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Pep bands, cheerleaders, tailgating, student sections, cornhole and especially rivalries. All of which makes college football the greatest sport on the planet. With one of the best weeks of the calendar year upon us, the Athlon staff is giving thanks for the 25 best rivalry games in college football history.

1. Army-Navy (Navy leads 57-49-7)
Go ahead and try to attend this game without experiencing a surge of patriotism. If the Super Hornets’ flyover doesn’t get you, the Army paratroopers will. If you miss the parades of Cadets and Midshipmen, then the non-stop spirit videos on the big board will stir your senses. By game’s end, no matter what the score, America wins. That may seem hokey to some, but they haven’t been there. Trust us, Army-Navy is college football in its purest state. Today, that’s something worth celebrating. Fans of the teams thirst for victory, and so do the players, who are truly playing for their fellow students. Afterward, they rejoin their classmates in preparation for military service, not an NFL career. For 364 days of the year, Army and Navy are on the same team. For three hours on a chilled December afternoon, they represent every soldier or sailor who has ever donned a uniform, walked a post or sailed into the dark of night. The football has been pretty good over the years, too. Five Heisman winners have participated in the rivalry, and dozens of Hall of Famers have taken the field representing the academies. Though Navy has dominated the scoreboard over the past decade, the game remains a huge draw and a still thrills fans across the country. Most important, it pits future military and government leaders against each other as they fight for their Academies and provide the country with an afternoon of prideful competition.

2. Alabama-Auburn (Alabama leads 42-34-1)
When Bill Curry was coaching at Alabama, he went to a Birmingham elementary school one day to speak with children about football and life. Upon entering the classroom, he saw a boy standing in the corner, sobbing. Curry wondered what was going on, and a student told him, “Jason is an Auburn fan, and we took care of him.” Curry brought Jason out of the corner and told him it was all right to root for the Tigers, no doubt angering the young Crimson Tide supporters in the room. Truth be told, it isn’t all right to be an Auburn fan — if you follow the Tide. Tiger fans feel the same way about Bama. If you live in the state of Alabama, you have to choose; you either yell “Roll Tide” or “War Eagle.” You’re either a fan of the big-brother Crimson Tide, or Auburn, which has its roots in agricultural education and resents the perceived arrogance of its rival. In a state with no major professional sports team, Auburn-Alabama football is a religion. Curry’s minister once told him it was more important. It has been that way from the game’s earliest days, which proved to be so contentious that the schools stopped playing each other for 41 years. Once they resumed hostilities, they did so at a geographically neutral site, in Birmingham, but Auburn fans groused for decades because Legion Field was the Tide’s home away from home. That changed when the game moved to campus, but the vitriol has not abated. Fans of both teams crave victory, and a loss means a full year of misery from friends, co-workers and even family members. It’s enough to make someone want to stand in a corner and cry. And for the first time in Iron Bowl history, an SEC West —and potential BCS national championship — hangs in the balance for these two college football powerhouses.

3. Michigan-Ohio State (Michigan leads 58-45-6)
Some think the story is a tall tale, but others swear it’s true. After his Ohio State team scored its final touchdown late in a 50–14 rout of Michigan at the end of the 1968 season, Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes elected to go for two points, instead of kicking the PAT. When asked afterward why he did that, Hayes reportedly said, “Because they ­wouldn’t let me go for three.” Hayes’ hatred for “that team up north,” as he referred to Michigan, was legendary. Rest assured that Wolverine fans harbor no affection for the Buckeyes, either. The schools have met every year but five (1913-17) since 1900 — the teams’ first game was in 1897 — and their contests have become appointment viewing for much of the country, late in November, usually under gun-metal gray skies with a hint of winter in the air. More important, Big Ten supremacy is usually at stake, especially since Bo Schembechler took over in Ann Arbor in 1969 to turn the U-M fortunes around and provide an irascible counterbalance to the cantankerous Hayes. Since that point, Michigan-Ohio State has been the nation’s most consistently competitive and heated rivalry. Because the games have so much significance and occur at season’s end, a loss can be doubly haunting. Not only does the vanquished team lose to a hated foe, but its season can be destroyed also. There may be games that match these schools’ animosity for each other, and there may be contests that are as consistently important. But none combines the two into such a volatile package.

4. Oklahoma-Texas (Texas leads 60-43-5)

One of the most unique characteristics about Dallas’ Cotton Bowl is that the teams’ locker rooms empty into a common corridor, so that players take the field through the same tunnel. On more than one occasion, as Texas and Oklahoma have prepared to charge onto the hallowed stadium’s turf, they have encountered each other in a highly charged, emotional moment that could have ignited an inferno. Instead, they decided to enjoin the fight on the gridiron, in front of 95,000-plus fans divided evenly into crimson and burnt orange enclaves. Rarely has the flame from the ensuing collision failed to heat the passions of all in attendance. While the Texas State Fair rollicks on around them, and vendors offer to fry anything that doesn’t move — and some things that do — the Longhorns and Sooners offer a mid-season football feast that dates back to 1900, when Oklahoma wasn’t even a state and Texas was just beginning to tap into the huge oil reserves deep below its surface. The neighbors harbor a significant dislike for each other, and tempers have boiled over many times on nights before the game. It doesn’t help that many OU grads now live in Texas, lured south by jobs in the petroleum industry. And plenty of Lone Star football talent has headed north to Norman, especially when Barry Switzer was pillaging the state’s top programs for all-stars. The action on the field rarely disappoints. Although there have been several blowouts over the years, including 2011’s 55–17 Sooner wipeout, the action is usually taut and has national implications. Though the game is played in October, several championship runs have been spawned by a victory in Dallas, and several high hopes have been dashed.

5. USC-Notre Dame (Notre Dame leads 45-35-5)
The nation’s top intersectional rivalry owes a debt of gratitude to some unfriendly residents of Lincoln, Neb., and Bonnie Rockne’s love of warm California weather. At a time when traditional gridiron matchups are being torn asunder by the whirling conference kaleidoscope, Notre Dame and USC continue their annual hostilities, treating the nation to a classic matchup of iconic programs. The schools almost didn’t get together. But in 1925, after ND dropped a 17–0 decision at Nebraska, before an inhospitable crowd of Cornhusker fans, coach Knute Rockne and his wife were joined on the train back to Chicago by USC athletic director Gwynn Wilson and his wife, Marion. While Wilson tried to convince Rockne to ditch the burgeoning rivalry with Nebraska for an annual trip west, Marion Wilson and Bonnie Rockne became fast friends in another train compartment. Rockne resisted Wilson’s entreaties, but his wife was enthralled with the idea of Los Angeles in the late fall. She later convinced her husband to play the Trojans. The resulting rivalry has lasted 85 years and has filled the college football history books with dozens of classic tales. More Heisman winners have played in the Notre Dame-USC game than in any other rivalry, and many a national championship hope has been validated with a victory in the game. Though the teams alternate between their home sites, playing in late November in L.A. and mid-October in South Bend, the game retains a glamour that defines it and is a product of two of college football’s most storied programs.

6. Georgia-Florida (Georgia leads 49-40-2*)
The festivities begin at “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” around Tuesday, when the big boats start cruising up the St. John’s River in Jacksonville. By game time, everybody is in a festive mood – except the players. The Bulldogs and Gators have engaged in some classics over the years, from Georgia’s thrilling comeback in 1980 to Florida’s soggy 1993 triumph. Cheers! What's more special about this rivalry? These two programs can't even agree on how many times they've actually played. Florida claims the two have met 90 times while the Bulldogs have 91* outcomes in the record books. The Gators claim the 52-0 loss in 1904 doesn't count because they had not yet technically started playing football yet. 

7. Miami-Florida State (Miami leads 31-27)
For a while there during the 1990s, there was more talent on the field when the ‘Canes and ‘Noles met up than in some NFL stadiums. And everybody wanted to put on a show. This matchup lacks the tradition and history of other rivalries, but the hostility is just as high. And there have been some classics. FSU fans still wince when they hear the words “Wide Right,” while Miami backers still cringe at the 34-3 beating their heroes absorbed in ’84.

8. Harvard-Yale (Yale leads 65-57-8)
The Crimson and Bulldogs may not have played the first-ever college football game, but both schools had hands in how the game developed into what we have today. The late-November meeting between the schools is a history lesson wrapped in a high-class tailgate party. Harvard and Yale no longer compete at college football’s highest level, but they remain forever linked to the sport’s earliest days.

9. Florida-Florida State (Florida leads 34-21-2)
For years, this was a big brother/little brother battle, with the establishment Gators looking down on the upstart Seminoles. Then, FSU started to win games – a lot of games – and things changed. This may lack the in-state hate of Auburn-Alabama, but don’t worry; the two sides harbor plenty of dislike for each other. During the past three decades, as both have competed for national laurels, their games have become more than just neighborhood brawls.

10. Cal-Stanford (Stanford leads 51-43-10)
To some, The Big Game is the province of the wine-and-cheese crowd, and the schools’ NoCal addresses reinforce that. But there can be no denying that these schools thirst to defeat each other. It’s a classic battle of private (Stanford) against public (Cal), and bragging rights go well beyond which side brings the best pinot to the pre-game party. Plus, what other rivalry can boast a game with a crazy ending as the 1982 contest: “The band is on the field!”

11. Pittsburgh-West Virginia (Pitt leads 61-40-3)
Only 75 miles separates the two combatants in the Backyard Brawl.  Unfortunately conference realignment (Pitt to the ACC, West Virginia to the Big 12) meant that last season this game didn't take place for the first time since 1942.

12. Texas-Texas A&M (Texas leads 76-37-5)
This Thanksgiving weekend tradition has been suspended, at least temporarily, with Texas A&M's move to the SEC. A Texas state legislator has introduced a bill that would require the two in-state teams to play each other.

13. Oregon-Oregon State (Oregon leads 60-46-10)
The Civil War has come a long way since the Ducks and Beavers played to a 0–0 tie in 1983.

14. BYU-Utah (Utah leads 53-31-4)
The Holy War might be the best name for any rivalry in the nation.

15. UCLA-USC (USC leads 46-29-7)
The Southern California showdown was dominated by UCLA from 1991-98, but the Bruins have just two victores (2006, '12) since.

16. Alabama-Tennessee (Alabama leads 51-38-8)
The Third Saturday in October means only one thing to people in the South: Alabama vs. Tennessee.

17. Oklahoma-Oklahoma State (Oklahoma leads 83-17-7)
T. Boone Pickens’ interest in the Oklahoma State program was piqued after the Pokes, 3–7 at the time, knocked OU out of the 2001 national title game with a 16–13 win.

18. Clemson-South Carolina (Clemson leads 65-41-4)
These two schools were bitter rivals well before they started playing football in the 1890s. South Carolina has won four straight, but Clemson holds a 65–41–4 advantage in the all-time series.

19. Mississippi State-Ole Miss (Ole Miss leads 61-42-6)
The Egg Bowl is often the only way to salvage a season for these two programs that have struggled to win consistently in the SEC.

20. Auburn-Georgia (Auburn leads 55-54-8)
It’s the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry and it dates back to 1892. Auburn holds the slimmest of margins, with a 54–52–8 edge in the series. The Prayer on the Plains from this year has only added to this historic battle's legacy.

21. Michigan-Michigan State (Michigan leads 68-33-5)
It pains MSU fans that Michigan’s biggest rival is Ohio State, but the “Little Brothers” from East Lansing have won the five of the last six in the series, including this year's most lop-sided Spartans win since the 1960s.

22. Minnesota-Wisconsin (Minnesota leads 59-57-8)
The winner of the Gophers vs. Badgers showdown takes home the prized Paul Bunyan Axe. It’s the most played rivalry in FBS football, dating back to 1890.

23. Michigan-Notre Dame (Michigan leads 24-16-1)
These two traditional powers have only played regularly for the past three decades, but they produced a ton of memorable moments. Strike a pose, Desmond!

23. Georgia-Georgia Tech (Georgia leads 63-40-5)
You know it’s a good rivalry when the book about the series is called Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.

25. Lafayette-Lehigh (Lafayette leads 77-67-5)
The Rivalry, as it’s called, pits two small private schools located 17 miles apart in Eastern Pennsylvania. Lafayette and Lehigh have met 146 times, including every year since 1897.

The Top 25 Rivalries In College Football History
Post date: Monday, November 25, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/amazing-college-football-stats-week-13

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

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

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

3: SEC receiver tandems to top 1,000 yards in the same year
Only three times in SEC history has a team had two 1,000-yard pass catchers on the same team. LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. (1,101 yards) and Jarvis Landry (1,059 yards) became just the third set of wideouts to reach the milestone. In fact, the Tigers became just the second SEC team to boast such a duo as only Florida had accomplished the feat prior to 2013. 
Steve Spurrier did it with Chris Doering and Ike Hilliard in 1995 and again in 2001 with Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell. What's more impressive is how much of the load these two Bayou Bengals have carried this fall. These two have accounted for 123 of the 180 LSU completions, 2,160 of the 2,949 yards and 18 of 22 receiving touchdowns.

22-1: Les Miles' record at LSU following a loss
Johnny Manziel is virtually unstoppable unless you are Les Miles. The LSU Tigers swarmed the reigning Heisman winner all afternoon and came away with a dominant 34-10 win over Texas A&M in rainy Baton Rouge. It was Miles 22nd win in 23 tries following a loss. LSU won both lines of scrimmage with relative ease, likely using the horrendous showing in Tuscaloosa as motivation. The last time LSU lost back-to-back games under Les Miles was Nov. 22 and 28, 2008 in the final two games of Miles' worst season at the helm. Manziel has an un-Heisman-like 52 incomplete passes, 500 yards, one total touchdown, five interceptions and 2.8 yards per carry in two games against LSU — both losses.

246: Jordan Matthews' SEC record receptions
Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews was basically the only effective offensive player on the field in Knoxville this Saturday. He caught 13 passes for 133 yards in an ugly, low-scoring, mistake-filled conference win over in-state rival Tennessee. Matthews is already the SEC's all-time leader receiving in yards with 3,491 in his career. But he passed fellow Commodore Earl Bennett (236) as the SEC's all-time receptions leader as well. Matthews  has 246 catches with two games to play in his college career.

16: NCAA players to rush for 2,000 yards
Boston College's Andre Williams rushed for 263 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries in yet another Eagles win. His performance against Maryland gives him 897 yards rushing over the last three weeks, 2,073 yards on the season and a nation's best 188.5 yards rushing per game. Williams posted the NCAA's second-best two-game stretch last week (634) and now has the all-time second-best three-game stretch in NCAA history behind only Barry Sanders (937). Sanders' NCAA single-season record of 2,628 yards isn't out of the question as Williams would need to keep this pace going at 287.5 over his last two games. He is the ACC's single-game and single-season rushing record holder.

158: Career wins for Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, a school record
Barry Switzer won 157 games in 190 career tries in 16 seasons as the head coach in Norman. After a 41-31 win over Kansas State in Manhattan, Bob Stoops became the all-time winningest coach in Oklahoma history with 158 career victories. It took Stoops one less season (15) but seven more tries (197) to reach the milestone. More important, embattled coordinator and quarterback Josh Huepel and Trevor Knight put together the best offensive performance of the Sooners' season. Against a normally tough defense in a tough place to play, Oklahoma rushed for more than 300 yards behind excellent play-calling and efficient quarterback play. The Crimson and Cream now get two weeks to prepare for The Bedlam Game in Stillwater. Speaking of Stillwater…

12: Consecutive completions to start the game for Clint Chelf
In the biggest game of the year and the Big 12 championship hanging in the balance, Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf had the best game of his career. He completed his first 12 passes and sparked the Pokes to a 14-0 lead on previously unbeaten and No. 4 Baylor. By midway through the third quarter, he was 15-of-17 and held an insurmountable 28-3 lead over the Bears. He finished the 49-17 blowout 19-of-25 for a career-high 370 yards and four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing). This from a player who has averaged just 185.8 yards per game passing over his last six games since being put back in the lineup. Of course, Glenn Spencer and the Cowboys defense will get most of the headlines by holding the top scoring offense in the nation 47 points below its 61-point scoring average but Chelf was masterful in the win.

0: Completions and passing yards for Georgia Southern
No lower-division team has ever beaten Florida, and the 26-20 loss to Georgia Southern guarantees Will Muschamp will suffer the school's first losing season since 1979. What's more painful, the Eagles didn't even complete a pass. Georgia Southern didn't connect on any of their three total passing attempts, but the option team was able to run the ball at will. The 429 yards allowed on the ground were the most by a Florida team since Tommie Frazier and Nebraska rolled up 524 in the national championship showdown of 1995. Georgia Southern is the first team this season to defeat an FBS team without completing a pass.

9: Sacks by Arizona State against UCLA
With the Pac-12 South Division Championship within reach, Arizona State proceeded to cough up a 22-point lead to the Bruins. But the defensive line saved the day and clinched a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game by pressuring Brett Hundley and holding on for a 38-33 win at the Rose Bowl. The defense finished with nine sacks and 10 tackles for loss on the day while holding UCLA to 3.7 yards per carry on 41 rushing attempts. It was the most sacks in a game for Arizona State since posting 12 quarterback takedowns against Washington State in 2009. Additionally, defensive end Carl Bradford got into the scoring column by snatching a Hundley pass out of the air and returning it 18 yards for a touchdown in the first half.

640: Brett Smith's Mountain West total offense record
Wyoming held on to defeat winless Hawaii in Laramie 59-56 in overtime. The Cowboys gained a school- and Mountain West-record 793 yards of offense while giving up 624 to Hawaii. Cowboys quarterback Brett Smith set the school and conference record while setting the season-high record for total offense in a game with 640 yards. He needed just 48 throws for 498 yards passing and seven touchdowns while adding 142 yards rushing and another touchdown on 19 carries on the ground. No one in college football this season has accounted for more touchdowns (eight) or produced more yards (640) in one game than Smith did on Saturday afternoon. This came on the same day that Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr threw for a school-record seven touchdowns and 527 yards against New Mexico.

2: ACC teams that scored 80 points
In 2012, the country played 15 full weeks of games and 35 bowls games and only once did a team score at least 80 points in a game. Oklahoma State in Week 1 of 2012 was the last FBS team to top the benchmark when it scored 84 on Savannah State. But in Week 13 of 2013, two teams in the same conference reached the 80-point plateau. North Carolina defeated Old Dominion 80-20 while Florida State beat Idaho 80-14, marking the first time a team has scored at least 80 points since the Cowboys did it in the '12 season opener. North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams threw for 409 yards and rushed for 60 more to set the Tar Heels single-game total offense record.

Amazing College Football Stats from Week 13
Post date: Monday, November 25, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/2013-legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-13

Baylor became the latest team to fall from the ranks of the unbeaten, opening the door for once-beaten Auburn to move into the top 5.

Fourth-ranked Auburn is set to host No. 1 Alabama in the Iron Bowl next weekend in a titanic clash of top 5 teams.

Florida State remained the No. 2 team in the rankings, receiving one first place vote. The other 15 votes went to top-ranked Alabama.

No. 3 Ohio State remained unbeaten this weekend, and No. 5 Clemson moved back into the top 5.

No. 11 Baylor dropped seven spots after their lopsided loss to No. 7 Oklahoma State, and No. 13 Oregon dropped eight spots after falling to unranked Arizona.

Michigan State moved into the top 10 for the first time this year after clinching a spot in the Big Ten championship game.

No. 25 Georgia was the only newcomer to the rankings this week, replacing Minnesota.

To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll.

1AlabamaAlabama (15)11-03991
2Florida StateFlorida State (1)11-03852
3Ohio StateOhio State11-03683
7Oklahoma StateOklahoma State10-130212
9South CarolinaSouth Carolina9-226710
10Michigan StateMichigan State10-124513
15Arizona StateArizona State9-215821
17Fresno StateFresno State10-014118
20Texas A&MTexas A&M8-310011
22Northern IllinoisNorthern Illinois11-08522
* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward. You can see the entire Poll at
2013 The Legends Poll Top 25: College Football Week 13
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 22:43
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Georgia Bulldogs, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/georgia-qb-aaron-murray-suffers-knee-injury-against-kentucky

Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray suffered a torn ACL in Saturday’s win over Kentucky and will miss the remainder of the 2013 season.

Prior to his injury, Murray completed 18 of 23 passes for 183 yards and four touchdowns against the Wildcats.

Hutson Mason is Murray’s backup and completed 13 of 19 throws for 189 yards and one touchdown in relief.

Murray finishes his Georgia career with 13,166 yards and 121 touchdowns. Murray also threw for at least 3,000 yards in all four of his seasons in Athens.

Georgia QB Aaron Murray Suffers Knee Injury Against Kentucky
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 22:18
Path: /college-football/golden-arm-performances-week-13

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

Derek Carr1. Derek Carr, Fresno State
No Golden Arm Award finalist had the kind of day Fresno State’s Derek Carr had. Carr completed 27 of 37 attempts for 527 yards and a career-high and school-record seven touchdowns as the Bulldogs blasted New Mexico, 69-28. Carr averaged 14.2 yards per attempt against the Lobos and he spread the ball around well with none of his receivers putting together a 100-yard game despite piling up the second most yards in a game in his career. This was the second time Carr had 500 passing yards in a game as well. With Carr at the helm, Fresno State continues to sit in a good position for a potential BCS bowl invite.

2. Tajh Boyd, Clemson
On senior day at Clemson, Tajh Boyd went out with a bang. In a 52-6 victory over Citadel, Boyd completed 21 of 28 pass attempts for five touchdowns and 288 yards. Boyd wrapped up a fine collegiate career in front of the Tiger fans and helped keep Clemson in position for a potential BCS at-large invite. The five touchdowns matched a career high and this was the fourth game in a row Boyd passed for at least 280 yards.

3. Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
While most of the Golden Arm Award finalists do most of their damage through the air, Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch tends to do most of his best work on the ground. This week Lynch rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns and completed 17 of 22 passes for 202 yards as the Huskies wrapped up the MAC West title with a win at Toledo. Lynch has now accounted for 38 total touchdowns and continues to keep Northern Illinois in the BCS conversation.

4. Aaron Murray, Georgia
Georgia’s Aaron Murray played his final game in Athens, but a knee injury has some hoping Murray has not played his final game in a Georgia uniform. Before Murray needed to leave Georgia’s 59-17 victory over Kentucky, he put together an admirable performance. Murray completed 18 of 23 attempts for 183 yards and four touchdowns, all from inside the red zone in the first half to help build a big lead early on.

5. AJ McCarron, Alabama
The Crimson Tide quarterback had a pretty easy afternoon at home against Chattanooga. McCarron completed 13 of his 16 pass attempts for 171 yards and two touchdowns before getting an early rest with Alabama cruising to a win against the FCS opponent. McCarron will look to send Alabama back to the SEC Championship Game next week by picking up a tough road win at Auburn. If McCarron can put together a standout performance against the Tigers, McCarron could emerge as the top candidate for the Golden Arm Award, if not other accolades.

Sponsored by Transamerica.

The Golden Arm award is presented to the top senior quarterback by the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Foundation.
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 21:10
Path: /college-football/post-week-13-bcs-rankings-and-projections

According to precedent the BCS championship field is more or less set.

With only one exception (2007 LSU), the BCS championship game teams were ranked in the top four at this stage of the season. That’s good news for Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Auburn.

In each of the last three seasons, the top two teams with two weeks to go held on to play for the national title. That’s not great news for Ohio State and Auburn.

Those two teams, though, were the big winners this week thanks to Baylor’s loss. The Bears’ improving schedule strength down the stretch will be a moot point after Baylor lost to Oklahoma State on Saturday. And thanks to Oklahoma State’s loss to 4-7 West Virginia, the Cowboys are not a serious threat to join the top one-loss teams in the title discussion.
Moving Up

No. 3 Ohio State. The Buckeyes didn’t move up after being ranked third last week, but Baylor’s loss keeps Ohio State safely at the third spot. The possibility of a one-loss Auburn or Missouri passing undefeated Ohio State isn’t implausible since both could face No. 1 Alabama in the next two weeks. But Ohio State has a 0.0961 edge in the BCS average, a major hurdle at this stage of the season. No undefeated team from an automatic-qualifying conference has ever been passed for the BCS championship game by a one-loss team.

Moving Down

No. 16 Fresno State. The Bulldogs slipped from No. 15 to No. 16, but Northern Illinois surprised by moving ahead of Fresno State to No. 14. Northern Illinois remains at least four spots behind Fresno State in both the coaches’ and Harris polls, but the Huskies moved from 12th in the computer rankings to No. 7. Fresno is 17th in the computer average. If NIU remains ahead of Fresno State, the Huskies would grab a BCS automatic bid. Fresno State finishes its season at San Jose State (5-6) and likely against Utah State (7-4) in the Mountain West title game. Northern Illinois finishes with Western Michigan (1-10) and either Buffalo (8-3) or Bowling Green (8-3) in the MAC Championship Game.

Quick BCS Projections

BCS Championship Game: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 2 Florida State
Rose: No. 8 Stanford vs. No. 3 Ohio State
Orange: No. 6 Clemson* vs. No. 15 Wisconsin*
Sugar: No. 4 Auburn* vs. No. 19 UCF
Fiesta: No. 7 Oklahoma State vs. No. 14 Northern Illinois
*at-large selections

Key Games This Week

No. 1 Alabama at No. 4 Auburn. With a loss by Baylor, one-loss Auburn remains a plausible national championship team. If the No. 4 Tigers defeat Alabama and either Missouri or South Carolina in the SEC Championship Game, Auburn climbs into the national title picture with a loss by either Florida State or Ohio State.

No. 6 Clemson at No. 10 South Carolina. The Tigers would all but clinch a BCS at-large berth if they can defeat South Carolina, something Clemson hasn’t done since 2008.

Minnesota at No. 11 Michigan State/Penn State at No. 15 Wisconsin. Both Michigan State and Wisconsin are strong candidates for an at-large BCS bid out of the Big Ten, but they need to win in the final week of the regular season. If Michigan State losses in the Big Ten title game, a two-loss Wisconsin may still be a more attractive BCS at-large team if eligible.

Other Observations

• Northern Illinois. The Huskies provided one of the surprises of the latest BCS release by jumping No. 16 Fresno State to No. 14. The Huskies defeated Ball State and Toledo, who have a combined record of 16-6, in the last two weeks. The team NIU defeated for its best win, Iowa, also defeated Michigan for a boost to its non-conference schedule.

• Wisconsin is an odds-on favorite for an at-large bid, but the Badgers still haven’t cracked the top 14 to be eligible for a BCS bid. Wisconsin still has a home game against Penn State, and teams ahead of the Badgers could lose — Michigan State, South Carolina and Arizona State all have difficult games in the final weeks of the season.

• The selection of at-large bids will be interesting. Baylor remained in the top 10 despite a loss to Oklahoma State and would be a strong candidate for an at-large if the Cowboys clinch the Fiesta Bowl. Three Pac-12 teams also remain in at-large contention with Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State all the top 15. A Clemson or Wisconsin loss would be a boon to the at-large hopes in the Pac-12 and Big 12.

Notes on BCS selection

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

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

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

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

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

Post-Week 13 BCS Rankings and Projections
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 20:15
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/panthers-intercept-tannehill-after-tip-tip-tip

During the Carolina-Miami game, Dolphins QB Ryan Tannehill threw a pass that was tipped, and then tipped again, and again, and again…and again…and… you get what we're saying.

Panthers Intercept Tannehill After Tip…Tip…Tip…

Panthers Intercept Tannehill After Tip…Tip…Tip…
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 14:33
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-states-chelf-earns-athlon-player-week-honors

The quarterback who rearranged the Big 12 wasn’t even in the lineup until the last five games.

As Baylor and Texas learned, Clint Chelf is in some ways the nation’s most unpredictable player.

Two weeks ago, Chelf, considered less of a running threat than teammate J.W. Walsh, rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns to defeat Texas in Austin.

But Saturday brought the biggest surprise as Chelf, not his Baylor counterpart, was the quarterback of the most explosive and efficient offense. Chelf completed 19 of 25 passes for 370 yards with three touchdowns to earn Athlon Sports National Player of the Week honors.

In defeating Baylor and Texas in the last two weeks, Chelf completed better than 70 percent of his passes and put Oklahoma State into the lead for the Fiesta Bowl.

Athlon Sports Week 13 National Awards

National Player of the Week: Clint Chelf, Oklahoma State

The Cowboys’ offense has evolved through the course of the season, most notably with return to Clint Chelf as starting quarterback. Even though he’d shown marked improvement, an explosion like the one against Baylor was a shock. Chelf completed his first 11 passes as Oklahoma State built a commanding lead in the third quarter. Chelf, who has started the last five games, finished 19 of 25 for 370 yards with four total touchdowns.

National Defensive Player of the Week: Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
There were a handful of standout defensive performances in the ACC in Week 13, with Donald narrowly beating Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan and North Carolina’s Kareem Martin for this week’s honor.  With bowl eligibility on the line, Donald and Pittsburgh’s defense held Syracuse to 16 points and 307 yards on 67 plays. The Orange recorded 148 rushing yards, which was 73 below their weekly average. Donald once again wrecked havoc against the offensive line, recording nine tackles (3.5 tackles for a loss) and two quarterback hurries. Donald also blocked an extra point after Syracuse’s first touchdown.

National Freshman of the Week: Trevor Knight, Oklahoma
Like Oklahoma State, the rival Sooners started the season with one quarterback, switched and now returned to the opening day starter. Oklahoma went back to redshirt freshman Trevor Knight this week out of necessity with Blake Bell out following a concussion. Knight responded by completing 14 of 20 passes for 141 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a 41-31 road win over Kansas State. Knight added 82 rushing yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

Coordinator of the Week: John Chavis, LSU
Chavis and his LSU defense did the impossible — shut down Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M offense. The Aggies’ 299 total yards were 279 below their season average and 187 below their previous season low (486 in the opener against Rice). Manziel completed only 16-of-41 passes for 224 yards — the fewest in any of his 10 starts this season — with one touchdown and two interceptions. Texas A&M also had its streak of 13 straight games with at least 40 points snapped. Not bad for a defense that had to replace eight starters from last season.

Athlon Sports Week 13 Conference Awards

Offense: Andre Williams, Boston College
Defense: Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
Freshman: Jameis Winston, Florida State
Coordinator: Blake Anderson, North Carolina

Big 12
Offense: Clint Chelf, Oklahoma State
Defense: Jeremiah George, Iowa State
Freshman: Trevor Knight, Oklahoma
Coordinator: Glenn Spencer, Oklahoma State

Big Ten
Offense: Jeremy Langford and Connor Cook, Michigan State
Defense: Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
Freshman: Michael Rose, Nebraska
Coordinator: Dave Aranda, Wisconsin

Offense: Ka’Deem Carey, Arizona
Defense: Chris Young, Arizona State
Freshman: Scooby Wright, Arizona
Coordinator: Jeff Casteel, Arizona

Offense: Terrence Magee, LSU
Defense: Chase Garnham, Vanderbilt
Freshman: Reshard Robinson and Tre’Davious White, LSU
Coordinator: John Chavis, LSU


Oklahoma State's Chelf Earns Athlon Player of the Week Honors
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 14:28
Path: /college-football/2013-pac-12-week-13-awards-and-power-rankings

If you don't where your team is in the Pac-12 standings, just wait a week and things will probably change. For the second straight week, the highest rated team and Pac-12 North leader lost on the road to a South Division team. Oregon fell in the desert, and with a convincing win in The Big Game, Stanford has clinched a berth in the Pac-12 Championship Game. In the other division, the biggest game of the weekend out West featured a quarterback dual for the ages with Taylor Kelly outplaying Brett Hundley in a narrow division-clinching win in Pasadena for Arizona State. 

Needless to say, it was a Grand Canyon State weekend out West.

Offensive Player of the Week: Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
In a week where star performances were plentiful — including Connor Halliday, Ty Montgomery and Taylor Kelly — it was the Wildcats who totally shook the apple cart out West by putting on a zone-read clinic against Oregon. Carey was once again the star of the show in what was arguably the biggest upset in the nation in Week 13. Carey posted his nation's best 14th straight 100-yard effort by carrying 48 times for 206 yards and four touchdowns. He is now second in the nation in rushing (155.9 ypg), first in the Pac-12 in rushing and tied for the league lead with 16 rushing TDs.

Defensive Player of the Week: Chris Young, LB, Arizona State
There were many defensive stars for Arizona State despite giving up 33 points. Carl Bradford had eight tackles, an interception her returned for a touchdown and registered one of ASU's nine sacks. Davon Coleman had five tackles and 2.5 of his own sacks. But the team's leading tackler Chris Young gets the nod for across the board production. He posted 13 tackles and three sacks in the division clinching road win over UCLA. This group will be challenged in a big way next weekend by Rich Rodriguez in a big-time Grand Canyon State showdown.

Team of the Week: The State of Arizona
Both Arizona schools posted monumental conference victories this weekend. Arizona's zone-read was too much for the Oregon Ducks as Rich Rodriguez' bunch rushed for 304 yards and forced three turnovers to top the No. 5 team in the nation. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils went into the Rose Bowl and clinched the South Division championship. Arizona State sacked Brett Hundley nine times and Taylor Kelly was excellent again (322 yards total offense, 2 total TD). These two will meet for the Duel in the Desert next week in not only a battle for the Territorial Cup but also home field advantage in the Pac-12 title game. Should ASU win next week, Sun Devil Stadium will host the championship while a loss means ASU must head back to Palo Alto for the second time this year.

Coordinator of the Week: Jeff Casteel, Arizona
The Wildcats entered Saturday ranked eighth in the Pac-12 in total defense, allowing 387.9 yards per game. And while Oregon posted 506 yards of offense, Jeff Casteel got critical stops when it needed to in order to pull off one of the biggest upsets in the nation this weekend. His defense forced three turnovers and allowed a season-low 16 points to an offense that was averaging more than 50 points per game. Arizona held the Pac-12's top rushing offense to nearly 100 yards less (198) than it had been averaging on the season (285.9 ypg). Another challenge awaits next weekend in the season finale.

Freshman of the Week: Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona
Wright joined one of college football's most exclusive clubs this weekend. He intercepted Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. He and teammate Shaquille Richardson are the only two players in the nation to have done that to the Ducks quarterback this year. Wright collected six tackles and one for a loss in the landscape shifting upset over Oregon. Wright is No. 2 among Pac-12 freshmen with 76 stops this season.

Pac-12 Post-Week 13 Power Rankings:

RankTeamLWRecordThis WeekNext Week
1(1)9-2, 7-2W, Cal, 63-13 Notre Dame
2(2)9-2, 6-2L, Arizona, 42-14Oregon St
3(3)9-2, 7-1W, UCLA, 38-33   Arizona
4(4)8-3, 5-3L, Arizona St, 38-33 at USC
5(5)9-3, 6-2W, Colorado, 47-29 UCLA
6(6)7-4, 4-4W, Oregon St, 69-27Washington St
7(7)6-5, 4-4L, Washington, 69-27at Oregon
8(8)6-5, 4-4W, Arizona, 24-17at Washington
9(9)7-4, 4-4W, Oregon, 42-16 at Arizona St
10(10)4-7, 1-7L, Washington St, 49-37at Washington 
11(11)4-7, 1-7L, USC, 47-29at Utah
12(12)1-11, 0-9L, Stanford, 63-13 Bye


2013 Pac-12 Week 13 Awards and Power Rankings
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /college-football/2013-big-ten-week-13-awards-and-power-rankings

It was a throwback weekend in the Big Ten. Blistering temperatures and inclement weather impacted every game in the league and below freezing temperatures, gusting winds and even heavy snow played a role in Week 13.

That said, Ohio State and Michigan State weren't affected as both teams stayed unbeaten in conference play. The third Big Ten title game is now set as both the Spartans and Buckeyes have clinched their respective divisions.

Here are the Big Ten's Week 13 Superlatives:

Co-Offensive Players of the Week: Jeremy Langford and Connor Cook, Michigan State
Quarterback Connor Cook executed with precision on the road against Northwestern this weekend. With great ball-handling and accurate passing in windy Chicago, he orchestrated the Spartans offense to 464 yards and 30 points in the division-clinching win at Northwestern. He threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Langford was once again the workhorse for Mark Dantonio. He carried 25 times and caught three passes for 185 yards from scrimmage and two touchdown runs of at least 20 yards. It is Langford's sixth consecutive 100-yard rushing effort — something a Michigan State back hasn't done since the great Lorenzo White did it in 1985.

Defensive Player of the Week: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
The Ohio State linebacker is battling with Chris Borland for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year — who had 12 tackles, two forced fumbles and a recovery against Minnesota. But Shazier posted a stat line for the ages. The hard-hitting Buckeye totaled 20 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble in the demolition of a once-respected Indiana offense. Shazier might have played his final game in the Horseshoe and he now is third nationally with 20.5 tackles for loss this year.

Team of the Week: Division Champions
Both teams won easily against inferior competition, but the Spartans and Buckeyes share Team of the Week honors after each clinched a spot in the Big Ten Championship game. Ohio State extended the nation's longest winning streak to a school-record 23 games in the snow-capped drubbing of Indiana at home. Meanwhile, Michigan State's No. 1-rated defense in the nation shut down an injured Northwestern offense while the underrated Spartans' offense executed masterfully on the road. Both teams are likely to finish perfect in league play in the final week and it sets up a perfect title tout in Indianapolis in two weeks.

Coordinator of the Week: Dave Aranda, Wisconsin
Aranda is making a strong case as one of the top coordinators in the Big Ten. His team totally stuffed the surging Golden Gophers on the road in a rivalry win for the Badgers. Wisconsin allowed just 185 yards of offense and held an opponent under 10 points for the seventh time in 2013 — trailing only Alabama in that category nationally. In fact, Minnesota's only points came on a defensive interception return. The Gophers finished 3-of-13 on third downs, just 9-of-23 passing the ball as a team, tallied just 11 first downs, turned the ball over three times and averaged 3.2 yards per carry.

Freshman of the Week: Michael Rose, LB, Nebraska
The redshirt freshman from Kansas City is starting to see his role expanded on defense. He played in only two of the team's first six games but has made a big impact in the Huskers resurgent final month of the season. After eight tackles in an overtime win over Penn State on the road, Rose has now posted at least seven tackles in three straight games. His 5.7 tackles per game trails only Indiana's T.J. Simmons among Big Ten freshmen.
Big Ten Post-Week 13 Power Rankings:
 TeamLWRecordThis WeekNext Week
1.(1)11-0, 7-0W, Indiana, 42-14at Michigan

(2)10-1, 7-0W, Northwestern, 30-6 Minnesota

(3)9-2, 6-1W, Minnesota, 20-7Penn St

(4)8-3, 4-3L, Wisconsin, 20-7 at Michigan St

(5)8-3, 5-2W, Penn St, 23-20 (OT)Iowa
6.(7)7-4, 4-3W, Michigan, 24-21at Nebraska


7-4, 3-4

L, Iowa, 24-21Ohio St

(8)6-5, 3-4L, Nebraska, 23-20 (OT)at Wisconsin

(9)4-7, 2-5L, Ohio St, 42-14Purdue

(10)4-7, 0-7L, Michigan St, 30-6 at Illinois

(11)4-7, 1-6W, Purdue, 20-16 Northwestern

(12)1-10, 0-7L, Illinois, 20-16at Indiana


2013 Big Ten Week 13 Awards and Power Rankings
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-13-awards-and-power-rankings

The Big 12 found a way to squeeze a ton of action into only three games this week.

The headline, of course, is Oklahoma State’s 49-17 rout of previously undefeated Baylor. The Cowboys’ win knocks the Big 12 out of the BCS championship picture and puts Oklahoma State in control of its fate for the Fiesta Bowl.

The Cowboys’ rout to the Big 12 title won’t be easy, though. Oklahoma defeated Kansas State 41-31 to quiet one of the hottest teams in the Big 12 and to ensure the Bedlam Game will be between ranked teams.

Even Iowa State picked up its first league win of the season with a 34-0 victory over Kansas.

Big 12 Week 13 Awards and Power Rankings

Offensive Player of the Week: Clint Chelf, Oklahoma State
The Cowboys’ offense has evolved through the course of the season, most notably with return to Clint Chelf as starting quarterback. Even though he’d shown marked improvement, an explosion like the one against Baylor was a shock. Chelf completed his first 11 passes as Oklahoma State built a commanding lead in the third quarter. Chelf, who has started the last five games, finished 19 of 25 for 370 yards with four total touchdowns.

Defensive Player of the Week: Jeremiah George, Iowa State
The Iowa State linebacker has been a bright spot in a forgettable season for the Cyclones. In the shutout of Kansas, George again stood out with 14 tackles, 1.5 tackles for a loss and a forced fumble.

Freshman of the Week: Trevor Knight, Oklahoma
Like Oklahoma State, the rival Sooners started the season with one quarterback, switched and now returned to the opening day starter. Oklahoma went back to redshirt freshman Trevor Knight this week out of necessity with Blake Bell out following a concussion. Knight responded by completing 14 of 20 passes for 141 yards with a touchdown and an interception in a 41-31 road win over Kansas State. Knight added 82 rushing yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

Team of the Week: Oklahoma State
Few teams have shown more improvement through the course of the season than Oklahoma State. The Pokes lost their Big 12 opener 30-21 at West Virginia in what hardly seemed like a major upset at the time. Now, it's a head-scratching loss. The Cowboys demolished Baylor and Texas by a combined score of 87-30 for both the Bears’ and Longhorns’ first conference losses of the season. The Pokes will head into the Bedlam Game in two weeks with a chance for their second Big 12 championship in three seasons.

Coordinator of the Week: Glenn Spencer, Oklahoma State
As impressive as Oklahoma State’s offense was against Baylor, Glenn Spencer’s defense was even more so. The Cowboys did what no other team could do this season by shutting down the Baylor offense, holding the Bears to merely a field goal through the first three quarters. Oklahoma State stifled the run game to 2.6 yards per carry and forced four three-and-outs.

Big 12 Post-Week 13 Power Rankings

RankTeamLWRecordResultThis Week
1210-1, 7-1W, Baylor 49-17Off
219-1, 6-1L, at Oklahoma State 49-17at TCU
337-3, 6-1OffTexas Tech (Thu.)
449-2, 6-2W, at Kansas State 41-31Off
556-5, 4-4L, Oklahoma 41-31at Kansas
667-4, 4-4Offat Texas (Thu.)
774-7, 2-6OffBaylor
884-7, 2-6OffIowa State
9102-9, 1-7W, Kansas 34-0at West Virginia
1093-8, 1-8L, at Iowa State 34-0Kansas State


Big 12 Week 13 Awards and Power Rankings
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 13:14
Path: /college-football/2013-acc-week-13-awards-and-power-rankings

The ACC didn’t have a matchup with national interest in Week 13, but there were plenty of key developments from the few conference games.

Boston College running back Andre Williams continued his ridiculous season with a huge outing against Maryland. The Eagles improved to 7-4 with a win over the Terrapins, which should help Boston College’s bowl positioning in the ACC.

Pittsburgh earned bowl eligibility with a 17-16 win at Syracuse, while Florida State and Clemson cruised against overmatched opponents.

North Carolina scored 80 points in a rout over Old Dominion, and Duke moved one step closer to a Coastal Division title with a 28-21 victory over Wake Forest.

The struggles of NC State and Virginia continued, as both teams dropped games in Week 13.

ACC Week 13 Awards and Recap

Offensive Player of the Week: Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
Another week, another huge outing for Williams. The senior gashed Maryland’s defense for 263 yards and two touchdowns on 32 attempts. Williams made a couple of key plays in the fourth quarter that propelled Boston College to the victory, including a 72-yard touchdown run with just over 10 minutes remaining. The senior also had a 36-yard rush, which put the Eagles into position for the game-winning field goal. Williams now has three consecutive 200-yard efforts, has eight touchdowns over his last four games, while averaging at least eight yards per carry in each of his last three contests. Considering Williams’ performance in recent weeks, the senior should be mentioned more in the Heisman discussion.

Defensive Player of the Week: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
There were a handful of standout defensive performances in the ACC in Week 13, with Donald narrowly beating Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan and North Carolina’s Kareem Martin for this week’s honor.  With bowl eligibility on the line, Donald and Pittsburgh’s defense held Syracuse to 16 points and 307 yards on 67 plays. The Orange recorded 148 rushing yards, which was 73 below their weekly average. Donald once again wrecked havoc against the offensive line, recording nine tackles (3.5 tackles for a loss) and two quarterback hurries. Donald also blocked an extra point after Syracuse’s first touchdown.

Team of the Week: Boston College
The Eagles continued their impressive turnaround under first-year coach Steve Addazio, recording a 29-26 road win against Maryland. The victory over the Terrapins gave Boston College seven this year, which is more than the program had from the 2011-12 seasons combined. Running back Andre Williams continues to carry the offense, rushing for 263 yards and two touchdowns on 32 attempts. Quarterback Chase Rettig completed only six passes, but the senior made a key 74-yard touchdown toss to Alex Amidon to give Boston College at 26-24 lead late in the fourth quarter. The Eagles’ defense held Maryland to just 4.3 yards per play and sacked quarterback C.J. Brown four times.

Coordinator of the Week: Blake Anderson, North Carolina
Old Dominion wasn’t the best defense North Carolina has played this year, but let’s give Anderson some credit for the performance of the Tar Heels’ offense. North Carolina recorded a school-record 80 points against the Monarchs, averaged 10.6 yards per play and punted only twice. Quarterback Marquise Williams continues to impress, completing 20 of 27 passes for 409 yards and five touchdowns against Old Dominion. The Tar Heels also received plenty of help from the ground attack, as freshman T.J. Logan led the way with 137 yards and three touchdowns on 14 attempts. Under Anderson’s direction, North Carolina has now scored at least 30 points in four out of its last five games.

Freshman of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Another week, another freshman honor for Winston. Against an overmatched Idaho team, Winston was steady as usual, completing 14 of 25 passes for 225 yards and four touchdowns. The freshman’s pass protection was shaky at times, but Winston still managed to average 16.1 yards per completion and guided the Seminoles to a 49-7 lead before departing early in the third quarter. With Johnny Manziel struggling against LSU, Winston’s performance should be enough for the freshman to extend his lead in the Heisman race.

ACC Post-Week 13 Power Rankings

RankTeamLWRecordThis WeekNext Week
1111-0, 8-0W, Idaho 80-14at Florida
2210-1, 7-1W, The Citadel, 52-6at South Carolina
339-2, 5-2W, Wake Forest 28-21at North Carolina
447-4, 4-3Bye Weekat Virginia
558-4, 4-3W, Virginia 45-26at Pittsburgh
667-4, 5-3W, Alabama A&M 66-7Georgia
776-5, 4-3W, Old Dominion 80-20Duke
887-4, 4-3W, Maryland 29-26at Syracuse
996-5, 3-4W, Syracuse 17-16Miami
10105-6, 3-4L, Pittsburgh 17-16Boston College
11116-5, 2-5L, Boston College 29-26at NC State
12124-7, 2-6L, Duke 28-21at Vanderbilt
13133-8, 0-7 L, East Carolina 42-28Maryland
14142-9, 0-7L, Miami 45-26Virginia Tech


ACC Week 13 Awards and Power Rankings
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 11:56
Path: /college-football/sec-week-13-awards-and-power-rankings

The Week 13 slate was highlighted by LSU’s dominating win over Texas A&M in Baton Rouge and Missouri’s 14-point victory over Ole Miss in Oxford. Elsewhere, Vanderbilt topped Tennessee 14–10 on a fake jump pass in the closing seconds; Arkansas remained winless by losing in overtime to Mississippi State; and Georgia crushed Kentucky on Senior Night in Athens. Oh, and we can’t forget about Florida. The Gators’ disastrous 2013 season took another shocking turn with a loss at home to FCS foe Georgia Southern.  

SEC Week 13 Recap and Awards

Offensive Player of the Week: Terrence Magee, LSU
Magee made the most of his 13 carries, rushing for a career-high 149 yards (on an 11.5-yard average) and one touchdown in LSU’s impressive 34–10 win over Texas A&M in Baton Rouge. A junior from Franklinton, La., Magee has topped the 100-yard mark three times this season — 108 vs. Kent State, 108 vs. Furman and 149 vs. Texas A&M. His previous career high against an SEC opponent was 31 in the loss to Alabama two weeks ago.

Defensive Player of the Week: Chase Garnham, Vanderbilt
Garnham, a senior linebacker, recorded 10 tackles (one for a loss) to lead an injury-ravaged Vanderbilt defense that held Tennessee 237 yards and one touchdown in the Commodores’ 14–10 win in Knoxville. Vanderbilt lost its entire secondary during the game — safety Jovan Marshall and cornerbacks Andre Hal and Steven Clarke to injury and safety Kenny Ladler to an ejection due to a targeting call. Garnham injured his leg in a Week 1 loss to Ole Miss and missed the ensuring seven games.

Team of the Week: LSU
LSU played its way out of the SEC West race by losing three of its first six league games, but the Tigers reminded everyone on Saturday afternoon that they still have one of the most talented rosters in the nation. Les Miles’ team jumped all over Texas A&M in the first half and cruised to a surprisingly easy 34–10 win in Baton Rouge. The Tigers used a familiar formula to post their second straight win over the Johnny Manziel-led Aggies — they ran the ball well (324 yards rushing) and were dominant on defense (holding A&M to a season-low 299 total yards). LSU hosts Arkansas next weekend to close the regular season.

Coordinator of the Week: John Chavis, LSU
Chavis and his LSU defense did the impossible — shut down Johnny Manziel and the Texas A&M offense. The Aggies’ 299 total yards were 279 below their season average and 187 below their previous season low (486 in the opener against Rice). Manziel completed only 16-of-41 passes for 224 yards — the fewest in any of his 10 starts this season — with one touchdown and two interceptions. Texas A&M also had its streak of 13 straight games with at least 40 points snapped. Not bad for a defense that had to replace eight starters from last season.

Freshmen of the Week: Rashard Robinson, Tre’Davious White, LSU
Robinson and White, two of the top true freshman cornerbacks in the nation, played key roles in LSU’s defensive masterpiece against Texas A&M. Robinson, from Pompano Beach, Fla, had two tackles and one interception, and White, a native of Shreveport, La., chipped in with three tackles and one pass break-up. As a team, LSU held Texas A&M to 224 yards passing on only 5.5 yards per attempt, by far the lowest of the season for the Aggies.

RankTeamLWRecordLast WeekNext Week
1111-0, 8-0W, Chattanooga 49-0at Auburn
2210-1, 6-1ByeAlabama
349-2, 6-2W, C. Carolina 70-10Clemson
4510-1, 6-1W, Ole Miss 24-10Texas A&M
588-3, 4-3W, Texas A&M 34-10Arkansas
638-3, 4-3L, LSU 34-10at Missouri
777-4, 5-3W, Kentucky 59-17at Georgia Tech
867-4, 4-4L, Missouri 24-10at Miss. State
997-4, 4-4W, Tennessee 14-10Wake Forest
10115-6, 2-5W, Arkansas 24-17 (ot)Ole Miss
11104-7, 3-5L, Ga. Southern 26-20Florida State
12124-7, 1-6L, Vanderbilt 14-10at Kentucky
13132-9, 0-7L, Georgia 59-17Tennessee
14143-8, 0-7L, Miss. State, 24-17 (ot)at LSU


SEC Week 13 Awards and Power Rankings
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 10:52
Path: /nfl/dallas-cowboys-vs-new-york-giants-preview-and-prediction

NFC East rivals headed in different directions are on tap this afternoon when the Dallas Cowboys meet up with the New York Giants at 4:25 p.m. ET on FOX. Jason Garrett’s Cowboys (5-5) are looking to tie the idle Eagles for first place in the division, while Tom Coughlin’s Giants (4-6) are hoping to continue their remarkable turnaround. Since starting the season 0-6, the Giants have won four in a row and a victory at home this afternoon would tie them with the Cowboys, just a game behind the Eagles.

The Cowboys won the first meeting, 36-31, back in Week 1 and are going for their first regular-season sweep of the Giants since 2007. A Dallas win also would make them 4-0 in NFC East play, putting the Cowboys in the driver’s seat for the division title. The Cowboys have struggled on the road, entering this game with a 1-4 record as the visiting team, while the Giants have won three in a row at MetLife Stadium.

4 Things to Watch

Since Last We Met…
AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, served as the season-opening backdrop for the two NFC East rivals when they first met back in Week 1. The Cowboys won 36-31 thanks in large part to six Giants turnovers. Eli Manning was picked off three times and David Wilson fumbled twice, as the Cowboys turned two takeaways into defensive touchdowns. The Giants moved the ball on the Cowboys with Manning throwing for 450 yards and four touchdowns, three of those to Victor Cruz, but just couldn’t overcome their own mistakes. The Cowboys had just one turnover, a Tony Romo interception, but otherwise played a clean game and got a little more out of their ground game (DeMarco Murray had a game-high 86 yards rushing) than the Giants. The loss sent the Giants into a tailspin; as they went on to lose their next five games by an average of 19 points per contest. The Cowboys weren’t able to build off of that season-opening win either, as they lost three of their next four. Fast forward to this week and the Giants are riding high, winners of four in a row while the Cowboys are coming off of their bye week sitting at .500. Despite their horrendous start, the Giants are very much alive in the division race and a fifth straight victory would only tighten up things between them, the Cowboys and the first-place Eagles (6-5), who are on bye. The Cowboys would love to sweep the Giants to get above .500 and grab a share of the division lead. With a six weeks left in the regular season, it’s not a stretch to say the road to determining the NFC East champion begins this afternoon at MetLife Stadium.

Where’s the D in Dallas?
Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was fired after the 2012 season and replaced by 73-year-old Monte Kiffin, who had spent the previous four seasons in the collegiate ranks. While Ryan has orchestrated a remarkable turnaround of a New Orleans defense that set an NFL single-season record for yards allowed in 2012, Kiffin’s unit has struggled. And that’s an understatement. The Cowboys entered Week 12 last in the league in total and passing defense and have been abused by good quarterbacks. Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Matthew Stafford have all thrown for more than 400 yards against the Cowboys, the first time in NFL history this has ever happened to a defense. Even though Drew Brees didn’t join that club two weeks ago, he and his Saints did roll up a franchise-record 625 yards and NFL-record 40 first downs in a 49-17 shellacking in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The 625 yards also is the most the Cowboys have surrendered in any game in their long history and was the fourth game of 500 or more total yards allowed this season. Unfortunately, the situation may not get any better any time soon, as Kiffin has several key players who are injured. Of them, the most critical missing piece is linebacker Sean Lee, who injured his hamstring in the loss to the Saints and is expected to miss a few more weeks. Sack specialist DeMarcus Ware has been dealing with a lingering quad strain and is questionable for this afternoon, while fellow lineman Anthony Spencer also has been sidelined for an extended period of time. Kiffin’s task isn’t easy, especially with all of the injuries, but he must find a way to “fix” his defense if the Cowboys consider themselves legitimate playoff contenders.

The Return of the Big Blue Wrecking Crew
At the start of the season, the Giants’ defense was having just as many issues as the Cowboys’ unit, if not more. Through the first six games, all losses, the Giants were giving up 34.8 points and 391.3 yards per game, along with nearly 25 first downs per contest. When it didn’t seem like things would ever get better, something clicked and an entirely different Giants defense emerged starting with the Monday night game against Minnesota to close out Week 7. In the last four games, the Giants are surrendering fewer than 12 points and 254 yards per game. In fact, Green Bay last week is the only team to gain more than 206 yards of total offense and throw for more than 176 yards during this stretch. No team has collected more than 16 first downs in any of these four games and one team (Oakland, Week 10) has gained more than 55 yards rushing. Takeaways (11 total) and sacks (9) have been a big part of this run and the defense/special teams units also have provided three touchdowns of their own. Critics will be quick to point out that these four games were against teams with less-than-stellar quarterbacks (Minnesota’s Josh Freeman, Philadelphia’s Matt Barkley, Oakland’s Terrelle Pryor and Green Bay’s Scott Tolzien), but the bottom line is that the Giants’ defense has taken care of its business over the last month. Just how far has the 2013 edition of the Big Blue Wrecking Crew come since Week 1? Tony Romo and company will have a front-row seat this afternoon.

Can Either Offense Gain Ground?
Back in Week 1 the Cowboys and Giants combined for 809 total yards of offense, but only 137 of those came on the ground. DeMarco Murray led the way with 86 yards on 20 carries, while Da’Rel Scott was the leading ground-gainer for the Giants with a total of 23 yards. Establishing any sort of running game has been a season-long problem for both teams, as they are tied for 28th in the NFL in rushing offense at 77 yards per game. Murray is obviously the key to the Cowboys’ rushing attack and he is coming off of an 89-yard effort with a touchdown in the loss to the Saints two weeks ago. One of the problems for Murray has been a lack of attempts. He has gotten 20 or more carries just twice this season, including exactly 20 in the first game against the Giants, and is averaging 10.8 carries in his six other games. Murray did miss two games because of a sprained knee, but coming off of the bye he should be fairly healthy and the Cowboys need to be sure to give them the ball if they want to take any pressure off of Tony Romo and the passing attack. As for the Giants, the only one who got a rushing attempt in Week 1 that will play this afternoon is quarterback Eli Manning. Scott is no longer with the team while David Wilson, who had just 19 yards rushing and two costly fumbles in that first game, sustained a neck injury in Week 5 and is on injured reserve. Instead, the Giants will turn to the two-headed monster of Andre Brown and Brandon Jacobs to carry the load. Brown made his season debut two weeks ago with 115 yards rushing against Oakland after missing the previous eight games because of a broken leg he suffered in the final preseason game. Jacobs joined the team in Week 2 and rushed for 106 yards and two scores against Chicago before a hamstring injury sidelined him for a month. The two will likely share the carries in some capacity and try to take advantage of a Dallas rushing defense that ranks near the bottom of the league at 126.8 yards per game. The Giants meanwhile have really stiffened up against the run during their winning streak. The G-Men are giving up just 60 yards rushing per game and have moved all the way up to seventh in the league (98.0 ypg) in rushing defense. 

Dallas Key Player: Miles Austin, WR
Austin got out of the gates quickly this season, catching 10 passes for 72 yards against the Giants in Week 1. Since then he has totaled nine catches for 53 yards. Austin has played in just five games, as a hamstring injury held him out of the other five games, but with the exception of the season opener, he has been virtually non-existent in the Cowboys’ passing attack. In the last two games Austin has played, Weeks 6 and 7, not only did he not record a single catch, he didn’t even receive a single target. Tony Romo doesn’t lack for options, starting with wide receiver Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten, and the emergence of rookie wideout Terrance Williams has been a pleasant surprise too. But if the Cowboys are going to continue to ask Romo to carry the load offensively, he needs a healthy Austin to make his presence felt in these last six games.

New York Giants Key Player: Hakeem Nicks, WR
Eli Manning may be struggling (12 TDs, 17 INTs) this season, but he hasn’t gotten a bunch of help from his wide receivers either. Victor Cruz leads the team in receptions (58) and yards (824), but he has just four touchdown catches and three of those came in Week 1 against Dallas. Rueben Randle leads the Giants with six touchdown grabs, but he has just 29 catches on the season and a catch rate (29 of 53) of less than 55 percent. That said, Nicks is the one who has been struggling the most, as the big target is still searching for his first touchdown catch of 2013. Nicks has gone over 100 yards receiving twice, but in his other eight games he’s averaging 3.5 receptions for 45.5 yards per contest. Nicks is still capable of making the big play, as he’s averaging 14.8 yards per reception and has 10 catches of 20 or more yards. Like Randle, however, Nicks is converting less than 55 percent (42 of 77) of his targets and sometimes seems to disappear completely from the offensive game plan. Injuries have been an issue for Nicks over the past few seasons. He did miss some practice time this week due to an abdominal strain and is listed on the injury report as questionable, but Nicks has said he will be out there. Dallas is dead last in the NFL in passing defense (313.0 ypg) and Nicks posted 114 yards on five catches (22.8) against the Cowboys back in Week 1. A repeat performance this afternoon could go a long ways towards not only helping the Giants earn their fifth straight win, but also jumpstarting Nicks’ season and put him in position for a strong finish. The latter is particularly important to Nicks since he will be a free agent after the season. Wide receivers who want to get paid like a No. 1 need to play like a No. 1.

Final Analysis

Oh the wild and wacky NFC East. Philadelphia is currently in first place, but the Eagles are just 6-5 and own one of the league’s worst defenses. Dallas could pull even with the Eagles with a victory this afternoon, but things will get even more interesting if the Giants extend their winning streak to five games in a row. Either way, this is a pivotal game as it relates to how things will play out in their division the rest of the way.

The Cowboys are coming off of their bye, but probably still licking their wounds from the 49-17 debacle against the Saints two weeks ago. The Giants have all the momentum, are playing their best football, especially on defense, and are at home. The Giants have their flaws, but every team in the NFC East does, which is one of the reasons why this race is so tight.

Eli Manning has had his issues, but he did throw for a season-best 450 yards and four touchdowns against the Cowboys back in Week 1. Plenty has changed since the season opener, as the Giants have a new backfield and the Cowboys will be missing several key members of their defense. In the end, I think Dallas’ personnel losses are too much for this struggling defense to overcome, despite Tony Romo’s best efforts to keep the Cowboys in the game. The Giants rely on ball control and an effective running game to secure their fifth win in a row, setting the stage for what’s shaping up to be another fantastic finish in the NFC East.

New York Giants 34, Dallas 24

Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /nfl/denver-broncos-vs-new-england-patriots-preview-and-prediction-2013

Two of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history will be on display tonight when the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots face off at 8:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Besides the unavoidable comparisons between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, this game also features a matchup of division leaders with the Broncos (9-1) in front in the AFC West after beating the Chiefs last week and the Patriots (7-3) maintaining their usual position atop the AFC East.

These two teams last played each other in Week 5 of the 2012 season. That game, like this one, was at Gillette Stadium and the Patriots won 31-21 behind a balanced offensive attack that produced 444 total yards, 251 of those on the ground. The leading receiver for the home team that game was Wes Welker, who caught 13 passes for 104 yards and Brady’s lone touchdown. Welker is now a Bronco and despite suffering a concussion last week, he is expected to play against his former team. This adds yet another layer to a game full of interesting subplots.

4 Things to Watch

Manning vs. Brady, Round 14
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have already secured busts in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, when their careers are over. These two have already accounted for a combined 110,000 yards passing and 818 touchdown passes, and have won nearly 72 percent of their games, including playoffs. They have been to 20 Pro Bowls and claim six of the 15 MVP trophies that have been awarded since Manning’s rookie season in 1998. And of course there are the Super Bowl rings. Brady has three, Manning has one and each has been named MVP after starring on the NFL’s biggest stage. Even though they didn’t enter the league in the same season (Manning 1998, Brady 2000), these two will forever be linked, which is why their head-to-head matchups draw so much attention and scrutiny. Including the playoffs, this will be the 14th time Manning and Brady have met on the field. Among Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, the only two that have gone head-to-head more are Hall of Famers Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas (16 games). As it relates to Manning vs. Brady, the Patriots’ signal-caller holds a 9-4 edge, including 6-2 at home. In addition to the win-loss column, Brady also holds a statistical edge over Manning when it comes to completion percentage (66.9 to 62.4) and quarterback rating (95.3 to 86.7). Last season, even though the Broncos lost 31-21, Manning had arguably one of his best games against the Patriots, throwing for 337 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. This season, it’s pretty clear that Manning has a better supporting cast around him compared to Brady, but Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has done a good job of constructing effective defensive game plans against No. 18 in the past. Brady’s numbers may not be what we are accustomed to seeing, but the Patriots are still winning and he’s looking more and more comfortable in the pocket with each game now that all of his pass-catchers are back and relatively healthy. Either way, both quarterbacks will have a big say in how this game plays out, just as has been the case in their previous 13 meetings. 

Broncos’ Weapons Check
Denver is No. 1 in the NFL in both total (350.4 ypg) and scoring (39.8 ppg) offense, and the gap between the Broncos and No. 2 in both categories is pretty wide. Five different players – wide receivers Demaryius Thomas, Wes Welker and Eric Decker, tight end Julius Thomas and running back Knowshon Moreno – have caught at least 37 passes this season. Demaryius and Julius Thomas and Welker have combined for 28 touchdown catches. Welker, who was Brady’s favorite target for six seasons in New England, sustained a concussion last week, but he is expected to be cleared in plenty of time to face his former teammates. The Broncos aren’t just a passing team, however, as Moreno leads the way with 600 yards rushing and eight touchdowns on the ground. Second-round draft pick Montee Ball also has emerged recently, scoring three rushing touchdowns over his last three games. Peyton Manning is still dealing with a lingering ankle injury, but his offensive line did an outstanding job protecting him (no sacks, no hits) against Kansas City’s ferocious pass rush last week. When given the time, Manning has a plethora of weapons to choose from and it will be interesting to see how he and offensive coordinator Adam Gase attack a banged-up Patriots defense (see below) tonight.

Patriots’ Weapons Check
As far as New England’s offense goes, Wes Welker’s departure via free agency was just one of the many personnel developments that took place during the offseason. Although the Patriots signed former St. Louis Ram Danny Amendola to take Welker’s place, the summer saw tight end Rob Gronkowski undergo back surgery in June. Not too long after, fellow tight end Aaron Hernandez was charged with murder and other crimes, which led to his release. Gronk didn’t return to the field until Week 7, which left Tom Brady with an unfamiliar group of pass-catchers at the start of the season. In Week 1, the Patriots’ wide receiving corps consisted of Julian Edelman, the lone holdover from the 2012 season, Amendola and rookies Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins. Not surprisingly, Brady had just eight touchdown passes in his first six games. Injuries didn’t help Brady develop chemistry with his receivers either, as Amendola missed some time with a groin injury and later a concussion. It wasn’t until recently that Brady was able to practice with his full complement of pass-catchers, so the hope is that the passing game will find a little more consistency and rhythm. The ground game also has had its struggles, as Stevan Ridley, last season’s leading rusher, got off to a slow start in 2013 and has dealt with some injury issues of his own. The Patriots have been content to employ a running-back-by-committee, as Ridley, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden and Shane Vereen all have carried the ball at least 15 times. The all-hands-on-deck strategy has worked for the most part with the Patriots ranking ninth in the league in rushing offense (126.9 ypg). So even though this may not be a vintage, Brady-led offense, the Patriots are eighth in the league in scoring at nearly 25 points per game. The Broncos average nearly 40 points per game and their season-low output is 27 points, so Brady and company will need to find a way to move the ball and put some points on the board against a Denver defense that has been playing pretty well lately.

New England’s Feeling the Hurt on Defense
The Patriots’ uniforms may be red, white and blue (and silver), but their defense is definitely black and blue thanks to a slew of injuries. Bill Belichick’s defense looks more like a M.A.S.H. unit right now, as the current two-deep looks nothing like what he had at his disposal in Week 1. All-Pro linebacker Jerod Mayo and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork are both out for the season, as is tackle Tommy Kelly and safety Adrian Wilson. Four current starters and one key reserve appear on this week’s injury report, including three defensive backs. Cornerback Alfonzo Dennard and safety Steve Gregory both missed last week’s loss in Carolina, and are questionable for tonight’s game. Aqib Talib, the other starting cornerback, had to leave the Monday night game against the Panthers early after re-aggravating a hip injury that caused him to miss the three previous games. Stopping Denver’s high-octane task is a difficult task in and of itself, but now New England must figure out a way to do so with a defense that isn’t anywhere close to full strength. Belichick is a master tactician when it comes to defensive game plans and he has had his share of success against Peyton Manning. However, with so many injuries severely limiting his depth, especially in the secondary, Belichick may not be able to rely on complicated schemes and multiple alignments. In fact, he may have a hard enough time finding 11 healthy bodies to put on the field.

Denver Key Players: Von Miller, Wesley Woodyard and Danny Trevathan, LBs
Not only are Miller, Woodyard and Trevathan the Broncos’ starting linebackers, they are the heart and soul of this defense. Miller, who finished second in the Defensive Player of the Year voting last season, missed the first six games of this season due to suspension. Since his return in Week 7, Denver is allowing 318.3 yards and 24.3 points per game. Miller’s pass-rushing ability (2.0 sacks in four games) has made the most difference, especially when it comes to the Broncos’ ability to consistently pressure the quarterback. They have 12 sacks over their last four games and also have picked off four passes. This also is a big reason why Denver has given up only 191.3 yards passing per game during this span. New England has given up 28 sacks this season, and Miller is definitely someone the offensive line and running backs will have to account for. Woodyard and Trevathan are the leading tacklers on the team and also are extremely active in pass coverage. The duo has combined for 11 passes defended, while Trevathan also has three interceptions and two forced fumbles. Both fly to the ball and are key to the Broncos’ efforts to control the middle of the field. Trevathan in particular will probably be matched up on tight end Rob Gronkowski several times during this game. If Denver’s linebacking corps is making plays all over the field, especially behind the line of scrimmage, then it could be a long night for Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense.

New England Key Player: Chandler Jones, DE
Injuries have not been kind to the Patriots’ defense this season. Already down four starters, including All-Pros Jerod Mayo and Vince Wilfork, five others defenders are listed on this week’s injury report. Of those, four are starters and the other is a key reserve in the secondary. Up front, Jones has teamed with fellow defensive end Rob Ninkovich to anchor the Patriots’ pass rush. Jones leads the team with 9.5 sacks while Ninkovich has five along with two forced fumbles and two recoveries. Jones also Is second on the team in tackles, which is rare for a defensive lineman. Peyton Manning has been sacked just 13 times and wasn’t even touched last week by Kansas City’s No. 1-ranked pass rush. With all of the injuries in the Patriots’ back seven, it’s critical that Jones and Ninkovich get pressure on Manning and also make some plays behind the line of scrimmage. Otherwise the Broncos’ offense could very hard for this banged-up defense to slow down.

Final Analysis

All attention is on the quarterbacks, which is understandable since Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are two of the best to ever play the position. However, the 11-man units that will line up on the other side of these two will play just as big a role in determining tonight’s outcome.

Denver’s defense has been a different unit since the return of All-Pro linebacker Von Miller. His presence, as well as his athleticism, non-stop motor and pass-rushing ability has had the biggest impact on the Broncos’ pass defense. On the other side, New England is missing its play-making linebacker in Jerod Mayo, and also is without several other key defenders.

Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are very tough to beat at home and both have had their share of success against Manning in the past. But that was then and this is now. I just think Manning has too many weapons and the Patriots’ defense has too many injuries, which will cause it to wear down as the game goes on. Manning does a good job of spreading the wealth, but he makes sure that Wes Welker gets a touchdown against his former team as the Broncos pick up their 10th win of the season.

Denver 34, New England 30

Denver Broncos vs. New England Patriots Preview and Prediction
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big 12, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-13-recap-baylor-and-manziel-stumble-key-games

College football in 2013, at least in Week 13, is a lesson in waiting your turn.

Ohio State’s case to remain next man up in the BCS championship race after Alabama and Florida State needed little statement on the Buckeyes’ part this week. Ohio State made easy work of Indiana, but Baylor cleared up any room for debate with a loss to Oklahoma State.

No doubt, Ohio State fans are pleased with this development, but the Buckeyes’ ability to secure the No. 3 spot for good was due to another actor sitting in wait in Stillwater.

Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf was a starter, then a backup, then a starter again. Now, he’s the quarterback who changed the national championship picture and Heisman race all while putting the Cowboys’ into the frontrunner spot in the Big 12.

And in the Heisman chase, AJ McCarron did nothing out of the ordinary against Chattanooga, but he’s almost the de facto leader as those around him this week — Bryce Petty, Johnny Manziel and Marcus Mariota, namely — struggled.

In a sport where patience isn’t always a virtue, waiting for a turn was this week's greatest teammate.

Three and Out: College Football Week 13 Recap

Three Things We Learned from LSU 34, Texas A&M 10

Johnny Manziel won’t repeat as Heisman winner. Archie Griffin’s singular achievement as the only two-time Heisman winner likely remains intact. If there’s any remaining hope for Manziel, it’s because nearly every other frontrunner faltered in recent weeks. LSU remains Manziel Kryptonite. The sophomore started 2 of 11 and never found running room against the Tigers. Manziel finished 16 of 41 for 224 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. In two meetings with LSU, Manziel is 45 of 97 for 500 yards with five picks against the Tigers in easily the two worst starts of his career. Manziel has been short on big wins this season, largely due to a suspect defense, but the sophomore also has six interceptions in Texas A&M’s three losses.

LSU’s defense has grown up. Defensive coordinator John Chavis may have the only blueprint to contain Manziel, but don’t forget he was essentially starting from scratch with the 2013 defense. The Tigers returned only three starters on defense and lost six underclassmen to the NFL Draft. The replacements are as talented as any LSU defense, but experience was at a premium. The Tigers young cornerbacks did their part bottling up Manziel and preventing extended drives for most of the first half. Now, LSU’s defense needs to prove it can do the same on the road when it faces Missouri next week.

LSU’s running back depth strikes again. Three LSU tailbacks carried 13 or 14 times, plus eight carries from a fourth. None was more productive than Terrence Magee. His 149 yards on 13 carries was a career high, highlighted by a five-play, 71-yard touchdown drive all on his shoulders. Before Saturday, his two 100-yard games had come against Furman and Kent State. But this highlighted the work of the entire corps of running backs as LSU held the ball for 40:19 and limited A&M to a season-low 59 plays.

Three Things We Learned from Oklahoma State 49, Baylor 17

Clint Chelf is one of the best stories this season. In a depleted quarterback class in the Big 12, Clint Chelf was the Athlon first-team All-Big 12 quarterback in the preseason. After three quarters of teh season, Chelf finally started to look like it. Gundy named Chelf the starter and benched him after six pass attempts in the opener against Mississippi State. J.W. Walsh held the job for a few games, but was ineffective in Big 12 play. Gundy went back to Chelf, and the move paid off. The unquestioned MVP of the rout of undefeated Baylor, Chelf completed 12 of his first 13 passes and finished 19 of 25 for 370 yards.

Glenn Spencer is Oklahoma State’s superstar coordinator. The offensive coordinator position at Oklahoma State has been a stepping stone for head coaches from Larry Fedora to Dana Holgorsen to Todd Monken. Even though Chelf was the star Saturday, the Cowboys’ defense has been the most consistent unit all season. Baylor’s offense has been all but unstoppable this season, but Oklahoma State prevented the Bears from scoring a touchdown until the fourth quarter. Oklahoma State followed the blueprint for stopping Baylor by stuffing the run game for 2.6 yards per carry and forcing Baylor to force plays in the passing game. Chelf completed 12 of his 13 passes as Oklahoma State built and insurmountable lead in the first half. If Oklahoma State needs a face of its incremental improvement this season, Chelf is it.

Baylor has little reason to sulk. Baylor was embarrassed on a national stage, particularly on a 78-yard fumble recovery for at touchdown just as the Bears started to build momentum. The soft schedule and video game numbers heading into this rout will provide plenty of fodder for people who want to dismiss Baylor as a fraud. The starters missing from the lineup — running back Lache Seastrunk, wide receiver Tevin Reese, offensive tackle Spencer Drango and linebacker Bryce Hager — certainly hurt, too. Baylor is out of the national championship hunt, and Bryce Petty’s Heisman bid is probably over. Still, Baylor is in the running for the Big 12 title with an Oklahoma State loss in the Bedlam Game. And even then, a one-loss Baylor would be an attractive team for the Cotton Bowl against an SEC team or a BCS at-large bid. Legitimacy hasn’t been lost.

Three Things We Learned from Arizona State 38, UCLA 33

Arizona State is undervalued and kind of showed why. The Sun Devils entered Saturday ranked 19th in the AP poll. That was one spot behind a three-loss LSU, three spots behind a Wisconsin team Arizona State beat (albeit under dubious officiating) and five spots behind UCLA. The Sun Devils looked every bit the underrated Pac-12 favorite as they built a 35-13 halftime lead. But UCLA turned this into one-score game in the second half with a sack ending a touchdown opportunity to go with two missed field goals. Arizona State clinched the Pac-12 South and could still host the Pac-12 title game with a win over Arizona, but the Sun Devils nearly let this one slip away.

Taylor Kelly and Marion Grice is the best backfield no one talks about. Taylor Kelly rarely gets mentioned in the first breath of Pac-12 quarterbacks, but that needs to change. He’s worthy of second-team all-conference after Oregon’s Marcus Mariota. Kelly completed 20 of 27 passes for 225 yards with a touchdown against UCLA, adding 99 rushing yards and a touchdown. Marion Grice had his typical two-dimensional day with 95 rushing yards and 72 receiving yards against the Bruins.

UCLA’s not there yet. UCLA made a game of it late, but two missed field goals and eight sacks held the Bruins back. Quarterback Brett Hundley picked up yards on the ground late in the game, but a slow start behind three freshman starters on the offensive line was too much to overcome. Hundley was sacked eight times as UCLA went 0 for 3 against ranked Pac-12 teams this season. Hundley went 55 of 84 for 509 yards with three touchdowns, six interceptions and 15 sacks combined against Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State this season.

Moving the Chains

Wisconsin’s defense. The run game is the established face of the Badgers' program, but take a minute to admire the defense. If Wisconsin is an at-large BCS pick this season, Gary Andersen could credit his defense. The Badgers held Minnesota to 102 rushing yards, less than half of its season average. Minnesota entered the game averaging 4.7 yards per carry and averaged 3.2 against Wisconsin. A week earlier, Wisconsin held Indiana to 224 total yards and 3.7 yards per play. The Hoosiers are among the Big Ten leaders at 496.8 yards and 6.7 yards per play.

James Franklin’s return. The Missouri quarterback returned after missing four games with a should injury to complete 12 of 19 passes for 141 yards with an interception in a 24-10 win at Ole Miss. It wasn’t an overwhelming game for the quarterback, but Missouri remained in the lead for the SEC East. Ole Miss defeated LSU in Oxford and gave Texas A&M fits here. A two-touchdown win at Ole Miss is a good sign for a team that looked like it could fumble away the SEC East race after loss to South Carolina.

Oklahoma’s new backfield. Trevor Knight’s second act as starting quarterback was much better than his first. Knight began the season as the Sooners’ starter but injury and ineffectiveness gave Blake Bell the job after two games. A concussion for Bell gave the job back to Knight, who led a 41-31 win over a hot Kansas State team on the road. Knight wasn’t asked to take many risks in the passing game. Knight still went 14 of 20 for 171 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for 82 yards and a score. The tailback position also was undermanned with Damien Williams suspended. Brennan Clay carried the load with 200 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries.

False Starts

Florida. Athletic director Jeremy Foley said earlier this week he’s “1,000 percent” committed to coach Will Muschamp, but that may be tested. Foley has fired only one football or men’s basketball coach as Florida athletic director and that coach, Ron Zook, never missed a bowl game nor lost to an FCS team. Muschamp accomplished both with a 26-20 loss to Georgia Southern, Florida’s first FCS loss and first nonconference home loss to a team other than Florida State or Miami since 1988. Botched clock management seemed to be a moot point, but it certainly didn’t help Muschamp’s cause. Muschamp sat on his timeouts on Florida’s final possession until the clock stopped in the final minute after an incomplete pass. Georgia Southern’s option befuddled Florida’s defense with 450 rushing yards. The Gators offense was listless as usual, allowing Georgia Southern to outgain Florida 450-271. The upset gave us this shocking quarterback comparison. Guess which quarterback won the game? Hint: It’s the one with all the zeroes.

Oregon. Two Ducks players earlier this week shrugged at the prospect of going to the Rose Bowl. Running back De’Anthony Thomas said “it’s not a big deal,” and receiver Josh Huff said he didn’t want to play in the Rose Bowl unless it’s for a national championship. Now, they’ll get a taste of the rest of the Pac-12’s bowl alignment. Oregon had its most un-Oregon-like game in years when it lost 42-16 to Arizona, the Ducks’ first loss to an unranked team since losing 51-42 to Stanford in 2009 and their most lopsided loss since losing 44-10 to USC in 2008. Marcus Mariota’s knee continues to limit the Oregon offense, but this was a team-wide effort to never really challenge Arizona.

Michigan and Northwestern. Michigan opened the season ranked 17th in the preseason polls. Northwestern was 22nd. Seems like ages ago, right? The Wolverines hit its lowest point of a disappointing season with a 24-21 loss to Iowa. The Wolverines were outscored 17-0 in the second half, amassed only  158 yards and managed to lose a game in which Iowa turned the ball over four times. Northwestern finally avoided losing in heartbreaking fashion by losing in a 30-6  blowout to Michigan State, the Wildcats’ seventh consecutive loss since what was billed as one of the biggest games in school history against Ohio State.

Heisman Movers

Andre Williams, Boston College. If a running back is going to crack the group of quarterbacks in the Heisman race, it will be Williams. The Boston College senior became the 16th player to crack 2,000 yards for a season and the first since Connecticut’s Donald Brown. Williams rushed for 263 yards in a 29-26 win over Maryland, giving him 897 in the last three games. Five of the previous 15 2,000-yard rushers won the Heisman (Oklahoma State’s Barry Sanders, USC’s Marcus Allen, Nebraska’s Mike Rozier, Texas’ Ricky Williams, Colorado’s Rashaan Salaam).

AJ McCarron, Alabama. McCarron moves up by default thanks to losses by Marcus Mariota, Johnny Manziel and Bryce Petty. Jameis WInston has all the on-field credentials for the award, but the sexual assault investigation casts a shadow over the season. That leaves McCarron standing in the field of five contenders that separated itself.

Derek Carr, Fresno State. Carr put on a show in one of Fresno State’s few games on a Saturday afternoon. Against an overmatched New Mexico team, Carr completed 27 of 37 passes for 522 yards and seven touchdowns in a 69-28 rout. After close calls earlier this season, the Bulldogs have defeated Nevada, Wyoming and New Mexico by lopsided margins in the last three weeks. Carr has topped 70 percent passing, 360 yards and three touchdowns in each game.

Stat Watch

353. Interception-free streak ended by Marcus Mariota.
Mariota’s ball security has been a thing of wonder as the quarterback has gone since Nov. 17, 2012 and 353 consecutive passes without an interception. That streak ended with a acrobatic, two-man interception from Arizona’s defense. Mariota added a second interception to give him a 27-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio this season, which is remains a remarkable statistic. Even in an injured state, it still takes a remarkable play to intercept Mariota:

80. Scoring total for two ACC teams. No team had scored 80 points in a game since Oklahoma State defeated Savannah State 84-0 on Sept. 1, 2012. Two ACC teams did it Saturday. Florida State defeated Idaho 80-14, but the more surprising result was North Carolina’s 80-20 win over Old Dominion. North Carolina scored all 80 before both teams agreed to play a 10-minute fourth quarter. Old Dominion is set to join Conference USA in 2015.

3-0. Vanderbilt’s record vs. Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. This isn’t Philip Fulmer’s Tennessee program, but the Commodores wrapped up the feat of going 3-0 against Florida, Georgia and Tennessee by defeating the Volunteers 14-10. Vanderbilt drove 92 yards down the field with a backup quarterback and a jump pass to seal the win.

Buried on the Depth Chart

Stud Receivers
Davante Adams, Fresno State
Ty Mongtomery, Stanford
Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

Clinched Championship Games
Big Ten: Michigan State vs. Ohio State
Pac-12: Arizona State vs. Stanford

Bowl Eligible
North Carolina

Bowl Ineligible

Best Pre-Saturday Games Next Week
Texas Tech at Texas (Thu.)
Ole Miss at Mississippi State (Thu.)
Oregon State at Oregon (Fri.)

Best Games Next Saturday
Alabama at Auburn
Clemson at South Carolina
Texas A&M at Missouri
East Carolina’s nine wins. The Pirates have flown under the radar this season. Blame the diluted Conference USA lineup. Still, East Carolina has a good case to be the No. 2 team in North Carolina behind Duke. The Pirates demolished NC State 42-28 for their second win over an in-state ACC team on the road (ECU defeated North Carolina 55-31 on Oct. 28). Shane Carden is one of the nation’s unheralded quarterbacks after accounting for 24 total touchdowns in the last four games. East Carolina is 9-2 this season and 14-4 in the last 18 games under Ruffin McNeill.

Aaron Donald. The Pittsburgh defensive tackle has the least notoriety of any of the finalists for the Lombardi Award and Nagurski Trophy this season. He hasn’t received the attention of UCLA’s Anthony Barr, Alabama’s C.J. Mosley, Missouri’s Michael Sam or the others, but he’s been just as dominant. Donald had nine tackles and 3.5 tackles for a loss in the 17-16 win over Syracuse to make Pittsburgh bowl eligible. Donald’s blocked extra point in the first quarter turned out to be the decisive play in the game.

Hawaii’s heartbreakers. Two weeks, two overtimes and Hawaii is still winless. The Warriors have come within minutes of picking up their first win of the season in each of the first two weeks only to see fourth quarter leads turn into overtime losses. Hawaii led Wyoming 48-42 to start the fourth quarter before losing 59-56 in overtime. Last week, Hawaii led San Diego State 21-14 in the fourth quarter before the Aztecs scored the final 14 points to win in overtime. A long season for Norm Chow keeps getting longer.

Three Signs of the Apocalypse

Duke wins nine games. Duke’s ninth win seemed inevitable, but Wake Forest at least made the Blue Devils work for it. Wake took a 14-0 lead and led by a  touchdown in the third quarter as Duke coughed up a fumble for a touchdown and went 3 of 11 on third down. Duke won 28-21 for its ninth win of the season, the most in Durham since 1941. To put that in perspective: The last coach to win nine games at Duke was Wallace Wade, who left Alabama to coach the Blue Devils. Voluntarily.

Washington State in a bowl. The Cougars ended the Pac-12’s longest bowl drought by defeating Utah 49-37 for their sixth win. In less than two seasons, Mike Leach has already exceeded his predecessor’s Pac-12 win total. With a 4-4 conference record this season, Leach is 5-12 in the league overall. Paul Wulff was 4-32 in four seasons.

Illinois wins a Big Ten game. Thankfully for Illinois, Purdue is on the schedule. The Big Ten’s other awful team gave Illinois the chance to end its 20-game Big Ten losing streak. Illinois defeated Purdue 20-16 for its first conference win since Oct. 8, 2011 despite four turnovers against the Boilermakers.

College Football Week 13 Recap: Baylor and Manziel stumble in Key Games
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-12-injury-updates-adrian-peterson-ben-tate-trent-richardson-darren-mcfadden

Adrian Peterson is at less than 100 percent entering Week 12. Here’s the latest injury-related information on the reigning MVP and a few other fantasy-relevant running backs.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Peterson’s sore groin was clearly an issue for him last week against Seattle. He got 21 carries, but only gained 65 yards with a long rush of 13 yards. The Vikings have gone with rest to try and get Peterson back to 100 percent and he is listed as Questionable to face the Packers. Peterson has said he intends to play, but there’s nothing wrong with checking his status before the 1 p.m. ET kickoff just to be sure. If he does play, don’t be surprised if it’s not a vintage “All Day” performance.  Besides the sore groin, he’s also facing a Green Bay rushing defense that’s allowed just three 100-yard games to running backs all season.

Ben Tate, RB, Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
No one can doubt Tate’s toughness. Already playing with broken ribs, Tate also is dealing with ankle and toe injuries. Despite this trifecta of maladies, Tate is listed as Probable and will take his shot at the league’s worst rushing defense (139.1 ypg). If not for his injuries, Tate would be a RB1 this week. As it is, Tate is a legitimate RB2 and should be in your lineup.

Trent Richardson, RB, Indianapolis Colts at Arizona Cardinals
Richardson is Questionable with a calf injury, but head coach Chuck Pagano said he feels pretty good about T-Rich’s chances of playing. That said, this could be just the “excuse” Richardson owners have been waiting for to finally bench him without any twinge of remorse (or guilt). T-Rich has been T-errible this season, regardless of which uniform he’s been in, and Donald Brown has just about replaced Richardson as the Colts’ primary back. Richardson may have a bright future, but his 2013 fantasy season is pretty much done.

Joique Bell, RB, Detroit Lions vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Bell got the call at running back last week following a Reggie Bush fumble. Bell was getting the job done against Pittsburgh (9 att., 49 yds., TD), but he had to leave the game because of an Achilles injury. He was a full participant in practice on Friday, but is considered Questionable to play today. His injury is believed to be tendinitis, so it’s definitely possible that he could be out there. Bell was a fairly dependable flex option early in the season, but that was before Bush started seeing the vast majority of the touches. The only reason Bell was so busy last week was because the coaching staff wanted to send a message to Bush following the fumble. There’s no reason to believe that Bush has lost his job as the No. 1 back, especially with Bell at less than 100 percent. Bell is a risky play this week, even as a flex, and probably should be avoided all together.

Brandon Jacobs, RB, New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
After missing the previous three games with a hamstring injury, Jacobs returned last week against Green Bay and contributed nine yards and a touchdown on five carries. He’s Questionable again this week, this time with a knee injury, but is expected to play against Dallas. Andre Brown is the Giants’ bell-cow back now, so if you want to chase a potential short-yardage touchdown with Jacobs you go right ahead.

Already Ruled Out (Again)

Darren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders – McFadden is reportedly making progress with his hamstring injury, but not enough to return to the field. He will miss a third straight game, giving Rashad Jennings another opportunity. Jennings has gone over 100 yards rushing in two of his past three games, including 150 and a touchdown last week against Houston. The Raiders host the Titans, who are allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to running backs. The matchup is enough to put Jennings into the RB2 category.

Week 12 Injury Updates: Adrian Peterson, Ben Tate, Trent Richardson, Darren McFadden
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-12-cecil-shorts-calvin-johnson-deandre-hopkins-keenan-allen-greg

Several wide receivers are dealing with injuries entering Week 12. Here are the ones you need to know about before setting your lineup.

Cecil Shorts and Mike Brown, WRs, Jacksonville Jaguars at Houston Texans
Shorts’ groin is not fully healed, but he’s considered Probable and will play against the Texans. Shorts has a total of nine targets in his last two games, but he’s still the Jaguars’ most dangerous receiver. The Texans are No. 1 in the NFL in passing defense, so it could be another less-than-spectacular outing for Shorts. Brown’s shoulder injury is more of a problem compared to Shorts’ groin, as the undrafted rookie is listed as Questionable. Between the matchup against Houston and his injury situation, there’s really no reason to pay Brown much attention this week.

Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson, WRs, Detroit Lions vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Even though Johnson didn’t get in a full week of practice, the knee is fine and he is Probable. The only question is how will Megatron do today when he visits Revis Island? Burleson (right), on the other hand, is set to play in his first game since Week 3. Out since breaking his forearm in a car accident in late September, Burleson practiced fully on Thursday and Friday. He is Probable and expected to start alongside Johnson. I don’t need to tell you that Johnson is a WR1, do I? Burleson is certainly appealing considering the attention Johnson receives from opposing defenses, but in his first game back it’s better to err on the side of caution. For now, view Burleson as a WR3 with upside.

DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Houston Texans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Hopkins missed some practice time due to an illness, but he returned on Friday. The rookie is listed as Probable and maybe today’s matchup will be just what the doctor ordered. Over his last seven games, Hopkins has just one touchdown catch and has recorded more than three receptions one time. The good news of Hopkins’ owners is that the Jaguars have given up 12 touchdown catches to opposing wide receivers this season. Hopkins is fairly safe to employ as a WR3 this week.

Keenan Allen, Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal, WRs, San Diego Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs
Allen left last week’s game against Miami in the fourth quarter after sustaining a knee injury. Fortunately, he escaped without serious damage and was able to practice fully this week. Allen is listed as Probable and will be out there against the Chiefs. The rookie has emerged as the Chargers’ No. 1 wide receiver, but Allen will have his work cut out for him against a physical, athletic Kansas City secondary. Meanwhile Brown and Royal both missed some practice time this week due to their respective injuries. Brown has a shoulder injury and was a full practice participant on Friday. Royal has a toe injury which has prevented him from practicing at all for more than a month, but he has yet to miss a game. Brown is Probable, while Royal is Questionable, but both will likely be out there. Allen is clearly the best option of the three, as Brown has just one touchdown catch on the season and three or fewer receptions in each of his past five games. Royal has seven touchdown grabs, but he’s also a boom-or-bust player. The Chiefs are giving up fewer than 14 points per game, so don’t expect a lot out of any of these Chargers.

Greg Jennings, WR, Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Despite being Probable for last week’s game, Jennings ended up not playing against Seattle because of a strained Achilles tendon. He was limited again in practice this week and is listed as Questionable, but the expectation is he will play. Even though Green Bay has been fairly generous to wide receivers this season, that doesn’t mean Jennings should be in your starting lineup. He has struggled all season and there’s no reason to expect that to change, even going against his former team. In Week 8 against the Packers, Jennings caught one pass for nine yards.

Emmanuel Sanders, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns
Sanders hurt his foot last week, which forced him to leave the game against Detroit early. He practiced fully all week though and is considered Probable. Antonio Brown is the Steelers’ No. 1 wide receiver, but he has a very tough matchup today with Browns shutdown cornerback Joe Haden. That could mean more opportunities for Sanders to produce, although Jerricho Cotchery, who has five touchdown catches in his last three games, also is a factor. Sanders and Cotchery should be viewed as nothing more than possible WR3 options this week.

Injury Updates Week 12: Cecil Shorts, Calvin Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, Keenan Allen, Greg Jennings
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-12-injury-updates-wes-welker-hakeem-nicks-michael-floyd-mike-wallace-santonio-holmes

Welker has passed the necessary concussion tests and is on track to face his former team tonight

A concussion isn’t expected to get in the way of a Bronco wide receiver from facing his former Patriot teammates tonight. Here’s the latest on Wes Welker and some other well-known wideouts entering Week 12.

Wes Welker, WR, Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
Welker sustained a concussion last week against the Chiefs, but he was a full go at practice on Friday and is listed as Probable. Interim head coach Jack Del Rio went so far as to label Welker a “definite” to face the Patriots. Welker’s already no worse than a WR2 on any given week, so the extra juice he will more than likely have because he’s facing his former team only increases his chances of having a big game. Especially considering how banged up the Patriots’ defense is right now.

Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Nicks is listed as Questionable with an abdominal strain, which limited him in practice both Thursday and Friday. Nicks has said he will “surely play,” but the late afternoon kickoff (4:25 p.m. ET) does complicate things somewhat. The matchup with Dallas, which is dead last in the NFL in passing defense, is certainly appealing, but Nicks is still searching for his first touchdown catch of the season. He has the potential for so much more, but right now Nicks is nothing more than a WR3 option.

Michael Floyd, WR, Arizona Cardinals vs. Indianapolis Colts
Listed as Questionable entering last week’s game in Jacksonville, all Floyd did was erupt for 193 yards on six catches, including a 91-yard touchdown. The shoulder injury limited his participation in practice, but the Probable designation is pretty much all you need to know. The Cardinals still have Larry Fitzgerald running routes and catching balls, but if Carson Palmer continues his strong play, there should be enough passes for both Floyd and Fitz to be productive. The Colts are 10th in the league when it comes to fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. So whether you have Floyd or Fitzgerald, I would start both Cardinal wideouts and hope they fly high this afternoon.

Mike Wallace, WR, Miami Dolphins vs. Carolina Panthers
Wallace played through his hamstring injury last week, catching four passes for 39 yards against San Diego. He was limited during the week, but practiced fully on Friday and is listed as Probable. Carolina’s defense is giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers, so you may want to analyze your other options before rolling the dice on a maddeningly inconsistent Wallace.

Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley and David Nelson, WRs, New York Jets at Baltimore Ravens
At this point it would be easier to list the Jet wide receivers that are NOT injured. Kerley is Doubtful because of a dislocated elbow, so it’s pretty likely he won’t play. Holmes and Nelson are both Probable and should be on the field against the Ravens. It doesn’t mean either should be a part of your starting lineup, however, as Geno Smith completed just 8-of-23 passes with three interceptions last week against Buffalo before being replaced by Matt Simms. There’s nothing that appealing when it comes to the Jets’ passing attack right now. Holmes would be the only Jet WR I would even consider taking a flyer on, but even that’s a lukewarm endorsement.

Already Ruled Out

Denarius Moore, WR, Oakland Raiders – Moore, the Raiders’ leading wide receiver, sustained a shoulder injury in last week’s win in Houston. He didn’t practice all week, so it’s not surprising that the team went ahead and ruled him out early. Matt McGloin will make his second career start against a pretty stout Tennessee defense, and the undrafted rookie will undoubtedly miss Moore.

Week 12 Injury Updates: Wes Welker, Hakeem Nicks, Michael Floyd, Mike Wallace, Santonio Holmes
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-12-peyton-manning-terrelle-pryor-christian-ponder-jay-cutler-aaron

The ankle’s not fully healed, but it won’t keep Peyton Manning from facing the New England Patriots tonight. The same can’t be said for a few other injured quarterbacks, however.

Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
Manning was limited in practice again this week because of his lingering ankle injury, but it certainly wasn’t a factor this past Sunday against Kansas City. He is listed as Probable and there’s very little chance, if any, that Manning misses his 14th head-to-head meeting with Tom Brady (and Bill Belichick). Considering how many key defensive players are out for the season because of injury or hobbled headed into this one, it’s very possible that Manning could put up some of the best numbers he’s had against a Belichick defense in his career.

Christian Ponder, QB, Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers
Ponder dislocated his non-throwing shoulder two weeks ago, but still made the start in Seattle. After throwing two interceptions, Ponder was replaced by Matt Cassel in the loss to the Seahawks. Ponder is listed as Probable for today’s game and he will get another start. The Vikings’ offense is a mess right now, especially with Adrian Peterson not at 100 percent due to a groin injury. Ponder threw for just 145 yards and had  a rushing touchdown in the first game against Green Bay back in Week 8, and there’s no reason to expect different results today. Ponder isn’t even on the QB-2 league radar.

Terrelle Pryor, QB, Oakland Raiders vs. Tennessee Titans
Pryor missed last week’s game because of a knee injury. He is listed as Questionable again this week and will probably be a game-time decision. It doesn’t really matter though, because if Pryor does play, it will be as Matt McGloin’s backup. McGloin got the start against Houston last week and all he did was throw three touchdown passes and no interceptions in leading the Raiders to victory on the road. Now before you run out and grab McGloin off of the waiver wire, consider this: the Titans are giving up the third-fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks and Oakland’s No. 1 wide receiver, Denarius Moore, has already been ruled Out because of a shoulder injury. My advice would be to resist the temptation to start the Silver and Black’s new signal-caller or else you may end up with a black eye at the quarterback spot in your lineup.

Getting Better, But Still Not Ready

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears – Cutler will miss yet another game because of his injured ankle. Josh McCown will make his third start of the season in search of maintaining his spotless record. St. Louis’ defense has been pretty tough on quarterbacks, especially from a pressure standpoint. However, McCown has shown remarkable poise in the pocket and is comfortable running head coach Marc Trestman’s system. McCown still has yet to throw an interception, which is one of the reasons why he remains in the bye week fill-in or 2-QB league conversation.

Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers – Rodgers is out for a third straight game, although he is making progress in his recovery from a broken collarbone. Scott Tolzien will make his second career start against a Minnesota defense that is giving up the third-most fantasy points to quarterbacks. Tolzien is still a fairly risky play, as he threw for 339 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions last week against the Giants. I would consider Tolzien in a 2-QB league, but only after giving a long, hard look at my other options.

Injury Updates Week 12: Peyton Manning, Terrelle Pryor, Christian Ponder, Jay Cutler, Aaron Rodgers
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, injury updates, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-12-injury-updates-julius-thomas-rob-gronkowski-jordan-reed-kyle-rudolph

Two of the NFL’s most dangerous tight ends are set to be on the same field tonight in New England and both are listed on the injury report. Is either in danger of not playing?

Julius Thomas, TE, Denver Broncos at New England Patriots
Thomas was limited in practice all week due to a knee injury. He is listed as Questionable and is considered a game-time decision. As long as he’s not ruled out prior to kickoff (8:30 p.m. ET), you should keep Thomas in your lineup. He’s second only to Jimmy Graham in both fantasy points and touchdown catches among tight ends. Even if he’s limited, Thomas is a better starting option than the majority of tight ends out there.

Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots vs. Denver Broncos
Gronkowski is listed on the injury report because of his back, but he’s also reportedly dealing with forearm and hamstring issues too. Even though he continues to be limited in practice, Gronk is listed as Probable and will be a big part of the Patriots’ game plan against the Broncos. In fact, tonight’s matchup with Denver means Gronk and Julius Thomas, two of the league’s top tight ends and both of which are at less than 100 percent, will get to size each other up in person.

Already Ruled Out

Jordan Reed, TE, Washington Redskins – Reed sustained a concussion last week and as of Friday, he had yet to pass the necessary tests to be cleared to return to the field. He is Out for the Monday night game against San Francisco, at least according to the official injury report. However, based on some comments from head coach Mike Shanahan, there does appear to be some discrepancy regarding his status. Either way, because of the Monday night time slot, it would probably be safest to employ someone other than Reed as your tight end this week.

Kyle Rudolph, TE, Minnesota Vikings – Rudolph is still out with a fractured foot, leaving John Carlson as the starter. Carlson has seven catches in each of the last two games and faces a Green Bay defense that has had some issues shutting opposing tight ends down. Carlson remains a TE2 candidate.

Week 12 Injury Updates: Julius Thomas, Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, Kyle Rudolph
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Arizona Wildcats, College Football, Pac 12, News
Path: /college-football/arizona-intercepts-oregon-qb-marcus-mariota-crazy-deflection

Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota entered Saturday’s game against Arizona with a streak of 353 passes without an interception. However, on his first pass against the Wildcats, Mariota was picked off, which was the start of a bad day for the Ducks.

Mariota’s pass was deflected off the receiver’s hands, which was knocked back into the field of play by Shaquille Richardson. After Richardson knocked the ball back into the field, linebacker Scooby Wright made the catch to give Arizona possession.

Arizona Intercepts Oregon QB Marcus Mariota on Crazy Deflection
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 02:15
Path: /college-football/boston-college-rb-andre-williams-delivers-punishing-stiff-arm-against-maryland

Boston College running back Andre Williams continued his stellar 2013 season with 263 yards and two touchdowns on 32 attempts against Maryland.

The senior made a key run in the fourth quarter to put the Eagles in position to kick the game-winning field goal. However, his play of the day might have been a mean stiff arm that clobbered Maryland defensive back Will Likely:

Boston College RB Andre Williams Delivers Punishing Stiff Arm Against Maryland
Post date: Saturday, November 23, 2013 - 20:31
All taxonomy terms: Auburn Tigers, College Football, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/rvs-already-arriving-auburn-iron-bowl

Just how big is next week’s Iron Bowl? Auburn already has RVs lining up to get tailgate spots for next Saturday’s game.

Don’t believe us? Check out these photos from Auburn:


RVs Already Arriving in Auburn for Iron Bowl
Post date: Saturday, November 23, 2013 - 20:22
Path: /college-football/east-carolina-claims-state-bragging-rights-billboard

After East Carolina’s 42-28 victory over NC State, a billboard popped up in North Carolina celebrating the Pirates’ 2013 season.

East Carolina has bragging rights over its in-state foes, as the Pirates beat North Carolina and NC State this season.

The Pirates will have a chance to win Conference USA’s East Division next week against Marshall.

East Carolina Claims In-State Bragging Rights on Billboard
Post date: Saturday, November 23, 2013 - 20:12