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If there was any doubt Kansas State was the No. 1 team in the Big 12, those questions were erased with a convincing 55-14 win over West Virginia in Week 8. The Wildcats improved to 7-0 and have a commanding lead in the conference, especially with a win over Oklahoma earlier this year. The Mountaineers have faded over the last two weeks, but the Sooners are on the rise. Oklahoma has won three Big 12 games in a row and is back in the national title mix. Texas Tech is one of the conference's most-improved teams this year and will have a shot at Kansas State this Saturday. 

Big 12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings

1. Kansas State (7-0, 4-0 Big 12)
Last Week:
1
Week 8 Result: Beat West Virginia 55-14
There’s no debate for the No. 1 team in the Big 12 standings. With the Wildcats' 55-14 win over West Virginia, they clearly own the top spot in the power rankings and are squarely in the mix for a national title appearance. Quarterback Collin Klein bolstered his Heisman campaign with seven touchdowns against the Mountaineers, while the defense held West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith to 143 passing yards. The Wildcats play their next two games at home, before finishing the season with three matchups against teams from Texas.
Next Game: Texas Tech

2. Oklahoma (5-1, 3-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
2
Week 8 Result: Beat Kansas 52-7
Coming off a win over Texas and a huge contest next Saturday against Notre Dame, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops had to be wary of a letdown against Kansas. However, the Sooners came out firing on all cylinders, opening a 38-0 lead at halftime and cruising to a 52-7 victory. Quarterback Landry Jones threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns, while Oklahoma scored twice on special teams to easily dispatch of the Jayhawks. Since scoring only 19 points in a loss to Kansas State, the Sooners have scored at least 41 in each of their last three contests.
Next Game: Notre Dame

3. Texas Tech (6-1, 3-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
4
Week 8 Result: Beat TCU 56-53
Letdown. That was the dreaded word tossed around Lubbock this week, as the Red Raiders hoped to avoid a road loss after beating West Virginia 49-14 last Saturday. However, Texas Tech quickly forgot about the win over the Mountaineers and outlasted TCU for a 56-53 win in three overtimes. The defense allowed over 500 yards, but quarterback Seth Doege threw for 318 yards and seven touchdowns, including an eight-yard score to Alex Torres to win the game. The victory over the Horned Frogs gave the Red Raiders back-to-back wins in Big 12 play for the first time since 2009.
Next Game: at Kansas State

4. West Virginia (5-2, 2-2 Big 12)
Last Week:
3
Week 8 Result: Lost to Kansas State 55-14
A promising season has gone by the wayside for West Virginia. The Mountaineers were one of the nation’s top title contenders through the first six weeks but have lost back-to-back games in blowout fashion. Quarterback Geno Smith’s Heisman hopes have taken a huge hit, as he has only two touchdown passes over the last two contests. While the offense isn’t playing well, the biggest culprit for West Virginia’s struggles is the defense. The Mountaineers rank 113th nationally in yards allowed, 115th in scoring defense and 120th passing defense. Even though West Virginia’s national title hopes are finished, it can still salvage a 10-win season and maybe a BCS bowl. However, the rest of the schedule isn’t easy, as TCU and Oklahoma visit Morgantown, with a road trip to Oklahoma State coming up on Nov. 10.
Next Game: TCU

5. Texas (5-2, 2-2 Big 12)
Last Week:
6
Week 8 Result: Beat Baylor 56-50
The Longhorns snapped a two-game losing streak with a 56-50 win over Baylor. The defense was shredded for 607 yards, but Texas’ offense used five touchdowns from running back Joe Bergeron to hold off a late charge by the Bears. The victory was crucial to get the Longhorns back on track after a rough two-game patch. Barring a surprise collapse by Kansas State, Texas is out of the mix for a Big 12 title. However, this team can finish with 10 wins and can play spoiler with a matchup against the Wildcats on Dec. 1.
Next Game: at Kansas

6. Oklahoma State (4-2, 2-1 Big 12)
Last Week:
7
Week 8 Result: Beat Iowa State 31-10
A week after a sluggish performance against Kansas, the Cowboys got back on track with a 31-10 win over Iowa State. Oklahoma State recorded over 600 yards of offense, including 153 on the ground from running back Joseph Randle. Quarterback J.W. Walsh was sharp, completing 32 of 47 passes for 413 yards and one touchdown. The Cowboys were short-handed at receiver with Tracy Moore and Isaiah Anderson out, but Charlie Moore, Josh Stewart and Blake Jackson stepped up in their absence. The news from Saturday's game wasn't all positive, as coach Mike Gundy announced on Sunday Walsh was done for the year with a knee injury.
Next Game: TCU

7. TCU (5-2, 2-2 Big 12)
Last Week:
5
Week 8 Result: Lost to Texas Tech 56-53
The Horned Frogs found themselves on the losing end of one of Week 8’s most entertaining games. TCU trailed 36-26 with five minutes to go but rallied behind quarterback Trevone Boykin. The redshirt freshman connected with LaDarius Brown on a 60-yard touchdown and later led the team into scoring position for a field goal to send the game into overtime. The Horned Frogs pushed the Red Raiders into the third overtime but lost when Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege found receiver Alex Torres for an eight-yard touchdown.
Next Game: at Oklahoma State

8. Iowa State (4-3, 1-3 Big 12)
Last Week:
8
Week 8 Result: Lost to Oklahoma State 31-10
The Cyclones jumped out to a 10-7 lead in the first quarter but failed to score a point the rest of the game and lost 31-10 to Oklahoma State. Both sides of the ball share blame, but the offense failed to find a rhythm after the first 15 minutes. Quarterback Jared Barnett completed only 19 of 39 throws and led the team with 49 rushing yards. Iowa State’s defense has been solid all season, but Oklahoma State simply had too much firepower to hold in check. The Cyclones have lost three out of their last four games.
Next Game: Baylor

9. Baylor (3-3, 0-3 Big 12)
Last Week:
9
Week 8 Result: Lost to Texas 56-50
Once again, the Bears had enough offense to win, but the defense failed to make key stops in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Nick Florence recorded four total touchdowns and had 352 passing yards, but his effort was overshadowed by a Baylor defense that gave up 525 yards. The Bears have allowed at least 500 yards in five out of their six games this season. Baylor has yet to win a conference game this year and the road won’t get any easier with a trip to Iowa State next week. Considering the Bears close with Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, beating Iowa State and Kansas the next two weeks is a must.
Next Game: at Iowa State

10. Kansas (1-6, 0-4 Big 12)
Last Week:
10
Week 8 Result: Lost to Oklahoma 52-7
The Jayhawks continued their downward spiral with a 52-7 defeat to Oklahoma. Kansas has played well in the first half og games throughout the year, but the Sooners jumped out to a 38-0 lead after two quarters. Michael Cummings replaced Dayne Crist at quarterback, but he threw for only 116 yards and tossed two picks. The lone bright spot for Kansas’ offense has been the play of running back James Sims, who recorded 102 yards on 28 attempts on Saturday. The Jayhawks play their next three games against opponents from Texas, before finishing the year with Iowa State and West Virginia.
Next Game: Texas
 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


Related College Football Content


Big East Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings

Teaser:
<p> Big 12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 22, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-basketball/2012-13-college-basketball-countdown-horizon-league-preview
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Athlon Sports continues its countdown to the start of the 2012-13 basketball season, which begins with the first games on Nov. 9, with a countdown of the nation’s top conferences. We will release one conference preview each day, counting down to the top conference. For profiles of every team in each conference, check out the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store.

The Horizon League opens the 2012-13 without its marquee program, Butler, which departed during the offseason for the Atlantic 10.

Try telling the remaining teams Butler’s absence cuts into the intrigue around the Horizon League. Butler finished last season in a three-way tie for third place at 11-7. The Bulldogs weren’t even the Horizon’s best team in Indiana. That title belonged to Vaparaiso, which won the regular season title in Bryce Drew’s first season as head coach. Drew is ready for another run at a title and perhaps Valpo’s first NCAA Tournament bid since 2004.

That said, the league’s best player resides in Detroit, where Ray McCallum Jr. averaged 15.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4 assists.

ATHLON ALL-HORIZON TEAM HORIZON FACTS AND FIGURES
G Ray McCallum, Detroit* 2011-12 regular season champion: Valparaiso
G Kendrick Perry, Youngstown State 2012 NCAA Tournament teams: Detroit#
F Ryan Broekhoff, Valparaiso New coaches: None
F Kevin Van Wijk, Valparaiso Realignment: Lost Butler to Atlantic 10
C Alec Brown, Green Bay  
*preseason player of the year #conference tournament champion




 

 

 

2012-13 HORIZON LEAGUE PREVIEW
1. Valparaiso (22–12, 14–4)

Valpo legend Bryce Drew was a year ahead of schedule in winning the regular-season Horizon title in his first year as coach, and he'll enter 2012-13 as the heavy favorite with five senior starters returning. First among those starters is reigning Horizon League Player of the Year Ryan Broekhoff, who averaged 14.9 points and 8.5 rebounds in his first season as the team’s primary scorer after Brandon Wood departed for Michigan State. The 6-7 forward was one of the last cuts from Australia's Olympic team. Kevin Van Wijk accompanied Broekhoff in the frontcourt and on the All-Horizon first team as Valpo’s second-leading scorer with 14.1 points per game while shooting a league-best 61.7 percent. The first man off the bench after the five returning starters should be former Indiana transfer Bobby Capobianco, a 6-9 junior who sat out last season after averaging almost nine minutes per game over two seasons with IU.
NCAA Tournament prediction: One and done

2. Detroit (22–14, 11–7)
The Titans took half a season to gel last year before rolling to a 13–3 finish that included the Horizon Tournament title and a 65–50 loss to Final Four participant Kansas in the NCAA Tournament. Ray McCallum Jr., the catalyst of last season’s team and son of coach Ray McCallum Sr., is back for a junior season that could propel him into the NBA Draft. The former McDonald’s All-American averaged 15.4 points, 4.0 assists and 1.6 steals, which were all in the top four in the league last year. Two other starters — seniors Doug Anderson (9.2 ppg, 4.6 rpg) and Jason Calliste (10.2 ppg) — give McCallum plenty of support, and forward Nick Minnerath is back after starting the first five games and then tearing his ACL. Three junior college transfers are expected to rotate at center unless one seizes the position, and Western Michigan transfer Juwan Howard Jr. becomes eligible and is expected to be in the rotation for a team that should challenge for the league title.

3. Green Bay (15–15, 10–8)
Green Bay looks to carry forward its momentum from a strong second half of 2011-12 with four starters returning to a team that went a league-best 12–2 at home. The Phoenix boast one of the league’s top frontcourts in Alec Brown and Brennan Cougill. Brown, a 7-1 junior, averaged 13.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.0 blocks en route to first-team All-Horizon honors, while Cougill averaged 9.2 points and 7.0 rebounds. Big things are expected from point guard Keifer Sykes, an All-Newcomer selection who averaged 13.8 points and 4.5 assists in conference games as a freshman.

4. Cleveland State (22–11, 12–6)
Cleveland State is in a bit of a rebuilding mode after an impressive two-year run that featured 49 wins and a 25-11 Horizon record. Big man Tim Kamczyc, a fifth-year senior, returns for his third season in the starting lineup, but the other four Vikings starters from last season are gone. Sophomore Anton Grady was a member of the Horizon All-Newcomer team after averaging 8.5 points and 6.4 rebounds off the bench and gives CSU a solid frontcourt to build around. In the backcourt, the Vikings had three freshmen who averaged double-digit minutes, and all three are back for 2012-13. Charles Lee is expected to take over at point, while Marlin Mason and Sebastian Douglas return as the only wings with significant experience. Incoming 6-4 freshman Junior Lomomba from Montreal is expected to be a big part of the rotation.

5. Milwaukee (20–14, 11–7)
The big story coming from Milwaukee is not necessarily on the court, but the court itself. The Panthers are moving into the renovated, on-campus 3,400-seat Klotsche Center after years of playing at the 12,700-seat U.S. Cellular Arena in downtown Milwaukee. The team received a waiver from the Horizon League to play in an arena with less than 5,000 seats, and the cramped quarters should prove difficult for visitors. Milwaukee returns three starters, including James Haarsma (10.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg), who thrived in his first season of eligibility after transferring from Evansville. The Panthers must improve on its 61.2 percent free throw shooting, which ranked 324th in the nation.

6. Youngstown State (16–15, 10–8)
The Penguins made a nice jump last season, earning 10 Horizon League wins after winning just two the season before. Youngstown State returns three starters from a team that basically had a five-man rotation last season (the Penguins’ sixth-leading scorer averaged 2.1 ppg). Center Damian Eargle is the nation’s leading returning shot-blocker (3.7 bpg), and he averaged 11.1 points and 7.5 rebounds as a junior. Leading scorer Kendrick Perry, a first-team All-Horizon selection, is also back after pumping in 16.8 points per game. Blake Allen hopes to increase his league-best 91 3-pointers in his senior season.

7. Wright State (13–19, 7–11)
Coach Billy Donlon prefers a long bench, and he will return seven of the 11 players that averaged double-digit minutes for the Raiders. Unfortunately, the team’s best player — Julius Mays — is not among them after Mays transferred to Kentucky. Still, a trio of juniors in Cole Darling, A.J. Pacher and Matt Vest, along with point guard Reggie Arceneaux, give Wright State reason to think it is a chance to exceed last season’s win total even with the loss of Mays.

8. UIC (8–22, 3–15)
Things should be better in coach Howard Moore’s third season in Chicago. Four starters are back, including emerging forward Hayden Humes (11.8 ppg in his final nine games) and ’11-12 Horizon All-Newcomer Gary Talton, a junior college transfer who averaged 11.6 points from his guard slot. Two other starting guards return — Daniel Barnes and Marc Brown — and Eastern Illinois transfer Joey Miller becomes eligible and will join the backcourt rotation for a team that must raise its 39.5 percent field goal shooting (320th in the nation) to move up in the league.

9. Loyola (7–23, 1–17)
Coach Porter Moser will try to bounce back from a disappointing debut season at Loyola, and he will lean on three returning starters and eight newcomers to do so. Ben Averkamp averaged 15.4 points and 7.1 rebounds as a second-team All-Horizon selection and he has a shot to be a first-teamer this year if the Ramblers can improve in the win-loss department. Guard Joe Crisman (8.5 ppg) and forward Jordan Hicks (8.4 ppg) also return. Point guard Cully Payne, an Iowa transfer who sat out last year after starting five games before getting hurt as a sophomore in ’10-11 for the Hawkeyes, is expected to start.

@AthlonSports

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky

4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame
20. Florida

More from the 2012-13 College Basketball Preview:
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

Impact Transfers for 2012-13
Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012-13
10 Players Returning from Injury

Gonzaga leads International Dream Team

Teaser:
<p> 2012-13 College Basketball Countdown: Horizon League Preview</p>
Post date: Monday, October 22, 2012 - 05:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-post-week-8-waiver-wire-report
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They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?  That theme seems to play out in our waiver report this week as a few listed names below, if available in your league, were probably on rosters at some point earlier this season. 

Chuckie Keeton, QB-Utah State

Statistically, Keeton had been rather average from a fantasy point of view throughout the non-conference portion of Utah State’s schedule.  However, the sophomore quarterback has thrown for 530 yards, rushed for another 128 yards, and has accounted for eight total touchdowns in two WAC games.

Ameer Abdullah, RB-Nebraska

We’re no longer confident that Rex Burkhead will shake the injury bug that has plagued him for most of this season.  If Abdullah is still floating around on the waiver wire, pick him up because he has potential to serve as a solid RB#2 as long as Burkhead stays on the sideline.

Latavius Murray, RB-Central Florida

Murray seems to have reassumed the starting running back spot after his 23-carry performance against Memphis this past weekend.  It is very likely that Murray was tossed backed into the waiver pool after his injury earlier in the season.  Given UCF’s upcoming schedule, Murray could be a tremendous asset for owners looking to make a late-season surge.

Jordan Parker, RB-Middle Tennessee

We were wondering who would shoulder the load at running back for the Blue Raiders after Ben Cunningham was lost for the season with a knee injury.  Jordan Parker rushed for a team-high 66 yards on 13 carries at Mississippi State on Saturday.  His modest numbers did not draw any attention and fantasy owners may not even have to put in a waiver claim for the freshman running back.

Antavious Wilson, WR-Marshall

Wilson’s value continues to rise in deep PPR leagues as the senior receiver has caught at least six passes in five-of-seven games this season and has a touchdown reception in each of Marshall’s previous three games.

Josh Schaffer, WR-Western Michigan

Since Tyler Van Tubbergen took over at quarterback for the injured Alex Carder, Schaffer has emerged as the Broncos’ leading receiver, catching 15 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns the past two weeks.

Charlie Moore, WR-Oklahoma St

Moore was a player we had high hopes for before the season began, but he managed only six receptions in the Cowboys’ first four games.  The junior receiver should be back on everyone’s radar after hauling in 13 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns the last two weeks.


by Joe DiSalvo, thecffsite.com

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Email:  [email protected]

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Post-Week 8 Waiver Wire Report</p>
Post date: Monday, October 22, 2012 - 04:48
Path: /news/streaker-runs-field-during-stanford-california-game
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2012 has been a rough season for California and it only got worse with a 21-3 loss to rival Stanford. The Golden Bears are 3-5, and coach Jeff Tedford is squarely on the hot seat after the team's disappointing performance. 

While the action on the field was dull, a streaker ran onto the field during halftime. The streaker was chased off the field by one of the California players and was quickly caught by security after he reached midfield. 

Teaser:
<p> Streaker Runs Onto Field During Stanford-California Game</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 23:01
Path: /news/fan-runs-field-during-florida-state-miami-game
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The Miami-Florida State rivalry has produced plenty of instant classics over the years and while Saturday night's game wasn't the best in the series, it provided one of the most bizarre moments in recent memory.

The game was interrupted in the first quarter when a fan somehow made his way onto the field during a Florida State drive. The play was largely over when the fan ran onto the field but it was an interesting moment to say the least.

The best part of the video? The security guys at the end making a pretty solid tackle in the endzone. Considering how bad Miami's defense has been this year, maybe Al Golden should see if the security guard has any eligibility left. 

Teaser:
<p> Fan Runs Onto Field During Florida State-Miami Game</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 22:53
Path: /news/wyoming-coach-dave-christensen-goes-air-force-coach-troy-calhoun
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Wyoming coach Dave Christensen was not a happy man after losing to Air Force on Oct. 13. Christensen believed the Falcons faked an injury and used the timeout to setup their next play, which just happened to be a touchdown. 

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun approached Christensen for the post-game handshake, and the Wyoming coach exploded with a tirade against the Falcons' head man. 

Christensen questioned Calhoun's integrity and ethics, along with calling him "Mr. Howdy Doody."

Christensen later apologized for the incident, but let's just say these two won't exchange Christmas cards later this year.

Caution: The video contains explicit language

Teaser:
<p> Wyoming Coach Dave Christensen Goes Off At Air Force Coach Troy Calhoun</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 22:43
Path: /college-football/college-football-bcs-analysis-post-week-8
Body:

Shades of 2008 and 2009 continue to play out in the BCS standings as Alabama and Florida remain on top in the second release of the rankings.

The two teams met in the SEC championship game in those two seasons for a winner-take-all trip to the national championship game and may again if both teams remain undefeated.

However, the action in the second week of the BCS rankings was outside of the top two where Kansas State and Oregon are jockeying for position. Oregon, ranked second in the coaches’ and Harris polls, pass the eye test, but Kansas State, with two major road wins, has the more impressive resume thus far.

Beyond Alabama and Florida, the rankings remain SEC-heavy. Six teams from the conference -- Alabama, Florida, LSU, Georgia, Mississippi State and South Carolina -- are among the top 14 teams, the threshold for a BCS at-large bid.

The Big 12 (three) and the Pac-12 (two) are the only other leagues with more than two teams in the BCS top 14.

Here are a few observations from the latest release of the BCS standings.

MOVING UP

BCS Standings
Oct. 21

Coaches' Poll Harris Poll Comp. Avg. Last Wk.
1. Alabama 1 1 4 1
2. Florida 3 3 1 2
3. Kansas St. 4 4 2 3
4. Oregon 2 2 6 4
5. Notre Dame 5 5 3 5
6. LSU 6 6 7 6
7. Oregon St. 9 8 5 8
8. Oklahoma 7 7 8 9
9. USC 8 9 16 10
10. Georgia 11 11 T-13 11
11. Miss. St. 12 12 T-13 12
12. Florida St. 10 10 21 14
13. S. Carolina 16 16 10 7
14. Texas Tech 17 17 9 17
15. Rutgers 15 15 11 15
16. Louisville 14 14 18 16

No. 3 Kansas State. The Wildcats’ 55-14 win over West Virginia in Morgantown flip-flopped Kansas State with Oregon to the third spot in the standings. Oddly enough, Kansas State dropped a spot in the coaches’ poll, switching spots with Florida, who defeated South Carolina 44-11. The computer rankings, however, favor Kansas State, thanks to road victories over the Mountaineers and Oklahoma. Kansas State is second to Florida in the computer rankings, moving up from fourth last week. Kansas State is ranked first in two of the six individual computer rankings.

MOVING DOWN
No. 4 Oregon. With Kansas State moving up a spot, Oregon moved down to fourth, despite placing second in the coaches’ and Harris polls. Despite a 43-21 win over Arizona State on the road, Oregon remains sixth in the average computer rankings. Reasons not to worry for the Ducks: The margin between the two teams (0.0145 in the BCS average) is closer than any team within the top 10, and Oregon still has No. 7 Oregon State, No. 9 USC and No. 17 Stanford on the schedule. Kansas State has No. 14 Texas Tech and No. 23 Texas, both at home. In other words, Oregon, facing lowly Colorado on Saturday, will have to wait at least two weeks to leapfrog Kansas State, assuming both remain undefeated.

KEY GAMES THIS WEEK
No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 8 Oklahoma. The Sooners are still rooting for a Kansas State loss for their Big 12 title hopes, but facing Notre Dame is a critical game for OU’s hopes to get back into the national title race. A loss would all but eliminate the Sooners and hamper their chances of being an at-large BCS bid. For Notre Dame, defeating Oklahoma in Norman would close a gap between the Irish and the top four in the standings.

No. 14 Texas Tech at No. 3 Kansas State. The computer rankings love both teams, but the Red Raiders, with a 21-point loss to Oklahoma on the resume, are simply trying to climb up the rankings. For both teams, this week’s opponent may be the highest ranked team they face for the season.

No. 11 Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama. The Bulldogs are undefeated, but they’re outside of the power structure of Alabama, Florida, LSU and South Carolina. That changes with a good showing at Tuscaloosa. An upset would disrupt the BCS standings and make Mississippi State an SEC West favorite, and thus, a national title contender.

OTHER NOTES
The gap is closing for Alabama. Again, the SEC champion may control its own destiny as far as the national title race is concerned, so the field catching up to the Tide may be irrelevant. Alabama’s BCS average dropped from 0.9761 to 0.9625 while the BCS average for Florida, Kansas State and Oregon all went up. To save you the math: The gap between Alabama and Nos. 2-4 is smaller than it was last week between the No. 1 Tide and No. 2 Florida.

Notre Dame is on the outside, for now. Notre Dame’s BCS average dropped despite a 17-14 win over BYU, creating a sizable gap between the Irish and the top four. Of course, this could change in a hurry with a road game against Oklahoma this week.

Welcome back, Big Ten. After the Big Ten was shut out in the first BCS standings two teams -- No. 22 Michigan and No. 25 Wisconsin -- entered the rankings. This means little for the national title race, but it is important for the postseason. Michigan is one spot behind No. 21 Boise State and two ahead of No. 24 Ohio, damaging those two teams’ chances of reaching a BCS game. Those teams either need to be among the top 14 or the top 16 if Boise State or Ohio is ranked ahead of an automatic qualifying conference champion.

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

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

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

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

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

By David Fox

@DavidFox615

Related College Football Content
Week 8 Recap: Kansas State, Florida solidify BCS contender status
Who votes in the Harris Poll?

Teaser:
<p> College Football: BCS Analysis Post-Week 8</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 20:05
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-8-recap-kansas-state-florida-solidify-bcs-contender-status
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The skeptics are nowhere to be found in Manhattan, Kan., and Gainesville, Fla. Of course, Alabama and Oregon keep rolling in the national title hunt, but two potential usurpers continue to state their resounding cases week after week.

A month after defeating Oklahoma 24-19, Kansas State erased any misgivings about the Wildcats’ clout as a national contender by pounding West Virginia 55-14 in Morgantown. In the process, Collin Klein likely flip-flopped his spot with Geno Smith for the nation’s Heisman frontrunner of the week.

Meanwhile, Florida continues to defy the numbers by defeating South Carolina by 33 points, an astounding feat considering the Gators were outgained 191 yards to 183 and its quarterback passes for fewer than 100 yards in the third consecutive game.

Those weren’t the only statements in Week 8, but they were the loudest.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL WEEK 8 RECAP: THREE AND OUT

THREE TAKEAWAYS FROM KANSAS STATE 55, WEST VIRGINIA 14

Collin Klein

Kansas State is leaving no doubt. The book on Kansas State last season was an opportunistic team at best, lucky at worst. Indeed, the Wildcats were outgained in every Big 12 game other than Kansas despite a 7-2 conference record. This year’s team is downright dominant, a point reinforced by the win over West Virginia. Kansas State opened up a 24-0 lead before Tavon Austin’s kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter. The Wildcats scored 52 points before West Virginia’s first offensive touchdown. Kansas State also held West Virginia to 243 yards, its lowest total since a loss to LSU on Sept. 25, 2010.

Collin Klein is the Heisman frontrunner. Klein likely wrestled the Heisman lead away from West Virginia’s Geno Smith when the unofficial power rankings come out early this week. Klein played a part on all seven of Kansas State’s touchdowns with four rushing TDs and three passing. Klein easily out-dueled Smith in the passing game with 323 yards (on 19 of 21 attempts) to Smith’s 143 yards with two picks.

Memo to hot quarterbacks: Avoid Arthur Brown. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith threw his first interception since the regular season finale against USF last year, a streak of 327 consecutive passes without a pick. The first interception of the season went to Kansas State’s Arthur Brown, who recorded the first interception of the season against Baylor’s Robert Griffin III a year ago.

THREE TAKEAWAYS FROM FLORIDA 44, SOUTH CAROLINA 11

Will Muschamp

Florida is unstoppable in the second half. Whatever Florida’s coaching staff is doing in the second half, it’s working. The Gators are outscoring SEC opponents 108-18 after halftime, including 23-5 against LSU. Florida has allowed one third-quarter touchdown (to Tennessee on Sept. 15) in conference games, but the offense under coordinator Brent Pease may be even better. The Gators have scored on their first possession of the second half in five of six SEC games, the exception being LSU. Florida scored on its second possession of the third quarter against the Tigers.

Florida has elite special teams. The Gators turned last week’s win over Vanderbilt thanks to a blocked field goal and a fake punt. The trend continued against South Carolina when the offense couldn’t move the ball. Punter Kyle Christy (54.3 yards per kick) won the field position battle, and the do-it-all Trey Burton stripped the ball and recovered a fumble from South Carolina punt returner Ace Sanders -- a player who knows a thing or two about turning games on special teams. Florida also blocked a field goal for the second consecutive week.

Spurrier’s frustrated. Florida found a way to neutralize Jadeveon Clowney’s impact on the game: One- and two-yard touchdown drives. Even though Clowney caused problems for the Gators offensive line in the entire first half, turnovers doomed the Gamecocks from the get-go. Two special teams fumbles and Connor Shaw’s fumble on the first snap of the game set up short fields for Florida. By the second half, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was frustrated enough to yank quarterback Connor Shaw, but it made little difference in the 44-11 rout. “The only thing you can hope is that your guys give it their best shot and not just lay the ball down and basically say, ‘Here, Florida, we don’t want to win. You guys take this fumble and this fumble and this fumble,’” Spurrier said after the game.

MOVING THE CHAINS
LSU winning the LSU way.
Until LSU finds consistent quarterback play, the Tigers are going to have to win games like they have the last two weeks. Texas A&M dominated most of the first half, but LSU capitalized on two turnovers in the final two minutes to take a 14-13 lead at halftime. The Tigers kept the pressure on Manziel in the second half, who threw three total interceptions in the 24-19 loss. As long as Zach Mettenberger continues to struggle (11 of 29 passing, 97 yards), LSU will need to have capitalize on every defensive opportunity and gash opponents with the run game (219 yards, two touchdowns).

Notre Dame’s will to win. A goal line stand against Stanford followed by a grinding ground game against BYU, Notre Dame is pushing the right buttons in its 7-0 start. BYU scored the first offensive touchdowns on the Notre Dame defense since Sept. 8 (both passing, Notre Dame still hasn’t allowed a rushing TD), but the Irish responded with 143 yards from Theo Riddick and 114 yards from Cierre Wood. The run game eased the absence of starting quarterback Everett Golson, who missed the game following a concussion last week. Brian Kelly erased any question marks after the game by noting Golson would start next week against Oklahoma.

Taylor Martinez in the clutch. The Nebraska quarterback saved the Cornhuskers from another upset loss to Northwestern by leading two fourth-quarter touchdown drives. Northwestern led by 12 in the fourth quarter, but Martinez capped scoring drives of 80 and 76 yards with touchdown passes. Martinez, who also led a second-half comeback against Wisconsin earlier this season, completed 27 of 39 passes for 342 yards and accounted for four total touchdowns. The game, though, wasn’t sealed until Northwestern kicker Jeff Budzien missed his first field goal attempt of the year.

FALSE STARTS
Heartbreakers.
This wasn’t a great week for teams to complete upset bids. Without an injured Braxton Miller, Ohio State backup quarterback Kenny Guiton led a fourth-quarter touchdown drive and and overtime possession to hold off Purdue 29-22. Michigan couldn’t score a touchdown on Michigan State, but won the game 12-10 on a Brendan Gibbons’ field goal with five seconds remaining. Northwestern squandered a 12-point fourth quarter lead to lose 29-28 to Nebraska. TCU scored 10 points in the final 2:25 to force overtime against Texas Tech, but lost 56-53 in the third OT. Despite rallying behind a backup quarterback, Maryland was denied a bid to start 3-0 in the ACC when the Terrapins missed a 33-yard field goal with two seconds left to lose 20-18 to NC State. And poor USF: The Bulls took a brief lead in the fourth quarter at Louisville, but lost their seventh Big East game in the last two seasons in which they’ve held a fourth quarter lead.

Auburn. Another week and another new low at Auburn. The Tigers lost 17-13 to Vanderbilt, despite the Commodores’ fourth-quarter fumble among other miscues daring Auburn to take advantage. At 1-6 overall and 0-5 in the SEC, Auburn is off to its worst start since starting 1-6 in 1952. The Tigers are the first team to start with this poor a record within two years of winning a national title. Auburn has also lost to Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Mississippi State in the same season for the first time in school history.

Cincinnati. Three undefeated teams at this stage of the season was a source for pride for the Big East. That number is down to two after Cincinnati lost 29-23 at Toledo. The Bearcats led for only 13 seconds in the third quarter thanks to a kickoff return for a touchdown by Toledo’s Bernard Reedy erasing a brief Cincinnati lead. The loss takes the shine off a Friday matchup with undefeated Louisville next week.

HEISMAN MOVERS
Kenjon Barner, Oregon.
The Ducks’ all-purpose dynamo De’Anthony Thomas has been pedestrian so far in Pac-12 play. Instead, Kenjon Barner has been Oregon’s offensive MVP. Barner rushed for 143 yards and three touchdowns, including a 71-yard score in Thursday’s 43-21 win over Arizona State.

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M. The possibility of a freshman reaching New York as a Heisman finalist may have to wait. The Aggies quarterback was 29 of 56 for 276 yards and three interceptions against LSU. Meanwhile, the Tigers kept Manziel from breaking off any long runs as he rushed for 27 total yards. The last freshman to be a Heisman finalist was Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson, runner up to Matt Leinart in 2004.

Braxton Miller, Ohio State.Before the sophomore left the game with a head injury, Miller was 9 of 20 for 113 yards and an interception, 47 yards and a touchdown and a Purdue lead. Miller was taken from the stadium to the hospital, but the injury was reported to be not as serious as it seemed when Miller was carted off the field.

SCORES THAT MAKE YOU GO ‘HUH?’
Georgia 29, Kentucky 24
Penn State 31, Iowa 0
SMU 72, Houston 42
THREE BOWL ELIGIBLE TEAMS
Kent State (last bowl: 1972)
Duke (last bowl: 1994)
Utah State (last consecutive bowls: 1960-61)
THREE GREAT QB STAT LINES
Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville. 21-25, 256 yards, 2 TDs vs. USF
Seth Doege, Texas Tech. 30-42, 318 yards, 7 TDs vs. TCU
A.J. McCarron, Alabama. 17-22, 306 yards, 4 TDs vs. Tennessee

STAT WATCH
900. Michigan’s 900th win, the most for any FBS team, occurred in odd fashion as the Wolverines failed to score a touchdown in a 12-10 win over Michigan State. All of Michigan’s scoring came from warmer climates -- kicker Brendan Gibbons from West Palm Beach, Fla., and kicker Matt Wile from San Diego -- as does quarterback Denard Robinson (Deerfield Beach, Fla.).

6-0. With a 21-7 win over Utah, Oregon State improved to 6-0 for the first time since 1907. The teams Oregon State defeated that season: Astoria AC, Whitman, Pacific, Oregon, Willamette and Saint Vincent College. After missing bowl games the last two seasons, the Beavers will head to the postseason.


7.Southern Miss fell to 0-7 with a 59-24 loss to Marshall. Not only did Southern Miss end its streak of 18 consecutive seasons with a winning record, the Eagles also claimed the nation’s longest active losing streak at seven games. In defeating Army 48-38, Eastern Michigan ended the active longest streak at eight games. If there’s any silver lining, the five longest active losing streaks have all ended in the last three weeks. Southern Miss faces Rice next week.

BURIED ON THE DEPTH CHART
Jordan Lynch hits the 1,000-yard mark.
He’s a QB. The best season no one’s talking about may belong to the first-year starting quarterback at Northern Illinois. Jordan Lynch passed for 223 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 131 yards and two scores, his fifth game of the season with 200 passing yards and 100 rushing yards. His 1,049 rushing yards ranks second in the nation.

Still a charmed season in Monroe. ULM’s signature win over Arkansas and close calls with Auburn and Baylor are a month in the past, but the Warhawks’ good fortune continued into the Sun Belt season. ULM trailed Western Kentucky 28-7 in the second quarter, but tied the game early in the fourth quarter. ULM pass over the extra point in overtime, allowing Kolton Browning to go for the win with a two-point conversion in the 43-42 win. ULM took the Sun Belt lead by defeating the 5-2 Hilltoppers.

Kasey Carrier’s 300-yard game. The New Mexico running back rushed for 338 yards, the highest total since Navy’s Shun White rushed for 348 yards against Towson on Aug. 30, 2008. Alas, New Mexico lost 28-23 to Air Force.

THREE TEAMS/PLAYERS BACK TO FORM
Matt Barkley, USC.
Nothing like a game against Colorado to cure the passing game. A week after one of his least productive games of his career, Matt Barkley was 19 of 20 for 298 yards with six touchdown passes in a 50-6 rout of Colorado. Four of those touchdown passes went to Robert Woods as Barkley set a Pac-12 record with 100 TD passes. Barkley’s 95 percent completion rate also set a Pac-12 record for completion percentage for a quarterback with at least 20 passes.

Wisconsin’s run game. Nothing like a couple of struggling Big Ten teams to help a run game look good. The Badgers have rushed for 804 yards and nine touchdowns the last two weeks against Purdue and Minnesota. Against the Gophers, James White rushed for 175 yards and three touchdowns and Montee Ball rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns. Wisconsin (3-1) is the only postseason-eligible team in the Big Ten Leaders division with a conference win.

Aaron Murray, Georgia. Nothing like a game against Kentucky to set up a career day. Two weeks after he struggled in the loss to South Carolina, Murray rebounded to complete 30 of 38 passes for 427 yards and four touchdown passes against the Wildcats. His play was one of the few parts of Georgia’s game operating at a high level in a too-close-for-comfort 29-24 win.

THREE TEAMS STARTING TO PUT IT TOGETHER
Arizona.
After back-to-back hard-fought losses to Oregon State and Stanford, Arizona broke out against Washington for a 52-17 win. The Wildcats rolled up 500 yards for the third consecutive game, all against solid defenses. Leading the Pac-12 in total offense and passing, Arizona is not nearly as bad as its 1-3 conference record indicates. The Wildcats face USC at home Saturday.

Clemson. Virginia Tech can make an opposing defense look good, especially in the secondary, but let’s give credit to a Clemson team that has showed marked improvement each week since the 49-37 loss to Florida State in September. Jonathan Meeks had two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown to bail out an offense that stumbled to only 295 yards in the 38-17 win over the Hokies.

Kenny Guiton, Ohio State. Quarterback J.W. Walsh wasn’t at 100 percent, and two of his top receivers didn’t even play against Iowa State. Yet the Cowboys eventually got out of their own way to defeat upset-hungry Iowa State 31-10. The Cowboys face TCU before a gauntlet -- at Kansas State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, at Oklahoma.

 

DANG, THEY’RE GOOD
Kansas State
Oklahoma
Oregon
DANG THEY’RE BAD
Auburn
Cal
Iowa
BEST GAMES NEXT WEEK
Florida vs. Georgia
Notre Dame at Oklahoma
Mississippi State at Alabama

THREE PRIMETIME BACKUPS
Adam Dingwell, San Diego State.
Dingwell stepped in for injured starter Ryan Katz to complete 14 of 23 passes for 177 yards for three touchdowns in a 39-38 win at Nevada in overtime. Dingwell led three fourth-quarter scoring drives, culminating with the game-tying field goal as time inspired. Coach Rocky Long capitalized on the momentum by going for the game-winning two-point conversion to finish overtime.

Devonta Freeman, Florida State. With starter Chris Thompson out with a knee injury, Freeman delivered the knockout punch to Miami in a 33-20 win. Freeman rushed for two fourth-quarter touchdowns and 70 total yards on 10 carries.

Kenny Guiton, Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ undefeated season was in as much peril as it had been all season when quarterback Braxton Miller was whisked away to the hospital as Ohio State trailed Purdue by 8 in the second half. Guiton, though, found a wide-open Devin Smith to set up a touchdown and then took advantage of perfect protection to complete the two-point conversion to tight end Jeff Heuerman. Ohio State won 29-22 in overtime.

By David Fox

@DavidFox615

Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 8 Recap: Kansas State, Florida solidify BCS contender status</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 11:20
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-7-fantasy-injury-updates-vincent-jackson-hakeem-nicks-ramses-barden-domenik-hixon
Body:

It’s Week 7 and there are six teams with a bye week. The injuries continue to pile up and teams taking a week off are not helping you as lineup decisions are made. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week as you decide who to start.

Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New Orleans Saints
Vincent Jackson showed up on the injury report this week with a calf injury and is listed as probable. He is currently the 21st ranked fantasy receiver in PPR leagues and tied for fourth with four touchdowns. He has only disappointed once this season (1-for-29 on seven targets in Week 3 at Dallas) with four games of at least four catches, three games of at least 65 yards, two games over 100 yards and three games with at least one touchdown. Now he draws a Saints team that is ranked 30th against fantasy receivers, having allowed eight touchdowns to the position and at least 60 yards to an opposing No. 1 receiver in every game; four of those No. 1s have gone for at least 90 yards. It is worth noting that Pierre Garcon (on the 88-yard screen in Week 1) and Greg Jennings (a 9-yard TD on his only catch in Week 4) are the only two No. 1 receivers to score on the Saints. It could mean lowered expectations for VJax — even though he's surely exceeded 2012 expectations already for where you drafted him — and raised expectations for Mike Williams, who likely went undrafted. 

 

Hakeem NicksHakeem Nicks, Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden and Rueben Randle, WRs, New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins
Oh, the Giants' receivers not named Victor Cruz. Hakeem Nicks (knee) returned from a three-game absence last week and admittedly was not at full speed in San Francisco. Domenik Hixon, Ramses Barden and rookie Rueben Randle have flashed in his sted. Hixon, who missed the Week 3 Carolina game along with Nicks, returned to garner 25 targets over the last three weeks, catching 15 of them for 247 yards and no scores. Barden shined in the first game without Nicks (nine catches, 138 yards on 11 targets in Week 3 at Carolina), but has battled a concussion since then. Randle, the rookie from LSU, did not play a snap against San Francisco. This came a week after six catches for 82 yards on nine targets. Nicks is listed as probable and is expected to start against the Redskins. It is hard to trust any receiver on the Giants not named Cruz, and if Nicks returns at half speed again it just brings the whole lot of them down. If Nicks goes, he has to start, but Hixon is still a good flex play against a Washington defense that is the worst in the league against fantasy receivers.


— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Should you start or sit them?</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 08:00
Path: /fantasy/week-7-fantasy-injury-updates-darren-mcfadden-jerome-simpson-aaron-rodgers
Body:

It’s Week 7 and there are six teams with a bye week. The injuries continue to pile up and teams taking a week off are not helping you as lineup decisions are made. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week as you decide who to start.

 

Darren McFaddenDarren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders vs. Jacksonville
A shoulder injury has Darren McFadden on the injury report as probable, but he is expected to start against the Jaguars and their 31st-ranked defense against fantasy running backs. It would be nice to see Run DmC finally pay off for his high draft pick this week. He has averaged 2.6 yard per carry or less in four of six games and his only solid ground day was an 18-for-113-yard performance against Pittsburgh — which included a 64-yard TD run. There is no time like the present for McFadden as he faces a run defense that has surrendered six rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown to the running back position. All five feature backs that have faced the Jags this season have combined for at least 87 total yards and four of the seven TDs allowed.

 

Jerome Simpson, WR, Minnesota Vikings vs. Arizona Cardinals
Remember when we stashed Jerome Simpson on the roster with the hopes that he would return from his suspension and play like gangbusters for the Vikings? That was fun, right? He has eight targets, which have turned into four catches for 50 yards and no scores, including last week’s three targets that produced no catches. A lower back injury has him on the injury report and he is listed as probably for the Cardinals game. He was a full participant in practice this week, and it would be great to say “play him” against Arizona’s 16th-ranked fantasy defense against wide receivers. But we need to see the connection between himself and QB Christian Ponder before you can take a flier on Simpson. Take a flier on a proven flier like Cleveland’s Josh Gordon instead.

 

Aaron RodgersAaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams
Aaron Rodgers showed up on the injury report with a calf injury and is listed as probable. He practiced on Friday and should be ready to continue his torrid pace after a tepid start to the 2012 season. After three games with three touchdowns and two games under 225 yards, Rodgers has thrown for at least 319 yards in two of the last three outings and 13 TDs in those three games. Outside of Matthew Stafford’s 355-yard, one-TD performance in Week 1, the Rams have held opposing QBs to no 206 yards or less in four of the last five games. But this is Rodgers, likely a top-five pick in your fantasy drafts, and if healthy there is no way you are sitting the Packers’ QB.


— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Should you start or sit them?</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 07:34
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-7-fantasy-injury-updates-jimmy-graham-david-thomas-rashard-mendenhall-jonathan-dwyer-ba
Body:

It’s Week 7 and there are six teams with a bye week. The injuries continue to pile up and teams taking a week off are not helping you as lineup decisions are made. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week as you decide who to start.

Jimmy GrahamJimmy Graham and David Thomas, TEs, New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jimmy Graham (ankle) went into the bye week in a walking boot and he returns from the bye listed as out today against Tampa Bay. Graham did some light work in practice on Thursday and Friday but was declared out on Saturday. David Thomas could be a desperation replacement for you as there are six teams on byes and many of the waiver wire tight ends have probably been scooped up. As far as his opponent, Tampa Bay has given up catches and yards to some of the better tight ends but have surrendered just one touchdown all season to the position. Greg Olsen (6-56, Martellus Bennett (5-72) and Fred Davis (4-70) have had the bigger days, with Bennett scoring the lone touchdown.

 

Trent RichardsonTrent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns vs. Indianapolis Colts
Richardson (ribs) saw limited work the last three days of practice this week and it could just be a matter of how much of a pain tolerance the rookie running back has. One thing that should brighten him up is the Colts' defense, or lack thereof, against fantasy RBs. They are third worst at it this season and just let Shonn Greene — yes, that Shonn Greene — rip off 161 yards and three scores on 32 carries. It's the second time in three games the feature back has gone for at least 161; Maurice Jones-Drew went for 177 and a score on 28 carries in Week 3. It's a noon game, and even if he were on a shared amount of carries with Montario Hardesty, the matchup is too good to let go by for Richardson.

 

Rashard MendenhallRashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer and Baron Batch, RBs, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals (Sunday night)
The Pittsburgh backfield is a mess with injuries and usage. Just when Mendenhall returned from injury and was the bell cow, an Achilles injury has sidelined him for Sunday night's game against the Bengals. Redman is also out for the game with an ankle injury. That leaves Batch and Dwyer. Dwyer was a healthy scratch last week, so trusting him is a little dicey. But we've seen plenty of players go from zero action to featured player in a week's time. Batch stepped in and carried the ball 10 times for 22 yards against a Tennessee defense that is sixth worst in the league against defending fantasy RBs. It took until Mendenhall returned in Week 5 for the Steelers to get a double-digit fantasy back and they are 31st in the league in rushing. While Cincinnati is ninth worst in the league in points allowed to fantasy backs, it's a tough call to say "go with any Steelers running back tonight." 
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Should you start or sit them?</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 07:29
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-7-fantasy-injury-updates-rob-gronkowski-greg-jennings-james-jones-dustin-keller
Body:

It’s Week 7 and there are six teams with a bye week. The injuries continue to pile up and teams taking a week off are not helping you as lineup decisions are made. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week as you decide who to start.

Rob GronkowskiRob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots vs. New York Jets
A lingering hip injury has limited fantasy’s No. 2 tight end in PPR leagues this week, including in Friday’s practice. But unless you are not required to start a tight end and with the six teams on bye it is unlikely you can afford to sit Gronk on the pine this week. He has received at least five targets in five of six games this season and come through with at least five catches in four of those five games. The Jets are ranked 22nd in PPR leagues against fantasy TEs, although Houston’s Owen Daniels (4-79-1) in Week 5 has been the only one to any major damage. The tight end position may be deep in fantasy over the last couple of seasons. The Jets may have limited a majority of tight ends they have faced. Gronkowski may be dealing with a hip issue. But with six teams on bye weeks and the No. 2 fantasy TE on your roster, you’d be hard pressed to sit him in any situation save for his bye week.

 

Greg JenningsGreg Jennings and James Jones, WRs, Green Bay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams
Greg Jennings is out again with the groin injury. Jordy Nelson finally shined in his absence last week against the Texans, catching nine of 12 targets for 121 yards and three touchdowns. And that was against top CB Jonathan Joseph nonetheless. James Jones has been the man stepping in for Jennings the last two weeks. He has seven targets each of the last two games, pulling in seven catches for 79 yards and a score — or 10.45 points in a PPR each of the last two games. Only Larry Fitzgerald (8-92) has over 75 yards against the Rams since Calvin Johnson’s 6-for-111 Week 1 performance. There are a number of targets Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers can choose from, but Jones seems to at least be high on his list in Jennings’ sted. You can’t argue with the seven targets each of the last two weeks, and the Rams have been relatively tough on the run. Start Jennings with whatever is a smidge below confidence.

 

Dustin KellerDustin Keller, TE, New York Jets vs. New England Patriots
Dustin Keller returned from injury last week and played in his first game since Week 1 — although you would not have known it. He received one target and caught it for six yards on 49 offensive snaps played. There is no way you are playing Keller this week — six teams on bye or not. Regardless of his injury or lack or production upon his return last week, the Patriots have given up no more than 64 yards at the position and no more than five catches this season. Jets QB Mark Sanchez has other options in the red zone and it is hard to rely on any Jet offensive player right now. If you are looking for a tight end flier look somewhere other than the Jets’ offense; look at a Heath Miller or Jermaine Gresham.


— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Should you start or sit them?</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 07:10
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-7-fantasy-injury-updates-dez-bryant-lance-moore-alex-green
Body:

It’s Week 7 and there are six teams with a bye week. The injuries continue to pile up and teams taking a week off are not helping you as lineup decisions are made. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week.

Dez BryantDez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys vs. Carolina Panthers
Dez Bryant joined the injury report on Friday after not practicing due to a groin injury; he is now listed as questionable. This is not what we wanted to hear for a receiver coming off a career fantasy day (13-95-2 on 15 targets) a week ago vs. Baltimore. And perhaps he will be primed for more targets with DeMarco Murray (foot) sidelined in the Cowboys’ backfield. Bryant should be able to play, but with his inconsistency during his three-year career, you would rather see no red flags entering a game. The Panthers have allowed Ramses Barden (9-138) and Roddy White (8-169-2) to go off this year but have been quite respectable against the pass otherwise. Only Golden Tate and Mike Williams have scored against them outside of White and Sidney Rice's 67 yards is the closest anyone has come to Barden's 138. Bryant has led the Cowboys' receivers in targets by double the last two games and had one less than Miles Austin's nine in Week 3. If Bryant goes, you play him. It's an early game, so you should be able to make the call with ease.

 

Lance MooreLance Moore, WR, New Orleans Saints vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Lance Moore sat out Week 5 and was able to use the bye week to heal up a little bit in regards to his hamstring. He practiced in full this week and with the news that Jimmy Graham is out this week (ankle), Moore is a solid option for the Saints and a decent option for your fantasy lineup. Tampa Bay, while ranked 24th against fantasy receivers, has been rather stubborn over the last three weeks. Miles Austin had 5-for-107 and no scores in Week 3 and no receiver has eclipsed 62 yards since. No receiver has scored on the Bucs since Hakeem Nicks (10-199-1) and Victor Cruz (11-179-1) torched them in Week 2. Moore's history vs. Tampa Bay is not great. He does have three scores in six games, but has not had over 57 yards or more than six catches. He has caught right at two passes against them in four of the six meetings. One bright spot was his last outing in Week 4, at Green Bay. Known for being an indoor threat, Moore caught seven balls for 67 yards on 15 targets. It was his second double-digit target day of the season.

 

Alex Green, RB, Green Bay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams
Green joined the injury report with a shoulder, but is listed as probable and should be good to go against the Rams in their early game. It is kind of hard to gauge how Green is going to be used because the Packers lost to Indianapolis two weeks ago and Aaron Rodgers' arm helped them cruise past the Texans last week. In the two games, Green had 31 carries for 120 yards (3.9 YPC). James Starks should not cut into his workload that much, and hopefully the Rams will have their hands full with the Green Bay receiving corps. The receiving threat might be the thing that makes Green viable this week after St. Louis limited Arizona and Miami to 57 yards from running backs the last two weeks. Green should find running room due to his receivers and be a good RB2 for you this week.


— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Should you start or sit them?</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-7-fantasy-injury-updates-jermichael-finley-wes-welker-pierre-garcon
Body:

It’s Week 7 and there are six teams with a bye week. The injuries continue to pile up and teams taking a week off are not helping you as lineup decisions are made. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week.

Jermichael FinleyJermichael Finley, TE, Green Bay Packers vs. St. Louis Rams
If you're still trusting Jermichael Finley in your lineup then you are a braver fantasy owner than I. Not only is he listed as probable with a shoulder injury, but he is 20th amongst fantasy tight ends in PPR formats. He opened the season with 11 targets, seven catches, 47 yards and a TD against San Francisco. Since then, he has had no more than five targets in a game, no more than four catches in a game and no touchdowns in a game. The last two weeks, Finley has five catches for 23 yards on nine targets — 7.3 in a PPR, 2.3 in non-PPR. It doesn't really matter what the Rams do or do not allow to tight ends since Finley should be on the waiver wire, but just in case here are the numbers. St. Louis is ranked No. 8 against the position, having allowed the first TD to the position last week (Anthony Fasano). The Rams have not allowed a tight end to catch more than four passes since Detroit had two tight ends catch five in Week 1; Fasano had four last week.

 

Wes WelkerWes Welker, WR, New England Patriots vs. New York Jets
An ankle injury has Wes Welker as questionable on the injury report, but he is expected to start against a Jets team that is fourth against fantasy wide receivers. Reggie Wayne's 5-for-87 last week was the most yards and the second-most catches allowed to the position this season by the Jets. They have surrendered three scores to the position, all three coming in the first two weeks. You are not sitting Wes Welker, particularly if Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are limited and the shoulder injury Brandon Lloyd suffered last week carries over into today's late game.  Welker has double-digit target outings in each of the last six games and double-digit receiving days in the last two (he had games of nine and eight catches the two weeks before the last two). He has four straight 100-yard receiving games. Welker has 31 catches for 380 and two TDs in the last five meetings with the Jets.

 

Pierre GarconPierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins vs. New York Giants
The foot injury suffered in Week 1 continues to hinder the Redskins' key free agent acquisition. And it doesn't look like it's going to get better any time soon. Garcon did not practice this week and is not expected to play against the Giants. The Redskins have their bye in Week 10. It'd be a surprise to see Garcon suit up against the Giants, Steelers and Panthers in the three games leading up to that bye. Garcon is already teetering on the brink of release back into the FA pool. If he doesn't play in the Week 11 game against Philadelphia, it'd be time to cut bait. In shallow leagues, he should already be on the waiver wire. In keepers, dynasties and deep leagues, you have to hold out hope.
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Should you start or sit them?</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 07:00
Path: /nfl/pittsburgh-steelers-vs-cincinnati-bengals-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Two divisional foes coming off disappointing road losses will meet on Sunday Night Football, when the Cincinnati Bengals host the Pittsburgh Steelers at 8:20 pm EST on NBC. The Bengals dropped to 3-3 on the season last week with a surprising 34-24 defeat in Cleveland to the previously-winless Browns. The Steelers have had 10 days to recover from their 26-23 loss to the Titans that dropped Pittsburgh to an uncomfortable 2-3 on the year.

When the Cincinnati Bengals have the ball:
Quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green have become the focal point of the Bengals attack. The second-year signal caller has hooked up with his fellow sophomore pass catcher for six touchdowns this season, but the dynamic duo needs a little help from the running game. Cincinnati needs more from lead runner BenJarvus Green-Ellis (averaging only 3.4 yards per carry) to keep the Pittsburgh pressure off Dalton, who has thrown nine interceptions and been sacked 17 times in six games.

The Steelers defense has been inconsistent this season, especially in the three road losses. Injuries (highlighted by the absence of Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu) have played a big part in that, but Dick LeBeau’s unit must find a way to get late stops when Pittsburgh has the lead. The Steelers rank fourth in the NFL in yardage allowed, but 17th in points per game. Pittsburgh must apply pressure on Dalton and improve on a total of just six takeaways in five games.

When the Pittsburgh Steelers have the ball:
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been solid this season, throwing for 1,487 yards and 10 touchdowns against only two interceptions. However, the Steelers attack has been hampered greatly by injuries on the offensive line and at running back. Pittsburgh ranks 31st in the league in rushing, only compiling 74.8 yards per game on the ground. It won’t get any easier this week with top runners Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) and Isaac Redman (ankle) listed as questionable. The good news for the Steelers is that the receiving trio of Antonio Brown, Mike Wallace and tight end Heath Miller has been very productive this season.

The Bengals defense will need a solid performance coming off two straight losses. Cincinnati should catch a break with a banged-up Steelers rushing attack, and Mike Zimmer’s crew leads the AFC in sacks with 20. The Bengals will look to continue that type of pressure on Roethlisberger, who can be very crafty in avoiding the pass rush. Cincinnati must improve in creating turnovers, only totaling seven takeaways in six games this year.

Key Factor:
The Steelers had started at least 6-2 in each of coach Mike Tomlin’s five seasons at the helm, so the 2012 campaign is unusual territory for Pittsburgh. Even with the injuries, it is difficult to see Roethlisberger and company falling to 2-4 on the year. The Bengals will benefit from the home crowd, but look for the desperate Steelers to continue their recent dominance over Cincinnati and get back to .500 on the season.

Prediction:
Steelers 27 Bengals 23


---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 

Teaser:
<p> Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 07:00
Path: /fantasy/week-7-fantasy-injury-updates-adrian-peterson-demarco-murray-felix-jones-ahmad-bradshaw-andr
Body:

It’s Week 7 and there are six teams with a bye week. The injuries continue to pile up and teams taking a week off are not helping you as lineup decisions are made. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week as you decide who to start.

Adrian PetersonAdrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings vs. Arizona Cardinals
An ankle injury has Peterson on the injury report and his limited practice seems to be more of a reduction of unnecessary wear and tear. Yes, save those carries for Sundays where fantasy owners want to see him in the end zone — somewhere he has not been since Week 1. This might be the week. Peterson had his best fantasy day of 2011 when these two met in Week 5 last year. He ran for 122 yards and three scores on 29 carries. The Cardinals are ranked 14th against fantasy running backs and have given up production the last two weeks to the position. Two RBBC teams over the last two weeks — St. Louis' Steven Jackson (18-76) and Daryl Richardson (9-35) and Buffalo's C.J. Spiller (12-88-1) and Fred Jackson (16-53-1) — have had over 100 yards on the ground. The Buffalo duo also added nine catches for 52 yards.  

 

DeMarco MurrayDeMarco Murray, Felix Jones, Phillip Tanner, RBs, Dallas Cowboys vs. Carolina Panthers
DeMarco Murray (sprained foot) is out for today's early game against the Panthers. Felix Jones was the must-have on the waiver wire this week. It was a three-part must-have: He gets the start, it's a bye week for some and the Panthers' fantasy run defense. Carolina has allowed double-digit fantasy days in PPR formats in all five games this season. Five backs have had at least 85 yards on the ground; three backs have had at least 40 yards receiving. Jones is the model of inconsistency, much like the team he plays for. But he did have three 100-plus-yard rushing days last season and three 30-plus-yard receiving days. Along with Jones' inconsistency is the fact that he's had just two 20-carry game in five seasons. Phillip Tanner or Lance Dunbar, two former Sun Belt Conference studs, will also be worked in to the mix. This is not what we want to hear, but roll the dice with Jones and take a chance on Tanner in deeeeep leagues.

 

Ahmad BradshawAhmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown, David Wilson, RBs, New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins
Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) sat out Friday's practice but is expected to start against the Redskins in their early game. Andre Brown is expected to be back from his concussion suffered in Week 4. And rookie David Wilson appears to be out of the doghouse of Tom Coughlin after a career-high seven carries for 35 yards last week. Bradshaw has had 57 carries the last two weeks for 316 yards and two scores. The Giants and Eli Manning will be facing a Redskins defense that has allowed at least 24 points in every game this year, allowed all six QBs to throw for at least 299 yards and surrendered 14 TDs through the air versus three to running backs. If Bradshaw goes, you start him because you cannot sit a guy that's gone 57-200-2 the last two weeks. But a three-headed timeshare is the potential against a team the Giants should be able to score on in a multitude of ways. If you're looking for a second Giants RB, lean toward the hot hand in Wilson as Brown is still listed as probable with the concussion.


— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Should you start or sit them?</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 06:36
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-7-fantasy-injury-updates-stephen-hill-jeremy-kerley-ben-tate-brandon-pettigrew
Body:

It’s Week 7 and there are six teams with a bye week. The injuries continue to pile up and teams taking a week off are not helping you as lineup decisions are made. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week as you decide who to start.

 

Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears (Monday night)

Brandon PettigrewBrandon Pettigrew (knee) received the third-highest target day of his of four-year career a month ago in Tennessee. He had 12 balls thrown his way that day, pulled in eight for 61 yards and also dropped a TD in the end zone. His targets dropped to nine the following week, catching seven for 67 yards and dropping another potential TD pass. His targets dropped to seven last week, catching three for 38 yards. Now he gets a Bears team, ranked 24th against fantasy tight ends. Most of the damage done against Chicago came on Jason Witten's 13-for-112-1-TD day two weeks ago when the game was out of hand. There's nothing to say that the game won't get out of hand for Detroit Monday night and Pettigrew can get garbage-time production. But so could Titus Young, Nate Burleson and Tony Scheffler. Pettgirew is currently 15th at his position in PPR leagues. If you're going to go for someone in prime time this week, go grab Heath Miller or Jermaine Gresham, who are sixth and seventh at TE and play on Sunday night.

 

Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley, WRs, New York Jets vs. New England Patriots
Stephen Hill (hamstring) is questionable and Jeremy Kerley (finger) is probable for their late game against the Patriots. Hill returned to action last week for the first time since Week 3 — the seven-target, no-catch game against Miami. The rookie caught all three targets for 23 yards and a score. After back-to-back games with three targets, Kerley has had games of nine and six targets each of the last two weeks, turning them into eight catches for 118 yards and no scores. It is a tough call to say "go with any Jet." The Patriots are ranked 27th against fantasy receivers and have allowed and have allowed at least one touchdown per game to the position. They allowed to different Denver receivers and three different Seattle receivers to score in the last two weeks. The Pats have allowed 33 passes of 20-plus yards — six last week to Seattle — and nine for scores. If you are going to take a flier on anyone in the Jets' passing game this week, it should be Hill.

 

Ben TateBen Tate, RB, Houston Texans vs. Baltimore Ravens
It's easy to say "No Ray Lewis, so start Ben Tate with ease." But the Ravens were not the run-stopping team of old with Lewis in the lineup this season anyways. They are 22nd against fantasy running backs and are coming off a game in which DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones each ran for 90-plus yards. A week earlier, Jamaal Charles went for 140 yards. The Texans are tops in the league in production from fantasy backs, and that is after their lackluster game against Green Bay a week ago. Tate (toe) is still a risk as Justin Forsett is also in the mix. But it's a bye week for six teams, the Texans should want to get back to ground and pound and Tate is still one of the better flex options for a team that should have rushing success against the Ravens.
 

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Should you start or sit them?</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 21, 2012 - 06:33
Path: /college-football/west-virginia-mountaineers-vs-kansas-state-wildcats-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Just like last week’s matchup between Oklahoma and Texas, Saturday’s game between Kansas State and West Virginia will play a key role in helping to clear the Big 12 title picture. The conference crown won’t be decided this week, but there’s a clear pecking order starting to form. The Wildcats are the Big 12’s only unbeaten team and scored a huge road win over Oklahoma earlier this season. The Mountaineers watched their national title hopes fade in a disappointing loss to Texas Tech last Saturday. However, all is not lost for West Virginia, as it remains a viable Big 12 title contender and should be in the mix for one of the at-large BCS bowl spots.

These two teams have met only twice, with the last meeting occurring in 1931. West Virginia won 23-7 in 1930, while Kansas State claimed a 19-0 victory in 1931. Both games in this series have been played in Morgantown.

Storylines to Watch in West Virginia vs. Kansas State

Will Stedman Bailey play this Saturday?
Lost in the shuffle of West Virginia’s loss to Texas Tech was the injury to receiver Stedman Bailey. The junior caught six passes for 56 yards and one touchdown in the first half but did not play in the final two quarters due to an ankle injury. Bailey is one of the nation’s top deep threats and helps to stretch the field, which allows Tavon Austin to work underneath. If Bailey cannot go, West Virginia will need contributions from a couple of young players. Freshmen Travares Copeland, Jordan Thompson and Dante Campbell have combined for 15 receptions but could be counted on for a bigger role this Saturday. Bailey's status isn't officially known but most signs out of Morgantown seem to indicate he will be able to play in some capacity aginst Kansas State.

Does West Virginia have an answer for Kansas State’s offense?
The Mountaineers have struggled to get stops in Big 12 play this season, giving up at least 45 points in all three of their conference games. To emphasize how bad this defense has been: West Virginia ranks 114th nationally in total defense, 109th in points allowed and 118th in pass defense. Kansas State will present a different challenge than the ones the Mountaineers have played so far, as the Wildcats are a run-first team and aren’t as prolific through the air. Kansas State is averaging 31:47 minutes in time of possession each game, and coach Bill Snyder hopes to control the clock and keep West Virginia’s high-powered offense on the sidelines. The Mountaineers’ rush defense ranks 43rd nationally but opponents have scored 12 touchdowns on the ground. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein is averaging 264 total yards per game and will be a tough assignment for West Virginia’s defense. The Mountaineers need to load the box and force Klein and the Wildcats to win this game through the air. If Kansas State controls the time of possession, it will wear down West Virginia’s defense.

Can Geno Smith get back on track this week?
Although his performance against Texas Tech wasn’t awful, West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith had his worst game of the season. The senior completed 29 of 55 throws for 275 yards and one touchdown. Smith was widely believed to be the Heisman favorite, but his mediocre performance opened the door for Ohio State’s Braxton Miller and Kansas State’s Collin Klein to close the gap. Smith takes on a Kansas State secondary that ranks 74th nationally in yards allowed and 42nd in pass efficiency defense. The Wildcats allowed Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones to throw for 299 yards in late September, so there are plenty of plays to be made for Smith and West Virginia’s receiving corps. Considering how well the senior has played this season, last week’s game figures to be a small bump in the road. The senior will have to dodge a Kansas State pass rush that is averaging 2.3 sacks per game, but Smith should top 300 passing yards for the fifth time this year.

The x-factors…players not named Geno Smith and Collin Klein
With all of the focus on the two quarterbacks (Geno Smith and Collin Klein), there are plenty of opportunities for other skill players to step up in this game. West Virginia’s rushing attack has shown flashes of promise behind sophomore Andrew Buie, while Kansas State’s John Hubert is one of the nation’s most underrated players. On the defensive side, keep a close watch on the linebackers. Wildcats’ linebacker Arthur Brown is having an All-American-caliber season, while the Mountaineers have a budding star in redshirt freshman Isaiah Bruce. There’s no question Smith and Klein will play a huge role in determining the outcome of the game, but some of the other players will need to step up for their team. 

Final Analysis

Whichever team can dictate the tempo should gain the upper hand in this game. Kansas State wants to grind the clock and limit West Virginia’s possessions, while the Mountaineers hope to use their high-powered passing attack to jump out to an early lead and keep the pressure on the Wildcats’ offense. Kansas State is not built to rally from 14 or 17 points down, so it’s important for Bill Snyder’s club to control the tempo.

Another factor that could determine how this game goes is the health of West Virginia receiver Stedman Bailey. Although the Mountaineers can move the ball without Bailey, the junior is a key cog in the passing attack and helps to relieve the pressure on Tavon Austin. If Bailey can’t go, Kansas State can focus more on stopping Austin. And that means West Virginia’s young receivers have to have their best game of the year.

As usual, turnovers will play a key role in this game. Kansas State ranks seventh nationally in turnover margin, while West Virginia checks in 14th.

Even though the Mountaineers have struggled on defense, facing a run-first Kansas State squad is a good matchup for a team with secondary question marks. This one should be a tossup and will be decided late in the fourth quarter. It’s hard to pick against the Wildcats, but the Mountaineers find a way to rebound at home.

Final Prediction: West Virginia 38, Kansas State 34


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

 

Related College Football Content

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Big East Week 8 Preview and Predictions

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Big 12 Week 8 Preview and Predictions

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SEC Week 8 Preview and Predictions

Teaser:
<p> West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Kansas State Wildcats Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 20, 2012 - 08:40
Path: /nascar/nascar%E2%80%99s-cookie-cutter-crisis
Body:

Denny Hamlin began Thursday playing the role of NASCAR Chase contender. How’d he end it?

Trying to avoid the label of tragic footnote.

Smashing his car into the Turn 1 wall at a reported 202 mph, a test at the repaved Kansas Speedway turned into a headache—literally—as Hamlin fought dizziness to the point he made a second trip to the infield care center for further evaluation.

“It was the first time I really had some dizziness after a hit,” Hamlin told ESPN afterward. “Usually I’m sore or your jaw hurts from clenching your jaw. This is the first time I really got dizzy.”

His car was totaled, the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team forced to pull out a backup for Sunday, but that was minor compared to the possible head injury this track had given a second title contender in less than two months.

Hamlin, who claims he’ll be fine for the race, was showing signs of concussive-like symptoms, ones that will be monitored closely the next 48 hours as NASCAR is suddenly making the NFL’s measures look tame by comparison. Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffered head injuries after a 40 G impact during a tire test Aug. 29 at the same track that will keep him out of the No. 88 car for the second straight race. As the show goes on, amd with virtually the entire field shattering Kansas’ qualifying record of 180.856 mph in testing, record speeds are leading to serious concerns about both the tire compound and the ability for drivers to race effectively.

Sound familiar? Welcome to NASCAR’s Cookie Cutter Crisis, 2012, a drama-less disaster of parade laps, aerodynamics and injury risk that’s threatening to suck the life out of what once was the second-most popular sport in America. Kansas is the latest example of one of these, an “intermediate track” at 1.5 miles in length whose shape and size reflects the majority of ovals the series competes on. Five of the 10 Chase races are at intermediates (add Charlotte, Chicagoland, Texas and Homestead) while a whopping 14 of 36 races overall take place at facilities 1.5 to 2 miles in length. It’s the highest percentage for any track type on the circuit, a tough reality considering they don’t deliver enough excitement to keep a local librarian awake.

Example No. 1? Last weekend’s Charlotte’s race, which was so focused on fuel mileage that cars were dialing it back, running at 80 percent throttle for up to one-third of the race in order to conserve precious Sunoco. It was taking the gas game to a new level, slowing down in between multiple pit stops because teams felt the only way to reach Victory Lane was not to pass, but stay conservative over a long, green-flag run. The result? An ugly series of parade laps where every car ran slower than race pace, hesitant to challenge cars in front while crossing their fingers in hopes that less time on pit road would give them the position instead.

The winner, Clint Bowyer, was really the fifth-fastest car but used that strategy—plus the 20-second “I’m out of gas on the backstretch” drama of Brad Keselowski in front of him—with 58 laps remaining to “coast” to the victory. He beat fellow Chaser Hamlin, both of them more concerned about the points lost for running empty themselves that they’d probably have drafted up on each other, nose-to-tail rather than taken any sort of side-by-side risk to fight for first place.

Imagine if you’re trying to explain that race to a possible new NASCAR fan on Monday.

“Hey, what’d you do Saturday night?”

“Watched the race.”

“How’d it go?”

“Oh, just waited to see if cars were going to run out of gas for an hour and a half.”

Who other than your single, middle-aged aunt who hangs on every word you say is going to find that conversation exciting? Sitting on a hill watching cars drive around your local highway might be a better option; no wonder why, halfway through the postseason, we’re on track for the least-watched Chase since the inception of the sport’s playoff format in 2004.

Boredom wasn’t always the norm with NASCAR’s intermediate ovals. A decade ago, Charlotte was one of the sport’s signature tracks, every bit deserving of its hometown label as three different grooves often turned the sport’s two races, plus the All-Star event, into “must see” TV. But then track owner Bruton Smith, inciting a trend that’s hit far too many tracks of late, began a repaving process that changed the way drivers race the facility. New asphalt meant record speeds, putting the pressure on Goodyear’s tires to the point holding up under a long green-flag run was simply impossible. Even the best engineers, when dealing with the science of physics, can’t find a way to outfox nature. In the end, there’s a limit to how fast cars can go while turning left.

Sadly, NASCAR and its longtime tire company found out the hard way as the crisis peaked in an Oct. 2005 event that was nearly cut off early from tires blowing virtually every 20-25 laps. Ever since, steps have been taken to keep speeds in check while Goodyear’s tire compound has been made more conservative than a Rick Santorum stump speech.

Why does that matter? It means no wear over the course of a run, leaving every driver to run the same speed on new asphalt that makes the track “easy” to drive. Let’s review: similar engines among the top teams, no way to beat someone through managing your equipment and it’s difficult-to-impossible to “outbrake” someone in the turns when you’re, well, not doing much braking in the first place.

No wonder drivers are banking on fuel mileage. It’s the best way to gain spots.

Higher speeds have led to other unintended consequences, making the sport far too predictable and prosaic. As technology evolves, pinpoint engineering has left these cars sleek but sideways the second they get close to another car around them, a phenomenon known as “aero push.” The second you’re underneath another car, handling goes from a 1 to a 10 on a scale of difficulty, making it even harder for drivers to adjust since they’re not fighting the car as much in clean air. The result has been some horrifying wrecks (see, Jimmie Johnson last fall) that will come under greater scrutiny in the wake of Earnhardt’s concussion problem. When the risk is your health, drivers these days are willing to take a step back and preserve it.

Perhaps that explains why, over the course of 11 intermediate races this season, we’ve seen an average of just over two cautions for wrecks. If you take out the 10 yellows from the repaved Michigan Speedway—where Goodyear again struggled with the correct tire compound—that number drops to an astounding 1.6. Those low numbers have occurred during the same time equipment is holding up better than ever; with millions spent on fine-tuning parts, engine failures among the top teams have almost disappeared within the course of a 500-mile race. The result is long green-flag runs spreading out the field, forcing NASCAR to try and engineer mystery debris cautions in order to keep the racing close enough where more than a handful of cars wind up on the lead lap.

But manufactured excitement can only go so far. Drivers have caught on to the only ways they can win at these ovals: track position, gas mileage and keeping their nose clean. Even double-file restarts now sort out quickly, as drivers hold their position and wait for pit stops to come so they can pass cars quicker than being stuck behind them for 20, 30 or 40 laps on end. The risks come from the pit box now, not on the speedway, as Cup races on intermediates now resemble a game of high-speed chess.

Don’t get me wrong, chess is a fine hobby, but that also raises two major concerns. One: chess is not a game you see people spend $300 million annually to televise. Two: the average chess game doesn’t typically last over three hours. Even in a shortened race, like Kansas’ 400-mile affair this Sunday, you can’t expect people to wait that long to see if their driver simply runs out of gas or uses a late-race, two-tire stop under a debris caution to gain the track position needed for a top-5 finish.

No, to solve NASCAR’s “cookie-cutter” crisis big swings are needed, a way to slow down the cars further, eliminate the aero push and bring a tire compound that’s more competitive and on the ragged edge, yet doesn’t put a driver’s health at risk. Oh, and did I mention NASCAR must make the cars difficult enough to drive so handling comes back into play?

It’s a complicated physics problem, one that has no easy answer and that the 2013 car can’t possibly solve in one fell swoop. But as the pressure heats up on the sport from all fronts, it’s one NASCAR can no longer ignore if it wants to keep the fan base paying attention.

 

by Tom Bowles
Follow Tom on Twitter: @NASCARBowles
 

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports contributor Tom Bowles examines the proliferation of "cookie cutter" tracks on NASCAR's Sprint Cup circuit.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 19, 2012 - 12:36
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Links, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-eleven-links-day-1
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for October 19.

• John Harper of the New York Daily News looks at the Yankees meltdown in the ALCS. Did getting booed really affect the team?

• Jon Cooper of Saturday Down South previews the huge South Carolina-Florida matchup in the Swamp.

• This idiot pretty much gets what he deserves.

• 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh declined a safety in last night’s 13-6 win over the Seahawks, and the betting world is abuzz over the decision.

• The New York Post has a well-played cover ripping Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees.

• The Texans-Ravens and RG3’s trip to New York highlight this week’s NFL schedule.

• Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder is not lighting up the NFL, but he has played well enough to help Minnesota to a 4-2 start. And now comes word that the second-year signal caller is dating ESPN’s Samantha Steele. Life is good.

• Sort of like the Longhorns defensive game plan, Big Tex caught on fire at the Texas State Fair.

• The St. Louis Cardinals are getting hot in October once again.

• Dwight Howard is aiming to make his Lakers debut this weekend.

• Check out high-school kicker Austin Rehkow (Spokane Valley, Wash.) making this record 67-yard field goal to send the game to overtime, where his team would go to win. Boise State should be calling soon Austin.

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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


October 18

• Rushing yards will be at a premium in tonight’s NFC West slobberknocker between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks.

• Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times looks at the Tutogi brother vs. brother matchup in this weekend’s Arizona-Washington game.

• This has got to hurt. I keep picturing this guy yelling “Nowitzki!!” each time.

• Will the Jets use Tim Tebow at running back this week against the Patriots?

• Timberwolves star Kevin Love could miss two months with a broken hand.

• From way downtown….Bang. Poor little bro.

• Check out this LSU-Texas A&M GIF duel.

• Bob Brenly is leaving the Cubs booth, and many feel that the former Diamondbacks manager may join the Arizona broadcast.

• Arizona State is off to a 5-1 start under new coach Todd Graham, and tonight’s home game against undefeated Oregon will be a quality litmus test for the Sun Devils.

• Could Ravens Pro Bowl pass rusher Terrell Suggs, who tore his Achilles this spring, return for this week’s game against the Houston Texans? It may happen.

• Check out the Texas wind taking this high schooler’s punt straight backwards. We apologize for the annoying music.

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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


October 17

• NBA star Kobe Bryant is giving Alex Rodriguez pep talks to help the Yankees benched third baseman out of his current slump. Good luck with that.

• USA Today’s Christine Brennan covers the divorce of Nike and former Tour de France champion (and cheater) Lance Armstrong.

• Somebody make sure Kevin Bacon is okay.

• Chuck Oliver looks at the rise of LSU running back Jeremy Hill, who had 124 yards and two touchdowns in last Saturday’s win over South Carolina.

• Tigers ace Justin Verlander has achieved almost everything in baseball — from awards to no-hitters to dating Kate Upton — and a championship could be next.

• Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson has been cleared to practice this week. He suffered a concussion is last week’s win over Stanford.

• Check out Bill Laimbeer and Isiah Thomas back in the day.

• College basketball is getting close, and here is the latest from the ACC, Big East and Big 12 Media Days.

• New York Giants defensive back Antrel Rolle says that Redskins rookie Robert Griffin III is a much different quarterback than Michael Vick.

• Can 5-1 Arizona State keep up with 6-0 Oregon on Thursday night?

• The Florida Gators are looking for more from junior big man Patric Young on the court this season. We’ll see if his game improves, but his workout regimen is doing just fine.
 


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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)


October 16

• He did it again. Peyton Manning led the Denver Broncos to the largest comeback in Monday Night Football history, winning 35-24 over the Chargers after trailing 24-0 at the half. Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post says the victory will last with Broncos fans for ages.

• ESPN Big 12 blogger David Ubben looks forward to this weekend’s Kansas State-West Virginia battle, where quarterbacks Collin Klein and Geno Smith will spice up a “painfully boring” Heisman race.

• I get pretty excited about weather as well.

• The 3-3 Philadelphia Eagles fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo today, although many believe he is just a scapegoat for Andy Reid. We’re not sure that will help Mike Vick from turning the ball over so much, but who knows.

• Thayer Evans and Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated look at the “real story” of LSU’s Honey Badger, Tyrann Mathieu.

• Playing a four-on-four hoops in Los Angeles soon? If so, you can bid to have Shaq (The Big Bavetta?) referee your game.

• How will the Yankees fare against Justin Verlander in Detroit?

• Nebraska and Northwestern meet in a key Legends Division battle this weekend at tiny Ryan Field. But could this game be played at iconic Wrigley Field in 2014?

• Beyonce will perform at this year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans. Will Jay-Z hit the stage as well?

• New Browns owner Jim Haslam will reportedly replace team president Mike Holmgren with former Eagles president Joe Banner.

• I have no clue what game these kids are playing, but the one guy who won’t fall in line gets smashed in the face.



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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)


October 15

• What has happened to the Yankees bats in the playoffs? A-Rod is not the only Bronx Bomber struggling, as Robinson Cano is hitting 2-for-32 (.063) in the 2012 postseason. New York trails the Tigers two games to none with the ALCS headed to Detroit.

• Many Texas fans and media members are calling out Longhorns’ coach Mack Brown after their embarrassing 63-21 loss to Oklahoma. Is it time for a change in Austin?

• It’s important to spend time with kids, like taking them to the mall for an unforgettable learning experience. This is going to leave an impression.

• Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune sets the stage for Monday Night Football, where the Chargers will host Peyton Manning and the Broncos.

• Many college football fans believe Notre Dame received a very fortunate call on the last play of its 20-13 overtime victory over Stanford.

• Aaron Rodgers was back to MVP form on Sunday night, tossing six touchdowns in Green Bay’s 42-24 road win over the Texans. The Packers are back to .500 at 3-3 on the year.

• Things do get a little crazy in Baton Rouge for LSU night games, but one South Carolina fan went a little far with the multiple pants drops.

• The Ravens have started 5-1 this season, but multiple injuries on defense have Baltimore fans concerned.

• West Virginia was finally stopped on offense by Texas Tech, and the Mountaineers poor defense caught up with them in a crushing 49-14 loss to the Red Raiders.

• Ty Willingham is back at Stanford….as the volunteer assistant coach to the women’s golf team in charge of psychology?!

• Many of you would probably like to throw a football at Chris Berman or Rich Eisen, but NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport actually took one to the face during a Packers-Texans pregame segment.



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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

Teaser:
<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 19, 2012 - 12:18
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Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-8-0
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College football’s Week 8 action features several key matchups in the SEC (as usual), a pivotal Big 12 game in Morgantown a battle for supremacy in the state of Michigan.

Friday

No. 77 Connecticut at No. 67 Syracuse
Four of the eight teams in the Big East do not have a loss in league play. Connecticut and Syracuse are not in that group. The Huskies are 0–2 after losing at home to Temple last week. The Orange are 1–1 with a win over Pittsburgh and a loss at Rutgers.
Syracuse 23-20

Saturday

No. 1 Alabama at No. 35 Tennessee
The Volunteers are 0–3 in the SEC for the third time in Derek Dooley’s three seasons as the head coach. There is a very good chance UT will be 0–4 in league play for the third time in three years after Alabama’s visit to Neyland Stadium Saturday night.
Alabama 38-13

No. 52 BYU at No. 3 Notre Dame
The Notre Dame defense has now gone four straight games without giving up a touchdown — although Stanford came very, very close to crossing the goal line in overtime last Saturday. It won’t be a surprise if the streak reaches five games. BYU ranks 78th in the nation in scoring (25.6 ppg).
Notre Dame 24-10

No. 9 South Carolina at No. 4 Florida
It’s stop No. 3 for South Carolina on what has to be the most difficult three-game stretch that any team in the nation will face in 2012. The Gamecocks split the first two games, beating Georgia at home and losing last Saturday at LSU. Now it’s off to Gainesville in a game that will go a long way in determining the SEC East champion.
Florida 20-14

No. 5 Kansas State at No. 13 West Virginia
Heisman voters will be watching this game with interest. WVU’s Geno Smith and K-State’s Collin Klein are strong favorites to be among the finalists.
West Virginia 34-30

No. 66 Purdue at No. 6 Ohio State
Urban Meyer put out an APB for “tough guys” after the Buckeyes gave up 49 points in a too-close-for-comfort win over Indiana last week. There are no issues with the Ohio State offense; Braxton Miller & Co. have scored a total of 115 points in the past two weeks and are averaging just over 40 points for the season.
Ohio State 41–20

No. 7 LSU at No. 22 Texas A&M
Good pitching usually stops good hitting. We’ll find out on Saturday afternoon if the LSU defense can slow down what has been the SEC’s most explosive offense. Texas A&M leads the league in both total offense (543.7 ypg) and scoring offense (47.0 ppg) and is led by redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, one of the most exciting players in college football.
LSU 27-20

No. 94 Kansas at No. 8 Oklahoma
The OU offense has come alive after losing at home to Kansas State. The Sooners have totaled 1,057 yards and 104 points in wins over Texas Tech and Texas. Kansas continues to struggle; the Jayhawks are one of two AQ conference teams (Boston College is the other) in the nation without a win over an FBS opponent.
Oklahoma 37-7

No. 10 Georgia at No. 82 Kentucky
Kentucky’s offense has been beyond bad over the last month. Forced to play with either a true freshman (Jalen Whitlow) or a senior who was buried on the depth chart at the beginning of the season (Morgan Newton) at quarterback, the Wildcats have failed to gain more than 250 yards in any of their four SEC games. In fact, UK ranks last in the nation in total offense in league games, averaging 215.0 yards in SEC play.
Georgia 41-7

No. 99 Colorado at No. 11 USC
Colorado ranks last in the Pac-12 in both scoring offense (20.8 ppg) and scoring defense (41.3 ppg). That is not a good combination.
USC 47-13

No. 12 Florida State at No. 48 Miami (Fla.)
The Hurricanes’ offense is slumping. After scoring 38 points or more in four of their first five games, the Canes have scored a total of 17 in the past two.
Florida State 41-24

No. 54 Virginia Tech at No. 14 Clemson
Here’s a troubling stat if you are a Clemson fan: The Tigers are allowing an average of 7.6 yards per play in ACC games, the worst in the league by a considerable amount. That needs to improve down the stretch.
Clemson 33-20

No. 60 Utah at No. 15 Oregon State
The Beavers continue to be the biggest surprise in the nation. Last week, backup quarterback Cody Vaz stepped in and threw for 332 yards with three touchdowns and no picks in a 42–24 win at BYU.
Oregon State 30-13

No. 75 South Florida at No. 16 Louisville
South Florida is the only team in the Big East that has given up over 1,000 yards rushing and 1,000 yards passing. The Bulls rank seventh in the league in total defense and have allowed 93 plays of at least 10 yards. Not good.
Louisville 30-20

No. 17 Rutgers at No. 65 Temple
Temple handed Rutgers some of its most disheartening losses in school history in the late 1990s early 2000s. Some bad Temple teams won four straight over some bad Rutgers teams, the worst of which was a 48–14 loss at home in 2000. Those were not fun times for the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers 21-14

No. 47 Michigan State at No. 18 Michigan
Michigan is 4–2, but both losses came away from home vs. top-five teams (Alabama and Notre Dame). The Wolverines have won their two Big Ten games by a combined score of 99–13. This is a solid Michigan team that is better than its ranking (No. 23 AP, No. 25 coaches). The Wolverines will snap their five-game losing streak to State — and do so in convincing fashion.
Michigan 30-14

No. 84 Middle Tennessee at No. 19 Mississippi State
Mississippi State fans are looking forward to a likely showdown at Alabama in two weeks between a pair of 7–0 teams. But first the Bulldogs must focus on a Middle Tennessee club that has a 49–28 win at Georgia Tech on its 2012 résumé. The Blue Raiders, however, will make the trip to Starkville without running back Bennie Cunningham, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in last week’s 34–30 win at FIU. Cunningham had two 200-yard games this season, including 217 and five touchdowns in the win over Georgia Tech.
Mississippi State 34-20

No. 20 Stanford at No. 50 California
For only the second time ever — and the first time since 1892 — the Big Game will not be played in November or December. Stanford must bounce back from an emotional (and controversial) overtime loss at Notre Dame last Saturday. Close games are nothing new to this team; five of the Cardinal’s six games have been decided by seven points or less.
Stanford 24-21

No. 21 Cincinnati at No. 63 Toledo
The schedule hasn’t been daunting, but Cincinnati has been quite impressive on offense in 2012. The Bearcats are averaging 6.8 yards per play, which ranks ninth in the nation. That number likely will go up after playing Toledo.
Cincinnati 41-20

No. 24 Texas Tech at No. 26 TCU

Last October, Texas Tech stunned the college football world by knocking off Oklahoma, ranked No. 3 at the time, 41–38 in Norman. The next week the Red Raiders lost at home to Iowa State 41–7. Now, after beating previously unbeaten West Virginia 49–14, Tech finds itself in another “week after” game. This time around, will the Red Raiders be able to avoid a no-show the week after a breakthrough game?
Texas Tech 28-27

No. 69 Minnesota at No. 25 Wisconsin
After three games, Wisconsin ranked 94th in the nation in rushing offense (119.7 ypg) and 116th in total offense (276.0 ypg). Now, the Badgers rank 48th in rushing (181.1 ypg) and 87th in total offense (374.0 ypg). It’s still not what we expect from this program, but there are significant signs of life.
Wisconsin 31-10

No. 117 Idaho at No. 27 Louisiana Tech
Louisiana Tech rolled up over 600 yards of offense vs. an SEC team last week, but it wasn’t enough. The Bulldogs battled Arkansas to the wire before falling 59–57 in what will be one of the more memorable games of the season. This one will be far less exciting.
Louisiana Tech 65-17

No. 29 Nebraska at No. 40 Northwestern
This is a sneaky good game between two teams that have aspirations of representing the Legends Division in the Big Ten title game. Nebraska, which gave up 63 points in a loss at Ohio State two weeks ago, has to win this game to remain a threat in the division race.
Nebraska 27-21

No. 42 Baylor at No. 30 Texas
Baylor snapped a 12-game losing streak to Texas with a 30–22 win in Austin in October 2011 and followed up with a 48–24 victory in Waco last December. Now, the Bears will be aiming for their first-ever three-game winning streak against UT. Scoring shouldn’t be too much of a problem against a Texas defense that has given up 111 points in the last two games. But can Baylor slow down the Longhorns enough to win the game? That is the big question.
Texas 38-30

No. 31 Washington at No. 32 Arizona
Washington has faced arguably the most difficult schedule in the nation to date. The Huskies have played teams ranked third (Oregon), sixth (LSU), 10th (USC) and 20th (Stanford) in the initial BCS standings. They are 1–3 in those games, with the one win coming vs. Stanford. This is not a bad team, despite its rather ordinary 3–3 overall record.
Washington 37-31

No. 41 Iowa State at No. 33 Oklahoma State
Should we be concerned that Oklahoma State was held to 371 total yards and 20 points against Kansas last week? Possibly, but we are willing to give the Pokes a mulligan.
Oklahoma State 31-27

No. 101 UNLV at No. 34 Boise State

UNLV held leads of 21–0, 28–7 and 31–21 last week against rival Nevada but ended up on the wrong end of a 42–37 final. Bobby Hauck’s team doesn’t have much to show for it, but the Rebels are an improved team in 2012. Now, can they keep it interesting in Boise this week? Not likely.
Boise State 37-17

No. 36 NC State at No. 64 Maryland
Maryland is a surprise at 4–2 overall and 2–0 in the ACC despite having an offense that ranks last in the league with 267.5 yards per game.
NC State 24-17

No. 91 San Diego State at No. 37 Nevada
The Wolf Pack avoided disaster last week, rallying from 21–0 to beat UNLV 42–37 in Vegas. Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo, who missed last week’s game with an injured back, is expected to return to action. That’s not good news for San Diego State.
Nevada 37-20

No. 39 Penn State at No. 46 Iowa
Penn State has won four straight after losing its first two games, and each of its four wins has come by 11 points or more. Bill O’Brien has done a tremendous job in a very difficult spot.
Penn State 21-20

No. 43 North Carolina at No. 59 Duke
Duke must recover from a gut-wrenching loss at Virginia Tech last Saturday. The Blue Devils, seeking their sixth win of the season, led 20–0 in the first quarter but did not score again and lost 41–20. The Devils still have five more opportunities to become bowl-eligible, but they might be an underdog in all five games. North Carolina, which can’t play in a bowl game due to NCAA sanctions, is quietly playing very good football.
North Carolina 24-20

No. 106 Rice at No. 44 Tulsa
Tulsa has emerged as the team to beat in Conference USA West thanks to a 4–0 start in the league. The Golden Hurricane lead the nation in sacks (4.71 per game) and tackles for a loss (9.86 per game).
Tulsa 41-17

No. 49 ULM at No. 45 Western Kentucky
It’s the game of the year in the Sun Belt. Western Kentucky is 5–1 with the lone loss at Alabama, while ULM is 4–2 with an overtime loss at Auburn and five-point loss at Baylor. These aren’t just good Sun Belt teams; they are good teams period.
Western Kentucky 31-30

No. 121 New Mexico State at No. 53 Utah State
Utah State has lost two games — at Wisconsin and at BYU — by a total of five points. New Mexico State has lost all five of its games vs. FBS foes. Maybe that’s why Utah State is favored by 30.5 points.
Utah State 47-17

No. 55 Northern Illinois at No. 110 Akron
Northern Illinois has 14 plays from scrimmage of 40 yards or more. Only two teams nationally have more (Baylor and Georgia Tech). It could be a long night for the Akron defense.
Northern Illinois 37-16

No. 72 Auburn at No. 56 Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt finds itself as a 7-point favorite over Auburn this Saturday. It’s only the seventh time in the past 10-plus years the Commodores have been favored by at least a touchdown against an opponent from an AQ conference. They are 3¬–3 straight up in those previous six games, with wins vs. Kentucky (-13) in 2011, Duke (-8) in 2006 and Mississippi State (-12.5) in 2003 and losses to Mississippi State (-9) in 2009, Duke (-9.5) in 2008 and Kentucky (-8) in 2006.
Vanderbilt 27-20

No. 95 Boston College at No. 58 Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech has given up 42 points or more in its last three games — all losses. That streak will come to an end this week.
Georgia Tech 34-20

No. 62 UCF at No. 118 Memphis
It was back to reality last week for Memphis. One week after breaking through with a 14–10 win over Rice, the Tigers lost 41–7 at East Carolina. UCF is playing its first road game since Sept. 8.
UCF 34-13

No. 68 Pittsburgh at No. 116 Buffalo
The first season of the Paul Chryst era has been a disappointment — the Panthers have lost four games — but Tino Sunseri has shined at the quarterback position. The oft-maligned quarterback ranks eighth in the nation in passing efficiency and has thrown 10 touchdowns and two picks.
Pittsburgh 31-7

No. 111 Wyoming at No. 71 Fresno State
I thought Fresno State was ready to make a statement and beat Boise State last week. I was wrong. The Bulldogs lost 20–10 to fall to 4–3 overall. They should get win No. 5 without much trouble.
Fresno State 30-20

No. 76 Western Michigan at No. 73 Kent State
Darrell Hazell has done a tremendous job at Kent State. The Golden Flashes are 5–1 overall and 3–0 in the MAC despite playing only two of their first six games at home.
Kent State 30-27

No. 74 Ball State at No. 105 Central Michigan
Central Michigan has failed to capitalize on a potential breakthrough win at Iowa in Week 3. Since that victory in Ames, the Chippewas are 0–3 and have given up a total of 136 points. Last week, they were beaten soundly by Navy 31–13 at home before a sparse crowd. Dan Enos could be in trouble.
Ball State 37-13

No. 78 East Carolina at No. 98 UAB
Don’t expect too much production on the ground in this game. East Carolina ranks 108th in the nation in rushing with 103.7 yards per game. UAB is at 117th with 82.3 yards per game.
East Carolina 34-20

No. 81 Wake Forest at No. 80 Virginia
These two struggling teams have something in common: They’ve both lost to Duke and Maryland, in that order, in their last two games. Statistically, Virginia ranks in the middle of the pack in both total offense (51st) and total defense (53rd), but the Cavs have been undone by turnovers (119th in turnover margin).
Wake Forest 27-23

No. 83 San Jose State at No. 113 Texas-San Antonio
The Spartans must regroup after losing at home 49–27 to Utah State in a battle of improving WAC programs. Here’s a scary stat: San Jose State quarterback David Fales had a net of negative-98 yards rushing thanks to getting sacked 13 times.
San Jose State 34-10

No. 85 Indiana at No. 92 Navy
Indiana has averaged 35.0 points in its three Big Ten games. That’s the good news. The bad news? The Hoosiers are giving up 42.3 points in league games. The result is an 0–3 record, but Kevin Wilson’s club is showing signs of significant improvement. IU has lost its last two games, to Michigan State and Ohio State, by a combined seven points.
Indiana 41-30

No. 104 FIU at No. 86 Troy
Mario Cristobal’s name won’t be linked to as many jobs this offseason. FIU is 1–6 overall and 0–3 in the Sun Belt after losing at home to Middle Tennessee last week. The Golden Panthers ranked 14th in the nation in scoring defense last season (19.5 ppg) when they went 8–5; this year, they rank 108th (37.3 ppg) with five games to play.
Troy 33-17

No. 88 Marshall at No. 103 Southern Miss
No program has fallen faster than Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles went 12–2 last year and capped their season with a 24–17 win over a very good Nevada team in the Hawaii Bowl. This year, however, USM is 0–6 under new coach Ellis Johnson, who is not a popular man in Hattiesburg.
Marshall 31-30

No. 90 New Mexico at No. 107 Air Force
New Mexico is last in the nation in passing offense (59.0 ypg) and is the only team in the country with just one passing touchdown. But the Lobos are winning games under first-year coach Bob Davie, who has implemented an option attack in Albuquerque.
New Mexico 27-24

No. 93 Bowling Green at No. 123 UMass
Bowling Green has won three straight games and is in position to challenge Ohio for the MAC East title. The Falcons should be 4–1 in the league when they head to Oxford on Nov. 7.
Bowling Green 44-13

No. 112 Tulane at No. 97 UTEP
Curtis Johnson picked up his first win at Tulane last week, a 27–26 victory over SMU at the Superdome. The Green Wave hadn’t scored more than 13 points in any game before “busting out” and putting 27 on the board.
UTEP 30-14

No. 114 Army at No. 115 Eastern Michigan
These two teams have combined to win one game this season —Army's 34–31 victory over Boston College. Eastern Michigan ranks 70th or worse in every key stat maintained by the NCAA, with the exception of net punting. The Eagles, who have a lot of practice in the area, rank seventh with an average net of 42.2 yards.
Army 30-24

No. 124 FAU at No. 122 South Alabama
It’s been a rough first season for Carl Pelini at FAU. The Owls are 1–5 overall and 0–3 in the Sun Belt. They have been bad on defense and really bad on offense. It’s tough to find a win on FAU’s schedule if it doesn’t get one this week.
South Alabama 27-17

Last week: 40-11
Season: 317-90
 

@AthlonMitch

Teaser:
<p> College football’s Week 8 action features several key matchups in the SEC (as usual), a pivotal Big 12 game in Morgantown a battle for supremacy in the state of Michigan.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 19, 2012 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-7-award-watch
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The Heisman Trophy isn’t the only award worth watching on a weekly basis. The Lombardi, Outland, Davey O’Brien and Biletnikoff races are all worth watching and debating as the season goes along.

Throughout the season, we’ll keep an eye on all the prominent position trophies through college football in addition to the Heisman.

If you’re looking for our thoughts on that other trophy, check our weekly Heisman poll.

Week 8 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

OFFENSIVE AWARDS
Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Our leader: Geno Smith, West Virginia
Smith had his worst game of the season against Texas Tech, going 29 of 55 for 275 yards and a touchdown in a 49-14 loss. His overall resume, though, remains the best of any quarterback in the country. Smith has thrown 314 consecutive passes and 31 touchdowns since his last interception, including 259 attempts and 25 TDs this season.
Others: Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller

Doak Walker (Top running back)
Our leader: Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State
Bell rebounded from a lackluster performance against Ohio State to rush for 261 yards and three touchdowns in his last two games against Indiana and Iowa. Bell also has two 200-yard games under his belt this season.
Others: Oregon’s Kenjon Barner, North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard, UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin, Florida’s Mike Gillislee, Kansas State’s John Hubert, Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson, South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore, Northwestern’s Venric Mark

Biletnikoff Award (Top wide receiver)
Our leader: Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
Odds are, one or both of the West Virginia receivers is going to be a finalist for the award. This week, we should recognize of the best games by a receiver this season when Patton had 21 catches for 233 yards and four touchdowns against Texas A&M. Patton has 765 receiving yards and nine touchdowns on 55 receptions this year.
Others: Cal’s Keenan Allen, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin, West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey, Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins, USC’s Marqise Lee, Penn State’s Allen Robinson, Baylor’s Terrance Williams

Mackey Award (Top tight end)
Our leader: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington
Seferian-Jenkins caught five passes for a season-high 83 yards with a touchdown against USC last week, giving him 29 receptions for 337 yards with two touchdowns this season.
Others: Arizona State’s Chris Coyle, Stanford’s Zach Ertz, Stanford’s Levine Toilolo

Outland Trophy (Top interior lineman)
Our leader: Barrett Jones, Alabama
Alabama dominated the ground game in a rainy 42-10 win over Missouri last week. Jones helped pave the way for 362 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns in the rout of the Tigers.
Others: North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper, Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt, Florida State’s Bjoern Werner

Rimington Trophy (Top center)
Our leader: Alabama’s Jones
Others: Kansas State’s B.J. Finney, Clemson’s Dalton Freeman

 

 


DEFENSIVE AWARDS
Bednarik Award/Nagurski Award (Defensive Player of the Year)
Our leader: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
Te’o had 11 tackles in the 20-13 win over Stanford last week and continues to be the face of a defense that has allowed three offensive touchdowns (all passing) this season. Opponents have scored touchdowns on only 2 of 16 trips into the red zone against Notre Dame this season. Generally, the team leading the nation in that stat allows opponents to score touchdowns on approximately 35 to 40 percent of red zone chances.
Others: South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, Utah's Star Lotulelei, Penn State's Michael Mauti

Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)
Our leader: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
In a 23-21 loss to LSU, Clowney failed to record a sack for the first time since the second game of the season, but he did finish with six tackles and two pass breakups. Coming up this week: A critical matchup against the Florida offensive line and the slippery Jeff Driskel.
Others: Oregon State’s Scott Chricton, Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Penn State’s Michael Mauti, Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt, Florida State’s Bjeorn Werner

Butkus Award (Top linebacker)
Our leader: Te’o, Notre Dame
Others: USC’s Dion Bailey, Kansas State’s Arthur Brown, Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Iowa State’s Jake Knott, Penn State’s Michael Mauti, LSU’s Kevin Minter, Alabama’s C.J. Mosely

Thorpe Award (Top defensive back)
Our leader: Jordan Poyer, Oregon State
Poyer’s pick six against BYU last week gave the Beavers cornerback his fifth interception in his last three games. Oregon State is third in the Pac-12 and 24th nationally in pass efficiency defense.
Others: Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks, Florida’s Matt Elam, Alabama’s Dee Milliner


SPECIAL TEAMS AWARDS
Groza Award (Top kicker)

Our leader: Mike Meyer, Iowa
Meyer was 4 for 4 on field goal attempts against Michigan State, including a 42-yard game-winner in the second overtime. Meyer is 14 of 15 on field goals this season, converting 13 in a row since the opener.
Others: Louisiana-Lafayette’s Brett Baer, Northwestern’s Jeff Budzien, Clemson’s Chandler Catanzaro, Florida’s Caleb Sturgis

Ray Guy Award (Top punter)
Our leader: Florida’s Kyle Christy
Florida is a field position and defensive team this season, making Christy’s role critical. He’s delivered by averaging 46.4 yards on 29 kicks for a team that ranks fourth nationally in net punting.
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Allen, Texas A&M’s Ryan Epperson, Utah’s Sean Sellwood, Oklahoma State’s Quinn Sharp


OTHER NATIONAL AWARDS
Freshman of the Year
Our leader: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
“Johnny Football” now holds the top two SEC single-game records for total offense with 576 total yards against Louisiana Tech and 557 against against Arkansas. That broke the record of 540 yards held by Ole Miss’ Archie Manning and LSU’s Rohan Davey.
Others: Georgia’s Todd Gurley, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Miami’s Duke Johnson, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota

Coach of the Year
Our leader: Bill O’Brien, Penn State
No team faced more adversity this season than Penn State, which watched a handful of key players bolt via transfers after the NCAA announced crippling sanctions. Despite no postseason in the future and a dwindling of numbers, Penn State is much improved on offense. The Nittany Lions have scored at least 24 points in four consecutive games, a benchmark they reached only three times all of last season.
Others: Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, Rutgers’ Kyle Flood, West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Florida’s Will Muschamp, Oregon State’s Mike Riley, Kansas State’s Bill Snyder

Broyles Award (top assistant)
Our leader: Art Kaufman, Texas Tech
The idea of holding a team like West Virginia to two touchdowns would have been foreign to the Texas Tech defense a year ago when the Red Raiders ranked 113th in pass efficiency defense and 120th in run defense. Under the first-year defensive coordinator, Texas Tech ranks seventh in pass efficiency defense and 12th in run defense.
Others: Oregon State’s Mark Banker, Notre Dame’s Bob Diaco, Alabama’s Kirby Smart, Washington’s Justin Wilcox

by David Fox

@davidfox615

Related College Football Links

Week 7 Upset Predictions
10 key games in Week 8

Teaser:
<p> College Football Post-Week 7 Award Watch</p>
Post date: Friday, October 19, 2012 - 09:11
Path: /nfl/20-scariest-players-physical-freaks-and-real-life-monsters-nfl
Body:

We watch the NFL for fantasy numbers, civic pride, the strategy and maybe for a few friendly wagers.

Oh, and we watch the NFL for freakish displays of athleticism. Athlon Sports has assembled a list of real-life NFL “monsters.” By simply stepping on the field, these players put fear into opponents for one reason or another.


TOP 10 SCARIEST PLAYERS IN THE NFL


1. J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
Watt crawled from the primordial abyss — as a tight end at Central Michigan before being a walk-on at Wisconsin — to become the gnarliest, scariest player in the most frightening league on the planet. The 6'5", 295-pound 3-4 defensive end has an 82.5-inch wingspan and plays with a physicality and nastiness that makes him a menace to anyone in his path. Whether he’s stuffing the run, rushing the passer or swatting down passes from the line of scrimmage like he played for the Knicks (which Rex Ryan would prefer), Watt is a terror on the field. Through six games this season, Watt already has 9.5 sacks and eight pass deflections.

2. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, New York Giants
JPP is the second-coming of the original "Freak" Jevon Kearse. His out-of-this-world athleticism has manifested itself in YoutTube sensational backflip competitions as well as a 16.5-sack second season in the league last year. The 6'5", 278-pounder has the ability to transcend the traditional job description of a defensive end, using his 81-inch wingspan, massive hands, quick-twitch speed and trampoline vertical leap to not only wrap up quarterbacks but also chase down running backs from behind and cover tight ends on zone blitzes.

3. Rob Gronkowski, TE, New England Patriots
An opposing defender called Gronkowski “a new kind of monster.” The Gronk is a 6'6", 265-pound ball of uncontrollable energy who is just as likely to dance in the end zone in the afternoon as he is shirtless at the club later that night. Always the life of the party (on and off the field), Gronk cannot be stopped, he can only hope to be contained.

 

4. Haloti Ngata, DT, Baltimore Ravens
Ray Lewis and Ed Reed may not be the Ravens’ most invaluable defensive players — or the scariest. That honor belongs to Ngata, the 6'4", 340-pound D-tackle. Ngata turns the table on inevitable double-teams, engulfing his blockers and pushing them aside or towards the playmaker they are attempting to protect. Even more frightening, Ngata was once a beast of a rugby player. Come to think of it, the Ravens should use Ngata more at the goal line.

5. Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions
"Megatron" is a machine more than monster, as a 6'5", 236-pound athlete with the power to play defensive end, but the speed, hands and coordination to be arguably the best wide receiver alive. The laws of physics are defied by Johnson's sheer existence and his status as a human being (as opposed to futuristic cyborg) is up for debate.

6. Patrick Willis, MLB, San Francisco 49ers
P-Willie is slang for Mississippi sledgehammer. The 6'4", 240-pound Willis is the obvious heir to the Ray Lewis throne as the best middle linebacker in the game. Over the last three years, he’s the second most efficient tackler in the league, according to Pro Football Focus. More than that, Willis punishes ball-carriers with violent legal hits that reverberate in an opponent's memory bank, resulting in alligator arms over the middle and second-guessing which way to cut downfield. How scary is he? The New York Giants' Victor Cruz knows. "I've been hit by him too many times," says Cruz. "Too many. Way too many."

 

7. DeMarcus Ware, OLB, Dallas Cowboys
Ware is simply a 6'4", 254-pound Elephant pass rusher capable of stampeding backfields and goring opposing quarterbacks. Only Jared Allen has more sacks than Ware since the start of the 2009 season.

8. Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns
When this 5'9", 230-pound bowling ball coming screaming at defenders, they make a business decision to get out of the way or get knocked down like pin-heads. Six games into his rookie season, T-Rich from T-Town has 526 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns.

9. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions
So dirty he will stomp you in front of everyone's grandmother on Thanksgiving Day, this man named Suh will shoot the gap and body slam a man just to watch him writhe. The Motor City's meanest man is also apparently a road-rager with bad intentions behind the wheel, as evidenced by his multiple car wrecks off the field and on the mean streets.

10. A.J. Green, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
Green rarely sees the fear in opposing defensive backs eyes because all he knows is wide open field in front of him. The 6'4", 207-pound wideout from Georgia already has 43 receptions for 628 yards and six touchdowns, numbers which will easily top his prolific production from his rookie season.

THE NEXT 10...

MONSTERS ON THE MEND

Desmond Bishop, MLB, Green Bay Packers - Lambeau’s fearsome linebacker is out for the season.

James Harrison, OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers - The linebacker is still hobbled, but he might be back to paying NFL-levied fines in no time.

Ray Lewis, MLB, Baltimore Ravens - The scariest player of his era may have played his last snap.

Troy Polamalu, S, Pittsburgh Steelers - The Steelers are awaiting the return of their soft-spoken big hitter.

Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets - Quarterbacks can finally test the whole field agains the Jets with Revis out.

Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings - The veteran pass rusher last season fell a half sack short of matching Michael Strahan’s record of 22.5 sacks in a season.

Brandon Browner, CB, Seattle Seahawks - Emerged from the Canadian Football League to become one of the NFL’s biggest hitters, and at 6-4 he has unusual size for a cornerback.

Richie Incognito, G, Miami Dolphins - The former Saints lineman is repeatedly accused for dirty play. He doesn’t seem to mind.

LaRon Landry, S, New York Jets - The safety plays with reckless abandon thanks to thundering head-first hits.

Jake Long, LT, Miami Dolphins - A 6-foot-7, 319-pound offensive tackle who was one of the best in the league since his rookie season.

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers - The sophomore campaign has yet to live up to the rookie effort, but he’s still a 6-5, 245-pound quarterback with ridiculous athleticism.

Marshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks - Have to give a shout out to a running back who refers to himself as being in “Beast Mode.”

Clay Matthews, OLB, Green Bay Packers - Quarterbacks in his wake must also deal with the humiliation of being sacked by a defensive end with blonde flowing locks.

Julius Peppers, DE, Chicago Bears - The defensive end who also played a little college basketball for the Tar Heels had 11 sacks in his ninth NFL season.

Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers - His size makes it a monster task to bring him down in the backfield.

@AthlonSports

Teaser:
<p> 20 scariest players, physical freaks and real-life monsters in the NFL</p>
Post date: Friday, October 19, 2012 - 08:40
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/20-twitter-accounts-every-pac-12-football-fan-should-follow
Body:

It's time for everyone to shed their east-coast bias once and for all and admit that they play good football out on the left coast (even if some of the games don't even start until after your bedtime). With its emphasis on offense, the Pac-12 might even be the most action-packed league in the land. Heck, Oregon might just be the most influential team in college football over the last five years — from their fast-break offense to their godawful uniform choices.

Anyone who wants a front-row seat for the happenings out west needs to follow these 20 Pac-12 insiders.

 

@wilnerhotline
A blogger for the Mercury News, Jon Wilner covers the Pac-12 with a special emphasis on the Bay Area teams, which means that his Super Bowl is this week.

 

 

@LyaWodraska
Lya's on the Ute beat for the Salt Lake Tribune. Her bio says she also covers gymnastics and is a health and fitness writer and trainer and avid mountain biker. In other words, she could probably kick your ass, so if you criticize her coverage, do it anonymously.

 

 

@cfosterlatimes
Chris Foster is the LA Times' UCLA beat writer and dispenses nuggets from Bruin-land. As you would expect from a school with 11 national titles, he leans basketball in his tweet count.

 

 

@KyleRingo
Kyle has the sad task of covering the dying days of the Jon Embree regime at Colorado, but at least he's doing it in the beautiful environs of Boulder. It'll be getting cold soon, though.

 

 

@DougHaller
Doug covers Arizona State for azcentral sports. Things are looking up in the Valley of the Sun, and Doug's on the front lines.

 

 

@ryan_finley
Ryan says he covers Arizona football "sideline to sideline and goal-line to goal-line." That's pretty comprehensive coverage. He backs it up with links, retweets and observations from RichRod Central.

 

 

@Pnbuker
Paul Buker bills himself as a 35-year veteran at The Oregonian, meaning that he's lived through the lowest of lows and appreciates the highs in the Pacific Northwest. Funny guy, too.

 

 

@ChristianCaple
Christian covers the Washington State Cougars for the Spokesman-Review, meaning that he's got one of the best jobs in college sports: chronicling the eccentricities and outbursts of Coogs coach Mike Leach.

 

 

@KyleBonagura
Kyle is a 49ers beat writer for CBSSports.com but also covers Stanford for @stanfordrivals.com. He handles both chores on one feed, with plenty of general sports chat and current events thrown in.

 

 

@LindsayRae19
Lindsay Schnell covers Oregon State, and while she's a hoops gal at heart, she's still a key source for happenings in Beaver Nation.

 

 

@DuckFootball
Rob Moseley covers Oregon football for the Eugene Register-Guard, and he tweets pithy observations from the front lines of Chip Kelly's offensive juggernaut. Also not afraid of lively interactions with fellow tweeters.

 

 

@DanGreenspan
Dan's the publisher of CalSportsDigest.com, meaning that he's uniquely qualified to offer unvarnished insights on Bears football. Especially interesting this year, as Jeff Tedford coaches for his professional life.

 

 

@USC_Athletics
All the news straight from Traveler's mouth. The Trojans may not win a national title this year, but they're always relevant and always interesting.


 

 

@UCLACoachMora
Jim Mora has wasted no time jockeying for attention in ADHD-afflicted Southern California. He hasn't really extended his pot-stirring to Twitter yet, but there's always hope.

 

 

@UCLAFootball
It's the official Twitter account for Bruins football, so take it with a grain of true blue and gold salt — it's doubtful that anything not Jim Mora-approved is getting through. Still worth a follow for fans of a program on an upward trajectory.

 

 

@pac12
The mother ship for all things Pac-12. Not exactly a no-spin zone, but plenty of useful information and links provided. It's far from football-only, though; prepare for plenty of soccer and women's volleyball.

 

 

@oregonliveducks
The Oregonian and OregonLive.com keep their Twitter feed quacking with all things Ducks. Fans of offense and hideous color schemes welcome.

 

 

@InsideUSC
Scott Wolf is a staff writer for the LA Daily News, meaning he has a front-row seat for the ongoing circus that is the Lane Kiffin era in LA.

 

 

@ESPN_Pac12blog
The worldwide leader has its finger on the pulse of the Pac-12 thanks to Ted Miller and Kevin Gemmell. Their feed is mostly links and retweets, but it's all good stuff, and you get occasional gems like this one:

 

 

@bcondotta
Bob Condotta covers the Washington Huskies for the Seattle Times in an informative, no-nonsense way. Condotta's gotta be as hungry as any Husky fan for the U-Dub to rejoin the elite; he was there for the dark days of 0-12.

Teaser:
<p> These tweeting 20 will you keep you entertained and educated about Pac-12 football</p>
Post date: Friday, October 19, 2012 - 06:20
Path: /college-football/lsu-tigers-vs-texas-am-aggies-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Texas A&M and LSU have played 50 times, but the 2012 meeting will be the first as SEC foes. These two campuses are separated by less than 400 miles, and this is a crucial game in the fertile recruiting area of Texas and Louisiana.

So far, Texas A&M’s debut season in the SEC has been a success. The Aggies suffered a three-point loss to Florida in the opener but have won their last two conference games. Texas A&M rallied to beat Ole Miss on Oct. 6 and destroyed Arkansas 58-10 on Sept. 29.

LSU suffered a 14-6 loss to Florida two weeks ago but rebounded with a 23-21 victory over South Carolina last Saturday. Not only was the win over the Gamecocks a huge confidence boost, but also the Tigers were able to keep pace with Alabama in the SEC West standings.

Storylines to Watch in LSU vs. Texas A&M

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel vs. LSU’s defense
It’s not often a redshirt freshman quarterback comes into the SEC and makes a run at the Heisman Trophy but that’s exactly what Manziel has done through the first seven weeks of the season. Johnny Football leads the SEC with 676 rushing yards and is tied with South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore for the No. 1 spot in rushing touchdowns with 10. Manziel is completing 67.4 percent of his throws and ranks third in the conference with an average of 280 passing yards a game. Although the redshirt freshman has been one of this season’s breakout players and one of the top-10 candidates to win the Heisman after seven weeks, Saturday’s matchup against LSU is easily his toughest assignment. The Tigers are the fastest defense Texas A&M has played since the season opener against Florida and rank second nationally in pass defense and total yards allowed per game. Manziel is certainly a special player and will have his moments against the Tigers’ defense. However, expect LSU to counter with several different looks to confuse Manziel, as well as keeping him in the pocket to not allow him to get to the edge to make plays with his feet. Helping Manziel’s cause on offense is two NFL tackles in Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews. These two linemen will be in charge of keeping two of the best pass-rush ends (Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo) away from Manziel.

Can LSU get its passing game on track?
It’s no secret the Tigers build their offense on a punishing ground attack and rely on timely plays from their passing game to keep the chains moving. After watching Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee struggle last season, most LSU fans expected Zach Mettenberger to be an upgrade at quarterback. However, that hasn’t been the case, as the junior college recruit ranks 10th in the conference in SEC-only games with 158.3 yards per game and ranks 12th in passing efficiency. Although LSU doesn’t want to throw it 40 times a game, as Louisiana Tech showed against Texas A&M last week, there are holes in the Aggies’ secondary. Texas A&M ranks 107th nationally against the pass, but its defensive line has helped to make up for some of the struggles by registering 3.2 sacks a game. Mettenberger may not top 200 passing yards in this game, but he needs to be efficient and play mistake-free ball to give LSU a chance to win.

Texas A&M’s defensive line vs. LSU’s offensive line
LSU’s offensive line was a huge concern going into last week’s game against South Carolina, but the unit responded with one of its best showings of the season. With Alex Hurst and Chris Faulk out – two potential All-American tackles – the Tigers gashed the Gamecocks for 258 yards and two scores. This unit will be under pressure once again, as it will be greeted by a hostile environment in College Station, along with one of the nation’s most underrated defensive ends in Damontre Moore. The junior has 8.5 sacks and 15 tackles for a loss through the first six weeks and will be a tough assignment for LSU left tackle Josh Dworaczyk. Texas A&M is allowing 147.7 rushing yards per game in SEC play, which is one area the Tigers will look to exploit. LSU has one of the deepest backfields in college football and received a boost from true freshman Jeremy Hill in the win over South Carolina last week. The Aggies aren’t bad against the run, but this is one area LSU should be able to take advantage of on Saturday afternoon.

Final Analysis

With a raucous home crowd for Texas A&M, LSU needs to weather the early storm and avoid any big mistakes in the first quarter. The Aggies need quarterback Johnny Manziel to be a playmaker but also need a big day from running backs Ben Malena and Christine Michael. If the Tigers control the line of scrimmage and keep Manziel contained in the pocket, the Aggies will struggle to get their offense on track.

When LSU has the ball, look for the Aggies to load the line of scrimmage and force Mettenberger to win this game through the air. The Tigers will have opportunities to make plays in the passing game but need to contain Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore.

Expect a tight game into the fourth quarter, but LSU’s edge in depth will show, as it will take control of the trenches in the second half and wear down the Aggies.

Final Prediction: LSU 27, Texas A&M 20 


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

 

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Teaser:
<p> LSU Tigers vs. Texas A&amp;M Aggies Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 19, 2012 - 06:08

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