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Week 6 provided college football fans with some of the best catches of the season.

Georgia’s Chris Conley made this nifty one-handed grab in the first half against Tennessee, which gave the Bulldogs a 10-0 lead.

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, October 7, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-enters-its-deadball-era
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Before Miami began its surprising run to the 2012-13 ACC regular-season title, coach Jim Larranaga viewed Shane Larkin as a defensive specialist. The speedy sophomore was part of the “Blitz Brothers,” a group of harassing perimeter disrupters charged with creating energy and easy buckets.
 

 
This story appears in the 2013-14 Athlon Sports College basketball annual. This year’s edition previews every team in the country and includes everything you need to now to prepare for the upcoming season. The annual is available online and on newsstands near you.

That was a good thing, because as a freshman the year before, Larkin had trouble scoring on anything but the simple shots. His field goal percentage was a spindly 36 percent, and he converted just 32.3 percent of his 3-pointers. Larkin could create havoc on defense, but he was a liability when he put the ball in the air.

Last summer, Larkin went to work, and by the end of the ’12-13 campaign, he was a first-round draft choice known as much for his offense as his play at the other end. He scored 14.5 points per game, nearly double his previous season’s output, shot 47.9 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from behind the arc.

“Shane spent last summer working on his mid-range game and floaters,” Larranaga says. “His jump shot improved dramatically, and he became a much better offensive player.”

It’s hard to blame Larkin for entering Miami as an incomplete player when the ball was in his hands. Only rarely are freshmen ready to score big when they arrive on campus. They’re young. They’re raw. But these days, there’s something else at work.

They haven’t really worked on their offensive games.

“Kids don’t develop skills in summer (while in high school),” Larranaga says. “They play a lot of games, but they don’t work on their shooting.

“The amount of time it takes for a player to become a good shooter is hours and hours every single day. Kids aren’t doing that anymore.”

Larranaga isn’t alone in his assessment of the state of shooting among college players. Coaches all over agree that skill development suffers as the AAU wave washes across the teenage basketball community. Its impact — along with a collection of other factors — has led to a historic drop in offensive effectiveness throughout the college game.

Last season, teams averaged a meager 67.5 points per game, the lowest since 1951-52. Three-point shooters succeeded at a 34.05 percent clip, the worst since the shot was introduced in 1986-87. Assists (12.82 per game) reached a 20-year low. And fans were subjected to some games that made them run, screaming, to the box office for refunds. The halftime score of the Miami-Maryland game was 19–14. Arkansas and Vanderbilt were in a 21–11 tussle at intermission of their game. And how about this final score: Georgetown 37, Tennessee 36.

Last season, teams averaged a meager 67.5 points per game, the lowest since 1951-52. Three-point shooters succeeded at a 34.05 percent clip, the worst since the shot was introduced in 1986-87. Assists (12.82 per game) reached a 20-year low.

“The skill level of players is really low,” Villanova coach Jay Wright says. “You have to work on (ball-handling) skills, footwork and shooting technique before you can teach a player your system. No system is effective without fundamentals.”

The skills are lacking. But there are other factors, beginning with how physical defenders — particularly those on the perimeter — are allowed to be. Last season, only 17.68 fouls/team were called, an all-time low. And the 19.76 free throws/team/game were the lowest number since 1975-76. Defenses are more sophisticated. Scouting has advanced to the point where coaches can break down rivals almost to the individual dribble. The glut of transfers kills program continuity, and the continued departure of top players after one season drains the game of some of its more accomplished offensive players. Players are bigger and more athletic and therefore more capable of defending larger swaths of the court.

Add it up, and you have a problem that can’t be solved by merely sticking kids in the gym and asking them to launch 500 jumpers a day, although it would be nice to give that a try, too. If college basketball is to escape its current state of drudgery, there must be a commitment on many levels to change. A model exists in the NBA. In 1998-99, teams averaged a puny 91.6 points per game, as rules allowed defenders to bludgeon rivals as they negotiated hoopward. After that season, the league called for an end to contact against ball-handlers on the perimeter and eliminated the process of “re-routing” of players with the ball. In other words, pushing a ball-handler away from the basket ended. Two years later, the defensive three-second violation debuted. And referees were directed to call the fouls. As a result, movement returned to the game, and scoring went up.

In '99-00, teams averaged 97.5 points. Last year, the average was 98.1 on 45.3 percent shooting. Though down from the 100.4/46.1 percent high-water mark in 2009-10, it is a marked improvement on the league’s dead-ball era. If the college game is to climb out of the mire and flow freely, it must address a variety of concerns. Rules can help. The rest is up to players and coaches.

“To win a championship, you have to play good offense,” Missouri coach Frank Haith says. “Louisville needed that against Michigan and Wichita State, because those teams were capable of scoring a lot of points.

“Louisville is a multiple defense team. Very few teams press, then play zone and then morph into a matchup zone. But at the end of the day, their offense got them through. You still have to have the ability to score.”

 


Like most coaches, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo tries to teach his players the right way to do things on the court. He preaches smart, team-oriented basketball that strives to have the unit working together toward a common goal. But despite his urging, pleading, and yes, yelling, Izzo is often helpless against a power more alluring than hardwood purity.

Greed.

“We live in such a selfish society,” he says. “Everybody is looking out for their own interests and aren’t making people better.”

Izzo is not making a grand statement about the state of American culture, although he does raise an interesting point about our unwillingness to help others. In this case, he’s referring to how self-interest hurts a basketball team’s ability to score. We hear all the time about how point guards can “set up” teammates, but Izzo questions whether that is the primary motivation of those who play the game or merely a last resort.

“Guards aren’t giving the ball to the guy when he has a chance to score,” Izzo says. “They try to ‘get mine, get mine, get mine’ and when they can’t, they give it up to someone who isn’t as open as he was earlier.”

That leads to poorer attempts and fewer points. And it is exactly what defenses want to see. Instead of working for the right shot, players who handle the ball are hoping to create something for themselves first. When that doesn’t happen, they pass — sometimes reluctantly, as the shot clock slithers toward zero — into the midst of a defense that is happy to strangle the desperate attempt.

“I think decision-making has a lot to do with it,” Izzo says. “Players are completing passes, but they’re not putting guys in shooting position. It’s like throwing a bomb in football. Do you hit the receiver in stride, or is the pass underthrown, and the receiver has to stop, catch it and get tackled?”

When that happens, the advantage goes to defenses that are already enjoying more robust success, thanks to a variety of circumstances. One is the type of player being recruited by top teams. Longer, quicker athletes are being found on the outskirts of defensive sets, and what used to be open shots are now contested. “In the past, defenders couldn’t help in the paint and then get out on the shooter,” Wright says. “Guys can do that now.”

It wasn’t that long ago that if a player drove the lane, and a defender stepped up to impede his path, the ball-handler would dish a bounce pass to a cutter along the baseline for an easy bucket. Now, according to Wright, “the big man can stop the penetration and get back to block the layup.”

Teams are more adroit at stopping the 3-pointer, too. That explains the continued drop in the success rate. It helps that defenders are allowed to body ball-handlers and cutters along the perimeter — “It’s hard to score when you’re getting knocked around,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim says — and that the priority for teams is to stop the long ball, not the mid-range jump shot. Wright says that players on the weak side used to provide help when drivers beat their men. That isn’t so prevalent anymore. “They fake help and stay with the shooter,” he says. “That layup isn’t worth as much as a 3-pointer.”

In order to play the kind of defense that recovers quickly on the interior and can move out to the perimeter to thwart 3-point attempts, teams are recruiting long-armed athletes and hoping they can turn them into productive offensive players. Often, those players can drive to the basket, but when the avenues are cut off, they have no countermoves.

“There used to be a lot of stories about people shooting in the summer, but guys are now more interested in getting to the basket and dunking,” Boeheim says. “We work on shooting more than ever before. We recruit guys who are great athletes, but they can’t shoot.”

If coaches know that their own players can’t shoot well, it’s reasonable for them to believe that opponents’ eyes aren’t so sharp, either. So, they create schemes that focus on thwarting rivals, rather than opening the game up. If teams practice defense first and prefer players with skills that benefit that philosophy, they aren’t to be all that effective at the other end. “I think it’s always been true that you can stay with anybody if you defend well,” Boeheim says. He uses last year’s Marquette team, which was excellent defensively (40.4 opposing field goal percentage) but somewhat challenged at the other end (29.6 percent 3-point) as an example of how defense can carry the day. Marquette tied for first in the Big East and reached the Elite Eight. Of course, Boeheim’s one to talk. His Orange have been strangling rivals with their zone for years. Last year’s Final Four run was fueled by a nasty D that surrendered only 58.7 points per game and allowed rivals to make a mere 36.9 percent of their shots.

Watching the Orange and Louisville reach the Final Four with their zones could well lead to a rush to that style of play. It’s hard to replicate the types of athletes those teams have, but their strategies are transferable. The Cardinals’ multiple defenses (press for 10 seconds, pure zone for 15 seconds, matchup for 10) are pretty advanced, but expect more teams to embrace the zone ideal.

That is if they’re able to keep their players on campus long enough to teach it. Every year, there is a large contingent (about 450 in 2013) of players who transfer in search of more playing time, greater compatibility with coaches and a variety of other reasons. Haith believes that hurts teams’ abilities to create productive offensive cultures.

“Kids are coming in with lesser skills and also aren’t sticking around to develop them,” he says. “It’s a microwave society. Everybody wants it quick and fast, and the patience isn’t there. You see very few veteran teams. Guys don’t stick around and go through things.”

Solving the problem won’t be easy, but there are some steps that could help. Emulating the NBA’s move to clean up contact along the perimeter would be a good idea. “Because of the physical play on the perimeter, pushing guys out, and bumping cutters across the lane, the flow of the game has been disrupted,” Haith says. Coaches aren’t worried about the rough stuff inside. “Inside guys are used to being physical,” Boeheim says. They want freer movement away from the hoop. If refs were to call fouls on defenders who bump and disrupt, offenses would have more room to operate.

Players have a responsibility, too. Their desire to drive to the basket and finish spectacularly has robbed them of the skills needed to be complete offensive players. That doesn’t just mean the jump shot. Larranaga says he and his staff teach how to come off a down screen, how to make a “V” cut and how to take a dribble to get past a defender and then hit a floater. What were once basics are now advanced basketball theory.

One thing that won’t change is the emphasis coaches put on defense, or the information available to coaches preparing for games. “Scouting is so much better now,” Izzo says. That means no matter how much is done to help create more room and a steadier stream of offensive movement, the players had better be in the gym, too, working on their skills.

If not, fans had better get ready for more games in the 30s.

-By Athlon Sports contributor Michael Bradley.

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, October 7, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Don Treadwell
Path: /college-football/miami-ohio-fires-coach-don-treadwell
Body:

Miami (Ohio) became the third program to fire its coach this season, as the school parted with Don Treadwell on Sunday.

Treadwell is an alum of the school and was one of the nation’s top assistants when he was hired to take over in Oxford.

However, Miami (Ohio) went just 8-20 in Treadwell’s first two seasons and was off to an 0-5 start this year.

This is solid job in the MAC with plenty of past success, so it will be interesting to see what coaches emerge as candidates.
 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, October 7, 2013 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/amazing-college-football-stats-week-6
Body:

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

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

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

11,625: Aaron Murray's SEC-record career passing yards
He has started every game of his career (45) and has proven he can lead his team to victory from behind in the fourth quarter. And his name now stands alone atop the SEC passing record book. With a modest 196 yards against Tennessee, he passed fellow Georgia passer David Greene (11,528) for No. 1 all-time in SEC history. He is a few games away from breaking Danny Wuerffel's all-time SEC TD record (114), Tim Tebow's all-time SEC total offense record (12,232) and would finish one win behind Greene's all-time SEC wins record should he win every game the rest of the season. It would make him the SEC's most prolific quarterback by a wide margin and the NCAA's No. 5 winningest signal caller in history (41 wins) behind only Boise State's Kellen Moore (50), Texas' Colt McCoy (45), TCU's Andy Dalton (42) and Greene. For what it's worth, however, only Dalton appears to have any NFL upside whatsoever.

6-0: Kevin Hogan's record against ranked teams
There may not be a better clutch performer at quarterback than Stanford's Kevin Hogan. He has never lost a game as a starter in his career (10-0), including six wins over ranked opponents. His first four career starts came against No. 13 Oregon State, No. 1 Oregon on the road, No. 15 UCLA on the road and No. 17 UCLA in the Pac-12 Championship Game. He won them all. He has continued to improve in his first full season under center, topping No. 23 Arizona State easily and outlasting No. 15 Washington this weekend. It's a good thing he can handle the pressure because the Cardinal's schedule the rest of the way is brutal — road trips to Utah, Oregon State and USC to go with home games against No. 2 Oregon, No. 12 UCLA and Notre Dame. Stanford has won 13 straight games and Hogan has lead the charge in most of them.

202: Consecutive Marcus Mariota passes without an INT
Not to be outdone in the Pac-12 North, Mariota is making a case that he is the nation's best player. He scored seven total touchdowns (five passing, two rush rushing) and accounted for 398 total yards of offense (355 passing, 43 rushing). That gives the Oregon quarterback 59 total career touchdowns (46 passing, 12 rushing, one receiving) in just 18 career games. More impressive, he has just six interceptions in those 18 games and has yet to throw a pick in 2013. In fact, he hasn't thrown an interception in his last 202 pass attempts. And while that might be three games worth of play-calling for Cal or Washington State, it's eight games for Oregon. Mariota is 17-1 as a starter, and his last interception came in the only loss of his career — the 17-14 OT loss to Stanford last season. Nov. 7 cannot get here soon enough.

864: Baylor's Big 12 record yards of total offense
If the Ducks are the nation's best offense, the Bears aren't too far behind. The list of superlatives this team is acquiring is astounding. Art Briles' bunch posted 458 yards rushing and 396 yards passing for a Big 12 record 864 yards of total offense. That would be a record in every other conference in the nation except the Pac-12. Baylor has scored at least 70 points in three straight games and has the three top yardage totals of the year nationally: 864 against West Virginia, 781 against UL Monroe and 781 against Buffalo. Quarterback Bryce Petty is leading the nation in efficiency (229.61) at a clip that would obliterate the NCAA single-season record (Russell Wilson, 191.8). Last but not least, tailback Lache Seastrunk has a nation's best eight consecutive 100-yard games and is No. 2 in the nation at 147.3 yards per game.

63: Largest margin of victory over a ranked opponent
Jameis Winston and the Seminoles put on a show in Doak Campbell this weekend against the Terrapins. They announced their national title aspirations with authority by posting the worst defeat of a ranked team in AP Poll history. The 63-0 blanking of No. 25 Maryland ties UCLA's 66-3 pounding of No. 11 Texas in 1997 for the largest margin of victory over a ranked team. Winston was magical, completing 23 of 32 passes for 393 yards and five touchdowns. Remember this is just his fifth start and marquee Heisman moments loom against Clemson, Miami and Florida. But just for fun, take at look at this interesting comparison through five games:

 

Comp. %

Pass yds

TD-INT

Rush yds-TD

Total off.

Jameis Winston, 2013

73.1

1,440

17-2

135-2

1,575

Johnny Manziel, 2012

69.3

1,285

11-2

495-7

1,780

17 and 18: The nation's longest losing and winning streaks

Southern Miss lost yet another heartbreaker after winless FIU kicked a game-winning field goal with just under seven minutes to play on Saturday. The loss pushes the nation's longest active losing streak to 17 games with little hope for Eagles fans to look forward to in 2013. According to Covers.com, the only game Southern Miss might be favored in is a home game with North Texas coming in three weeks. There is a chance at a second consecutive winless season. On the flip side, Ohio State outlasted Northwestern to extend the nation's longest active winning streak to 18 games. Coincidentally, Michigan owns the nation's longest home winning streak at 18 games as well. Should both continue to win, the Wolverines' 20-game home winning streak would come face to face with the Buckeyes' 23-game overall winning streak on the season's final weekend in Michigan Stadium.

1-16: Indiana's record against Penn State

Kevin Wilson lost a critical swing game with Navy and was uninspiring at home against Missouri, so he needed a marquee victory for his resume. His offense scored 21 points in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter and pulled away in impressive fashion against nemesis Penn State. The two programs have played 17 times with every one coming in conference play since PSU joined the league in 1993. Saturday's convincing 44-24 victory was Indiana's first-ever against the Nittany Lions. Wilson's squad has been excellent on one side of the ball, leading the Big Ten in total offense (535.0 ypg) and trailing only Ohio State in scoring (44.4 ppg). That said, this game merely keeps IU's bowl hopes alive with more survival games directly ahead — four of the next six will come on the road against Michigan State, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State. 

0: Teams that have beaten USC and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks

Arizona State had plenty of chances to beat Notre Dame on Saturday in AT&T Stadium but came up short. After a dominating offensive performance from Taylor Kelly and Marion Grice last weekend against USC, the Sun Devils committed critical turnovers in the final quarter of the 37-34 loss. It was the 12th time a team had to face the Trojans and the Irish on back-to-back weekends and none have ever beaten both. Only three, including the Sun Devils, even won the first half of the difficult duo of games. Todd Graham's team continues to play inconsistent football and, frankly, should have three losses already.

17: Unbeaten teams left in college football
The beauty of college football lies in its simplicity. Win all of your games and you probably will play for the national championship. From the BCS automatically-qualifying conferences, only Auburn in 2004 and Cincinnati in 2009 were perfect and left out of the BCS title game. So who is left after six weeks of play? Clemson (5-0), Miami (5-0) and Florida State (5-0) are a formidable unbeaten trio in the ACC but could play a complete round robin by season's end. Louisville (5-0) won't be the only team to give Houston (4-0) a loss this year in the AAC. Michigan (5-0) and Ohio State (6-0) are the lone remaining perfect teams in the Big Ten. Oklahoma (5-0), Texas Tech (5-0) and Baylor (4-0) all have yet to face each other in the Big 12. Top 12 teams Oregon (5-0), Stanford (5-0) and UCLA (4-0) give the Pac-12 tremendous depth at the top of the league. And Alabama (5-0) and upstart Mizzou (5-0) are the last standing unbeatens in the SEC. After six weeks of the best tournament in sports, college football is down to just 15 power conference teams left without a loss. And all but two — Alabama-Missouri and Clemson-Miami — are guaranteed to face each at some point during the regular season. For the record, Fresno State (5-0) and Northern Illinois (5-0) have established themselves quickly as the top two BCS Busters in 2013.

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, October 6, 2013 - 17:16
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/absolute-strangest-non-game-related-sports-injuries
Body:

The number of sports injuries that have occurred on the field this year have been staggering. But fans are used to it and consider it part of the game. However, the injuries that still get fans upset are the ones that occur when players hurt themselves doing random, seemingly mundane things. Here’s a list of our favorite ways players have been injured. Most are true, but a few seem a bit suspect. We’ll let you decide.

 

Wild animal attacks. While Nolan Ryan was playing for the Astros in 1985, a coyote bit him on the hand and forced him to miss a start; no word on whether any Acme products were involved. Former Norwegian soccer star Svein Grondalen was absent from an international match in the late-1970s because an angry moose ran into him while he was jogging. We suspect the moose was a fan of Brazil and vuvuzelas.

 

Eating. The Homer Simpson Award for injuries sustained while eating donuts goes to former National League MVP Kevin Mitchell, who chipped a tooth on a frozen donut in 1990 (dude, that's what microwaves are for). He had to have a root canal and ended up on the DL. Montreal Expo infielder Bret Barberie got chili pepper juice in his eye and missed a game. Hockey player Dustin Penner of the Los Angeles Kings takes the (pan)cake, though, wrenching his back last year while leaning over to eat a stack of flapjacks. His back spasm caused him to miss one game. 

 

Sneezing. Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa got back spasms from sneezing in 2004 and was never the same player again (he even turned white after he retired). Pitcher Mat Latos tried to learn from Sosa's example on the dangers of the sneeze, attempting to suppress the one he felt coming in July 2010. Latos strained muscles in his left side and wound up on the DL anyway.

 

Vomiting. Most of us feel better after we throw up, but not baseball’s Kevin Mitchell (yes, the same Mitchell from the earlier item) and Josh Outman. Both strained rib muscles while puking and had to be placed on the DL. Mitchell’s injury occurred in 1992, while Outman’s happened in April 2012.  

 

Playing video games. NBA star Lionel Simmons missed several games of the 1991 season from tendonitis suffered while playing his Nintendo GameBoy. Detroit pitcher Joel Zumaya may have been a Guitar Hero, which cost him a chance to be a baseball hero in the 2006 ALCS. He missed three games due to injuries to his elbow and forearm due to aggressive strumming on his PlayStation 2. Apparently he was attempting to play Buckethead on advanced. 

 

Chopping wood – in the locker room. When the Jacksonville Jaguars started 0-3 in 2003, coach Jack Del Rio put an axe and a stump of wood in the locker room and implored his team to “keep chopping wood.” It turns out that his players were still better at football than lumberjacking. Punter Chris Hanson took aim at the stump, but whacked his non-kicking foot instead and missed the rest of the season. Del Rio finally got the axe himself, a few years too late for Hanson. 

 

Participating in the coin toss. Call this one the Anton Chigurh Award for career-ending coin toss. Offensive tackle Turk Edwards’ career was good enough to make the Hall of Fame, but it might have been better if he hadn’t been the Washington Redskins’ captain in 1940. Edwards called the coin toss and shook hands with Giants’ captain Mel Hein, but when he turned toward the sideline, his cleat caught in the turf and his knee buckled. He never played again. 

 

Yelling at teammates. Words hurt, especially when you scream them with such force that you dislocate your jaw, as Manchester United goalie Alex Stepney did in 1975. If you're a python swallowing a deer, a dislocated jaw is an advantage. Otherwise, not so much.

 

Sleeping. All sorts of potential dangers await the slumbering athlete. Former baseball player Glenallen Hill, an arachnophobe, had a nightmare in 1990 involving spiders and consequently tumbled down the stars and slammed into a glass table. He sustained multiple cuts and required a stay on the disabled list. Thank God he steered clear of the bed pillows, or it might have been worse: former MLB pitcher Terry Mulholland scratched his eye on a loose feather in 2005, and Detroit catcher Brandon Inge went on the DL a few years later (2008) when he pulled an oblique while adjusting a pillow. Former Tigers pitcher Denny McLain once awoke from his slumber with two dislocated toes in 1967. Then, there’s "sleeping." Milan AC midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng earlier this year had a muscular lesion on his left thigh. His model girlfriend attributed it to “too much sex.” 

 

Ironing shirts.  This possible injury is shrouded in mystery. As legend has it, former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz burned himself back in 1990 while ironing his shirt. But that’s not the weird part. The story goes that Smoltz was wearing the shirt when he decided to iron it and not surprisingly burnt himself. Smoltz, of course, denies that it ever happened. And he’s probably telling the truth. Probably. 

 

Phone book attack. In 1994, 28-year-old knuckleballer Steve Sparks missed out on a chance to make his first big-league roster when he dislocated his left (non-throwing) shoulder during spring training in Chandler, Ariz., with the Milwaukee Brewers. He tried to rip a phone book while imitating a group of motivational speakers named "Radical Reality" who had visited the team.

 

by Chris Lee (@chrislee70), publisher of VandySports.com

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, October 6, 2013 - 16:23
All taxonomy terms: College Football, SEC
Path: /college-football/sec-week-6-recap-and-awards
Body:

There was high drama in Knoxville, where Georgia survived a scare in overtime at Neyland Stadium. Elsewhere, the SEC’s three teams named Tigers won in impressive fashion: Missouri at Vanderbilt, LSU at Mississippi State and Auburn at home vs. Ole Miss.

Week 6 Recap and Awards

Offensive Player of the Week: Zach Mettenberger, LSU
Mettenberger’s sensational senior season continues. The Tigers’ strong-armed quarterback completed 25-of-29 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns — both to Odell Beckham — in LSU’s 59-26 win at Mississippi State. For the season, Mettenberger is completing 68.2 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and two interceptions. In the last two weeks, he has thrown for 712 yards.

Defensive Player of the Week: Carl Lawson, Auburn
One of the top recruits in the Class of 2013, Lawson enjoyed the finest game of his young career in Auburn’s 30-22 win over Ole Miss. The defensive end from Georgia recorded six tackles (including two sacks) to key an Auburn defense that limited Ole Miss to only two touchdowns.  

Team of the Week: Missouri
After rolling through its non-conference schedule with relative ease, Missouri made a statement in its SEC opener, drilling Vanderbilt 51-28 in Nashville. Led by senior quarterback James Franklin, the Tigers jumped out to leads of 20-0 and 30-7 in the first half and were never seriously threatened the rest of the way. Mizzou, which went 2-6 in its SEC debut in 2012, currently ranks seventh in the nation in total offense (543.8 ypg) and eighth in scoring offense (46.6 ppg). Franklin is completing 67.9 percent of his passes and has 13 touchdowns and three interceptions.

Coordinator of the Week: Cam Cameron, LSU
He has outstanding personnel at his disposal, but Cameron has made a huge impact in his first season at LSU. On Saturday, the Tigers rolled up 563 yards of offense on an impressive 8.3 per-play average. LSU had 340 yards passing and 223 on the ground, and converted 6-of-11 on third down and 2-of-2 on fourth down.

Freshman of the Week: J.J. Green, Georgia   
Green, a true freshman tailback who had a total of five carries in the first four games, was forced into action due to injuries to Todd Gurley (last week) and Keith Marshall (in the first quarter). He responded with 129 yards on 17 carries in the Bulldogs’ 34-31 overtime win at Tennessee. Green’s biggest run of the day came on Georgia’s final possession in regulation, when he picked up 17 yards on a 3rd-and-1 at the Dawgs’ 34-yard line.

5th Down

• Tennessee tailback Rajion Neal rushed for 148 yards on 28 carries against Georgia and has 317 yards and three touchdowns in the last two games. Neal’s previous two-game high was 255 yards, last season against Akron (151) and Georgia (104).

• Kentucky’s 28 points at South Carolina were the most for the Wildcats in an SEC road game since a 42-35 loss at Ole Miss in October 2010. On Saturday, UK scored three of its four touchdowns in the fourth quarter.  

• Ole Miss scored a total of 15 touchdowns in its wins over Vanderbilt, SE Missouri State and Texas but has managed only two touchdowns in losses to Alabama and Auburn.

• Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall threw for a season-low 93 yards but did plenty of damage with his legs. The former junior college transfer rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries to lead a ground attack that picked up 282 rushing yards.

• Jordan Matthews became Vanderbilt’s all-time leading receiver in the Commodores’ loss to Missouri. The senior now has 2,996 yards receiving and will soon become the fourth player in SEC history to top the 3,000-yard mark.

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, October 6, 2013 - 16:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-6-recap-and-awards
Body:

The first week of November can’t get here fast enough for the Big 12.

Each week, it seems more inevitable that the Nov. 7 clash between Baylor and Oklahoma will determine the Big 12 race and perhaps the national landscape. That's the way it looks after Week 6. Baylor’s offense scored 70 points for the third consecutive game, and Oklahoma continued to shut down opponents.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Big 12 doesn’t look ready to compete for a title, even if teams like Texas and Texas Tech are 2-0.

Oklahoma State eked out a close win over Kansas State, earning two Big 12 weekly honors, but Baylor and Oklahoma continued to steal the show as conference play began in full this week.

Big 12 Week 5 Recap and Awards

Offensive player of the week: Bryce Petty, Baylor
Last season’s Baylor-West Virginia game featured 1,507 total yards and 133 points. By halftime, there was a sense Baylor could approach those totals alone if it really wanted to. Quarterback Bryce Petty continued to lead an unstoppable Baylor offense with a Big 12-record 864 yards its conference opener against West Virginia. Petty completed 17 of 25 passes for 347 yards with three total touchdowns and an interception in the 73-42 win over the Mountaineers. Nearly all of the damage occurred in a 56-point first half as Petty threw only two passes after halftime.

Defensive player of the week: Shaun Lewis, Oklahoma State
Defense may need to carry Oklahoma State for the time being, and linebacker Shaun Lewis proved to be up to the task in a 33-29 win over Kansas State. Lewis finished with eight tackles, a tackle for a loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the win, but his biggest play was an interception late in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys led by 1 at the time, but Lewis’ pick and 24-yard return set up a field goal to force K-State to go for the touchdown on the final drive.

Freshman of the week: Ben Grogan, Oklahoma State
A week after special teams were a major liability in the loss to West Virginia, Oklahoma State relied on special teams to defeat Kansas State 33-29. As the Oklahoma State offense stalled in the red zone, freshman kicker Ben Grogan converted four of his five attempts, the lone miss a blocked 43-yard attempt. Grogan made field goals of 30, 34, 23 and 28 yards.

Team of the week: Baylor
Baylor’s schedule is backloaded with the toughest Big 12 competition waiting until November. But after the 73-42 rout of West Virginia, the question is who is going to stop the Bears? Baylor’s scoring output against West Virginia alone was more than Connecticut, Georgia State and Southern Miss have scored all year. The 56 points in the first half alone were more than FIU, Miami (Ohio) and UMass have scored this season. And remember, this was against a West Virginia defense that is vastly improved over the one from a year ago.

Coordinator of the week: Mike Stoops, Oklahoma
The question of who could stop Baylor falls on the shoulders of Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. The Sooners have the Big 12’s top defense and proved it again in a 20-17 win over TCU. The Horned Frogs gained only 16 yards in the first half, failing to gain a first down until their second possession of the third quarter. TCU finished with 44 rushing yards as Stoops’ defense picked up four sacks and seven tackles for a loss.

Fifth Down

• With 172 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk has topped 100 yards in eight consecutive games.

• Baylor has the top three games in total yardage this season with 864 against West Virginia and 781 each against ULM and Buffalo. Each was a school record.

• Kansas State became the fifth Big 12 team to start a different quarterback since the opener. Daniel Sams started against Oklahoma State, replacing Jake Waters. Sams had been a running specialist, but he completed 15 of 21 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Sams, though, struggled with the deep ball, throwing three interceptions.

• Michael Brewer, who was the projected starting quarterback for Texas Tech this season, made his first appearance of the season in the final minutes of the rout of Kansas. Brewer never threw a pass but appeared in the final three possessions after missing the first four games with a back injury.

• Texas Tech starting quarterback Baker Mayfield left with an injury in the third quarter after passing for 368 yards. The extent of his injury was not known after the game.

• By now, you’ve probably seen Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads’ impassioned postgame press conference after questionable officiating went in Texas’ favor in the Cyclones’ loss Thursday. In case you’ve haven’t seen it...

• One place where Rhoads has a legitimate beef is penalties: Iowa State’s 10 penalties against Texas doubled the Cyclones’ output this season. Rhoads received a reprimand from the Big 12, but not a fine, for his critical comments.

• Texas wide receiver Mike Davis received a reprimand from the Big 12, but not a suspension, after he lunged at the legs of a defenseless Iowa State player after the whistle in Thursday’s game. He was assessed a 15-yard personal foul on the field.

• Regardless of the outcome Thursday, Iowa State found it has a focal point for its offense in running back Aaron Wimberly, who rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. Wimberly has rushed for 254 yards in his last two games. Quarterback Sam Richardson also had the best game of his career with 345 yards of total offense (262 passing, 83 rushing).

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In the last few years, Florida State has had well-documented issues staying upright in the national championship race.

If the Seminoles’ new star quarterback has anything to do about it, Florida State will remain on its feet for the long haul.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston turned in one of the plays of the week and added to his growing highlight reel of impossible plays with a wild touchdown pass to Nick O’Leary. Maryland’s Yannik Virgil-Cudjoe, a 250-pound linebacker, tried to wrap up Winston for a sack, but the quarterback escaped and scrambled to his right to make the 12-yard pass to O’Leary.

“I can't tell you what the play was but I can tell you I actually held the ball too long,” Winston said. “I just try to get it to the open guys. ... I just slipped out of it and Nick was wide open for the touchdown.”

Winston completed 23 of 32 passes for 393 yards with five touchdowns to earn Athlon Sports National Player of the Week honors in addition to his third National Freshman of the Week award.

Athlon Sports Week 6 National Awards
National Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week: Jameis Winston, Florida State
The redshirt freshman is playing with the poise of a fifth-year senior. In Saturday’s win over Maryland, Winston completed 23 of 32 passes for 393 yards and five scores, while rushing for 24 yards on seven attempts. Winston’s five touchdown tosses were the most by a Florida State quarterback since Christian Ponder threw five in 2009, and the redshirt freshman already has three games of at least 300 passing yards. The freshman ranks second in the ACC with 288.2 passing yards per game, averaging an impressive 16 yards per completion. Winston has tossed only two picks and ranks fifth in the NCAA with a 73.2 completion percentage.

National Defensive Player of the Week: Shayne Skov, Stanford
UCLA had a trio of great performances from Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr and Anthony Jefferson, but Shayne Skov was all over the field against an excellent Washington offense. Skov played one of the best games of his career, posting 14 total tackles and 1.5 sacks in the huge win over the division rival Huskies. With Trent Murphy, A.J. Tarpley and James Vaughters, the Cardinal boast the best linebacker corps in the nation.

National Coordinator of the Week: Mike Stoops, Oklahoma
The question of who could stop Baylor falls on the shoulders of Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. The Sooners have the Big 12’s top defense and proved it again in a 20-17 win over TCU. The Horned Frogs gained only 16 yards in the first half, failing to gain a first down until their second possession of the third quarter. TCU finished with 44 rushing yards as Stoops’ defense picked up four sacks and seven tackles for a loss.

Athlon Sports Week 6 Conference Awards

ACC
Offense: Jameis Winston, Florida State
Defense: Vic Beasley, Clemson
Freshman: Jameis Winston, Florida State
Coordinator: Jeremy Pruitt, Florida State

Big 12
Offense: Bryce Petty, Baylor
Defense: Shaun Lewis, Oklahoma State
Freshman: Ben Grogan, Oklahoma State
Coordinator: Mike Stoops, Oklahoma

Big Ten
Offense: Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
Defense: Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
Freshman: Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska
Coordinator: John Papuchis, Nebraska

Pac-12
Offense: Ty Montgomery, Stanford
Defense: Shayne Skov, Stanford
Freshman: Daquon Brown, Washington State
Coordinator: Lou Spanos, UCLA

SEC
Offense: Zach Mettenberger, LSU
Defense: Carl Lawson, Auburn
Freshman: Cam Cameron, LSU
Coordinator: J.J. Green, Georgia

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Much of the attention in the ACC in Week 6 was focused on the two divisional showdowns.

Neither game particularly lived up to elite billing, but Florida State and Miami both picked up key victories. The Seminoles pitched a 63-0 shutout against Maryland, while the Hurricanes defeated the Yellow Jackets 45-30.

Florida State has a bye week before taking on Clemson, which will undoubtedly play a huge role in shaping the ACC Atlantic title picture.

The Hurricanes are in control of the Coastal Division, but Virginia Tech is quietly showing signs of life on offense. If the Hokies get anything going on offense, this team will have a chance to win the division once again, especially with a dominant defense.

Elsewhere in the ACC, Virginia lost to Ball State, Clemson dominated Syracuse and Boston College and Wake Forest picked up solid victories.

ACC Week 6 Recap and Awards

Offensive Player of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Boston College running back Andre Williams and Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd turned in strong performances this week, but offensive player of the week honors go to Winston. The redshirt freshman is playing with the poise of a fifth-year senior. In Saturday’s win over Maryland, Winston completed 23 of 32 passes for 393 yards and five scores, while rushing for 24 yards on seven attempts. Winston’s five touchdown tosses were the most by a Florida State quarterback since Christian Ponder threw five in 2009, and the redshirt freshman already has three games of at least 300 passing yards.

Defensive Player of the Week: Vic Beasley, DE, Clemson
There were few standout performances in the ACC this week, but Beasley takes the Defensive Player of the Week honors after recording five tackles and two sacks against Syracuse. Four of Beasley’s tackles went for a loss, which helped to limit Syracuse to just 74 passing yards. After five games, the junior leads the NCAA with eight sacks, with six coming in ACC contests. Clemson’s defense ranks eighth in the ACC in yards allowed per game (356.6), but the Tigers are holding opponents to just 16.6 points a game. Beasley’s pass rush has been crucial to Clemson’s success, and the junior is performing at an All-American level in 2013.

Coordinator of the Week: Jeremy Pruitt, Florida State
A week after giving up 34 points and 407 yards to Boston College, the Seminoles were nearly perfect on defense against Maryland. The Terrapins entered Saturday’s game averaging 498.5 yards and 39.8 points per game, but Florida State limited the Terrapins to just 234 yards, pitched a shutout and limited Maryland to just nine first downs. Terrapins' quarterback C.J. Brown suffered a concussion in the first half, but the offense wasn’t moving the ball with much success when he was in the game. Maryland managed just 4.1 yards per play on Saturday, which was their lowest total of the season. Pruitt is in his first year with the Seminoles and some of the defense’s early struggles against the run are largely due to the transition in scheme and personnel. With two weeks to prepare for Clemson, Pruitt should have Florida State’s defense ready for the Tigers’ high-powered offense.

Team of the Week: Florida State
Miami’s win over Georgia Tech was solid, but Florida State’s victory over Maryland was pure dominance. The Seminoles dominated from start to finish and pitched their first shutout over a top-25 team since 1997. The 63-point margin of victory was the most lop-sided victory over a top-25 team in school history. Florida State is 5-0 for the second consecutive season, and now turns its sights to a huge showdown against Clemson on Oct. 19.

Freshman of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Freshman of the week honors in the ACC could essentially be renamed for Winston this year. And here’s the scary part for the rest of the ACC: Winston will only get better. The freshman ranks second in the ACC with 288.2 passing yards per game, averaging an impressive 16 yards per completion. Winston has tossed only two picks and ranks fifth in the NCAA with a 73.2 completion percentage. 

5th Down

• Virginia quarterback David Watford threw for a season high 209 yards in the 48-27 loss to Ball State.

Freshman safety Ryan Janvion led Wake Forest with 11 tackles against NC State.

• Boston College running back Andre Williams rushed for 263 yards and five touchdowns in the Eagles’ 48-27 win over Army. Williams missed the single-game school record by one yard.

• Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd’s 455 passing yards set a single-game school record.

• Syracuse defensive tackle Jay Bromley had a solid outing against Clemson. The senior recorded four tackles (three for a loss) and two sacks.

• Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas has completed at least 67 percent of his passes in his last two games. Thomas does not have an interception in ACC play this year.

• The home team has won the last six meetings in the NC State-Wake Forest series.

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Michigan State posted one of the most complete outings of the Big Ten season thus far in a critical road division win over Iowa. Indiana exercised some demons with the first win in school history over Penn State. Without Taylor Martinez, Nebraska handled its business at home against overmatched Illinois team. And Michigan kept control of the Little Brown Jug.

But Ohio State made the biggest statement of the weekend by clearly yet another big hurdle. The Buckeyes turned to the power running game to make a big statement against a very good Northwestern team in a hostile environment in Evanston.

Here are the Big Ten's Week 6 Superlatives:

Big Ten Week 6 Recap and Awards

Offensive Player of the Week: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State  

The 235-pound running back from Florida was simply too much for Northwestern to handle. On a night when Braxton Miller didn't play his best, Hyde stepped up and salvaged the Buckeyes national championship hopes. He entered the night with just 22 rushing attempts and 126 yards on the season but finished with 26 carries, 168 yards and three crucial second-half touchdowns. The worn-down Wildcats had no answer for Hyde's physicality in the second half. The Ohio State tailback also caught four passes for 38 yards.

Defensive Player of the Week: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

The Michigan State cornerback was preseason first-team All-Big Ten pick by Athlon Sports and he showed why Saturday. In a key division road win, Dennard led the team with eight tackles and added two interceptions as the Spartans shut out of the Hawkeyes in the second half. This unit held Mark Weisman to just nine yards and is still leading the nation in total defense (203.8 ypg).

Team of the Week: Ohio State

Both Michigan State and Indiana had critical — and historic in the Hoosiers case — wins in Week 6 over Iowa and Penn State respectively. But the Buckeyes were once again the class of the Big Ten conference after defeating Northwestern 40-30 on the road. With a power rushing attack, a dynamic quarterback, elite-level coach and, now, two huge wins over ranked conference opponents, there is little doubt who the best team in the league is after six weeks of play.

Coordinator of the Week: John Papuchis, Nebraska

Illinois entered the game against Nebraska averaging nearly 500 yards of offense and more than 40 points per game. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was averaging 307.5 yards per game with 12 touchdowns in four games. Nebraska's defense, though, played its best game of the year, holding the Illini to 372 yards, 19 total points, 4-of-15 on third downs, registering three sacks and forcing two turnovers. Without Taylor Martinez, the Huskers' defense came up big once again.

Freshman of the Week: Tommy Armstrong Jr., QB, Nebraska

In the absence of Taylor Martinez, Armstrong (and fellow reserve signal caller Ron Kellogg III) has been charged with running the Huskers offense. Armstrong played excellent football against the Illini, completing 8 of 13 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns in the impressive win. He also ran the ball nine times for 18 yards on the ground and didn't throw an interception for a second straight game. With a road trip to Purdue up next before another week off, don't be surprised if Bo Pelini goes to his freshman again in an effort to get Martinez fully healthy.

Fifth Down

• Penn State's Christian Hackenberg broke his own school freshman passing record with 340 yards against Indiana.

• Allen Robinson had 12 receptions for 173 yards and two TDs against Indiana. He moved into seventh place all-time in school history with 118 career receptions and fifth all-time with 16 career TD receptions.

• Iowa was leading the Big Ten and was fourth nationally in time of possession entering Week 6 (35:50). The Hawkeyes held the ball for 22:47 in the loss to Michigan State.

• Nebraska is now leading the nation all by itself with just two sacks allowed in 2013.

• Indiana is now 1-16 all-time against Penn State after the win over the Nittany Lions this weekend.

• Ohio State still owns the nation's longest winning streak at 18 and Michigan owns the longest home winning streak with 18. These two will play in Ann Arbor on the final weekend of the regular season.

• After going 10 of 13 on third downs against Minnesota, the Wolverines are leading the Big Ten in third-down conversions at 53.7 percent (36 of 67) which is good for 11th nationally.

• Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah ran for a personal-best 225 yards and two touchdowns against Illinois.

• Despite two different outcomes, Iowa and Michigan are still the nation's only teams that have yet to allow a rushing touchdown.

• Michigan State's Connor Cook set a career high with 277 yards passing. He also had two long scoring strikes in the win over Iowa.

• Saturday was the first game of the season that Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste didn't have an interception in 2013.

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Stanford highlighted the weekend by staying unbeaten after slipping past Washington. Oregon trounced Colorado on the road. So never fear, the collision course for Thursday, Nov. 7 in Palo Alto is still intact. But only by the slimmest of margins.

Elsewhere, Mike Leach had a signature performance for Washington State, UCLA won a critical road game on Thursday night and Arizona State tripped all over itself in Jerry's World against Notre Dame. The league has two remaining non-conference games left in 2013 (Notre Dame at Stanford, USC at Notre Dame).

Pac-12 Week 6 Awards and Recap

Offensive Player of the Week: Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford

As usual, there were plenty of worthy candidates who accounted for seven touchdowns (Marcus Mariota), topped 500 yards passing (Connor Halliday) or scored three different ways (Brett Hundley), but only one posted 290 all-purpose yards in the biggest conference game to date. Montgomery took the opening kickoff 99 yards for the game's first score and Stanford never looked back. He finished with 204 return yards — a 35.0 yards per return average on his other three returns — three receptions for 56 yards, a receiving touchdown, a return touchdown and 30 yards rushing on two attempts. He was a one-man show in a game highlighted by its defensive prowess.

Defensive Player of the Week: Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford

UCLA had a trio of great performances from Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr and Anthony Jefferson, but Shayne Skov was all over the field against an excellent Washington offense. Skov played one of the best games of his career, posting 14 total tackles and 1.5 sacks in the huge win over the division rival Huskies. With Trent Murphy, A.J. Tarpley and James Vaughters, the Cardinal boast the best linebacker corps in the nation.

Team of the Week: Stanford

Stanford's slimmest of margins entailed an Keith Price tipped-pass interception inside the Cardinal's 5-yard line with less than seven minutes to play and a final minute replay booth decision. Kevin Hogan was solid — 12 of 20, 100 yards with two total touchdowns — but didn't turn any Heisman voters' heads. More important, the defense pressured Price all night and a playmaker emerged on the outside of the offense in Montgomery. This team has a nasty schedule but the poise and veteran leadership needed to conquer it was on full display Saturday night as the Huskies rallied. Stanford won despite being outgained by more than 200 yards.

Coordinator of the Week: Lou Spanos, UCLA

The Bruins went into a hostile environment and returned home still unbeaten due to extraordinary performance by the defense. Spanos' defense had quarterback Travis Wilson solved from the opening kickoff. UCLA forced six turnovers, registered three sacks and held an offense averaging over 500 yards per and 42 points per game to just 387 yards and 20 offensive points. But maybe the most critical performance came on third downs, where the Bruins held Utah to just 2 o -13. This unit has star power and could quickly develop into an elite defense should the young players continue to hold their own.

Freshman of the Week: Daquawn Brown, DB, Washington State

At some point, we will all have to acknowledge the Pac-12's No. 2 tackler, Colorado freshman linebacker Addison Gillam. He posted 15 tackles, two for loss and one sack in the blowout loss to Oregon. But Washington State's freshman defensive back played an equally large role in a road win for the Cougars. Brown posted six tackles and his second interception of the season against a Golden Bears offense that threw the ball 62 times.

Fifth Down

• Washington had more than twice as many first downs (30) as Stanford (14). But the Huskies never led the Cardinal.

• The Huskies had 489 yards of offense. Stanford had 279.

• UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley threw, ran and caught a touchdown pass on Thursday night against the Utes. He finished with 211 yards passing, 85 yards rushing and seven yards receiving.

• Oregon's Marcus Mariota scored seven touchdowns against the Buffaloes this weekend. So after 18 career games, he has 59 total TDs and just six interceptions. That is 3.3 touchdowns and 0.3 interceptions per game and basically a 10:1 total TD-to-interception career rate. He has gone 202 consecutive attempts without an interception.

• The Ducks scored at least 50 points for fifth straight time. According to ESPN Stats and Info, there are only the second team in history to do so, joining Princeton in 1885.

• There were 129 pass attempts for 1,027 passing yards between Cal and Washington State.

• Taylor Kelly through for his fifth straight 300-yard game but the Sun Devils lost thanks to two more interceptions. He has six on the year, ahead of only Connor Halliday (10) and Travis Wilson (nine) in the Pac-12.

• Nine players are tied for the lead nationally in interceptions with four. Three of them play in the Pac-12: Colorado's Greg Henderson, Oregon State's Steven Nelson and Wazzu's Deone Bucannon. Bucannon also leads the league in tackles with 56 total stops.

 

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Georgia running back Keith Marshall suffered a knee injury in the first half against Tennessee and is out for the remainder of the game.

Marshall’s injury is a huge loss for the Bulldogs, as starter Todd Gurley did not dress against the Volunteers due to an ankle injury.

With Marshall sidelined, Georgia will have to lean on J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas for the rest of the game.

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The Rutgers-SMU matchup wasn’t one of the weekend’s most-anticipated games, but this American Athletic Conference game was an entertaining, three-overtime affair.

The Scarlet Knights led 21-0, and the Mustangs rallied to cut the deficit to 21-14 early in the third quarter.

SMU rallied once again after trailing 35-14 late in the third, with quarterback Garrett Gilbert connecting with receiver Jeremy Johnson on a 13-yard touchdown passes with just over a minute to go.

After Johnson’s touchdown catch, the Mustangs needed a two-point play to tie. And if you haven’t seen it, this conversion is easily one of the best two-point plays in recent memory. 
 

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Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown took a huge hit in Saturday’s loss to Florida State and did not return to action.

After the game, Terrapins’ coach Randy Edsall indicated Brown suffered a concussion and will be evaluated.

Brown has been a big reason why Maryland got off to a 4-0 start, and his status for next week’s game against Virginia is uncertain.

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Even with quarterback Taylor Martinez sidelined with a toe injury, Nebraska’s offense didn’t miss a beat against Illinois.

The Cornhuskers won 39-19, and freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns on eight completions.

One of Armstrong’s top passes was a 37-yard scoring strike to receiver Kenny Bell, who made an excellent one-handed grab against the Illinois’ defense.

 

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As expected, Alabama had little trouble scoring in its Week 6 matchup against Georgia State.

Receiver DeAndrew White made one of the top plays of Week 6, as he made a one-handed grab from quarterback AJ McCarron to give Alabama a 21-0 lead in the first quarter.

Check out White’s one-handed touchdown grab against Georgia State:

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Texas quarterback David Ash has been ruled out for next Saturday’s game against Oklahoma.

The junior suffered a concussion in Texas’ 40-21 loss at BYU on Sept. 7 and sat out the Longhorns’ 44-23 defeat to Ole Miss on Sept. 14.

Ash returned against Kansas State but was forced to leave the game early and did not play in the 31-30 win over Iowa State on Thursday night.

With Ash sidelined, Texas will go with Case McCoy at quarterback once again. McCoy has thrown for 574 yards and two scores this season but missed several throws in the win over the Cyclones.

Will Texas pull the redshirt off of freshman Tyrone Swoopes?

Oklahoma has dominated the Longhorns in the last two seasons, and not having Ash on the field next weekend only adds to the challenge for Texas.

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Minnesota coach Jerry Kill suffered a seizure on Saturday morning and won’t coach the Golden Gophers against Michigan.

Kill suffers from epilepsy and has suffered five seizures since taking over at Minnesota in 2011.

Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will serve as Minnesota’s coach against Michigan.

 

 


Minnesota released a statement on Saturday morning regarding Kill:

Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill is at home in Minneapolis and will not be on the sideline for today's game against Michigan. Coach Kill was not feeling well on Friday morning and decided to meet the team in Ann Arbor on Saturday. He then suffered a seizure on Saturday morning and will remain at home in Minnesota for today's game.

Coach Kill has been in contact with his staff today and defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will serve as Minnesota's acting head coach from the press box.
 

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Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton is one of college football’s most underrated players, but the junior suffered a knee injury in Friday night’s loss to BYU and is out indefinitely.

Prior to his injury, Keeton threw for 1,388 yards and 18 touchdowns this season, while tossing only two interceptions and adding 241 yards on the ground.

With Keeton sidelined, Utah State will start Craig Harrison in next week’s matchup against Boise State.

 

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Ohio State and Northwestern have not played since 2008 and much has changed between these two teams since the last meeting.

The Buckeyes are 46-10 from 2009-13, which includes the lost 2011 season due to suspensions and the preseason departure of coach Jim Tressel.

Success is nothing new to Ohio State, but the Buckeyes are the standard. If you want to join the Big Ten’s elite, you have to knock off Ohio State on a consistent basis.

Northwestern has made steady progress under coach Pat Fitzgerald, and Saturday night’s game against Ohio State is a huge opportunity for his team. The Wildcats won 10 games for only the third time in school history last year, which included a 34-20 bowl win over Mississippi State – the program’s first since 1949.

Northwestern is also off to a fast start in 2013, recording a road win at California in the opener, followed by home victories against Syracuse, Western Michigan and Maine.

Beating Ohio State isn’t a must to give credibility to Northwestern, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt. Fitzgerald has assembled one of the most-talented teams in the program’s history. And the schedule won’t get any easier in the next two months, as Wisconsin is up next, followed by a November slate of a road trip to Nebraska, followed by home dates against Michigan and Michigan State.

The overall series has been dominated by Ohio State, owning a 59-14-1 edge over Northwestern. The Wildcats have lost 28 out of their last 29 meetings against the Buckeyes. However, Northwestern knocked off Ohio State 33-27 in Evanston in 2004. 

Northwestern vs. Ohio State

Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Ohio State -7

Three Things to Watch

Ohio State DL vs. Northwestern OL
So far, Ohio State’s rebuilt defensive line has answered the bell this season. The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten with 11 sacks generated through five games, and opponents are managing only 84.6 rushing yards per game. Ohio State held Wisconsin’s rushing attack to just 104 yards on 27 attempts – a far cry from the Badgers’ average of 300.6 yards per game. End Noah Spence leads the team with 2.5 sacks, while fellow linemen Steve Miller and Michael Bennett have chipped in three tackles for a loss a piece. Northwestern’s line lost three starters from last season’s unit and has allowed seven sacks through four games. Junior Jack Konopka and center Brandon Vitabile are most-experienced options on the line, combining for 47 starts in their career. However, the other three starters (Ian Park, Geoff Mogus and Paul Jorgensen) have just 13 combined starts. Ohio State has the best defense Northwestern has played this year. And the Buckeyes have a deep, athletic group of options in the trenches, which will present a challenge for the Wildcats’ offensive line.

Northwestern RB Venric Mark
Mark was one of the Big Ten’s top playmakers last season, rushing for 1,366 yards and 12 scores and catching 20 passes for 104 yards and one touchdown. Mark was also a weapon on special teams, averaging 18.7 yards per punt return and took two back for scores. Due to injuries, the senior is off to a slow start this season. Mark was injured late in fall camp and played in the opener against California. However, he managed only 29 yards on 11 attempts and has not played since. With four weeks to heal, Mark is expected to be at full strength on Saturday night, which should provide a huge boost for Northwestern’s offense. In his absence, Treyvon Green and Mike Trumpy have filled in admirably, but Mark is a difference maker. Even though he may have to knock off some rust, Mark is a dynamic playmaker who should see at least 20 touches on Saturday night.

Northwestern’s QBs: Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian
Most coaches don’t want any part of a two-quarterback system. But Northwestern has embraced that approach, as Colter and Siemian bring a different skill-set to the offense. Colter is the better runner and has 237 rushing yards and three scores through four games. Siemian is the better passer, and the Wildcats’ offense is more capable of attacking downfield with the pass when he’s on the field. In four games this year, Siemian has completed 67.1 percent of his throws for 671 yards and four scores. Can this rotation work effectively once again? Balance will be crucial for Colter. Ohio State knows he wants to run, but Colter has to hit a few passes to back the defense off the line of scrimmage. The Buckeyes’ secondary has picked off six passes this season, but safety Christian Bryant was lost for the year with an ankle injury in last week’s game against Wisconsin.

Key Player: Dwight White, CB, Northwestern

Ohio State’s supporting cast has improved since last season, with freshman Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott emerging to take some of the pressure off of quarterback Braxton Miller. The receiving corps has four players with at least 10 catches, including Devin Smith (16.5 ypc). White was pressed into the starting lineup after Daniel Jones suffered a knee injury in the opener against California, and the freshman has recorded 20 stops in four games. White will be tested once again on Saturday night, as Ohio State is the best offense Northwestern has played all year. With sophomore Nick VanHoose on the other side, the Buckeyes will test White to see if he’s up to the challenge on Saturday night.

Final Analysis

If Ohio State wins this game, it should roll to an 11-0 record before playing Michigan in the season finale. Northwestern’s schedule is more challenging, and a win over the Buckeyes would give it an early edge in the Legends Division title race.

Ohio State is already battle-tested thanks to a win over Wisconsin last week, and the Buckeyes’ offense should have an edge in the matchup against the Northwestern secondary. Quarterback Braxton Miller was sharp in his return from a knee injury last week, finishing 17 of 25 for 198 yards and four touchdowns. The Wildcats rank last in the Big Ten in pass defense, which is problematic against an Ohio State offense that’s overflowing with playmakers.

Northwestern gives Ohio State all it can handle, but Miller finds a way to lead the Buckeyes to a win late in the fourth quarter.

Prediction: Ohio State 34, Northwestern 27

Teaser:
Post date: Saturday, October 5, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/washington-huskies-vs-stanford-cardinal-game-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Entering the 2013 season, the Pac-12 North was considered a two-team race: Oregon and Stanford.

After five weeks, the Ducks and Cardinal are still considered the frontrunners for the Pac-12 title.

But is it time to move Washington into the contender category? Saturday’s game against Stanford is a huge barometer test for the Huskies and should provide some insight into how the North Division will stack up this season.

Washington opened the year with an impressive win over Boise State and defeated Illinois, Idaho State and Arizona to run its record to 4-0. Although the Broncos and Wildcats were good tests, Stanford is one of the nation’s top-five teams and is a better gauge for coach Steve Sarkisian.

Stanford has quietly rolled to a 4-0 start, winning all of its games by at least 14 points. The Cardinal is 2-0 in Pac-12 games, which includes a 55-17 dismantling of Washington State in Seattle last Saturday.

Washington holds a slight 41-38-4 edge in the overall series. The Huskies upset the Cardinal 17-13 in Seattle last year but lost the four prior meetings. From 2010-11, Stanford dominated Washington by a combined score of 106-21.

Washington vs. Stanford

Kickoff: 10:30 ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Spread: Stanford -7.5

Three Things to Watch

Washington OL vs. Stanford’s front seven
Washington’s offensive line was a major culprit in the team’s 7-6 record last season. Injuries played a role in the unit’s struggles, but inconsistency and overall poor play marred the Huskies’ front line. Washington allowed 2.9 sacks per game in 2012, including 26 in conference play. So far, this season has been a different story. Quarterback Keith Price is getting rid of the ball quicker, but the line has allowed just three sacks in four games. Saturday’s matchup against Stanford will be this unit’s toughest test of 2013, as the Cardinal boast one of the best front sevens in the nation. In addition to protecting Price, the Huskies’ line needs to open holes for running back Bishop Sankey, who is averaging 151.8 yards per game. Stanford has 26 tackles for a loss and nine sacks this year, with linebackers Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov representing the strength of the defense. If the Huskies give quarterback Keith Price time to throw, they have the receivers to make big plays in the passing game.

Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan
Considering Hogan plays in the same conference as Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Arizona State’s Taylor Kelly, Washington’s Keith Price and Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, perhaps he has been lost in the shuffle nationally. The sophomore has made significant strides as a passer this year, completing 63.2 percent of his throws and 10 touchdown passes in four games. Last season, Hogan didn’t start the full season, but he finished with just nine passing scores and averaged only 10 yards per completion. The sophomore is averaging nearly 15 yards per completion this season and also provides another threat on the ground (111 yards). In addition to Hogan’s improvement, Stanford also has more weapons at receiver, starting with Ty Montgomery (16.4 ypc), and Devon Cajuste and Michael Rector. Washington leads the Pac-12 in pass defense, and opposing quarterbacks are completing just 48.3 percent of their passes. No passer has managed more than 156 yards in a game against the Huskies this season. Of course, it certainly helps to have a strong pass rush (13 sacks). Can Hogan have success against this defense?

Stanford’s OL vs. Washington’s front seven
Our preview has focused heavily on the trenches, but it’s a crucial part of Saturday’s game. Stanford’s starting five on the offensive line averages a sturdy 305 pounds, with right tackle Cameron Fleming tipping the scales at 318. This unit is arguably the best offensive line in the nation, paving the way for Stanford rushers to average 5.3 yards per carry, and allowing only three sacks in four games. Washington’s front seven ranks fifth in the Pac-12 in rush defense and has generated 13 sacks. The Cardinal has an advantage in the trenches, but the Huskies held Stanford to just 65 rushing yards last year. Even though Stanford’s passing attack is improved this season, Washington needs to make the Cardinal one-dimensional by stopping the run on early downs.

Key Player: Keith Price, QB, Washington
Price didn’t play particularly well in last year’s matchup (19 of 37, 177 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), but he connected with Kasen Williams on the game-winning score with less than five minutes to go. Price has a deep group of receivers at his disposal, including tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and receiver Jaydon Mickens (21 catches). The senior quarterback is completing 72.3 percent of his throws, which is significantly better than last year (60.9). Stanford’s defense is one of the best in the nation, and this matchup is Price’s biggest test so far this year. If Washington is going to win in Palo Alto, the senior has to play a mistake-free game.

Final Analysis

Washington has closed the gap in the Pac-12 North, but Stanford is still the better team. The Huskies will have some success moving the ball and should trade punches with the Cardinal in the first half. However, Stanford’s offensive line and rushing attack will take control in the fourth quarter to earn the victory.

Prediction: Stanford 30, Washington 20

Teaser:
Post date: Saturday, October 5, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-fighting-irish-vs-arizona-state-sun-devils-game-preview-and-prediction
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This is a matchup between two teams moving in opposite directions. Notre Dame dropped out of the top 25 with a 35-21 loss against Oklahoma, while Arizona State moved back in with a convincing 62-41 win over USC.

The Fighting Irish had just 102 passing yards last week, while the Sun Devils racked up 351 passing yards. Arizona State’s offense has been lethal this season, especially through the air. The Sun Devils have thrown for at least 350 yards in all four games and recorded 612 total yards and 62 points on USC last week.

Notre Dame averages just 25.4 points per game, good for one spot below USC at 85th in the nation. Arizona State is 11th in the country, averaging 44.3 points per game. Under Brian Kelly, Notre Dame is 2-12 when allowing an opponent to score 21 or more.

The game will be played at AT&T Stadium, otherwise known as Jerry's World, in Arlington, Texas. This matchup is the fifth edition of the annual Shamrock Series, in which the Fighting Irish get a chance to showcase its football program to fans across the country in a weekend festival of all things Notre Dame. Since its inception in 2009, games have been played in San Antonio, New York, Washington, D.C. and Chicago. They are 4-0 all-time in these games, outscoring opponents 112-38. The Irish are 2-0 all-time against the Sun Devils, last defeating ASU in 1999 by a score of 48-17.

Three Things to Watch

Notre Dame's Rushing Offense

The Notre Dame ground game has been dismal this year. The Irish has been held to less than 100 rushing yards against Michigan State, Michigan, and Purdue, after finishing last season ranked in the upper half of the FBS in rushing offense. They turned things around last week against Oklahoma, as George Atkinson III rushed for a season-high 148 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Brian Kelly should look to give the Sun Devils a heavy dose of his trio of backs in Atkinson III, Amir Carlisle, and Cam McDaniel as Arizona State currently ranks 78th in the nation in rushing defense. The Sun Devils gave up over 230 yards to both Wisconsin and Stanford this year and are allowing an average of 174 yards per game on the ground. Atkinson III has the type of speed and size that gives Arizona State's defense problems. Additional benefits of a strong rushing performance for Notre Dame are that it keeps the game out of Tommy Rees' hands and serves to keep the high-flying Arizona State offense off the field. Arizona State is one of the quickest tempo teams in the entire nation and keeping them on the sidelines and out of rhythm will be key.

ASU Offensive Line vs. ND Defensive Line

Arizona State has had trouble running the football as well. Aside from last week's 261-yard rushing outburst, the Sun Devils averaged just 83 total rushing yards in their two previous games. The ASU offensive line can be blamed for these numbers as they have struggled in both pass protection and run blocking. They will be facing an extremely talented defensive front for the Irish, led All-American defensive linemen in nose guard Louis Nix III and end Stephon Tuitt.  Both have struggled with consistency this year and appeared to regress a bit. Despite this, both are extremely talented and more than capable of wrecking havoc on the Sun Devils run game, while pressuring quarterback Taylor Kelly.

Turnover Tommy

Tommy Rees has been extremely up-and-down this season. Last week, he was down. His two interceptions on consecutive first quarter drives against Oklahoma set up the Sooners' first two scores. Overall, he threw three interceptions against Oklahoma. In the Notre Dame's two biggest games this year - Oklahoma and Michigan - Rees threw five interceptions and completed just 50 percent of his passes. The last two weeks he has thrown for just 246 yards on 40 percent passing, with one touchdown and three interceptions. If the Irish are to have any chance to match the high-octane Sun Devils' offense, Rees cannot turn the ball over. With an even deadlier offense than Oklahoma, the Sun Devils will waste no time in getting points off of Notre Dame mistakes.

Key Player: Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State

Grice has scored 12 touchdowns from scrimmage this season with eight rushing and four receiving. No other FBS player has more than nine this season. In fact, in the last 10 seasons, that ties the most for any player through his first four games. The focal point of ASU's offense, Grice makes the machine that is Todd Graham's offense go.

Final Analysis

Notre Dame hasn't impressed most experts all that much this year. The defense has been disappointing. The offense looks stagnant, and quarterback Tommy Rees chokes when asked to make big plays. On the other hand, Arizona State is one of the most exciting teams to watch in the nation, with an offensive pace perhaps only second to Oregon. Expect Notre Dame to hang with the Sun Devils until halftime, but like last week, the Sun Devils will open things up with some big third quarter plays. Through five games this season, the Irish have already allowed 10 passing touchdowns. Taylor Kelly will light up the Dallas sky with a big passing game. With a win, Arizona State will become the first school to ever beat USC and Notre Dame in back-to-back weeks.

Prediction: Arizona State 37, Notre Dame 21

Teaser:
Post date: Saturday, October 5, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/ole-miss-rebels-vs-auburn-tigers-game-preview-and-prediction
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Ole Miss is hurting after a 25-0 shutout in Tuscaloosa to the nation's top team. Auburn is fresh after taking a week off following a 35-21 road loss to LSU. Both teams could use the win as both are 3-1 overall and 1-1 in the SEC.

A win at Auburn this year would be the Rebels first victory at Jordan-Hare Stadium since 2003 and only their third win in 16 overall appearances. These two teams have been playing since 1932. Auburn leads the series with a record of 27-10. The game will be shown at 7 pm ET on ESPNU.

Three Things to Watch

Can the Ole Miss offense bounce back?
The Rebels racked up a staggering 489 yards, 532 yards and 449 yards in their first three games against Vanderbilt, Southeast Missouri State and Texas, respectively. Against Alabama, the Rebels were held to just 205 yards and 14 first downs. It was the first time in 2013 the team that averaged 250 rushing yards through the first three contests was kept under 200 yards rushing yards in any single game. Prior to playing Alabama, the Rebel offense was averaging 38 points per game and 490 yards per game on offense. Auburn doesn't boast the strongest defense, yielding an average of 439.5 yards a contest. To do this, the Ole Miss receivers must be better this week. The trio of Donte Moncrief, Laquon Treadwell and Vince Sanders, along with tight end Evan Engram was largely a non-factor against the Crimson Tide, despite each averaging over 50 receiving yards per game. Bo Wallace should get the Rebels offense back on track this week, which includes a trip into the end zone for the first time in four quarters.

Auburn Run Game
This is the identity of the Tigers offense. Auburn ranks 22nd nationally in total rushing with 232.3 yards per game, led by the three-headed monster of Tre Mason, Corey Grant and Cameron Artis-Payne. Mason averages 84.5 yards per game and Grant averages 59.8, with Artis-Payne adding 51.8. Even quarterback Nick Marshall is a threat on the ground. Ole Miss is certainly vulnerable when it comes to their run defense as they allow nearly 150 yards per game on the ground. Texas, Vanderbilt and Alabama all rushed for over 100 yards against the Rebels. If the Tigers are to win this game they must run the ball effectively to keep the pass rush off of their young quarterback.

Can Auburn QB Nick Marshall fix turnover problem?
Marshall has led the Tigers to a resurgent season after last year's debacle; however, he has struggled with his decision-making. He has thrown two interceptions in each of his last two games. Despite an excellent 23 of 34, 339 yard passing performance against Mississippi State, Marshall threw two costly interceptions that nearly cost the Tigers the game. Marshall has also fumbled five times, losing two. The Ole Miss offense is simply much too talented to not take advantage of turnovers. Every time Marshall turns the ball over, expect the Rebels to convert it into seven points.

Key Player: Jeff Scott, RB, Mississippi
Scott is a supreme playmaker. The speedy back is an absolute gamebreaker, as he proved with his game-winning 75-yard scamper against Vanderbilt. He had only 28 yards on eight carries last week. In his two starts against Vanderbilt and Texas, Scott rushed for 302 yards on just 31 carries. In fact, when he gets at least 10 carries, he's averaging 150 yards per game. 

Final Analysis

The Ole Miss offense will bounce back and have a big game. Jeff Scott will rush for over 100 yards, Bo Wallace will throw for over 300 yards and the Rebels will get a much-desired SEC road win. Auburn's defense simply isn't talented enough to handle what Ole Miss has at its disposal. To win, Auburn will need to control the clock with their running game and keep the Rebels off of the field. If Ole Miss forces Nick Marshall to win this game with his arm, I don't like the Tigers' chances.

Prediction: Ole Miss 31, Auburn 17

Teaser:
Post date: Saturday, October 5, 2013 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: Chase, Kansas Speedway, NASCAR
Path: /nascar/nascar-chase-searching-water-cooler-moment-kansas
Body:

1. Still waiting for a Chase water cooler moment
A palpable buzz is non-existent heading to Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ championship fight is now four races old, yet the potential drama of a season-ender at Homestead-Miami Speedway seems months away.

Three drivers — Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch — have vaulted in front of the field with an appreciable 27-point gap from Busch’s third-place ranking to the next contenders. Each race has been pretty systemic without late caution flags, incidents or wonky NASCAR officiating calls to toss a wrench in the whole show. Danica Patrick remains slow.

Why has this Chase started in such a ho-hum manner? When is something worthy of a SportsCenter highlight going to occur?

They’re questions without answers right now. That’s unfortunate. They’re also telling of a postseason process lacking an inherent and built-in punch of excitement. Right now, the whole thing is just riding along, seemingly waiting for the final pit stop.

Who’s going to be watching by then?


2. Kenseth isn’t the biggest fan of Kansas’ new tire  Matt Kenseth
Matt Kenseth has won two straight Cup races at Kansas since the track was repaved last summer. He even did it with two different race teams. Change, it seems, wasn’t too big of an issue for the ever-cool driver.

Then Goodyear brought a new tire combination to Kansas on both the left and right sides of the car — the rights being a second incarnation of the “multi-zone tread” featuring two tire compounds on the same wheel — and it threw his No. 20 for a bit a loop in additional testing time offered to teams Thursday afternoon.

“I would have rather left everything alone for us, especially after today,” Kenseth deadpanned Thursday.

“We’ve got a lot of stuff to look at it, but (Thursday) was kind of a struggle. Whenever anything is working good for you, you kind of like to leave everything the same.”

Kenseth being who he is and the No. 20 team being who it is, it’d be surprising if he’s not back at the front by the time Sunday’s race reaches its critical points. That’s just how good they have been as a group this season. He’s leading the Chase, after all.



3. Summer tire test may key Kyle Busch Kansas rebound  Kyle Busch and Jimmie JohnsonThings didn’t go so well for Kyle Busch during his last race weekend visit to Kansas.

He spun in practice. He spun exiting Turn 2 on lap 6. And then, to top it all off, he spun in Turn 4 and was broadsided by Joey Logano, ending his day.

He finished 38th. Repeating that finish Sunday could be disastrous to his hopes of staying in the Chase fight with Kenseth and Johnson.

Fortunately, Busch was one of the four drivers who helped Goodyear select the tire compounds that gave his teammate Kenseth some fits on Friday. The tire supplier brought Kyle, brother Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman to the track in July for a nighttime selection test.

Ahead of the weekend, Busch was looking forward to the change on the left side of the car.

“I thought we learned some things and went really well for us and I think for Goodyear, as well,” Busch said. “They changed the left-side tire compound, so we’re not on that treacherous left that everybody spins out and crashes on, including myself three times.”



4. Aric Almirola expects to turn heads SundayIn his last two starts at Kansas Speedway, Aric Almirola has started in the top 10. In the spring he finished eighth. But last fall? Amirola’s car was surprising everyone.

His No. 43 led 69 laps and set the fastest pace 48 times — second only to eventual race winner Kenseth’s 50 — only to suffer a crash caused by a blown tire. He finished 29th but made an impression that day that likely went a long way in getting Richard Petty Motorsports to extend his contract. Kansas City-based sponsor Farmland also had to be impressed.

Naturally, Almirola is confident that his team could play spoiler as a dark horse in Sunday’s race.

“For whatever reason, we run really well at Kansas,” Almirola said. “We take some of the stuff from Kansas to the other mile-and-a-halfs but don't run as well as we do in Kansas.”

Crew chief Todd Parrott was even higher on the No. 43’s prospects.

“We have learned some things since April and hope to build on those during the test on Thursday,” Parrott said earlier this week. “I think we have the potential to be the best car this weekend and bring that No. 43 back to Victory Lane."



5. Michigan may be a good Kansas predictorWhile Almirola may feel confident going into the weekend and Kenseth may be looking for the right combination to match the new Kansas tire, what track features the same characteristics that might offer a solid prediction about Sunday’s race?

The easy answer is Chicagoland Speedway — a venue built to nearly identical specifications as Kansas originally, save for a curved backstretch. But if you ask Mark Martin, the answer sits a few states east and north of the Kansas City, Kan., track: Michigan International Speedway.

“I think you should be able to use a lot of your setup logic from Michigan to apply because of the paving and the smoothness,” Martin said. “Even though they’re shaped differently, I think that a lot of the loading and a lot of the characteristics will be very similar. So, I think you need to look at your notes from what you did at Michigan.”

NASCAR has raced twice at Michigan this year. If teams are using a setup logic that is similar, it figures many of the same drivers will run up front at Kansas that did at Michigan. In the two Michigan races, Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer and Paul Menard scored the best average finishes. As for Michigan laps led, Biffle (76 laps led), Logano (72), Kurt Busch (64), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (54) and Martin Truex Jr. (23) led the way.

Of course, both Michigan races weren’t too kind to Jimmie Johnson. In June, he blew a tire in the final laps chasing Greg Biffle for the lead and in August the No. 48 lost an engine.

Obviously that’s one Kansas predictor Johnson would sure like to prove wrong.


Follow Geoffrey Miller on Twitter: @GeoffreyMiller

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, October 4, 2013 - 17:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-october-4
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Counting down the hours until Saturday's games.

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. (@AthlonSteven)

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Friday, October 4th

LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger gets highlighted for his Week 5 performance against Georgia.

Lost Lettermen makes the case for why USC needs to hire Chris Petersen.

Saturday Down South has a good read on why attendance is down at college football games.

The playoff committee is beginning to take shape. 

Should Mississippi State start Dak Prescott over Tyler Russell?

USC reached out to Jeff Tedford about joining its offensive staff for the rest of the year.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops took another shot at the SEC. 

Alabama expects safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to miss 1-3 games due to impermissible benefits. And here's another element to the story: Alabama assistant strength and conditioning coach Corey Harris has been placed on administrative leave for providing benefits to Clinton-Dix.

With the improving offenses, has the SEC's DNA changed?

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier had an interesting coaches show after the win against UCF.

Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum is close to full strength after tearing his ACL in the offseason and expects to play against North Carolina.

Texas A&M defensive tackle Kirby Ennis is out indefinitely with a knee injury.

SMU should have running back Traylon Shead back against Rutgers.

Syracuse coach Scott Shafer provides some insight into why Terrel Hunt wasn't the starter earlier in the year.

Florida defensive tackle Damien Jacobs isn't crazy about Arkansas' offensive line.

Duke receiver Johnell Barnes suffered a hand injury in an off-the-field altercation. 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, October 4, 2013 - 12:00

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