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Path: /college-football/ohio-state-rb-carlos-hyde-hurdles-purdue-defender

Last week, Nebraska running back Ameer Abdullah hurdled a Minnesota defender. This week, Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde matched Abdullah with a hurdle of his own.

Check out Hyde hurdling this Purdue defender in Ohio State’s blowout win:

Ohio State RB Carlos Hyde Hurdles Purdue Defender
Post date: Saturday, November 2, 2013 - 16:15
Path: /college-football/wake-forest-wr-michael-campanaro-dislocates-collarbone

Wake Forest’s offense suffered a huge setback in Saturday’s loss to Syracuse, as receiver Michael Campanaro suffered a dislocated collarbone in the first half. Campanaro is the Demon Deacons’ top offensive performer and one of the top receivers in the ACC.

Campanaro is out indefinitely, which puts a damper on Wake Forest’s hopes to get bowl eligible.


Wake Forest WR Michael Campanaro Dislocates Collarbone
Post date: Saturday, November 2, 2013 - 16:08
Path: /college-football/miami-hurricanes-vs-florida-state-seminoles-2013-preview-and-prediction

For the first time since 2004, Florida State and Miami meet as top-10 teams. The Seminoles are squarely in the national title mix and a win over an unbeaten Miami team would be another notch on the resume for coach Jimbo Fisher’s team. Florida State is in a neck-and-neck battle with Oregon for the No. 2 spot in the polls, so winning and looking impressive is a priority for the Seminoles on Saturday night.

Miami has matched Florida State’s 7-0 mark, but the Hurricanes haven’t been quite as impressive on the stat sheet. Late comebacks were needed to beat Wake Forest and North Carolina, and quarterback Stephen Morris has already passed his interception total from 2012 (seven) this season (eight). 

Over the last few preseasons, the big question surrounding both programs was pretty simple: Is Miami (or Florida State) back? It may be hard for both teams to contend for the national title every year, but both programs are returning to their national prominence of the 1990s and 2000s. With the coaching staffs in place at Florida State and Miami, it’s hard to see these programs taking a step back. The Hurricanes have a little more work to do than the Seminoles in terms of rebuilding, but both teams are recruiting at a top-10 level. In other words, get ready for more top 10-15 showdowns between these two teams.

Florida State has won six out of the last eight games in this series and three in a row. Miami’s last win against the Seminoles came in 2009. Florida State has won two out of the last three games by at least 13 points.

Miami at Florida State

Kickoff: 8 ET
TV Channel: ABC
Spread: Florida State – 22

Three Things to Watch

Florida State’s run defense vs. Miami RB Duke Johnson
Miami’s gameplan on Saturday night is pretty simple: Don’t get into a shootout with Florida State. The Seminoles have too much firepower, and Jameis Winston will outplay Stephen Morris if this game becomes a back and forth affair. In order to keep this game close, Miami has to get running back Duke Johnson involved early and often. Johnson has at least 168 yards in two out of his last three games and averages 6.7 yards per carry. The sophomore is facing a Florida State defense that ranks third in the ACC but has allowed three rushers to reach 100 yards. The Seminoles have been vulnerable to power rushing games at times this year, and the Hurricanes with Johnson and an offensive line that averages 313.4 pounds per player will have an opportunity to churn out yards on the ground. If Miami can win the battle on first downs and put the offense in short-yardage situations on second down, the Hurricanes will have an opportunity to control the clock and keep Winston and Florida State’s offense on the sidelines.

Jameis Winston vs. Miami’s defense
How do you defend Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston? That’s the million-dollar question facing Miami coordinator Mark D’Onofrio. Blitzing Winston has not worked well for opposing defenses, and the Hurricanes seem unlikely to copy that strategy on Saturday night. Instead, Miami would be better off letting Florida State work its way down the field and not allow the Seminoles to hit on any big plays. Florida State has 16 plays in ACC games of 30 plus yards, and with Winston at the helm, is capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. The Hurricanes ranked 11th in the ACC in total defense last year, holding opponents to 504.9 yards per game. But this unit has improved in 2013, as opposing offenses are recording 420.7 yards per contest (5.5 yards per play) this year. Miami is also better in the turnover department, forcing 19 through seven games this season. Stopping Winston isn’t going to be an easy task for D’Onofrio, especially with the Seminoles’ deep receiving corps and tight end Nick O’Leary. However, the Hurricanes need to force Florida State to work its way down the field in small chunks.

Florida State’s rushing attack vs. Miami’s front seven
Although quarterback Jameis Winston is one of the top players in the nation, Florida State’s offense isn’t just limited to the freshman. The Seminoles have one of the nation’s best offensive lines, three solid running backs, and a receiving corps that features four players averaging over 17 yards per reception. Receiver Rashad Greene is underrated nationally, leading Florida State with 39 receptions for 690 yards. Tight end Nick O’Leary is also among the nation’s best at his position, recording 17 receptions for 307 yards and six scores. Miami’s front seven is deeper and more talented than last season. However, the Hurricanes rank eighth in the ACC against the run, allowing 166.3 yards per game in conference games. Opponents are averaging 4.1 yards per carry, but Miami has managed to hold offenses to just five rushing scores in ACC contests. Florida State will use three running backs on Saturday night, which along with an offensive line that has been outstanding this year, will test Miami’s front seven.

Key Player: Stephen Morris, QB, Miami

The quarterback is always critical to the outcome of any game, but it’s even more important on Saturday night. Morris has not played at full strength for part of this season due to an ankle injury, but the senior has already tossed eight picks after throwing seven interceptions last year. Transitioning to new coordinator James Coley has also provided an adjustment period for Morris, but he has to play better, especially in a top-10 showdown. With Florida State owning one of the best defensive backfields in the nation, it’s important for Morris to have an efficient (and turnover free) performance.

Final Analysis

Even though this in-state rivalry is a top-10 matchup, Miami is a three-touchdown underdog. The Hurricanes are capable of keeping this game within striking distance if running back Duke Johnson is able to churn out the yards on the ground. If Florida State keeps the sophomore back under wraps, the Seminoles will jump out to a commanding lead. Having a healthy Stephen Morris under center should help Miami’s offense. However, Florida State’s defense presents a tough matchup, especially in the secondary. There’s no question the Hurricanes have to play a perfect game in order to win on Saturday night. Considering how impressive the Seminoles have been this year, it’s hard to see Miami leaving Tallahassee with a win. It wouldn’t be a total surprise to see the Hurricanes cover the spread or keep things interesting for three quarters, but Florida State is deeper and more talented – and on a mission to play for the national title.

Prediction: Florida State 45, Miami 20

Miami Hurricanes vs. Florida State Seminoles 2013 Preview and Prediction
Post date: Saturday, November 2, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/texas-tech-red-raiders-vs-oklahoma-state-cowboys-game-preview-and-prediction

Mike Gundy and the No. 18 Oklahoma State Cowboys travel to Lubbock, Texas to take on Kliff Kingsbury and the No. 15 Texas Tech Red Raiders in this Big 12 conference game at 7:00 pm ET on FOX. With both teams already suffering a conference loss, the loser of Saturday's game will likely be eliminated from competing for the Big 12 title. While in the top half of their conference standings, both teams have yet to register an impressive signature win. The Cowboys' best win came at home against a 3-4 Kansas State team, while the Red Raiders' best win was on the road at West Virginia. Oklahoma State has yet to play the top three teams in the Big 12 in Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma. Texas Tech hasn't played Texas or Baylor and just lost to Oklahoma 38-30 last week. Texas Tech holds a 21-16-3 advantage all time in the series. The result of this game will go a long way toward one of these programs making a statement as a serious contender.

Three Things to Watch


The Cowboys lead the Big 12 in takeaways, registering five interceptions and four fumbles. CB Justin Gilbert leads the team with four interceptions. Gilbert has only failed to intercept a ball in one conference game this year. The only problem? Oklahoma State is second in the conference in giveaways with 12.

Run 'N Gun Red Raiders

Kliff Kingsbury has been impressive in his first year guiding Texas Tech, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. Behind freshman quarterback Davis Webb, the Red Raiders are third in the nation with 412.9 yards per contest and rank 19th in the country with 39.8 yards per game. While Webb has thrown for at least 385 yards and completed at least 62 percent of his passes in his last three games, he threw two costly interceptions against Oklahoma last week. Webb still had Texas Tech put up an impressive 30 points against a top-15 national defense that was averaging 17.5 points per game prior to last week.

Quarterback Confusion in Stillwater

Mike Gundy has done a horrible job of handling his quarterback situation this year. He has bounced back and forth between J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf a few times in 2013. Chelf started the opener and was pulled after two series. The Cowboys turned to Walsh, but after throwing two interceptions in a quarter of action, and was yanked for Chelf. Chelf looked miserable last week, throwing for just 78 yards and completing 38.5 percent of his passes.

Key Player to Watch: Desmond Roland, RB, Oklahoma State

For a Cowboys team that has been struggling to find consistency through the air, Roland was a huge help last week as he rushed for 219-yards and two touchdowns against Iowa State. Roland and the Cowboys' rushing attack is the key to keeping the potent Red Raiders' offense off the field. If Roland can pile up big yardage it would go a long way toward an Oklahoma State victory.

Final Analysis:

While I like the rushing attack for Oklahoma State better, I just don't trust their passing game and quarterback play. Davis Webb has proven to be a consistent, big-play quarterback all year long. The Red Raiders will turn this into another shootout, a style of play in which they thrive.

Prediction: Texas Tech 38, Oklahoma State 24

Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Saturday, November 2, 2013 - 08:15
Path: /college-football/michigan-wolverines-vs-michigan-state-spartans-game-preview-and-prediction

Brady Hoke and the Michigan Wolverines travel to East Lansing to take on Mark Dantonio and their bitter in-state rivals the Michigan State Spartans at 3:30 pm ET on ABC. Though they may hail from the same state, these teams are very different. Michigan relies on a high-powered, big-play offense. The Spartans wear teams down with a suffocating defense and a consistent rushing attack. This looks to be the biggest game of the Brady Hoke era, as a loss will surely drop Michigan out of a spot in the Big Ten Championship game and a possible BCS bowl appearance. These two programs have met 105 times. The teams first played in 1898 and have met almost every year since 1910; the competition became a conference rivalry with Michigan State's entrance into the Big Ten in 1950. The Spartans will look to take the trophy back from the Wolverines with their second consecutive home win against their in-state rivals.

Three Things to Watch

Michigan Scoring Offense vs. Michigan State Scoring Defense

Michigan has the nation's eighth-best scoring offense, averaging an impressive 42.4 points per contest.

 The Wolverines put up a season-high 751 yards of total offense on Indiana last week. Devin Gardner has led a quick-strike attack that is capable of scoring at a moment's notice. They will likely meet their match with Mark Dantonio's stingy defensive unit. The Spartans' defense leads the country in touchdowns scored with five. They will look to add to the 17 overall turnovers the Wolverines have committed this year.

Quarterback Play

A large part of Michigan's turnover problems can be attributed to QB Devin Gardner. The senior has thrown 10 interceptions on the season. The good news is that since conference play started three weeks ago, he's only thrown two interceptions. When Michigan's ground game stalls, it's Gardner that picks up the slack. This season he's already rushed for 520 yards and nine touchdowns. He's averaging 5.5 yards per rush and has two 100-yard games. For the Spartans, they were shuffling at the quarterback position early in the year, but appear to have found their man in Connor Cook. Cook has stabilized the position, avoided turnovers and allowed the defense to be turned loose. Cook has been extremely efficient, completing 60 percent of his passes, while throwing for 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He played very well against Illinois and Indiana, but struggled to put points on the board against Purdue.

UM WR Jeremy Gallon vs. MSU CB Darqueze Dennard

This is the matchup to watch. Gallon is coming off of a monster, career game against Indiana. Gallon caught 14 balls for 369 yards a two touchdowns, making Calvin Johnson's effort against the Cowboys look rather pedestrian. He will face a tough corner in Dennard. Dennard is likely to be a first-round pick in the NFL Draft in April. The 5'11" corner is a good tackler and has two interceptions on the year. The smaller Gallon could struggle to get off the line against the stronger Dennard.

Player to Watch: Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB, Michigan

The Wolverines really need production in their running game outside of Gardner. While Toussaint is Michigan's leading rusher with 575 yards and 11 touchdowns, he's only averaging 3.7 yards per rush. In Michigan's loss to Penn State, he rushed for 27 yards on 27 attempts. He rushed for 151 yards on 32 carries against Indiana and Michigan won handily. Clearly, if Toussaint is able to be effective in establishing the run, it makes everything easier for the Michigan offense. It may also serve to buy Gardner a few extra seconds, as his pass protection has been spotty this year. Good luck to Fitz because he will try to do all of this against the nation's best rush defense. The Spartans have been incredible in allowing an average of 55 yards per game and just 2.1 yards per rush. The next closest team, Louisville, allows 80.5 rushing yards per game. This is far and away the nation's most productive rush defense, so Michigan will have its hands full.

Final Analysis:

I love Michigan State's defense, but this is far and away the best quarterback they've faced. And that's both in the air and on the ground. Devin Gardner, after struggling early in the season with turnovers, appears to have tuned things up. He won't duplicate his performance against Indiana, but I do think he will surprise people with his ability to slice through the Spartans' defense. I don't see Toussaint getting going on the ground, but I do expect Gardner to provide enough of a run threat to keep the linebackers' eyes in the backfield. At the end of the day, this game will play more like a shootout and that favors the Wolverines. An important factor to note is that weather will likely be a factor during this one as there will be a high chance for showers. This clearly favors the ground-and-pound ways of the home Spartans.

Prediction: Michigan 31, Michigan State 17

Michigan Wolverines vs. Michigan State Spartans Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Saturday, November 2, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-picks-against-spread-week-9

Locks of the Week
Two of the best home field advantages in the NFL host a pair of teams with a combined 2–12 record this season.

Seahawks (-16) vs. Buccaneers
Seattle’s average margin of victory at home is 20 points, including a 45–17 win over Jacksonville — Tampa’s misery-loving company in the two-team winless club.

Patriots (-6.5) vs. Steelers
Tom Brady was famously (or infamously) the Wizard of Oz’s Cowardly Lion for Halloween. Expect Brady-to-Gronkowski to roar against the staggering Steelers.

Straight Up Upsets
A couple of NFC East clubs will pull off low-number, mild shockers against the bottom half of the AFC West this week.

Eagles (+2.5) at Raiders
Nick Foles comes back from concussion to replace an injured Michael Vick, who was replaced by a rookie Matt Barkley last week. Chip Kelly wishes he still had Marcus Mariota.

Redskins (+1) vs. Chargers
San Diego will take the dreaded flight to the Eastern Time Zone for an early kickoff. But the triumphant return to form from RG3 will be what cooks the Chargers.

Backdoor Covers
One big number, one small number, but expect the same closer-than-expected results.

Vikings (+10) at Cowboys
Palestine, Texas, native Adrian Peterson returns to the Lone Star State to carry the Vikings to a single-digit loss on the big screen at Jerry’s House.

Rams (+3) vs. Titans
The Jeff Fisher Bowl will certainly be a field goal fest of ball-control, defense and staring contests between Fisher and his former team. Take the under (39.5) in this 17–16 game.

Sucker Bets
Steer clear of these games unless you’re a degenerate or a hometown homer who has to have action on all the action.

Panthers (-7.5) vs. Falcons
Cam Newton had 287 passing yards, 116 rushing yards and three total TDs in a 30–20 win when Atlanta visited Charlotte last year.

Saints (-6) at Jets
This matchup of Rob Ryan vs. Rex Ryan will be a Big Apple heavyweight bout just short of King Kong vs. Godzilla.

Chiefs (-3) at Bills
Alex Smith has posted an impressive 27–5–1 record over the past three seasons. That is serious “game management,” Captain Checkdown.

Ravens (-2.5) at Browns
Baltimore is 10–1 in games following its bye week since 2002 and a perfect 5–0 after the bye under coach John Harbaugh.

Colts (-2.5) at Texans
In two meetings last season, these AFC South rivals came away with a 1–1 record and a combined score of 45–45.

Monday Night Moolah
The oldest rivalry in football gives gamblers a chance to daaa-ble down on winnings or daaa-ble back on this week’s losses.

Packers (-10.5) vs. Bears
Chicago leads the all-time series 92–88–6. But the Cheeseheads from Title Town are riding a six-game winning streak over Bill Swerski’s Superfans from the Windy City.

A betting preview of every game (against the spread) on Sunday and Monday in Week 9.
Post date: Friday, November 1, 2013 - 14:43
Path: /nascar/truex-harvick-chase-leaders-highlight-nascars-texas-storylines

1. Martin Truex Jr.’s Texas Retribution  Martin Truex Jr.
He’s not in the Chase. He’s not contending for a title. Only three races remain. On the outside, his pressure is only to run up front and try to nab a win. He gets to, as they say, “go for broke.” These should be fun times for Martin Truex Jr., right?


Thanks to the Richmond scandal that saw NAPA leave Michael Waltrip Racing and Truex lose his 2014 ride, it’s been a scrambled few weeks. And to make matters worse, his performance has dipped during the Chase he was initially qualified to participate in.

It’s become a bit of a nasty spiral: while Truex has fought for a new job, he’s not doing so well in his expiring one.

Fortunately, Truex got to announce Friday at Texas that he has signed a deal with Furniture Row Racing for 2014. Might it be a good omen?

Truex was the dominant car for much of the April race and lost the event thanks to a shock that broke sometime around the final pit stop. He fought an ill-handling car to a second-place finish behind Kyle Busch — and subsequently was penalized when the broken piece left his car outside of NASCAR’s technical parameters in post-race inspection.

With the concerns of 2014 now gone, the focus for Truex gets to return solely to the track. That can only be good news.

2. Where does Kevin Harvick’s RCR fallout land?
The older, wiser version of Kevin Harvick returned quickly Sunday morning at Martinsville after Saturday’s abrupt outburst left his soon-to-be ex-team owner seething, fans chuckling and his Sprint Cup team in an uneasy limbo of supporting its driver while being loyal to the family writing the paychecks.

It was the right move — if not the fun one — for Harvick, still entrenched in the championship battle with now three races left, to apologize and try to distance his disparaging remarks about the long-term future of Richard Childress Racing. But the words Harvick used to smart off after the incident in the Camping World Truck Series incident are not quickly taken back in a series of pre-race interviews.

There the type of hidden thoughts that, when exposed, have the ability to linger. Apologizing doesn’t change what was thrown in the open — especially when it seems as bitter as Harvick’s initial tone.

Will that moment be the breaking point of the No. 29 team?

It’d be terribly unfortunate for everyone involved to have gone so deep in to a “lame duck” season with such success only to have to it fall apart as November begins.

3. Martinsville may buoy Matt Kenseth  Matt KensethIt can’t be lost on Jimmie Johnson that Matt Kenseth beat him head-to-head at Martinsville Speedway for just the fourth time in the 24 starts they’ve shared on the half-mile short track. That Kenseth was able to tighten the point spread on a track Johnson has so readily dominated has to be a creeping concern.

For Kenseth, the runner-up finish to Johnson’s teammate Jeff Gordon last Sunday had to feel like a remarkable dose of validation in his pursuit of Johnson and a first championship in the Chase format. Actually toppling NASCAR’s perennial kingpin in the championship race seemed to grow more feasible.

How will that influence Kenseth Sunday at a track that ranks among his best on the circuit?

It certainly can’t hurt. Kenseth owns 15 top-10 finishes, two wins and no finish worse than 12th since the spring race at Texas in 2010. Johnson, in his own right, has been awful good at Texas, as well. His worst finish in the last seven races is 14th, and he’s defending fall race winner.

Regardless, Kenseth shuffled the deck a bit at Martinsville. Johnson, by most predictions, should have built on his lead at the short track. Instead it was wiped clean. What will the fallout — if any — be for Johnson? And can Kenseth capitalize?

4. Spring results not indicative of Gordon’s, Earnhardt’s strength
Lost in the finishing order of the April race at Texas were two Hendrick drivers who could very well play a leading role in Sunday’s race.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished four laps down when a sequence of mistakes pulled him from a third-place running position just past halfway. Earnhardt first had a battery that went south, and expecting the team had to swap the car’s power source for a new one, he came to pit road.

While there, Earnhardt sped entering pit lane — his gauges had gone on the fritz, rendering him unable to realize pit road speed — and he soon was reminded that he had a switch in the car that could flip to a backup battery.

He immediately dropped to 34th and was so many laps down by that point that he could recover. He finished 29th.

Meanwhile, Gordon was a top-5 car until he suffered a broken suspension piece in the last 30 laps that forced him to the garage. After leading 15 laps, Gordon earned a 38th-place finish for his luck.

5. “Head games” officially a part of Chase at Texas, though impact remains limitedWithout fail, the idea of “head games” entered the Chase storylines during Friday’s early media visits at Texas. Matt Kenseth was asked by reporters at the track if he had any mental tricks that could impact Johnson’s ability to compete.

Kenseth, the sport’s king of deadpan, looked at Johnson standing nearby and said, “Oh, hey Jimmie,” before insisting he wasn’t smart enough to take that mental edge. But it’s likely not an intellect problem for the Ford driver. Kenseth probably remembers that verbal jabs of Johnson in the past — Denny Hamlin took some hearty verbal swings during the 2010 Chase — haven’t made a lick of difference.

Johnson is simply not a guy who gets rattled easily. Brad Keselowski can verify that fact by looking at the results of last fall’s Texas race, when Keselowski made a desperate, dangerous push to take the win from Johnson in the final laps. He came up short, even though Johnson had little to lose by playing conservatively for a second-place finish. Keselowski would win the title when Johnson faltered with mechanical trouble in the final two races.

All told, it might be Johnson’s typically unwavering performance as the season ends that is the biggest head game of them all.

Follow Geoffrey Miller on Twitter: @GeoffreyMiller

Geoffrey Miller highlights the five storylines to watch as the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit visits Texas Motor Speedway for the AAA Texas 500.
Post date: Friday, November 1, 2013 - 13:46
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-november-1-2013

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for Nov. 1.


• Jenny McCarthy is 41 today. To celebrate, here's a slideshow of Melissa McCarthy's lovely cousin.


• A little history last night: The third game-ending overtime safety in NFL annals. A walk-off safety. Choke on that, baseball.


• Also last night, Giovani Bernard had what might be the run of the year in the NFL so far.


So is Big Papi a Hall of Famer? And another question: Why hasn't the PED taint stuck to Ortiz like it has to A-Rod?


• We think we're tough on our coaches in the U.S. The Edmonton Oilers coach got heckled with "you suck" by elementary school students.


What if baseball season were only 16 games long? I love little thought experiments like this.


• In case you're wondering why offenses are so unstoppable, here's your reason: This year's crop of college quarterbacks might just be the best ever.


A teacher who showed up at school on heroin could muster only a two-word comment: "Roll Tide."


We no longer need to wonder what Heidi Klum will look like at 90. Not that we were.


Predictions for Week 10 in the SEC.


• Another season, another endless Blake Griffin highlight reel. Here he is converting three alley-oop dunks in 37 seconds.




-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Friday, November 1, 2013 - 10:58
Path: /college-football/minnesota-or-duke-which-team-bigger-surprise-6-2

Minnesota and Duke are two of the biggest surprise teams in college football this season. The Golden Gophers and Blue Devils are 6-2 after eight games, and both teams are expected to play in a bowl for the second straight season.

Despite the absence of coach Jerry Kill on the sidelines, Minnesota has scored impressive wins over Northwestern and Nebraska. At 2-2 in Big Ten play, the Golden Gophers are a longshot, but still alive in the Big Ten Legends Division.

Duke scored its first win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg last Saturday, giving the Blue Devils a four-game winning streak headed into the bye week.

Under coach David Cutcliffe, Duke has made progress each season and has an outside chance at winning the Coastal Division, especially with a matchup against Miami still remaining in November.

Minnesota or Duke: Which team is the bigger surprise at 6-2?

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Both teams have been a great story this season, but I have to go with Duke. The Blue Devils have made steady improvement under coach David Cutcliffe and are likely to make back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history. Although Duke made a bowl last season, the combined win total of the Blue Devils’ five victories over BCS teams was just 24-36. Duke also closed out the season by losing five consecutive games, including three defeats by 18 points or more. Minnesota also finished 6-7 last year, but I thought the Golden Gophers were in better shape in terms of overall personnel. Quarterback Philip Nelson and six starters returned from a defense that ranked fifth in the Big Ten in fewest yards allowed. Considering both teams have already matched their win total from last year, 2013 is already a huge success for both Minnesota and Duke. And with one month to go in the season, the Golden Gophers and Blue Devils have a chance at eight victories this year.

Mark Ross
Before the season started, Athlon picked Duke to finish 5-7 with a 2-6 mark in the ACC. The Blue Devils (6-2, 2-2 ACC) have already surpassed that win total and are guaranteed of a second straight bowl game under David Cutcliffe, which is a first in program history. This season's team is statistically better than the 2012 6-7 squad across the board, but the improvement is visibly apparent on the defensive side. Last season, the defense finished 101st or worse in the nation in all four of the major categories — total, scoring, rushing and passing. This season, Duke is among the top 40 teams nationally in both points allowed and passing defense, and its lowest ranking in the four major categories is 69th in rushing defense. In 2012, the Blue Devils allowed nearly 470 yards and more than 36 points per game. This fall, those numbers have dropped to 384 yards and less than 23 points per contest. Cutcliffe is known more as an offensive-minded coach, highlighted by his close ties to Peyton and Eli Manning, but this season's Duke's team is well-rounded and getting the job done on both sides of the ball. The last time the Blue Devils won seven or more games in a season was nearly 20 years ago when Fred Goldsmith went 8-4. That also was the last time Duke went bowling, until last season. The Blue Devils are going bowling again in 2103 and still have four games to play before they find out where. Well done, Coach Cut.

David Fox
Any time Duke is bowl eligible before November, it’s a surprise. Certainly, Minnesota is a surprise given the adversity of the season with Jerry Kill’s absence and changing quarterbacks. But I think we expected Minnesota to have the personnel and defense to take the next step in the third year in Kill’s system. On the other hand, Duke is bowl eligible with half of those wins coming on the road. True, Memphis and Virginia aren’t very good, but Duke in the past would lose games like that. More than that, Duke is winning with a new quarterback who replaced Sean Renfree. Generally, you’d pick against a team starting like Duke replacing a productive veteran with not just one QB, but two (Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone). The biggest turnaround, though, is the defense. The defense kept Duke from winning more than six games a year ago. In 2013, though, the Blue Devils are holding opponents to 86 fewer yards per game than a year ago. That improvement gave Duke the edge against Virginia Tech and means Duke could win seven, eight or nine games during the regular season.

Minnesota or Duke: Which team is the bigger surprise at 6-2?
Post date: Friday, November 1, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/florida-gators-vs-georgia-bulldogs-2013-preview-and-prediction

The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party could be the final hope for Georgia and Florida’s SEC East title hopes.

South Carolina’s win over Missouri last Saturday changed the outlook of the East Division title picture. The Tigers were on the verge of taking a commanding lead in the East Division, and with a game against Kentucky remaining, the race to win the SEC East was essentially over.

The Gamecocks' victory opened the door for Georgia and Florida, but the loser of Saturday’s game in Jacksonville is likely out of the mix for the East Division title.

Florida and Georgia were considered two of the top-15 teams in the nation this preseason, but both teams have been hit hard by injuries. The Bulldogs lost running back Keith Marshall and receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley for the season due to injuries, leaving the offense shorthanded with proven playmakers. The Gators lost quarterback Jeff Driskel with a leg injury against Tennessee, forcing unproven backup Tyler Murphy into the starting role. Defensive tackle (and likely All-American) Dominique Easley is also done for the year, while running back Matt Jones suffered a season-ending knee injury against LSU.

Florida owns a 48-40-2 series edge against Georgia. The Gators have won five out of the last eight meetings against the Bulldogs, but coach Mark Richt’s team has claimed the last two games in this series.

Florida vs. Georgia

Kickoff: 3:30 ET
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Georgia – 3

Three Things to Watch

Georgia’s Wide Receivers vs. Florida’s Secondary
The Gators have been the toughest team in the SEC against the pass. Opponents are averaging just 178 yards per game in SEC play, and Florida has allowed just two touchdown passes. With a depleted receiving corps, can Georgia move the ball through the air? Quarterback Aaron Murray has completed 45 of 95 passes for 632 yards, six touchdowns and seven interceptions in his career against Florida. But Murray is facing perhaps his biggest task against the Gators, as the Bulldogs are thin on proven bodies at receiver. Junior Michael Bennett is slated to return after missing two games due to a knee injury. However, Chris Conley is likely out, which leaves Rhett McGowan and Rantavious Wooten (combined 75 career catches) as the top options. Is Bennett ready to handle a full snap count this week? Considering the options at receiver, Georgia would be wise to get tight ends Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome more involved in the offense. With a secondary featuring three standout cornerbacks in Loucheiz Purifoy, Marcus Roberson and freshman standout Vernon Hargreaves III, Murray has to be precise with his passes, especially with an opportunistic defensive backfield ready to pounce.

Florida QB Tyler Murphy and RB Kelvin Taylor
Florida’s offense has struggled mightily this season. The Gators rank 13th in SEC-only games in total offense and yards per play, averaging just 306 yards per game and 4.6 yards per touch. This unit has not scored more than 17 points in its last two games and its 31 points scored against Tennessee was the high mark of 2013. Much like Georgia, injuries hindered the development of the offense for the Gators, but the offensive line remains a huge concern. Florida has allowed 13 sacks in SEC play and averages just 3.5 yards per rush. Quarterback Tyler Murphy has not passed for a touchdown in the Gators’ last two games, but the junior will have an opportunity to make plays against a Georgia secondary that is allowing opponents to complete 62.3 percent of its throws. Murphy has to play better, but he also needs more help from the supporting cast. Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor has provided a spark for the ground attack in the last two weeks, rushing for 126 yards and one touchdown on 22 attempts. After playing well in limited action, expect Taylor to see more opportunities on Saturday. For Florida to beat Georgia, Murphy and Taylor need to have one of their best games of the season.

The offensive lines
This position doesn’t have the glamour of the quarterback or skill position concerns in this game, but both Florida and Georgia’s offensive lines will be under fire on Saturday afternoon. As mentioned above, the Gators have experienced plenty of issues from their offensive line this season, but the Bulldogs front seven is a work in progress. With only three returning starters, Georgia ranks ninth in the SEC in total defense and if you include non-conference games from 2013 in the stat sheet, the Bulldogs rank last in the SEC in points allowed. While the overall production hasn’t been particularly impressive, Georgia has recorded 16 sacks in five SEC games. With the troubles of Florida’s offensive line, Bulldogs’ linebackers Leonard Floyd and Jordan Jenkins (eight sacks, 28 quarterback hurries) could have a huge game. The Gators’ defensive line isn’t quite as intimidating without tackle Dominique Easley, but ends Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler are active off the edge.

Key Player: Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

Gurley has missed Georgia’s last three games with an ankle injury suffered against LSU. When healthy, the sophomore is arguably the top running back in the nation. Gurley has 450 yards and 71 carries this season, averaging 6.3 yards per rush. Florida leads the SEC against the run, holding opponents to just 100.7 yards per game on the ground. With Gurley back in the lineup, he should give the Bulldogs much-needed balance and will help to take some of the pressure off of quarterback Aaron Murray.

Final Analysis

Considering all of the injuries accumulated by both teams, a close, low-scoring game should be expected. Florida has the better defense, and the bye week should help quarterback Tyler Murphy get closer to full strength after a shoulder injury suffered against LSU. However, even with the Gators’ edge on defense, Georgia will find a way to win this game on the strength of senior quarterback Aaron Murray.

Prediction: Georgia 24, Florida 20

Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs 2013 Preview and Prediction
Post date: Friday, November 1, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-week-10-picks

Like it or not, Las Vegas rarely gets it wrong, so tracking betting lines should always be a big part of each football weekend — even if there are no bets on the line. If you follow me on Twitter (of course you do), you'll know that I added Notre Dame to my locks last week early on Saturday morning. That saved my day and I broke even for the third straight week. Not winning is getting old, but not losing is always fun. Let's try to get back into the black this weekend.

2013 Record Against the Spread: 28-22-1 (3-3 last week)

Week 10 Picks of the Week:

Minnesota (+10) at Indiana
This is one of the odder lines of the weekend, so there must be something that Vegas knows that we don’t. Behind a power rushing attack, Minnesota is surging after back-to-back upsets over Nebraska and Northwestern. As a double-digit underdog in both cases. Look for the power running game to play another huge factor against a team like Indiana that struggles to stop the run. Prediction: Minnesota +10

Auburn (-8) at Arkansas

The Tigers are 6-2 against the spread this season and the Razorbacks are 2-6 against the number. The Hogs have been downright atrocious throughout their current five-game losing streak. Arkansas has scored 17 total points in the last three games combined and have been under 300 yards of offense in four of the last five. Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall is a game-time decision and should he play, the Tigers will cover easily. Prediction: Auburn -8

Georgia (-2.5) at Florida
Running back Todd Gurley returns to the field, giving quarterback Aaron Murray a complementary piece for the first time in weeks. And the once-dominant Florida run defense has completely fallen apart after Dominique Easley tore his ACL. The Gators have allowed 163.7 yards rushing per game and 4.7 yards per carry since they lost their star defensive tackle. Both teams still have an outside chance to win the SEC East and both are coming off a bye week, so expect a good game. Prediction: Georgia -2.5

USC (+3.5) at Oregon State
The Trojans don’t have a permanent head coach and are under 50 scholarship players for the third straight week. Oregon State is at home and should be angry after the poor offensive showing against Stanford last weekend. The Beavers have consistently been a thorn in the Trojans' side, winning three straight at in Corvallis and four of the last five. Those wins include victories over powerhouse USC teams in 2000, ‘06, ’08 and ’10. Prediction: Oregon State -3.5 

Week 10 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC

Top 25 Picks Against the Spread:

Note: games with FCS opponents won't be included each week

Top 25 GamesMitch LightBraden GallSteven LassanDavid Fox
No. 7 Miami (+21.5) at No. 3 Florida St
No. 8 Ohio St (-31.5) at Purdue
No. 8 Clemson (-16.5) at Virginia
Tennessee (+10.5) at No. 9 Missouri
No. 11 Auburn (-8) at Arkansas
UTEP (+45.5) at No. 12 Texas A&M
Miss. St (+12) at No. 14 South Carolina
No. 18 Okla. St (+2.5) at No. 15 Texas Tech
Nevada (+20.5) at No. 16 Fresno St
No. 17 N. Illinois (-23.5) at UMass
Colorado (+27) at No. 20 UCLA
No. 21 Michigan (+5.5) at No. 22 Michigan St
No. 24 Wisconsin (-9.5) at Iowa
Navy (+16.5) at No. 25 Notre Dame
Last Week:9-1010-99-106-13


Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 10 Picks
Post date: Friday, November 1, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Syracuse Orange, College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-syracuse-preview

This preview and more on Syracuse and the ACC are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 9 Syracuse Facts & Figures
Last season: 30-10 (11-7 Big East)
Postseason: NCAA Final Four
Coach: Jim Boeheim (920-314 at Syracuse)
ACC projection: Second
Postseason projection: NCAA Sweet 16
The Syracuse Orange are coming off a most unlikely trip to the Final Four. It’s still difficult to believe that a team that lost four of its last five regular-season games, including a 61–39 embarrassment at Georgetown in the  finale, somehow found itself playing in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta a month later.

But Syracuse did just that. First, the Orange advanced to the Big East Tournament championship game, a run that included an overtime revenge-flavored win over Georgetown. Then Syracuse made it to the Final Four for the fifth time in school history.

Now, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim faces a new challenge as he enters his 38th season at the helm at alma mater. Syracuse, a charter member of the Big East Conference, joins the ACC this season.

“It’s a tough league, but we were in a tough league before,’’ Boeheim says. “It’s doesn’t get any tougher, but it’ll be different.’’


To get right to the point, Syracuse will have one of the best frontcourts in the entire country. While the losses of Carter-Williams, Triche and Southerland are significant, Syracuse fans exhaled a sigh of relief last June when C.J. Fair announced that he would return for his senior season. Fair, a versatile 6-8 forward, led the Orange in both scoring and rebounding last season. He also made 46.9 percent of his 3-point attempts. He will be a candidate for All-America honors and the ACC’s Player of the Year award.

At the other forward spot, expect sophomore Jerami Grant to enjoy a breakout season. Grant, another in Syracuse’s line of long, lean and athletic forwards, averaged just 3.9 points as a freshman. But when offered more playing time due to injuries plus James Southerland’s midseason suspension, Grant responded. In eight games between Jan. 12 and Feb. 13, Grant averaged 8.6 points and 5.4 rebounds.

In the middle, Boeheim has the pleasure and the challenge of sorting through three solid centers. Rakeem Christmas, a 6-9 junior, started all 40 games last season, but Baye Moussa Keita at times was the more reliable player, especially on defense. Meanwhile, Dajuan Coleman was always considered the best offensive player of the three centers, though he struggled as a freshman. Coleman missed several games after mid-season knee surgery and saw only sparse playing time after his return.

Freshmen Tyler Roberson and B.J. Johnson will most likely serve as backups at the forward spots, while fellow first-year player Chinonso Obokoh is a probable redshirt candidate due to the log-jam at center.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Syracuse must totally rebuild its backcourt. Michael Carter-Williams entered the NBA Draft after a sterling sophomore season. He went from being the fourth guard in a three-guard rotation as a freshman to one of the top point guards in the country. But Syracuse also lost Brandon Triche, who started every game of his four-year Syracuse career and was a part of more wins than any player in SU history.

Boeheim will turn to freshman Tyler Ennis to be his starting point guard. Ennis, a native of Ontario, Canada, led St. Benedict’s (N.J.) Prep to the championship game in the National High School Invitational last April. He was the leading scorer at the FIBA Under-19 World Championships in July. Ennis’ backup could be another freshman in Ron Patterson, a former Indiana commit who spent last year at prep school.

There will be a battle between sophomores Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney to see who starts at the 2-guard spot. Gbinije sat out last year after transferring from Duke. Cooney endured a rough freshman year, making just 26.7 percent of his 3-point shots.  


Freshman point guard Tyler Ennis and Duke transfer Michael Gbinije could form the Orange’s starting backcourt. Tyler Roberson and B.J. Johnson figure prominently in back-up roles at the forward spots. Ron Patterson, a natural off-guard, might see time as the back-up to Ennis at the point. Chinonso Obokoh, a 6-10 center, enters a crowded position and could redshirt.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 4. Jim Boeheim has taken Syracuse to the Final Four in four consecutive decades, reaching the NCAA’s final weekend in 1987, 1996, 2003 and last season. Only three other coaches can match that feat — Mike Krzyzewski, Dean Smith and Rick Pitino.

Syracuse’s move from the Big East to the ACC doesn’t figure to alter the Orange’s winning ways. Boeheim remains in charge. The forwards are still long and athletic. The guards are big and tall. The zone remains the defense of choice.

Fair is a top-notch talent who gives Syracuse leadership and reliable scoring. The three-player combination at center provides Boeheim will plenty of choices. Grant could be the next big thing. And the early returns on Ennis and Gbinije sound promising. If Boeheim finds answers in the backcourt, the Orange will challenge for the ACC crown in their first year in the league.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
9. Syracuse
10. North Carolina
11. Ohio State
12. Michigan

13. Marquette
14. New Mexico
15. Notre Dame
16. Creighton
17. Tennessee
18. VCU
19. UNLV
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

College Basketball: 2013-14 Syracuse Preview
Post date: Friday, November 1, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-michigan-preview

This preview and more on Michigan and the Big Ten are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 12 Michigan Facts & Figures
Last season: 31-8 (12-6 Big Ten)
Postseason: NCAA runner-up
Coach: John Beilein (122-85 at Michigan)
Big Ten projection: Third
Postseason projection: NCAA Sweet 16
John Beilein sat in the front row of the Barclays Center in late June with a smile on his face. About to begin his seventh season at Michigan, Beilein watched as the two best players he’s ever coached had their names called during the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft.

But now, for Beilein, life without superstar point guard Trey Burke and veteran sharpshooter Tim Hardaway Jr. officially begins. And one season after taking the Wolverines to the national title game for the first time since 1993, the expectations have now been raised.

“That’s part of the business you have to go through right now,” says Beilein. “If you don’t recruit good enough players (you won’t win). If you recruit really good players, they could go pro and you’re back to where you started.”

Michigan lost its two best players to the NBA, but it didn’t lose everything. Expected first-round picks Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III shocked many by announcing they’d be back for a sophomore season.


At 6-10, 255-pounds, McGary was expected to be the Wolverines’ best big man prospect since Chris Webber. And though it took him about five months to figure everything out, he lived up to that billing during a wild NCAA Tournament run that turned him into a legit star. The Indiana native averaged 14.3 points and 10.7 rebounds in the Wolverines’ six NCAA games, highlighted by his 25-point, 14-rebound effort against Kansas.

McGary will anchor Michigan’s front line this season, and he’ll likely do so at multiple positions. Beilein wants McGary to play both power forward and center, and wants to continue expanding his game — as a shooter, as a transition player and a finisher.

Who plays next to him, though, remains a mystery.

If Michigan opts to go big, something Beilein rarely does, McGary will be joined up front by either senior Jordan Morgan or junior Jon Horford — two role players who should see extended time either way next season. Morgan averaged a solid 4.3 rebounds in only 15.9 minutes as a junior.

If the Wolverines go small, Robinson (6-6, 220) will be back at the stretch-4 position, giving Michigan incredible versatility. Robinson has stated he’d like to spend more time at his natural position, small forward, and Beilein says the smooth wing will likely play with the ball in his hands more often this season.

“I don’t know how close I was to leaving, I always wanted to come back here and stay,” Robinson says. “I’m going to have a chance to come in and hopefully be a leader for this team.”

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Burke and Hardaway are gone, but Michigan’s cupboard isn’t bare.

Incoming freshman point guard Derrick Walton was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Michigan as a high school senior, and 5-star shooting guard Zak Irvin was Indiana’s Mr. Basketball.

Walton will be joined at the point by tournament sensation Spike Albrecht, but even both players combined will have a tough time replicating what Burke was able to bring to the table.

Walton has been committed to the program since 2011, and he watched Burke’s entire development from afar.

“The coaches always told me to watch Trey, watch the point guard position, because that’s where I’d be playing,” he says. “He said it was a point guard’s dream. He’s right. They let you play. They let you create. But it’s important for me to be my own person, I can’t be somebody else.”

At shooting guard, Michigan has a logjam. Sophomore Nik Stauskas, who shot 44.0 percent from 3-point range, will likely slide down and spend more time at the 2, while improving sophomore Caris LeVert will also compete for minutes.


Michigan’s highly touted class is highlighted by 5-star shooting guard Zak Irvin, who claimed Indiana’s Mr. Basketball last season. The club’s most important newcomer is 4-star point guard Derrick Walton, who is looking to fill Trey Burke’s shoes as the team’s floor leader alongside Spike Albrecht. Power forward Mark Donnal, a 4-star big man with an outside touch, rounds out the class.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 23. Guard Spike Albrecht scored a total of 23 points in Michigan’s two Final Four games. He scored a total of 22 during the 18-game Big Ten season.

Michigan has plenty of work to do without Burke running the show. However, the Wolverines avoided the doomsday scenario when both Robinson and McGary opted to return.

Beilein, who has established himself as one of the elite coaches in the game, has enough talent on his roster to remain in the top tier in the rugged Big Ten. By the time March rolls around, don’t be surprised if Michigan has emerged as a favorite to reach the Final Four for the second straight season.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
9. Syracuse
10. North Carolina
11. Ohio State
12. Michigan

13. Marquette
14. New Mexico
15. Notre Dame
16. Creighton
17. Tennessee
18. VCU
19. UNLV
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

College Basketball: 2013-14 Michigan Preview
Post date: Friday, November 1, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-9-award-watch-2013

The Heisman is but one award, and one award isn’t enough to contain the best of college football.

While we love prognosticating who will win college football’s most coveted individual trophy, we also love the glut of postseason awards that go to each position, each with a nod to the game’s history from Davey O’Brien and Doak Walker to Bronko Nagurski and Jim Thorpe to Ray Guy and Lou Groza.

Everyone tracks the progress in the Heisman race, but Athlon Sports will try to keep an eye on who will take home college football’s positional awards.

Here’s our look at the “other” trophies through the ninth week of the season.

Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Our leader: Oregon’s Marcus Mariota

Mariota completed all 10 of his pass attempts in the second half as Oregon pulled away from UCLA last week. Mariota has 20 touchdown passes without an interception. No quarterback since at least 2007 has finished a season with 20 touchdowns and fewer than three picks.
Others: Oregon State’s Sean Mannion, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Baylor’s Bryce Petty

Doak Walker (Top running back)

Our leader: Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey
Carey is quietly carrying Arizona’s offense single-handedly, leading the nation with 153.3 rushing yards per game. With four touchdowns against Colorado, Carey has 10 scores in six games.
Others: Western Kentucky’s Antonio Andrews, Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon, Washington’s Bishop Sankey, Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk

Biletnikoff (Top wide receiver)

Our leader: Texas A&M’s Mike Evans
Oregon State’s Brandon Cooks still leads every receiving category, but Evans is second with 1,101 yards and 11 touchdowns ... on 37 fewer receptions. Evans also averages 22.9 yards per catch, most for any receiver with more than 40 catches.
Others: Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks, Baylor’s Antwan Goodley, Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews, Baylor’s Tevin Reese, Colorado’s Paul Richardson, Penn State’s Allen Robinson

Mackey (Top tight end)

Our leader: Texas Tech’s Jace Amaro

Amaro had a fumble against Oklahoma, but he remains the nation’s most productive tight end. He has caught at least eight passes in seven consecutive games and at least 119 in the last three.
Others: North Carolina’s Eric Ebron

Outland (Top interior lineman)

Our leader: Baylor’s Cyril Richardson
Given stiff competition at quarterback, running back and receiver, Richardson may be Baylor’s best best for an individual award on the Baylor offense despite the prolific numbers.
Others: Oregon’s Hroniss Grasu, Oklahoma’s Gabe Ikard, Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio, Georgia Tech’s Shaq Mason, Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews, Stanford’s David Yankey

Nagurski/Bednarik (Defensive player of the year)

Our leader: Stanford’s Trent Murphy

Anthony Barr and Michael Sam are coming off losses, and Kyle Van Noy had two tackles against Boise State. In that case, it’s a good time to take a look at Murphy. The Stanford linebacker has anchored the defense with 10 tackles for a loss in the last four games, including dominant defensive performances against UCLA and Oregon State.
Others: UCLA’s Anthony Barr, Clemson’s Vic Beasley, Missouri’s Michael Sam, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, Stanford’s Shayne Skov

Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)

Our leader: Murphy

Others: UCLA’s Anthony Barr, Clemson’s Vic Beasley, Michigan State’s Shilique Calhoun, Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald, Missouri’s Michael Sam, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, BYU’s Kyle Van Noy

Butkus (Top linebacker)

Our leader: Murphy
Others: UCLA’s Anthony Barr, Wisconsin’s Chris Borland, Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier, Stanford’s Shayne Skov, BYU’s Kyle Van Noy

Thorpe (Top defensive back)

Our leader: Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner

Joyner is one of the nation’s most versatile DBs, recording an interception, three forced fumbles and four tackles for a loss this season. He’ll have a chance to shine again this week against Miami.
Others: Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard, Oregon’s Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, Virginia Tech’s Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller, TCU’s Jason Verrett

Lou Groza (Top kicker)

Our leader: Oklahoma’s Michael Hunnicutt
The Sooners’ kicker has made 12 of his last 13 field goals and 16 of 18 for the season.
Others: Texas Tech’s Ryan Bustin, Maryland’s Brad Craddock, Arizona State’s Zane Gonzalez

Ray Guy (Top punter)

Our leader: Miami (Ohio)’s Zac Murphy
Murphy leads the nation at 48.1 yards per kick on 6.8 punts per game.

Others: Ole Miss’ Tyler Campbell, Tennessee’s Michael Palardy, Iowa State's Kirby Van Der Kamp

Freshman of the year

Our leader: Florida State’s Jameis Winston

Winston is leading a national championship contending team while making a case for the Heisman. Winston continued FSU’s hot starts by completing his 11 of 14 passes for 228 yards with three touchdowns against NC State ... in the first quarter.
Others: Arkansas’s Alex Collins, Virginia Tech’s Kendall Fuller, Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg, Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III

Coach of the year
Our leader: Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher

Florida State has been dominant whether its facing NC State, Maryland or Clemson. The Seminoles are poised to have their best season since the Bobby Bowden glory years.

Others: Baylor’s Art Briles, Miami’s Al Golden, Tulane’s Curtis Johnson, Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury, Houston’s Tony Levine, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Missouri’s Gary Pinkel

Broyles Award (Top assistant)

Our leader: Michigan State’s Pat Narduzzi
The Spartans are allowing 54.9 rushing yards per game. No other team is allowing fewer than 80 yards on the ground per game. Michigan State also leads the nation with 215.5 yards allowed per game, nearly 30 fewer than the next best team.
Others: Baylor’s Phil Bennett, LSU’s Cam Cameron, Florida State’s Jeremy Pruitt, Texas’ Greg Robinson, Alabama’s Kirby Smart

A&M's Mike Evans making push for top receiver honors
Post date: Friday, November 1, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-north-carolina-preview

This preview and more on North Carolina and the ACC are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 10 North Carolina Facts & Figures
Last season: 25-11 (12-6 ACC)
Postseason: NCAA Elite Eight
Coach: Roy Williams (282-79 at North Carolina)
ACC projection: Third
Postseason projection: NCAA Sweet 16
Roy Williams warned North Carolina fans that they shouldn’t get used to the small lineups that sparked UNC’s surge in the second half of last season. He wasn’t kidding.

The Tar Heels enter 2013-14 with plenty of size up front and paper-thin depth on the perimeter as they try to get back to the Final Four for the first time since 2009. As emphasis on dribble penetration, floor spacing, and 3-point shooting increases nationwide, UNC could be the rare team whose success will depend upon post play.

The Tar Heels have six players who stand 6-8 or taller, and each one has played significant minutes in the past or figures to be in the rotation this season. The backcourt is a different story. With sharpshooter P.J. Hairston (team-high 14.6 points per game last season) suspended during the summer, UNC could begin the season with only two true wings.

The unbalanced personnel figures to create a style of play much different from the one the Tar Heels used a year ago, when they attempted more 3-pointers than any other UNC team under Williams.


UNC has plenty of big men who could start at schools all over the country. Forward James Michael McAdoo, whose size and athleticism have earned him NBA buzz since high school, is the most accomplished of the group. After a lackluster sophomore season in which he shot just 44.5 percent from the floor, McAdoo increased his offseason work in an effort to improve his free throw shooting (57.8 percent) and overall offensive efficiency.

Also in the mix at forward are Brice Johnson, who showed a knack for scoring as a freshman, and hustle-minded Jackson Simmons. Freshman Isaiah Hicks figures to push for playing time because of his athleticism and ability to run the floor.

UNC has plenty of bulk at center in sophomore Joel James and highly skilled freshman Kennedy Meeks, who is working to improve his conditioning. James never got going as a freshman, but he has the potential to be a major contributor on both ends of the floor. Desmond Hubert, who started 18 games a year ago, will resume his limited role as a defensive specialist.

No UNC frontcourt player is especially suited to playing small forward, but McAdoo, Johnson, and Hicks are athletic enough to masquerade there if the Tar Heels go with a big lineup.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


UNC almost had too many wing players a year ago. But with Hairston finding off-court trouble during the summer and Reggie Bullock and Dexter Strickland departing, now the Tar Heels might not have enough. Sophomore J.P. Tokoto, who could move into a starting role, will be counted on to provide more than his trademark awe-inspiring dunks. He is not a proficient outside shooter, but he has the athleticism to become a force on defense.

At the other wing, fifth-year senior Leslie McDonald will have the biggest role of his career. McDonald is somewhat of a designated shooter, having made 37 percent of his 3-point tries over his last two seasons.

Marcus Paige made strides as a freshman starter at the point, becoming a threat from 3-point range as last season progressed. Paige likely will end up playing significant minutes at shooting guard because of UNC’s wing shortage and the arrival of freshman point guard Nate Britt. Britt was an adept passer in high school and will have a chance to earn major minutes if he makes a quick transition to the college game. Luke Davis returns as the third point guard.


Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks bring different abilities to UNC’s crowded frontcourt. Hicks is athletic and adept at running the floor, although he needs to add strength and back-to-the basket moves. Meeks, meanwhile, is not an elite athlete. He is a good low-post scorer and skilled passer, especially on outlets, with good hands. Nate Britt is a quick floor general with savvy who will get immediate playing time at the point.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 1.6. UNC averaged 1.6 rebounds per game more than its opponents last season, the lowest rebound margin for a Roy Williams-coached team since Williams’ first season at Kansas (1988-89).

Williams is used to juggling players in his up-tempo scheme, but he hasn’t seen a puzzle quite like this one before. The Tar Heels have an imperfect roster in two ways: They are out of balance with their post/perimeter mix, and they lack the proven stud or two that the best Tar Heel teams usually feature.

That said, UNC has enough talent to finish near the top of a new-look ACC that will feature Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame for the first time. The Tar Heels can reach that potential as long as they maintain good health on the perimeter and consistently find ways to impose their will in the big-vs.-small contrast of styles that they will encounter on a nightly basis.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
9. Syracuse
10. North Carolina
11. Ohio State
12. Michigan

13. Marquette
14. New Mexico
15. Notre Dame
16. Creighton
17. Tennessee
18. VCU
19. UNLV
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

College Basketball: 2013-14 North Carolina Preview
Post date: Friday, November 1, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-2013-14-ohio-state-preview

This preview and more on Ohio State and the Big Ten are available in the Athlon Sports 2013-14 College Basketball Preseason Annual. The magazine is available online or on newsstands everywhere.

No. 11 Ohio State Facts & Figures
Last season: 29-8 (13-5 Big Ten)
Postseason: NCAA Elite Eight
Coach: Thad Matta (250-73 at Ohio State)
Big Ten projection: Second
Postseason projection: NCAA Sweet 16
Unfortunately for Thad Matta, Ohio State’s outlook begins with who is no longer around. That’s because forward Deshaun Thomas and his Big Ten-leading 19.8 points per game are gone, along with the reliable services of post man Evan Ravenel.

Considering that center Amir Williams is far from a finished product and struggles to maintain intensity, the exhausted eligibility of Ravenel is noteworthy.

Thomas, meanwhile, leaves a rather gaping hole. The free-wheeling lefty led the Buckeyes in 29 of their 37 games as a junior last season, and his offensive creativity will be sorely missed.

Now the good news: Matta has the program at an elite level despite having to overcome early NBA defections from the likes of Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., Kosta Koufos, Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger over the years, and there is plenty of athleticism and tenacity left on the roster.

Senior Aaron Craft is the catalyst on both ends of the floor and should receive help once again from Shannon Scott, who made major strides last season. Lenzelle Smith Jr. is yet another proven performer at guard.

On the wing, the Buckeyes have three face-up forwards in the 6-7 range in LaQuinton Ross, Sam Thompson and freshman Marc Loving, who all bring an array of gifts to the table.


Williams represents OSU’s very limited post game, and while he’s the team’s lone shot-eraser, he also isn’t nearly as adept at help defense and shutting down pick-and-roll plays as Ravenel. A big growth year from the 6-11 Williams would be a boon for the Buckeyes, but may not be crucial. Matta is more than willing to play a small lineup this season. Plus, Ohio State is blessed with a lengthy shutdown defender in Thompson and will be able to create mismatches on offense with Ross, who stands a legit 6-8.

Ross shot forward in the 2013 postseason with huge threes and athletic finishes at the basket, causing Arizona coach Sean Miller to label him a “future star.” He could pick up a lot of the scoring load left behind by Thomas. Ross averaged 8.3 points in only 16.9 minutes as a sophomore.

Loving provides even more shooting and versatility and could be an ideal fit as a 4-man in Matta’s system. However, he and Thompson are not polished rebounders. Meanwhile, Trey McDonald, athletic and decently skilled, is still trying to find a spot in Matta’s rotation. He played in only 19 games last season.

2013-14 Conference Previews
ACC | American | Big 12 | Big East
Big Ten | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC


Craft has carved out a well-deserved reputation as an elite defender and intense competitor. Now the challenge for Craft is to add onto last season’s averages of 10.0 points and 4.6 assists per game. When asked what new full-time assistant coach and former Duke point guard Greg Paulus might do for the senior, Matta jokes, “Hopefully he can get him to shoot 47 percent from the 3-point line for starters. That would be good.”

The coaches actually would accept Craft simply taking and making a few more important jumpers — like the trey he splashed against Iowa State that put the Buckeyes in the Sweet 16.

Scott is a minimal threat from the perimeter — he hit only 11 3-pointers in ’12-13 — but gives OSU a second ball-handler and another menacing on-ball defender. He’s especially skilled at creating opportunities for others with the shot clock winding down.

The off-guard position is interesting with Smith in the role of steady senior, lanky Amedeo Della Valle capable of providing a spark, and freshman Kameron Williams a potential microwave off the bench.


One of the top forward prospects in the Midwest, Marc Loving earned Ohio’s “Mr. Basketball” and averaged 21.2 points and 8.4 rebounds per game as a prep senior. Still, Loving is a finesse player who will have to adapt to Big Ten physicality. Kameron Williams is a deluxe scorer who can stroke it from deep and already has an effective floater.

Final Analysis
Factoid: 7. Ohio State has had at least one player drafted in each of the last seven years, the longest such streak in the nation.

Matta demands constant effort and smarts on defense, and the results have been borderline spectacular over the years. Ohio State, in fact, has been one of the best teams in the country at defending without fouling, and that needs to be — and should be — a calling card once again.

The offense will jell eventually with Ross poised for a breakout season, and the ball movement leading to shared wealth. Newcomers Loving and Williams should augment nicely.

Rebounding, however, could be at a premium. The Buckeyes will need a collected effort on the backboards if they are to again compete for a Big Ten title.

2013-14 Preseason Top 25
9. Syracuse
10. North Carolina
11. Ohio State
12. Michigan

13. Marquette
14. New Mexico
15. Notre Dame
16. Creighton
17. Tennessee
18. VCU
19. UNLV
20. Memphis
21. Connecticut
22. Wisconsin
23. UCLA
24. Baylor
25. Wichita State

College Basketball: 2013-14 Ohio State Preview
Post date: Friday, November 1, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /overtime/athlon-sports-picks-best-sports-podcasts

From classic live game broadcasts to sports talk radio, from Vin Scully to Paul Finebaum, the audio presentation is part of the the routine of being a sports fan.

At Athlon Sports, podcasts are among our favorite ways to consume sports media, so much so that we decided to start the Athlon Sports Cover 2 College Football Podcast.

Name a niche and chances are there’s a podcast about it. The barriers of traditional broadcast don’t apply. Want to spend an hour on one team in college football? No problem. Want to veer off from the games of the week into strange detours into food or pop culture? Who’s going to stop you?

The DIY aspect lends itself to spotty audio quality or less-polished hosts, but that’s the beauty of it. All fans with enough passion and basic technical know-how can share their voice and viewpoint with the world.

We asked around the Athlon office and picked some of our favorites in the sports we cover. One caveat: We tried to stick to podcast-first programs. It’s safe to say if you like ESPN Radio or TV programming, you can find it in a podcast format, too.

Athlon Sports’ Top Sports Podcasts

The B.S. Report
One of the longest-standing podcasts in the sports realm, the B.S. Report features all you’d expect from Bill Simmons: Red Sox/Yankees talk, a six-part NBA preview, guessing NFL betting lines with Cousin Sal plus interviews with Chuck Klosterman, Saturday Night Live writer Robert Smigel and other visiting luminaries. Real World/Road Rules Challenge talk has more or less migrated to Grantland Pop Culture. So there’s that.

The Rich Eisen Podcast
Few are more enthusiastic about the podcast format than Eisen. Sure, he gives listeners plenty of football talk — upwards of two and a half hours sometimes. Eisen goes back and forth with co-hosts in addition to interviewing coaches and players around the league. Eisen has also interviewed Kevin Costner, Carrie Underwood, Larry David, Matt Damon and more.

The Solid Verbal
The Solid Verbal is the granddaddy of college football podcasts. Hosts Dan Rubenstein and Ty Hildenbrandt break down each Saturday’s games, preview the week ahead and help college football memes bubble up to the surface. If the phrases “Clemsoning,” “Dr. Bo Wallace” and “Nick Foles in a Losing Effort (plus sound effect)” mean something to you, odds are you’re a Verballer.

The Will Leitch Experience
A new podcast on the block, Deadspin founder and Sports on Earth columnist Will Leitch strives to interview “a different smart person every day.” Cardinals baseball, Illinois basketball and his move deep into the heart of SEC country have shaped the podcasts of late, but no podcast has more interesting media guests than this one.

Eye On College Football
Chip Patterson hosts the three-times-a-week podcast featuring college football staff, including Dennis Dodd (on the aptly named Doddcast), Jerry Palm, Tom Fornelli and more as they recap each Saturday, talk news and BCS and break down picks of the week.

Eye On College Basketball
The college basketball podcast returned earlier this week with columnist Gary Parrish moving into the host role. The CBS crew brings knowledge, opinions, banter and tales from the road long before March Madness.

Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox talk Bo Pelini, Oklahoma State-Texas Tech, Miami-Florida State and more Week 10 action in this week's Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
ESPNU: College Football and ESPNU: College Basketball
Podcasts are generally a DIY format, but ESPN is able to throw its weight around on its podcast. The ESPN name allows football host Ivan Maisel and basketball host Andy Katz to regularly book coach interviews on top of being informative.

Outkick the Podcast
Seven episodes in and Clay Travis has interviewed Joe Namath, Ricky Williams and Phillip Fulmer. The love-him or hate-him host also knows his audience and knows it will go bonkers for an interview with former South Carolina quarterback and off-the-field legend Stephen Garcia.

ESPN Fantasy Focus Baseball
The daily grind of fantasy baseball is tough to navigate sometimes, that’s why Matthew Berry’s and Nate Ravitz’s podcast is the people’s choice.

Effectively Wild
Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller with Baseball Prospectus know the baseball grind as much as anyone in the podcast or media biz. Like the athletes they cover and analyze (and analyze and analyze), they post a new podcast every day.

The MMQB Podcast and The Stewart Mandel Podcast
From Sports Illustrated land, the MMQB Podcast takes you through the NFL as only Peter King can with oodles of interviews around the sport. Mandel tackles the college football side with his own share of high-profile guests.

The Chrome Horn Podcast and The David Smith Podcast
Athlon Sports contributor Geoffrey Miller covers the weekly goings on all over NASCAR in the Chrome Horn podcast with Nick Bromberg from Yahoo! Sports' From the Marbles blog. David Smith, another Athlon contributor, looks at big-picture racing issues with guests from all over the sport.

The SEC Report and SEC Sports Roundtable
From the folks at Saturday Down South, the SEC Report is — you guessed it — an all-SEC, all the time podcast. With 14 teams and plenty of news from the season to recruiting season, they stay busy. And if you want a podcast that sounds like you dishing with your SEC friends, check out the SEC Sports Roundtable, mainly because it’s a group of friends dishing about the SEC.

Pac-12 Networks Football Podcast
Ex-football coach Rick Neuheisel is broadcasting natural, and he knows his way around the Pac-12 after coaching at UCLA, Washington and Colorado. He’s also a good fit on the podcast with Mike Yam when the program veers into non-football topics.

Athlon Sports Picks the Best Sports Podcasts
Post date: Friday, November 1, 2013 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-october-31

Just one month of the 2013 college football season....

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 Thursday, October 31st

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw gets highlighted for his performance against Missouri last week.

Saturday Down South ranks the top five teams in the SEC.

Washington receiver Kasen Williams will miss the rest of the season due to a leg injury.

West Virginia's Oliver Luck is the frontrunner to be Texas' next athletic director.

Sports Illustrated visited with former Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson.

Western Kentucky linebacker Andrew Jackson has been suspended indefinitely.

Will Auburn have quarterback Nick Marshall in the lineup this Saturday?

Kevin Gemmell of ESPN's Pac-12 Blog has a good story on Colorado first-year coach Mike MacIntyre.

Syracuse kicker Ryan Norton is suspended for Saturday's game against Wake Forest.

Mississippi State defensive tackle Quay Evans was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of driving without a license. 

Maryland tackle Mike Madaras has decided to leave the team.

Stanford defensive end Ben Gardner will miss the rest of the season due to an arm injury suffered against Oregon State.

With Antone Exum's return, Virginia Tech's secondary is loaded with options.

A thin secondary is getting worse for Rutgers: Nadir Barnwell was suspended after being charged with driving while intoxicated and careless driving.

Wyoming dismissed defensive coordinator Chris Tormey this week.

UTEP quarterback Jameill Showers is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury.

What are the biggest takeaways in the SEC from last Saturday?

College Football's Link Roundup: October 31
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 12:45
Path: /college-football/top-college-football-player-matchups-watch-week-10

Each week, Athlon Sports will highlight some of the best one-on-one matchups to watch in college football. Here are the most important games within the game to watch this weekend:

Duke Johnson, RB vs. Telvin Smith, LB (Miami vs. Florida St.)
The only chance Miami has to win is to use the power running game to keep the ball away from Jameis Winston. Johnson and backfield mate Dallas Crawford have saved the day the last two weekends for the Canes by pounding the rock in the fourth quarter. Smith and Christian Jones have been excellent at linebacker for Florida State this year. Smith (7.0) and Jones (5.5) are No. 1 and 3 in tackles for the Seminoles this year.

Justin Gilbert, CB vs. Davis Webb, QB (Oklahoma St. vs. Texas Tech)
The Red Raiders quarterback will need to be mindful of Gilbert, who has an interception in each of the last two games and four picks this season. Webb has been strong under center, throwing for at least 385 yards in each of the last three games. However, he also has thrown three interceptions during that span. Webb will have to be aware of where No. 4 is on the field.

Week 10 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC

Todd Gurley, RB vs. Antonio Morrison, LB (Georgia vs. Florida)
The Bulldogs expect to have their All-American back in the lineup after missing three games with a high ankle sprain. J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas did a nice job in relief, but Gurley is a true difference-maker who, when healthy, is one of the top two or three running backs in the nation. He will be running against a Florida defense that hasn’t been nearly as formidable since defensive tackle Dominique Easley went down with a season-ending injury. Linebackers Morrison and Michael Taylor are the top two tacklers for the Gators and will be charged with stopping the powerful running back. In the last three games, all without Easley, Florida has allowed 163.7 rushing yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry.

Devin Gardner, QB vs. Max Bullough, LB (Michigan at Michigan St.)
It is cliché to point to quarterback play as the deciding factor in any game, but this in-state battle hinges on both signal-callers. Gardner is the Big Ten leader in total offense (328.4 ypg) by a wide margin over Braxton Miller (247.7) but he also has turned the ball over 14 times — a Big Ten-leading 10 interceptions and four lost fumbles. Bullough is the leader of the Spartans defense and will be in charge of getting his unit into position. If Gardner plays well against the nation’s best defense, Michigan can win. If he turns the ball over, they have no chance.

Josh Shaw, CB vs. Brandin Cooks, WR (USC at Oregon St.)
Like every other position on the field, the Trojans' secondary is seriously talented. Shaw, Su’a Cravens, Dion Bailey and Demetrius Wright are as gifted a starting group as there is in the nation. But they have dealt with nagging injuries and will be faced with stopping the nation’s No. 1 QB-WR duo in Sean Mannion and Cooks. On the road, this group will decide the Trojans' fate this weekend.

Josh Dobbs, QB vs. Andrew Wilson, LB (Tennessee at Missouri)
The true freshman from Georgia will make his first start on Saturday night at Missouri. Dobbs, who originally committed to Arizona State, was hand-picked by the new staff after its arrival in Knoxville last December. He is one of three freshman quarterbacks on the roster — two true and one redshirt — but most around the program believe Dobbs is the best fit for the offense. He’ll have an opportunity to display his skills in prime time on Saturday night against one of the hardest hitting linebackers in the game. Wilson is the Tigers' top tackler and will be in charge of slowing the Vols' dual-threat quarterback.

Derrick Hopkins, DT vs. Andre Williams, RB (Virginia Tech at Boston College)
Even with Boston College’s passing offense struggling to get on track last week, Williams still managed 172 yards in a 34-10 loss against North Carolina. The senior leads the ACC with an average of 144.3 yards per game, but Virginia Tech’s defensive line will be the toughest Boston College has faced this year. The Hokies have allowed just five rushing scores and opponents are managing only 2.6 yards per carry. Virginia Tech’s interior line is deep with tackles Hopkins and Luther Maddy, while ends James Gayle and J.R. Collins have combined for eight sacks. In order for the Eagles to have a shot at winning on Saturday, Williams has to get over 100 yards.

Top College Football Player Matchups to Watch in Week 10
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-week-10-upset-predictions

With the arrival of November, the final month of the regular season is officially here. And with just a month to go, the national title picture is just starting to clear, while there are several battles within all conferences for bowl positioning.

Athlon’s editors are back with another edition of the upset picks, and there are plenty of teams on alert this week.

Wake Forest, ULM and Minnesota are underdogs this week, but are three popular upset selections.

The favorites can't win every game each week, so it's no surprise one of the most popular discussion points every Saturday is upset picks. Each week on, the editors will give an upset pick for the upcoming week of action.

Week 10 Previews and Predictions: ACC Big 12 | Big Ten Pac-12 | SEC

College Football Week 10 Upset Predictions

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Wake Forest (+3.5) over Syracuse
Earlier this season, Wake Forest looked like a team that was in danger of finishing without a win in ACC play. But the last three weeks have been different, as the Demon Deacons have improved significantly since starting the year 1-2. Coach Jim Grobe and his staff made a few tweaks to the offense, which resulted in Wake Forest beating NC State and Maryland and nearly scoring an upset win over Miami last week. Both Wake Forest and Syracuse are still in the mix for a bowl game, and this matchup is critical for both program’s hopes of getting to six wins. The Orange has one of the ACC’s best rushing attacks, but the defense has struggled to stop the pass. With Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price and receiver Michael Campanaro picking up their performance over the last three weeks, the Demon Deacons’ passing attack will be too much for Syracuse to overcome.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Minnesota (+9.5) over Indiana
Maybe it’s time to stop doubting Minnesota. The Gophers have won this season with two different coaches and two different quarterbacks. This team probably won’t go to the Big Ten championship game, but Minnesota has turned a corner of sorts. The offensive coaching staff has been one of the most creative in the league, but the Gophers haven’t gotten away from their bread-and-butter rushing attack. If we’ve learned one thing about the Indiana defense, it’s that the Hoosiers have trouble stopping the run. Navy, Missouri, Michigan State and Michigan all topped 230 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the ground against the Hoosiers. Three of them topped five yards per carry. This may end up being an up-and-down game, so I’d pick the team that has Ra’Shede Hageman to make the critical stop.

Mark Ross: Louisiana-Monroe (+3) over Troy
Troy has one more win (5-3) than ULM (4-4), is at home and riding a three-game winning streak. The Trojans, not surprisingly, are getting it done on offense. Troy is 26th in the nation in total offense, thanks in large part to 325 passing yards (16th) per game. Offense has been a little harder to come by for the Warhawks, who are 99th in total offense and all the way down at 109th in scoring (19.9 ppg). So why am I taking the visiting team in this one? Two reasons, the first being Troy does not play defense. The Trojans are giving up 472 yards (110th in the nation) and 32.8 points (99th) per game. The second is because the Warhawks have their best player back, quarterback Kolton Browning. The senior dual-threat signal-caller missed the first two games in October because of a torn quad muscle that initially was believed to be a season-ending injury. He started last week against Georgia State and threw four touchdown passes in the easy win. Browning was responsible for more than 3,500 yards of offense and 36 total touchdowns last season. To put it simply, he is a difference-maker and the main reason why I think ULM will go on a late run and potentially vie for the Sun Belt title, starting with a victory over Troy on Halloween night.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Boston College (+5.5) over Virginia Tech
Neither team is having much success on offense, and the Hokies are coming off one of the worst showing in school history after losing to Duke at home. This was a seven-point game last year and the Eagles have shown improvement under first-year coach Steve Addazio. At home, BC is 3-1 this year with its only loss coming to Florida State — a game in which the Eagles fought valiantly (48-34). Logan Thomas is playing horrendous football right now, and the offense cannot move the ball consistently at all.

Stephen Schindler (@SteveSchindler): Michigan (+6) over Michigan State
This week, Michigan running back Fitzgerald Toussaint talked about Michigan State's status as the Wolverines' little brother. Despite this, the Spartans are the favorites for this game in East Lansing, with the winner taking a stranglehold on the Big Ten Legends Division. This year's edition of the battle for the Paul Bunyan trophy pits Michigan's eighth-ranked scoring offense against the Spartans' stifling defense, which ranks third in points allowed. Behind quarterback Devin Gardner, Michigan has scored at least 40 points in five of its seven games this season. Gardner's biggest issue this year has been turnovers, which he will need to limit against a Michigan State defense that has a penchant for scoring itself as the unit leads the nation with five defensive touchdowns. I think Gardner is able to play smart football and get an early lead on the Spartans, forcing Connor Cook to beat the Wolverines with his arm. If Michigan can pile up a few touchdowns and put the pressure on Cook to make plays, Brady Hoke will walk out of Spartan Stadium with his first career win in East Lansing against the in-state rivals.

2013 College Football Week 10 Upset Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 11:32
All taxonomy terms: Coaches on the hot seat, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/nfls-coach-hot-seat-rankings-midseason-edition

Halfway through the season and a handful of NFL teams are either already out of the playoff race – at least realistically – or on their way there. That means that somewhere, deep in their offices, people are already pondering the 2014 season.

And the biggest thing they’ll be thinking about is: Who will be their coach?

It’s a good bet that several NFL coaches are already on a very hot seat, needing to do a lot of winning during the second half of the season in order to save their jobs. Here’s a look those whose seats are the hottest – some of whom are already burned:

The Hot Seats
(Team record entering Week 9)

1. Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay (0-7)
It’s hard to remember a regime that’s been a bigger disaster than Schiano’s regime currently is. There are many around the NFL who hate him for a variety of reasons – including his famous strategy of having his defense attack quarterbacks who take a knee at the end of games. But now he’s got players angry at him for the way he (and his general manager) mishandled the MRSA infection in the locker room, not to mention the ugly way he dealt with Josh Freeman, which included accusations of leaked information. And now they’re 0-7, too. If the Bucs aren’t already thinking ahead to the next coach, they should be.

2. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota (1-6)
The Vikings were 10-6 and made the playoffs last year, and now they’d need to go 9-0 just to equal that mark. That’s a huge drop-off for a team with the NFL’s best running back in Adrian Peterson. Yes, the Vikings have QB issues, but Frazier isn’t handling them well. His decision to go to Josh Freeman seemed premature, as was his decision to have Freeman throw 53 times in a loss to the Giants while Peterson gathered dust. With a new stadium on the way in two years, Vikings may want to clean house to make sure they can build a contender again by 2016 before they waste any more of AP’s years.

3. Gary Kubiak, Houston (2-5)
This isn’t all Kubiak’s fault and the Texans have been hammered by injuries, but how many years can he get away with the Texans being one of the league’s biggest disappointments? He is in his eighth year as the Texans’ coach. They’ve been to the playoffs twice and lost in the divisional round twice, even though there are probably five or six years there when they were expected to go farther. Houston’s desire for stability is admirable, but it may be time for a change.

4. Jason Garrett, Dallas (4-4)
Yeah, the Cowboys are in first place, but only because the rest of the NFC East stinks. They probably should be 6-2, but instead they’re just one game ahead of the awful Eagles and two games ahead of the disastrous 2-6 Giants. The Cowboys are the most talented team in the division and probably could make a run at being one of the best in the conference. If they don’t win the division in this down year, how could Jerry Jones not make a change?

5. Rex Ryan, New York Jets (4-4)
They may be in second place, but they have two very fortunate wins that hinged on controversial decisions by officials, and they’re coming off a beat-down in Cincinnati. All in all, given the roster turnover and the rookie quarterback, Ryan has done an impressive job. But his seat will be red hot without a playoff berth because he has yet to get a vote of confidence from ownership or new GM John Idzik, who most people believe is determined to bring in his own coach next year if he even has the smallest opportunity to do so.

The Warm Seats

6. Ron Rivera, Carolina (4-3)
They’re starting to show signs of life behind Cam Newton, and they better keep it up because when a No. 1 overall draft pick like Newton doesn’t cause a pretty significant turnaround for a franchise it’s usually the coach that takes the fall. It doesn’t help that the Panthers changed GMs, hiring ex-Giants executive Dave Gettleman, who stuck with Rivera for one year but likely wouldn’t do it for two if there wasn’t a playoff berth involved.

7. Mike Shanahan, Washington (2-5)
The Redskins’ problems can probably be tied directly to the health and performance of Robert Griffin III, but Shanahan was already under fire a bit for the way he handled RGIII’s knee injury last season. Besides, if they don’t make the playoffs this season that would make three of four misses under Shanahan’s watch, plus a loss in the wild-card round. And in a down year in the NFC East where there should’ve been an easy opportunity for the ‘Skins to make a run, the impetuous Dan Snyder has to consider blowing things up.

8. Mike Munchak, Tennessee (3-4)
The Munchak era started with such promise – a 9-7 record in 2011 – but last year was a setback and this year they’re only clinging to the fringe of a very winnable wild-card race. The death of Bud Adams likely means the Titans won’t make a change because organizations don’t like a lot of upheaval at the top at one time. But Munchak’s reign has been marked by mediocrity at best and no visible signs of taking a step towards the next level.

Cold Seats … but only for now

Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh (2-5) – He works for an organization known for sticking with coaches longer than any other. And he’s had too much success for the Steelers to ponder giving up on him now.

Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (2-6) – Ownership and management remain strongly in his corner, but at 67 retirement always looms. Plus a second-half disaster in the New York fishbowl could always force unexpected changes.

Gus Bradley, Jacksonville (0-8) – His team stinks and he has no quarterback and it’s doubtful ownership will fire him after just one year. But if they get to 0-16 – which isn’t out of the question – all bets have to be off.

Jim Schwartz, Detroit (5-3) – He’s coming off an extremely disappointing 4-12 season, so anything short of a playoff berth in his fifth season could cost him his job. They do seem to appear to be on their way, though.

Dennis Allen, Oakland (3-4) – Expectations weren’t high in Oakland and they do seem to have found a quarterback in Terelle Pryor. But these are the Raiders, so nothing can be ruled out.

By Ralph Vacchiano, @RVacchianoNYDN
NFL's Coach on the Hot Seat Rankings: Midseason Edition
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-october-31-2013

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for Oct. 31.


• Happy Halloween, everybody. Who better to help us celebrate than the lovely cheerleaders of the NFL?


• Congrats to the world champion Red Sox. Enjoy this gallery of images from their third — third! — championship since 2004.


So are the Red Sox the team of the 21st Century so far? Not so fast.


Tim McCarver's last word on a national broadcast: "Ditto." That's somehow appropriate.


Johnny Gomes had some pointed comments for you sabermetricians out there. No, they didn't include "your mom's basement."


• Last night's postgame was full of Erin Andrews awkwardness, but Koji Uehara's son saved the moment.


• Looking for last-minute costume ideas? Here's a quick rundown of sports-related costumes.


• Michael Carter-Williams made a memorable debut for the 76ers. Here it is, in its entirety.


• Man of the people: Metta World Peace took the F Train to MSG for his first Knicks game.


• This is very meta, and very funny: PFT Commenter from Kissing Suzy Kolber interviews PFT founder Mike Florio. When trolls collide.


• Note to all you kids out there: Braces can lead to unwanted pregnancy.


• Here's the reaction from within Fenway Park to the final out of the 2013 World Series.




-- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at [email protected]

Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 10:50
All taxonomy terms: Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/cincinnati-bengals-vs-miami-dolphins-game-preview-and-prediction

Andy Dalton and the 6-2 Cincinnati Bengals travel to Sun Life Stadium to take on Ryan Tannehill and the 3-4 Miami Dolphins on "Thursday Night Football" on the NFL Network at 8:25 pm ET. This is a perfect example of how quickly things can change in the NFL. The first month saw the Dolphins take off to a 3-0 record, while the Bengals were stuck at 2-2 after a loss to the Cleveland Browns. Since that early portion of the season these teams have moved in opposite directions. The Bengals have won four straight games since the loss to Cleveland, beating two playoff-caliber teams in New England and Detroit.

Miami, on the other hand, has dropped four consecutive games. While the Dolphins did fall to two good teams in New England and New Orleans, two losses to Baltimore and Buffalo by a combined five points really sting. An 0-2 start in AFC East divisional play isn't how the Dolphins pictured the season going. However, they will look to get back to their winning ways tonight against perhaps second-best team in the AFC.

3 Things to Watch

Red-Hot Redhead
Andy Dalton is officially on fire. The third-year pro has thrown eight passing touchdown in the last two weeks, which is most among all quarterbacks.This year, he has thrown for 2,249 passing yards, which ranks fourth in the NFL. Dalton has thrown for three or more scores in each of his last three games. In fact, Dalton has thrown for at least 300 yards, thrown three touchdowns and registered a QB rating over 100.0 for three straight weeks. He is the first quarterback to do this since Hall of Famer Steve Young did so in 1998. Dalton hasn't just been getting the ball to A.J. Green, who is second in the NFL in receiving yards with 734. He has successfully spread the ball around to guys like running back Giovani Bernard, wide receiver Marvin Jones and tight ends Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham. Jones had a franchise-record four receiving touchdowns last week, while Bernard has the most receptions of any rookie back. Six players on the Bengals have more than 20 receptions. Not even Peyton Manning's Broncos or Drew Brees' Saints have as many players with at least 20 receptions. Dalton has been pushing the ball down field more aggressively as he has completed 25 passes of over 25 yards this year. Dalton has been on fire since Week 5 and don't expect that to stop against a Dolphins' defense that is 20th in the NFL in passing defense.

Cincinnati Sack Attack
Guess who leads the NFL in sacks allowed? That's right, it's the Miami Dolphins. Ryan Tannehill has been sacked a league-leading 32 times in just seven games. That's an average of 4.5 sacks allowed per game. He's on pace to be sacked 73 times, which would shatter the team record of 53 sacks allowed in a season set in 1969. In an attempt to upgrade the line, Miami traded for former Ravens offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, who made his first start in a Dolphins uniform on Sunday. By trading for him, they were able to move former left tackle Jonathan Martin back to the right side. This didn't work. Because of the pressure Tannehill is struggling to push the ball down field as he has just 11 completions over 25 yards in 2013. Martin is doubtful to play tonight due to an emotional breakdown at the team facility earlier this week, so things could get even uglier. Miami's offensive line doesn't have an easy matchup this week as it is tasked with slowing down a very tough, athletic Bengals defensive line. Cincinnati had 51 sacks a season ago and are on pace for a very impressive 44 this year, with four last week against the Jets. With Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap and Wallace Gilberry up front expect Tannehill to be running for his life.

Where is Mike Wallace?
Could this be the biggest free agent bust since the Redskins made the infamous Albert Haynesworth a $100 million man? It sure deserves to be in the conversation. Wallace has zero receiving touchdowns in the last five games. He has fewer than 80 receiving yards in four of his last five games. The good news for Wallace is that the Bengals have lost their top cornerback Leon Hall for the year and Cincinnati has allowed at least two passing touchdowns in four straight road games. On the season, the former Steeler has just 30 receptions for 398 yards and one lone touchdown.

Key Player for Cincinnati: Giovani Bernard, RB
Bernard is an x-factor for the Bengals. He is an excellent receiving option out of the backfield and appears to have a nose for the end zone. He will still be deployed as the backup to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, yet he continues to get a healthy amount of touches with 72 rushes and 26 receptions. It is interesting to note that, after getting double-digit carries for four straight weeks, Bernard has gotten just 12 combined carries the last two weeks. He touched the ball just six times last week, but I think things return to normal tonight as I see Bernard getting into the end zone.

Key Player for Miami: Lamar Miller, RB
The Dolphins have been struggling on offense, averaging just 311 yards per game. That's 27th in the NFL. They have found some success when giving the ball to Miller. A fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft, Miller got a season-high 18 carries against New England last week and turned those into 89 yards, including an 18-yard burst up the middle. Miller is an explosive option, offering elite speed and averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Miller will have to earn his keep against a Cincinnati rush defense that allows just 97.3 yards per game, which is good for eighth-best in the league.

Final Analysis

A short week benefits the team that is playing the best football at the moment. That's the Bengals. Cincinnati has a quarterback that is on fire, a plethora of receiving options, and an extremely talented front seven on defense. The Miami offense has looked terrible over the past month and this isn't the week that changes.

Cincinnati 27, Miami 13

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Miami Dolphins Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-10-preview-and-predictions-2013

Oklahoma-Baylor is a week away, so this week the Big 12 action will boil down to a game between the other Oklahoma school and the other pass-happy surprise team in Texas.

Oklahoma State and Texas Tech meet both with one conference loss in a game that will all but eliminate the loser from Big 12 championship contention.

The Cowboys were the preseason favorite in the league, but the Cowboys have struggled all season to find an identity on offense. From a changing starting quarterback to changing ball-carriers, Oklahoma State is hardly reminiscent of past Pokes’ teams.

Meanwhile, Texas Tech is coming off its first loss of the season with a 38-30 defeat at Oklahoma. With a high-powered passing game, Texas Tech doesn’t lack for offensive identity, but the Red Raiders need to find a run defense in a hurry.

Outside of the matchup in Lubbock, you’d be hard-pressed to find an intriguing game in the Big 12 this week with OU and Baylor out of action.

Week 10 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big 12 Week 10 Game Power Rankings
All games Saturday, All times Eastern

1. Oklahoma State at Texas Tech (7 p.m., Fox)
The Cowboys will try to repeat what they did last week against Iowa State in the run game when Desmond Roland more than doubled his rushing output for the season by running for 219 yards against Iowa State last week. That's a key development for a running game that struggled to find a top ball-carrier all season. Freshman Rennie Childs also showed flashes this season, but he carried only twice last week against Cyclones. Part of the success in the run game may be credited to an offensive line that is finding consistency after starting six different combinations this season. Keeping the Texas Tech offense off the field — as Oklahoma did last week — will be a key for the Cowboys. Texas Tech needs to do its part to stay on the field, too, after finishing minus-6 in turnover margin the last three games. Red Raiders quarterback Davis Webb will need to mindful of Oklahoma State quarterback Justin Gilbert, who has an interception in each of the last two games and four picks this season.

2. Iowa State at Kansas State (3:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
Kansas State ended its three-game losing streak by defeating West Virginia 35-12 last week. With home dates against the Mountaineers, Iowa State and TCU in a four-game span, Kansas State should push closer to bowl eligibility. Iowa State visits Manhattan a wounded team. Aaron Wimberly, the Cyclones’ breakout tailback, likely will miss his second consecutive game with a hamstring injury. Quarterback Sam Richardson also missed part of last week’s loss to Oklahoma State after taking a shot to the head. His status is day-to-day. Kansas State, meanwhile, is getting healthier and more consistent. Wide receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson returned last week as the K-State defense picked up three takeaways against West Virginia.

3. West Virginia at TCU (3:30 p.m., ESPNU)
TCU quarterback Casey Pachall returned from a broken arm, but the return of the former starter did little to boost the offense on the scoreboard. TCU coach Gary Patterson said Pachall’s leadership hadn’t diminished and he wasn’t rusty despite sitting since the second game of the season. Pachall was 13 of 34 for 169 yards with an interception against Texas, but if there’s a chance for him to get back into the groove, it will be against West Virginia. The Mountaineers are last in the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense. West Virginia has allowed the last three opponents (Baylor, Texas Tech and Kansas State) to complete 71.2 percent of their passes for an average of 11 yards per attempt.

4. Kansas at Texas (3:30 p.m., Longhorn Network)
Texas is making good on its optimism to save the season by winning the Big 12. Texas is 4-0 in the league with upcoming games against Kansas and West Virginia. Thank the defense, which has picked up 16 total sacks in four games against Big 12 competition. Kansas could get a boost of its own on defense with the return of linebacker Ben Heeney. The Jayhawks’ top defensive player was given an extra week of recovery time last week before facing Texas’ above-average running game. Kansas running back Tony Pierson’s return, however, remains a mystery after he felt dizzy after three plays against Baylor last week.

Off: Baylor, Oklahoma

Big 12 Week 10 Pivotal Players

Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox talk Bo Pelini, Oklahoma State-Texas Tech, Miami-Florida State and more Week 10 action in this week's Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
Oklahoma State passers
Texas Tech made Blake Bell look like a Heisman contender last week as Oklahoma’s quarterback averaged 11.3 yards per attempt against the Red Raiders. No other opponent had topped 6.5 yards per attempt against Texas Tech this season. Like Oklahoma has in Jalen Saunders, Oklahoma State has a receiver who can break open a game in Josh Stewart. That said, J.W. Walsh and Clint Chelf are completing only 46.8 percent of their passes with five touchdowns with six interceptions in Big 12 play this season.

Texas Tech’s run defense
The Red Raiders have allowed 603 rushing yards and eight touchdowns in the last three games. Of those three opponents, only Oklahoma ranks in the top five in the Big 12 rushing. Texas Tech’s play up front will need to improve in a hurry when as the Red Raiders enter the toughest part of their schedule.

West Virginia’s offensive line
West Virginia’s offensive line has been a mess all season with injuries and ineffective play. The latest was an ankle injury to veteran center Pat Eger. Guard Quinton Spain had his best game of the season against Kansas State, but the Mountaineers will need to find a way to stop a TCU pass rush that leads the Big 12 in total sacks.

Montell Cozart, Kansas
With quarterback Jake Heaps struggling, Kansas has started to give freshman Montell Cozart a look. He split snaps with Heaps last week, completing 4 of 14 passes for 69 yards against Baylor, but he’ll get more playing time this week. For the second time in two seasons, Charlie Weis has backed off a high-profile transfer (Dayne Crist and Heaps) to give reps to a freshman quarterback. Michael Cummings eventually became the starter over Crist last season, but Cummings has attempted only four passes as a sophomore.

DeVondrick Nealy, Iowa State
The Cyclones running back had one of the highlights of last Saturday by leaping over an Oklahoma State safety into the end zone. Nealy will need more than highlight reel plays against Kansas State. With Wimberly out, Nealy and Shontrelle Johnson will take the bulk of the carries for an Iowa State team that has struggled to find a consistent run game.

Big 12 Week 10 Picks

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
West Va. (+13) at TCUWVU 14-10TCU 27-17TCU 27-20TCU 24-20
Iowa St (+17) at Kansas StKSU 28-10KSU 34-21KSU 38-17KSU 38-17
Kansas (+28) at TexasTexas 35-7Texas 38-13Texas 45-10Texas 41-7
Okla. St (+2.5) at Texas TechTech 38-24Tech 41-38Tech 34-31OSU 34-30
Last Week4-15-05-04-1
This Season42-945-644-743-8


Big 12 Week 10 Preview and Predictions 2013
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-acc-week-10-preview-and-predictions

The ACC is back under the national spotlight in Week 10. Florida State-Clemson was the marquee national game two weeks ago, but the Seminoles easily handled the Tigers in Death Valley.

Is the stage set for another Florida State blowout on Saturday night? The Seminoles are a three-touchdown favorite over in-state rival Miami, with the Hurricanes needing a couple of late comebacks to beat North Carolina and Wake Forest – a combined 6-9 this season.

A blowout victory against Miami would serve Florida State well in the national title picture, but the Hurricanes also have the chance at a rematch – assuming they win the Coastal – in the ACC Championship.

Elsewhere around the ACC, Clemson travels to Virginia, while Wake Forest and Syracuse meet in an important game for bowl positioning. Pittsburgh looks to bounce back after a disappointing loss to Navy, meeting Georgia Tech for the first time as ACC opponents.

Virginia Tech travels to Boston College, and North Carolina makes the short trip to in-state rival NC State.

Week 10 Previews and Predictions: Big 12 | Big Ten Pac-12 | SEC

ACC Week 10 Game Power Rankings

1. Miami (+22) at Florida State (8 ET, ABC)
Normally, a matchup of two top-10 teams and in-state rivals wouldn’t produce a point spread of nearly three touchdowns. But that’s the hurdle facing Miami on Saturday night, as Florida State has clearly showed its one of the top-three teams in the nation. The Hurricanes are also undefeated, but close victories over North Carolina and Wake Forest have raised plenty of doubts on whether or not this team is worthy of its top-10 ranking. Florida State has a talent advantage at nearly every position in this game. On offense, quarterback Jameis Winston is already one of the best signal-callers in the nation, and the Seminoles have surrounded the freshman with a strong supporting cast. Although Miami’s defense has improved since last year, it will have its hands full against Winston. The biggest area of concern for the Hurricanes is the secondary, which ranks eighth in the ACC games against the pass. If there’s one area of vulnerability for Florida State, the rush defense could be it. The Seminoles struggled to contain Boston College running back Andre Williams, and NC State’s Shadrach Thornton rushed for 172 yards last week, although some of that yardage came with the starters out of the lineup. Miami needs a big day from running back Duke Johnson, which would allow the Hurricanes to shorten the game and keep Florida State’s offense on the sidelines. Johnson has to be the workhorse for Miami, but quarterback Stephen Morris also has to play better (six interceptions in three ACC games). The Seminoles have won four out of the last five in this series, with Miami’s last victory in Tallahassee coming in 2009.

2. North Carolina (-3.5) at NC State (12:30 ET, ACC Network)
Even though the combined record of these two teams is just 5-9, this is a huge game for bragging rights in North Carolina and for recruiting within the state for both teams. North Carolina won its first ACC game last week, handling Boston College in a 34-10 victory. The Wolfpack is 0-4 in conference play, but first-year coach Dave Doeren’s team has been shorthanded with quarterback Brandon Mitchell missing five games due to a foot injury. Mitchell returned last week against Florida State and completed 17 of 33 throws for 128 yards. The senior’s return should give the Wolfpack offense much-needed balance. Running back Shadrach Thornton is coming off a 100-yard performance against the Seminoles (173), and the sophomore will test a North Carolina defense that ranks last in the ACC against the run. The Tar Heels have one of the ACC’s top passing offenses (305.9 ypg), but balance has been an issue with a struggling rushing attack. Neither team holds an edge in turnover margin (tied for seventh in the conference), so this game could come down to which quarterback can make the most plays and avoid a costly mistake. This rivalry has been a one-sided affair in recent years. NC State has won five out of the last six, but the Tar Heels claimed a 43-35 victory last season.

3. Pittsburgh (+10) at Georgia Tech (7 ET, ESPNU)
After losing to Navy last week, Pittsburgh gets another dose of the option offense at Georgia Tech on Saturday. This is the first meeting between these two schools since 1976 and the first as ACC opponents. After losing three consecutive games, the Yellow Jackets have won their last two games by a combined score of 91-25. The rushing offense has led the way for coach Paul Johnson, recording 394 yards in each of Georgia Tech’s last two games. Pittsburgh’s defense should have a good idea of what to expect from the Yellow Jackets after playing Navy last week, and the Panthers did a respectable job against the Midshipmen (4.7 ypc). However, Georgia Tech’s offense is even tougher to defend and will challenge Pittsburgh’s front seven, including standout tackle Aaron Donald. The Yellow Jackets’ defense has improved under first-year coordinator Ted Roof, but the secondary ranks 10th in the ACC against the pass. If the Panthers can protect quarterback Tom Savage (24 sacks this year), opportunities for big plays for receivers Devin Street and Tyler Boyd should be available. Pittsburgh also needs running back James Conner to rebound, as the freshman has just 56 yards in his last three games.

4. Virginia Tech (-4.5) at Boston College (Noon ET, ESPN/ABC)
Virginia Tech’s trip to Chestnut Hill last season nearly cost the Hokies a chance to go to a bowl. Virginia Tech needed overtime to beat the 2-10 Eagles, and the Hokies are headed back to Alumni Stadium once again this year. While these two teams are meeting in the same stadium for the second consecutive season, much has changed since last year. Boston College has improved under first-year coach Steve Addazio and is in good shape to make a bowl game. Virginia Tech lost to Duke last Saturday but still has a chance to win the Coastal Division. This matchup is a battle of strength versus strength, as Boston College running back Andre Williams leads the ACC with an average of 144.3 yards per game. But the Hokies lead the ACC in rush defense, allowing just 2.6 yards per game. With running room expected to be limited, the Eagles need more from quarterback Chase Rettig. The senior threw for just 57 yards against North Carolina last week. Quarterback play for Virginia Tech is also under the spotlight, as Logan Thomas is coming of his worst performance in an ACC game this year. Thomas tossed four picks and completed just 55.3 percent of his passes against Duke. Virginia Tech doesn’t need Thomas to throw for 300 yards, but the senior has to be more efficient. Expect a low-scoring game, with turnovers and quarterback play the deciding factors.

5. Wake Forest (+3.5) at Syracuse (12:30 ET, RSN)
With just one month left in the regular season, every game for teams on the bowl bubble like Wake Forest and Syracuse grow in importance. The Demon Deacons started the year 1-2 but rebounded with wins in two out of their last three games and nearly upset Miami last Saturday. Quarterback Tanner Price and a revamped approach on offense have led the turnaround for the Demon Deacons. In his last three games, Price has thrown for 801 yards and six touchdowns, with just two interceptions on 120 attempts. The senior quarterback and receiver Michael Campanaro are one of the top pass-catch combinations in the ACC. Syracuse has struggled to stop the pass this season, ranking last in the ACC by allowing 242 yards per game. While the Demon Deacons want to throw to win, the Orange need to lean on their ground attack. Quarterback Terrel Hunt has completed only 25 of his last 58 passes and does not have a touchdown pass in ACC play. Behind running backs Jerome Smith and Prince Tyson-Gulley, Syracuse is averaging 253.3 rushing yards per game in conference action. Expect the Orange to challenge a Wake Forest defense that allowed 200 rushing yards to Miami last week.

6. Clemson (-17) at Virginia (3:30 ET, ESPN)
In a slight surprise, a matchup of a 7-1 team (Clemson) against a 2-6 squad (Virginia) doesn’t have the biggest point spread of the week. Regardless of the line, the Tigers shouldn’t have much trouble against Virginia. The Cavaliers have lost five in a row, and despite a few signs of life, the offense still ranks 10th in the ACC in passing and total yards per game. The problems for Virginia aren’t relegated to the offense, as the defense ranks 11th in the ACC (allowing 5.5 yards per play). Injuries have played a role in the defensive struggles, as tackle Brent Urban and cornerback Demetrious Nicholson have missed games due to injury. Urban and Nicholson are questionable for this week’s game. Clemson rebounded from its loss to Florida State with a 40-27 victory over Maryland last Saturday, and the Tigers should have the upper hand in this game. For Virginia to hang around, getting pressure on quarterback Tajh Boyd is a must. Clemson has allowed 21 sacks this year, so expect defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta to bring the pressure against Boyd. With the Cavaliers struggling on offense, an early 14-0 or 17-0 lead by the Tigers might be too much to overcome.

ACC Week 10 Pivotal Players

Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
The Panthers weren’t terrible against the run in last week’s loss to Navy, holding the Midshipmen to 220 yards on 47 carries. The experienced gained by playing Navy and the option offense should pay off this week, as Pittsburgh travels to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech. Donald is one of the top defensive tackles in the nation, and he’s been disruptive and tough to block all season. Stopping the option starts in the trenches. If the Panthers want to hold the Yellow Jackets’ ground game in check, Donald needs to dominate at the point of attack.

DreQuan Hoskey/Tim Harris, CB, Virginia
With Demetrious Nicholson questionable to play, Hoskey and Harris will be assigned the task of trying to slow down Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins. Hoskey has six starts under his belt, recording 22 tackles and three pass breakups this year. Harris, a true freshman, has three starts and 13 tackles to his credit. Stopping Watkins and quarterback Tajh Boyd will be a difficult task, and it's up to Hoskey and Harris to eliminate any big plays from the Clemson passing attack.

Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
Florida State has one of the nation’s best offensive lines, but Miami isn’t too far behind. The Hurricanes have allowed only three sacks in ACC games, and Miami rushers are averaging 5.6 yards per carry. But the Florida State front seven is one of the best in the ACC, loaded with depth and talent at every position. Stopping the run has been an issue for the Seminoles at times this year, and the Hurricanes will likely lean on a heavy dose of running back Duke Johnson on Saturday night. Getting a good push from Jernigan would go a long ways to helping Florida State contain Miami’s ground game.

Stephen Morris, QB, Miami
Miami’s offense is averaging 32 points a game in conference play, but as strange as it sounds, the Hurricanes simply can’t afford to get into a high-scoring shootout with Florida State. Running back Duke Johnson should expect to see 25-30 carries, and quarterback Stephen Morris has to have his best game of the year if Miami is going to pull off the upset. Morris threw only seven picks in 2012 but has eight through seven games in 2013. The transition to new coordinator James Coley hasn’t been completely smooth for Morris, but the senior has also dealt with an ankle injury. Morris doesn’t need to throw for 300 yards on Saturday. However, against a Florida State secondary that is among the best in the nation, the senior’s margin for error is virtually non-existent.

Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
Even with Boston College’s passing offense struggling to get on track last week, Williams still managed 172 yards in a 34-10 loss against North Carolina. The senior leads the ACC with an average of 144.3 yards per game, but Virginia Tech’s defensive line will be the toughest Boston College has faced this year. The Hokies have allowed just five rushing scores and opponents are managing only 2.6 yards per carry. Virginia Tech’s interior line is deep with tackles Derrick Hopkins and Luther Maddy, while ends James Gayle and J.R. Collins have combined for eight sacks. In order for the Eagles to have a shot at winning on Saturday, Williams has to get over 100 yards.

ACC Week 10 Predictions

GameDavid FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
Va. Tech at Boston CollegeVa. Tech 28-10Va. Tech 20-17Va. Tech 27-17Va. Tech 24-20
UNC at NC StateNC State 14-10UNC 24-17UNC 31-27UNC 27-20
Wake Forest at SyracuseSyracuse 21-17Syracuse 24-23Wake 27-24Wake 30-17
Clemson at VirginiaClemson 42-10Clemson 41-10Clemson 44-17Clemson 41-10
Pittsburgh at Ga. TechGa. Tech 35-24Ga. Tech 34-30Ga. Tech 34-27Ga. Tech 38-28
Miami at Florida StateFSU 51-21FSU 42-20FSU 45-20FSU 34-17
Final Record60-1560-1560-1562-13


2013 ACC Week 10 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 31, 2013 - 07:15