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All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big 12
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-5-preview-and-predictions-2013

The Big 12 needs to pick up some signature moments, but it’s running out of chances to do so.

The league is 2-4 against teams from the other five BCS automatic-qualifying conferences, with those wins coming against Mississippi State and SMU. That doesn’t include Texas’ loss to BYU, nor the league’s two losses to FCS teams in the first week of the season.

The first full Saturday of Big 12 play is a week away, and the fifth week of the season will feature more action that will impact the league’s perception.

The most important game will be Oklahoma’s trip to Notre Dame, a key game to prove if one of the Big 12’s frontrunners can go toe-to-toe with a nationally ranked team. A road conference game for Oklahoma State to West Virginia shouldn’t be taken lightly, but if the Cowboys — the preseason league favorite — struggle to put the Mountaineers away a week after they were shut out by Maryland.

Week 5 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12SEC

Big 12 Week 5 Game Power Rankings
All games Eastern, all games on Saturday unless noted.

1. Oklahoma at Notre Dame (3:30, NBC)
A rematch of a 30-13 Notre Dame win in Norman last season, this will be a key game for national perception. The Sooners are one of three teams well-positioned to make a run at the Big 12 title along with Oklahoma State and Baylor, but none are ranked in the AP top 10 (OU is ranked 14th). This will be Oklahoma’s first game against a ranked team and potentially the Sooners’ only one until at least Oct. 26 against Texas Tech. New Oklahoma starting quarterback Blake Bell flourished against Tulsa two weeks ago, but this will be his first extended action on the road.

2. Oklahoma State at West Virginia (noon, ESPN)
This matchup between Mike Gundy and Dana Holgorsen couldn’t be much more different from the last time Holgorsen was on the Oklahoma State staff in 2010. That season, Oklahoma State is a little more balanced than in 2010, taking advantage of quarterback J.W. Walsh’s running ability. West Virginia, though, may have the worst offense of any team Dana Holgorsen has coached at the FBS level. Quarterback Ford Childress struggled in a shutout to Maryland last week, completing only 11 of 22 passes with two interceptions.

3. SMU at TCU (noon, Fox Sports 1)
The Horned Frogs return from an off week after an uninspiring offensive performance against Texas Tech. A return to Fort Worth against SMU would be a good opportunity for running backs B.J. Catalon and Waymon James to continue to show they can establish the run. TCU topped 200 yards against Texas Tech but finished 3 of 16 on third downs. Against the pass-oriented SMU offense, cornerback Jason Verrett could have another chance to shine. Verrett held Texas Tech’s Eric Ward to without a catch, but the Mustangs’ receiver group has been much more balanced.

4. Iowa State at Tulsa (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
Iowa State will face Tulsa for the second time in four games going back to the Golden Hurricane’s 31-17 win in the Liberty Bowl. With narrow losses to Northern Iowa and Iowa, the Cyclones look like they’re going to have trouble picking up wins this season as the conference schedule begins next week against Texas. This will be a key game for momentum.

Big 12 Week 5 Pivotal Players

Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
The Sooners’ center will reunite with Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III, who got the better of Ikard last season. Ikard may be one of the Big 12’s best linemen, but the OU veteran called Nix one of the best in the country in controlling the line of scrimmage. The Sooners rushed for only 15 yards on 23 carries in last season’s game.

Oklahoma’s defensive line
Michigan State proved what defensive line pressure could do to the Notre Dame passing game. Against the Spartans, Notre Dame set season lows in passing yards (142), yards per passing attempt (4.2) and completion percentage (41.2). The Sooners have faced three spread teams so far this season, utilizing a three-man front. OU may try more four-man looks in this game, but either way, this could put Mike Stoops’ improved defense to the test.

West Virginia’s ball carriers
The Mountaineers have lost eight fumbles this season. Only Idaho has lost more this season. There’s no easy answer for West Virginia as seven different players have accounted for the eight lost fumbles. Moreover, West Virginia has thrown four interceptions. With eight takeaways, the Mountaineers have a minus-four turnover margin. Running back Dreamius Smith is the only regular skill position player without a fumble lost this season.

Trevone Boykin, TCU
The Horned Frogs need to have a balanced offense to thrive in the Big 12, but SMU is a team that can be defeated in the passing game. The Mustangs have allowed six touchdown passes to one interception and 7.8 yards per pass this season, but two of those games were against Texas Tech and Texas A&M. TCU is the only team in the Big 12 without a play from 40 yards this season. If Boykin and the Frogs can’t break a big play against SMU, then which opponent could they do it to?

Tom Farniok, Iowa State
The veteran is one of the best centers in the Big 12. The hope is that he’ll jumpstart a running game that has averaged 3.3 yards per carry with no touchdowns. Tulsa’s run defense isn’t much better, allowing 605 yards in three games against Bowling Green, Colorado State and Oklahoma.

Off: Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, Texas Tech

Big 12 Week 5 Predictions

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
Iowa St. (+2.5) at TulsaTulsa 28-21ISU 28-24ISU 27-24ISU 28-20
OK State (-19) at West Va.OSU 35-14OSU 31-13OSU 38-17OSU 34-14
SMU (+19.5) at TCUTCU 24-14TCU 27-14TCU 30-20TCU 31-21
Okla. (-3.5) at Notre DameOU 31-21OU 24-20OU 27-24OU 28-27
Last week5-05-05-05-0
This season27-325-526-426-4


Post date: Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Pac 12
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-5-preview-and-predictions-2013

There are two non-conference games left on the Pac-12 schedule. Notre Dame will face Arizona State next week and Stanford in the season finale. But otherwise, starting this weekend, every game out West will carry major Pac-12 championship implication.

The North Division will host four of the five Pac-12 contests this weekend while a massive South Division game in Tempe could eliminate one team from the race before the calendar even flips to October.

Week 5 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

Pac-12 Week 5 Game Power Rankings

1. USC (+6) at Arizona State (10:30 p.m., ESPN2)
Win or go home. That is what is at stake in Sun Devil Stadium this weekend when USC comes to town as neither team can afford to start the season in an 0-2 conference hole. The Trojans boast one of the nation’s elite defenses as it leads the Pac-12 in total defense (230.5 ypg), rushing defense (59.3 ypg), red zone defense (40.0 percent), sacks (16.0) and tackles for a loss (38.0). This means Taylor Kelly, who was sacked three times last week, has to get his offense into quality situations before the snap. His offense has struggled to run the ball, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry on the season (110 att., 324 yards), and it will have to prove it can control the line of scrimmage to get the win. USC has won 12 of the last 13 meetings with ASU’s lone win coming the last time these two played in the desert in 2011. Being at home should be a huge help but the Devils have to play much better on offense to avoid the upset.

2. Arizona (+10) at Washington (7 p.m., FOX)
A sneaky good matchup of undefeateds will give one team a perfect slate in September with the other starting league play with a loss. The offensive skill talent should be on full display as the Huskies' Bishop Sankey and Wildcats' Ka’Deem Carey should star in the backfield for each team. Washington gets a huge advantage under center as Keith Price finally appears to be delivering on his big-time upside while B.J. Denker makes just his fifth career start. A key battle to watch will come on third down. Washington’s offense is third nationally on the critical down while Arizona is allowing opponents to convert a paltry 32 percent (16-of-50). Washington is at home and is looking for revenge after the 52-17 drubbing it took at the hands of Rich Rodriguez last season.

3. Stanford (+10) at Washington State (10 p.m., ESPN, Seattle)
The Cardinal made a big statement at home last weekend against Arizona State and a letdown alert may be in effect for the trip North to Seattle. Despite rushing for minus-18 yards and being sacked 10 times against Stanford last year, the Cougars managed to keep the game tight until the end. The Cardinal allowed 403 yards through the air in that game and will be without All-American safety Ed Reynolds for the first half after being ejected for a targeting penalty last weekend. Kevin Hogan, who entered the starting lineup the week after the WSU game last year, needs to have his team prepared from the opening kickoff or Mike Leach’s squad will put a scare into the No. 5-ranked team in the nation.

4. Colorado (+10.5) at Oregon State (3 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
This should be one of the more entertaining games of the weekend. With star power at wide receiver and two very capable quarterbacks running two prolific offensive systems, defense will be an afterthought in Corvallis. Sean Mannion and Connor Wood are two of the top four passers in the nation as both average more than 370 yards per game and each has an elite target in Brandin Cooks and Paul Richardson. The Beavers' defense has been putrid but has played some solid competition while the Buffaloes unit has been surprisingly stingy — against Colorado State and Central Arkansas. Someone has to make a stop in the fourth quarter, right?

5. Cal (+36.5) at Oregon (10:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
In 2010, the closest game the Ducks played en route to the BCS National Championship game was a 15-13 nail-biter in Berkeley. Three years later, 28 points could be the over/under for each quarter between these two up-tempo offenses. Sonny Dykes’ offense is running 94.6 plays per game (No. 2 nationally) while the Ducks are running a measly 72.0 per game. Cal isn’t ready to compete at this level but fans in Eugene should get a long look at Cal’s budding star quarterback Jared Goff.

Pac-12 Week 5 Pivotal Players:

1. Arizona State’s offensive line
As Todd Graham well knows, the ASU offensive line hasn’t gotten much of a push this season. The Devils are averaging less than three yards per carry and have allowed six sacks in three games. Now they face Morgan Breslin, George Uko and Leonard Williams among others along a defensive line that is tops in the Pac-12 in sacks and tackles for a loss. This unit must play solid football for Arizona State to avoid the upset.

2. B.J. Denker, QB, Arizona
There is tons of star power on both offenses but Arizona’s chances at an upset in Husky Stadium hinges on Denker’s play. He has yet to throw an interception and has been excellent in the running game (39 att., 221 yards, 5 TD) in RichRod’s zone-read option attack. He has plenty of backfield support in the form of Ka’Deem Carey and Daniel Jenkins, however, his ability to make plays in the air will be critical on the road. He has yet to reach 200 yards passing in a game and is completing just 56.4 percent of his passes on the year.

3. Tre Madden, RB, USC
The best way to help out a struggling passing attack is with a quality running game. And Madden has been just that for Lane Kiffin over the first four weeks. He has topped 100 yards in all but one game and has scored in each of the last two contests. His 90 carries are second only to Iowa’s Mark Weisman nationally and his 455 yards are eighth in the nation. Cody Kessler needs No. 23 to come up big on the road.

4. Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State
Since the Beavers' defense doesn’t appear capable of stopping air, it once again will fall to Mannion and the offense to keep pace. Arguably the most underrated passer in the nation, no one in the country has completed as many passes (133) for as many yards (1,604) or touchdowns (15) as OSU's signal-caller. With the defense allowing 432 yards and more than 35 points per game, Mannion probably feels the need to score every time he steps on the field.

5. Devon Carrington, S, Stanford
Star safety Ed Reynolds will have to sit out the first half after being ejected from last weekend’s contest due a targeting penalty. So it falls to the senior reserve to step in and provide stability against one of the better passing attacks in the nation. Mike Leach’s team torched this group for 403 yards last year and is averaging 328.8 yards per game through air this season.

Pac-12 Week 5 Predictions:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
USC (+6) at Arizona StArizona St, 21-17Arizona St, 27-20Arizona St, 27-20Arizona St, 21-14
Arizona (+10) at WashingtonWash., 38-20Wash., 34-27Wash., 38-27Wash., 41-14
Stanford (-10) at Washington StStanford, 34-13Stanford, 38-17Stanford, 34-17Stanford, 38-10
Colorado (+10.5) at Oregon St Ore. St, 41-35Ore. St, 37-21Ore. St, 41-27Ore. St, 41-35
Cal (+36.5) at OregonOregon, 51-27Oregon, 51-30Oregon, 58-24Oregon, 56-21
Last Week: 6-16-16-15-2


Post date: Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big Ten
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-5-preview-and-predictions-2013

Jim Delany knows what he’s doing.

Half of his conference won’t play football this weekend, including most of his highest profile programs. Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State, Michigan State, Northwestern and Indiana are all off this weekend and will be sitting at home focused on The Horseshoe like the rest of the nation.

With all due respect to a sneaky good Iowa-Minnesota contest, Delany wants no excuses as the entire conference is focused on what could be the biggest divisional game of the season for the Big Ten. All eyes nationally should be centered on Wisconsin at Ohio State Saturday night.

Week 5 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12Pac-12 | SEC

Big Ten Week 5 Game Power Rankings:

1. Wisconsin (+7) at Ohio State (8 p.m., ABC)
This is the biggest Leaders Division game of the year and could end up being the second biggest Big Ten game of the year (Ohio State at Michigan). Wisconsin’s defense has been a pleasant surprise through four games, ranking sixth nationally in total defense (243.3 ypg), fourth nationally in yards allowed per play (3.8 ypp) and 10th nationally in scoring defense (10.5 ppg). And Gary Andersen hasn’t changed the offense all that much — the Badgers already have had nine 100-yard games from their talented backfield trio. But facing the Buckeyes with Braxton Miller under center in Columbus is a totally different beast. Ohio State has owned UW of late, winning five of the last six overall and three straight in The Shoe. Even if Miller isn’t 100 percent, Kenny Guiton has proven to be not only capable of filling in, but extremely gifted in his own right. To pull the upset, Wisconsin’s front seven will have to play perfectly disciplined football and quarterback Joel Stave will have to complement the running game. Both of which would be considered unlikely on the road.

2. Iowa (+1.5) at Minnesota (3:30 p.m., ABC)
The Hawkeyes won just four games last year and just twice in the Big Ten, but one was a surprising 31-13 win over the Gophers. However, Iowa has lost its last two trips to the Twin Cities at the hands of two 3-9 Minnesota teams. Something has to give for two teams desperately trying to get to the postseason. Both teams feature dedicated and reinvigorated rushing attacks as both teams rank in the top 25 nationally at over 240 yards on the ground per game. So, as usual, the outcome hinges on quarterback play. Jake Rudock has had his good and bad moments for Iowa, failing to top 200 yards in three straight games but tossing four touchdowns and no interceptions over the last two. Reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Week Mitch Leidner — and his 6-foot-4, 230-pound frame — likely will get his second start of his career after a monster performance last week against San Jose State.

3. Northern Illinois (+3.5) at Purdue (Noon, BTN)
The Boilermakers have serious issues on offense, ranking last among BCS (automatic qualifying) conference teams and 123rd overall with just 246.0 yards per game. So for a team struggling to score points, stopping NIU’s star quarterback Jordan Lynch becomes imperative. The Huskies are averaging 516 yards per game and 6.4 yards per play on offense behind the dual-threat abilities of Lynch. After the Boilers allowed nearly 400 yards rushing last week to Wisconsin, signs aren’t pointing towards the upset. This would be a devastating Homecoming loss to the MAC for Darrell Hazell.

4. Miami-Ohio (+24.5) at Illinois (Noon, BTN)
A game with the winless Redhawks is a perfect spot for Illinois’ star power to shine. The Big Ten’s leading passer is quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (294.7 yards per game) and he should get back on track after completing just 36.0 percent of his passes in the loss to Washington. On defense, the league’s top tackler is linebacker Jonathan Brown (12.7 tackles per game) and he should be able to lead a unit capable of shutting down the worst offense in the FBS (149.3 yards per game, 125th).

Big Ten Week 5 Pivotal Players

1. Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
The All-American linebacker has been making big plays for the Badgers for years but stopping the Buckeyes' versatile offensive attack might be his tallest order. He constantly disrupts opposing backfields and makes big special teams plays — he even completed a 23-yard pass on a fake punt against Arizona State. Borland has missed two of the last three meetings with Ohio State but he posted 10 tackles in the historic 2011 Hail Mary game. Fans can bet the original Honey Badger will be fired up for this trip to Columbus.

2. Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
The hard-hitting linebacker was all over the field for the Buckeyes last year against Wisconsin. He registered 12 tackles, 3.0 tackles for a loss and forced a fumble in last year’s win over the Badgers. He’s right back at it again this season, topping the team in tackles (30). It will fall to the explosive junior to stop the three-headed monster in Wisconsin's backfield.

3. Joel Stave, QB, Wisconsin
The lanky Badger signal-caller was excellent in the first two games of the year against lowly UMass and Tennessee Tech (6 total TD, 72.0 percent passing). But Stave hasn’t been nearly as sharp in the last two games, completing just 50 percent of his passes against Arizona State and failing to throw a TD against Purdue. Now, he wasn’t needed against the Boilermakers but will be needed in a hostile road environment. The Buckeyes' secondary is loaded with talent and fans can bet Urban Meyer will be loading up to stop the run. Stave’s ability to make clutch second-half throws on third downs will determine the outcome of this showdown.

4. Iowa’s linebackers
Regardless of who plays quarterback for Minnesota (all signs point to Mitch Leidner), the talented Hawkeye linebackers will be asked to play well on the road. Gopher signal-callers Mitch Leidner and Philip Nelson have combined for 472 yards rushing and eight touchdowns this season. Anthony Hitchens (9.3 tackles per game), Christian Kirksey (7.5) and James Morris (5.8) are all top-25 tacklers in the Big Ten and will be asked to contain the much-improved Gopher running game.

5. Ra’Shede Hageman, DL, Minnesota
The star defensive lineman has been stellar for the Gophers this season. In four games, Hageman has 16 total tackles, is leading the Big Ten with 5.5 for a loss, registered one sack, and has two blocked kicks. He had an extremely quiet game against the Hawkeyes last fall and will need to be ready to star against the burly and physical Iowa rushing attack.

Big Ten Week 5 Prediction Grid:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Wisconsin (+7) at Ohio StOhio St, 31-21 Ohio St, 34-24Ohio St, 34-27Ohio St, 35-28
Iowa (+1.5) at MinnesotaMinn., 31-27Iowa, 24-20Iowa, 27-24Minn., 21-17
N. Illinois (-3.5) at PurdueN. Illinois, 30-21N. Illinois, 33-24N. Illinois, 34-24N. Illinois, 28-24
Miami-OH (+24.5) at IllinoisIllinois, 34-17Illinois, 41-10Illinois, 38-13Illinois, 35-10
Last Week:10-09-110-08-2


Post date: Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, News
Path: /college-football/2013-acc-week-5-preview-and-predictions

It’s another light slate of games in the ACC for Week 5.

Six of the seven Saturday games in the conference feature a team favored by at least 10 points, with Virginia-Pittsburgh the only matchup in single digits.

The spotlight for Week 5 in the ACC will be on Thursday night. Georgia Tech-Virginia Tech is one of the key matchups every year in the Coastal Division, and this season’s game should have ACC title implications. 

Outside of Thursday night’s game, it’s up to heavy underdogs like Boston College and Wake Forest to make this an interesting weekend in the conference.

Week 5 Previews and Predictions: Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12SEC

ACC Week 5 Game Power Rankings

1. Virginia Tech (+7) at Georgia Tech (Thursday, 7:30 ET, ESPN)
Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech are the only two teams to represent the Coastal Division in the eight-year history of the ACC Championship. The winner of Thursday night’s game will have plenty of hurdles still to navigate in the next two months, but either the Yellow Jackets or Hokies will take an early lead for the Coastal title. The Yellow Jackets are already 2-0 in ACC play, scoring a key victory over North Carolina last week. Georgia Tech always has a solid rushing attack under coach Paul Johnson, but the defense and passing game have made progress this year. The Yellow Jackets are holding opponents to 11.3 points a game, while quarterback Vad Lee is tied for third in the ACC with seven touchdown tosses. Although Georgia Tech’s offense is generating 484.7 yards per game, Virginia Tech will be its toughest challenge. The Hokies are allowing just 3.6 yards per play and are limiting opponents to 233.3 yards per game. Virginia Tech’s defense might be the best in the ACC, but its offense continues to struggle. The Hokies are averaging only 4.7 yards per play and are scoring just 18 points a game against FBS competition. Quarterback Logan Thomas is off to a slow start, completing just 48.5 percent of his throws and tossing six picks. However, the Hokies have struggled to find the right mix on the offensive line and lack a No. 1 receiver.

2. Virginia (+6) at Pittsburgh (12:30 ET, Root Sports)
This game might not draw much interest nationally, but there’s some intrigue around the ACC on what happens Saturday in the Steel City. Pittsburgh lost its opener to Florida State but has rebounded with solid showings against Duke and New Mexico. Virginia played one of the toughest two-game stretches in the nation to start the year (BYU, Oregon) and easily handled VMI last Saturday. Neither team is expected to win the ACC, but this is an important game for positioning in the middle of the division. And it's a relatively even contest, as both teams matchup well in terms of strengths and weaknesses. The Panthers’ passing attack leads the ACC with an average of 289.7 yards per game, while Virginia’s secondary is holding opponents to 140 yards a contest. Pittsburgh’s defense has struggled in all three matchups this year, and the Cavaliers will hope to take the pressure off of quarterback David Watford with a strong effort on the ground. Despite just over 300 miles separating these two campuses, Pittsburgh and Virginia have played only five times, with the last matchup occurring in 2007. 

3. East Carolina (+12) at North Carolina (12:30 ET, ACC Network)
In a bit of a surprise, North Carolina’s offense is off to a slow start this year. The Tar Heels averaged 485.6 yards per game in 2012 but rank 10th in the ACC in total offense after three games. Personnel losses on the offensive line and the departure of running back Giovani Bernard to the NFL have slowed the progress of this unit in 2013. Getting the offense back on track is the top priority for coach Larry Fedora this Saturday. The Tar Heels play at Virginia Tech next week, and after losing to Georgia Tech last Saturday, Fedora’s team needs to win to stay alive in the Coastal title picture. Even though the Pirates rank third in Conference USA in total defense, FAU and Virginia Tech’s offenses have struggled, and nose tackle Terry Williams has been suspended for this game. East Carolina gave Virginia Tech all it could handle two weeks ago, and the Pirates’ passing offense (269 ypg) will test a North Carolina secondary that is allowing 12.2 yards per completion. Quarterback Shane Carden is completing 74.5 percent of his throws, and running back Vintavious Cooper gives the offense some balance, averaging four yards per carry on 40 attempts this year. East Carolina should move the ball, but North Carolina has too much firepower on offense.

4. Florida State (-21.5) at Boston College (3:30 ET, ABC/ESPN2)
Since Boston College’s 28-21 victory in 2009, Florida State has won three in a row in this series by a combined score of 113-33. Despite improvement under first-year coach Steve Addazio, the Eagles will be challenged to keep Saturday’s game competitive. Behind redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston, the Seminoles are averaging 52.3 points a game and defeated Pittsburgh by 28 points in the opener. Winston is completing 78.1 percent of his throws and should be able to take advantage of a Boston College secondary that ranks 10th in the ACC against the pass. The Eagles rank last in the ACC in total offense (5.1 yards per play) but are helped by an aggressive defense that has forced seven turnovers and eight sacks in three games. In order for Boston College to keep this one close into the fourth quarter, running back Andre Williams needs to have a big day against a Florida State run defense that ranks seventh in the ACC (3.4 yards per carry). Even if Williams has success, the Eagles need a perfect effort on both sides of the ball to knock off the Seminoles.

5. Wake Forest (+29) at Clemson (3:30 ET, ESPNU)
If the Demon Deacons can’t find a spark on offense, this matchup against Clemson could get ugly in a hurry. Wake Forest is averaging just 18 points a game against FBS opponents, largely due to an offensive line that has struggled to find continuity over the last two years. To help with the struggles up front, the Demon Deacons have implemented more option looks, but the rushing attack is still managing only 3.2 yards per carry. The Tigers were held to 26 points against NC State last Thursday, which was their fewest in an ACC contest since Nov. 19, 2011. The Demon Deacons are holding opponents to 15.8 points a game this season and rank second in the ACC with 11 forced turnovers. Clemson’s offense is too explosive to keep in check for all four quarters, but Wake Forest’s defense can help a struggling offense by continuing with its success forcing turnovers, as well as generating pressure on quarterback Tajh Boyd.

6. Miami (-19) at South Florida (12 ET, ESPNU)
In the first year under coach Willie Taggart, South Florida is off to a disappointing 0-3 start. The Bulls lost to FCS opponent McNeese State in the opener and have managed only 16 points in their last two games. Although South Florida is off to a rough start, the Bulls will be motivated to play their in-state rival. In last week’s scrimmage against Savannah State, the Hurricanes cruised to an easy 77-7 win, but quarterback Stephen Morris suffered an ankle injury and has been limited in practice. Morris is expected to play on Saturday. However, Miami may not need a huge performance from Morris, especially with USF allowing 160.3 yards per game on the ground. The Bulls have struggled on offense, committing eight turnovers and averaging only 12.3 points per game. If the Hurricanes can get ahead early, it should allow coach Al Golden to rest Morris and running back Duke Johnson, especially with back-to-back ACC showdowns against Georgia Tech and North Carolina up next.

7. Troy (+10.5) at Duke (3 ET, ESPN3)
It’s only Week 5, but Duke’s bowl hopes have faded after back-to-back losses. The Blue Devils don’t have many guaranteed victories on the remaining schedule, which makes Saturday’s non-conference affair against Troy a must-win situation. The Trojans will be a pesky opponent for coach David Cutcliffe’s team, as Troy averages 457 yards per game on offense and ranks 20th nationally with 310.5 passing yards per game. The Blue Devils are allowing 200 passing yards per game, but opponents are averaging 7.6 yards per pass and have scored 10 touchdowns against this secondary. The Trojans employ a two-quarterback system, which features Corey Robinson (the passer), and Deon Anthony (a runner). Troy has enough weapons to keep this game close, but its defense has to find a way to slow down Duke’s offense. The Trojans are allowing 421 yards per game and gave up 62 points in a loss to Mississippi State last Saturday. Duke quarterback Brandon Connette has filled in admirably for Anthony Boone, but he threw four picks in last week’s game against Pittsburgh. Troy’s struggling defense should help Connette get back on track.  

8. Central Michigan (+23.5) at NC State (3:30 ET, ESPN3)
Saturday’s game against Central Michigan will be NC State’s fourth consecutive home contest to start the season. The Wolfpack hung tough against Clemson last Thursday but lacked the offensive firepower to pull off the upset. The Chippewas could be the perfect medicine for NC State’s offense, as they are allowing 37.2 points a game and 6.1 yards per play. The Wolfpack won’t have Brandon Mitchell back under center this week, and the matchup with Central Michigan should give quarterbacks Pete Thomas and Bryant Shirreffs a chance to build some confidence before next week’s ACC road test at Wake Forest. These two teams have met only once, with NC State winning 38-24 in 2011.

ACC Week 5 Pivotal Players

Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The Panthers held opponents to only 136.4 rushing yards per game last season, but this unit has struggled in 2013. After three opponents, Pittsburgh ranks 13th in the ACC against the run, allowing 194 yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry. Virginia’s offense relies heavily on its rushing attack, which will test the Panthers’ front seven on Saturday. Donald is one of college football’s top defensive tackles, and he needs to dominate the line of scrimmage against the Cavaliers.

Steven Chase/Dylan Intemann, OT, Wake Forest
It’s a tall order to ask Wake Forest’s defense to keep Clemson in check for all four quarters. The Demon Deacons will have to play their best game of the season to knock off the Tigers, which means the offense has to step up after generating only 54 points in three games against FBS competition. Clemson’s front four has been active this year, ranking third in the ACC with 12 sacks. Wake Forest’s line has allowed nine through four games. In order for the Demon Deacons to move the ball on offense, Chase and Intemann have to keep Clemson defensive ends Vic Beasley and Corey Crawford away from quarterback Tanner Price.

Vad Lee, QB, Georgia Tech
The success of Georgia Tech’s offense rests heavily on Lee’s shoulders. In his first year as a starter, the sophomore has rushed for 180 yards and three touchdowns, while passing for seven touchdowns and 418 yards. Virginia Tech owns one of the top defenses in the nation, forcing 10 turnovers and 16 sacks through the first four weeks. The Yellow Jackets won’t have much margin for error against this defense, and Lee needs to get the option offense on track, while not turning the ball over to an opportunistic Hokie defense.

Jack Tyler, LB, Virginia Tech
In last year’s meeting between Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech, Tyler was all over the field, recording 17 tackles, with one going for a loss. His performance was a big reason why the Yellow Jackets managed only 192 rushing yards and mustered only 17 points. The senior is one of the ACC’s top linebackers and whether he’s spying Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee or stuffing the inside running plays against David Sims or Zach Laskey, Tyler will play a key role in Virginia Tech’s defensive gameplan on Thursday night.

Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
If Boston College has any hope of beating Florida State, Williams needs to have a big game. The senior leads the ACC with an average of 118.7 rushing yards per game. Florida State ranks seventh in the ACC against the run, with opponents managing 3.4 yards per rush. Nevada and Pittsburgh had some success early on the ground against the Seminoles, and the Eagles need at least 120 yards from Williams on Saturday.

ACC Week 5 Predictions

GameDavid FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
Va. Tech (+7) at Ga. TechGa. Tech 28-14Ga. Tech 27-13Ga. Tech 24-20Ga. Tech 31-21
Miami (-19) at South FloridaMiami 35-7Miami 31-13Miami 38-10Miami 41-17
Virginia (+6) at PittsburghPitt 28-10Pitt 34-24Pitt 31-24Pitt 28-20
East Carolina (+12) at North CarolinaUNC 35-24UNC 40-24UNC 38-24UNC 29-13
Troy (+10.5) at DukeDuke 35-14Duke 31-24Duke 41-27Duke 37-20
Florida State (-21.5) at Boston CollegeFSU 42-10FSU 45-17FSU 41-13FSU 31-7
Wake Forest (+29) at ClemsonClemson 38-10Clemson 38-13Clemson 45-17Clemson 38-14
Central Michigan (+23.5) at NC StateNC State 35-13NC State 30-10NC State 34-13NC State 41-10
Season Record35-636-536-536-5
2013 ACC Week 5 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-superlatives-top-scorers

 Great scorers find a way to get the job done.

These aren’t one-dimensional players who take 3-pointers or jump shots. These are the players you want to have the ball in their hands when the game is on the line.

They’ll create their own shot, they’ll take a jumper, they’ll drive to the basket or they’ll get to free throw line.

Leading the way in our superlatives in this category is Russ Smith. The Louisville guard still plays wild at times on both ends of the court, but those tendencies have been channeled to make him one of the most dynamic and entertaining players in the country for 2013-14. A player not normally linked with efficiency, he was named the Player of the Year  for his offensive metrics and role in the Cardinals’ defense.

Our list of the nation’s best scorers is one in a series of superlatives to prepare you for the 2013-14 season. Each list and more can be found in the the Athlon Sports College Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Annual . The magazine hits newsstands this week with previews for every team in every conference, plus exclusive Q&As with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Louisville’s Russ Smith and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.

Previous: Shooters | Next: Slashers

  2013-14 Superlatives: Top Scorers
1Russ Smith, Louisville
6-0/165, Sr.
Smith could make the case as the nation’s most valuable players last season and one of the most improved. He became more involved in the offense yet his shooting efficiency numbers went up. He’s also adept at getting to the free throw line, shooting 80.4 percent.
2Tyler Haws, BYU
6-5/200, Jr.
Haws returned from an LDS mission to average 21.7 points per game. He may need to put up Jimmer-like numbers this season as BYU will have a depleted roster. A scary thought: This is the first time he’s gone through a full offseason program.
3Semaj Christon, Xavier
6-3/190, So.
Christon is primed to break out on the national scene after playing through an elbow injury for a subpar Xavier team last season. He still averaged 15.2 points and 4.6 assists. You’ll get to know him thanks to a year of experience and Big East exposure.
4Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati
6-4/215, Sr.
Kilpatrick is a rarity in college basketball: The fifth-year senior. His experience will be an asset for the Bearcats, as will his scoring touch. He averaged 17 points per game, but they weren’t terribly efficient (14.4 field goal attempts per game).
5Jordan Adams, UCLA
6-5/220, So.
His injury late in the season was considered devastating to the Bruins’ postseason hopes. Despite Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson on the roster, Adams may have been the most valuable freshman, averaging 15.3 points per game.
6Markel Brown, Oklahoma State
6-3/190, Sr.
Brown started out as a dunker, but he made major strides last season to become a more complete scorer. The senior averaged 15.3 points, raising his efficiency numbers across the board.
7Bryce Cotton, Providence
6-1/165, Sr.
A good enough scorer to give a dogged defender like Russ Smith fits, Cotton led the Big East at 19.7 points per game. He started his season as the point guard but was too valuable a scorer to be a distributor.
8C.J. Wilcox, Washington
6-5/195, Sr.
Wilcox may be the best pure shooter in the Pac-12 and will be the key player on a team looking to return to the NCAA Tournament after a two-year absence. More consistent point guard play will help.
9Shabazz Napier, Connecticut
6-1/171, Sr.
Napier is the most valuable member of one of the nation’s best backcourts. A bit player on UConn’s 2011 national championship team, Napier showed plenty of clutch play as a junior when he averaged 17.1 points per game.
10Tim Frazier, Penn State
6-1/170, Sr.
Winning basketball games isn’t easy for Penn State, particularly when the Nittany Lions’ best player goes down with a Achilles’ injury in November. Frazier returns this season after averaging 18.8 points and 6.2 assists in his last healthy season.

Key veteran: Jerian Grant, Notre Dame
Super sophomore: Ryan Arcidiacono, Villanova
Breakout to watch: D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Georgetown
NIT to the big time: Roy Devyn Marble, Iowa

Post date: Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Miami Hurricanes
Path: /college-football/miami-hurricanes-themed-what-does-fox-say-parody

The great start to the 2013 season continues for the Miami Hurricanes. During Miami's 77-7 win against Savannah State, the Hurricane faithful showed they can be just off their creative side by parodying Ylvis's "The Fox", which has become the internet's newest viral music video. The song was tweaked to include references to each of the ACC teams' mascots, as well as, Miami's Sebastian the Ibis.

Post date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 18:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Ohio State Buckeyes
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-brings-back-nike-rivalry-uniforms-against-wisconsin

The Buckeyes will bring back their Nike Rivalry uniforms, which featured chrome helmets and green buckeye stickers. Ohio State first showcased the Rivalry jerseys last year against Michigan where the clinched a perfect 12-0 season with a 26-21 victory. It has been announced that the Buckeyes will go with the rivalry look at home once more this season. Thoughts are that it will be Penn State.

Post date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 18:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-september-25

One more day until Week 5 starts.

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 Wednesday, September 25th

Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion is off to a fast start this year - and there was no guarantee he would be the starter after fall practice.

Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage gets highlighted for his Week 4 performance against Duke.

This story isn't college football related, but check out Lost Lettermen's story of an Auburn lacrosse player who reenacted Grand Theft Auto.

Ole Miss linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche could return to the lineup against Alabama.

Alabama's secondary remains a work in progress.

Florida State safety Tyler Hunter suffered a neck injury against Bethune-Cookman. 

Here are five tough questions and five answers for Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio.

Ole Miss is expected to pickup a transfer from UCLA.

Is Zach Mettenberger or Aaron Murray a better pro prospect?

Minnesota is not expected to have quarterback Philip Nelson back from injury this Saturday.

Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum is close to returning. 

USC coach Lane Kiffin expects quarterback Cody Kessler and receiver Marqise Lee to play on Saturday, after both players suffered injuries in Week 4. 

TCU coach Gary Patterson has made a few moves to spark the offense.

Even though FIU coach Ron Turner is struggling, it doesn't appear the first-year coach is in any danger.

Kent State running back Dri Archer is expected to return to action against Western Michigan.

UCLA is ready to begin fundraising for a new football facility.

Post date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 15:00
Path: /nascar/fantasy-nascar-picks-dover-international-speedway


To help guide you through the 2013 Fantasy NASCAR season, Athlon Sports contributor Geoffrey Miller will be offering his best predictions for each race. And because Yahoo's Fantasy Auto Racing game is arguably the most popular, he’ll break down the picks according to its Sprint Cup Series driver classes — A-List, B-List, C-List. The main picks are designed to make optimal use of Yahoo!’s 9-start maximum rule over the course of the season. The “also consider” section ranks unmentioned drivers strictly by expected result without consideration of start limitations.

Next: AAA 400 (Dover International Speedway)
Race: 400 laps, 400 miles (1-mile oval)
June 2013 Winner: Tony Stewart

Jimmie Johnson  Jimmie Johnson
Look at that No. 48 Chevrolet, with driver Jimmie Johnson, silently waiting in the wings of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. After two races, he's third behind Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch and ready to pounce, just 18 points back after the front two have stolen all of the playoff headlines. Don't be surprised when it's Johnson up front late in the going Sunday afternoon at Dover International Speedway. Remember, it was Johnson in June who looked destined to notch another win at Dover before NASCAR ruled he jumped a late restart. The cost? Johnson finished 17th after leading 143 laps and missed out on his eighth career Dover win.

Matt Kenseth
Why fight it? Matt Kenseth is two-for-two in the Chase. Heck, he's Jimmie Johnson-ing this thing. You have to expect that to continue at Dover — a track where Kenseth's statistics far outrank those at Chicagoland Speedway or New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Kenseth is a two-time Dover winner and has 13 top-5 finishes in 29 starts. Kenseth's average running position at Dover in the last 17 races ranks as the second-best in the series (we've already listed the top performer) and he's returning to a track where he led 29 laps in June before his engine expired.

Also consider: Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick

Kyle Busch

Kyle Busch blew an engine at Dover in the spring 2012 race, and that was significant for more than just being another in a long list of Toyota-built issues. That 29th-place finish in 2012 marked the first time since the fall of 2009 that Busch had finished worse than sixth at Dover. In the two Dover races since, Busch has gotten back on track. He was seventh last fall (and would have won without a finish determined by fuel mileage) and ran fourth in June. Oh, and Busch has led 452 of the last 800 laps at Dover. He's a no-brainer start for Sunday.

Greg BiffleThe most unheralded finish in Sunday's race in Loudon was Greg Biffle's third-place run. Biffle had the second fewest top-5 finishes among Chase-eligible drivers before the playoffs began, and used the run to jump to fifth in the standings. He may be able to pair the solid finish with another at Dover where he's been a consistent performer. By career average finish, the Monster Mile is Biffle's fourth-best track — a measure he's proven with two wins and six top-5s. Biffle hasn't been as solid at Dover of late, finishing 15th in June. But he was also 15th in the first NHMS race of the season before his third-place run in the return.

Carl Edwards
Carl Edwards, like most Roush-Fenway Racing drivers, likes Dover. Like his teammate Biffle, the one-mile track counts as Edwards' fourth best in terms of career average finish. Edwards is also a former winner at Dover, and during his near-miss season in 2011 he led 233 laps in the two Dover races. Edwards was an average 14th at Dover back in June, but he's hard to pass up for Sunday's race among B-list drivers thanks to a career average running position at the track of 10.3. That's good enough for third-best among all active drivers.

Juan Pablo MontoyaUndoubtedly, Juan Pablo Montoya doesn't seem like much of a favorite at Dover. His average running position at the track is quite low among the B-list types (19.7). He's finished worse than 22nd at Dover in five of the last seven races at the track. But Montoya, destined for a return to IndyCar next season after his contract with Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing wasn't renewed, was just a couple of laps from winning at Dover earlier this season. A lot went right to get him a second-place finish in July, but it didn't happen with a poor handling car. Combine that result with his third-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway just five weeks ago, and Montoya may be the lucky pick for a team scrapping the barrel for results from drivers with plenty of fantasy starts left.

Also consider: Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Stenhouse quietly ended his two-race burst of top-10 finishes last week with a 24th-place run at NHMS, but that shouldn't leave you wondering if he's back to the often-struggling Stenhouse of early 2013. If you've got starts left for the rookie at this point, he's still the best bet available among C-list competitors. Consider, too, that Stenhouse is making his third-career Dover start this weekend after successful outings of 12th and 13th in his first two. If Stenhouse can work out a similar finish on Sunday, that'll be plenty good for the toughest list to pick in 2013.

Casey Mears
The June Dover race brought an unusual number of C-list drivers into the race's top 25 (five in all) and the second-best among them was Casey Mears. Mears was 16th that day, and was actually statistically better throughout the race than Stenhouse who finished just ahead of him. Mears' average running position was 17th, one spot ahead of Stenhouse. That average position number was also Mears' second best of the season (he averaged 16th at the July Daytona race) to date.

Also consider: David Ragan, Ryan Truex

Follow Geoffrey Miller on Twitter: @GeoffreyMiller

Post date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, LSU Tigers
Path: /college-football/10-stats-you-need-know-about-georgia-vs-lsu-2013

No. 6 LSU visits No. 9 Georgia on Saturday in what is the biggest game of college football's Week 5 slate. Each team has national championship aspirations, and this is a critical game for both teams moving towards Atlanta. Les Miles and Mark Richt are two of the winningest active SEC coaches, and this weekend their paths will cross in a big way. 

Here are the 10 stats you need to know about the matchup:

2-2: Les Miles and Mark Richt head-to-head record
Miles and Richt have faced each other just four times in their esteemed careers, all four of which coming in the SEC. The two have met twice in the regular season with Richt winning a shootout 52-38 in Baton Rouge in 2008 and LSU returning the favor 20-13 in Athens in '09. The other two meetings took place in Atlanta in the SEC Championship game. Richt and the Dawgs won the 2005 SEC title with ease 34-14 while Miles’ Tigers dominated 42-10 to win the conference title in '11. This is clearly a rubber match of sorts for these two quality coaches.

9-7: Les Miles' record against the SEC East
Miles is 48-17 all-time in SEC play, including the win over Auburn last weekend. Seven of those 17 losses have come against the SEC East. Under Miles, LSU is 4-4 against the Florida Gators, split with Kentucky and Georgia (1-1), beat South Carolina once and is 2-1 against the Tennessee Volunteers. On top of his 9-7 record with the East in the regular season, Miles is 2-1 in SEC Championship Games against the East (2005, '07, '11).

16-12-1: LSU’s all-time series lead over Georgia
LSU leads the all-time series with Georgia, winning 16 times to the Bulldogs 12 with one 13-13 tie in 1950. These two have played just six times in the regular season since the divisional split in 1992 with UGA winning four of those six. Strangely, these two played just twice (1978-79) between 1953 and 1986 — a void that will never happen again between two conference foes.

55th: Highest-rated offense LSU has faced this year
The LSU defense has always been salty under Miles and John Chavis’ leadership. The Tigers are ranked 24th nationally with 310.0 yards allowed per game at a tidy 4.6 yards per play. That said, Auburn’s 55th-ranked offense is the best unit the Bayou Bengals have faced in 2013. UAB currently ranks 69th in total offense, TCU is 94th and Kent State is 120th. It is safe to say that Aaron Murray and Georgia will easily be the toughest offense LSU has faced all season. More on that in a second…

7.8: Offensive yards per play by Georgia
The Dawgs are sixth in the nation — trailing only Texas A&M in the SEC — with 574 yards of offense per game. They rank seventh nationally at 7.8 yards per play this season after leading the nation in yards per play in 2012 (7.1 ypp). Georgia averaged 7.8 yards per play against Clemson (70 plays, 545 yards) and 7.1 yards per play against South Carolina (76 plays, 536 yards). Both of those would have led the nation a year ago.

7.5: Offensive yards per play by LSU
Georgia’s offense is outstanding but LSU’s unit has been nearly as effective through the first month of the season. LSU ranks just 33rd in total offense (480.3 ypg) but is nearly as efficient as the Bulldogs per play, averaging 7.5 yards per snap this fall. That is ninth nationally and well ahead of offensive teams like UCLA, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State.

116.6: Zach Mettenberger's passer rating in conference play in 2012
The biggest turn around for LSU this season will be the development of quarterback Zach Mettenberger. He was 84th nationally among all quarterbacks in conference play with a 116.6 rating last season. He was ahead of only Missouri’s James Franklin in SEC play with a 54.9-percent completion rate, 205.3 yards passing per game and just five touchdowns in eight SEC games. After four games (one SEC) under the tutelage of Cam Cameron, Mettenberger is sixth nationally in passing efficiency (193.6) with a 64.8 completion percentage and 256.5 yards per game. That said, his only interception of the season came last week against Auburn and he posted his lowest yardage total (229) of the year.

197.5: All-purpose yards per game by Odell Beckham Jr.
A big reason why Mettenberger and Cameron have been successful through the air has been the play of LSU’s wide receivers. Odell Beckham Jr., in particular, has been dynamic for the Tigers by leading the SEC in all-purpose yards with nearly 200 yards per game. He has 389 receiving yards, 33 rushing yards, 78 punt return yards and 190 kick return yards with five total touchdowns in four games. Packaged with Jarvis Landry, who has 24 catches for 364 yards and six touchdowns, the Bayou Bengals may boast the best WR tandem in the SEC. No one else on the team has more than three catches.

242.7: Rushing yards per game for Todd Gurley and Jeremy Hill
Todd Gurley ranks first in the SEC and 11th nationally with 125.7 yards rushing per game. Jeremy Hill ranks third in the SEC and 18th nationally with 117.0 yards rushing per game. Even more impressive, Gurley is averaging a healthy 6.0 yards per carry while Hill is posting an astounding 8.4-yard clip. The duo might be the two of the most physically gifted runners in the nation and have combined for 11 total touchdowns in 2013.

39.2%: Georgia’s third-down conversion rate
For all of their offensive prowess and one big play to Justin Scott-Wesley, the Bulldogs have not been very good on third downs this fall. Georgia has converted just 16-of-41 attempts, ranking 76th nationally and 11th in the SEC — the 16 third-down conversions rank 96th nationally. LSU has been much better on the critical down, ranking 10th nationally with a 56.6-percent rate on third downs (26-of-46).

Post date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 08:01
Path: /college-football/7-outrageous-college-football-predictions-week-5

The beauty of sports, in particular college football, lies in their complete unpredictability and reality TV-like drama.

With a horrid week of action behind us, college football fans can look forward to a Week 5 that features a dozen great matchups. Huge divisional games in the Pac-12 South, Big Ten Leaders, SEC West and ACC Coastal highlight what could be the best weekend of the year. And then there's that exciting (maybe, too exciting) game going down in Athens, Ga. Kick back and enjoy, folks.

Note: The point of this column is to have some fun and make some outlandish predictions. Please react accordingly.

Ole Miss will lose by more than three touchdowns
The Rebels have beaten Alabama only twice since 1988 and are 16.5-point underdogs to the Crimson Tide. Suggesting that the No. 1 team in the nation will win at home over a team barely ranked in the top 25 isn’t close to outrageous. However, Ole Miss is much improved and appears better suited to battle with Nick Saban than ever before. That said, the Rebels have lost the last four meetings — since Saban won his first BCS title at Bama — by an average of 24 points per game (130-34).

Arkansas will rush for 300 yards and lose
Under Bret Bielema, the Razorbacks have quickly become one of the nation’s best running teams. The Hogs rank third in the SEC and 24th nationally at 246.0 yards per game,and feature the SEC’s No. 2 rusher in freshman Alex Collins. Meanwhile, Texas A&M is dead last in the league in total defense after allowing 475.3 yards per game over the first four contests. Arkansas will run the ball effectively this weekend but it won’t matter because it won’t be able to stop Johnny Manziel. He torched the Hogs defense for 453 yards passing and 104 yards rushing in last year’s 58-10 loss.

Cal and Oregon will run 200 offensive plays
Sonny Dykes’ Golden Bears are No. 2 in the nation in offensive plays per game with 94.6 snaps per game. The Ducks have been in the top 11 nationally in total plays run in each of the last three seasons. In 2013, Oregon has run 72.0 plays per game without being tested in three games. This game features two of the nation's most productive quarterbacks in Jared Goff (428.0 ypg, No. 1) and Marcus Mariota (383.7 ypg, No. 5). Needless to say, both defenses better be in shape.

Zach Mettenberger will be more efficient than Aaron Murray
The former teammates in Athens will face each other for the first time since standing on the same Georgia practice field in 2009. Murray, as expected, has been excellent this season, ranking first in the SEC in passer rating (201.78). But the LSU signal-caller has been a huge surprise as the SEC’s No. 2 (193.61) passer. Mettenberger, who transferred to LSU from UGA by way of junior college, has fewer interceptions and more touchdowns in roughly the same amount of pass attempts (91 to Murray’s 82). And it’s the Bulldogs defense that has some question marks, not LSU’s.

Jameis Winston will not throw an incompletion
Through three career games, Winston has tossed just 14 incompletions and accounted for 10 total touchdowns. On the road against a Boston College defense that made USC's Cody Kessler look like Joe Montana, Winston may not see any of his passes hit the ground. The Seminoles' signal-caller is second nationally in passing efficiency (210.49) while the Eagles sit at 91st in pass efficiency defense.

Washington State will rush for negative yards
If you are a Cougars fan, you have heard those words entirely too much. Sixteen times an FBS team rushed for negative yardage last year and Wazzu was responsible for four of them (and one other game in which it gained one yard). Meanwhile, the two best defensive performances against the run last year came from Stanford — minus-21 yards against Colorado and minus-18 yards against, you guessed it, Washington State. Mike Leach’s team has improved only mildly from last year, ranking 121st nationally in rushing offense thus far in 2013 (63.0 yards per game). Three weeks ago, Washington State rushed for seven yards on 22 carries against USC.

Paul Richardson and Brandin Cooks will catch 30 passes
Four players in the nation are averaging more than 10 receptions per game, and two will be on the same field in Corvallis on Saturday. Oregon State’s Cooks is leading the nation by a wide margin with 43 receptions (10.8/game) while Colorado’s Richardson is No. 2 with 10.5 receptions per game. Only Fresno State’s Devante Adams (10.3) and SMU’s Darius Joseph (10.3) top the double-digit reception mark each game. To top it all off, Richardson and Cooks are No. 1 (208.5 ypg) and No. 2 (159.8 ypg) in receiving yards per game as well. Both quarterbacks should have a field day in this one, so take the over (60.5).

Post date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/virginia-techs-frank-beamer-detailed-breakdown-coaching-tenure

Even though Virginia Tech has been one of the ACC’s most consistent programs over the last 10 years, there’s some uneasiness surrounding Frank Beamer’s team in 2013.


The Hokies finished 7-6 last season, which was the program’s first year under eight wins since 1997. Under Beamer, Virginia Tech has recorded a winning record in every season since 1993. Prior to 1993, the Hokies were just 24-40-2 under Beamer’s watch.

Virginia Tech has played in 26 bowl games during its program history, with 20 coming during Beamer’s tenure. Of course, there are more bowl games in 2013 than there were in 1993, but that statistic shows how much of an impact Beamer has had for Virginia Tech.

Is this program in decline or was 2012 just a one-year blip? Let’s take a look at the numbers.

Analyzing Frank Beamer's Tenure at Virginia Tech

Win/Loss Record over the last 11 seasons

YearRecordConf. RecordFinish
200210-43-44th Big East
20038-54-34th Big East
200410-37-11st ACC
200511-27-11st Coastal
200610-36-22nd Coastal
200711-37-11st Coastal
200810-45-31st Coastal
200910-36-22nd Coastal
201011-38-01st Coastal
201111-37-11st Coastal
20127-64-44th Coastal


Virginia Tech’s win-loss record over the last 10 years has been solid. The Hokies have just two seasons under 10 wins during that span and played in five BCS bowls.

Virginia Tech also has finished in the top 25 of the Associated Press poll eight out of the last nine years, including a 10th place finish in 2009.

Something else to consider during Virginia Tech’s run in the Coastal: Miami. The Hurricanes have yet to win the Coastal Division and have not won more than nine games since 2003. Miami has significantly underachieved based on its program potential, which has helped the Hokies dominate the Coastal in recent years.

There’s room for both programs at the top of the Coastal, but Miami’s recent improvement under third-year coach Al Golden will have an impact on the rest of the teams in the division.

The win total history shows the program is trending down slightly, as the 7-6 mark featured three victories in overtime. 

Recruiting Breakdown

* Ranks using

YearNational RankConference Rank5* Signed4* Signed
201421st (as of Sept. 24)5th03


So far, Virginia Tech’s 7-6 record isn’t having a huge impact on recruiting. Of course, it’s only September, so it’s hard to judge where the Hokies will finish by signing day. However, the program’s recruiting classes ranked 21st in 2012 and '13, which was the second-highest ranking in the last seven years.

The amount of five-star and four-star prospects signed by Beamer and his staff has stayed about the same, as Virginia Tech has reeled in two five-star prospects in 2012-13, compared to one from 2009-11.

Has Virginia and fourth-year coach Mike London had any impact on Virginia Tech’s recruiting? In terms of top-10 prospects in the state of Virginia, the Hokies signed three in the 2010, '12 and '13 class. In that span, the Cavaliers signed five in 2011, four in '12 and two in '13. Virginia has a slight edge within the state’s top-10 prospects, but the bigger issue for Virginia Tech is the 2011 class, which included zero of the state’s top-10 prospects.

What to make of the recruiting data? Virginia Tech hasn’t slipped in the national ranks and has finished in the top four or five of the ACC in five out of the last six years. The Hokies aren’t bringing in elite talent, but Beamer and his staff continue to maintain a solid pace on the recruiting trail.

Performance on Offense

YearRushPassTotalScoringYards Per Play


The offensive numbers for Virginia Tech are not particularly impressive. The Hokies finished 35th nationally in total offense in 2011 but have regressed to 82nd in '12 and 102nd so far in '13. The offense has also watched its yards per play decline for three straight years, including a 4.7 mark thus far in 2013.

The rushing attack has been up and down, but nowhere near as bad as the passing offense. Virginia Tech has not finished higher than 64th nationally in passing offense since 2001, and the Hokies have five finishes of 90th or worse.

Offensive style is a big part of Virginia Tech’s statistics, but it’s clear this offense needs to be more aggressive and can use more help from its passing attack. 

Beamer has tried to jumpstart the offense by changing coordinators, but Bryan Stinespring and Mike O’Cain had similar success. And new play-caller Scot Loeffler? Needless to say, that hire didn’t inspire much confidence the offense can turn things around in 2013.

Final Verdict

Virginia Tech isn’t the best job in the ACC, but it’s among the top 25-30 in the nation. The Hokies have experienced a tremendous amount of success under Beamer, and the program is only one season removed from a BCS bowl.

As long as Beamer is on the sidelines at Virginia Tech, the formula for success will rely heavily on a strong defense, while the offense does just enough to win games. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster is one of the best in the nation, and the Hokies have one of the best defenses in the ACC in 2013.

However, a struggling offense isn’t getting much better, and the Coastal Division is improving. Miami is back in the top 25, and North Carolina seems to be trending in the right direction under Larry Fedora. The addition of Pittsburgh only adds to the competition in the Coastal.

While the stats don’t clearly show a decline, it’s clear Virginia Tech is not the same program that went 22-6 from 2010-11.

Beamer isn’t in any danger of being on the hot seat, but the 2013 and '14 seasons will be critical. Can Virginia Tech return to being an ACC power? Or are the Hokies in danger of slipping like Florida State did in the 2000s or what Texas is going through now?


Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer: A Detailed Breakdown of Coaching Tenure
Post date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 07:30
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-superlatives-top-shooters

 Perhaps traveling a long way is an asset toward becoming a top shooter in college basketball.

That’s the trend for the year, it seems.

Senior Joe Harris arrived at Virginia from Chelan, Wash., to become a 41-percent shooter in his career with the Cavaliers. And Marshall Henderson, provided he plays this season, remains a well-traveled 3-point threat after moving from a Texas high school to Utah to Ole Miss.

Others have a Canadian flair. Four of the top 10 shooters on our list come from our neighbors from the North. Nik Stauskas (Michigan), Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga) and Brady Heslip (Baylor) all come from Ontario while Olivier Hanlan (Boston College) is from Quebec.

Our list of the nation’s best shooters is the first in a series of superlatives to prepare you for the 2013-14 season. Each list and more can be found in the the Athlon Sports College Basketball 2013-14 Preseason Annual . The magazine hits newsstands this week with previews for every team in every conference, plus exclusive Q&As with Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, Louisville’s Russ Smith and UCLA’s Kyle Anderson.

Previous: Floor Leaders  | Next: Scorers

  2013-14 Superlatives: Top Shooters
1Joe Harris, Virginia
6-6/226, Sr.
Before tailing off at the end of the season, Harris was shooting 50.3 percent from the field and 46.2 percent from 3-point range. With extra help this season, that Cavaliers won’t need him to take a dozen shots a game.
2Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss
6-2/175, Sr.
The combustable Henderson attempted more 3-pointers than five teams and 34 more than any other player. Henderson wasn’t particularly efficient (35 percent), but his shooting helped transform the Rebels’ season. Can he do it again?
3Nik Stauskas, Michigan
6-6/205, So.
Like many 3-point shooters, Stauskas heated up and cooled down through the season, but when he was on, he was dangerous. In the Elite Eight against Florida, Stauskas went 6-of-6 from beyond the arc. The Canadian shot 44 percent from 3 during his freshman season.
4Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga
6-2/182, Jr.
Pangos (and fellow backcourt mate Gary Bell Jr.) will need to adjust to playing on a team where the offense doesn’t flow through big man Kelly Olynyk. Pangos has been remarkably consistent from 3-point range, averaging 40.8 percent from long range in two seasons.
5Gary Harris, Michigan State
6-4/205, So.
A projected NBA lottery pick, Harris surprised many when he elected to return to school. He shot 41.1 percent from long range, but he should become a more complete guard as sophomore after shoulder troubles limited last season.
6Olivier Hanlan, Boston College
6-4/184, So.
The ACC Freshman of the Year is a perfect fit in what Steve Donahue wants to accomplish at Boston College. He’ll have plenty of momentum heading into the season by going 14 of 18 from the field and 8 of 10 from 3-point range in the ACC Tournament.
7Luke Hancock, Louisville
6-6/200, Sr.
The hero of the Cardinals’ national championship run, Hancock made 15 of 26 3-pointers in the final eight games. If not for a slow start last season, he easily would have been a 40-percent 3-point shooter for the season.
8Jabari Brown, Missouri
6-5/214, Jr.
Brown became eligible in December after his transfer from Oregon last season to contribute 13.7 points per game a 36.6-percent shooting from 3-point range.
9Anthony Drmic, Boise State
6-6/196, Jr.
Drmic helped to lead the Broncos’ prolific backcourt along with Derrick Marks. Drmic can penetrate, but he also made 80 of 204 3-pointers on the way to a team-leading 17.7 points per game.
10Brady Heslip, Baylor
6-2/180, Sr.
Heslip transferred from Boston College but will be one of the best 3-point shooters in Baylor history. Heslip is a 42.1-percent career shooter on more than 200 attempts each season at Baylor.

Breakout to watch: Kellen Dunham, Butler
Mid-major star: Travis Bader, Oakland
Transfer to watch: Coron Williams, Wake Forest (from Robert Morris)
NCAA Tourney hero: Ron Baker, Wichita State
Seventh-year senior: Ben Brust, Wisconsin

Post date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/stephen-morris-expected-play-against-usf-saturday-2013

The news coming out of Coral Gables is that starting QB Stephen Morris, who left Saturday's game against Savannah State in the first quarter with an ankle injury, will be ready to play this week. Morris described his ankle as feeling good and seemed confident that he would be suiting up for the team's trip to Tampa. Although an ankle sprain was feared, head coach Al Golden called the injury a bone bruise.

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 15:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Tennessee Volunteers
Path: /college-football/tennessee-names-justin-worley-starting-qb-after-injury-nathan-peterman-2013

At this point, head coach Butch Jones would take volunteers for his starting quarterback position.

Unfortunately, he will have to settle for Volunteers as the Tennessee quarterback carousel continues to spin with Jones' announcement that Nathan Peterman will be out at least a month after he underwent hand surgery.

Peterman's reign at the top of the depth chart was short-lived after he had been promoted to replace the struggling Justin Worley. Peterman injured his hand in his first career start against Florida, a 31-17 game in which he completed four of 11 passes for five yards and two interceptions. Worley came in for Peterman following the injury and didn't fare much better, completing 10 of 23 passes for 149 yards. If the junior Worley struggles, Jones could hand the baton to either one of his two true freshman, Joshua Dobbs or Riley Ferguson. The two will share the backup position will Peterman remains sidelined.

Tennessee should have things easier this week welcoming in South Alabama, but it's quite clear that the uncertainty at quarterback position is far from over in Knoxville.

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: Dover International Speedway, NASCAR
Path: /nascar/nascar-numbers-game-free-agents-look-make-splash-dover

Mark Martin has competed in 875 races at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series level. He won 40 of those. He turns 55 years old in 2014 and while his seemingly endless production has provided multiple teams — the now-defunct Ginn Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Michael Waltrip Racing and, now, Stewart-Haas Racing — with value, his Production in Equal Equipment Rating (PEER) this season stands at a replacement-level 0.643, the worst season-long mark of his 30-year career.

Is it over? Has the value diminished?

The longevity we’ve seen from him is practically unparalleled in sports, but eventually we will see the day when he can no longer produce admirable results. The good news for Martin fans is that this Sunday’s race at Dover shouldn’t be that day.

3.865  In PEER specific to Dover, Martin ranks fourth (3.865 PEER) among all Cup Series drivers on the concrete speedway.

Though he hasn’t won at the track since 2004 (the Gen-4 era), he has earned eight top-10 finishes in the 13 races since the CoT’s inception. He also happens to be stepping into a No. 14 car for Stewart-Haas that won at Dover with the fast-closing Tony Stewart in the spring. Martin won’t have the win expectancy of, say, Jimmie Johnson or Matt Kenseth, but his past numbers suggest he could be a king among the non-Chasers.

For a driver who is unsure of his 2014 job prospects, it could be a day that extends his stay in the sport. Like Martin, there are other drivers looking at Dover as a potential audition site for a new job next season.

227  Martin Truex’s 227 laps led at Dover ranks as the sixth-most among all drivers dating back to 2007.  Martin Truex Jr.

A native of nearby Mayetta, N.J., Truex has enjoyed his share of success on the Monster Mile, compiling a 1.923 PEER (ranks 10th out of 52 drivers) and a win, his first in the Cup Series, which came in 2007. It’s a handy track for him to come to, considering his sponsor announced last week it wouldn’t return to Michael Waltrip Racing following the post-Richmond penalties. He has been on something of a tear in the last four races this season, with three top-10 finishes — he led 98 laps last weekend at New Hampshire — and the best PEER (3.875) among non-Chasers in that time frame. With no sponsorship for 2014 and permission to seek other rides, Truex is driving his price up as a potential free agent. His pay grade could rise with another swell run at Dover.

23.9  David Ragan, with two wildly different race teams, has averaged a disappointing 23.9-place finish in 14 Cup Series starts at Dover.

That includes 11 races under the Roush Fenway Racing banner in which the best Monster Mile finish he could muster was a 14th-place effort in 2007. Currently in Year 2 at underfunded Front Row Motorsports, Ragan would undoubtedly like to leap back into a ride with a more relevant race team. His -0.346 PEER at Dover doesn’t exactly bode well for an audition; however, he did finish 22nd in the spring race, about four positions better than his average finish this season (25.8).

14.3%  The No. 30 Swan Racing team, with former driver David Stremme and current crew chief Steve Lane, finished in the top half of the field 14.3 percent of the time in 21 races together this season.

This, or their 29.8 average finish, is believed to be the bar in which one of the young whippersnappers — Kevin Swindell was in the car last weekend, while Cole Whitt takes the reins at Dover — are expected to clear in this 10-race tryout period team owner Brandon Davis is giving. Whitt has a good shot of out-producing Stremme at Dover, considering his predecessor’s PEER in nine races on the high-banked mile (-0.583) ranks 51st out of 52 drivers with three or more starts in the Gen-5/Gen-6 era. Only Kyle Petty (-0.667) is a less productive Dover driver than Stremme.

6 of 3+  Dating back to the first NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway this season, Sam Hornish Jr. has amassed six finishes of third or better in the last 10 races.  Sam Hornish Jr.

The Penske Racing driver is both on the hunt for his first Stock Car title and, potentially, a job next season. It seems as if the Penske inn is about to be without vacancies, leaving Hornish to fend for himself in the world of fenders. His recent march to the Nationwide title has been quite impressive; omitting an DNF due to overheating at Indianapolis, his clean average finish in nine of the last 10 races is 4.1. The good fortune could continue this weekend. He qualified on the front row and finished seventh in the Dover Nationwide race in the spring.

For PEER and other metrics with which you may be unfamiliar, check out David’s glossary of terms on

David Smith is the founder of Motorsports Analytics LLC and the creator of NASCAR statistics for projections, analysis and scouting. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidSmithMA.

Photos by Actions Sports, Inc.

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /college-football/ncaa-reduces-scholarship-sanctions-penn-state-2013

The NCAA’s Executive Committee has decided to reduce the scholarship sanctions on Penn State, giving the football program five more scholarships for the 2014-15 academic year. The announcement was made after George Mitchell, former U.S. Senator and independent Athletics Integrity Montior for Penn State, indicated Penn State was making progress in implementing the Athletics Integrity Agreement.

And in another bit of good news for Penn State, there’s a possibility these sanctions can be reduced even more in the future.

The postseason ban will remain in place for now, and coach Bill O’Brien is still dealing with a limited roster for the next few years.

However, Penn State can now offer 20 scholarships for the 2014-15 year, with that number set to increase to 25 by 2015-16. The Nittany Lions will also have a full allotment of scholarship players (85) by 2016-17.

Check out the full release from the NCAA

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-week-5-episode-5-2013

In the Week 5 episode of the Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast, co-hosts Braden Gall and David Fox take a quick jog around the developments of a deceptively interesting Week 4 while taking a look at key games for Week 5.

In this week’s podcast:

• We quickly run down a few headlines from Week 4: Why Georgia Tech could wrap up its division in the ACC in short order, why or why not Tyler Murphy might be the answer at QB for Florida and how leigitimate is Derek Carr's Heisman candidacy.

• After some disagreement on how good Arizona State is, we look at the upcoming game between the Sun Devils and USC. Todd Graham and Co. need to win this one or we'll lose confidence.

• We don't know what to make of either Oklahoma or Notre Dame. OU's defense has impressed, but the Sooners haven't played a marquee game. Meanwhile, Notre Dame has not fully rebounded from a Michigan loss two weeks ago.

• This week's marquee matchup in the SEC will be in Athens when Georgia hosts LSU. The Tigers have been impressive on both sides of the ball, but this will be a "show-me" moment on the road for Zach Mettenberger and the defense.

• In this week's rapid fire, we ask who is the top quarterback in the state of Utah (yes, that's a thing), surprise 4-0 teams and who is a better Heisman dark horse between Derek Carr and Melvin Gordon.
The podcast can be found on, iTunes and our podcast RSS feed.

Please send any comments, questions and podcast topics to @AthlonSports, @BradenGall and @DavidFox615 on Twitter.


Thanks to Moon Taxi for sharing their tunes for bumper music. Their new album Mountains Beaches Cities is now available.

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-4-bowl-projections-2013

Michigan is one of the toughest teams to gauge after four weeks of the college football season. The Wolverines have a good win over Notre Dame but barely beat Akron and Connecticut. Turnovers have been an issue for quarterback Devin Gardner, but the defense is allowing just 311 yards per game. Although Michigan hasn’t looked like a Big Ten title contender the last two weeks, the Wolverines still make the BCS projections after Week 4. Michigan’s schedule is manageable until November, and coach Brady Hoke’s team is still Athlon’s pick to win the Big Ten Legends Division. So while things aren’t particularly well in Ann Arbor, finishing 10-2 or even 11-1 in the regular season isn’t out of the question.

The rest of our BCS projections after Week 4 are similar to the first few weeks, as there have been few changes at the top of the rankings. Alabama-Ohio State is remains Athlon’s pick to play for the national title, while Clemson, Louisville, Oklahoma State and Oregon are projected to win their conferences.

College football's bowl season is still a few months away, but it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like. With only four weeks of results in the books, it's hard to make long-term projections about teams, especially with several teams still playing overmatched non-conference games. But with conference play right around the corner, we should be able to get a better grasp on what teams will be able to reach the six-win mark.

With little data to work with, the post-Week 4 bowl projections are a mixture between preseason projections, how things would look if the season ended today, and a small dose of the results so far this year. Expect more changes over the next few weeks, especially as we see how teams perform in conference games.

A few teams barely missed the projections this week, including Boston College, Virginia, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Illinois from BCS conferences. And Ohio, Arkansas State and Toledo from the non-BCS ranks.

As the season progresses, it will be easier to project which teams will get to the six-win mark or finish below.

College Football's Post-Week 4 Bowl Projections for 2013

New MexicoDec. 21Pac-12 vs. MWCOregon State vs. Wyoming
Famous Idaho PotatoDec. 21MAC vs. MWCBall State vs. Nevada
Las VegasDec. 21Pac-12 vs. MWCArizona vs. Fresno State
New OrleansDec. 21Sun Belt vs. CUSAUL Lafayette vs. Rice
Beef 'O' Brady'sDec. 23American vs. CUSACincinnati vs. MTSU
HawaiiDec. 24MWC vs. CUSASan Jose State vs. Utah*
Little Caesars PizzaDec. 26MAC vs. Big TenNorthern Illinois vs. Indiana
PoinsettiaDec. 26Army vs. MWCWash. State* vs. Boise State
MilitaryDec. 27CUSA vs. ACCEast Carolina vs. Pittsburgh
TexasDec. 27Big 12 vs. Big TenKansas State vs. Iowa
Kraft Fight HungerDec. 27BYU vs. Pac-12BYU vs. USC
PinstripeDec. 28American vs. Big 12Notre Dame* vs. TCU
BelkDec. 28American vs. ACCRutgers vs. North Carolina
Russell AthleticDec. 28American vs. ACCUCF vs. Georgia Tech
Buffalo Wild WingsDec. 28Big 12 vs. Big TenTexas vs. Nebraska
Armed ForcesDec. 30MWC vs. NavyUtah State vs. Navy
Music CityDec. 30ACC vs. SECMaryland vs. Auburn
AlamoDec. 30Big 12 vs. Pac-12Oklahoma vs. UCLA
HolidayDec. 30Pac-12 vs. Big 12Washington vs. Texas Tech
AdvoCare V100Dec. 31ACC vs. SECNC State vs. Tennessee
SunDec. 31Pac-12 vs. ACCArizona State vs. Va. Tech
LibertyDec. 31SEC vs. CUSAMissouri vs. Marshall
Chick-fil-ADec. 31SEC vs. ACCTexas A&M vs. Miami
GatorJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenOle Miss vs. Michigan State
Heart of DallasJan. 1Big Ten vs. CUSAMinnesota vs. Tulsa
OutbackJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenFlorida vs. Northwestern
Capital OneJan. 1SEC vs. Big TenSouth Carolina vs. Wisconsin
RoseJan. 1BCS vs. BCSOregon vs. Michigan
FiestaJan. 1BCS vs. BCSStanford vs. Oklahoma State
SugarJan. 2BCS vs. BCSGeorgia vs. Florida State
CottonJan. 3SEC vs. Big 12LSU vs. Baylor
OrangeJan. 3BCS vs. BCSClemson vs. Louisville
BBVA CompassJan. 4SEC vs. AmericanVanderbilt vs. Houston
GoDaddyJan. 5MAC vs. Sun BeltBowling Green vs. W. Kentucky
National TitleJan. 6BCS vs. BCSAlabama vs. Ohio State

* Indicates we do not expect a conference to fill its tie-ins. An at-large team will be selected for conferences that do not meet their required teams for bowl eligibility. 

Related College Football Content

Week 4 College Football Recap
Stats to Know From Week 4
Week 4 National Awards
Post-Week 4 ACC Power Rankings
Post-Week 4 Big 12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 4 Big Ten Power Rankings
Post-Week 4 Pac-12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 4 SEC Power Rankings

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:47
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-coach-hot-seat-rankings-post-week-4-edition-2013

Texas’ coach Mack Brown is still on the hot seat, but the Longhorns snapped a two-game losing streak with a 31-21 victory over Kansas State on Saturday. The win over the Wildcats won’t do much to quiet the cries for change in Austin. However, Texas still has a chance to win the Big 12 title and should be 2-0 in conference play before the huge Oct. 12 showdown against Oklahoma.

Connecticut nearly upset Michigan, but Paul Pasqualoni climbs back to the No. 1 spot in the hot seat rankings. The Huskies’ offense continues to struggle, managing only 3.6 yards per play against the Wolverines on Saturday. Connecticut’s schedule won’t get any easier this week, as a road date at Buffalo will be a challenge, and the Huskies must play Cincinnati and UCF in October.

USC’s Lane Kiffin has led his team to back-to-back wins after a loss to Washington State, but the Trojans remain a work in progress on offense. Kiffin could help cool his seat with a win at Arizona State this Saturday.

Outside of the top 10, the biggest riser in this week’s rankings is West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen. The Mountaineers were handled by Maryland in a 37-0 loss, dropping West Virginia to 2-2 overall. The schedule will only get tougher from here, and the Mountaineers could miss out on a bowl in 2013.

An important note when reading our coach on the hot seat rankings: Outside of the top 20-30 coaches, it’s all about the pressure on a program. While some coaches – like Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Indiana’s Kevin Wilson – aren’t in any danger of being fired. However, both coaches need to continue to show the program is headed in the right direction.

Ranking All 125 CFB Coaches on Hot Seat/Pressure on Program to Win in 2013

RkCoachTeam2013 RecordAnalysis
1Paul Pasqualoni0-3UConn gave Michigan all it could handle.
2Mack Brown2-2Texas still has a chance to turn season around.
3Dan Enos1-3CMU allowing 37.2 points a game.
4Lane Kiffin3-1USC's offense still a work in progress.
5Don Treadwell0-3RedHawks hung around against Cincinnati.
6Ron English1-3EMU one of the toughest jobs in the nation.
7Ron Turner0-4Performance against Louisville was embarrassing
8Bobby Hauck2-2Back-to-back wins for UNLV first time since '08.
9Norm Chow0-3Hawaii could be headed for a winless year.
10Bo Pelini3-1Huskers should be 6-1 going into November.
11Doc Holliday2-2Nearly upset Va. Tech in Blacksburg.
12Jeff Quinn1-2 
13Jim Grobe2-2Win over Army snapped two-game losing streak.
14Charley Molnar0-4Minutemen played Vanderbilt tough.
15Dana Holgorsen2-2Mountaineers could miss out on bowl this year.
16Skip Holtz1-3La. Tech fumbled away win on Saturday.
17Rich Ellerson1-3 
18Tim Beckman2-1 
19Charlie Weis2-1Win on Saturday was first vs. FBS since Sept. 10, 2011
20Carl Pelini1-3 
21Tony Levine3-0Changes on staff paying off for Levine.
22Kirk Ferentz3-1Iowa's offense has run the most plays in Big Ten.
23Dan Mullen2-2Dak Prescott has impressed as starter.
24Gary Pinkel3-0Pinkel tied for 2nd most wins in school history.
25Joey Jones2-1 
26Mike London2-1 
27Rick Stockstill3-1 
28P.J. Fleck0-4Rough first year for Fleck.
29June Jones1-2Four-year bowl streak could be in jeopardy.
30Kevin Wilson2-2 
31Matt Rhule0-3 
32Randy Edsall4-0Terrapins 4-0 for the first time since 2001.
33Rocky Long0-3Aztecs lost heartbreaker against Oregon State.
34David Bailiff1-2 
35Larry Blakeney2-2 
36Sean Kugler1-2Miners 1-2 in Kugler's debut season.
37Frank Beamer3-1Offense not looking much better.
38Dan McCarney2-2UNT on the right track.
39Dave Christensen3-1QB Brett Smith leading MWC in total offense.
40George O'Leary3-0 
41Garrick McGee1-2 
42Scott Shafer2-2Syracuse has won two in a row.
43Bobby Petrino2-2 
44Tommy Tuberville3-1 
45Jim McElwain1-3Rams gave Alabama a good battle.
46Kyle Flood3-1 
47Bob Davie1-2 
48Steve Sarkisian3-0 
49Kyle Whittingham3-1Utah has won four in a row over BYU.
50Curtis Johnson2-2 
51Rod Carey3-0NIU avoided loss to FCS team in Week 4.
52Paul Chryst2-1 
53Terry Bowden1-3 
54Todd Monken0-3 
55Bill Blankenship1-2Can Tulsa still win C-USA?
56Willie Taggart0-3USF needs to find some offense.
57Ruffin McNeill2-1 
58Brian Polian2-2Nevada won with 3rd string QB in Week 4.
59Ron Caragher1-2 
60Paul Haynes1-3 
61Bryan Harsin1-3 
62Mike Leach3-1 
63Mike Riley3-1 
64Dave Clawson3-1 
65Mark Helfrich3-0 
66Dennis Franchoine2-1 
67Matt Wells2-2 
68Troy Calhoun1-3AFA's defense struggling.
69Doug Martin0-4 
70Mark Richt2-1 
71Mark Dantonio3-1 
72Bronco Mendenhall1-2 
73Brady Hoke4-0 
74Paul Petrino0-4 
75Butch Jones2-2 
76Trent Miles0-4Georgia State a difficult job.
77Darrell Hazell1-3 
78Frank Solich3-1 
79Dabo Swinney3-0 
80Jimbo Fisher3-0 
81Bob Stoops3-0 
82Jerry Kill4-0 
83Al Golden3-0 
84Mark Stoops1-2 
85Ken Niumatalolo2-0 
86Matt Campbell2-2 
87Bret Bielema3-1 
88Larry Fedora1-2 
89Paul Johnson3-0GT off to 2-0 start in ACC play.
90Gus Malzahn3-1 
91Justin Fuente1-2 
92Dave Doeren2-1 
93Steve Addazio2-1 
94Sonny Dykes1-2 
95Rich Rodriguez3-0 
96Todd Graham2-1 
97Jim Mora3-0 
98Will Muschamp3-1 
99Brian Kelly2-1 
100Tim DeRuyter3-0DeRuyter will be in mix for big jobs this December.
101Mike MacIntyre2-0 
102Paul Rhoads0-2 
103Todd Berry2-2 
104David Cutcliffe2-2 
105Larry Coker2-2UTSA quietly off to good start.
106Les Miles4-0 
107Pete Lembo3-1 
108Gary Andersen3-1 
109James Franklin2-2Sluggish performance against UMass.
110Hugh Freeze3-0 
111Mark Hudspeth2-2Ragin' Cajuns have won two in a row.
112Kevin Sumlin3-1 
113Kliff Kingsbury4-0 
114Mike Gundy3-0OSU still the favorite in Big 12?
115Gary Patterson1-2Can TCU find a spark on offense?
116Bill Snyder2-2 
117Chris Petersen2-2Boise not out of MWC title picture.
118Bill O'Brien3-1 
119Charlie Strong4-0Cardinals cruising to unbeaten season.
120Steve Spurrier2-1 
121Art Briles3-0 
122David Shaw3-0 
123Pat Fitzgerald4-0 
124Urban Meyer4-0 
125Nick Saban3-0 

Related College Football Content

Week 4 College Football Recap
Stats to Know From Week 4
Week 4 National Awards
Post-Week 4 ACC Power Rankings
Post-Week 4 Big 12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 4 Big Ten Power Rankings
Post-Week 4 Pac-12 Power Rankings
Post-Week 4 SEC Power Rankings

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:47
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/amazing-pac-12-college-football-stats-week-4-2013
True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether its a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the Pac-12 to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in week 4.
1942: Saturday was the first time since 1942 Washington, Washington State posted a shutout on the same day
With its 42-0 victory over Idaho, Washington State posted its first shutout since 2003, and its first home shutout since 1999. Meanwhile, in Seattle, Washington blanked Idaho State 56-0 for its first shutout since 2009. 
The Cougars and the Huskies registering a shutout in the same season is rare, much less the same day. Saturday was the first time since 1942 the two programs accomplished the feat — something they did in back-to-back weeks 71 years ago. 
On Sept. 26, 1942, Washington State was a 6-0 winner over Stanford, and followed with a 7-0 win against Oregon on Oct. 3. Washington was a 27-0 winner against Pacific on Sept. 26, and followed with a scoreless tie against USC on Oct. 3.
It was one of four shutouts for the Cougars that year, and six for the Huskies, including a scoreless tie when the teams met on Nov. 28.
While it was the first same-day shutouts for UW and WSU since 1942, it was also the first time since 1997 they even had a shutout in the same season. They have each had a shutout in the same season nine times, dating back to 1942 (1942, ’45, ’46, ’47, ’53, ’58, ’61, ’68, ’81 and ’97).
39: UCLA’s school-record 39 first downs lead to rout of New Mexico State 

UCLA racked up school records for yards (692) yards and first downs (39) on the way to a 59-13 victory against New Mexico State. The Bruins racked up 362 yards and three scores on first-down plays alone, and amassed 419 yards — not including penalties — to attain each first down. This is the first season since 2005 that the Bruins have opened with three straight 40-plus-point games, and the most points (158) they have scored in a three-game stretch since 1997 (172).
49: USC defense limits Utah State to 49 yards in final five drives to stay in contention for the win
After surrendering a game-tying, nine-play, 72-yard touchdown drive midway through the third quarter, the USC defense clamped down over the final 21:51 to hold on for the 17-14 win over Utah State.
The Trojans surrendered just 49 yards over the next 26 plays and five drives. They forced three punts, two turnovers on downs and never let the Aggies cross their own 47 after the score.
USC outside linebacker Morgan Breslin recorded three of his four tackles after the second touchdown, including a pair of 3-yard sacks of Chuckie Keeton on back-to-back possessions. Lamar Dawson, Leonard Williams and Kevon Seymour all posted tackles for loss after the last Aggie TD.
And the USC offense certainly needed this defense, as 17 points is an all-time low in the series with Utah State. The Trojans hold a 5-0 advantage in the series, but 40 was previously the low point total for USC.
28:  Utah among big-play leaders in the nation
Utah has 28 plays of 20 yards or more in four games after having just 15 in 2012. The Utes added five such plays in their 20-13 win over BYU. James Poole had rushes of 65 (career high) and 22 yards, while quarterback Travis Wilson connected on passes of 24, 26 and 74. Dres Anderson caught the 26- and 74-yarder — a career-long reception — on the way to his third straight 100-yard receiving game, and a career-high 141 yards on the day.
Utah had 25 plays of 20-plus yards in 2011 and 32 in 2010. Maryland leads the nation this season with 35 plays of 20-plus yards; Oregon is the top team in the Pac-12 with 34.
1-of-14: Utah downs rival BYU, despite just one third-down conversion
It was a good thing the Utes had those big plays to move down field, as the first three — Poole’s 65-yard run and Wilson-to-Anderson for 26 and 74 yards — led to two field goals and a touchdown in their 20-13 victory. Otherwise, Utah had trouble keeping drives alive. It converted just 1-of-14 third downs — the only conversion was on its eighth offensive play of the game. 
The only conversion was a Wilson-to-Anderson 9-yard pass on third-and-6, which ended with a punt three plays and nine yards later.
The Utes averaged third-and-6.8 on Saturday, including 12 yards to go on their first third-down attempt, and had third-and-12, 16 and 13 on their final three possessions. 
8: Eight different Huskies scored in blowout win over Idaho State
A lot of Huskies got a taste of the end zone in the 56-0 win over visiting Idaho State, and only one of the eight touchdowns scored came outside the 10-yard line. 
Bishop Sankey (3-yard run), Jesse Callier (8-yard run), Keith Price (1-yard run), Joshua Perkins (1-yard pass from Price), Austin Seferian Jenkins (6-yard pass from Price), John Ross (57-yard pass from Cyler Miles), and Deontae Cooper (4-yard run) all scored for UW. Travis Coons banged through all eight PATs to move to 17-of-17 on the year. 
The Huskies were 7-of-9 in the red zone in the win.
350: Mannion eclipses 350 yards passing for a fourth straight game
Sean Mannion, moved to the top of the nation in passing yards after he threw for 367 yards in Oregon State’s 34-30 win over San Diego State. He became the first player in the program’s history to throw for 350-plus yards in four consecutive games, extending his own school record. 
His three-touchdown effort against the Aztecs also gave him sole possession atop the nation in TD passes thrown this season (15).
43: Cooks’ torrid receptions pace continues for Beavers
Brandin Cooks has been on the end of many of those Mannion passes. The Oregon State receiver tied a school-record with 14 catches (for 141 yards) in the win against San Diego State. The junior leads the nation in catches, yards and touchdown receptions (43-639-7).  
The 14 catches tied Mike Hass’ school record, and made Cooks just the second player, along with Hass, with at least two 12-plus reception games. Cooks is on pace for 129 catches, for 1,917 yards and 21 TDs. All three would be school records (91-1,532-12).
23: Cardinal fend off Sun Devils’ rally to give Shaw 23rd win when leading at the half
Stanford moved to 23-2 under coach David Shaw when holding a halftime lead, and the Cardinal’s 29 first-half points in a 42-28 win over visiting Arizona State proved to be just enough. It was the first first-half shutout for Stanford since holding a 35-0 edge in last season’s 48-0 win at Colorado. 
The Cardinal, under Shaw, also moved to 11-0 when scoring 40-plus points, and 6-1 when allowing 20-29 points.
2: Arizona State’s second-half performance comes too late at Stanford
A second-half comeback in the 42-28 loss at Stanford only left Arizona State fans wondering, “what if?” What if the Sun Devils had put together just one solid drive in the first half? Well, they did not. 
Of the seven drives in the first half, just one crossed midfield, and it ended with a missed 45-yard field goal. The other six totaled 40 yards, and led to a 29-0 halftime deficit. 
The second half was a different story, as ASU outscored Stanford 28-13, including touchdown drives of 75, 75, 57 and 67 yards. The Sun Devils scored from the Stanford 2, 45, 27 and 6, and their seven second-half drives totaled 340 yards.


Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:47
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-qb-braxton-miller-expected-start-against-wisconsin-2013

Kenny Guiton has been nearly flawless in relief of Braxton Miller, throwing for 10 touchdowns and 491 yards in Ohio State’s last two games.

Although Guiton has been excellent, there’s no quarterback controversy at Ohio State. Miller suffered a MCL injury against San Diego State and has missed the last two games. However, the junior is expected to play this Saturday against Wisconsin and will reclaim the No. 1 spot on the depth chart. Prior to his injury, Miller was one of the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy. 

Although Miller will return to the starting role, Guiton’s performance should give Ohio State plenty of confidence should its starting quarterback suffer another injury the rest of the year. And who knows, maybe coach Urban Meyer can find a way to get them both on the field at the same time.


Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:47
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Virginia Tech Hokies
Path: /college-football/virginia-tech-wear-hokie-stone-helmets-against-georgia-tech-2013

Alternate helmets and jerseys are popping up everywhere in college football, but Virginia Tech takes the award for one of the most interesting looks over the last few years.

On Thursday night against Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech will unveil these “Hokie Stone” helmets.

So what exactly is this helmet symbolizing?

Here’s what coach Frank Beamer had to say in a release from the school:

“When you look at this helmet, it’s not flashy, but it means a tremendous amount to this University. The outside world may have to do a double-take, but the Hokie Nation will know exactly what it is: Hokie Stone! And it’s something we’re proud of. The reason I like it, is because it represents what this program and this University are built on. Each piece, in its place, serving its purpose, doing its job, and when it’s all working together, it’s rock solid and it’s something special. That Hokie Stone … represents what we’re all about, a foundation that we’re proud of, built on brotherhood, loyalty, leadership, Ut Prosim, sacrifice, service, honor, and duty. And I hope you saw all of that on display this past Saturday in our game with a very talented and determined Marshall team. Not just from the players, but from the fans as well, who withstood a driving rain and stuck in there with us through it all!
"So, on Thursday night, some may see it as stone on our helmets. We know it’s SO much more!"

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:47
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-september-23-2013

Catching up on everything that happened in Week 4 and an early look at Week 5.

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 Monday, September 23rd

LSU has joined the SEC's offensive show.

Saturday Down South takes a look at some of the key developments in the SEC in Week 4.

Sad news out of Cincinnati: One player was killed and two others were injured in a car accident on Saturday night.

Bruce Feldman rounds out the weekend with some insight on Week 4, as well as a look at why Baylor's offense is so difficult to defend.

Another Week 4 recap: SB Nation's Matt Hinton takes a look at some stats to know.

Washington running back Bishop Sankey is fine after suffering a shoulder injury against Idaho State.

Two players on Syracuse's defense suffered injuries against Tulane.

Hawaii won't replace the canceled Fresno State game on Colorado's schedule.

Is James Conner set to be Pittsburgh's No. 1 running back the rest of the year?

Even when Taylor Martinez expires his eligibility, it appears Nebraska is in good shape at the quarterback position.

Injuries will play a role in Mack Brown's future at Texas.

Arian Foster tells Sports Illustrated he took money on the side at Tennessee.  

BYU linebacker Spencer Hadley has been suspended five games for violating the school's honor code. But there's an interesting twist to how Hadley was suspended.

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin is dealing with a disgruntled running back.

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:47
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-4-2013
Alabama held on to the top spot in the Legends Poll, after a slate of lackluster games over the weekend. The first eight teams did not change order from last week's poll. No. 9 Texas A&M swapped positions with Georgia, overtaking the ninth position in this week's poll. No. 5 LSU looked impressive as they beat SEC rival Auburn at home 35-21. 
"LSU's running game and passing game looks more cohesive under their new coordinator, Cam Cameron," former Auburn coach Pat Dye said. "They have all the pieces to make a great football team. Their running back (Jeremy Hill) was outstanding today against Auburn. I put him up there with Georgia's running back, Gurley."
The teams from 11 to 19 remain unchanged with the exception of Michigan. Michigan continued to slide down the poll as it escaped another upset bid this week at Connecticut. The Wolverines had to come from behind in the 24-21 win. 
Texas Tech and Georgia Tech made their first appearance in the Legends Poll this season at No. 24 and 25, respectively. Arizona State and Auburn dropped out of the poll this week after falling from the ranks of the unbeaten.
To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll
1AlabamaAlabama (14)3-03981
2OregonOregon (2)3-03862
4Ohio StateOhio State4-03374
7Florida StateFlorida State3-03017
9Texas A&MTexas A&M3-127410
11Oklahoma StateOklahoma State3-022111
13South CarolinaSouth Carolina2-120213
14Miami (FL)Miami (FL)3-019615
21Notre DameNotre Dame3-18420
22Ole MissOle Miss3-07022
24Texas TechTexas Tech4-024-
25Georgia TechGeorgia Tech3-014-

* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward.  You can see the entire Poll at

Post date: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 10:47