) at Dallas
Freeman was at his best in leading his Buccaneers to an early lead over the Giants in New York. Unfortunately, the Giants’ defense did a better job of keeping Freeman and the Bucs’ offense in check, as Freeman finished with 243 yards passing to go along with two touchdowns and two interceptions. This week Freeman has to go into Dallas and face a Cowboys’ defense that’s surrendering 160 yards through the air per game. Look for the pass rush to rattle Freeman as the game goes on, resulting in some poor decisions and throws.

Sam Bradford (STL) at Chicago
Bradford and the Rams’ passing attack were running on all cylinders last week against Washington as he threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, next on the schedule is a Chicago defense that’s been stewing in its own juices since last Thursday’s loss to Green Bay. The Bears have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far and I expect that trend to continue against Bradford.

Running Backs
START

Michael Bush (CHI) vs. St. Louis
Matt Forte will not play this Sunday against the Rams because of an ankle injury. That means Bush will assume the starting role, which makes him a must-start if he’s on your roster. Remember, Bush ran for 977 yards last season with Oakland when Darren McFadden was sidelined or limited by injuries. The Rams have given up nearly 130 yards on the ground per game so far.

Stevan Ridley (NE) at Baltimore
Start a Patriots running back against a Ravens defense? Oh, how the times have changed. The fact is Ridley has clearly established himself not only as the Patriots’ top back, but a reliable one as has he’s averaging nearly 100 yards (5.0 ypc) per game. On the other side there’s a Ravens defense that has had some problems stopping the run thus far, giving up 129 yards per game on the ground. To this point the Patriots have showed a willingness to run the ball (5th in the league in rushing attempts), so Ridley should get his chances against what appears to be a more susceptible than usual Ravens rush defense.

Jamaal Charles (KC) at New Orleans
Everyone probably held their breaths when Charles was removed from last week’s game against Buffalo after falling on his surgically repaired left knee and limping off the field. The team and Charles have both since said that he only sustained a bruise and he could have gone back in, if he was needed. Charles’ production so far (22 att., 90 yds.) hasn’t been that great, but if there’s ever a week for him to get back on track it’s this one. New Orleans has given up a total of 372 yards rushing in its first two games.

SIT
Adrian Peterson (MIN) vs. San Francisco
The good news for Peterson owners is that his workload is expected to increase starting this week. The bad news is his next opponent is a San Francisco defense that’s already limited Green Bay and Detroit to a total of 127 yards rushing combined. Christian Ponder is not Aaron Rodgers or Matthew Stafford, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Peterson finds the yards very tough to come by this Sunday.

Willis McGahee (DEN) vs. Houston
McGahee is coming off of an impressive 113-yard, two-touchdown game against Atlanta on Monday night. However, Houston has given up a total of 144 rushing yards and no rushing touchdowns in their first two games. McGahee’s Broncos host the Texans this Sunday. Any questions?

Shonn Greene (NYJ) at Miami
Greene has struggled out of the gate, averaging a little better than three yards per carry. Miami’s rush defense has limited opponents to an NFL-best 2.2 yards per carry (53 yards per game). Miami’s first two games were against Houston and Oakland, otherwise known as the teams Arian Foster and Darren McFadden play for. Greene is not on the same level as these two, which should tell you all you need to know about his outlook for this week.

Wide Receivers
START

Torrey Smith (BAL) vs. New England
Smith has caught a total of four passes in the first two games, but half of those have been completions of 40 or more yards. Smith’s deep threat ability is well documented, but he still needs to show he’s more than just a one-trick pony. He should get his chance this week against the Patriots. Although the Patriots have done a very good job defensively, the Ravens’ offense will be by far their toughest challenge yet. Smith also has shown an ability to get open against the Pats’ secondary, as he caught three passes for 82 yards and a touchdown in last season’s AFC Championship game.

Lance Moore (NO) vs. Kansas City
For all their troubles on defense, the Saints have been fine on offense, as they are currently third in the league. Kansas City has had plenty of its own issues on defense and is surrendering nearly 38 points a game. I think there will be more than enough offense in this game for not only the must-starts (Dwayne Bowe, Drew Brees, Charles, Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham, Darren Sproles), but also for the likes of a Moore, who should be able to find plenty of space to make the catch and then some in a Chiefs’ secondary that’s battled injuries from the start.

Jon Baldwin (KC) at New Orleans
Put Baldwin into the same category as Moore as the Saints’ defensive issues (last in NFL in yards and points allowed) have already been referenced here. What’s more for Baldwin is that he went from zero targets in Week 1 to six in Week 2. He turned three of those targets into receptions, which went for a total of 62 yards (20.7 ypc). Given his play-making ability and how he can complement Dwayne Bowe as the Chiefs’ deep threat, I expect him to build on last week’s showing and make a little noise against the Saints’ suspect pass defense.

SIT
Larry Fitzgerald (ARI) vs. Philadelphia
As a huge Fitzgerald fan (and owner of him in one of my leagues), I really hope that this turns out to be a one-week deal, but I can’t ignore the early results or this Sunday’s opponent. Fitzgerald has been targeted a team-high 15 times, as he should be, but he’s only turned five of those into receptions for 67 yards. He also has yet to get into the end zone. For whatever reason, Fitzgerald and quarterback Kevin Kolb just can’t seem to get on the same page. Until these two start showing some consistent chemistry, it may be in your best interests, if you have other serviceable options, to bench the All-Pro. As far as this week goes, it certainly doesn’t help Fitzgerald’s case that Philadelphia has allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers.

Vincent Jackson (TB) at Dallas
Dallas’ revamped secondary passed its first test in the opener against the Giants' tandem of Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz with flying colors. They limited the duo to 10 catches and 96 yards combined, compared to the 21 receptions, 378 yards and two touchdowns the two had last week against Tampa Bay. Now it's Jackson's turn to test the ‘Boys pass defense and unfortunately for him, the Bucs' receiving corps is more of a one-man show compared to what the Giants put on the field (Ramses Barden anyone?). In other words, good luck.

DeSean Jackson (PHI) at Arizona
The Eagles will be without the services of Jeremy Maclin (hip) this Sunday at Arizona, meaning the Cardinals will be able to focus their efforts on Jackson and attempt to limit the big plays down the field. Without them, he’s a different receiver. Last week against Baltimore, Jackson had seven receptions for 114 yards. One of those went for 49 yards, meaning the other six went for 65, or an average of 10.8 yards per catch. The big play has always been what has driven Jackson’s fantasy potential, and without it, he’s fairly ordinary, as evidenced by the fact he’s yet to score. It also doesn’t help that Jackson himself has been limited in practice by a hamstring injury.

Tight Ends
Start
Brandon Pettigrew (DET) at Tennessee
Pettigrew is second on the Lions in targets (14) and has eight catches on the year for 95 yards and a score. Next up for Pettigrew is a Tennessee defense that is giving up the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Last week, San Diego's Dante Rosario, who was only playing because Antonio Gates sat out with a rib injury, victimized the Titans for three touchdown catches. Anyone else thinking Pettigrew can't wait for this one to kick off?

Brent Celek (PHI) at Arizona
I guess Celek didn't like me putting him on last week's Sit list as he promptly went out and caught eight passes for 157 yards (19.7 fantasy points) against Baltimore. Celek is leading the team in targets and the Eagles will be short-handed at receiver on Sunday against Arizona with Jeremy Maclin (hip) already ruled out and DeSean Jackson dealing with a hamstring injury. As long he keeps getting the volume of opportunities he has been, Celek can certainly maintain fantasy relevance. Getting into the end zone every now and then wouldn't hurt either.

Jermaine Gresham (CIN) at Washington
Gresham has gotten off to a slow start (4 rec., 37 yards), but Washington has given up the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends so far. He and the Bengals also are facing a defense that's lost two key starters (Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker) for the rest of the season, so now it's just a matter of Andy Dalton, Gresham and company to take advantage.

SIT
Jared Cook (TEN) vs. Detroit
Cook made the Start list last week and then went out and caught three passes for a grand total of 23 yards. Cook's slow start (8 rec., 87 yards) is representative of the Titans' offensive struggles as a whole. Until the Titans find some sort of consistency with both their rushing and passing attacks, Cook's probably not going to put up a lot of fantasy points.

Jacob Tamme (DEN) vs. Houston
Tamme got off to a fast start as the renewed chemistry between him and Peyton Manning resulted in four receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. Last week in Atlanta, however, Tamme only caught two balls for 13 yards. This week could be even worse as Denver hosts Houston, one of the toughest defenses in the league right now. To make matters worse for Tamme (and Joel Dreessen for that matter), the Texans are giving up the fewest fantasy points to opposing tight ends.

Marcedes Lewis (JAC) at Indianapolis
Lewis also got off to a nice start (5 rec., 52 yds., TD) in Week 1, but looked more like his 2011 form last week as he didn't catch a single pass. Lewis' fortunes are tied directly to how well Blaine Gabbert performs, which is enough reason in itself to not trust this Jaguar to be your starting tight end.

Defense/Special Teams
START

Dallas vs. Tampa Bay
The Dallas defense/special teams haven't really done all that much in terms of fantasy scoring to this point, but they are ranked 10th in the league in total defense and do a good job of pressuring the quarterback. As long as the Cowboys can stifle Tampa's running game, I think the pressure on Josh Freeman will help the secondary make some big plays, possibly even turn one of those into six points.

Arizona vs. Philadelphia
Arizona's defense has been very solid through its first two games, holding New England to just 18 points in the Cardinals' surprising Week 2 victory in Foxboro. Next up is Philadelphia, who has a banged up receiving corps and a quarterback in Michael Vick that's prone to turning it over. Even with LeSean McCoy in the backfield, I think the Cardinals can make enough plays (both kick returners also are capable of taking one back for a score) and hold the Eagles offense in check to be fantasy relevant this week.

SIT
New England at Baltimore
Don't look now, but New England is the No. 2 defense in the league. This can largely be attributed to the fact that the Patriots first two opponents have been Tennessee and Arizona, the 30th- and 31st-ranked offenses. That's why I don't see the Patriots defense having near as much success against Baltimore, the ninth-ranked offense and one that can beat you with both with the run and pass. If the Patriots come out of this game as the second-ranked defense, color me impressed.

Washington vs. Cincinnati
It's already been said a couple of times, but here's where it really matters most. The Redskins will be without linebacker Brian Orakpo and defensive lineman Adam Carriker for the rest of the season. Orakpo is a two-time Pro Bowler and he and Carriker combined for 14.5 sacks last season. Those are two significant losses that I think will be very hard for this defense, which by the way is currently ranked 28th in the league, to overcome, especially this week against Cincinnati.

Kickers
START

Justin Tucker (BAL) at Philadelphia
Considering this is the second straight week Tucker has made this list, not to mention the fact that I added him in two of my three leagues, consider me all in on the Ravens' rookie kicker. Tucker is a perfect 6-for-6 from field goal range, with a long of 56, and has connected on all seven of his PATs so far. There's no reason to think the Ravens won't continue to give him opportunities to put the ball through the uprights.

Blair Walsh (MIN) vs. San Francisco
Just like Tucker, Walsh is a rookie who has shown everyone why the Vikings cut ties with veteran Ryan Longwell before the season started. Walsh has connected on all six of his field goal tries, including two from more than 50 yards out. This week, I don't expect the Vikings to visit the red zone many times against San Francisco, so Walsh's leg may be the best scoring option they have.

SIT
Rob Bironas (TEN) vs. Detroit
Bironas is as reliable as they come, but the Titans' offense just hasn't given him many chances to kick. So until the Titans show some form of life on offense, it's probably best to look elsewhere.

Matt Prater (DEN) vs. Houston
Prater's big leg is a perfect fit for the thin air in Denver, but Houston has allowed a grand total of one field goal attempt and just two PATs so far. Even though the Broncos are at home, I expect for them to have their share of trouble moving the ball against the Texans, limiting Prater's opportunities in the process.

— By Mark Ross, published on Sept. 21, 2012

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football: Week 3 Start or Sit</p>
Post date: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 06:36
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-4-preview-match-ups-upset-picks-and-storylines-watch-0
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College football's Week 4 slate doesn't feature a ton of huge matchups, but there's plenty of impact games. Florida State-Clemson is a marquee ACC battle between two top-10 teams, while Michigan travels to Notre Dame. As usual, the SEC always has a few intriguing contests that are must-see games. Vanderbilt travels to Georgia, LSU hits the road for a matchup against Auburn and new SEC member Missouri takes on South Carolina. 

Top Storylines to Watch in Week 4

1. Who will stake an early claim for the ACC title: Clemson or Florida State?
The ACC hasn’t had many big games on a national scale in recent years, but Saturday night’s matchup between Florida State and Clemson will have BCS title implications. The loser of this game is probably out of the picture when it comes to a national title, while the winner takes a huge step towards winning the ACC title. Clemson has been tested a little more this season, as the Tigers beat Auburn in the season opener, while Florida State played two FCS teams (Murray State and Savannah State) to start the year. The battle in the trenches will be especially important for this game. Clemson and Florida State’s offensive line came into the year with question marks, and both units have yet to emerge as a strength. If the Seminoles’ defensive line controls the line of scrimmage, it will be tough for the Tigers to get quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins on track.

2. Oklahoma looks to take early control of the Big 12
Most of the Big 12 teams have played only non-conference games thus far, so this week’s Oklahoma-Kansas State matchup is an early opportunity to seize control of the conference. The Sooners have dominated the recent series, as Kansas State’s last win in a regular-season meeting came in 1997. For the Wildcats to have any shot at winning on Saturday night, quarterback Collin Klein has to get on track. In last season’s meeting, Klein had just 150 yards of total offense, which won’t get it done this time around. The Sooners will gear up to stop Klein, while looking to get its passing game on track. Kansas State’s secondary has struggled in the first three weeks of the season and will be tested against Landry Jones and his receivers.

3. Is Notre Dame ready to be a national title contender?
After a 20-3 win over Michigan State last week, Notre Dame has positioned itself for a run at a BCS bowl. It’s early, so the Irish still have a lot to prove. However, if the first three games have shown anything, Notre Dame seems to have corrected its turnover program from last season and fixed its quarterback issues. Redshirt freshman Everett Golson still has a lot to learn, but is a clear upgrade over Tommy Rees. This Saturday presents another challenge for the Irish, with Michigan set to visit South Bend. The Wolverines are still trying to find the right pieces on the offensive and defensive lines, but Denard Robinson has torched Notre Dame in the last two meetings. This is a relatively even matchup, so once again, turnovers are crucial. If the Irish don’t turn the ball over and win the battle in the trenches, they should be able to hold Robinson in check and snap a three-game losing streak to Michigan.

4. Does Auburn have any chance to beat LSU?
So far, Auburn has shown nothing to suggest it can beat LSU this week. The offense has struggled to get anything going through the air, while the defense ranks a disappointing 94th in yards allowed. LSU is dealing with a few injuries on the offensive line and in the backfield, but remains one of college football’s top teams. This will be the first big road test for quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who should be a big upgrade under center for LSU over Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee. With a road date against Florida in two weeks, it’s important for the Tigers to get Mettenberger comfortable before the competition increases. Winning on the road in the SEC is never easy, but all signs point to a LSU rout on Saturday night.

5. Oregon… the new Pac-12 favorite?
With USC losing to Stanford, the focus shifts to Oregon as the Pac-12’s best hope at playing for a national title. However, the Ducks have yet to be tested, as Arizona will be their toughest game through the first four weeks of the season. The scoreboard operator should be busy, especially with both teams averaging over 45 points a game. Oregon redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota has been solid through the first three starts of his career, recording 782 overall yards and eight touchdowns. The Wildcats should be able to move the ball, especially with quarterback Matt Scott and running back Ka’Deem Carey combining to average over 450 yards a game. Both teams won’t field a dominant defense in this matchup but getting timely stops is crucial to the outcome. Look for Oregon to make a few more stops than Arizona, which will help the Ducks pull away in the fourth quarter.

Six Intriguing Under-the-Radar Games to Watch

Louisiana Tech at Illinois
The Bulldogs are one of the best non-BCS teams and has won nine of their last 10 games. Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is expected to return after missing the last two weeks with an ankle injury. The Fighting Illini owns one of the Big Ten’s best defenses, but they will be tested by a Louisiana Tech offense averaging 56 points a game.

Miami at Georgia Tech
Can the Hurricanes slow down Georgia Tech? Miami’s defense has been invisible against BCS competition, allowing 32 points to Boston College and 52 to Kansas State. The Hurricanes rank 102nd nationally against the run – a bad sign against a Georgia Tech team averaging 374 rushing yards per game.

Fresno State at Tulsa
These teams are quietly two of the best from the non-BCS conferences. The Bulldogs ran wild over Colorado last week, winning 69-14 to move to 2-1 this season. Tulsa lost to Iowa State in the opener, but looks like the favorite to win Conference USA’s West Division. With both teams averaging over 40 points a game, this matchup could be one of the highest-scoring games of Week 4.

Utah at Arizona State
The Sun Devils have experienced some interesting luck this year, as Saturday’s game against Utah will be their third consecutive matchup against a team with a backup quarterback. The Utes are coming off of a huge win against rival BYU last Saturday and should get injured running back John White back in the lineup this week. Arizona State is 2-0 at home this year and with games coming up against California, Oregon and UCLA, this is a must-win game to keep pace with the Bruins in the Pac-12 South.

Rutgers at Arkansas
The Razorbacks aren’t going to win a national title, but there’s plenty for this team to salvage the rest of the way. Arkansas will have its hands full with Rutgers this Saturday, especially if quarterback Tyler Wilson isn’t able to play. The Scarlet Knights own one of the Big East’s top defenses, while their offense is rapidly improving under sophomores Gary Nova (QB) and Jawan Jamison (RB).

Vanderbilt at Georgia
These two teams met for an entertaining 33-28 matchup in Nashville last season, but the real fireworks started after the game. Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham exchanged words after the final whistle, and there’s no love lost between these two teams.

Teams Looking to Bounce Back

North Carolina – With East Carolina visiting Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels should snap a two-game losing streak. However, the bigger concern is the health of running back Giovani Bernard. The sophomore has missed the last two games due to a knee injury, and his status is up in the air for this week’s contest.

Tennessee – There’s no shame in losing to Florida, but the Volunteers’ second-half performance left a lot to be desired. Akron won’t present much of a challenge, which is good news for a Tennessee team looking to build confidence with Georgia and Mississippi State up next.

Virginia Tech – The Hokies’ performance against an 0-2 Pittsburgh team was one of the biggest surprises from Week 3. Both sides of the ball struggled, especially a rushing attack that generated just 59 yards. Virginia Tech should get back into the win column against Bowling Green, but it’s important for this team to find some answers.

USC – If the Trojans want to have any shot at playing for the national title, they have to win out and look impressive in the process. The road to climbing back in the national title picture starts against California – a team USC has won eight consecutive matchups against.

Virginia – The Cavaliers were steamrolled in last week’s 56-20 loss to Georgia Tech, allowing the Yellow Jackets to rush for 461 yards and seven touchdowns. Virginia has struggled to get its rushing game on track, which is bad news for an offense that lacks a dynamic passing attack. With a trip to TCU on tap this Saturday, the Cavaliers will have a tough time getting back into the win coloumn.

Wake Forest – A week after picking up a solid win against North Carolina, the Demon Deacons were demolished 52-0 by Florida State. Wake Forest should beat Army this Saturday, but the Black Knights are never an easy matchup.

Teams Desperate For a Win

Arkansas – After last week’s 52-0 loss to Alabama, the Razorbacks need something positive before SEC play picks back up on Sept. 29 at Texas A&M. Quarterback Tyler Wilson is close to returning, which should help spark the offense against Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights’ defense is allowing only 8.3 points a game, so it’s no guarantee Wilson’s return will be enough for Arkansas to win this game.

Auburn – Sure, the Tigers won last week, but it wasn’t exactly the most impressive showing. Auburn needed overtime to beat Louisiana-Monroe, and this team still has plenty of question marks, which loom large against LSU this Saturday. To win in Baton Rouge, Auburn will need a flawless effort from quarterback Kiehl Frazier and for its defense to slow down LSU’s rushing attack. It’s possible, but unlikely considering how much Auburn has struggled through the first three weeks.

California – Jeff Tedford’s seat isn’t getting any cooler, especially as the Golden Bears are off to a 1-2 start. California played tough at Ohio State, but moral victories aren’t going to get it done. The Golden Bears play at USC this Saturday, where they have not won at since 2000. As Stanford showed last week, the Trojans are vulnerable. Can California take advantage of the question marks and pull off a key victory this Saturday?

Quarterbacks Under Pressure

Austyn Carta-Samuels, Vanderbilt – Carta-Samuels transferred to Vanderbilt after starting two years at Wyoming. He was an efficient 13 of 20 for 195 yards and one touchdown in the win over Presbyterian, but the competition (Georgia) will be much tougher this Saturday.

Kiehl Frazier, Auburn – It seems Frazier gets mentioned in this section each week, but his performance against Louisiana-Monroe didn’t do much to ease the concerns about the Tigers' quarterback play. The sophomore completed 10 of 18 passes for 130 yards, one touchdown and one interception, with a chunk of his yardage coming on a 33-yard Hail Mary scoring strike to end the first half.

Andrew Maxwell, Michigan State – Maxwell deserves time to grow into the starting job, but his first three starts have produced mixed results. He threw for 248 yards and three interceptions in the 17-13 win over Boise State and completed 23 of 45 passes for 187 yards in the loss to Notre Dame. Since Eastern Michigan visits East Lansing this Saturday, the Spartans will have an opportunity to work out the kinks in the passing game.

Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech – Thomas is in no danger of losing his starting job, but he needs a good performance to erase last weekend’s awful showing. The junior completed 14 of 31 passes for 265 yards and three interceptions in the loss to Pittsburgh. With Bowling Green up next, all signs point to Thomas putting up a big performance on Saturday.

Michael Rocco, Virginia – With a struggling rushing attack, it’s up to Rocco to take on a bigger role in Virginia’s offense. The junior hasn’t been awful through three weeks, throwing for 712 yards and four touchdowns, but he has tossed three picks and is coming off of a forgettable performance against Georgia Tech. If the Cavaliers want to knock off TCU this Saturday, they need a big game from Rocco.

Joel Stave, Wisconsin – The Badgers are desperately looking for a spark on offense. Danny O’Brien threw for 454 yards and three touchdowns in the first three games but was benched in favor of Stave against Utah State. The redshirt freshman was just 2 of 6 for 15 yards, but the coaching staff will give him a chance to ignite the offense against UTEP this Saturday.

Injuries to watch

Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina – Bernard has missed the last two games due to a knee injury. Larry Fedora doesn’t say much about injuries, so Bernard’s status could be in question until kickoff. Even if Bernard plays this week against East Carolina, the Tar Heels can afford to limit his touches.

Damon Bullock, RB, Iowa – Depth in the Hawkeyes’ backfield took another hit with Bullock’s injury against Northern Iowa last week. Bullock is not expected to play against Central Michigan this Saturday.

Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska – Burkhead left the season opener against Southern Miss with a knee injury and is expected to return to the field for this week’s game against Idaho State.

James Franklin, QB, Missouri – Franklin sat out last week’s game against Arizona State due to a shoulder injury. The junior is expected to play this Saturday, which is a crucial game for Missouri, as it looks to avoid an 0-2 start in the SEC.

MarQueis Gray, QB, Minnesota – Gray suffered a high ankle sprain in last week’s win over Western Michigan. Backup Max Shortell has experience and is a capable replacement. However, the Golden Gophers will miss Gray’s playmaking ability on the ground if he can’t start.

Montel Harris, RB, Temple – Harris has not played since posting 12 yards on five carries against Villanova in the season opener. The senior is dealing with a hamstring injury but could return this Saturday against Penn State.

Khaled Holmes, C, USC – Holmes was clearly missed last week, as USC struggled to block Stanford’s aggressive front seven. The senior may not be able to play this week, which means junior Abe Markowitz will get the call at center.

Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia – Jones missed last week’s game against FAU due to a groin injury. The junior is expected to play this Saturday, especially with a key SEC East game against Vanderbilt on the schedule.

John White, RB, Utah – White missed last week’s rivalry game against BYU due to an ankle injury. The Utes need the senior back in the lineup if they want to win on the road against Arizona State.

Nikita Whitlock, DT, Wake Forest – The Demon Deacons clearly missed Whitlock last week, as Florida State rushed for 385 yards and four touchdowns against Wake Forest. Whitlock is not expected to play this Saturday, which is bad news for the Demon Deacons against one of the nation’s top rushing offenses.

Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas – In order for Arkansas to get back into the win column, Wilson has to play on Saturday against Rutgers. The senior sat out against Alabama due to a concussion and could be a game-time decision on Saturday.

Upset Watch

Baylor at Louisiana-Monroe (+7) (Friday)
The Warhawks beat Arkansas in Week 2 and nearly knocked off Auburn last Saturday. Louisiana-Monroe should have no shortage of confidence after its performances against SEC teams, so this will be no easy matchup for Baylor.
Prediction: Baylor 41-31

Kansas (+9) at Northern Illinois
It’s a little strange to see a BCS team as a nine-point underdog, but the Jayhawks lost to Rice in Week 2 and barely beat the Huskies last season. Although Kansas is an underdog, it should hold Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch in check long enough to win.
Prediction: Kansas 31-27

South Florida at Ball State (+10)
The Bulls are reeling after last week’s 23-13 loss to Rutgers, while the Cardinals are riding a wave of momentum thanks to the last-second win over Indiana last week. The battle in the trenches will be crucial, as South Florida’s defensive line could dominate the line of scrimmage and limit Ball State quarterback Keith Wenning and running back Jahwan Edwards.
Prediction: South Florida 34-31

Syracuse (+1) at Minnesota
Considering the line has hovered around one point all week, it’s hard to consider this an upset. However, Minnesota will likely be without quarterback MarQueis Gray, and Syracuse suffered close back-to-back losses against Northwestern and USC to open the year.
Prediction: Syracuse 31-27

Connecticut at Western Michigan (+1)
Just like Syracuse-Minnesota, it’s hard to call a one-point spread much of an upset. However, the Broncos knocked off Connecticut in Storrs last season, and a high-powered offense led by senior quarterback Alex Carder will give the Huskies all they can handle.
Prediction: Connecticut 27-24

Six Games to Avoid this Saturday

Maryland at West Virginia
At first glance, the Terrapins would seem to have a shot against the Mountaineers, especially with a defense that ranks sixth nationally against the pass. However, a deeper look into the numbers reveals Maryland has yet to play an offense with a developed passing attack. The Terrapins’ offense is averaging only 258.3 yards per game – a number West Virginia should equal at halftime.

FAU at Alabama
Talk about a coaching mismatch: Carl Pelini vs. Nick Saban.

Colorado at Washington State
If the Buffaloes continue on their current path, they could finish 2012 with the worst season by a team in a BCS conference since 1998. Colorado’s offense is averaging 19.7 points a game, while the defense is allowing 479.7 yards and 40.3 points a game. Washington State is struggling to find the right mix under new coach Mike Leach, but the Buffaloes are in for a long afternoon against the Cougars’ offense.

Idaho State at Nebraska
The Cornhuskers still have concerns about the defense, but running back Rex Burkhead is back, and Idaho State shouldn’t present much of a challenge for Bo Pelini’s team.

UAB at Ohio State
The only storyline to monitor in this game is Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller. The sophomore is averaging 19 rushing attempts per game – a number Urban Meyer and his staff would like to see decrease the rest of the year.

Kentucky at Florida
Even though the Gators are coming off of a huge road win at Tennessee, don’t expect any letdown against Kentucky. Florida has not lost to the Wildcats since 1986 and only five matchups since 1990 have been decided by 10 points or less. 


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

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Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 3

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Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 4 Preview: Match-Ups, Upset Picks and Storylines to Watch</p>
Post date: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 06:31
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-week-4
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Every Friday for entertainment purposes only, I will bring you my top college football picks against the spread. I do not condone, approve or encourage gambling on sports in any way. But if you are a fan of football — college or pro — and you don't think gambling has played a huge role in the growth and popularity of the sport, then you are simply being ignorant. And behind closed doors, the powers that be understand the impact betting has had on the game of football.

2012 Record Against The Spread: 15-10
Last Week: 5-3

I bounced back last week, despite possibly the worst pick of the season (thank you, Virginia Tech). We are going to try to keep the positive momentum rolling by adding a year Against The Spread rankings below my picks. Do with them what you may. Now, on to Week 4...

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Baylor (-7.5) at UL Monroe
The glass slipper won’t fit anymore. After using every ounce of fight to defeat Arkansas and nearly upset Auburn, Baylor catches ULM at the right time on a short week. The Bears have scored 107 points in two games and haven’t missed much of a beat since Robert Griffin III departed. Art Briles and Nick Florence have this offense rolling, so the clock should strike midnight on this mid-major Cinderella. Prediction: Baylor (-7.5)

Missouri (+10) at South Carolina
Three straight tough tests for Mizzou will prove to be too much for a team in transition. James Franklin will play but isn’t 100 percent and the same could be said for Connor Show. However, on the road in a physical contest against a massive SEC front seven? This seems like a tall order for Gary Pinkel’s bunch. Georgia’s offensive and defensive lines wore down the Tigers and eventually made the game a three-touchdown difference. Much of the same should be expected in this one. Prediction: South Carolina (-10)

Louisville (-13.5) at FIU
Where is T.Y. Hilton when you need him? Duke and UCF both defeated FIU with relative ease and the Panthers' only win thus far is a home overtime win over lowly Akron. Louisville, meanwhile is staring an unblemished 2012 record right in the face — with the added and all-important “revenge factor” after losing to FIU at home last season. Look for Teddy Bridgewater to continue his efficient play and for Charlie Strong to leave little doubt. Prediction: Louisville (-13.5)

LSU (-20.5) at Auburn
The road team in this series is normally not the pick. And Auburn has been strong at home in SEC games as the underdog (8-3 in last 11). So taking that all into consideration, there is no logical reason to pick Auburn here. The Yellowhammer Tigers are 0-3 against the spread this fall and haven't scored an offensive touchdown in SEC play in 171 minutes of action. LSU is way too strong and has a huge talent advantage at every position on the field. The embattled Auburn coaching staff will need to coach the best game of their lives to keep this one close. Auburn won’t be able to run and won’t be able to stop the run. This one will get ugly quick. Prediction: LSU (-20.5)

Miami (+14) at Georgia Tech
Tech is 3-0 against the spread this season and should stay unbeaten this weekend. Miami has been terrible on defense against FBS programs (32 points to Boston College, 52 points to Kansas State) and there is no reason to think it will slow down Tech. The Canes won a shocker last season and Paul Johnson hasn’t forgotten. He will lay the triple-option lumber on the young Miami team. Prediction: Georgia Tech (-14)

Army (+6.5) at Wake Forest
This one feels like classic market over-correction. Army was destroyed in Week 1 by San Diego State 42-7 and lost to Northern Illinois last weekend. Wake Forest was also destroyed, but by a motivated, angry, out-for-revenge Florida State team that could be in the BCS Championship game come January. The Demon Deacons have played two of the better teams in the ACC already and Jim Grobe should have his team ready to play its best game of the year thus far. Prediction: Wake Forest (-6.5)

BONUS ROUND: Road dogs I like…

Clemson (+14.5) at Florida State
The Noles are awesome on defense but the Tigers offense is first real test.

Utah (+7.5) at Arizona State
Defense is salty and Jon Hays might surprise some people with win outright.

Michigan (+5) at Notre Dame
Denard Robinson has never lost to the Irish and this game is always tight.

3-0 Against the Spread in 2012 0-3 Against The Spread in 2012
Ball State Arkansas
Fresno State Auburn
Georgia Tech Colorado
Northwestern Eastern Michigan
Purdue Houston
San Jose State Iowa
Texas Tech Miami, Ohio
Toledo Oregon
UCLA Virginia Tech
Utah State Washington St
Western Kentucky Wisconsin

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Teaser:
<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 4</p>
Post date: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 06:20
Path: /college-football/nebraska-football-are-cornhuskers-best-team-big-ten
Body:

It's early, but it's not a stretch to say the Big Ten has been one of the most disappointing conferences in college football. Michigan wasn't competitive in its season opener against Alabama, Nebraska fell on the road to UCLA, and Michigan State was dominated by Notre Dame. 

Is Nebraska the best team in the Big Ten?

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
Only if you slept through the weekend of Sept. 8 and UCLA’s 36-30 win over the Cornhuskers. The Big Ten’s not great, but not bad enough for a team with an erratic quarterback and porous run defense to win the league. I asked myself this: Where will Nebraska stand after the first weekend in November? One Big Ten loss? Two? Three? In that span, Nebraska goes to Ohio State, which may have the best team in the Big Ten despite its postseason ban. Then Nebraska faces Michigan in Lincoln and Michigan State on the road. All have good run games. Ohio State can force a turnover or two, and Michigan State, the Notre Dame loss notwithstanding, may have the best defense in the Big Ten. And I haven’t even mentioned a road trip to Northwestern, a team that beat Nebraska 28-25 in Lincoln last season. I’m not ready to make the leap for Nebraska as the league’s best team.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
No, but can I reserve the right to change my opinion? Ohio State seems like it has the best all-around combination of talent, coaching and schedule to finish the regular season with the best record. Nebraska and Michigan both have to visit the Horseshoe and trips to East Lansing and Madison don't seem as daunting today as they appeared in Week 1. Urban Meyer also has the best player in the league in quarterback Braxton Miller, who, if he survives the entire season, could be in New York come December. Nebraska is very good and could very well win the Big Ten crown against some fledgling Leaders Division place-holder, but the Buckeyes should be the best team at season's end.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
I thought Ohio State was the best team in the Big Ten going into the season, and I’ve seen nothing that makes me want to change my opinion. As long as Denard Robinson stays healthy, Michigan should push for nine or ten wins, but the offensive and defensive lines are a concern. Michigan State might have the conference’s best defense, while running back Le’Veon Bell could challenge for All-American honors. However, quarterback Andrew Maxwell has struggled and needs more time to develop a rapport with an inexperienced receiving corps. Quarterback Taylor Martinez has looked great for Nebraska, but surprisingly, the defense has question marks. I think the Cornhuskers have a great chance to win the Legends Division, but still believe Ohio State is the No. 1 team in the conference.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
I’d have to go with Ohio State as the best team in the Big Ten at this point in the season — almost by default. The Buckeyes haven’t always looked great, but they beat a solid UCF team in Week 2 and then survived a scare from California last Saturday. Ohio State doesn’t have an abundance of talent at the skill positions, but the Buckeyes will have the best player on the field in almost every game they play. Sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller is thriving under first-year coach Urban Meyer, and don’t be surprised if he makes the trip to New York in December as a Heisman finalist. Regarding Nebraska, it’s hard to proclaim a team that gave up 653 yards of offense to UCLA as the best in any league. I credit the Huskers for testing themselves on the road — something Ohio State has yet to do — but that was an alarming defensive performance in Week 2.

Mark Ross: 
Nebraska has been fairly impressive so far, but the Cornhuskers will only go as far as quarterback Taylor Martinez and running back Rex Burkhead can carry them. Burkhead has missed the last two games with a knee injury, but is expected to be back on the field perhaps as early as this week. As long as he's not limited too much by the knee, his presence only helps Martinez, who has done a much better job in the pocket and with ball security this season. For now, given the questions surrounding Michigan State's quarterback situation and struggling offense and Michigan's issues on both lines, Nebraska, if healthy, appears to have the upper hand in the Legends division.

The Leaders is entirely up for grabs mainly because of Ohio State being ineligible for postseason play. My vote for the Big Ten's best team right now would go to the Buckeyes, who are 3-0 thanks to the arm and legs of quarterback Braxton Miller and gotten just enough out of their defense thus far. Urban Meyer's squad is the most balanced team in my opinion right now, but it matters little since the Buckeyes can't play in the Big Ten title game. When is a championship game not a true title game? When the best team in the league can't play in it, and just like the Pac-12 had to go through last season with USC ineligible, that's the scenario the Big Ten appears headed for this season with Ohio State.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
I would say no after three games, but that could change in a few weeks. Ohio State has been the most impressive B1G club so far, even though tackling was an issue in the close home win over Cal. Since the Buckeyes are ineligible for the postseason, let’s look at the best team that can win the league title in Indianapolis. I would give Michigan State the slight edge (just by one of Zeke’s frisbees) over Michigan and Nebraska right now, but MSU quarterback Andrew Maxwell must show marked improvement soon. Obviously Denard Robinson is a big-time playmaker against most defenses, but the Wolverines’ struggles against the run — something the Spartans and Cornhuskers do very well — are very concerning.  Nebraska could be the team in the Legends if the defense can to start performing better for new coordinator John Papuchis. Will Compton and crew played well against Arkansas State, but I still can’t get those 653 total yards in the UCLA loss out of my head. Taylor Martinez has been a solid passer through three games, and we know that his running combined with excellent tailbacks Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah will put points on the board. If the NU defense can rise to the occasion against division opponents, the Huskers will be right there to play for the Big Ten championship.

 

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Teaser:
<p> Nebraska Football: Are the Cornhuskers the Best Team in the Big Ten?</p>
Post date: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 06:11
Path: /college-football/college-football-award-watch-post-week-3
Body:

The Heisman Trophy isn’t the only award worth watching on a weekly basis. The Lombardi, Outland, Davey O’Brien and Biletnikoff races are all worth watching and debating as the season goes along.

Throughout the season, we’ll keep an eye on all the prominent position trophies through college football in addition to the Heisman.

If you’re looking for our thoughts on that other trophy, check our weekly Heisman poll.

OFFENSIVE AWARDS
Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Our leader: Geno Smith, West Virginia
Matt Barkley failed to throw a touchdown pass for the first time in nearly two seasons in USC’s loss to Stanford, so his stock has fallen a bit. Though the competition has been light (Marshall and James Madison), Smith has enviable numbers. He’s accounted for more total touchdowns (10) than he has incomplete passes (nine). Upcoming opponents Maryland and Baylor are both ranked in the top 40 nationally in pass efficiency defense, but the the toughest test will be Texas on the road on Oct. 6.
Others: USC’s Matt Barkley, Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, ULM’s Kolton Browning, QB Teddy Bridgewater

Doak Walker (Top running back)
Our leader: Johnathan Franklin, UCLA
Franklin rushed for merely 110 yards after topping 200 in each of the first two games. He’s still the nation’s leading rusher, though, at 180.3 yards per game. Beyond his success on the ground, he’s topped 50 receiving yards in the last two games. This week, UCLA faces Oregon State, which held Wisconsin’s Montee Ball to 61 rushing yards in the Beavers’ opener.
Others: Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas, Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor, South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore, Fresno State’s Robbie Rouse

Biletnikoff Award (Top wide receiver)
Our leader: Marqise Lee, USC
Barkley’s stock dropped after the Stanford loss, but Lee continued to produced like the top receiver in the nation with eight catches for 100 yards. Those would be season bests for many wideouts, but Lee’s eight catches were the fewest in the last four games. Despite USC’s failed final possession, Lee delivered a great catch on a fourth-and-5, keeping one foot in bounds for an 18-yard reception.
Others: USC’s Robert Woods, West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin

Mackey Award (Top tight end)
Our leader: Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Washington
Sefarian-Jenkins has arguably been the most consistent tight end in the country whether facing Portland State or LSU. He’s had at least five catches and 50 yards in each game this season. With 20 catches this season, he’s nearly halfway to his reception total last season (41).
Others: Arkansas’ Chris Gragg, Arizona State’s Chris Coyle

Outland Trophy (Top interior lineman)
Our leader: Barrett Jones, Alabama
Alabama continues its dominating play up front with Jones leading the way at center. Against Arkansas, the Tide rushed for 225 yards, averaged five yards per carry and scored six touchdowns on the ground. That gives Alabama two games against power conference teams in which the Tide topped 40 carries, rushed for at least 200 yards and averaged five yards per carry.
Others: Syracuse’s Justin Pugh, Virginia’s Oday Aboushi, Utah’s Star Lotulelei

Rimington Trophy (Top center)
Our leader: Alabama’s Jones
Others: Clemson’s Dalton Freeman

 

 


DEFENSIVE AWARDS
Bednarik Award/Nagurski Award (Defensive Player of the Year)
Our leader: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
After a week of grieving the loss of his girlfriend and grandmother, Te’o had one of the best games of his career against Michigan State, recording a season-high 12 tackles with a tackle for a loss a fumble recovery and a pass breakup. Moreover, Notre Dame limited running back Le’Veon Bell to 77 yards.
Others: Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Alabama’s Dee Milliner, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Mississippi State’s Johnathan Banks

Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)
Our leader: Te’o, Notre Dame
Others: Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Stanford’s Ben Gardner, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Maryland’s Joe Vellano, UCLA’s Datone Jones, BYU’s Kyle Van Noy

Butkus Award (Top linebacker)
Our leader: Te’o, Notre Dame
Others: Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Kansas State’s Arthur Brown, Connecticut’s Yawin Smallwood, Iowa State’s Jake Knott. Alabama’s C.J. Mosely

Thorpe Award (Top defensive back)
Our leader: Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Troy avoided Banks last week after watching Mississippi State’s cornerback intercept Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier a week earlier. The Trojans, instead, fed into fellow cornerback Darius Slay, who intercepted Troy twice last week. Others: Alabama’s Dee Milliner, Texas’ Kenny Vacarro, Texas’ Quandre Diggs, Stanford’s Jordan Richards, Rutgers’ Brandon Jones


SPECIAL TEAMS AWARDS
Groza Award (Top kicker)

Our leader: Caleb Sturgis, Florida
Sturgis hit two short field goals against Tennessee before capping Florida’s second-half surge with a 49-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Sturgis is 7 of 8 this season with two field goals of longer than 50 yards.
Others: Iowa’s Mike Meyer, Northwestern’s Jeff Budzien, UTSA’s Sean Ianno

Ray Guy Award (Top punter)
Our leader: Brad Wing, LSU
LSU has not needed Wing to control field position in a tightly contested game yet, but Les Miles knows he’s ready. Wing averaged 45.2 yards per kick last week against Idaho and has averaged 48.6 yards per punt on a team that ranks fifth nationally in net punting.
Others: Sean Sellwood, Utah, Michigan’s Will Hagerup, Texas A&M’s Ryan Epperson


OTHER NATIONAL AWARDS
Freshman of the Year
Our leader: Duke Johnson, Miami
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley threw two interceptions last week, so our attention turns to Duke Johnson. The Miami running back accounted for four touchdowns against Bethune-Cookman with two touchdown runs, a touchdown catch and a score on a kickoff return. He’s one of four players with at least one touchdown run, catch and return this season. He and North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard are the only players to deliver all three in one game.
Others: UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon

Coach of the Year
Our leader: Jim L. Mora, UCLA
Though sloppy at times (five turnovers last week against Houston), UCLA has shown it will make the Pac-12 race interesting. The Bruins may not face a ranked team until the final month of the season.
Others: Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly, Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, Stanford’s David Shaw

by David Fox

@davidfox615


Teaser:
<p> College Football Award Watch: Post-Week 3</p>
Post date: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-what-biggest-concern-kentucky-indiana-louisville
Body:

It's shaping up to be a big year of basketball in Kentuckiana: Indiana, Kentucky and Louisville will be in the top national three of the Athlon Sports 2012-13 College Basketball annual when it hits newsstands in late September.

None of these teams is without its flaws, whether it's youth, experience or a deficiency somewhere on the court. We asked our members of our editorial staff for their thoughts on what might hold these teams back from achieving their goals.

The Athlon Sports' top three includes Indiana, Kentucky and Louisville. What is the biggest Achilles' heel for any of these three teams to reach the Final Four?

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch)
This is the easy answer, but I believe it's the inexperience at Kentucky. In each of his three previous seasons at Kentucky, John Calipari has stocked his roster with freshmen who were prepared to make significant contributions. This year's class is as highly regarded as the other three, but we just won't know how good this crop is until we see them in action. We are told that Nerlens Noel might even be a better shot-blocker than Anthony Davis, but will he be able to contribute as much on the offensive end and will he be able to stay out of foul trouble like Davis? Archie Goodwin appears to be a ready-made 2-guard, but can he replace the intangibles that guys like Darius Miller and Doron Lamb brought to the team. Calipari has raved about forward Alex Poythress, but the freshman from Tennessee must demonstrate that he can get the job done on a consistent basis. The Wildcats do have experience at the point in sophomore Ryan Harrow, but the transfer from NC State must prove that he can handle the demands Calipari places on his lead guard. Then there is the issue of chemistry: Can this group show the cohesiveness that is needed to win a title? Last year's Kentucky did. Some have said Cal's first UK team didn't. This is something that must evolve as the season progresses.

Nathan Rush
Once again, John Calipari has reloaded at Kentucky with an incoming recruiting class of five-star, blue-chip NBA prospects. That's nothing new. Anyone who doubts whether or not Coach Cal will succeed with his new group is either a Calipari hater or someone who hasn't been watching the mad scientist work his magic with team chemistry. In his three seasons at UK, Calipari has a national championship, another trip to the Final Four and a "disappointing" Elite Eight run with what were essentially three different rosters. But this year, Cal's top recruit (shockingly, the No. 1-ranked player in the nation), Nerlens Noel, has been hounded by the NCAA regarding his eligibility. If the 6'10" shot-blocker with the high-top fade is unable to play, the Wildcats would take a significant step backwards defensively and might even slide out of Final Four contention.

David Fox (@DavidFox615)
Perhaps the biggest barrier for any of these three teams is the streakiness at Louisville. It’s easy to over-inflate success in the NCAA Tournament, and perhaps we’re doing this with the Cardinals. Before the Big East Tournament, Louisville was 22-9 overall and 10-8 in the conference. This was a team that lost 90-59 at Providence, that went to overtime with DePaul. Louisville returns a ton of talent, including Peyton Siva, who was a changed point guard in the postseason. The frontcourt should be one of the best in the league. But this was also one of the worst 3-point shooting teams Rick Pitino has had. And for whatever reason, the Cardinals have struggled to avoid injuries the last two years. That’s a major concern for Louisville in 2012-13. And since no one else has mentioned this yet, I’ll throw Indiana’s road record as a potential concern: The Hoosiers were 3-6 on the road in the Big Ten last season.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
Kentucky’s yearly inexperience is probably the easiest answer here, but the Wildcats will have the best talent in the nation as long as John Calipari is in Lexington and World Wide Wes is part of the famous ‘Blue Mist.’ I’m more concerned with Louisville’s ability to score points against a tough matchup in the Sweet 16 or Elite Eight. Rick Pitino’s bunch had an amazing offensive run to beat Florida in last year’s regional final, but his Cardinals may not be able to repeat that feat in a difficult one-game setting. Over the course of the season, Pitino’s stifling defense will be enough to give Louisville a great shot at taking the Big East and winning 30 games once again. But to get back to the Final Four, the Cardinals will need to find more offense while having to replace top 3-point shooters Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith.

@AthlonSports

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Teaser:
<p> College basketball: What is the biggest concern for Kentucky, Indiana, Louisville?</p>
Post date: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 05:50
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-football-are-fighting-irish-national-title-contender
Body:

Notre Dame is 3-0 and ranked among the top 15 teams in the nation. After a win at Michigan State, the Irish are in position to make a run at a BCS bid. However, can the Irish start to think about a national title berth? A tough schedule that features games against Oklahoma, USC and Stanford will test this team, but does Notre Dame have the personnel to go 12-0?

Is Notre Dame a National Title Contender?

Coach Bill Mallory, former head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I’ve got a son a Curt Mallory who is the secondary coach at Michigan. He feels they’re definitely improved from last year. And I’ve been watching them get better, too. They’ve been very good on defense. They’re more sound. They’re better balanced with the run and the pass. It’s more complete. They’re better against the run and the pass. I see more maturity there. To me it looks like a sounder defense. That was very evident last week. They really shut Michigan State down. Going into the season, we [the Legends Poll] felt Michigan State was the best team in the Big Ten. I would rank Notre Dame now around 15th in the country. I don’t feel that strong about being a top 10 team. They’re going with the young quarterback. That offense will get better as the season goes along. It’s a team that has to be watched. I’d think they have makings of being a very good football.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
A BCS contender, maybe. A national championship contender, not yet. Don’t get me wrong, the Michigan State win was a notable feat -- no turnovers against that defense, holding the Spartans to a field goal on the road. But we still don’t know how Notre Dame will fare against an elite passer, not when the Irish has faced Caleb TerBush and Andrew Maxwell. Road trips to face Landry Jones and Matt Barkley are on a brutal schedule. The Michigan State win is to be applauded for sure, but it’s going to be tough to win many games if Notre Dame continues to convert only 1 of 14 third downs. There’s reason to be optimistic, but not enough to start feeling confident about a big bowl game, much less a national title.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
No, Notre Dame isn't a national title contender. At least, no yet. Quarterback play has been this team's undoing for years and I am not sure Brian Kelly has plugged that leak entirely. I'm a huge fan of Everett Golson and think he has a chance to be a perfect fit for Kelly's spread offense, but he will make a couple of key mistakes along the way because that is what freshman do. The defense is downright nasty and few teams will be able to run the ball against them, which gives ND an intriguing Xs and Os match-up against, say, an SEC champ. Or Oregon. But the schedule seems too difficult for the Irish to finish the season unblemished — something they would likely have to do to be in the national title game. Is Notre Dame back, however? It certainly seems that way.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
I don’t think Notre Dame is ready to challenge for a national title this season, but it can certainly make a BCS bowl. The Fighting Irish are clearly headed in the right direction, spearheaded by a defense that has allowed just 30 points through three games and is generating 3.7 sacks a game. Redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson will only get better with more playing time, especially as some of the young receivers in the program (DaVaris Daniels, Davonte’ Neal and Chris Brown) have a chance to pickup Brian Kelly’s system. While the early results for Notre Dame are promising, a schedule that features games against Michigan, Stanford, Oklahoma and USC is simply too much to navigate for a national title this year. However, Kelly is the right coach and will have the Irish in the mix for an at-large BCS bid this year.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
No. The Fighting Irish are better than they were a year ago and are showing signs of returning to elite status, but I’m not ready to put them in national championship race. This team is still limited offensively — though Everett Golson is showing a lot of positive signs at quarterback — and the secondary will be an issue when Notre Dame meets a team with a legitimate passing attack. You have to be impressed with the Irish’s performance at Michigan State on Saturday night, but they are not quite ready to beat teams like Alabama, LSU or Oregon.

Mark Ross: 
As long as the Fighting Irish keep winning, they will be in the discussion as a national title contender. Because of its schedule, Notre Dame is in the best position of any non-BCS conference school to crash the party, if you will, and steal a spot in the national championship game from an ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 or SEC school, although it will be difficult. That said, Notre Dame will certainly get plenty of opportunities to state its case. Starting with this Saturday's tilt with Michigan, Notre Dame has games remaining against teams from every BCS conference with the exception of the SEC. Besides the Wolverines, these games include road games at Oklahoma and USC, along with a home date against Stanford. Those are four opportunities at signature victories that the Irish must capitalize on if they want to remain in the discussion. If they can come up big when the spotlight is on, such as they did in beating Michigan State in East Lansing last Saturday night, both the voters and computers will have to give Brian Kelly's team its due. The onus, however, is also on the Fighting Irish, who can't afford any slip ups against its other remaining opponents, which include Miami (Fla.), Brigham Young and Pittsburgh. One of the unique things about college football, at least until the new playoff system starts in 2014, is that the regular season really does matter as it's No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the end. That's even more true for Notre Dame as the Irish don't have a conference championship game to support its win total or body of work when it comes to the BCS standings. If Notre Dame runs the table and finishes 12-0, I think it will be very difficult, but not impossible by any means as we have seen, to not present the Irish with a shot at their 14th national title.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
I do not see Notre Dame as part of the BCS title conversation yet, but Brian Kelly does have the Fighting Irish program headed back towards elite status. The ND schedule still has many tough opponents, but Bob Diaco’s defense should keep the Irish in most games. However to put Notre Dame in the national championship hunt, I will need to see a little more explosiveness on offense and the secondary hold up against a solid passing attack. Redshirt freshman Everett Golson seems to be the answer at quarterback, but there is immense room for growth with both him and the receivers. Oklahoma and USC will challenge ND’s inexperienced corners, and the loss of senior safety Jamoris Slaughter is significant. Michigan and Stanford will also be challenging, but Notre Dame fans should be pleased with the current momentum after dominating Michigan State.

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Teaser:
<p> Notre Dame Football: Are the Fighting Irish a National Title Contender?</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 13:11
All taxonomy terms: Fred Couples, Golf
Path: /golf/fred-couples-elected-world-golf-hall-fame
Body:

Fred Couples has been elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame, having met the minimum criteria for enshrinement — at least 40 years old, PGA Tour member for at least 10 years, 10 PGA Tour wins and/or two majors or Players Championship wins. A debate has since erupted on Twitter and elsewhere over Couples' Hall worthiness. It's a complicated case.

In my mind, one word describes Couples' approach to the game better than any other: effortless. Couples' relaxed, looping swing is a picture of effortless grace, generating maximum clubhead speed with mimimum exertion. Couples was hitting 300-yard drives long before juiced balls and spring-loaded drivers made that stat far less meaningful, and his swing is such an efficient and reliable motion that he's still a competitive player in his golden years. Since turning 50, Couples has finished 6th, T15 and T12 at The Masters, and it wouldn't be a shock to see him contend at Augusta into his 60s.

But you could also argue that a lack of effort prevented Couples from ascending to the golf pantheon. He's never seemed to put enough work into his game to get the requisite results for a player of his skill, relying instead on pure talent. That talent carried him to 15 PGA Tour wins and the 1992 Masters, but there's this nagging feeling that a less lackadaisical approach to the game might have yielded a truly historic career. Part of Freddie's seeming reluctance to put in the necessary work can be blamed on his body; a balky back has plagued him for much of his career. But it's undeniable that he's been something of an underachiever.

Even his election requires something of an asterisk. Couples received only 51 percent of the vote, and the minimum is normally 65 percent. But when no one reaches that threshhold, the leading vote-getter is elected provided he has at least 50 percent of the vote. In what some would say is typical Couples fashion, he limps over the finish line having done the minimum.

So Freddie is in. But does he deserve to be? Let's look at the case for and against:

The Case for Couples
• 15 PGA Tour wins, 8 Champions Tour wins.

• 1992 Masters Champion.

• Two-time winner of the Players Championship.

• Two-time major winner on the Champions Tour.

• PGA Tour Player of the Year and Vardon Trophy winner in 1991, 1992.

• 5-time Ryder Cup team member (record: 7-9-4).

• 5-time Presidents Cup team member; captain of the winning 2009 U.S. Presidents Cup team.

• Spent 16 weeks as the No. 1 player in the World Golf Ranking.

• 8 top-3 finishes in majors; 26 top-10 finishes.

• He has a better career record than some players who have already been enshrined — guys like Chi Chi Rodriguez, who won only eight PGA Tour events, but like Freddie, was a pied piper for the game's casual fans.

The Case Against Couples
• He has a lesser record than other players who remain unenshrined: Mark O'Meara (16 wins, two majors), Davis Love III (20 wins, 1 major), Tom Weiskopf (16 wins, 1 major).

• His results at times have veered beyond underachievement and into outright choking. Even his 1992 Masters win required an amazing stroke of good luck — his ball hanging on the bank at No. 12 on Sunday instead of trickling into Rae's Creek.

• He's only really harnessed his talent for short bursts — five of his 15 wins came in a 10-month period in 1992-93. Essentially, he's done less with more than many of his Hall of Fame peers. Nicklaus and Palmer, Ballesteros and Trevino — those guys were grinders. Couples has coasted.

My Take
Couples is on golf's Mount Rushmore of talent, and his personal charisma has made him one of the most popular players in the game's history. He's been relevant for more than three decades, with plenty more in the tank. Unlike other Halls of Fame, the World Golf Hall of Fame retains some latitude in its selection process, making concepts like "fame" and "popularity" relevant criteria, and on those counts, Couples has few peers.

Yes, he's underachieved, but it's impossible to tell the story of the game in the modern era without mentioning his name. Freddie belongs in the Hall.

— by Rob Doster
Follow on Twitter @AthlonDoster

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 12:58
All taxonomy terms: Penn State Nittany Lions, Big Ten, News
Path: /news/penn-state-football-new-billboard-shows-support-joe-paterno
Body:

The Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State is one of the worst in NCAA history. Although Sandusky's trial is over, and the Nittany Lions have learned their fate from the NCAA, this story won't be going away anytime soon.

Former coach Joe Paterno has been the subject of criticism since the allegations came to the surface. However, he still has plenty of of support in State College. 

This billboard recently popped up in State College, pledging support for the former coach amid the NCAA sanctions and allegations since they broke last season.

Here's a look at the billboard, tweeted by @OnwardState

Teaser:
<p> Penn State Football: New Billboard Shows Support for Joe Paterno</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 12:35
Path: /nfl/new-york-giants-injury-update-ahmad-bradshaw-and-hakeem-nicks-both-out
Body:

The New York Giants’ offense will look quite different on the field tonight against the Carolina Panthers as starting wide receiver Hakeem Nicks and running back Ahmad Bradshaw will both be out due to injury.

Nicks will be sidelined due to a foot injury, while Bradshaw will not play because of a neck injury he sustained in last week’s game against Tampa Bay. In addition, wide receiver Domenik Hixon, who is the Giants’ regular No. 3 wide receiver, is also out due to a concussion.

With all these injuries, several Giants will have the opportunity to step up and be a difference-maker tonight, although the greatest opportunity in terms of fantasy relevance belongs to that of Andre Brown.

Brown, the fourth-year running back out of North Carolina State, has already shown what he’s capable of as he had 71 yards rushing on 13 carries (5.5 ypc) against the Buccaneers last week after Bradshaw left the game. He also caught two passes for 19 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown, a two-yard plunge into the end zone with just 31 seconds remaining.

Brown will get the start tonight in Carolina and should receive the lion’s share of carries. The Panthers enter tonight’s game ranked 28th in the NFL in rushing defense, as they have given up an average of 146.5 yards per game, not to mention 4.7 yards per carry, to their first two opponents — Washington and New Orleans.

This combination of opportunity and opponent makes Brown an appealing RB2 fantasy option this week, as evidenced by our own Week 3 running back rankings. The only reason he’s not ranked higher is due to the fact he’s still a relatively unknown commodity. That may very well change after tonight, but regardless, he’s certainly worth taking a flyer on, depending on your other options.

Brown’s present position is where many pundits and prognosticators thought rookie David Wilson would be in before the season started. However, since Wilson fumbled early in his first NFL game he has seen very few touches on offense. That could change tonight as Bradshaw’s absence moves Wilson into the No. 2 spot in the backfield.

There’s a reason the Giants took Wilson in the first round of April’s draft, and they are well aware of the speed and play-making ability he brings to the field, as he’s averaging more than 26 yards on kickoff returns. Now it’s up to Wilson to show that he can do things to help the offense, starting with holding onto the football.

For now, Wilson is fantasy irrelevant, but that could change depending on how many chances he gets tonight and what he does with those opportunities. He certainly is worth keeping an eye on, especially in deeper and keeper leagues.

With both Nicks and Hixon out, Ramses Barden and Rueben Randle both move up the depth chart. Barden will get the start opposite of Victor Cruz, and unless the Giants dramatically change their game plan, Randle, the Giants’ second-round pick from LSU, should see plenty of snaps in their three-wide sets as well. Even with the playing time and opportunities both could see, I am nowhere near as optimistic regarding their fantasy value compared to the running backs.

First, Barden has one catch on two targets through the first two games. Now that one catch did go for 24 yards, but contrast that to Nicks, who has 21 targets in two games. The point is this, unlike running back, where you just have to receive the hand off to get the ball; chemistry plays a much bigger role when it comes to a quarterback and his wide receivers. I’m just not so sure that Eli Manning will “trust” Barden, or Randle for that matter, as much as he does Nicks.

If anything, Cruz (who leads the team with 28 targets) and tight end Martellus Bennett (third with 16) should see even more passese thrown their way than they usually do. Cruz remains a top wide receiver option this week, while Bennett also enters must-start territory at his position, for this week anyways.

As far as Barden and Randle go, Barden is the better fantasy option between the two, but even then it’s really only as a flex option in deeper leagues. To that end, our wide receiver rankings have Barden at No. 54 with Randle just making the cut at No. 64.

Another way to look at it is this. Before the news came down late Wednesday about Nicks being declared out for tonight’s game, Manning was ranked No. 3 among quarterbacks for Week 3. In the aftermath of this development, Manning was moved down to No. 7, just behind Tony Romo and one spot ahead of Robert Griffin III.

The adjusted ranking shows we still have plenty of faith in Manning, who’s coming off of a 500-yard, three-touchdown (also 3 INTs) effort against Tampa Bay, but our expectations have been somewhat lowered now that we know Nicks won’t be out there to haul in his passes. After all, it’s not easy to replace someone, either on the field on on your fantasy roster, who’s 6-1, 208 and currently averaging nearly 17 yards per reception.

— By Mark Ross, published on Sept. 20, 2012

Related:

2012 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings: Week 3

Teaser:
<p> New York Giants Injury Update: Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks Both Out</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 10:44
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-10-key-games-week-4-0
Body:

College football’s fourth week of action features a huge showdown in the ACC Coastal Division, a big matchup in South Bend between Michigan and surging Notre Dame and key battle in the Big 12 between Kansas State and Oklahoma.

Clemson (+14) at Florida State
The schedule has been ridiculously easy, but perhaps no team in the history of college football has been as statistically dominant as Florida State three games into the season. The Seminoles have defeated their three opponents — Murray State, Savannah State and Wake Forest — by a combined score of 176–3 and have outgained the opposition by an average of 440.4 yards per game. Now, however, comes the first true test of the season. Clemson, also 3–0, is loaded with playmakers who will challenge the stout Florida State defense. The Tigers boast star power at quarterback (Tajh Boyd), running back (Andre Ellington) and wide receiver (Sammy Watkins). Last year, Clemson beat Florida State 35–30 in a game that featured two 300-yard passers (Boyd and Clint Trickett) and no 100-yard rushers. Establishing the running game will be key for both teams. 
Florida State 34, Clemson 24

Michigan (+6) at Notre Dame
Brian Kelly has a reputation as one of the finest offensive coaches in college football, but his Notre Dame Fighting Irish are getting it done this season on defense. The Irish manhandled Michigan State 20–3 in East Lansing Saturday night and have now allowed a total of 30 points in three games. The defensive front, which lost its best player in the spring when Aaron Lynch transferred to South Florida, was effective against both the pass and the run. This week, Notre Dame faces a dynamic offensive attack led by unconventional quarterback Denard Robinson. Last year, he threw for 338 yards and rushed for 108 in Michigan’s thrilling 35–31 win in Ann Arbor. Obviously, the Irish must do a better job controlling Robinson this time around. If you can take away his ability to run — which is easier said than done unless you are Alabama — you can limit the Michigan offense. 
Notre Dame 24, Michigan 21

Kansas State (+14) at Oklahoma
It’s rare when a 10-win college football team gets outgained by 450 yards in one of its losses. That’s what happened when Kansas State, 7–0 at the time, hosted Oklahoma last October: The Sooners outgained the Cats 690-to-240 en route to a 58–17 win. Kansas State is once again undefeated, with all three wins coming at home by at least 14 points. It has to be a bit of a concern, however, that North Texas was able to score 21 points and pick up 353 yards of offense in last week’s game. The Oklahoma offense isn’t quite as potent as it was when these teams met last season, but the Sooners are still capable of scoring a bunch of points.
Oklahoma 36, Kansas State 21

Arizona (+23.5) at Oregon
The Rich Rodriguez era is off to a great start in Tucson. The Wildcats are 3–0 and playing an exciting brand of football. After struggling a bit to beat Toledo in the opener — the Cats won 24–17 in overtime — Arizona pounded defending Big 12 champ Oklahoma State 59–38 and then rolled past FCS foe South Carolina State 56–0. Now the real fun begins: A trip to Eugene to face an Oregon team with legitimate national title hopes. The Ducks have found their next great quarterback (redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota) and feature elite talent at the running back position. The Arizona defense has already faced two quality offensive teams (Toledo and Oklahoma State), but there is nothing quite like playing the mighty Ducks at cozy Autzen Stadium. 
Oregon 48, Arizona 23

Missouri (+10) at South Carolina
It’s the Battle of Columbia as Missouri and South Carolina meet for the first time ever as members of the SEC. It’s also the battle of the injured quarterbacks. South Carolina’s Connor Shaw returned to the starting lineup after sitting out last week’s game vs. East Carolina, but he had to leave the game in the second quarter after taking a big hit to his shoulder. Missouri’s James Franklin is also nursing an injured shoulder. He did not play in the Tigers’ win vs. Arizona State and is questionable for Saturday. Missouri obviously stands a better chance to win the game with Franklin at quarterback, but a big key for the Tigers will be the play of their makeshift offensive line. This group had trouble with Georgia’s defensive front in the loss two weeks ago. South Carolina’s defensive line, led by ends Jadeveon Clowney and Devin Taylor, presents a huge challenge.
South Carolina 21, Missouri 17

Oregon State (+8) at UCLA
UCLA’s hot start doesn’t seem to be getting enough attention on the national scene. The Bruins, 3–0 under new coach Jim Mora, are averaging 40.7 points and 622.0 yards per game. And those numbers aren’t simply a product of a soft schedule; the Bruins rolled up 653 yards — including 300-plus through the air and on the ground — in a Week 2 win over Nebraska. Brett Hundley, a redshirt freshman, has been terrific at quarterback, and the Bruins are getting great production from tailback Johnathan Franklin, the nation’s leading rusher. The sample size — only one game — has been much smaller for Oregon State, but the Beavers have also been a surprise. They opened the season two weeks ago with a 10–7 win over Wisconsin at home. The Badgers clearly aren’t as good as we expected, but this is still a good win for a program that has suffered through two straight losing seasons.
UCLA 34–21

Rutgers at Arkansas
In one of the low points in Arkansas football history, the Razorbacks put up little fight in a 52–0 loss to Alabama. The Hogs, playing without quarterback Tyler Wilson, managed only 137 yards of offense and averaged a paltry 2.2 yards per snap. (Last year, in a 38–14 loss to the Tide in Tuscaloosa, Arkansas averaged 3.9 yards per play.) Rutgers isn’t Alabama, but the Scarlet Knights are pretty nasty on defense. They ranked eighth in the nation in scoring defense and 14th in total defense in 2011 and have continued their strong play early in the ’12 season. Kyle Flood’s team has also experienced success on the road with wins at Tulane (24–12) and South Florida (23–13). Arkansas is hoping to have Wilson back at quarterback — and they need him. Last week, Brandon Allen and Brandon Mitchell combined to complete 11-of-25 attempts for 79 yards. If Wilson plays, the pick is Arkansas. If he doesn’t, flip a coin.
Arkansas 28, Rutgers 24

Vanderbilt (+15.5) at Georgia
Vanderbilt quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels will be making his first start against an SEC opponent. Carta-Samuels has played against quality competition — he faced Texas and BYU twice as well as Boise State, Colorado, Utah and TCU once during his two years at Wyoming — but this Georgia defense will present an enormous challenge. Last year, the Commodores threw for 149 yards vs. Georgia in a 33–28 loss in Nashville, but 78 of those yards (and the only passing TD) came via trick plays — a 43-yard throw by running back Zac Stacy and a 35-yard toss by punter Ryan Fowler on a fake. Vanderbilt’s two quarterbacks, Larry Smith and Jordan Rodgers, combined to complete only 9-of-29 passes for 71 yards with three interceptions. Carta-Samuels will have to play extremely well to give Vanderbilt a chance for the upset.
Georgia 28, Vanderbilt 10

Syracuse (-2) at Minnesota
Minnesota is favored vs. an AQ conference team for the first time since the 2009 Insight Bowl vs. Iowa State. The Gophers are 3–0, but it’s a rather soft 3–0. Their two wins against FBS teams are by three in triple OT at UNLV and by five at home vs. Western Michigan. Quarterback MarQueis Gray isn’t expected to start due to a sprained ankle, but that might not be a bad thing. Sophomore Max Shortell has played well in relief, combining to complete 15-of-23 passes for 250 yards and four touchdowns. Syracuse is 1–2 and looked much better in its two losses (by one to Northwestern and 13 to USC) than its win (by 11 over Stony Brook). Ryan Nassib has been terrific for the Orange, averaging 379.7 yards passing with nine touchdowns and three interceptions. Syracuse ranked 90th in the nation in total offense last year with 348.2 yards per game. The Orange rank 15th through three games this season with 533.3 per game. This could be a shootout. Take the Orange at the other dome.
Syracuse 42, Minnesota 39

Utah (+7) at Arizona State
Give Utah a ton of credit. The Utes bounced back from a disappointing overtime loss at Utah State to beat hated rival BYU in the Holy War. And they did so without their projected starting quarterback (Jordan Wynn retired from football after suffering a shoulder injury vs. Utah State) and All-Pac-12 running back John White (injured). Arizona State is coming off its first loss of the season, a 24–20 setback in Columbia to a Missouri team playing without its starting quarterback (James Franklin). The Sun Devils had two chances to take the lead in the final minutes but had two drives deep in Mizzou territory end without points. We still don’t know too much about Arizona State. The Devils have played two AQ conference teams that didn’t have their No. 1 quarterback; they pounded Illinois at home and lost to Missouri on the road. We’ll know more after this weekend.
Arizona State 27, Utah 17

Last week: 6–4 overall (5–5 against the spread)
Season: 21–9 overall (16–14 against the spread)
 

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> College football’s fourth week of action features a huge showdown in the ACC Coastal Division, a big matchup in South Bend between Michigan and surging Notre Dame and key battle in the Big 12 between Kansas State and Oklahoma.</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 08:00
Path: /nfl/new-york-giants-vs-carolina-panthers-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Two NFC teams will be looking to sustain their Week 2 momentum when the Carolina Panthers host the New York Giants tonight at 8:20pm EST on the NFL Network. The defending champions lost to the Cowboys in the season-opener and were down two touchdowns against the Buccaneers, but then Eli Manning rallied the G-men for 25 fourth-quarter points and a victory. The Panthers had a rough showing at Tampa Bay in Week 1, but then bounced back at home with a 35-27 victory over the Saints last Sunday. This quarterback matchup is a special one, with former top picks Manning and Cam Newton trying to lead their respective squads to a 2-1 start.

When the New York Giants have the ball:
Who is going to play? The quick turnaround this week is not doing the Giants any favors, as star wideout Hakeem Nicks, running back Ahmad Bradshaw, right tackle David Diehl and backup receiver Domenik Hixon are out for this game. Manning will still have Victor Cruz and tight end Martellus Bennett as top targets, but New York’s depth will be tested. Many football pundits believed first-round pick David Wilson would back up Bradshaw this season, but fourth-year journeyman Andre Brown got the call against the Bucs and gained 71 yards on 13 carries.

The Panthers defense gave up 325 passing yards to Drew Brees last week, but also intercepted him twice. That will be the goal against Manning, who threw three picks last week before rallying his team with 295 second-half passing yards. The Panthers gave up 163 yards on the ground last week, and that number must decrease tonight with both Bradshaw and Diehl out. Expect Cruz to get the most attention from the Carolina defenders.

When the Carolina Panthers have the ball:
We know it all starts with Newton, who has thrown for 556 yards in two games and leads the club in rushing. He should find success tonight attacking the Giants secondary. Top receiver Steve Smith has two 100-yard efforts on the year, and Carolina fans have to be excited by the continued production of Brandon LaFell (155 yards and a score in 2012). If the Panthers can mix in some production from runners DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, they should score plenty of points against New York.

The Giants defense has been fairly pedestrian so far, giving up a ton of yards in the Cowboys loss and several big pass plays versus Tampa Bay. Newton definitely presents a challenge with his run threat, as well as a big arm. New York could load the box to try and stop the Carolina run game (219 yards in last week’s win over the Saints), but the banged-up Giants secondary could struggle without support. The Panthers receiving tandem of Smith and LaFell consistently puts up solid numbers, so New York will need improved play on the back end.

Key Factor:
This primetime contest should come down to turnovers and the run game. Manning and Newton have thrown some early picks this season, but both quarterbacks should have big nights through the air. The team that protects the ball and gets a little help from the ground game should prevail. In a Thursday night thriller, I’ll take Carolina at home over an ailing New York team.

Prediction:
Panthers 27 Giants 24


---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 

Teaser:
<p> New York Giants vs. Carolina Panthers Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 06:25
Path: /college-football/sec-week-4-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Week 4 action in the SEC is highlighted by the Battle of Columbia, Vanderbilt's trip to face Georgia and LSU's visit to Auburn.

Other Week 4 Previews and Predictions

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

SEC Top Storylines to Watch in Week 4:

1. Todd Grantham vs. the Vanderbilt coaching staff
This is not a creation of the media: There is legitimately bad blood between the Vanderbilt coaching staff and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Last year’s game, won by Georgia 33–28 in Nashville, ended with Grantham and Commodore head coach James Franklin jawing near midfield before being separated by a Vanderbilt police officer. The Vanderbilt staff thought that some Georgia players, specifically safety Shawn Williams, were a bit too chippy during and immediately following the game. Grantham didn’t appreciate Franklin talking to his players on the field. Fortunately, no punches were thrown, but there is no denying this was a heated exchange.

Both parties are saying all the right things — Franklin recently joked that his family vacationed with the Granthams during the offseason — but there is no doubt there is some lingering animosity.

2. Austyn Carta-Samuels vs. the Georgia defense
Grantham’s defense will be facing a quarterback, junior Austyn Carta-Samuels, making his first start against an SEC opponent. Carta-Samuels has played against quality competition — he faced Texas and BYU twice as well as Boise State, Colorado, Utah and TCU once during his two years at Wyoming — but this Georgia defense will present an enormous challenge. Last year, the Commodores threw for 149 yards vs. Georgia, but 78 of those yards (and the only passing TD) came via trick plays — a 43-yard throw by running back Zac Stacy and a 35-yard toss by punter Ryan Fowler on a fake. Vanderbilt’s two quarterbacks, Larry Smith and Jordan Rodgers, combined to complete only 9-of-29 passes for 71 yards with three interceptions. Carta-Samuels will have to play extremely well to give Vanderbilt a chance for the upset.

3. Can Arkansas beat an FBS opponent?
Arkansas was touted by some as a legitimate national championship contender during the offseason. Now, the Hogs are simply hoping to win a game. The Razorbacks are 0–2 vs. FBS competition, with a loss to UL Monroe in overtime and a 52–0 debacle against Alabama last Saturday. The good news is that Tyler Wilson likely will be back at quarterback after missing the Bama game with a concussion. The bad news is that Wilson can’t help a defense that is allowing 436.7 yards per game. The Hogs’ issues on defense will put pressure on the offense to score a bunch of points in virtually every game. And that could be a problem on Saturday. Rutgers isn’t Alabama, but the Scarlet Knights are pretty nasty on defense. They ranked eighth in the nation in scoring defense and 14th in total defense in 2011 and have continued their strong play early in the ’12 season. Kyle Flood’s team has also experienced success on the road with wins at Tulane (24–12) and South Florida (23–13). This will be a significant test for Arkansas.

4. The Battle of Columbia
South Carolina and Missouri meet for the first time ever as members of the SEC. All things equal, you probably have to give South Carolina the edge due to the location of the game (Columbia, S.C.) and the Gamecocks’ advantage on defense. But all things might not be equal. Both quarterbacks are nursing injuries. South Carolina’s Connor Shaw returned to the starting lineup after sitting out last week’s game vs. East Carolina, but he had to leave the game in the second quarter after taking a big hit to his shoulder. Shaw will get the start on Saturday, but he has yet to complete a game this season. Missouri’s James Franklin is also nursing an injured shoulder. He did not play in the Tigers’ win vs. Arizona State but is expected back on Saturday. South Carolina is better suited at this point to win with its No. 2 quarterback in the game. After struggling in a brief appearance in the opener against Vanderbilt, Dylan Thompson has been solid in relief of Shaw — albeit against inferior competition. Missouri’s backup, Corbin Berkstresser, played relatively well in the Tigers’ 24–20 win over Arizona State, but he is a redshirt freshman who has yet to take a snap on the road.

5. Can Auburn be competitive?
Even the most ardent Auburn fan realizes it will be a tall order for the Tigers to beat mighty LSU this Saturday — even at Jordan-Hare Stadium. But it’s not too much for the Auburn faithful to expect their team to be more competitive against the elite programs in the league. The Tigers are 2–5 in their last seven SEC games, and the five losses have come by an average of 28.6 points. That’s a startling regression for a program that won a national championship just two years ago. Through three games, Auburn ranks 102nd in the nation in total offense and 104th in scoring offense. In the two games vs. AQ conference opponents (Clemson and Mississippi State), the Tigers have scored a total of one touchdown.

6. How ugly will get it in Gainesville?
Kentucky has lost 25 straight overall to Florida and 16 straight in Gainesville. The Wildcats’ last four trips to the Swamp have been especially gruesome, with the Gators winning by an average score of 39–7. And barring a major reversal from both teams, Saturday’s game at Florida Field figures to be just as one-sided. Florida returns home with a ton of swagger after winning two tough SEC road games. The Gators played the finest game of the Will Muschamp era on Saturday night, surging past Tennessee 37–20 in Neyland Stadium. Kentucky, meanwhile, is fresh off a humbling overtime loss at home to Western Kentucky. UK has now lost to the other two FBS programs in the state of Kentucky. This is a tough spot for Joker Phillips and the wounded Wildcats.

7. Can Ole Miss get more touches for Jeff Scott?
Jeff Scott is averaging 10.3 yards per carry in the two games he has played this season. The problem? He has only had 20 rushing attempts. Hugh Freeze acknowledged on Monday that he would like to get Scott, one of the few proven playmakers on the Ole Miss offense, more touches. But Scott is only 5-7 and 170 pounds, which can cause some problems when he is asked to get involved in protecting the quarterback. “If he’s in there for a consistent amount of time, we’re going to have to ask him to (pass protect) also,” Freeze said. “I don’t question Jeff’s or (tailback) Jaylen (Walton)’s heart at all with that. (But) we had defensive ends the other night (vs. Texas) that are 6-5 and 280 pounds.”

8. Can the Alabama defense pitch another shutout?
Alabama’s defensive numbers are staggering, especially when you consider the Crimson Tide have faced two preseason top 25 teams away from home — Michigan in Texas and Arkansas in Fayetteville. Bama has recorded two straight shutouts and has only allowed points in two of 12 quarters this season. This Saturday, the Tide will seeking their third straight shutout — something that hasn’t happened since 1966 — against a Florida Atlantic team that ranks 116th in the nation in scoring (14.7 ppg).

9. Bowden returns to the SEC … sort of
Terry Bowden will make his first appearance as head coach in an SEC venue since Oct. 17, 1998, when his Auburn Tigers lost at Florida 24–3. Bowden, who went 47–17–1 in five-plus seasons at Auburn, is in his first season as the boss at Akron. The Zips, 1–2 in ’12, visit Neyland Stadium on Saturday to a face a Tennessee team eager to get back on track after losing to Florida. “I’ve had the fortune of coaching in all the SEC venues,” Bowden said earlier this week. “And this is one of the most electric.” Bowden only played Tennessee twice during his time at Auburn, losing 30–29 in the 1997 SEC Championship Game and 17–9 in Knoxville in 1998.

10. Will Johnny Manziel ever throw a pick?
We don’t expect Manziel to navigate Texas A&M’s brutal SEC slate without making his share of mistakes, but the Aggies’ redshirt freshman quarterback is off to a great start. Manziel is completing 65.2 percent of his passes and has yet to throw an interception in 66 attempts. He is also a threat on the ground, with 184 yards rushing on 30 carries. “He’s a very talented guy,” A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said earlier this week. “He has to continue to work on moving from an athlete that’s playing quarterback to a quarterback that’s an athlete. And there’s a big difference.”

By Mitch Light
 

WEEK 4 SEC PREDICTIONS

  David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Ole Miss (-17.5) at Tulane Ole Miss 21-7 Ole Miss 24-10 Ole Miss 40-14 Ole Miss 31-10
Kentucky (+24) at Florida Florida 35-7 Florida 41-0 Florida 45-13 Florida 38-17
Missouri (+10) at South Carolina South Carolina 28-14 South Carolina 35-24 South Carolina 31-20 South Carolina 21-17
Florida Atlantic (+49.5) at Alabama Alabama 56-3 Alabama 41-0 Alabama 55-0 Alabama 45-0
Rutgers (+7) at Arkansas Arkansas 21-17 Arkansas 34-20 Arkansas 28-20 Arkansas 28-24
LSU (-20.5) at Auburn LSU 38-10 LSU 41-10 LSU 34-7 LSU 28-14
South Alabama (+34) at Mississippi State Mississippi State 42-7 Mississippi State 35-7 Mississippi State 45-10 Mississippi State 42-10
S.C. State at Texas A&M Texas A&M 45-10 Texas A&M 45-14 Texas A&M 58-0 Texas A&M 41-0
Akron (+35) at Tennessee Tennessee 56-10 Tennessee 44-0 Tennessee 48-17 Tennessee 44-3
Vanderbilt (+16) at Georgia Georgia 28-10 Georgia 34-10 Georgia 34-20 Georgia 28-10
Last Week: 11-1 11-1 11-1 11-1
Season Record: 28-7 31-4 31-4 30-5

Teaser:
<p> SEC Week 4 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 06:04
Path: /college-football/acc-week-4-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The ACC will be under the spotlight this weekend. Clemson and Florida State meet in Tallahassee on Saturday night, and the winner of this matchup will take an early, but commanding lead for the ACC Atlantic crown. Miami and Georgia Tech meet in a key Coastal contest, while Virginia travels to TCU and Maryland plays at West Virginia.

Other Week 4 Previews and Predictions

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

ACC's Top Storylines for Week 4

1. Can Clemson’s offensive line block Florida State?
The biggest question mark surrounding Clemson’s offense coming into the season was its line. With the departure of three key performers, the Tigers had big concerns about protecting quarterback Tajh Boyd. The line has been a mixed bag of results through the first three weeks, as Clemson is averaging 5.2 yards per rush and has scored seven rushing touchdowns. The Tigers have allowed only four sacks but all of them came in the opener against Auburn. Considering Florida State’s defensive line is even better than Auburn, Clemson’s coaching staff has to be worried. The Tigers have the ACC’s best set of playmakers on offense, led by quarterback Tajh Boyd, running back Andre Ellington and receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins. However, if the line can’t protect Boyd, Clemson’s offense will struggle to move the ball against the Seminoles.

2. Will Florida State’s offensive line protect EJ Manuel?
Just like Clemson, the biggest question surrounding Florida State in the preseason was its offensive line. This unit was a major weakness last season and features three sophomore starters for Saturday’s matchup. Florida State has yet to be tested by a top-25 team, but the line showed promise in last week’s victory over Wake Forest, recording 385 rushing yards and four touchdowns. However, quarterback EJ Manuel was sacked three times, and the Demon Deacons were able to get consistent pressure in the pocket. Clemson’s defensive line is inexperienced and has generated only three sacks through the first three games. This is the biggest test for Florida State’s offensive line, and a passing grade would go a long way to helping the Seminoles remain in the national title picture.

3. Can Miami’s defense slow down Georgia Tech?
The combination of youth and inexperience has produced some awful results for Miami’s defense so far this season. The Hurricanes rank 102nd against the run, 86th against the pass and are allowing 463.3 yards per game. Making matters worse for Miami is the loss of linebacker Denzel Perryman, who will sit out this week’s game due to an ankle injury suffered in last week’s win over Bethune-Cookman. Considering the struggles through the first three weeks of the season, Georgia Tech’s option attack is the worst possible matchup for the Hurricanes. The Yellow Jackets rank third nationally in rushing offense and had two scoring plays over 70 yards in last week’s win over Virginia. Miami has plenty of speed and athleticism to matchup against the option attack, but it will need its best effort of the year to slow down Georgia Tech this Saturday.

4. Can North Carolina win without Giovani Bernard?
Larry Fedora doesn’t say much about injuries, so it’s hard to know how serious Giovani Bernard’s knee really is. However, the sophomore running back hasn’t played in the last two games, and North Carolina has lost back-to-back contests. Bernard’s status isn’t as critical for this week’s game against East Carolina and the Week 5 matchup against Idaho. However, the sophomore will be needed for the Oct. 6 showdown against Virginia Tech. Considering he really has only one half under his belt in Fedora’s new offense, North Carolina probably would like to get Bernard some game action over the next couple of weeks. Bernard doesn’t need to play for the Tar Heels to beat East Carolina, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to get him prepared for ACC competition.

5. Does Maryland have any shot of beating West Virginia?
It’s hard to envision the Terrapins having the firepower to pull off an upset over West Virginia this Saturday. Maryland’s offense ranks 119th in the nation with an average of just 258.3 yards per game, and freshman quarterback Perry Hills isn't putting much fear into defenses so far. However, the Terrapins have options at running back, and receiver Stefon Diggs is a playmaker. Despite having some promising young talent, it’s unrealistic to expect the Terrapins to be able to match West Virginia’s scoring ability. For Maryland to have any shot at winning on Saturday, the defense has to force a few turnovers and create pressure on Mountaineers’ quarterback Geno Smith. The Terrapins ranks sixth nationally in pass defense but have yet to face a quarterback with as much ability as Smith. Anything can happen, but Maryland faces an uphill battle just to keep this game close going into the second half.

6. What’s wrong with Virginia’s offense?
A year after finishing fourth in the ACC in rushing offense, the Cavaliers’ ground attack ranks 107th nationally, and Perry Jones has barely been involved in the offense over the last two weeks (29 yards). It’s no secret Virginia doesn’t have a dynamic passing attack, which only adds to the importance of establishing the ground game. With Jones and Kevin Parks struggling to find running room, quarterback Michael Rocco has gotten off to a sluggish start, tossing three interceptions and throwing for only 143 yards in the 56-20 loss to Georgia Tech. It’s not fair to blame Rocco for all of Virginia’s struggles, especially with an offensive line that is struggling to open up rushing lanes for Parks and Jones. Getting back on track won’t be easy for the Cavaliers this Saturday, as TCU has allowed only six points through the first two weeks of the season.  

7. Wake Forest, Virginia Tech look to get back on track
The Demon Deacons and Hokies suffered tough losses last week, and both look to get back on track in Week 4. Wake Forest was a heavy underdog against Florida State, and the Seminoles made quick work of the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest was blown out 52-0, managed only 126 yards and gave up 385 rushing yards. The Hokies were heavy favorites against Pittsburgh – a team that lost to Youngstown State and Cincinnati open the year – but didn’t put up much of a fight against the Panthers, losing 35-17. Both teams should get back into the win column this Saturday, as the Demon Deacons take on Army and Virginia Tech hosts Bowling Green. While these matchups aren’t as exciting as Clemson-Florida State, Wake Forest and Virginia Tech need to get back on track with key games ahead in Week 5.  
 

ACC Week 4 Predictions

ACC Week 4 Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Bowling Green at Virginia Tech VT 28-14 VT 38-13 VT 34-13 VT 34-13
Maryland at West Virginia WVU 52-10 WVU 41-21 WVU 45-17 WVU 41-10
Virginia at TCU TCU 21-17 TCU 31-21 TCU 30-13 TCU 27-17
Army at Wake Forest WF 35-21 WF 34-13 WF 34-17 WF 30-10
Miami at Georgia Tech GT 42-21 GT 31-17 GT 38-24 GT 37-24
East Carolina at North Carolina UNC 35-14 UNC 31-17 UNC 38-17 UNC 27-10
Citadel at NC State NC State 42-10 NC State 42-10 NC State 41-13 NC State 41-3
Memphis at Duke Duke 35-21 Duke 34-14 Duke 42-17 Duke 38-10
Clemson at Florida State FSU 35-21 FSU 34-28 FSU 31-24 FSU 34-24
Last Week: 9-1 8-2 9-1 9-1
Season Record: 27-4 28-3 27-4 27-4

 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

 


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<p> ACC Week 4 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 06:02

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