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Still riding high following its victory over New England at home on “Monday Night Football,” Carolina has ascended to the top of Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 12 defense/special teams rankings. The Panthers are third in fantasy points among DSTs, behind only Kansas City and Seattle, and will take on Miami this Sunday. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has had his problems with turnovers (16 total) this season, and he’s also been sacked an NFL-worst 41 times.
Houston, led by reigning Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, was among the league leaders in sacks last season, but 2013 has been a struggle for the Texans DST. Near the bottom in fantasy points, Houston’s DST could be a replacement/bye week fill-in option this week, as the Texans host Jacksonville. The Jaguars are not only last in both total and scoring offense; they are giving up the second-most fantasy points to DSTs.
Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.
2013 NFL Week 12 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams
Teams on bye this week: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Seattle
|1||Carolina Panthers||at MIA||Keep rising to the occasion - late INT to seal MNF win vs. NE.|
|2||Kansas City Chiefs||vs. SD||Didn't record a single sack vs. Peyton Manning last week.|
|3||San Francisco 49ers||at WAS (Mon.)||49ers' D still seething over what happened in New Orleans.|
|4||Baltimore Ravens||vs. NYJ||Can the Ravens take advantage of Geno Smith's growing pains?|
|5||New Orleans Saints||at ATL (Thurs.)||This is not the same Falcons team Saints beat in Week 1.|
|6||Houston Texans||vs. JAC||Gave up 3 TD passes to Raiders, but just 176 passing yards.|
|7||Arizona Cardinals||vs. IND||Cardinals' D has been pretty tough out in the desert.|
|8||St. Louis Rams||vs. CHI||Can the Rams get to McCown? Slow down Forte?|
|9||New York Giants||vs. DAL||11.8 ppg, 253.3 ypg, 11 takeaways during 4-game winning streak.|
|10||Green Bay Packers||vs. MIN||Peterson (groin) wasn’t at full strength last week vs. Seattle.|
|11||Pittsburgh Steelers||at CLE||Horrendous first half, solid second half last week vs. Lions.|
|12||Chicago Bears||at STL||Bears have picked off at least one pass in 5 straight games.|
|13||Tennessee Titans||at OAK||Titans' rushing defense could be tested by Raiders.|
|14||Cleveland Browns||vs. PIT||Browns gave up 224 yards (118 passing) last week to Bengals.|
|15||Oakland Raiders||vs. TEN||Raiders' D has been pretty solid in the Black Hole.|
|16||Dallas Cowboys||at NYG||Cowboys come off of bye for critical NFC East showdown.|
Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:
0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points
Additional Week 12 Positional Rankings
Seattle’s Steven Hauschka, the top scorer at his position, is on bye so it’s only fitting that Athlon Sports' fantasy football Week 12 kicker rankings is headlined by two who will share the same field on Sunday night. New England’s Stephen Gostkowski may trail Hauschka in fantasy points, but he’s No. 1 in this week’s rankings with Denver’s Matt Prater right behind him. The Patriots host the Broncos Sunday night and expect both kickers to play a role in determining the winner of this matchup of AFC division leaders.
New Orleans also is in first place in its division (NFC South), and the Saints have an opportunity to extend that lead Thursday night against Atlanta. After a few rocky outings, Garrett Hartley has seemingly righted the ship, which makes the Saints offense that much more dangerous. Hartley entered last week’s big game against San Francisco connecting on just two of his past six field goal attempts. It got so bad that the team actually brought in some kickers to try out, although the decision was made to stick with Hartley.
Hartley rewarded the coaching staff’s loyalty by knocking through all three of his attempts against the 49ers, including a long of 42 yards that tied the game at 20 with a little more than two minutes left. The most important one, however, was the 31-yarder he made as time expired to give the Saints a hard-fought 23-20 victory over the defending NFC champions. Hartley is a clear-cut, top-10 option this week against a Falcons defense that’s allowing the most fantasy points to kickers.
Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.
2013 NFL Week 12 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers
Teams on bye this week: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Seattle
|1||Stephen Gostkowski||NE||vs. DEN|
|2||Matt Prater||DEN||at NE|
|3||Dan Bailey||DAL||at NYG|
|4||Nick Folk||NYJ||at BAL|
|5||Justin Tucker||BAL||vs. NYJ|
|6||Garrett Hartley||NO||at ATL (Thurs.)|
|7||Adam Vinatieri||IND||at ARI|
|8||Mason Crosby||GB||vs. MIN|
|9||Robbie Gould||CHI||at STL|
|10||Ryan Succop||KC||vs. SD|
|11||Shaun Suisham||PIT||at CLE|
|12||Nick Novak||SD||at KC|
|13||Phil Dawson||SF||at WAS (Mon.)|
|14||Josh Brown||NYG||vs. DAL|
|15||Graham Gano||CAR||at MIA|
|16||Blair Walsh||MIN||at GB|
Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:
PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points
Additional Week 12 Positional Rankings
There isn’t a marquee showdown in the Big Ten this weekend but there are a host of interesting games. Michigan State can clinch the Legends Division, two NCAA blue bloods get together in Happy Valley, two coaching staffs fight for their lives in Iowa City, someone has to win in West Lafayette and the most-played rivalry in college football will feature two ranked teams.
Big Ten Week 13 Game Power Rankings:
1. Wisconsin (-16) at Minnesota (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
The oldest rivalry in college football history began back in 1890 and Minnesota holds a slight edge in the all-time series, which stands at 58-56-8. However, this Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe has been extremely one-sided of late. Wisconsin has won nine straight, 16 of the last 18 meetings and hasn’t won by less than 18 points since 2009. Despite head coach Jerry Kill remaining in the press box for the game, this appears to be the Gophers' best shot at ending the streak in some time. Minnesota’s running game has been nearly as potent as the Badgers', ranking 20th nationally with 218.5 yards per game. The key, however, won’t be stopping the Wisconsin running game (because no one can truly “stop” it), it will be moving the ball on the nation’s No. 6-rated total defense (287.8 ypg) and scoring points on the nation’s fifth-rated scoring defense (14.0 ppg). Philip Nelson will have to play a perfect football game under center and tailback David Cobb will have to continue to be the workhorse he’s developed into over the last month.
2. Michigan State (-7.5) at Northwestern (Noon, ESPN)
Connor Cook, Jeremy Langford and the nation’s No. 1 defense did something last week no MSU team has ever done — it beat Nebraska. Now, the Spartans can clinch the Legends Division title and secure a date with Ohio State in the Big Ten title game with a road win at Northwestern. The Wildcats simply need something positive to happen after losing six straight. A loss would knock Pat Fitzgerald out of the postseason for the first time since his second season in Evanston in 2007. In fact, Ryan Field has been a safe haven for the Spartans ever since Fitzgerald got to town. The Wildcats are 0-4 against Michigan State at home under Coach Fitz. With some of the most heart-breaking losses in the nation this year, it’s hard to tell if the ball should finally bounce the Cats way or if they are destined for a winless Big Ten campaign.
3. Nebraska (+2) at Penn State (3:30 p.m., BTN)
The visual contrast between Nebraska’s Big Red and the Nittany Lions’ navy blue is a sight to behold — even if the teams have combined for seven losses this year. The Huskers have won both Big Ten meetings between the two and have won four out of five dating back to 1983. Penn State quarterback Christian Hackenberg is coming off his best game (152.64 rating) since a Week 3 loss to UCF (165.38) and has shown he is a much more efficient player at home. Nebraska lost for the first time without Taylor Martinez under center last week to Michigan State and Bo Pelini will need to rebuild the confidence of both Tommy Armstrong (9-of-21) and Ron Kellogg III (67 yards total offense) quickly to top Penn State in Happy Valley. Ameer Abdullah is locked in a heated battle with Melvin Gordon for the Big Ten rushing championship after topping 100 yards for the seventh straight game last week — the first back to top the century mark against the Spartans all season.
4. Michigan (+6) at Iowa (Noon, BTN)
Wolverines offensive coordinator Al Borges is feeling the heat after yet another lackluster offensive performance against Northwestern last week. Kirk Ferentz could end all hot seat discussions with two wins to end the season over rivals Michigan and Nebraska. Devin Gardner posted the best passing game of his career (until Indiana this year) in the blowout win over Iowa last fall but comes in struggling to move the ball. The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, have had two weeks to prepare after crushing Purdue on both sides of the ball. Both coaching staffs desperately need a win as the final two weeks will shape offseason perceptions of both programs dramatically. Nine wins looks totally different than seven in Ann Arbor while eight is a big jump from six in Iowa City.
5. Indiana (+34.5) at Ohio State (3:30 p.m., ABC)
This was an exciting 52-49 road win for the Buckeyes last season. And while it’s easy to root for Kevin Wilson and the upstart Hoosiers offense, there is just no way they will be as competitive this time around. Indiana allowed 554 yards on 11.1 yards per carry and six touchdowns on the ground to Wisconsin last week while Urban Meyer continues to ride his own power rushing attack. The only team better at running the ball than the Badgers in the Big Ten is Ohio State. The Bucks are fourth nationally with 315.1 yards rushing per game. Best of luck, Indiana.
6. Illinois (-7) at Purdue (Noon, BTN)
Someone has to win, right? Neither team has registered a Big Ten win in 2013 and both are nearing monumental lows in production. Illinois has lost 20 consecutive Big Ten games, including two close losses to the Boilermakers the last two seasons. Purdue meanwhile might be the worst power conference team in the nation, failing to come within one score of the opposition in eight of their nine losses (Notre Dame, 31-24). Nathan Scheelhaase, who leads the Big Ten in total offense at 290.5 yards per game, might be the only competent offensive weapon on the field this Saturday.
Big Ten Week 13 Pivotal Players
Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox discuss Ohio State's BCS title hopes and preview Week 13 in this edition of Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
The Badgers' offensive attack isn’t some secret mystery. They are going to run the football… a lot. Minnesota star defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman can’t do all the work alone, however, as he will need support from those around him to stop the powerful Wisconsin ground game. The Gophers defeated Nebraska, Indiana and Penn State despite giving up 202.0 yards rushing per game on 5.9 yards per carry over their last three. If Minnesota gives up six yards per rush to Wisconsin, this won’t be a close game.
2. David Cobb, RB, Minnesota
A quiet hero of the Golden Gophers' storybook second half has been the junior from Killeen, Texas. Cobb has turned into a workhorse during the four-game winning streak, carrying 26.8 times per game for 142 yards rushing per contest. He has been over 100 yards in four straight and has scored in back-to-back games. To keep the Badgers off of the field, Cobb needs to give Philip Nelson and the offense some protection on the ground against a defense giving up just 98.8 yards rushing per game.
3. Penn State’s linebackers
Linebacker U has two excellent upperclassmen tacklers in Glenn Carson and Mike Hull. These two lead the team in tackles with 75 and 62 respectively on the season. Against Nebraska star running back Ameer Abdullah, Penn State’s linebackers will need to be disciplined and physical.
4. Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan
Before throwing for 504 yards against Indiana this year, Gardner’s top passing effort came in the 42-17 drubbing of Iowa in the Big House last season (314 yards, 3 TD). And more than just bragging rights or bowl pecking order is on the line, Gardner’s legacy hangs in the balance. He has failed to live up to expectations for much of the season and how he plays over the final two weeks will mold how Michigan is thought of heading into his senior season in 2014. He has finally eliminated the turnovers from his game but Iowa’s defense is opportunistic and will be looking to make plays at home.
5. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
Calhoun is in a heated battle with Chris Borland, Randy Gregory and Ryan Shazier (among others) for Defensive Player of the Year honors in the Big Ten. Against a Northwestern team that is 117th in the nation in sacks allowed (3.4 per game) and with a chance to clinch the division, Calhoun has a chance to put together a season-defining performance on the road in Evanston.
Big Ten Week 13 Prediction Grid:
|Game||Braden Gall||Mitch Light||Steven Lassan||David Fox|
|Wisconsin (-16) at Minnesota||Wisconsin, 41-24||Wisconsin, 38-15||Wisconsin, 34-24||Wisconsin, 35-24|
|Michigan St (-7.5) at N'Western||Mich. St, 31-13||Mich. St, 20-7||Mich. St, 27-10||Mich. St, 28-7|
|Nebraska (+2) at Penn St||Penn St, 27-24||Nebraska, 27-13||Nebraska, 27-24||Penn St, 28-24|
|Michigan (+6) at Iowa||Iowa, 21-20||Iowa, 17-10||Iowa, 24-20||Iowa, 21-17|
|Indiana (+34.5) at Ohio St||Ohio St, 51-31||Ohio St, 55-21||Ohio St, 54-27||Ohio St, 49-21|
|Illinois (-7) at Purdue||Illinois, 34-20||Illinois, 34-21||Illinois, 34-20||Illinois, 38-24|
The ACC features only four matchups with teams in conference play this Saturday, while Florida State, Georgia Tech, Clemson and North Carolina step out of the ACC for a non-conference affair.
With the Atlantic Division title settled, the focus of the next two Saturdays in the ACC turns to the Coastal. Duke holds the edge over Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Miami, but the Blue Devils still have two tough games remaining. Duke travels to Wake Forest this Saturday, followed by a game against rival North Carolina next week.
Pittsburgh and Syracuse square off on Saturday, with the winner earning bowl eligibility. Miami hopes to snap a three-game losing streak with Virginia visiting Sun Life Stadium, and Boston College travels to Maryland.
It’s a light slate of action, but the ACC should have a little more clarity to its conference title and bowl picture by Sunday.
ACC Week 13 Game Power Rankings
1. Pittsburgh (-1) at Syracuse (12:30 ET, ACC Network)
It’s odd the game of the week features two 5-5 teams. But this game has plenty at stake for both programs, as the winner of this one will get bowl eligible. Pittsburgh has won seven out of the last eight matchups with Syracuse. However, the Orange won 14-13 at home last year. This season’s meeting could be another low-scoring affair, with both teams ranked near the bottom of the ACC in scoring offense. Pittsburgh is averaging 21.8 points a game in conference play, while Syracuse is last at 12.3. Protecting quarterback Tom Savage is the top priority for the Panthers, especially against a Syracuse defense that has generated 30 sacks this year. If Savage has time to throw, big plays should be there for receivers Tyler Boyd and Devin Street. The Orange are averaging only 174.9 passing yards a game this year, and it’s critical for the rushing attack to get on track. In Syracuse’s five wins, it is averaging 245.6 rushing yards a contest. Pittsburgh ranks ninth in the ACC against the run, but tackle Aaron Donald is one of the league’s best and will be a tough matchup for the Orange’s offensive line.
2. Duke (-5.5) at Wake Forest (Noon ET, ESPN2)
Duke is just two wins away from playing in its first ACC Championship. But the Blue Devils won’t have an easy path to a Coastal Division title, as rival North Carolina awaits next Saturday, while Winston-Salem has been a challenging place for this program in recent years. Wake Forest has won 12 out of the last 13 meetings against Duke, but the Blue Devils won 34-27 in Winston-Salem last year. The Demon Deacons are still without receiver Michael Campanaro, who suffered a collarbone injury in the loss against Syracuse. Without Campanaro, Wake Forest scored only three points in a 59-3 loss to Florida State. Duke’s defense isn’t as dominant as the Seminoles, but this unit has stepped up in the second half of games, holding Miami to just seven points last week and 10 to NC State in a 38-20 victory on Nov. 9. The Blue Devils would like to get quarterback Anthony Boone back on track this Saturday, as the junior has seven interceptions and zero touchdowns over his last three games.
3. Boston College (+1) at Maryland (3:30 ET, RSN)
Both teams picked up the all-important sixth win last week, and with the ACC likely to have more bowl-eligible teams than available spots, the last two games of the year for Boston College and Maryland are all about improving their bowl position. The Eagles have won three in a row, largely due to the play of running back Andre Williams. The senior gashed NC State for 339 yards and two touchdowns and has at least 166 yards in each of his last four games. Maryland ranks ninth in ACC-only games against the run, and two out of their last three opponents have rushed for at least 242 yards. The Terrapins snapped a three-game losing streak last week, defeating Virginia Tech 27-24 in Blacksburg. Quarterback C.J. Brown carried the offense for Maryland last Saturday, recording 257 of the team’s 319 yards. Boston College ranks last in the ACC against the pass, so there will be opportunities for Brown to make plays through the air. With both teams limited on offense, the turnover battle will be crucial. The Terrapins rank last in the ACC in turnover margin (-2.0 per game), while the Eagles are +4 this season.
4. Virginia (+20) at Miami (Noon ET, ESPNU)
After a 7-0 start, Miami has been trending in the wrong direction with three consecutive losses. The Hurricanes are likely out of the Coastal Division title picture, but winning their last two games can help improve their bowl position. Virginia also enters this matchup looking for something positive, as the Cavaliers have dropped seven consecutive games. Miami’s defense has allowed 40 points in three-straight contests, but Virginia’s offense is averaging just 16.7 points a game. The strength of the Cavaliers’ offense resides with running back Kevin Parks (4.3 ypc, 10 TDs), while quarterback David Watford has to pickup his play to have any shot at the upset. Miami quarterback Stephen Morris has thrown for 300 yards in back-to-back games, and even with receiver Phillip Dorsett once again this week, the senior passer could reach that mark against a Virginia secondary ranked 10th in the ACC. Although Miami is a 20-point favorite this week, the Cavaliers have won three in a row in this series, including a 41-40 shootout in Charlottesville last season.
5. Old Dominion (+17.5) at North Carolina (Noon ET, RSN)
The Tar Heels hope to continue their late-season surge against a dangerous non-conference matchup in Old Dominion. The Monarchs are transitioning to the FBS and lost 35-24 at Pittsburgh earlier this year. Old Dominion’s offense is led by junior quarterback Taylor Heinicke – who has thrown for 3,892 yards and 32 touchdowns this season – and four players with at least 40 receptions. North Carolina’s secondary ranks fourth in ACC games against the pass, holding three of its last four opponents under 205 passing yards. Getting pressure on Heinicke will be critical, and senior end Kareem Martin is coming off one of the best defensive performances of his career (8 tackles, 4 sacks, 2 FF). Even if the Tar Heels struggle to keep Heinicke in check for all four quarters, the offense should have no trouble moving the ball on Old Dominion. The Monarchs are allowing 427.7 yards per game this season, and five opponents have scored at least 30 points. With a win over ODU, North Carolina will earn bowl eligibility, along with its first five-game winning streak since 2001.
6. East Carolina (-6.5) at NC State (12:30 ET, ACC Network)
The Wolfpack step out of conference play this Saturday, hoping to break a six-game losing streak with a matchup against in-state foe East Carolina. Under first-year coach Dave Doeren, NC State has struggled at times on both sides of the ball, and the defense is reeling after allowing 420 rushing yards to Boston College last Saturday. The Pirates will present a different challenge, as quarterback Shane Carden will test a Wolfpack secondary ranked third in the ACC against the pass. Carden has 29 touchdown tosses this year and is completing 72.5 percent of his throws. The senior is surrounded by a strong supporting cast, including receiver Justin Hardy (87 catches) and running back Vintavious Cooper (754 yards). If East Carolina can jump out to an early lead, it could spell trouble for NC State. The Wolfpack has struggled to get consistent quarterback play, and the Pirates are limiting opponents to three yards per carry. With Brandon Mitchell questionable to play once again, Pete Thomas is expected to start under center. However, NC State will likely focus its offensive attack around running back Shadrach Thornton (606 yards, four touchdowns), while mobile quarterback Bryant Shirreffs should also see time under center. East Carolina already knocked off one ACC team (North Carolina) and lost by five against Virginia Tech. Can the Pirates go 2-1 against the ACC this year?
7. Idaho (+57) at Florida State (3:30 ET, ESPNU)
The Seminoles have three remaining obstacles to play for the national championship, and Jimbo Fisher’s team shouldn’t have little trouble with Idaho this Saturday. The Vandals were left without a conference home in 2013, forcing a brutal schedule as an Independent. Idaho’s only victory was a two-point win over Temple and lost its two games against BCS opponents this season by a combined score of 101-14. The Vandals also have seven losses by at least 20 points. Florida State’s priorities this week should be pretty simple: Get out of this game healthy and get the backups – especially Sean Maguire at quarterback – valuable reps.
8. The Citadel (+40) vs. Clemson (12:00 ET, ESPN3)
This is the first meeting between The Citadel and Clemson since 2008, but this matchup will turn out like most of the previous games in this series – a Clemson blowout. The Tigers have outscored the Bulldogs 83-17 in their last two meetings, and The Citadel is 0-16 against ranked FBS teams. Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd injured his collarbone against Georgia Tech last week, but the senior is expected to play on Saturday. This will be Boyd’s final home game, and the senior has helped to lead this program to 30 wins over the last three years. Receiver Sammy Watkins still has one more year of eligibility left, but he is expected to enter the NFL Draft. Boyd and Watkins won’t play too long, while both players should put up big numbers in their final Death Valley appearance.
9. Alabama A&M (+51.5) at Georgia Tech (1:30 ET, ESPN3)
Georgia Tech is smarting just a bit after a 55-31 loss to Clemson, but the Yellow Jackets should easily rebound with Alabama A&M coming to Atlanta on Saturday. With a win over the Bulldogs, Georgia Tech will earn its fifth season of at least seven victories under coach Paul Johnson. And while this game means nothing to the ACC title picture, there could be some scoreboard watching on Saturday, as the Yellow Jackets need Wake Forest to beat Duke to stay alive for the Coastal title. Alabama A&M is 4-7 this year, and its last matchup against a FBS team was in 2012, losing 51-7 at Auburn.
ACC Week 13 Pivotal Players
Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox preview Week 13 in this edition of Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
Duke is on the doorstep of its first Coastal Division title. The Blue Devils need to win their last two games to reach Charlotte, which certainly won’t be easy with matchups against Wake Forest and North Carolina up next. Even though Duke has won six in a row, its passing attack has struggled recently. Boone has tossed seven picks in his last three games and has not topped 139 passing yards in each contest during that span. Backup Brandon Connette has accounted for five touchdowns in his last two games, and the junior will share snaps on Saturday. Boone is the better passer between the two quarterbacks, and it’s important for the junior to get back on track after a subpar three-game stretch. Wake Forest’s secondary is holding opponents to 214.8 yards per game but has allowed 16 passing touchdowns.
Cole Farrand, LB, Maryland
Maryland’s defense has allowed two out of its last three opponents to rush for at least 242 yards. And there’s an even bigger threat on the ground looming this Saturday, as Boston College running back Andre Williams visits College Park off a 339-yard performance against NC State. Farrand and nose tackle Darius Kilgo have to win the battle at the point of attack if the Terrapins want to slow down the Eagles’ ground game. Farrand leads the team with 75 tackles, while Kilgo has five tackles for a loss and two sacks this year. If Maryland’s front seven struggles, Williams is in for another huge day on the ground.
Macky MacPherson, C, Syracuse
MacPherson and guards Rob Trudo and Nick Robinson have a tough assignment this Saturday. Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald has been one of the ACC’s top defenders this season, and the senior has dominated opposing offensive lines for 42 tackles (22.5 for a loss) and 10 sacks. Donald also has four forced fumbles in 2013. MacPherson is one of the ACC’s top centers, with 35 starts under his belt the last three years. Syracuse’s offense is dependent on getting its rushing game on track, which requires MacPherson to keep Donald under wraps.
Kevin Parks, RB, Virginia
Can the Cavaliers stop a seven-game losing streak this Saturday? It’s unlikely Virginia can win at Miami, but recent series history favors the Cavaliers in this matchup. The Hurricanes allowed 358 rushing yards in last week’s loss to Duke, while giving up 13 scores on the ground in their last three games. With the Cavaliers struggling to establish a consistent passing attack, it’s critical for Parks to have a huge performance. The junior rushed for 100 yards in a 45-14 loss to North Carolina and is averaging 4.3 yards per carry this season.
Jack Tocho, CB, NC State
If NC State is going to stop a six-game losing streak, it has to find a way to slow down East Carolina’s passing attack. The Pirates have thrown for 30 touchdowns this year and average 341.2 yards per game through the air. Shane Carden is one of the top non-BCS passers in college football, and receiver Justin Hardy is a handful for opposing defensive backs (87 catches). Tocho has started the last five games and has 22 tackles and two interceptions this season. The true freshman needs to hold his own on Saturday, as he will picked on by Carden and the East Carolina receivers.
ACC Week 13 Predictions
|Game||David Fox||Braden Gall||Steven Lassan||Mitch Light|
|Citadel (+40) at Clemson||Clemson 56-7||Clemson 45-10||Clemson 55-7||Clemson 51-3|
|Old Dominion (+17.5) at UNC||UNC 28-17||UNC 38-17||UNC 45-20||UNC 38-24|
|Duke (-5.5) at Wake Forest||Duke 35-14||Duke 34-21||Duke 27-20||Duke 28-20|
|Virginia (+20) at Miami||Miami 28-7||Miami 31-20||Miami 38-17||Miami 38-17|
|Pittsburgh (-1) at Syracuse||Pitt 28-24||Syracuse 30-28||Pitt 27-24||Pitt 31-24|
|East Carolina (-6.5) at NC State||ECU 35-28||ECU 35-21||ECU 34-27||ECU 34-21|
|Alabama A&M (+51.5) at Ga. Tech||Ga. Tech 56-10||Ga. Tech 42-10||Ga. Tech 58-7||Ga. Tech 56-0|
|Boston College (+1) at Maryland||BC 28-24||BC 27-24||BC 24-20||Maryland 21-17|
|Idaho (+57) at Florida State||FSU 63-10||FSU 34-3||FSU 65-3||FSU 51-0|
There are three key games in the SEC this Saturday. In Oxford, Missouri hopes to keep its SEC East title hopes alive with a win over Ole Miss; in Baton Rouge, Johnny Manziel will have an opportunity to impress Heisman voters on a national stage; and in Knoxville, Vanderbilt will be seeking its first two-game winning streak against Tennessee since the 1920s.
SEC Week 13 Game Power Rankings
1. Missouri (-2.5) at Ole Miss (7:45 ET, ESPN)
With South Carolina in the clubhouse with a 6–2 SEC record, Missouri (5–1) needs to beat both Ole Miss and Texas A&M to reach the SEC Championship Game. The Tigers expect senior James Franklin back at quarterback after missing four games with a shoulder injury. Backup Maty Mauk played well in relief, but the Mizzou offense is at its best with Franklin running the show. The Tigers, even with Franklin out for much of the SEC schedule, are averaging a solid 6.6 yards per play in league games — almost a full yard more than Ole Miss (5.8). The two teams have similar passing stats, but Missouri has been far more efficient running the ball against SEC teams — 5.4 yards per carry to 3.7 for the Rebs. The defensive numbers also favor the Tigers, but keep in mind that Ole Miss has played a far more difficult SEC schedule to date.
2. Texas A&M (+4.5) at LSU (3:30 ET, CBS)
It’s a bit of a surprise that these two teams are a combined 7–5 in the SEC at this point of the season. Texas A&M continues to put up gaudy numbers, but the defense has let this team down against quality competition. The Aggies scored 42 points against Alabama and 41 against Auburn — yet lost both games. That’s why LSU is in a good spot on Saturday. The Tigers are only 3–3 in their last six games, but their offense is capable of putting up a huge number against a suspect defense. Led by strong-armed quarterback Zach Mettenberger, LSU leads the league with an average of 10.7 yards per passing attempt. One key could be turnovers: Texas A&M has committed 12 in its last four SEC games.
3. Vanderbilt (+3) at Tennessee (7:00 ET, ESPN2)
The stakes are high for this intrastate showdown. Tennessee needs to beat Vanderbilt and Kentucky to reach bowl-eligibility for the first time since 2010. Vanderbilt, which picked up win No. 6 last weekend, is looking for its first two-game winning streak against Tennessee since 1925-26. The Commodores have not been putting up gaudy numbers on offense, but they have done two things very well in the past month: force turnovers (16 in the last four games) and convert in the red zone (17 of 18 in last four games; SEC-best 88.6 percent for the season). Tennessee has lost three straight games in convincing fashion, but the Vols’ schedule has been brutal. This weekend will break a streak of five straight games against teams ranked in the top 12 at the time of the game.
4. Mississippi State (-1.5) at Arkansas (in Little Rock) (12:21 ET, SEC TV)
These two teams are battling to stay out of last place in the SEC West, but the numbers suggest that Mississippi State is the much better team. In league games, the Bulldogs are only being outgained by 17.7 yards per game — a very low number for a team with a 1–5 record. Arkansas, on the other hand, is being outgained by an average of 142.0 yards per game and has lost all six of its SEC games by at least 10 points. Simply put: Mississippi State has been competitive this season; Arkansas has not. The Bulldogs, however, are battling a potentially serious injury situation at quarterback. Both Tyler Russell (shoulder) and Dak Prescott (elbow) are questionable for Saturday. If neither is able to play, the Bulldogs likely will turn to true freshman Damian Williams, who went 0-of-5 passing in limited duty against Alabama last week.
5. Kentucky (+23.5) at Georgia (7:00 ET, ESPNU)
Georgia must regroup after suffering one of the most excruciating losses in recent memory — and that is not an exaggeration. The Bulldogs were on the verge of completing an epic fourth-quarter comeback … until Auburn completed the unlikeliest of 73-yard touchdown passes. Now, the Dawgs return home to face a Kentucky team searching for its first SEC win since the end of the 2011 season. The Wildcats played relatively well last week in Nashville, but dropped to 2–8 with a 22–6 loss. The offense continues to be the biggest problem; UK is last in the SEC in total offense in league play (266.7 ypg) and has not scored more than 24 points in its last 17 SEC games. Georgia, as long it has mentally recovered from last week’s game, should have little difficulty.
6. Georgia Southern (+27.5) at Florida (2 ET, PPV)
In almost every other season, the thought of an FCS school like Georgia Southern posing any kind of threat to Florida would seem a bit of a stretch. But this isn’t like most seasons. Florida has lost five straight games due in large part to an offense that has not scored more than 20 points in any game since early October. Georgia Southern, which is transitioning to the FBS ranks, is 6–4 under fourth-year coach Jeff Monken. The Eagles run an option attack that is averaging 453.7 yards per game, including 353.5 yards on the ground. Florida’s front seven will be charged with slowing down Georgia Southern’s running game and forcing the Eagles out of their comfort zone.
7. Coastal Carolina (+34.5) at South Carolina (1 ET, PPV)
South Carolina concludes its 2013 regular season with a pair of non-conference games against in-state foes that currently only have one loss — Coastal Carolina and Clemson. The Chanticleers have done their damage against an FCS schedule, but this is still a decent team. They rank third in the FCS in both rushing offense (283.9 ypg) and scoring offense (45.5 ppg). South Carolina will have a distinct talent advantage at almost every spot on the field, but the Gamecocks — who are dealing with some key injuries — could be tested for a bit on Saturday.
8. Chattanooga (+49) at Alabama (2 ET, PPV)
Alabama steps out of league (and FBS) play for a tune-up with Chattanooga before one of the most anticipated Iron Bowls ever. Chattanooga is 8–3 overall and has secured a share of the Southern Conference title with a 6–2 record. The Mocs excel in the run game (223.3 ypg) and at stopping the pass (148.6 ypg). They will have trouble in every facet on Saturday afternoon.
SEC Week 13 Pivotal Players
Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox discuss Auburn's win and preview Week 13 in this edition of Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
Franklin returns to action for the first time since injuring his shoulder in the second half of the Tigers’ win at Georgia on Oct. 12. The fifth-year senior was completing 66.7 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions while also averaging close to 50 yards rushing per game. With Franklin healthy — complemented by an elite set of wide receivers and a solid group of running backs — Missouri’s offense is among the most potent in the nation.
Ole Miss’ offensive line
Ole Miss has played Texas, Alabama and LSU, but Missouri might have the best defensive line the Rebels will see this season. The Tigers, led by senior end Michael Sam, lead the league in sacks with 34 and rank second in rushing defense (111.9 ypg). The Rebs’ offensive line will need to protect quarterback Bo Wallace, who has done a great job this season limiting his mistakes. Last season — his first as a starter — Wallace threw 17 interceptions in 13 games; this year, he has five in 10 games.
Texas A&M cornerbacks
Texas A&M’s struggles on defense are well-documented, but the Aggies do feature a pair of talented cornerbacks in Deshazor Everett and De’Vante Harris. They will be matched up with the most talented wide receiving duo in the league, LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. The Aggies might need a few big plays from their secondary — a pick-6 would certainly help — to win this game in Baton Rouge.
Daniel McCullers, DT, Tennessee
McCullers is a huge — as in 351 pounds — defensive tackle who is capable of being a difference-maker on a Tennessee defense that ranks last in the SEC in stopping the run. Vanderbilt has struggled at times against big run-stuffing tackles; last week, Kentucky’s Donte Rumph had 10 tackles and was a big reason the Commodores’ two tailbacks (Jerron Seymour and Brian Kimbrow) only averaged 3.4 yards per carry. If McCullers can help slow down the rushing attack and make quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels uncomfortable in the pocket, Tennessee will have a great chance to win the game.
Jonathan Krause, WR, Vanderbilt
The Commodores hope to get Krause, who has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, back into the lineup. The senior wideout has 32 receptions for 608 yards, and his 19.0 yards-per-catch average ranks fourth in the SEC. While he was out of the lineup, Vanderbilt only dressed four wide receivers — Jordan Matthews, seldom-used junior Trent Pruitt, true freshman Jordan Cunningham and walk-on Trey Wilkin. Krause’s return would be a huge boost for the Dores, who only averaged 248 yards in the two games he missed.
|David Fox||Braden Gall||Steven Lassan||Mitch Light|
Miss. State (-1.5) at Arkansas
|Miss. State 31-13||Miss. State 34-30||Arkansas 27-24||Miss. State 24-20|
C. Caro. (+34.5) at S. Carolina
S. Carolina 35-7
|S. Carolina 38-7||S. Carolina 48-13||S. Carolina 41-10|
Chattanooga (+49) at Alabama
|Alabama 45-7||Alabama 52-7||Alabama 58-0|
Ga. Southern (+27.5) at Florida
|Florida 27-3||Florida 38-10||Florida 30-10|
Texas A&M (+4.5) at LSU
|LSU 45-41||LSU 38-34||LSU 49-45|
Kentucky (+23.5) at Georgia
|Georgia 38-17||Georgia 38-17||Georgia 34-13|
Vanderbilt (+3) at Tennessee
|Tennessee 23-21||Tennessee 27-24||Vanderbilt 24-20|
Missouri (-2.5) at Ole Miss
|Missouri 34-27||Ole Miss 34-30||Ole Miss 38-31|
USC is still very much in the Pac-12 South race after the upset of Stanford last weekend, but for all intents and purposes, Arizona State visiting UCLA will determine the division champion this weekend. But the Rose Bowl isn’t the only point of interest out West as Washington State tries to get bowl eligible, the North's bowl pecking order will be sorted out in Corvallis and both Oregon and USC try to avoid critical upsets.
Pac-12 Week 13 Game Power Rankings
1. Arizona State (-2) at UCLA (7 p.m. ET, FOX)
The Pac-12 South Championship and a date with (likely) Oregon hangs in the balance in the Rose Bowl Saturday night. And it has all the makings of an instant classic: two great quarterbacks, a history of close games, two quality coaches and defensive star power. The last two meetings have been decided by a total of three points and the loser has averaged 35.0 points per game over the last three. Taylor Kelly (315 yards, 4 TD) and Brett Hundley (274 yards, 4 TD) were fantastic in this meeting last season in the Bruins' 45-43 win in Tempe. Arizona State has the significant edge on the defensive side of the ball as it leads the Pac-12 in total defense (338.4 ypg) and has allowed just 58.4 yards rushing during the five-game winning streak. Contrast that to UCLA, which has given up 442.4 yards per game over its last five. The X-factor will be two-way star freshman Myles Jack and his ability to pick up tough yards on the ground as a running back.
2. Oregon (-20.5) at Arizona (3:30 p.m., ABC)
The last time Oregon lost to Arizona was in November 2007 when it brought a Heisman Trophy-contending quarterback with a bum knee to the desert. The Ducks left Tuscon on the losing end of a 34-24 game and Oregon fans are praying an ugly re-injury like they saw with Dennis Dixon six years ago doesn’t happen again to their star signal-caller. Otherwise, the Ducks have rolled up big numbers in this series since that last loss to the Wildcats, scoring 50.4 points per game during the five-game winning streak. Marcus Mariota didn’t run much last week but proved he can win with his right arm, throwing for 288 yards and three touchdowns against Utah. The only chance Arizona has at another upset is to lean heavily on Ka’Deem Carey, who puts his 13-game, 100-yard rushing streak on the line. The Ducks held him to 79 yards on 21 carries in the 49-0 drubbing in Eugene last season.
3. Washington (+7) at Oregon State (10:30 p.m., ESPN2)
In the preseason, the “other” debate in the Pac-12 North was which team was the third-best in the division. This game will decide it once and for all, as both teams enter with 6-4 records. Bowl pecking order and pride is all that is on the line for these two programs and that should be enough for a great showing. Oregon State has lost three straight games and Sean Mannion hasn’t taken care of the football — seven interceptions in the last two games. Meanwhile, Keith Price’s status is uncertain after missing most of the UCLA game last Friday due to an injured throwing shoulder. If Price can’t go, expect highly touted redshirt freshman Cyler Miles to get the nod. Miles was solid in spot duty, throwing for two touchdowns and 149 yards against UCLA. The home team has won each of the last four meetings but the series has been dominated by the Beavers since 2003 with Oregon State winning seven of the last nine overall.
4. Utah (+1.5) at Washington State (3:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
The second straight trip on the road against a North Division team for Utah has quickly become a critical game for both coaching staffs. Both programs have eyes on the postseason as Utah needs to win each of its remaining games to reach a bowl and Washington State is just one victory away from a postseason trip. The Utes have lost four straight games and six overall in the league but have been competitive in all but one (Oregon). Kyle Whittingham will be without quarterback Travis Wilson and sophomore Adam Schulz is listed atop the depth chart. All of Wazzu’s Pac-12 wins have come away from home and its only home wins have come over Southern Utah and Idaho this season. Utah has won two straight in Pullman and the Cougars' last win at home over the Utes came in 1984.
5. USC (-22.5) at Colorado (9:30 p.m., CBS Sports)
The letdown factor is certainly in full effect for the surging Trojans and cult hero head man Ed Orgeron. After topping Stanford at home in a physical heavyweight bout, USC must go into the Rockies and stay focused with the Pac-12 South title still within reach. Mike MacIntrye has the Buffs showing signs of life with freshman quarterback Sefo Liufau playing well. However, Colorado is going up against history as the Buffaloes have never beaten USC in seven tries. In fact, USC has outscored CU 190-47 all-time and has won the two conference meetings 92-23 since the Buffs joined the league.
6. Cal (+31.5) at Stanford (4 p.m., FS1)
It is a testament to the depth and quality of the Pac-12 that The Big Game is the least appealing contest in the league this weekend. It’s also an indictment of the current state of the Golden Bears' program. Sonny Dykes is a well-respected coaching mind but this rebuilding project is much worse than he anticipated. The Cardinal still have much to play for should Oregon slip up so don’t expect David Shaw’s bunch to take it easy on their cross-town rival.
Pac-12 Week 13 Pivotal Players:
Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox preview discuss Coach O's job status and preview ASU-UCLA on this week's Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
Arguably the top defensive prospect in the nation, Barr has quickly become the second-most popular Bruins linebacker. Myles Jack is getting all of the headlines (rightly so) for his play on both sides of the ball, however, Barr will be charged with stopping Arizona State's Taylor Kelly, Marion Grice and D.J. Foster. Last season, the Sun Devils' trio combined for 164 yards rushing and were responsible for all five ASU touchdowns (Kelly had four TD passes) in the 45-43 loss to the Bruins. Barr posted five total tackles and a sack in the win. Grice and Foster combine for 238.7 all-purpose yards per game in 2013 and it falls to the talented Bruins backer to make big plays in both the running and passing game.
2. Arizona State’s linebackers
Just as UCLA’s backers will be key for the Bruins, so too will the Sun Devils' corps. Senior Chris Young leads ASU in tackles (7.1 pg) and has posted 23 stops in the last two games. Freshman Salamo Fiso is third on the team in tackles and is coming off a career-best eight-tackle performance against Oregon State. Stopping a versatile quarterback like Brett Hundley and a physical specimen like Myles Jack falls to Todd Graham’s linebackers.
3. Oregon’s running backs
The best way to keep Marcus Mariota healthy is to get the ball out of his hands quickly. This means De’Anthony Thomas and Byron Marshall will need to shoulder the offensive load in Tucson. These two only carried a total of 15 times last weekend for 77 yards and will need to be a bigger part of the offense this weekend if Oregon wants to escape a tricky upset situation. Thomas Tyner, Ayele Forde and Lane Roseberry should also get carries as well to help take pressure off Mariota. Should this group be successful, the Ducks will maintain their position atop the Pac-12 North.
4. Connor Halliday, QB, Washington
Mike Leach and the Cougars are trying to get bowl eligible for the first time since 2006. Should Halliday play like he did last week against Arizona, Washington State will be celebrating on Saturday night. Halliday was the Offensive Player of the Week in the Pac-12 after throwing for 319 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the road upset of the Wildcats. He only threw nine passes last year in the 49-6 loss to the Utes in Salt Lake City, but it's a safe bet that number will increase dramatically this time around.
5. Washington’s quarterbacks
If Keith Price starts, he won’t be fully healthy after leaving last week’s game with a injured throwing shoulder. If he can't play, redshirt freshman Cyler Miles will make his first career start in a hostile environment against a team that leads the Pac-12 in interceptions with 17. Price and/or Miles will have to play efficient football to top Oregon State on the road. In two career bouts against the Beavers, Price is 1-1 with 270 yards passing, one TD and two INTs.
Pac-12 Week 13 Predictions:
|Game||Braden Gall||Mitch Light||Steven Lassan||David Fox|
|Arizona St (-2) at UCLA||UCLA, 38-31||UCLA, 34-30||Arizona St, 38-34||UCLA, 28-17|
|Oregon (-20.5) at Arizona||Oregon, 42-21||Oregon, 44-17||Oregon, 45-24||Oregon, 38-21|
|Washington (+7) at Oregon St||Wash., 34-31||Wash., 34-23||Ore. St, 34-31||Ore. St, 31-27|
|Utah (+1.5) at Washington St||Wazzu, 33-24||Wazzu, 27-24||Wazzu, 31-24||Wazzu, 35-21|
|USC (-22.5) at Colorado||USC, 31-17||USC, 38-6||USC, 34-13||USC, 38-14|
|Cal (+31.5) at Stanford||Stanford, 38-3||Stanford, 34-6||Stanford, 45-13||Stanford, 42-10|
My, how times change.
When the Big 12 began, Oklahoma State reeled off nine consecutive wins over Baylor. And for the most part, these weren’t good Oklahoma State teams.
On Saturday, the Big 12 may come down to Oklahoma State and Baylor. The former has become one of the top programs in the Big 12 in recent years, and the latter has become an offensive juggernaut with national championship implications.
It’s not often the conference title runs through Waco and Stillwater, so soak it up in Week 13.
Week 13 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC
Big 12 Week 13 Game Power Rankings
All games Saturday. All times Eastern.
1. Baylor at Oklahoma State (8 p.m., ABC)
This game could end up the de facto Big 12 championship game and a referendum on Baylor’s spot in the national picture. A win likely moves Baylor ahead of Ohio State in the BCS standings and cements Bryce Petty among the top Heisman contenders. To achieve that, Petty and a wounded Baylor offense will need to overcome a ball-hawking Oklahoma State defense. The Cowboys have forced a turnover in 18 consecutive games, including three interceptions against Texas last week. Petty has thrown one interception all season and none since Oct. 5. The quarterback has been the constant for the Baylor offense which has lost Lache Seastrunk (groin), Glasco Martin (knee) and Tevin Reese (wrist) to injury. Only Reese has been ruled out for this game. The Bears haven’t missed a step despite the injuries. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State has found a lineup that works in recent weeks with Clint Chelf at quarterback and Desmond Roland at running back. Baylor leads the Big 12 in yards per game in November while Oklahoma State is fourth.
2. Oklahoma at Kansas State (noon, Fox Sports 1)
Oklahoma’s season is an interesting spot to say the least. The Sooners finish up with road trips against Kansas State and Oklahoma State. Meanwhile, OU’s offense is in a state of flux. Trevor Knight will replace Blake Bell as starting quarterback, the Oklahoman reported. Knight began the season as the starter but has seen more playing time in the last two games against Baylor and Iowa State. A concussion for Bell has handed the job to Knight against the Wildcats. Knight rushed for 123 yards on 10 carries against Iowa State while completing 8 of 14 passes for 61 yards. Running back Damien Williams and Lacoltan Bester are also expected to miss the Kansas State games with suspensions. Kansas State remains one of the hottest teams in the Big 12 — outside of Baylor and Oklahoma State — with four consecutive wins.
3. Kansas at Iowa State (8 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
Could Kansas be on the verge of its first Big 12 win streak since 2008? Kansas didn’t just scrape by West Virginia last week. The Jayhawks grabbed a lead and led comfortably thanks to 211 yards form James Sims. Iowa State has been more competitive at home, including a 31-30 loss to Texas and 21-17 loss to TCU.
Big 12 Week 13 Pivotal Players
Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox discuss Baylor-Oklahoma State and preview Week 13 in this edition of Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
The Cowboys cornerback is making a bid for All-America consideration with six interceptions this season. His two picks against Texas, including an interception for a touchdown, essentially sealed the game for Oklahoma State. On Saturday, he’ll be facing one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the country, plus a dynamic set of receivers. Levi Norwood, a No. 3 receiver two weeks ago, caught seven passes for 156 yards for two touchdowns against Texas Tech.
Pat Colbert, Baylor
Not all of Baylor’s injury issues on offense have been limited to the skill positions. Starting left tackle Spencer Drango will under surgery for a ruptured disk in his back, leaving the position to first-time starter Colbert. Oklahoma State’s starting defensive ends, Tyler Johnson and Jimmy Bean, have combined for 6.5 sacks this season.
Clint Chelf, Oklahoma State
Baylor has had mixed results in defending the quarterback run game, which has become a key once Chelf has taken over. Kansas State’s Daniel Sams rushed for 199 yards against Baylor while the Oklahoma duo of Trevor Knight and Blake Bell combined for 22 yards. Chelf has been solid as a passer, with or without top receiver Josh Stewart. Stewart did not play against Texas, and Mike Gundy has declined to give injury updates on his top downfield threat.
Brennan Clay, Oklahoma
A new quarterback and no Damien Williams may put more on the shoulders of Brennan Clay against Kansas State. Clay has worked in committee at running back this season, but he’s shown plenty of ability to break the big run. He’s averaged better than 12 yards per carry against TCU and Iowa State this season. Kansas State allows a Big 12-low 122.1 rushing yards in conference games.
Dylan Schellenberg, Kansas State
The Wildcats have allowed both of its last two opponents to pass for at least 70 percent. One was Texas Tech (understandable). The other was TCU (less understandable). Four-year starting safety Ty Zimmerman spent the end of last week’s game against the Horned Frogs on crutches with a right leg injury. Oklahoma’s passing game is suspect, but it’s hard to imagine the Sooners not testing an unknown at safety in Schellenberg.
Big 12 Week 13 Picks
|David Fox||Braden Gall||Steven Lassan||Mitch Light|
|Oklahoma (+4) at Kansas St||KSU 24-17||KSU 34-30||KSU 31-27||KSU 24-20|
|Kansas (+5.5) at Iowa St||KU 28-24||ISU 27-20||ISU 27-24||ISU 20-13|
|Baylor (-9) at Oklahoma St||Baylor 42-35||Baylor 41-38||Baylor 38-34||Baylor 48-38|
Much like tattoos or passwords, jersey numbers can be a highly personal affair for their owners. The significance behind a jersey number can sometimes offer a little glimpse into an athlete’s psyche, his past, or his hopes for the future. Other times, the number reflects a team’s plans for the player wearing it. Here’s a sampling from the surprisingly rich world of jersey numbers.
18—Archie Manning wore No. 18 during his college days at Ole Miss, where he scrambled his way into the hearts of Dixie and married the Homecoming Queen, Olivia. After Archie left Oxford, the campus posted speed limits of 18 MPH in his honor. Archie’s middle son, Peyton, wears No. 18 in the NFL — not only in homage to his father, but also as a tribute to Cooper, the oldest of the three Manning boys. Cooper wore No. 18 in high school but was forced to give up football when he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis as a true freshman at Ole Miss.
33—Former major league outfielder Larry Walker wasn’t the greatest 33 ever — good morning, Kareem and Larry — but Walker was, without a doubt, the most superstitious athlete ever to wear the number. Walker had a thing about 3s. To wit: He routinely set his alarm for 8:03 in the morning. His parking stall in the players’ lot was 3. He routinely would take three practice swings and dig his foot into the ground three times in the on-deck circle, then take three check swings before heading to the plate. Walker wore 33 in an attempt to derive twice as much luck out of his favorite number. He also got married on Nov. 3 at 3:33 p.m.
Said Walker, when asked back in the day about his thing for threes: “I’d wear 333 if they’d let me.”
12—Nine consecutive Super Bowls (VI through XIV) were won by quarterbacks wearing No. 12.
44—Syracuse football jersey number worn by Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little, among others. The university zip code was changed from 13210 to 13244 in honor of the number, which was retired on Nov. 12, 2005.
72—Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk wore 27 during his days with the Red Sox. After joining the White Sox, he wanted to put his days at Fenway Park behind him, so he switched to 72. The number, he said, represented a turnaround in his career.
76—What, you thought 76 was a football number? Think again. Shawn Bradley was 7-foot-6 and was drafted by the 76ers. Any guesses as to which number he was issued?
72—For whatever reason, 72 inspires nicknames. It was worn by Carlton “Pudge” Fisk, William “The Refrigerator” Perry, Ed “Too Tall” Jones and John “Tooz” Matuszak.
38—Ole Miss football jersey given annually to the player who receives the Chucky Mullins Memorial Courage Award, named after the former player who was paralyzed during the Rebels’ Homecoming game in 1989.
68—Future Hockey Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr wears 68 to commemorate the Soviet invasion of his native Czechoslovakia in 1968.
088586—Rockies manager Walt Weiss wears 22 in honor of boyhood hero Mercury Morris, who, incidentally, wore No. 088586 during his stretch in a Florida prison for drug trafficking.
Notable Retired Numbers
40—Fallen soldier and former safety Pat Tillman’s number, which was retired by the Arizona Cardinals in 2004.
12—The Seattle Seahawks have retired the number of the “12th Man” — their fans.
42—Jackie Robinson’s number, which was retired across MLB in 1997. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was the last player to wear No. 42.
48—Former President Gerald Ford had his No. 48 retired by the University of Michigan.
99—Wayne Gretzky’s number, which was retired across the NHL, fittingly, in 1999.
This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Nov. 20.
• Lizzy Caplan will be appearing on tonight's episode of "The League." In other news, Lizzy Caplan is hot.
• Normally, "keys to the game" style analysis is pretty stupid, but C-Webb was making sense last night.
• Amazing that it's been 21 months since the eruption of Linsanity. Last night, Jeremy Lin returned to Madison Square Garden.
• Here's one of those Hitler reaction videos, with Nick Saban's words. Not making any sort of statement here, just passing along a link.
• Saturday brings a rare treat: a meaningful Vanderbilt-Tennessee game.
• Shocking study reveals that men with hot wives are happier. Next they'll tell us that people living in mansions are happier than the homeless.
• With the holidays approaching, here are some passive-aggressive insults you can expect to hear from your relatives. Just trying to prepare you.
• A sports reporter wanted to get close to the action. He succeeded, all too well.
• This new Foot Locker "Week of Greatness" commercial is actually pretty great.
-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
Recently karate action star Jean-Claude Van Damme took his amazing flexibility to new heights, performing an epic slit between two Volvo trucks (watch at bottom). The video went viral and now the parodies have begun. Here are our two favorites, so far.
With just three weeks left in the regular season, the SEC has nine bowl-eligible teams. And the conference could add to that total if Tennessee wins its final two games, and if Florida or Mississippi State can get to six victories.
Florida has been one of the biggest disappointments in the SEC this year. The Gators have been dealing with a rash of injuries, but this program recruits at a high level and a 5-7 mark should never happen in Gainesville.
Mississippi State is one of the SEC’s toughest jobs, but coach Dan Mullen has guided the Bulldogs to three consecutive bowl games.
However, with two games remaining, Mississippi State’s postseason streak is in jeopardy. The Bulldogs are favored to beat Arkansas but have to play rival Ole Miss in the season finale.
Will Florida and Mississippi State get bowl eligible in 2013?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
No, I don’t think either team will get bowl eligible. It seems odd to have this conversation about Florida, especially at the level that this program recruits. However, the Gators have experienced a rash of injuries this year, and rival Florida State is clearly one of the top-two teams in the nation. Florida will get by Georgia Southern, but it will take a miracle to beat the Seminoles. Mississippi State has a better chance to reach the six-win mark than Florida. The Bulldogs are a slight favorite over Arkansas and host rival Ole Miss in the finale. Mississippi State has won four in a row at home against the Rebels, but I think Ole Miss will break that streak this season. The Bulldogs have a better chance than Florida to get to the six-win mark. However, I think both teams come up short this season.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
To quote a great movie, I will say "erroneous, on both counts." The Gators argument is easy — Florida has to beat No. 2 Florida State. And unless Jameis Winston — and every member of the starting defense — gets suspended, that won't happen. The Seminoles are in no danger of losing in Gainesville and therefore the Gators finish 5-7 and out of the postseason. The Bulldogs of Starkville are in a slightly better situation as Arkansas in Little Rock and Mississippi at home are both winnable games for Dan Mullen. State, generally under Mullen, has won games they are supposed to and lost games across the board as underdogs. Anything can happen in a historic rivalry like the Egg Bowl, especially at home for MSU, but Ole Miss will be a solid favorite to win that game. A split to finish the year doesn't get Hail State into the postseason, so I will say no on both counts.
If either has a shot, it's Mississippi State, but I'm not convinced it's going to happen. Both teams are 4-6 with two games left, meaning six wins is a possibility, but not a reality, certainly for the Gators. Let's face it, if Florida loses Saturday at home to Georgia Southern then Will Muschamp may as well just go ahead and pack up his office belongings as soon as the game is over. Either way, I have a hard time seeing this Gators team beating Florida State the following week, as the Seminoles have their eyes firmly fixed on getting to the BCS National Championship Game and have Idaho (1-9) as a warm up. That leaves us with Mississippi State. The Bulldogs should get their fifth win with relative ease, even on the road at Arkansas, meaning their postseason fate will come down to the Egg Bowl. The game's in Starkville, but Ole Miss is a top-25 team (at least this week) and has three more wins than the Rebels. Hugh Freeze beat Dan Mullen in their first head-to-head meeting last season and unfortunately, I see a similar result coming next week. Sorry Mississippi State fans, I don't see a bowl bid being part of your Thanksgiving feast this season.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
No and no. The only question will be the kind of pressure both coaches will be under if and when both teams miss a bowl. Despite the close game with South Carolina, Florida losing to Georgia Southern is a more likely outcome than the Gators reaching a bowl game. At least Mississippi State faces the worst team in the SEC (Arkansas) and then gets its top rival at home. The finale against Ole Miss is going to be huge for Mississippi State and not just because of bowl implications. Dan Mullen still has never won a game against a major opponent, and I think we can call Ole Miss, with seven wins and all the program momentum, a major opponent for Mullen. I understand Mississippi State wants more out of its football program, but going to bowls every year is good for Mississippi State, especially in the gauntlet of the SEC West these days. If Mullen stops making bowl games, he’s going to be in trouble.
Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
I’ll start with Florida. The answer there is a quick no. Florida should take care of business against Georgia Southern on Saturday, but Florida State is a different animal. The Seminoles will be too much for Florida even with the game being played in Gainesville. Florida State has too much talent and depth for Florida to be able to pull off the upset, which will leave Florida with its first losing record since 1979. Mississippi State has a realistic opportunity to reach the postseason. The Bulldogs are a slight favorite to beat Arkansas this week, although it won’t be easy to do in Little Rock. The Ole Miss game will be the biggest test for Mississippi State. Ole Miss handled Mississippi State 41-24 in Oxford last year. Can the Bulldogs get revenge this season? In the end, I’ll say no. Both teams should be able to score on each other. I’ll take Hugh Freeze’s group at Ole Miss to put up more points than Mississippi State and keep the Bulldogs out of the postseason for only the second time under Dan Mullen.
Each week of the college football season, Athlon Sports will poll some of the nation's best college football people from every region of the country. Each voter offers up a top five and each first-place vote is worth five points. A second-place vote is worth four points, so on and so forth. With 13 voters, a perfect ballot — i.e., 13 first-place votes — would give a player 65 total points.
The 2013 Heisman race is quickly becoming one of the more bizarre battles in Heisman history. There are five clear-cut frontrunners who are all extremely deserving. And most of them have marquee, championship-type showdowns still to come. With little movement in Week 12, fans can bet Week 13 could be a huge Heisman weekend for more than a few candidates.
Post-Week 12 Voting Results:
|1.||(1)||Jameis Winston||QB||Florida St||57||7||4||2||-||-|
|2.||(2)||Johnny Manziel||QB||Texas A&M||49||5||4||1||2||1|
|6.||(ur)||Andre Williams||RB||Boston College||5||-||-||-||1||3|
|7.||(6)||Jordan Lynch||QB||N. Illinois||3||-||-||-||1||1|
Boring Week Behind Us. Any week that Johnny Manziel doesn’t play could be considered a boring Heisman weekend. But, on top of that, Jameis Winston, Bryce Petty and Marcus Mariota won by a combined 108 points and scored a total of 10 touchdowns. AJ McCarron didn’t play a great game (187 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT) but he also led two critical scoring drives to beat an upstart Mississippi State team.
Top Two Will Hold Serve. McCarron and Alabama hosts Chattanooga while Winston and Florida State host Idaho. There is really nothing to see here with either team or player. In fact, it’s a lose-lose Heisman situation for both players this weekend. Week 13 should maintain BCS National Championship status quo for both teams. Let’s move on to the good stuff…
Manziel’s Showcase. Over the last two weeks, Johnny Manziel will have not one but two huge road SEC showcase games to make his Heisman case. It begins this weekend in Baton Rouge when Texas A&M battles LSU on the bayou. The Tigers have lost only one time in Tiger Stadium since Georgia beat LSU on Oct. 25, 2008 (Alabama, 2012). Manziel’s worst career game came against the Bayou Bengals last season in College Station — 29-of-56, 276 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT, 17 attempts, 27 rush yards — and fans can bet that he will be motivated in a big way to get his revenge. LSU’s defense has struggled on the road but has been very salty at home. This one should be epic.
Bryce Leads Baylor. Bryce Petty’s Heisman hopes not only hang in the balance this weekend in Stillwater but so do the Bears’ Big 12 and BCS national title hopes. Oklahoma State is surging after winning six straight in the league and hasn’t lost in Stillwater to Baylor since 1939. Petty has accounted for 34 touchdowns and just one interception all season and is leading the nation in passing efficiency (206.23). A road win over Oklahoma State not only could vault Petty to the top of Heisman ballots but possibly into the BCS title game.
Andre the Giant. Boston College has gone from two wins to six in one season under Steve Addazio with the help of workhorse tailback Andre Williams. The Eagles tailback has 634 yards over his last two games and now owns the ACC single-game (339 yards) and single-season rushing records (1,810). He still has three games to go and, if he keeps his recent pace, has an outside shot at making a push at Barry Sanders' NCAA single-season record (2,628 yards, 1988). He is the only non-QB on the ballot this weekend.
Arizona Upset Alert. Marcus Mariota leads the Pac-12 frontrunners into the desert this weekend to face the Wildcats. And Oregon fans are queasy for a reason. The Ducks last lost in Tucson when an injured dual-threat Heisman candidate — Dennis Dixon — crippled his stiff-armed chances by re-injuring his torn-up knee in a loss to Arizona. Just reading that sentence should make Oregon fans nervous about this potential upset spot. Rich Rodriguez’ team is overmatched but will be amped up against the top team in the league.
The Voting Panel:
|Tom Dienhart||Big Ten Network||BigTenNetwork.com||Jameis Winston|
|Bryan Fischer||Pac-12 Network||Pac-12.com||Johnny Manziel|
|David Fox||Athlon Sports||AthlonSports.com||Jameis Winston|
|Braden Gall||Athlon Sports||AthlonSports.com||Jameis Winston|
|Steven Godfrey||SB Nation||SBNation.com||Jameis Winston|
|Chris Huston||Heisman Pundit||HeismanPundit.com||Marcus Mariota|
|Steven Lassan||Athlon Sports||AthlonSports.com||Jameis Winston|
|Chris Level||Red Raider Sports||RedRaiderSports.com||Jameis Winston|
|Mitch Light||Athlon Sports||AthlonSports.com||Johnny Manziel|
|Billy Liucci||TexAgs||TexAgs.com||Johnny Manziel|
|Dan Rubenstein||SB Nation/Solid Verbal||SolidVerbal.com||Johnny Manziel|
|Josh Ward||Mr. SEC/WNML||MrSEC.com||Johnny Manziel|
|Jim Young||ACC Sports Journal||ACCSports.com||Jameis Winston|
The beauty of sports, in particular college football, lies in their complete unpredictability and reality TV-like drama. Here's what might happen in Week 13.
Note: The point of this column is to have some fun and make some outlandish predictions. Please react accordingly.
Baylor will do something it hasn’t done since 1939
Oklahoma State is surging, winners of six straight including crushing Texas in Austin last Saturday. The Cowboys also have not lost to Baylor in Stillwater since 1939. That all ends this weekend as the Bears put their Big 12 and BCS title hopes on the line against Mike Gundy and the Pokes. Bryce Petty’s Heisman hopes hang in the balance as well. This is easily the toughest test to date for Art Briles' bunch, but this Bears team is up to the task. Baylor defeated OSU last year 41-34, as the two teams combined for nearly 1,200 yards of offense. Look for a repeat performance from the Bears and a win in Stillwater for the first time in over 70 years.
Urban Meyer will have a 1,000-yard rusher
Meyer has won two BCS National Championships, four conference titles, is about to post his second undefeated regular season and coached 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow. But he’s never had a 1,000-yard rusher on any of his teams. Carlos Hyde will change all of that this weekend against Indiana. The Hoosiers just allowed 554 yards rushing to Wisconsin and Hyde is coming off a 246-yard performance against Illinois. Meyer’s workhorse back is just 53 yards away from getting to 1,000 (947) and averages 135.3 yards per game. This one could happen in the first quarter.
Johnny Manziel and Zach Mettenberger will throw as many INTs as TDs
These two quarterbacks combined for zero touchdowns and four interceptions in LSU’s 24-19 win in College Station last year. It was Johnny Manziel’s worst game as a college player. Mettenberger, despite some recent struggles, has shown marked improvement from a year ago. And both Texas A&M and LSU have had defensive issues this fall. These are the Nos. 1 and 2 rated passers in the SEC to date, as the duo has combined for 51 touchdown passes thus far in 2013. But Manziel is leading the SEC in interceptions and Mettenberger has five picks in his last three games (and should have had 3-4 more against Alabama). Look for big numbers and big mistakes from both in what should be an instant classic in Baton Rouge.
Missouri will win at Ole Miss… with Maty Mauk under center
James Franklin is an excellent player and fans in both the Big 12 (2011) and SEC (2013) have seen how good he can be when fully healthy. But we’ve also seen how tough it is for him to stay healthy. He missed three games at three different times in 2012 and has missed the last four games due to injuries. He has proven to be brittle and is expected to return to the starting lineup this weekend against Ole Miss. With the SEC East on the line for Gary Pinkel, he is turning back to his veteran for a big road win. And Pinkel will get the victory, however, it will be with Maty Mauk on the field. Mauk has eight touchdowns and zero interceptions in the last two games and will be needed to win the game when (not if) Franklin gets banged up.
All five winless teams will stay winless
Everyone likes to focus on the unbeatens, and rightly so, as they play for championships. But keep an eye on those winless teams too. Five programs have yet to win a game in 2013 — UConn, Southern Miss, Miami (Ohio), Hawaii and Georgia State. And none of them will get into the win column this weekend. Georgia State (+23.5), Southern Miss (+23) and Miami (Ohio) (+24.5) are more than three-touchdown underdogs. UConn is a nine-point underdog to a one-win Temple team and Hawaii is only a seven-point dog to a Wyoming team that just got beat by 41 points. Still, no reason to not expect all five to lose again this weekend.
Iowa, Penn State and Minnesota will have winning Big Ten records
Had I said Iowa, Penn State and Minnesota would all have winning league records with one week to play in the conference in the summer months, I would have been laughed at. Loudly. But Iowa and Penn State sit at 3-3 in the Big Ten currently and Minnesota is 4-2. The Hawkeyes are a six-point favorite against powerful Michigan at home while the Nittany Lions are a two-point favorite over Nebraska at home. Minnesota is a 16-point underdog to arch rival Wisconsin. Iowa and Penn State will win while the Gophers will lose and all three will sit at 4-3 in the Big Ten with one week to play.
Bonus Prediction: Northwestern will enter the season finale winless (0-7) in the Big Ten.
NC State will go 0-4 in-state in 2013
Dave Doeren has a tougher task in front of him than expected. His team is 0-7 in the ACC and hasn’t won a game since topping Central Michigan in September. During that span the Wolfpack has lost to Wake Forest, North Carolina and Duke within the state by a combined 41 points. NC State now has to face 8-2 East Carolina in Carter-Finley Stadium this weekend. The Pirates are heading towards a 10-win season if it can upset the Pack and has a history of playing very well against ACC teams. Take ECU to win and give Doeren an 0-for in the state in his first season.
Washington State will become bowl eligible
Sticking with the theme of things I never thought I’d hear this summer, the Cougars of Washington State will become bowl eligible this weekend. After upsetting both USC and Arizona on the road this year, Wazzu returns home against Utah with a chance to get to the postseason for the first time since 2003. A win also guarantees the Cougars' first .500 or better regular season mark for the first time since 2006 and gives Mike Leach’s squad an outside shot at its first winning record since ’03 as well.
Star power will not be lacking in college basketball this season. The star-studded freshman class and the return of Marcus Smart, Doug McDermott, Russ Smith and so on made that clear in the preseason.
The first two-plus weeks of the season only confirmed it.
Heck, even Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminksy scored 43 points Tuesday night. It was against North Dakota in a rare 100-point outburst for the Badgers, but Kaminsky is about the fifth-most well-known player on Wisconsin’s roster.
As we move into the 2013-14 basketball season, we’ll take a look all the good and bad in the weekly honor roll and dishonor roll. Here goes the first look around the season so far.
1. Michigan State
6. Oklahoma State
7. Ohio State
15. Iowa State
17. Wichita State
18. New Mexico
25. Arizona State
Shabazz Napier. The Connecticut guard is off to a torrid start, including a triple-double against Yale on Nov. 11. With six assists and seven rebound in every game this season, Napier might not have had his last triple-double of the season. The Huskies are 4-0 and continue an intriguing non-conference schedule with Boston College (Thursday), Florida (Dec. 2), Stanford (Dec. 18), at Washington (Dec. 22) and Harvard (Jan. 8). Napier’s 9.5 rebounds per game are great, but no other Huskies player has more than four per game. That could be a problem.
Jabari Parker. The Duke freshman proved he was as good as anticipated in the Champions Classic more than a week ago, but he’s finding new ways to impress. Parker has topped 21 points in all four games this season, including double-doubles in the last two. Against overmatched UNC Asheville, Parker finished 8 of 13 with 21 points, 10 rebounds and four assists — in only 19 minutes. He threw in six blocks Tuesday night against East Carolina.
The “other” freshmen. The Champions Classic was a chance for Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle to shine, unfortunately at the expense of other freshmen off to hot starts. Noah Vonleh has become the first freshman since Kansas State’s Michael Beasley to record double-doubles in four consecutive games. Aaron Gordon is doing just fine at Arizona, too, with 13.3 points and 9.5 rebounds.
The state of Iowa. Iowa State’s 77-70 win over Michigan was one of the basketball highlights of the week, indicating the Cyclones might be a factor in the Big 12 race rather than a bubble team. Melvin Ejim returned to score 22 points with nine rebounds, and transfer DeAndre Kane is doing the same things he did at Marshall by averaging 13.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.7 assists. Meanwhile, rival Iowa has played an easy schedule, but the Hawkeyes are demolishing opponents. The Hawkeyes have topped 100 points in back-to-back games and have shown impressive depth so far this season. Fran McCaffery’s team will be a fun one to watch in the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Indiana State. Like Iowa State, Indiana State picked up a major upset over the weekend over an established team when the Sycamores upset Notre Dame 83-70. The only loss for Indiana State was 96-95 to Belmont, a loss that doesn’t look quite so bad after the Bruins defeated North Carolina on the road Sunday (In a schedule quirk, Indiana State will face Belmont again on Dec. 29 in Terre Haute). Let’s step back, though, and look what Greg Lansing has built at Indiana State. In the post-Creighton Missouri Valley, Indiana State may be the most logical challenger for Wichita State. The Sycamores have played in the postseason every season with Jake Odum on the roster, including an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2011.
The ACC. The hits keep coming for the ACC, which was supposed to be the best conference in the country this season. The league is still going to be better than the SEC and a few other powers, but the depth hasn’t been there so far this season. Maryland’s one-point loss to Connecticut wasn’t embarrassing, but at home to Oregon State, a team that lost to Coppin State, is. Also over the weekend, Belmont defeated a suspension-depleted North Carolina team, adding to the Tar Heels' early struggles. Virginia, a fringe top 25 team, continued to have trouble in the non-conference, albeit against VCU. And Boston College, an NCAA Tournament dark horse, has a three-point win over FAU as the high point this season. Even Syracuse limped to a 56-50 win over St. Francis (N.Y.). The conference will be in recovery mode when the ACC-Big Ten Challenge rolls around.
Marquette. It’s really tough to overstate how bad Marquette was at home against Ohio State. Marquette was 10 of 53 from the field (18.9 percent), 1 of 18 from 3-point range), 20 turnovers, four assists. Ohio State had 10 steals and eight blocks. Marquette managed to lose a game in which its opponent was 3 of 18 from the free throw line and 5 of 15 from 3-point range. Buzz Williams is just on the cusp of elite coaches, and Marquette was the preseason favorite in the Big East. Davante Gardner was a non-factor in the paint, and new point guard Derrick Wilson looked lost. After Saturday’s struggles, Marquette looked nothing like a team ready to contend for a league title in any conference.
Michigan. We may need to promise not to overreact to the Wolverines’ 77-70 loss at Iowa State. After all, this was a road game against a probable NCAA Tournament team. Mitch McGary was limited in his first game back from a sore back, coming off the bench to contribute nine points and six rebounds in 22 minutes. But Caris LeVert fell back to Earth and point guard Derrick Walton had his freshman moments with three turnovers and two assists.
Memphis. Few teams would have been able to handle Marcus Smart on Tuesday night, and Gallagher-Iba Arena is one of the toughest venues to play when the place is rocking. The Tigers, though, flopped against Oklahoma State. Memphis entered the game a top 15 team and looked more the part of a Conference USA also-ran than a contender in the American Athletic Conference. The starting backcourt went 5 of 26 from the field and 0 for 7 from 3-point range. The lack of big wins for Josh Pastner is starting to add up. The Memphis coach is winless against ranked teams with too many of those games finishing with lopsided scores like the game against Oklahoma State.
Midweek MAC games in November are must-see television for starving college football fans.
However, midweek games can be tough on attendance, but that’s the trade-off for the added exposure on television.
The crowd for Tuesday night’s Miami (Ohio)-Buffalo game was incredibly small, which is no surprise considering how bad the RedHawks have been this year (0-11).
Here are a few crowd shots from last night’s game:
Saints (8-2) at Falcons (2-8)
Matt Ryan’s nickname, “Matty Ice,” is intended to be a reference to his cool under pressure. But lately, Atlanta’s quarterback has been ice cold, throwing eight INTs — including two pick-sixes — over the past four games, all losses. Saints by 11
Buccaneers (2-8) at Lions (6-4)
The best receiver on the planet (Calvin Johnson) goes toe-to-toe with the artist formerly known as the greatest cover corner (Darrelle Revis). Lions by 6
Vikings (2-8) at Packers (5-5)
Adrian Peterson limps into Lambeau Field on the heels of a 13-carry, 60-yard, one-TD effort in a 44–31 loss to the Packers in Week 8 this year. Packers by 2
Jaguars (1-9) at Texans (2-8)
This race to the bottom of the AFC South is also a race to the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. Texans by 5
Chargers (4-6) at Chiefs (9-1)
Kansas City will need to avoid an AFC West hangover following an over-hyped first loss of the season against Denver on Sunday night. Chiefs by 7
Panthers (7-3) at Dolphins (5-5)
Cam Newton is taking his talents and Carolina’s six-game winning streak to South Beach. Panthers by 4
Bears (6-4) at Rams (4-6)
Jay Cutler (high ankle sprain) has already been ruled out. But Josh McCown (2–0 as a starter) has been as good or better than Cutler of late. Rams by 1
Jets (5-5) at Ravens (4-6)
The J-E-T-S are the first team to alternate wins and losses every week for the first 10 games of a season. Based on that alone, the Jets will win. Ravens by 4
Steelers (4-6) at Browns (4-6)
Big Ben has a 16–1 record against Cleveland. But the Browns did beat the Charlie Batch-led Steelers, 20–14, last season. Is Batch playing this week? Steelers by 2
Titans (4-6) at Raiders (4-6)
Ryan Fitzpatrick will take on Matt McGloin in a matchup of quarterbacks that fans in the Black Hole couldn’t pick out of a lineup. Titans by 1
Colts (7-3) at Cardinals (6-4)
Indianapolis is 4–1 on the road this season, with two blowout wins and a pair of FG margins. Cardinals by 1
Cowboys (5-5) at Giants (4-6)
Dallas came out of the gates with a 36–31 win over its NFC East rivals in Week 1 this season. Prior to that, however, the Boys had gone 1–3 over the past two years against the G-Men — with the victory coming without Tony Romo. Cowboys by 2
Broncos (9-1) at Patriots (7-3)
Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady. It really will be “Football Night in America” on Sunday night. Broncos by 4
49ers (6-4) at Redskins (3-7)
Don’t believe the hype. Colin Kaepernick and Robert Griffin III have combined for 28 total TDs and 25 turnovers. What happened, guys? 49ers by 7
Last week: 10–5 // Season: 102–60
Peyton Manning vs. Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback rivalry in NFL history. It’s as simple as that. There has never been a matchup of signal-callers as historically significant and charismatic as Manning and Brady.
Manning has a record four MVPs and a Super Bowl XLI MVP as well as a loss in Super Bowl XLIV. Brady has two MVPs, three Super Bowl wins (XXXIV, XXXVIII and XXXIX), two Super Bowl MVPs and a pair of Super Sunday losses on his shimmering resume.
But the status of the two goes well beyond the football field. The paths to the pinnacle have been fascinating for both Manning and Brady.
Manning is a blue blood born into NFL royalty who was runner-up for the Heisman Trophy at Tennessee, went No. 1 overall in the 1998 draft and was immediately inserted as the franchise quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts.
Brady split time with two-sport star Drew Henson at Michigan, fell to the No. 199 overall pick of the 2000 draft and sat anonymously behind Drew Bledsoe before taking over under center for the New England Patriots.
Despite taking decidedly different routes, both Manning and Brady have risen to the top and remain the gold standard for quarterback play in the modern NFL. Part of that job description includes thriving in the spotlight on and off the field. Both men are extremely capable of that tough task, as well.
Manning dominates commercial breaks in ads for DirecTV and Papa John’s, while Brady and ubermodel wife Gisele Bundchen routinely own the gossip column, not to mention a serious percentage of print ads.
But the appeal of both stems from their play between the lines. And the consensus top two signal-callers of their respective generation will share the field — or at least grace the same blades of grass on alternating possessions — in prime time for what NBC Sports’ Sunday Night Football television executives are billing as “Manning-Brady Bowl XIV,” when the 9–1 Denver Broncos visit the 7–3 New England Patriots.
Currently, Brady holds a 9–4 edge over Manning. But this season, Manning’s Broncos have been superior — at least statistically — to Brady’s Patriots. Denver has scored 51 touchdowns to New England’s 26. The Broncos’ average a league-leading 39.8 points per game compared to the Patriots’ respectable 25.4 points per game. Most impressive, Denver is carrying a plus-143 point differential while New England boasts a net plus-55.
Manning-Brady Bowl XIV should be another good one. But the 37-year-old Manning and 36-year-old Brady can’t go on like this forever. Enjoy the rivalry while it lasts.
Ranking all 32 NFL teams, from the Mile High and mighty Denver Broncos to the rock bottom Jacksonville Jaguars.
1. Broncos (9-1) Tiger Woods, Lindsey Vonn on sideline Sunday night.
2. Seahawks (10-1) Earn franchise-record 13th straight win at Seattle.
3. Chiefs (9-1) Lose battle of best in the AFC West against Denver.
4. Saints (8-2) Garrett Hartley hits game-winner as time expires.
5. Colts (7-3) Erik Walden suspended one game for head butt.
6. Panthers (7-3) Steve Smith tells Aqib Talib to “ice up, son” after win.
7. Patriots (7-3) No call? Tom Brady says he could throw better ball.
8. Bengals (7-4) Score franchise-record 31 second-quarter points.
9. 49ers (6-4) Ahmad Brooks penalty nullifies Drew Brees fumble.
10. Lions (6-4) Winless in Pittsburgh for 58 years and counting.
11. Bears (6-4) Outlast weather delay, overtime to beat Baltimore.
12. Eagles (6-5) Earn first win at Lincoln Financial Field in 413 days.
13. Cardinals (6-4) Carson Palmer throws zero INTs for first time in ’13.
14. Packers (5-5) Three-game losing streak team’s longest since ’08.
15. Cowboys (5-5) JPP says Giants will “put it on” Cowboys on Sunday.
16. Jets (5-5) Geno Smith pulled after three quarters, four turnovers.
17. Giants (4-6) Jason Pierre-Paul predicts his own pick-six in win.
18. Dolphins (5-5) Jim Turner the new face of Jonathan Martin case.
19. Steelers (4-6) Big Ben throws four TDs in win against Detroit.
20. Ravens (4-6) Unlike Super Bowl, lengthy delay ends in defeat.
21. Titans (4-6) Collapse vs. Colts follows meltdown vs. Jaguars.
22. Raiders (4-6) Matthew McGloin throws three TDs, wins debut.
23. Chargers (4-6) Commit 10 penalties in third consecutive defeat.
24. Rams (4-6) Use bye week to prep for banged-up visiting Bears.
25. Browns (4-6) Suffer most lopsided loss to Bengals since 2006.
26. Bills (4-7) EJ Manuel wins rookie QB rematch with Geno Smith.
27. Redskins (3-7) Back foot INT by RG3 ends late rally against Eagles.
28. Vikings (2-8) Percy Harvin return haunts old Vikings teammates.
29. Buccaneers (2-8) Bobby Rainey: From Browns backup to Bucs star.
30. Falcons (2-8) Have lost four consecutive by margin of 135–61.
31. Texans (2-8) Andre Johnson, Matt Schaub upset following loss.
32. Jaguars (1-9) Score first TD at home on Danny Noble’s first catch.
Cam Newton, QB, Panthers
Controversial no-call ending aside, Newton shined bright under the lights on Monday night during a 24–20 win over the Patriots. The face of the Panthers franchise completed 19-of-28 passes for 209 yards, three TDs and zero INTs while scrambling seven times for a season-high 62 rushing yards. After a 1–3 start to the season, Carolina has reeled off six consecutive wins. During that stretch, Newton has accounted for 13 total TDs and three turnovers, compared to seven total TDs and six turnovers over the first four weeks of the season.
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants
The Big Blue Wrecking Crew defense carried the G-Men to their fourth straight victory — after a miserable 0–6 start to the season — with a 27–13 win over the Packers. JPP sealed the deal with an acrobatic, leaping interception of Green Bay backup Scott Tolzien early in the fourth quarter. Pierre-Paul’s 24-yard pick-six gave the Giants a 14-point lead they would not relinquish. New York’s defense has given up just two offensive TDs while scoring two return TDs of its own during the current four-game winning streak.
Bobby Rainey, RB, Buccaneers
Tampa Bay turned to a new workhorse during a 41–28 win over the Falcons. Rainey carried the load with 30 carries for 163 yards and two trips to the end zone on the ground to go along with a third TD through the air. The three-TD effort comes just one week after the 5'8", 212-pound running back out of Western Kentucky scored the first TD of his NFL career during a Monday night win over the Dolphins. The Bucs have now won two straight games after an ugly 0–8 start to the season.
Michael Floyd, WR, Cardinals
Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald is usually the first in flight when it comes to the Cardinals’ passing game. But it was Floyd who dictated pecking order during a breakout performance in a 27–14 win at Jacksonville. The second-year pass-catcher out of Notre Dame hauled in six receptions for a career-high 193 yards — on a whopping 32.2 yards per catch — and one TD in victory. Through 10 games this season, Floyd has already exceeded his rookie-year yardage (657 to 562) and TD (3 to 2) totals.
Johnny Manziel vs. LSU is the top game this week despite more meaningful action around the country. A conference title is on the line in the Big 12 and divisions are up for grabs in the SEC East, Pac-12 South and Big Ten Legends. Braden Gall and David Fox talk Les Miles vs. Johnny Football while taking stock of Baylor-Oklahoma State, Arizona State-UCLA and more.
On this week’s podcast:
• Gall and Fox trade reactions on the wild catch at the end of the Auburn-Georgia game. One of the all-time great plays sets up a wild Iron Bowl, but that game is still a week away. We took a second to talk about Auburn anyway and if the Tigers have a chance to beat Alabama.
• How much should the off-field allegations concerns Jameis Winston impact Heisman voting? That answer is complicated.
• After USC’s win over Stanford and a 5-0 record under Ed Orgeron, how serious a candidate should Coach O be for the Trojans. Not very is the consensus.
• The most important game of the week for national championship implications is Baylor’s road trip to Oklahoma State. For all the storylines on offense, Fox is looking more at defensive plays.
• In talking about UCLA’s Myles Jack, Fox learns how to pronounce Paul Hornung before moving on to pick a winner in the Pac-12 South.
• Then moving on to the game with the greatest potential for chaos, Fox and Gall talk about LSU’s defensive dominance at home against Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M.
• And finally in the rapid fire, a ranking of the coaches at smart people schools and picking the year’s disappointments.
The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, iTunes and our podcast RSS feed.
Please send any comments, questions and podcast topics to @AthlonSports, @BradenGall and @DavidFox615 on Twitter.
This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Nov. 19.
• You've probably never heard of model Daria Werbowy, but it's her 30th birthday, and we like to show the birthday love here at Essential 11 Links.
• The Patriots-Panthers game ended in controversy, drawing an audible F-bomb from an understandably livid Tom Brady. But here's a suprisingly reasonable, level-headed assessment of the final no-call from a Patriots fan.
• You probably saw Drew Brees' neck get unnaturally stretched on a hit from Ahmad Brooks. Some genius made a hilarious GIF to commemorate the moment. Trust me, you need to see it.
• I hate things that are prefaced with "This is the cutest thing you'll see all day." But this five-year-old drum major is the cutest thing you'll see all day.
• Classic cheerleader photos from the '80s and '90s. Sweet fancy Moses, the hair.
• Interesting social experiment: A prankster freaks people out by regurgitating personal stuff that they themselves have posted on social media. People are dumb.
• Heisman watch, SEC edition. It's all on you, Johnny Football.
• Game-ending no-call aside, the signature play from last night was this sick scramble from Cam Newton.
-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]
Texas Tech is set to close out its regular season schedule with a trip to Texas on Thanksgiving night. And the Red Raiders will break out an alternate uniform against the Longhorns, unveiling a “Lone Star” look for next Thursday’s game.
Here’s a look at Texas Tech’s uniforms for the Nov. 28 game:
See more photos of Texas Tech's Lone Star uniforms here.
Ohio State-Michigan is one of the top rivalry games in college football each season, and the Buckeyes plan to wear an alternate uniform for this year’s meeting.
Ohio State will wear all white uniforms, which are a tribute to the 1950 “snow bowl” game played between the Buckeyes and Wolverines.
Here are the Ohio State rivalry uniforms for next week’s game versus Michigan:
With the fantasy playoffs just around the corner, there’s not much time left for those teams looking to make a last-minute push. To that end, Athlon Sports has scoured the waiver wire to identify those potential free agent pickups that could potentially buy your squad more time, as you aim to keep those fantasy postseason hopes and championship dreams alive.
The players listed in Athlon’s weekly fantasy football waiver wire may be one-week adds, some may be worth holding onto all season long and some are of the “sleeper” variety that you may want to keep an eye on. So without further ado, here are some players you may want to consider.
Teams on bye in Week 12: Buffalo, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Seattle
Week 11 Recap: Ryan Fitzpatrick posted nearly 250 total yards of offense with no turnovers on Thursday night against Indianapolis, but he managed just one touchdown pass in the close loss to the Colts. The elements certainly were a factor in the Ravens-Bears game in stormy Chicago, as Josh McCown struggled with his accuracy (19 of 31) and finished with 216 yards passing. He did have a touchdown pass with no turnovers and helped lead his team to an overtime victory, bringing his record as the Bears’ starter to 2-0. McCown will get a shot at 3-0 this week with Jay Cutler (ankle) already ruled out against St. Louis.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
With a significant helping hand from Michael Floyd (see below), Palmer posted his best numbers of the season, throwing for 419 yards and two touchdowns in the win in Jacksonville. The yards were Palmer’s second-highest total in his career and, more importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over. Palmer has 17 or more fantasy points (Athlon scoring) in four of his past five games and has two appealing matchups on tap in Indianapolis and Philadelphia. After that, however, the sledding gets much tougher with an ending slate of St. Louis, Tennessee, Seattle and San Francisco. Think of Palmer as a short-term investment, especially if you need some QB help to get you into the playoffs.
Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
It wasn’t always pretty, but Big Ben (above) made the most of his opportunities against the Lions. In a game that didn’t lack for offensive fireworks, Roethlisberger out-dueled Matthew Stafford by throwing for 367 yards and four touchdowns. He also didn’t turn the ball over and now finds himself just on the outside of the top 10 in fantasy scoring among quarterbacks. He is by the far the least owned when it comes to the top scorers at his position, despite the fact Roethlisberger has gone over 34 fantasy points in two of his last three games. His schedule the rest of the way is very manageable with four games against teams that are ranked in the top 18 when it comes fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. Big Ben is no stranger to postseason success having won two Super Bowl titles. Perhaps he can do the same for your fantasy team this season.
Week 11 Recap: Chris Ivory had a game-high 98 yards rushing in the Jets’ loss to the Bills on Sunday with 69 of those coming on one carry during garbage time in the fourth quarter. He also had a short touchdown run and appears pretty locked in as the Jets’ lead back for the rest of the season. Shane Vereen had just seven rushing yards on Monday night against Carolina, but he led the Patriots with 11 targets, eight receptions and 65 yards receiving. Vereen should be active enough in the Patriots' offense to maintain flex consideration, especially in PPR leagues. Rashard Mendenhall got a team-high 13 carries, but he managed just 14 yards against the Jaguars. He did post his second rushing touchdown in three games and as long as he gets more touches (16) than Andre Ellington (10), he will remain a factor.
Montee Ball, Denver Broncos
Was Sunday night a coming out party for the highly regarded rookie? Even though Knowshon Moreno dominated the carries (27 to 8), Ball scored two rushing touchdowns and caught three passes in the Broncos’ big win over the previously undefeated Chiefs. Ball’s not going to take the No. 1 job away from Moreno, not as long as he continues to have issues with ball security (fumble against the Chiefs) and in pass protection, but it’s clear the Broncos aren’t going to ignore him either. He has seen consistent work in each of the past three games and has three touchdowns during that span. It’s a bit of risk with Moreno getting the vast majority of the touches, but Ball could be setting the stage for a strong finish to his rookie season.
Donald Brown, Indianapolis Colts
Brown is not a “new” name for this space, but it’s probably time to start viewing him, and not Trent Richardson, as the Colts’ primary back. Brown led the team in carries (14) against Tennessee on Thursday night, turning those into 80 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile Richardson had just 22 yards on eight carries. Richardson isn’t getting the job done, and considering Brown’s versatility (15 rec., 153 yds., TD), don’t be surprised to see him get more touches than T-Rich the rest of the way.
Bobby Rainey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Following Mike James’ injury, the thinking was that Brian Leonard would get the majority of the carries. Instead, the coaching staff turned to the diminutive (5-8) Rainey, who gashed the Falcons for 163 yards on 30 carries. Rainey also had two rushing touchdowns and caught another, which is pretty impressive considering his size and the fact that he started the season with Cleveland. There is no guarantee that Rainey will come anywhere close to replicating this type of success, especially with some tough games remaining (Carolina, Arizona, San Francisco), but any back who gets more than 30 touches and produces more than 35 fantasy points deserves a little recognition.
Week 11 Recap: Jerricho Cotchery caught three passes for 48 yards and a touchdown against Detroit. It was his fifth touchdown catch in three games and it’s possible he could continue his hot streak if Emmanuel Sanders’ foot injury causes him to miss some time. Aaron Dobson had four catches for 38 yards in New England's Monday night loss to Carolina, as the Panthers' defense did a good job limiting the big plays. Percy Harvin made his season debut for the Seahawks, catching his lone target for 17 yards, but he also had a 58-yard kickoff return, displaying the explosiveness and big-play ability that makes him so appealing in fantasy. St. Louis rookie Tavon Austin has a similar skill set and is coming off of his best game (314 total yards, 3 TDs) as the Rams got an extra week to prepare for Sunday’s home date with Chicago.
Michael Crabtree, San Francisco 49ers
Similar to Harvin (see above), San Francisco’s offense could get a much-needed jolt with the return of Crabtree. The 49ers’ leading receiver last season, Crabtree tore his Achilles tendon in late March, but returned to practice last week and could be activated in time to play in the Monday night game against Washington. While it’s certainly risky to trust Crabtree to produce immediately, don’t forget that in the 10 games, including playoffs, that Colin Kaepernick started last season, Crabtree posted the following numbers: 61 receptions, 880 yards, 8 touchdowns.
Michael Floyd, Arizona Cardinals
After injuring his shoulder last week, Floyd was actually questionable to even play against Jacksonville. Six catches, 193 yards and a touchdown later, the only question that remains is how good can Floyd be the rest of the season? Floyd was targeted a team-high 11 times and his touchdown came on a catch-and-run that covered 91 yards. Larry Fitzgerald (9 targets, 6 rec., 61 yds., TD vs. Jaguars) is the Cardinals’ top target, but if Carson Palmer (see above) can continue his recent strong play, there should be enough passes for both Fitz and Floyd to provide WR1/WR2-level production.
Marquise Goodwin, Buffalo Bills
A long jumper on the 2012 U.S. Olympics team, Goodwin also has plenty of speed to burn on the football field. He ran a 4.27 in the 40-yard dash at the 2013 NFL Combine, one of the reasons why the Bills took him in the third round of April’s draft. He and fellow rookie Robert Woods are considered the Bills’ future at wide receiver, but with Woods nursing a high ankle sprain and Stevie Johnson hobbled by a groin injury, Goodwin has made the most of his additional opportunities. He has 56 or more receiving yards in three of his past four games, including 81 on six catches in Sunday’s win over the Jets. He also has two touchdown catches in his last three outings, both of those covering more than 40 yards. The Bills are on bye this week, but Goodwin is certainly one to keep an eye on as the season winds down, especially if Woods’ or Johnson’s injury lingers.
Week 11 Recap: John Carlson led Minnesota in catches (five) and receiving yards (69) for the second straight game, further strengthening his case for more ownership as long as Kyle Rudolph is sidelined with a broken foot.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Walker’s role in the Titans’ passing game has seemed to evolve as this season has progressed. A member of San Francisco’s NFC championship team, Walker signed with Tennessee during the offseason and he has quietly put together respectable numbers, totaling 39 catches for 403 yards and five touchdowns. He may not be Jimmy Graham, but Walker has three touchdowns in his last four games and has averaged 12.6 fantasy points per outing during that span. He recorded a season-high 10 catches (on 10 targets) for 91 yards and a score against the Colts on Thursday night. Put it all together and he’s a borderline top-10 fantasy tight end who is barely owned in a fifth of all Yahoo! leagues.
Week 11 Recap: The New York Giants’ DST maintained its stretch of hot play with three interceptions, including one by Jason Pierre-Paul returned for a touchdown, and only 13 points allowed in a win over Green Bay. This Sunday the G-Men host Dallas and still have two games with Washington on the schedule.
New Orleans Saints
It has been quite the turnaround for the Saints’ defense. From setting the all-time record for most yards allowed (7.042) last season to ranking fourth in the NFL in the same category entering Week 12, first-year defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has done an impressive job. The Saints have been especially stingy against the pass (191.4 ypg) and are near the top of the rankings in sacks (32). Next up is an Atlanta (2-8) team that is in shambles and one that New Orleans fared pretty well against back in Week 1. The Saints sacked Matt Ryan three times, forced two turnovers and held them to just 17 points in their season-opening victory, and that was with Julio Jones in the lineup. Jones is on injured reserve, a bunch of other key Falcon players are banged up, and this is basically a team that’s ready to pack it in and focus on turning things around next season. With Seattle, Cincinnati and Buffalo all on bye, there are worse fill-in DST options than New Orleans.
Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point PER 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.
Perhaps the most telling number for Week 13 in the Big 12 is the two teams that aren’t involved in the most important game in the league this year.
Baylor at Oklahoma State is the biggest game in the Big 12 this season (so far), meaning Oklahoma and Texas are nowhere to be found.
The Cowboys have been on the national scene for some time now, but this will be the first time in nearly 60 years Baylor has played in a game involving two top 10 teams.
Surely, that game will give us plenty of fodder for next week’s key numbers in the league thanks to the up-and-down offenses for both teams. The numbers in Week 12, though, still told interesting stories from Baylor and Oklahoma State’s big wins, to Kansas first Big 12 win in a long time and Oklahoma’s record-tying win for its coach.
More Stats from Week 12: ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC
Key Numbers from the Big 12 from Week 12
0.0013. BCS average separating Ohio State and Baylor
The margin between No. 3 Ohio State and No. 4 Baylor in Sunday’s BCS standings is razor-thin. The Buckeyes have the edge in the coaches’ and Harris polls to give Ohio State a 0.8869 BCS average. Baylor moved up in the computer component this week, giving the Bears a 0.8856 BCS average. Here’s a primer on how the two stack up in the BCS components, plus other rankings:
1:45. Average time for a Baylor scoring drive this season
1:58. Average time for an Oklahoma State scoring drive this season
In other words, expect an up-and-down game for Baylor and Oklahoma State this week.
1956. The last time Baylor played in a game involving two top-10 teams
This week’s matchup between No. 3 Baylor and No. 10 Oklahoma State will be the first time Baylor has played in a game involving Associated Press top-10 teams since Oct. 3, 1956. That day, No. 8 Baylor lost 19-13 to No. 7 Texas A&M, a team coached by Bear Bryant.
14. Players responsible for Oklahoma State’s 18-game takeaway streak
The Cowboys have had a takeaway in each of the last 18 games for one of the longest such streaks in the nation. One of the most interesting parts of the streak is the 14 players who have combined for the 39 forced turnovers. Leading the way is cornerback Justin Gilbert, who had three interceptions Saturday against Texas. Gilbert’s six interceptions is the most takeaways for any Oklahoma State player during the 18-game stretch.
0. Plays of 30 yards for Oklahoma State against Texas
Oklahoma State’s longest two plays from scrimmage against Texas both went for 29 yards, yet the Cowboys still won 38-13. The only other team this season to keep Oklahoma State from breaking a 30-yard play this season was Lamar. Go figure.
26. Average scoring deficit for Kansas during the 27-game Big 12 losing streak
Perhaps the most surprising of Kansas’ 31-19 win over West Virginia on Saturday was the relative ease of the victory that ended the Jayhawks’ 27-game Big 12 losing streak. Kansas’ last three Big 12 wins — spanning five years — were by a touchdown or less. Since defeating Colorado 52-45 on Nov. 6, 2010, Kansas had been outscored by an average of 26 points per game in Big 12 play.
5. Big 12 coaches to lose to Kansas since 2008
The last Big 12 coach to lose to Kansas was fired three days later. West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen will at least beat that mark set by Colorado’s Dan Hawkins in 2008. Still, the list of Big 12 coaches who have lost to Kansas since 2008 is not a good one. Only Holgorsen and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel remain employed. Hawkins and Iowa State coach Gene Chizik did it twice, and Kansas State’s Ron Prince did it once. Chizik went on to coach a national championship team at Auburn in 2010 but was fired before last season.
6-13. West Virginia’s record since Oct. 6, 2012
On Oct. 7, 2012, West Virginia was 5-0 and fifth in the Associated Press poll. Seems like an eternity ago, right? After three consecutive wins over Maryland, Baylor and Texas then, quarterback Geno Smith was the Heisman frontrunner. West Virginia’s fall since has been staggering with a 6-13 record and 4-11 in the Big 12. With an embarrassing 31-19 loss to Kansas, West Virginia has lost to every Big 12 team except Iowa State at least once. The Mountaineers face the Cyclones on Nov. 30.
2. Bowl streaks spanning at least eight years ended in the Big 12 last week
With West Virginia and TCU both losing their seventh game of the season, two of the top 12 longest bowl streaks in the nation were ended on the same day. Entering the season, only seven programs had a longer bowl streak than West Virginia's 11 consecutive years in the postseason. TCU had been in a bowl game every year since 2005. The longest bowl streak in the Big 12 belongs to Oklahoma (since 1999), now followed by Oklahoma State (since 2006).
4. Big 12 teams that will be led by their all-time wins leader
Bob Stoops won his 157th game at Oklahoma on Saturday, tying Barry Switzer for the most victories in school history. By the end of the season, four Big 12 teams will be led by their school’s all-time wins leader with Stoops joining Kansas State’s Bill Snyder (176), TCU’s Gary Patterson (120) and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy (76).
318. Difference in rushing yards for Oklahoma from Week 11 to 12
The Sooners went from one of the worst rushing performances of the Bob Stoops era against Baylor last week (87 yards, 2.56 yards per carry) to the best against Iowa State (405 yards, 9.2 yards per carry). The Sooners’ running performance against the Cyclones was the best for OU since rushing for 411 in 1997 against Louisville. Three Oklahoma players — running backs Damian Williams and Brennan Clay and quarterback Trevor Knight — topped 12 yards per carry.