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College football’s fifth weekend of action is highlighted Texas' trip to Stillwater to face Oklahoma State, Ohio State's battle with Michigan State and West Virginia's first Big 12 game vs. Baylor. Here’s a prediction on every game this weekend.

Friday

No. 110 Hawaii at No. 55 BYU
Norm Chow, the noted offensive guru, is off to a rocky start in his first season as a head coach. The Warriors lost last week at home to Nevada 69–24 to drop to 1–2. The offense is ranked 102nd in the nation, and the defense has given up a total of 118 points in two games vs. FBS foes.
BYU 41-17

Saturday

No. 75 Ole Miss at No. 1 Alabama
In its only game vs. a quality opponent (Texas in Oxford), Ole Miss gave up 350 yards on the ground. That’s an alarming number for a team that is preparing to visit Tuscaloosa to take on the mighty Crimson Tide.
Alabama 49-7

Towson at No. 2 LSU
Towson made the most dramatic improvement in the Division I ranks last season, improving from 1–10 in 2010 to 9–3 in ’11.
LSU 41-0

No. 3 Oregon at No. 100 Washington State
Maybe we expected too much too soon out of Mike Leach at Washington State, but the Cougars have been a disappointment in 2012. The record is a respectable 2–2, but they only beat Eastern Washington by four and UNLV by eight and lost last week at home to Colorado.
Oregon 51-10

No. 42 Tennessee at No. 4 Georgia
This is the eighth time in the Derek Dooley era that Tennessee has been an underdog of 13 points or more. That happened only three times in the 13 seasons prior to Dooley’s arrival.
Georgia 38-17

No. 5 Florida State at No. 57 South Florida
Florida State announced itself as a legitimate national title contender with a 49–37 win over Clemson Saturday night. Now it’s time for the Seminoles to show they can handle prosperity against a South Florida team that lost last week at Ball State.
Florida State 31-13

No. 7 South Carolina at No. 81 Kentucky
We all remember the Saturday night in Lexington two years ago when Kentucky stormed back from a 28–10 deficit in the third quarter to steal a 31–28 victory from South Carolina, ranked No. 10 at the time. That, however, is the only time the Gamecocks have lost to Kentucky since the turn of the century. Carolina has won 11 of the past 12 vs. the Wildcats, highlighted by last season’s 54–3 beatdown in Columbia.
South Carolina 27-6

No. 8 Texas at No. 26 Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State has sandwiched lopsided wins vs. inferior opponents (Savannah State and UL Lafayette) around a 59–38 loss at Arizona. The Pokes are allowing 438.5 yards per game vs. FBS foes. Look for the outstanding Texas defensive line to make life difficult for the Oklahoma State quarterback — either true freshman Wes Lunt (if healthy) or redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh.
Texas 31-17

No. 11 Ohio State at No. 21 Michigan State
Ohio State has struggled on defense the past two weeks, giving up 512 and 403 yards to California and UAB, respectively. The major issue has been stopping the pass; the Bucks currently rank 104th in the nation in pass defense, allowing 277.3 yards per game. Good thing for Ohio State that Michigan State has so much trouble with the forward pass.
Ohio State 17-13

No. 38 Baylor at No. 12 West Virginia

West Virginia is putting up gaudy numbers in the passing game: Quarterback Geno Smith ranks second nationally in total offense, and WVU has two players (Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey) ranked among the top 10 nationally in receiving yards per game. This is an underrated matchup on a rather ordinary slate of games. 

West Virginia 44-34

No. 17 Clemson at No. 74 Boston College
Clemson scored 37 points and gained 426 yards of offense on the road yet still lost by 12 points to Florida State. That’s what happens when your defense allows the opposition to average 8.9 yards per snap. That won’t happen this week.
Clemson 31-14

No. 17 TCU at No. 93 SMU
Here’s an incredible stat (first pointed out by Athlon colleague David Fox): SMU ranks last in the nation in total defense even though the Mustangs did not allow a point in one of its three games. That’s right, SMU is allowing 556.7 yards and 35.7 points per game despite shutting out Stephen F. Austin 52–0 two weeks ago.
TCU 38-13

No. 19 Louisville at No. 96 Southern Miss
These two former C-USA rivals are a combined 4–3. Louisville is 4–0. Southern Miss is 0–3. The Golden Eagles have been brutal on both sides of the ball under first-year coach Ellis Johnson. They rank 115th in the nation in total offense and 104th in total defense.
Louisville 28-7

No. 20 Oregon State at No. 25 Arizona
Expectations were low at Oregon State this season. So naturally, Mike Riley has the Beavers off to a 2–0 start that includes wins against Wisconsin and UCLA. ). Arizona suffered its first defeat of the Rich Rodriguez era on Saturday night, a humbling 49–0 shutout at Oregon. The Wildcats hung around into the second half — they only trailed 13–0 midway through the third — but gave up five touchdowns in the final 22 minutes of the game.
Oregon State 23-17

No. 23 UCLA at No. 99 Colorado
Colorado is back in double-digits in the Athlon Sports 124 after its surprising win at Washington State last Saturday. The Buffaloes had played as poorly as any team in the nation in the first three weeks of the season but somehow found a way to win in Pullman. The winning ways won’t continue.
UCLA 38-13

No. 47 Wisconsin at No. 24 Nebraska
We still don’t know much about Nebraska. The Huskers have defeated three overmatched teams in Lincoln and lost to UCLA in their only game vs. a school from an AQ conference. Even against this soft schedule, Nebraska is having trouble stopping the run. The Huskers have given up 185 yards on the ground to Southern Miss, 355 to UCLA and 148 to Arkansas State. Wisconsin hasn’t been productive on the ground to date, but this is a team that is still capable of running the ball well (we think). 

Nebraska 27-20

No. 28 Boise State at No. 109 New Mexico
Boise State has been held without an offensive touchdown in two of its three games yet is still 2–1 after beating BYU 7–6 last Thursday night. New Mexcio is showing signs of life under first-year coach Bob Davie; the Lobos ended an annoying three-year losing streak to rival New Mexico State with a 27–14 win in Las Cruces last week. I’m sure Walter White was pleased.
Boise State 27-10

No. 60 Arkansas at No. 30 Texas A&M
There are so many words we can use to describe Arkansas’ season to date — debacle, train wreck, dumpster fire, nightmare, etc. One word that can’t be used? Success. Virtually nothing has gone right for the Razorbacks. They are 0–3 vs. FBS opponents, and all three losses have come in the state of Arkansas. Now, John L. Smith takes his show on the road.
Texas A&M 41-20

No. 98 Indiana at No. 31 Northwestern
Northwestern is one of only 15 teams in the nation with a 4–0 record. Three of those wins have come against teams from an AQ conference — Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Boston College. Indiana, meanwhile, has one win vs. an FBS team dating back to the beginning of the 2011 season. That win came in Week 2 against a UMass team that is in its first year in the FBS.
Northwestern 31-23

No. 32 Nevada at No. 106 Texas State
Nevada junior Stefphon Jefferson leads the nation in rushing attempts (122), rushing yards (697) and rushing touchdowns (11). He should run wild this week in San Marcos.
Nevada 41-10

No. 33 Missouri at No. 62 UCF
Missouri finds itself as a three-point underdog on the road to a UCF team that only beat FIU by 13 points last week. The Tigers will be eager to prove that the wrong team is favored.
Missouri 30-28

No. 34 Arizona State at No. 49 California
Unless Zach Maynard, the starting quarterback at Cal, goes down with an injury in the next few days, Arizona State will be facing a team’s No. 1 quarterback for the first time since opening day (vs. Northern Arizona). The Sun Devils played Illinois without Nathan Scheelhaase, Missouri without James Franklin and Utah without Jordan Wynn (who retired from football the week before).
California 27-24

No. 44 Cincinnati vs. No. 35 Virginia Tech (Landover, Md.)
It’s tempting to compare these teams’ common opponent (Cincinnati beat Pitt by 24 points and Pitt beat Virginia Tech by 18 points), but applying the transitive property in college football can be dangerous.

Virginia Tech 27-24

No. 43 NC State at No. 36 Miami (Fla.)
The first thing that comes to mind about Miami football in 2012 is the Canes’ no-show in a 52–13 loss at Kansas State in Week 2. But that’s far from the complete story. Al Golden’s team is 3–1 overall and 2–0 in the ACC with both wins coming on the road. The Canes showed tremendous resolve at Georgia Tech last weekend, rallying from a 36–19 deficit in the second half to defeat the Yellow Jackets in overtime. 

Miami 27-20

No. 118 Middle Tennessee at No. 37 Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech is averaging 42.0 points per game but only has a 2–2 record to show for it — thanks to overtime losses to Virginia Tech and Miami. The Yellow Jackets led Miami last week 36–19 in the second half but surrendered the final 23 points of the game.
Georgia Tech 48-10

No. 52 Texas Tech at No. 39 Iowa State
Keep in mind that the schedule has been ridiculously soft — Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico — but Texas Tech currently ranks first in the nation in total defense (160.3 ypg). That won’t last, especially with Oklahoma, West Virginia, TCU, Kansas State and Texas looming on the Red Raiders’ schedule.
Iowa State 27-23

No. 87 Marshall at No. 40 Purdue
Don’t be surprised if Purdue emerges as one of the better teams in the Big Ten (insert Big Ten joke here). The Boilermakers are 2–1, and their only lose was by three points at Notre Dame.
Purdue 30-17

No. 41 Ohio at No. 124 UMass
Ohio is 4–0 and it’s hard to find a potential loss on the Bobcats’ schedule. UMass is 0-4, and it’s difficult to find a potential win on the Minutemen’s schedule.
Ohio 41-10

No. 46 Louisiana Tech at No. 65 Virginia
Louisiana Tech is 3–0 and has scored over 50 points in all three games. Last week, the Bulldogs disposed of Illinois with surprising ease, beating the Illini 52-24 in Champaign. On a negative note, Tech’s leading rusher, Tevin King, is out for the year after tearing an ACL vs. Illinois.
Louisiana Tech 38-23

No. 101 UNLV at No. 48 Utah State
UNLV suffered a horrible loss in Week 2 (17–14 at home to Northern Arizona), but the Rebels have actually played relatively well in 2012. They have lost two games to AQ conference teams by a combined 11 points (by three to Minnesota in OT and by eight to Washington State), and last week they knocked off Air Force 38–35. Winning in Logan, however, is a tough chore.
Utah State 38-20

No. 50 Minnesota at No. 67 Iowa
It hasn’t exactly been the most difficult slate — and the wins haven’t exactly been dominating — but Minnesota is 4–0 for the first time since 2008. Iowa has played three games vs. AQ conference teams, and all three games have been decided by three points or less. The Hawkeyes beat Northern Illinois by one and lost to Iowa State by three and Central Michigan by one.
Minnesota 21-20

No. 51 ULM at No. 117 Tulane
After opening the 2012 season with three AQ conference teams — and playing quite well in all three — ULM heads to New Orleans to take on a struggling Tulane club. The Green Wave are 0–3 and are coming off a 39–0 loss at home to Ole Miss.
ULM 34-14

No. 53 Western Kentucky at No. 78 Arkansas State
This is a pivotal clash in the Sun Belt. There was no letdown for Western Kentucky last week after its big win at Kentucky. The Hilltoppers pounded Southern Miss 42–17 in Bowling Green to improve to 3–1. Arkansas State is 2–2 but has yet to play a team with comparable abilities. The Red Wolves were big favorites over Memphis and Alcorn State and decided underdogs vs. Oregon and Nebraska.
Western Kentucky 33-30

No. 56 Ball State at No. 104 Kent State
These are two improving programs with outstanding head coaches. Ball State, led by Pete Lembo, is 3–1 with the only loss coming at Clemson. The Cardinals have two wins over AQ conference teams, Indiana and South Florida. Kent State, under the direction of former Ohio State assistant Darrell Hazell is 2–1.
Ball State 33-20

No. 72 Duke at No. 58 Wake Forest
Duke, off to a 3–1 start, appears to be improved, but the Blue Devils have yet to record anything close to a quality win. Wake Forest is also 3–1, and it’s a strange 3–1. The Demon Deacons struggled with Liberty and Army and got blown out (52–0) at Florida State yet beat North Carolina. I smell upset.
Duke 21-20

No. 119 Idaho at No. 59 North Carolina
Idaho made a big move in our weekly rankings, climbing from No. 124 (last) all the way to No. 119. The reason? The Vandals lost in overtime to Wyoming.
North Carolina 41-6

No. 66 Penn State at No. 63 Illinois
Penn State is not a very good team, but the Nittany Lions would be 3–1 if they had a kicker who could make a chip-shot field goal. Illinois has been brutal on defense; the Illini have given up 45 points and 52 points in their two losses (at Arizona State and vs. Louisiana Tech).
Illinois 27-24

No. 73 Toledo at No. 64 Western Michigan
This is a key early season showdown between two teams expectd to be in the hunt for the MAC West title. Western Michigan has played three games vs. AQ conference teams, losing to Illinois (24–7) and Minnesota (28–3) and beating UConn (30–24). Toledo lost in Week 1 in overtime at Arizona. These are two good teams.
Western Michigan 38, Toledo 34

No. 115 Buffalo at No. 68 UConn
As expected, UConn has been very good on defense and very average on offense. The Huskies are 2–2 after losing last week at Western Michigan — their second straight loss to the Broncos.
UConn 30-3

No. 69 Tulsa at No. 97 UAB
Tulsa had a nice win last week, rallying to beat a Fresno State team that had defeated Colorado 69–14 the week before. UAB is 0–3 against a tough schedule. This team isn’t awful.
Tulsa 33-24

No. 94 FIU at No. 76 UL Lafayette
The folks in Lafayette can’t be thrilled that their rivals from the Northeastern part of the state, the ULM Warhawks, have been getting so much national attention.
UL Lafayette 38-30

No. 88 San Diego State at No. 77 Fresno State
With the talent in the state of California, neither of these teams should be ranked so low in our national rankings. Fresno State lost some early season momentum by letting a 13-point first half lead slip away last week at Tulsa.
Fresno State 31-20

No. 95 Central Michigan at No. 79 Northern Illinois
Central Michigan is fresh off its best win of the Dan Enos era, a 32–31 victory at Iowa. Now, we’ll find out if the Chips have staying power. Northern Illinois lost by one point in Week 1 to that same Iowa team but has reeled off three straight since.
Northern Illinois 34-14

No. 85 UTEP at No. 80 East Carolina
East Carolina is struggling on offense without Dominique Davis taking snaps at quarterback. The Pirates rank 118th in the nation in scoring vs. FBS opponents, averaging 13.3 points in three games. The schedule has been tough (South Carolina, Southern Miss and North Carolina, all on the road), but ECU needs to increase its offensive production to be a factor in C-USA East.
East Carolina 21-20

No. 82 San Jose State at No. 89 Navy
San Jose State has won three straight after losing by three points to Stanford in Week 1. The Spartans have scored 38 points or more in all three wins. Navy picked up its first win of the season last week, taking out its early season frustrations on VMI in a 41–3 win. The Middies struggled to score points in their first two games, losses to Notre Dame (50–10) and Penn State (34–7). It will be a bad sign if Navy has trouble moving the ball this weekend.
San Jose State 24-17

No. 86 Troy at No. 121 South Alabama
Troy is 2–2 with two losses (vs. UL Lafayette and Mississippi State) by a combined nine points. The Trojans rolled up 572 yards in the loss to MSU. They should win this game with ease.
Troy 38-13

No. 107 Houston vs. No. 90 Rice
Houston has arguably been the most disappointing team in the nation. Yes, record-setting quarterback Case Keenum is gone, but the Cougars welcomed back 12 starters (including seven on defense) from a team that won 13 games last season. But the 2012 season, under the direction of first-year coach Tony Levine, has been a disaster. Houston has lost all three games, most notably a 30–13 decision at home in Week 1 to FBS upstart Texas State.
Rice 41-37

Rhode Island at No. 92 Bowling Green
Bowling Green looked sharp in a Week 1 loss at Florida but has not played well since. The Falcons struggled at home to beat a bad Idaho team and then lost at Toledo and Virginia Tech by a combined 64–15. Rhode Island is 0–3.
Bowling Green 38-6

No. 113 Colorado State at No. 102 Air Force
It’s an intrastate battle between two struggling programs. Colorado State has dropped three straight since beating Colorado in Week 1. Air Force played well at Michigan in Week 2 but lost to UNLV last weekend. Not good.
Air Force 34-20

Stony Brook at No. 103 Army
Army has scored 77 points in the past two weeks but has nothing to show for it. The Black Knights are 0–3 thanks in large part to a defense that is giving up 491.7 yards and 44.0 points per game.
Army 34-23

No. 105 North Texas at No. 122 FAU
North Texas isn’t bad. The Mean Green are 1–3 but have played relatively well against a tough schedule. Florida Atlantic can catch its breath (to a degree) after playing Georgia and Alabama the past two weeks.
North Texas 30-13

No. 108 Miami (Ohio) at No. 114 Akron
Akron is showing signs of improvement. The Zips, under the direction of Terry Bowden, lost at FIU in overtime in Week 2 and hung with Tennessee until the fourth quarter last weekend in Knoxville.
Akron 28-24

No. 120 Texas-San Antonio at No. 116 New Mexico State
New Mexico State dropped to 1–3 with a disappointing loss at home to rival New Mexico last week. The Aggies were gashed on the ground, giving up 302 yards on 54 carries. UTSA is 4–0 with wins against South Alabama, Texas A&M-Commerce, Georgia State and Northwestern Oklahoma. Not exactly a murderer’s row.
New Mexico State 27-24

Last week: 45-12
Season: 210-49

 

@AthlonMitch

Teaser:
<p> Predictions on every college football game on the Week 5 schedule. Texas heads to Oklahoma State, Michigan State hosts Ohio State and Tennessee makes the trip to Georgia</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 07:02
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-start-or-sit-week-4
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From now until Week 11, every team will get a one-week break from the playing field, which means you obviously won’t be able to start any of those players that given week. Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are the only ones on bye in Week 4, and while it’s just two teams, it still means some owners are out there will have to do without the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck, Mike Wallace, Reggie Wayne and others this week. Don’t forget that Heath Miller was the top-scoring tight end in all of fantasy football last week.

So as usual, Athlon Sports is here to help you make those important lineup decisions for your Yahoo!, NFL.com or ESPN fantasy football league with our weekly Start and Sit suggestions. Keep in mind these are merely our suggestions as the ultimate decision comes down to you, the owner.

Week 4 Positional Rankings

Sneaky Start of the Week
Ben Tate, RB, Houston vs. Tennessee
No, Arian Foster’s not hurt, not that I’m aware of anyways, and yes, I do know he’s the lead horse in the Texans’ backfield. However, that does not mean there’s not enough room for two viable fantasy options, especially considering this Sunday’s match up against Tennessee.

First, the Titans are 29th in the league in rushing defense and are giving up the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. Second, Foster and Tate have shared the load before, and been productive doing so. In Week 2 against Miami, Foster led the way with 28 carries, while Tate got 12, turning them into 74 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught four passes for 23 yards in that game and has shown himself to be just as reliable as Foster as a receiver.

Last season, Tate scored 9.5 or more fantasy points in eight of the 15 games he played in. Of those eight, three of them came in games in which Foster scored 23.5 or more fantasy points himself. In fact, Foster’s biggest game of the 2011 season was against the Titans in Week 7 when he had more than 115 yards both rushing and receiving and scored three touchdowns (43.9 pts). Despite this, Foster still got 15 carries, which went for 104 yards (10.4 pts).

I’m not saying Foster and Tate are going to run wild like that versus the Titans this time around, although the statistics to this point might suggest otherwise. Rather what I am thinking is that between the Titans’ susceptible rush defense and the Texans’ run-oriented offense, there should be more than enough opportunities to make Tate a very solid flex option this week, if not a borderline RB2, especially if he’s able to find the end zone.

Surprise Sit of the Week
Cam Newton, QB, Carolina at Atlanta
If not for a one-yard touchdown plunge in the third quarter, Newton’s overall line against the Giants last Thursday night would have looked pretty ugly. He completed just 16 of his 30 pass attempts for 242 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. He also was sacked twice and picked up a grand total of five yards on his five other rush attempts.

Prior to the Giants game, Newton had played fairly well. In his first two games, he completed nearly 70 percent of his passes for an average of 227 yards per game. But he had as many interceptions as touchdown passes (two apiece), along with a rushing touchdown and a fumble lost. In total, he currently is No. 18 at his position in fantasy scoring, putting him behind the likes of Michael Vick (and his nine turnovers), second-year signal callers Jake Locker and Christian Ponder, and this year’s No. 1 overall pick, Andrew Luck.

To put it simply, Newton’s fantasy production early on this season is down quite a bit, and I don’t see it getting much better against Atlanta. Last season, Newton scored 78.3 fantasy points through his first three games, which also were the first three games of his NFL career. This season, he’s scored 53.0 fantasy points in his first three games. That’s a difference of 25.3 points or an average of 8.4 points per game.

Then there’s the Falcons defense, which is seventh in the league in pass defense right now and is giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. Remember, this is a defense that picked Peyton Manning off three times in the first quarter two weeks ago at home and followed that up by holding Phillip Rivers to just 173 yards through the air, no touchdowns and two interceptions on the road. Newton is still one of the most dangerous players in the league and is always a candidate to break out for a huge game. I just don’t see it happening this week.

Quarterbacks
START
Peyton Manning (DEN) vs. Oakland
Yes, I had Manning in the Sit section last week. And even though one could argue he did most of his damage in “garbage” time against the Texans, as the Broncos were trying to come back from a huge deficit, he still delivered. Manning finished with 330 yards, two touchdowns, and most importantly, no interceptions against the Texans, and this week he welcomes Oakland to his new home field. Make that he welcomes with open arms a Raiders defense that’s giving up more than 264 yards through the air and nearly 30 points per game, and has yet to intercept a pass.

Philip Rivers (SD) at Kansas City
Rivers had a forgettable performance last week against Atlanta as he had just 173 yards passing, no touchdowns and threw two picks. His numbers should improve quite a bit this week against Kansas City. While the Falcons are giving up the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, the Chiefs are allowing the third most. The Chiefs have allowed eight touchdown passes and have just one interception in their first three games.

Josh Freeman (TB) vs. Washington
Freeman, like Manning, goes from one side to the other this week if anything because of the opponent. After getting roughed up by Dallas (110 yards, TD, INT, sacked twice) last week, Freeman gets his shot at a Washington defense that’s surrendering the second-most passing yards per game (Tampa is first in this category) and is yielding the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. How bad has it been? Drew Brees, Sam Bradford and Andy Dalton each enjoyed 300-yard, three-touchdown performances against the ‘Skins.

SIT
Tony Romo (DAL) vs. Chicago (Monday)
Romo was not able to take advantage of what appeared to be a Start-able situation against Tampa Bay last week, and now finds himself in the exact opposite situation this week. Despite throwing for 283 yards, Romo had just one touchdown and three turnovers (INT, 2 lost fumbles) against the Buccaneers. He could be in for an even rougher Monday night as Chicago is currently sixth in the league in total, rush and pass defense and is giving up the fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.

Jay Cutler (CHI) at Dallas (Monday)
Cutler was even less impressive than Romo against St. Louis (183 yards, INT) and also faces a much tougher task Monday night against the Dallas defense. The Cowboys are the No. 1 defense in the NFL in yards allowed and are giving up only 137 through the air per game. Pass protection has been an ongoing issue for the Bears, not a good sign for this game, and in his last two games, Cutler has thrown one touchdown pass compared to five interceptions.

Jake Locker (TEN) at Houston
The second-year quarterback had a career day (413 total yards, 2 TD passes) against Detroit last week, so kudos to the kid. But this was against the Lions in a game that was mostly back-and-forth throughout the second half. This week it’s Houston, the No. 2 defense in the league right now and one that’s giving up less than 190 passing yards to the opposition. This also will more than likely be a game in which the Texans will dominate, both on the scoreboard and in terms of time of possession, and one in which I think the Titans will struggle to move the ball. In other words, good luck kid.

Running Backs
START

BenJarvus Green-Ellis (CIN) at Jacksonville
The Law Firm hasn’t exactly run over the opposition thus far (56 att., 204 yds., 2 TD), but some of that can be attributed to Andy Dalton’s back-to-back 300-yard/3-TD games. Which bring us to this week’s game in Jacksonville. The Jaguars are giving up more than 150 rushing yards per game and the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs.  So, on paper anyways, this appears to be as good a week as any to give the ball to BJGE early and often and see what he can do.

Ryan Williams (ARI) vs. Miami
The changing of the guard, if you will, as it applies to Arizona’s backfield started last week against Philadelphia and became official earlier this week. It began when Williams got five more carries (13 to 8) that incumbent starter Beanie Wells  against the Eagles and culminated with the Cardinals Wells on injured reserve due to a severe turf toe injury. Wells will be eligible to return in November, but considering Williams averaged 6.4 yards per carry against the Eagles, his starting days may be over. Regardless, Williams should get the bulk of the carries from here out and I for one am very curious to see what he can do against Miami’s defense. The Dolphins have been pretty stingy yardage-wise (75.5 rushing ypg), but they are still in the top half of the league when it comes to fantasy points allowed to opposing running backs.

Jacquizz Rodgers (ATL) vs. Carolina
Even though Michael Turner is still getting the majority of the carries, the Falcons have stayed true to their word about involving Rodgers in their game plan. Rodgers is second on the team in carries (20) and is just one behind No. 3 wide receiver Harry Douglas in targets (8) so far. Last week against San Diego Rodgers got 10 carries (Turner had 12) and caught five passes, one of which went for a touchdown. Carolina is not only giving up the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs, they also have allowed the most receptions (32) to them. Anyone else notice a trend here?

SIT
Chris Johnson (TEN) at Houston
Has it really come to this? Sit the guy who ran for more than 2,000 yards just three seasons ago? The answer is a resounding yes considering Johnson’s pitiful production thus far. For one, the starting quarterback (Jake Locker) has more rushing yards than Johnson. Secondly, does anyone really think it will get any better this week against a Houston defense that’s allowed less than 70 yards rushing per game? To put it another way, the Texans are giving up 3.8 yards per carry, which is tied for the 10th lowest average in the league. That’s still 2.4 yards more than what Johnson (1.4 ypc) is averaging. How far the once mighty have fallen.

New York Giants backfield (NYG) at Philadelphia
Congratulations Andre Brown. You rushed for more than 100 yards and two touchdowns in your first career NFL start. Now go back to the bench. Ahmad Bradshaw is expected to return to his starting role after missing last week’s game with a neck injury, but the Giants also have said that Brown will get his share of touches. Translation: this has all the makings of the recent past when Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs shared carries. Everyone who owned either during that time can recall how much fun that wasn’t. As it applies to the present, consider that this situation could play out in such a way that it’s entirely possible that, for example, Brown could end up with the most carries this Sunday against Philadelphia. That still doesn’t mean, however, that Brown ends up with more fantasy points than Bradshaw, as the latter could take the goal-line work from the former and score from close in or do more damage on the receiving end. What it does mean is this: for now I would keep my distance from either, especially since the Eagles have been decent (103.0 ypg) against the run.

Reggie Bush (MIA) at Arizona and Michael Bush (CHC) at Dallas (Monday)
That’s right, pick a Bush, any Bush, and my advice is to leave him on your bench this week. Reggie left last week’s game due to a knee injury, and while no structural damage was found, he has been limited in practice this week. He is adamant about playing, but he’s not the one who has the final say or will determine how much work he gets if he does see the field against the Cardinals. I’m just not sure he will have enough chances to have that big of an impact, neither for the Dolphins nor your fantasy team.

On the other hand, there’s Michael, who was solid (73 total yards, TD), but certainly not spectacular as the Bears’ starting running back against St. Louis. He also reportedly took some pretty hard hits during that game, which is one reason why the Bears brought in several free agents, including Ryan Grant who ended up signing with Washington, earlier this week. There’s also talk that Matt Forte, the incumbent starter who missed last week because of an ankle injury, may be back on Monday night against Dallas. If he plays, Forte will certainly be limited in terms of workload, but that also means less work for Bush. And speaking of Dallas, the Cowboys are tops in the NFL in total defense, although they are giving up 113 yards on the ground per game. Still, between the punishment Bush has already taken, the chance that Forte returns and takes some touches away from him, and the potential for punishment stemming from the match-up with the Cowboys, that seems to be enough reasons to at least give some pause before putting the other Bush in your starting lineup as well.

Wide Receivers
START

Jordy Nelson (GB) vs. New Orleans
There’s no denying Jordy Nelson has gotten off to a slow start, with just 13 catches for 167 yards (12.8 ypc) and no touchdowns through three games. However, you could say that about all of Aaron Rodgers’ pass-catchers in general. Regardless, Nelson thrived in home games last season with 42 receptions for 816 yards (19.4 ypc) and 13 touchdowns in eight contests. Green Bay is at home against New Orleans this week. The Saints are last in the NFL in total defense and tied for second-to-last in points (34.0) allowed. Maybe it’s just me, but I think we should give Nelson one more chance this week, don’t you?

Eric Decker (DEN) vs. Oakland
In Denver’s first two games, Decker caught a combined nine passes for 108 yards, or an average of 12 yards per catch. Last week against Houston, who currently ranks fourth in pass defense, Decker hauled in eight passes for 136 yards, which translates into an average of 17 yards per catch. Decker has yet to find the end zone, but there’s a good chance that will change this week as Oakland has not only allowed the seventh-most passing yards, but they have yet to pick off a pass (versus six TD passes allowed) either.

Malcom Floyd (SD) at Kansas City
Floyd signs a three-year contract extension earlier this week and ends up on this week’s Start list. Coincidence? Not really when you consider Floyd is far and away Philip Rivers’ favorite target (23) so far. Staying healthy has really been the biggest strike against Floyd in the past, as he’s showing (13 rec., 227 yds., TD) what he can do when’s he able to stay on the field. Next up for the Chargers, who are looking to bounce back after a disappointing showing against Atlanta, is a Kansas City pass defense that’s allowed eight touchdown passes through the first three games.

SIT
Steve Smith (CAR) at Atlanta
Smith may have done the right thing in “scolding” his young quarterback after witnessing his sideline demeanor during last week’s loss to the Giants, as he is the veteran leader of the Panthers. However, call me curious in that I want to see if his public admonishment of Cam Newton has any adverse effect, even if it’s minor, on their on-field chemistry. Also, Atlanta has been pretty tough on opposing wide receivers thus far, surrendering just one touchdown catch in three games.

Danny Amendola (STL) vs. Seattle
Amendola erupted (15 rec., 160 yds., TD) against Washington two weeks ago, only to come back to earth (5, 66) last week against Chicago. Seattle’s secondary is big, athletic, physical and pretty deep and have allowed just two touchdown catches to opposing receivers. Put me in the camp that thinks this game will look a lot more like last week rather than what he was able to do in Week 2.

Golden Tate (SEA) at St. Louis
Yes, Tate was the hero, albeit with an assist from the now-unemployed replacement officials, of Seattle’s improbable (dare I say, unwarranted?) last-second win over Green Bay on Monday night. However, don’t overlook the fact that while he scored two touchdowns, he only has a total of six catches so far, and Russell Wilson (57.3 percent completion rate, 434 yards, 4 TD, INT) hasn’t exactly been lighting it up himself. St. Louis hasn’t been that bad (238 yards per game, 2 TD, 5 INT) against the pass either. To me Tate is a perfect example of a boom-or-bust type of fantasy option, although I would characterize him more as the latter rather than the former.

Tight Ends
Start
Tony Gonzalez (ATL) vs. Carolina
Don’t look now, but the “old” man is showing the young pups how this game is played. The 36-year-old future Hall of Famer, who is the No. 1 tight end in fantasy football, also leads his position in targets (28) and receptions (21), while he is second in receiving yards (214) and tied for second in touchdowns (3). Does anyone see any reason why this won’t continue? Yeah, me neither.

Owen Daniels (HOU) vs. Tennessee
Daniels, and not Andre Johnson, currently leads the Texans in targets with 22, and he’s tied for first with the All-Pro wide receiver in receptions with 13. Now there’s little reason to expect this to continue, but don’t be surprised if the tight end hangs close for at least another week. Tennessee has given up the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, which includes five touchdown catches in three games.

SIT
Brent Celek (PHI) vs. New York Giants
It may seem like I’m picking on Celek, who went from a Sit two weeks ago to a Start last week and now finds himself on the other side again. But I also should point out that the Philadelphia tight end, who leads his position and the Eagles in receiving yards with 258, has yet to cooperate either. He had a big game (8 rec., 157 yds.) against Baltimore in Week 2 and followed that up with a quiet (2, 36) outing against Arizona. As far as this week goes, let’s just say I’m not crazy about the match-up with the Giants and it looks like Jeremy Maclin will be back at wide receiver, whose presence could mean fewer targets for Celek. Then again it wouldn’t shock me if Celek stays true to his pattern, meaning he will buck my prediction for the third straight week and have a big game. So if that happens and you Celek owners decide to not heed my advice here, you can thank me later.

Jason Witten (DAL) vs. Chicago (Monday)
Even though Witten says he’s healthy, it certainly seems like something is amiss with the All-Pro tight end, even if it’s mental and not physical. If that’s the case, I don’t think anyone would fault him, considering what’s he already gone through this season. And if it’s not the case, there must be some other reason for the fact he’s only connected with Tony Romo eight times on 21 targets for 76 yards (9.5 ypc) and no touchdowns. Until he gets a handle on the ball more consistently, it’s probably best to look elsewhere.

Defense/Special Teams
START

Seattle at St. Louis
Let’s see, the Seahawks sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times on Monday night and gave up one touchdown and two field goals to the Packers’ offense. The day before, Chicago sacked Sam Bradford six times and picked him off twice, returning one of them for a touchdown. The Rams could only manage six points, which came courtesy of two long field goals (46, 56), against the Bears. This week the Rams host the Seahawks. Can you say repeat?

New York Giants at Philadelphia
I expect the Eagles will get a fair share of yards and put some points on the board against the Giants, so in terms of fantasy output for the G-Men on defense/special teams it comes down to three things – sacks, turnovers and TDs. Fortunately for them, the Eagles have turned the ball over a league-high 12 times, have given up seven sacks (tied for 10th) and, for what it’s worth, they have allowed two defensive scores too. I kind of like the Giants’ chances here.

SIT
Denver vs. Oakland
Denver’s defense has been fairly solid, but they have been hurt somewhat (8 TD, 2 INT) by the pass. Enter Oakland and Carson Palmer, who is second in the league in pass attempts (128), third in completions (80) and seventh in yards (879). Palmer has only been picked off twice in all of those attempts, so provided he continue to take care of the ball and have the time, I think he will be able to have success through the air against the Broncos. I wouldn’t be all that surprised if this one turned out to be a fairly high-scoring affair.

Detroit vs. Minnesota
The Lions surrendered more than 400 yards of total offense in last week’s loss to the Titans and will face a much better rushing attack this week in the form of Adrian Peterson. Quarterback Christian Ponder has just one turnover (fumble) this season and is currently fifth in the league in passer rating. I just don’t see the Vikings’ offense making things that much easier this week on the Lions’ defense.

Kickers
START

Matt Bryant (ATL) vs. Carolina
The Falcons are tied for third in the league in scoring at 31.3 points per game. The Panthers are tied for 23rd in the league in points allowed, giving up 26.3 per game, and also are allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing kickers. I hope Bryant was expecting to get a lot of rest on the sidelines this week.

Shayne Graham (HOU) vs. Tennessee
The only thing that could prevent this prediction from not coming true as I see it is if Graham ends up kicking just PATs. Either way, I fully expect the Texans to put a lot of points on the board against the Titans.

SIT
Mason Crosby (GB) vs. New Orleans
Similar to Graham, I think Crosby will get several chances to show off his leg. It’s just that the majority of the chances will come from the 19-yard-line as an extra point attempt rather than a field goal try from farther out.

Justin Medlock (CAR) at Atlanta
To be honest, I didn’t even know Medlock was the Panthers’ kicker. Then again maybe that’s because he’s attempted just one field goal so far, and it was only from 21 yards out. Not sure fans will see much of him this Sunday in Atlanta either.

— By Mark Ross, published on Sept. 28, 2012

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The final weekend of college football action in September certainly won't win many awards for the best slate of games. The Week 5 schedule features some intriguing games (Ohio State-Michigan State), but nothing like college football fans experienced last Saturday with Clemson-Florida State, Kansas State-Oklahoma and Notre Dame-Michigan. However, it's the weeks we least expect to be exciting that end up producing several upsets and close calls among teams ranked in the top 25.

Top Storylines to Watch in Week 5

1. Big Ten Showdown: Ohio State vs. Michigan State
It’s been a difficult first four weeks of the season for the Big Ten. With no marquee non-conference win and no team ranked inside of the top 10, the conference is desperately looking for some good news. Saturday’s Week 5 action should help erase some of the bad memories of non-conference play, especially due to the Ohio State-Michigan State match-up. The Buckeyes appear to be the Big Ten’s No. 1 team but struggled to beat UAB last week. Quarterback Braxton Miller is one of the Heisman frontrunners and takes on a Spartan defense ranked sixth nationally in yards allowed. The Buckeyes want to reduce the pressure on Miller, but the supporting cast needs to step up. Michigan State’s offense has been stuck in neutral for most of the year, with running back Le’Veon Bell averaging 152.5 yards per game despite a lackluster passing attack. Although Ohio State doesn’t want Miller to record 17-20 carries, it may be unavoidable against Michigan State. This one will be close because of the defenses, but Miller should be the difference in this game.

2. Is Texas the Big 12’s frontrunner?
Kansas State’s win over Oklahoma last Saturday shook up the Big 12 pecking order. The Sooners were thought to be the frontrunner, but the door is open for Texas, TCU, Kansas State and Oklahoma State to win the conference title. The Longhorns are off to a solid 3-0 start, with their offense averaging 49.3 points a game. Of course, the competition hasn’t been spectacular, but quarterback David Ash is showing signs of progress. The Cowboys enter Saturday's contest with uncertainty under center. Starter Wes Lunt suffered a knee injury against Louisiana-Lafayette and may not be able to play against Texas. If he can’t go, redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh will get the start. Oklahoma State has won the last two games in this series, but the momentum seems to be shifting back to Texas – especially if Ash continues to take care of the ball, and the defense cuts down on the yards and points allowed.

3. A Big (12) Welcome in Morgantown
West Virginia officially joined the Big 12 on July 1, but reality will sink in on Saturday afternoon. The Mountaineers kick off their first season in the Big 12 with a home date against Baylor. And if you like offense, this is definitely one of the weekend’s must-watch games. West Virginia is averaging 47.3 points a game, while Baylor ranks fifth nationally with an average of 51.3 points a game. Although the Mountaineers are stepping into a new conference and a schedule full of different opponents, this offense should feel right at home in the Big 12. Quarterback Geno Smith should have an opportunity to pad his Heisman resume against a Baylor secondary allowing 315 yards per game, while West Virginia’s new 3-4 scheme will get a test from the Bears’ offense. With a road date at Texas next week, this will provide the Mountaineers a barometer of just how their offense and defense stacks up in their new conference.

4. No letdown for Florida State
Let's go ahead and say it: The Seminoles are back. It’s early, so a lot can change in the national title race, but Florida State announced its presence as a BCS Championship contender with a convincing win over Clemson. Now comes the hard part for the Seminoles – avoiding a letdown. South Florida beat Florida State in its only previous match-up in 2009, but this is a case of programs headed in opposite directions. The Bulls are 19-19 since defeating the Seminoles and are off to a disappointing 2-2 start this season. Although Florida State is coming off of a huge victory, there’s not much to suggest South Florida can hang around in this game. The Bulls rank 64th nationally in total defense, and quarterback B.J. Daniels has been inconsistent. The Seminoles may have a sluggish start, but expect them to pull away from South Florida in the second half. 

5. Big Ten Championship Game Preview?
As mentioned previously with Ohio State-Michigan State, the race to win the Big Ten is wide open. With the Buckeyes banned from the postseason, Wisconsin appears to be the frontrunner to claim the Leaders Division title, but the Badgers haven’t looked like a championship team this year. Joel Stave replaced Danny O’Brien as Wisconsin’s starting quarterback and completed 12 of 17 passes for 210 yards against UTEP. Stave’s performance should give the Badgers some confidence on offense, especially as it appears running back Montee Ball will return from the concussion he suffered against the Miners. Nebraska’s defense has struggled to stop the run this year (177 yards per game), but its offense leads the Big Ten in scoring, total and rushing offense. The Badgers got the best of Nebraska last season, but beating the Cornhuskers in Lincoln won’t be easy. Considering both teams will be in the mix to win the Big Ten title, this could be an early preview of the conference title game in Indianapolis in early December.

6. Georgia on upset alert?
The Bulldogs passed their biggest test so far this year, beating Missouri 41-20 in Week 2. Georgia has the pieces to contend for a national title, but this team will be tested over the next couple of weeks with road games at South Carolina and a neutral site meeting with Florida. The Bulldogs are expected to have some reinforcements this week, as safety Baccari Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree are expected to return from a four-game suspension. Rambo’s return to the lineup is huge, especially against a Tennessee offense that leads the SEC in passing yards per game. Although the Volunteers might be able to hang around with their offense, the defense ranks near the bottom of the conference in points and yards allowed, which is bad news against Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray and freshman running back Todd Gurley. This still doesn't mean the Volunteers aren't a dangerous opponent for the Bulldogs, especially with next week’s SEC East showdown against South Carolina looming large. 

Under the Radar Match-ups

Western Kentucky at Arkansas State – Louisiana-Lafayette and FIU should both be a factor, but Western Kentucky and Arkansas State are the favorites to win the Sun Belt title. The Red Wolves have been tested in road trips to Nebraska and Oregon, while the Hilltoppers have wins over Kentucky and Southern Miss. Even though this match-up may not have top 25 implications, these two teams are two of the best from the non-BCS ranks.

Louisiana Tech at Virginia – After demolishing Illinois last week, Louisiana Tech is favored to beat Virginia. The Bulldogs lost running back Tevin King with a knee injury in last week’s game, but this offense is loaded with weapons, including receiver Quinton Patton and quarterback Colby Cameron. The Cavaliers have struggled to find their rhythm on offense and can’t afford to fall behind against one of the nation’s top offenses.

Texas Tech at Iowa State – Oklahoma State at Texas and Baylor at West Virginia will draw more national interest, but this match-up could be one of the most intriguing games in Week 5. The Red Raiders lead the nation in total defense and rank second nationally in total offense. However, this will be Texas Tech’s toughest challenge this year, and the Cyclones have beat the Red Raiders two consecutive seasons.

Cincinnati vs. Virginia Tech (Landover, Md.) – FedEx Field will host its second college football game this year, as the Hokies and Bearcats meet in Landover, Md. Virginia Tech’s offense ranks 10th in the ACC with 366.3 yards per game, while the Bearcats rank third nationally by allowing only 8.5 points per contest. Tech has struggled to get its rushing game on track, and Cincinnati’s active front seven won’t make it any easier for the Hokies to establish the ground game.

NC State at Miami – With Clemson-Florida State taking center stage in the ACC last week, the Hurricanes’ victory over Georgia Tech was overlooked. Miami is still a young team with a lot of personnel issues. However, if the Hurricanes knock off NC State, it might be time to consider this team as the biggest threat to Virginia Tech in the Coastal title race.
 

Are These Teams for Real?

Baylor (3-0) – The Bears will get a rude welcome to Morgantown, as West Virginia is ready for its Big 12 debut. Baylor needed strong second halves to put away Sam Houston State and Louisiana-Monroe, but there is still plenty of firepower on offense, led by senior quarterback Nick Florence.

Duke (3-1) – Is this the year the Blue Devils get back to a bowl game? Duke is off to a 3-1 start for the first time since 2008 and this appears to be David Cutcliffe’s best team since he arrived in Durham. A win over Wake Forest this Saturday would put Duke within two wins of getting to a bowl game.

Minnesota (4-0) – The Golden Gophers are off to a good start in coach Jerry Kill’s second season, but they are largely untested. A road trip to Iowa should give us a better gauge of where Minnesota fits into the Big Ten bowl picture.
 

Five Quarterbacks Under Pressure

David Ash, Texas – Ash is off to a solid start but Saturday’s match-up against Oklahoma State will be his toughest yet.

Tyler Bray, Tennessee – Saturday’s match-up against Georgia is a good barometer test for Tennessee. The Volunteers fell apart in the second half against Florida, but hanging tough against Georgia would be a good sign for Derek Dooley. Bray has thrown 12 touchdowns so far but had his worst game overall against the Gators.

Andrew Maxwell, Michigan State – If the Spartans want to have any shot at beating Ohio State, Maxwell has to play much better than he has through the first four games.

Zach Mettenberger, LSU – Towson won’t give LSU much of a struggle, but it’s important for Mettenberger to build some confidence with a road date at Florida next Saturday.

Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois – Scheelhaase has been dealing with an ankle injury since the season opener and left last week’s loss against Louisiana Tech early. If the Fighting Illini want to win the Leaders Division, Scheelhaase needs to stay healthy and be a difference maker on offense.
 

Teams Looking to Bounce Back

Arizona – It wasn’t a surprise Arizona lost to Oregon, but the Wildcats had several chances to score and came up empty-handed, losing 49-0 to the Ducks. Arizona hosts rising Oregon State this Saturday, with the Beavers coming off of an impressive win at UCLA in Week 4.

Clemson – The Tigers were unable to capitalize on their halftime lead against Florida State, eventually losing 49-37. If Clemson wants to have any shot at winning the ACC Atlantic, it needs some help in the form of a few losses from the Seminoles in ACC play, but also needs to take care of business on the road against Boston College. 

Georgia Tech – The Yellow Jackets’ blew a 36-19 lead last week against Miami, which dropped Georgia Tech’s ACC record to 1-2 and likely ends any hope it had of winning the Coastal. The Yellow Jackets should get back into the win column with MTSU visiting Atlanta this Saturday.

UCLA – The Bruins suffered their first defeat of 2012, losing 27-20 to Oregon State last Saturday. UCLA shouldn’t have much trouble getting back into the win column this week, as the Bruins will travel to Boulder to take on Colorado.
 

Desperate for a Victory

Arkansas – Can the Razorbacks stop the downward spiral? Arkansas is in the midst of a three-game losing streak and faces a tough road trip to Texas A&M. The Razorbacks have won the last three match-ups against the Aggies, but have not played in College Station since 1991.

California A 1-3 start with a lackluster win over Southern Utah has Jeff Tedford squarely on the hot seat. However, the Golden Bears can get things going back in the right direction with a win over Arizona State this Saturday.

Iowa – Last week’s loss to Central Michigan isn’t sitting well in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes already have a loss to rival Iowa State this season, and the offense ranks last in the Big Ten in scoring. If Iowa loses to Minnesota this Saturday, Kirk Ferentz’s seat is only going to approach scalding hot levels.

Kentucky – After last week’s performance against Florida, do the Wildcats have any fight left? The good news is quarterback Maxwell Smith should start, even though he is dealing with a separated shoulder. The bad news? Kentucky is a heavy underdog and is playing a top-10 team in South Carolina.

Missouri – The Tigers are in a different situation than most of the teams in this category, but Saturday’s game at UCF is a big one for Missouri. The Tigers were easily handled in a road loss against South Carolina last week and need to build some confidence before getting back into SEC play.
 

Five Upsets to Watch

Marshall (+17) at Purdue
Here’s a stat that may surprise you: Marshall leads the nation in passing offense with 383.5 yards per game. The Thundering Herd has struggled on defense, but their offense is capable of putting a scare into Purdue. The Boilermakers are 2-1, but the victories have been against Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Michigan.
Prediction: Purdue 31-27

Minnesota (+7) at Iowa
Even though the Golden Gophers are 4-0, there are some doubts about this team, especially with a schedule featuring games against UNLV, New Hampshire, Western Michigan and Syracuse. However, Iowa’s offense is struggling under new coordinator Greg Davis, and the Hawkeyes are coming off of a disappointing loss to Central Michigan. The Golden Gophers have beat Iowa two years in a row, but have not won in Iowa City since 1999.
Prediction: Iowa 27-24

Missouri (+3) at UCF
It’s a little surprising to see Missouri as an underdog, but UCF is a dangerous team. The Knights destroyed Boston College in Orlando last season and hung tough against Ohio State in Columbus earlier this year. The Tigers need to jumpstart their offense, as they managed just 10 points in a loss to South Carolina last week.
Prediction: Missouri 27-24

NC State (+3.5) at Miami
The Wolfpack have flown under the radar since losing to Tennessee in Week 1, and quarterback Mike Glennon will give a porous Miami defense all it can handle. The Hurricanes should score on NC State’s defense, but the edge goes to the team with the better quarterback (Glennon).
Prediction: NC State 27-24

Arizona State (+2) at California
The Sun Devils are a slight underdog for Saturday’s match-up against the Golden Bears, as they have not won at California since 1997. California’s offensive line is giving up four sacks a game, which is bad news against an aggressive Arizona State defense.
Prediction: Arizona State 31-27
 

Bye Week Regrouping

Auburn (1-3) – The Tigers played LSU tough, but moral victories won’t get it done for Auburn. Expect Gene Chizik and his staff to evaluate and tweak the offense, starting wtih quarterback Kiehl Frazier.

Florida (4-0) – So far, so good for the Gators. Florida has emerged as one of the teams to beat in the SEC East and host LSU on Oct 6.

Michigan (2-2) – Despite their lackluster performances against Alabama and Notre Dame, the Wolverines still remain one of the favorites to win the Big Ten title.

Oklahoma (2-1) – Last week’s loss to Kansas State likely knocks Oklahoma out of the national title race, but the Sooners are still in the mix for the Big 12 title.

Rutgers (4-0) – Starting 4-0 wasn’t an unrealistic expectation in the preseason, but not many predicted Rutgers would win at South Florida and Arkansas. The Scarlet Knights are one of the top contenders for the Big East crown and return to action against Connecticut on Oct. 6.

USC (3-1) – Although Lane Kiffin doesn’t say much about injuries, the off date comes at a good time for the Trojans. Center Khaled Holmes will have nearly two weeks to get healthy, while USC can use the practice time to work on its rushing game.

Utah (2-2) – The Utes are reeling after last week’s loss against Arizona State and host USC next Thursday night. The bye week comes at a good time, especially as Utah looks to get running back John White back to full strength from an ankle injury.

Vanderbilt (1-3) – The Commodores can still reach a bowl game, but the offense needs a spark from Jordan Rodgers or Austyn Carta-Samuels at quarterback.
 

Injuries to Monitor

Alex Carder, QB, Western Michigan – Carder is one of the MAC’s top quarterbacks, but he will be sidelined indefinitely with a hand injury. Western Michigan takes on Toledo in a critical MAC West game this Saturday.

MarQueis Gray, QB, Minnesota – A high ankle sprain sidelined Gray against Syracuse, and he’s unlikely to play this Saturday against Iowa. Backup Max Shortell fared well in his absence, so Minnesota’s offense should not suffer much of a drop in production.

Wes Lunt, QB, Oklahoma State – Lunt’s status has been up in the air since he left the Week 3 game against Louisiana-Lafayette with a knee injury. Although the injury isn’t as bad as initially feared, Lunt may not be able to start this week.

Maxwell Smith, QB, Kentucky – Smith was sorely missed in last week’s loss to Florida, but an injured throwing shoulder was simply too much to overcome. The sophomore is expected to return to the lineup against South Carolina this week. However, if he can’t start, Kentucky will have to lean on true freshman Jalen Whitlow under center. 

Tyler Tettleton, QB, Ohio – Tettleton sat out last week’s win over Norfolk State due to a hand injury. Although he won’t be needed much for Ohio to beat UMass, Tettleton is expected to return to the lineup.

Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss – Whether or not Ole Miss has Wallace under center really won’t matter against Alabama. However, the junior college recruit ranks 34th nationally in passing efficiency and averages 224 yards per game. Despite a shoulder injury, Wallace is expected to play.

Shawne Alston, RB, West Virginia – A thigh bruise limited Alston in last week’s game against Maryland, but he is expected to play in West Virginia’s Big 12 opener this Saturday.

Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin – Ball suffered a concussion in last week’s win over UTEP but is cleared to play for Saturday’s game against Nebraska.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson - Watkins was ruled out for Saturday's game against Boston College due to an abdominal virus. 

Chris Gragg, TE, Arkansas - The Razorbacks' 2012 season only got worse last week, as Gragg suffered a knee injury against Rutgers and did not return. He won't play in Saturday's game at Texas A&M.

Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas – The Longhorns could be without one of their top defensive players this Saturday, as Hicks is nursing a hip injury and is questionable to play.
 

Games to Avoid

Ole Miss at Alabama
The Rebels’ last victory in this series came in 2003 and the last three match-ups between these two teams haven’t been close. Alabama rolled 52-7 in Oxford last year, and it would be a surprise to see Ole Miss keep this one within 25 points. With a bye week coming up, expect Alabama coach Nick Saban to work out all of the kinks before emptying the bench in the fourth quarter.

Towson at LSU
Considering last week’s close call at Auburn, Towson is the perfect Week 5 opponent for LSU. The Tigers should be able to use this game as a tune-up, especially with match-ups against Florida and South Carolina coming up in the next two weeks.

South Carolina at Kentucky
This is a classic case of two programs headed in opposite directions. The Gamecocks could win the SEC title this year, while Kentucky will struggle just to win a game in SEC play. After last week’s dismal showing in the Swamp, the Wildcats need some early momentum in this one – or it could get really ugly.

UCLA at Colorado
Even though the Buffaloes cracked the win column with an upset win over Washington State, they are still one of the worst BCS teams. UCLA suffered its first defeat of the season against Oregon State but should have no trouble putting away Colorado early.

Oregon at Washington State
On paper, this matchup between two of college football’s brightest offensive minds – Washington State’s Mike Leach and Oregon’s Chip Kelly – would figure to provide some fireworks. However, those fireworks may only be from Oregon, as the Ducks pitched a shutout against Arizona last week, while the Cougars are coming off of a disappointing loss to Colorado. This Pac-12 North match-up should get better in the coming seasons, but Oregon simply has too much firepower for Washington State in 2012. 
 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

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Visit the online store for UCLA and other editions of the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual.

The first practices of college basketball season begin in mid-October, and Athlon Sports 2012-13 preview annuals are starting to arrive on newsstands all over the country.

To prepare for the start of college basketball season, we will preview one team each weekday, counting down to the first official day of basketball practice on Oct. 15, or for some teams on Oct. 12.

We continue our countdown with a preview of No. 12 UCLA.

The UCLA basketball program was teetering on the edge of an abyss, arms waving, frantically grasping at air for anything, just praying not to fall into obscurity.

A third straight season had ended in frustration, a damaging Sports Illustrated feature article served as a stain on the program, and it appeared Ben Howland, who just four years ago was coming off three straight Final Four appearances, lost control of the program he so cherished.

The vultures had descended, antsy fans who seethed over three aborted championship runs now calling for Howland’s head. Three Final Fours bled into three seasons of misery, two of them ending without even a postseason appearance. Things were crashing in.

And then, with one recruiting class, it’s all roses and sunshine in Tinseltown. Howland and his staff brought in arguably the nation’s top class, led by two of the top five recruits in the country in Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson, to unveil in the refurbished Pauley Pavilion. They will join a roster with talent and experience but lacking discipline, with the fate of the season potentially resting on one big man’s broad shoulders.

Suddenly, the abyss does not appear so close.
 
FRONTCOURT
The big man is Joshua Smith, and he is big. Still big. Very big. As a freshman in ’10-11, he burst onto the scene midway through Pac-10 play, finishing the season at 10.9 points game while averaging almost 22 minutes. By the end of the year, he was routinely scoring in double-figures, including a 16-point, six-rebound performance in a season-ending loss to Florida in the NCAA Tournament.

He lumbered into last season a sleeping giant, heavier than the season before. Smith eclipsed the 26-minute barrier just once as a sophomore, averaging just 17.2 minutes for the year, his season ending with a nine-minute, seven-point, five-foul performance in a loss to Arizona in the Pac-12 Tournament. Done in by a soft midsection and constant foul trouble because of it, Smith’s minutes slipped, his performance dipped, Howland flipped and the Bruins flopped.

If he comes back for Year 3 leaner and meaner, UCLA could contend for the Final Four.

If not, the Bruins will have to count on coveted freshman recruit Tony Parker, as backup center Anthony Stover continues to be sidelined with a shoulder injury.

Either one of the Wear twins — David or Travis — could fill in sparse minutes at the 5, but both are expected to share the power forward duties. They combined for 54.6 minutes per game last season as sophomores after transferring from North Carolina, Travis taking the lead in scoring (11.5 ppg to 10.2) while David maintained the edge in rebounding (6.3 rpg to Travis' 5.9).

And then there’s Muhammad, almost unanimously considered one of the top two recruits in the country, alongside Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel. Muhammad is a dangerous and effective scorer who will play extensively at the 3, and he should contend for Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors. The question is when Muhammad will first play for UCLA. The NCAA is investigating his amateur status. He did not join the Bruins on their exhibition tour in China.

Related: Arrival of Muhammad, Anderson leads makeover at UCLA
 
BACKCOURT
Larry Drew II is eligible for a one-year rental after spending the first two-plus seasons at North Carolina. Drew averaged nearly six assists per game as a sophomore before his role was reduced with the emergence of Kendall Marshall.

While Drew is the more traditional point guard and will likely defend the opponent’s point guard, Anderson could become the primary ball-handler early in his career. The prodigious talent is a gifted passer and uses his size to his advantage. At 6-9, he can play three or four positions, and Howland intends to use him as such, maximizing matchups against much smaller opponents.

Drew and Anderson will often be on the court together — Drew, Anderson, Muhammad, Travis Wear and Smith is the likely starting off point — but Tyler Lamb and Norman Powell will play major roles as well. Lamb, a junior, struggled to find confidence in his offensive game last year, shooting just 40.8 percent while averaging 9.0 points. Powell was a key cog defensively for the Bruins and if he becomes more polished offensively, he could see significant time.
 
FINAL ANALYSIS
The pieces are in place for a UCLA revival in 2012-13. After escaping the miserable digs of the Los Angeles Sports Arena, they return home to an impatient fan base, frothing at the mouth in anticipation. The talent is in place, recruiting clicking on all cylinders and a pair of freshmen are expected to propel the Bruins back into title contention.

They are no longer staring down at the abyss, afraid to make one wrong move. No, they are looking up.

@AthlonSports

Athlon College Basketball Countdown So Far:
20. Florida

19. Notre Dame

18. Memphis
17. Baylor
16. Missouri

15. San Diego State

14. North Carolina

13. UNLV

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball Countdown: No. 12 UCLA</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/georgia-bulldogs-vs-tennessee-volunteers-preview-and-prediction
Body:

The SEC never disappoints for intriguing matchups. Even though Week 5 isn’t the best slate of games, Georgia-Tennessee is a contest with national title and SEC Championship implications. The Bulldogs can keep their national title hopes alive with a victory over the Volunteers, but they can’t afford to take Derek Dooley’s team lightly. Georgia has a road date against South Carolina next week, so there’s always a look-ahead factor. The Volunteers are 3-1, but Dooley still has plenty of work to do. Tennessee struggled against Akron last week, while the defense is far from a dominating unit.

The Bulldogs have won three out of the last four games in this series, including a 41-14 blowout victory in 2010. Tennessee has struggled to find success in the SEC recently, winning only one game in conference play last season and three contests in 2010. This matchup won’t make-or-break Dooley’s future, but the Volunteers need to show that the gap between this team and the rest of the SEC is closing.

Four Storylines to Watch in Georgia vs. Tennessee

Suspended players?
Georgia has allowed at least 20 points three times this season but held Vanderbilt to a field goal in last week’s victory. The Bulldogs should have one of college football’s top defenses, but this unit ranks 43rd nationally in yards allowed after four weeks. However, this defense should have a few reinforcements on the way, as linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety Bacarri Rambo are expected to return after missing the first four games due to a suspension. The return of Rambo is especially important for the Bulldogs’ secondary, as it looks to slow down Tennessee’s passing attack, which is ranked No. 1 in the SEC.

Tennessee’s passing offense against Georgia’s defense
While getting Rambo back in the mix is a key part of Georgia’s defensive plan to stop Tennessee, the Bulldogs will need a little extra help. The Volunteers have two dynamic playmakers at receiver – Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson – and a dependable tight end in Mychal Rivera. Bray is completing 63.5 percent of his throws and has tossed only three picks this year. Georgia needs to counter with pressure, especially from All-American linebacker Jarvis Jones. The Bulldogs are averaging two sacks per game but need to get more pressure on Bray to throw off the timing of the offense. If the Volunteers can protect the junior quarterback, they will have opportunities to hit big plays. However, if Georgia gets to Bray, it should force a few sacks and turnovers.

Aaron Murray against Tennessee’s secondary
Murray is off to a fast start this season, throwing for 1,092 yards and 10 touchdowns through the first four weeks. The junior has been one of the top quarterbacks in the nation, and Tennessee’s secondary will have its hands full trying to stop Georgia’s passing attack. The Volunteers rank 66th nationally against the pass, but Akron had some success moving the ball through the air last week. Not only will Tennessee’s secondary have to step up, the pass rush has to be more active. The Volunteers are averaging only 1.3 sacks per game, which won’t get it done on Saturday. If Murray has enough time, he will burn Tennessee’s secondary for 275-300 yards.

Can Tennessee establish its rushing attack?
In order to win games in the SEC, you have to be able to run the ball. So far, that’s been an issue for Tennessee. The Volunteers rank eighth nationally in passing offense but struggled to find any production on the ground against Florida. Putting up numbers against Akron and Georgia State is one thing, but it’s tough sledding to run the ball against Florida and Georgia in the SEC. Running back Rajion Neal is off to a good start, rushing for 356 yards on 80 carries. Neal doesn’t need 150 yards, but he has to help Tennessee’s offense find some balance. 

Final Analysis

With a huge game against South Carolina next week, Georgia has to be careful not to overlook Tennessee. However, all of the matchups in this game suggest the Bulldogs should win comfortably. Quarterback Aaron Murray is off to a great start, while freshmen running backs Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall should pound away at the Volunteers’ defense. With Rambo and Ogletree likely returning for the defense, the Bulldogs should be able to cut their averages on points and yards allowed.

While Tennessee may be able to move the ball, the lack of a consistent running game and difference makers on defense will allow Georgia to pull away in the second half.

Prediction: Georgia 34, Tennessee 20 
 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven
 

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Teaser:
<p> Georgia Bulldogs vs. Tennessee Volunteers Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 06:25
Path: /college-football/nebraska-cornhuskers-vs-wisconsin-badgers-preview-and-prediction
Body:

With Ohio State ineligible to win the Big Ten title, it’s not crazy to think Saturday’s matchup between Wisconsin and Nebraska could be a preview of the conference’s title game in early December. The Badgers dominated last season’s matchup, winning 48-17 in Madison. In last year’s game, Russell Wilson threw for 255 yards, while Wisconsin gashed Nebraska for 231 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.

There’s plenty of differences for both teams since last season’s meeting, and both have experienced some early turmoil. Wisconsin fired offensive line coach Mike Markuson after a slow start, while Nebraska coach Bo Pelini left the game against Arkansas State due to illness and its defense isn't playing at a high level. However, the Cornhuskers are in a more stable situation going into Big Ten play, especially since the Badgers are still adjusting to the changes on the coaching staff.

Four Storylines to Watch in Nebraska vs. Wisconsin

Can Wisconsin get its ground game on track?
Was last week’s performance against UTEP a sign of things to come for the Badgers’ rushing attack? Wisconsin recorded a season high of 213 yards against the Miners, with Melvin Gordon and James White leading the way with Montee Ball sidelined due to a concussion. Ball is expected to return this Saturday, and the senior should be able to find some rushing lanes against a Nebraska defense that ranks 86th nationally against the run. Although quarterback Joel Stave played well in his first start last week, Nebraska would like to load up the box and force the young quarterback to win. It will be important for Ball, Gordon and White to get yardage on the early downs to keep Stave out of third-and-long situations. Which brings us to the next question…

How much can the Badgers ask of Stave?
Wisconsin was looking for a spark when it decided to bench Danny O’Brien in favor of Stave. O’Brien never seemed to find his rhythm in the Badgers’ offense, which opened the door for Stave to start against UTEP. The redshirt freshman came to Madison as a walk-on but played well against the Miners and should give the coaching staff confidence for Saturday night’s game. Another good sign for Wisconsin’s offense was the return of Jared Abbrederis last week, who caught six passes against UTEP and is one of the Big Ten’s best receivers. Stave won’t be asked to throw for 300 yards, but he needs to get off to a good start. The Cornhuskers rank 20th nationally in pass defense but are averaging four sacks per game. Nebraska wants to force the Badgers to lean on Stave to win, which is why Wisconsin needs to establish balance will be critical on Saturday night.

Can Wisconsin slow down Taylor Martinez?
The competition hasn’t been overwhelmingly strong, but the Cornhuskers lead the Big Ten in total and scoring offense, while ranking in the top 10 nationally for both categories. Quarterback Taylor Martinez is off to a hot start, throwing for 878 yards and nine touchdowns, while adding 191 yards and two scores on the ground. The junior quarterback is a much-improved passer and should test a Wisconsin secondary that is allowing 245.3 yards per game. In last year’s matchup, Martinez threw three interceptions and completed 50 just percent of his throws. Big Ten teams considered Martinez more of a threat on the ground in recent years, but that’s no longer the case. Wisconsin hasn’t generated much of a pass rush this season, and if Martinez gets time, the junior will have a chance to pick apart this secondary.

The turnover battle
It seems cliché to say it, but the turnover battle will be crucial in this game. The Badgers have lost only five turnovers but have forced only one this year. Nebraska is tied for ninth in the Big Ten with nine turnovers lost but has forced seven on defense. Although Stave wasn’t bad in his first start last week, Nebraska’s defense will have chances to add to their turnover total.

Final Analysis

Expect revenge to be on Nebraska’s mind on Saturday night. The Cornhuskers were thoroughly embarrassed in last year’s game against Wisconsin, but the tables are turned in 2012. Nebraska is the better team, and running back Rex Burkhead showed no ill-effects in his return from a knee injury in last week’s game against Idaho State. The Badgers should be able to run the ball against the Cornhuskers’ front seven, but Stave will have to make plays in order to give his team a chance to win.

Wisconsin seems to have things going back in the right direction, but it’s a lot to ask Stave in his second career start to win in Lincoln.

Prediction: Nebraska 31, Wisconsin 20


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven
 

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Teaser:
<p> Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Wisconsin Badgers Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/west-virginia-mountaineers-vs-baylor-bears-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Saturday marks a new era in West Virginia football. The Mountaineers technically joined the Big 12 in July, but reality will sink in with Baylor visiting Morgantown. West Virginia is off to a hot 3-0 start, which includes wins over Marshall, James Madison and Maryland. Although the schedule hasn’t been that difficult, the Mountaineers’ offense looks to be in midseason form, and the defense is making progress under new co-coordinators Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson.

Replacing Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III was no easy task, but Baylor remains a threat to win the Big 12 title. New quarterback Nick Florence is off to a good start, and the talent level has been on the rise during Art Briles’ tenure. The Bears dodged a bullet the last two weeks, as they trailed FCS opponent Sam Houston State in Week 3 and held off a pesky Louisiana-Monroe team for a 47-42 victory in Week 4.

Five Storylines to Watch in Baylor vs. West Virginia

1. Can West Virginia establish its ground attack?
With quarterback Geno Smith and one of the nation’s top receiving corps, the rushing attack is almost an afterthought. However, with running back Shawne Alston dealing with a thigh injury against Maryland, the Mountaineers managed only 25 rushing yards on 25 attempts. Alston is expected to play, and Andrew Buie (144 yards, one touchdown) is having a nice season so far. Dustin Garrison suffered a significant knee injury in Orange Bowl workouts last year but had two carries in the win over Maryland. It’s not critical for West Virginia to rush for 200 yards, however, Baylor is allowing 177.7 yards per game on the ground, and the Mountaineers need to establish some balance to reduce the pressure on Smith.

2. Will Baylor be able to get stops on defense?
Veteran coordinator Phil Bennett is a well-respected defensive coach, but the numbers haven’t been pretty under his watch. Baylor ranked 116th nationally in total defense last season and allowed 37.2 points per game. So far this year, the Bears are allowing 492.7 yards and 29.7 points per game. West Virginia’s passing attack has been on fire through the first three games of the season, and it will be impossible for Baylor to completely slow down Geno Smith and his receivers. However, the Bears need to generate a pass rush, as well as force a few turnovers. Baylor ranks second in the Big 12 with 10 turnovers gained through three weeks, but the pass rush has been relatively quiet (1.7 sacks per game).

3. What should we expect from West Virginia’s defense?
As mentioned previously, the Mountaineers’ defense is still a work in progress. West Virginia has allowed more than 20 points twice this season, which will only climb now that the heart of the Big 12 schedule has arrived. The Mountaineers rank 103rd nationally against the pass and have yet to be tested against some of the top offenses in college football. Marshall’s Rakeem Cato threw for 413 yards in the opener, while Maryland freshman quarterback completed 20 of 29 throws for 305 yards in last week’s game. Baylor’s Nick Florence will be toughest test for West Virginia’s secondary, especially with two All-Big 12 candidates at receiver in Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese. Both players are averaging over 20 yards per catch, while Levi Norwood and Lanear Sampson shouldn’t be overlooked.

4. Will Baylor quarterback Nick Florence get off to a slow start once again?
Although the Bears won last week’s game against Louisiana-Monroe, Florence’s slow start has to be a concern for the coaching staff going into Saturday’s game. The senior threw two picks in the first quarter, and even though Baylor has a lot of firepower on its sideline, it cannot afford to fall too far behind West Virginia. Florence doesn’t have Griffin’s athleticism, but he’s not a statue either. In last week’s game, the senior rushed for 55 yards and has 159 on the season. Don’t be surprised if Baylor gets Florence into the game with a few runs, especially if the passing game stalls out early in the first quarter.

5. How many times will West Virginia WR Tavon Austin touch the ball?
In last week’s win over Maryland, Austin was the team’s top playmaker, catching 13 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns. He also recorded two carries for four yards and had four overall returns for 42 yards. There’s no question Austin is one of the nation’s most dynamic playmakers with the ball in its hands, and Baylor can expect a few reverses or handoffs to the senior. Austin is as dangerous as anyone in the nation with the ball in the open field, but junior Stedman Bailey shouldn’t be overlooked on the outside. The Bears need to find a way to keep Austin in check but also not allow Bailey to surpass the 13 catches for 173 yards and three scores he recorded against James Madison.

Final Analysis

Is this the start of a special season for West Virginia? The Mountaineers are a legitimate contender for the national championship, and their road to a potential spot in the BCS title game begins on Saturday against Baylor. West Virginia’s offense is deadly, but it won’t sneak up on any Big 12 teams this year, especially considering Oklahoma State and Texas Tech run similar variations.

If you like offense, this will be the game to watch this Saturday. Both teams should have no trouble moving the ball, but it’s hard to pick against West Virginia at home. The Mountaineers’ defense will give up a lot of yards but finds a way to force a turnover or key play late to seal the victory, while quarterback Geno Smith pads his Heisman stats with another game of 300+ passing yards.

Prediction: West Virginia 41, Baylor 31
 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven
 

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Teaser:
<p> West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Baylor Bears Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 06:03
Path: /college-football/ohio-state-buckeyes-vs-michigan-state-spartans-game-preview-and-prediction
Body:

The Big Ten has an easy target for criticism through the first four weeks of the season. The conference doesn’t have a team ranked inside of the top 10 and the lack of a marquee win in non-conference play has been a black eye. However, Week 5 brings a much-needed change of scenery for all 12 teams. Conference play begins this Saturday and there are a few games that will draw national interest, which should help stop the bleeding from the awful start to the season.

Ohio State is the Big Ten’s only undefeated ranked team and is arguably the best team in the conference. Michigan State is off to a 3-1 start, with the only defeat coming to Notre dame. However, the Spartans looked sluggish in wins over Boise State and Eastern Michigan.

Five Things to Watch in Ohio State vs. Michigan State

1. Will Ohio State stop Le’Veon Bell?
Expect the Buckeyes to employ a simple gameplan on defense this Saturday. Ohio State will load the box to stop Bell, which will force Michigan State to lean on quarterback Andrew Maxwell. Bell rushed for 210 yards in the win over Boise State and 253 against Eastern Michigan but was held in check against Notre Dame (77 yards). The Buckeyes rank 33rd nationally against the run and only one opponent has managed more than 150 rushing yards against them this year (California, 224). Ohio State’s defensive line is one of the toughest in college football, especially with 322-pound tackle Johnathan Hankins in the middle. If the Buckeyes stop Bell, Michigan State will have a hard time moving the ball on Saturday afternoon. Which brings us to our next question…

2. Is this the game Andrew Maxwell steps up for Michigan State?
Replacing Kirk Cousins was no easy task, but most expected Maxwell would play better through the first four games of the season. The junior is completing 56.6 percent of his throws and has failed to eclipse more than 200 yards in each of his last two starts. Maxwell hasn’t thrown an interception since the season opener, but his performances have been uninspiring so far. He can’t be blamed for all of the woes in the passing game, especially with a revamped receiving corps that could feature two sophomore starters on Saturday. With the Buckeyes loading up to stop Bell, Maxwell will need to have the best game of 2012 in order to lead Michigan State to victory.

3. Can the Buckeyes take some of the workload off Braxton Miller?
As expected, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller has been a perfect fit in Urban Meyer’s spread offense. The sophomore has rushed for 441 yards and seven touchdowns while throwing for 754 yards and seven scores this year. Despite his strong start, the Buckeyes want to reduce his workload. Miller is averaging 17 rushes a game and may not last a full season at this pace. The sophomore is still developing as a passer but has thrown for 754 yards and seven touchdowns. Michigan State’s defense leads the Big Ten in total, scoring and rush defense so far this year and ranks 13th nationally against the pass. Miller needs to make a few big plays with his legs, but he also has to have some help from the supporting cast. Running back Jordan Hall has been steady in his first two games back from a foot injury, recording 192 yards and two receptions. Hall’s emergence should be a huge positive for Ohio State’s offense, and Carlos Hyde could return from injury this week. With Michigan State’s defense looking to stop Miller, it’s up to Hyde and Hall to step up on the ground.

4. Who will win the battle in the trenches?
Although Braxton Miller needs his supporting cast to step up, and Le’Veon Bell has to have more help from Andrew Maxwell, neither player will have much of an opportunity to succeed if the offensive lines don’t perform. Ohio State’s line entered the year as a question mark and has allowed nearly two sacks a game. Michigan State’s front five is allowing just one a game, but four came against Notre Dame. Although senior Nathan Williams has been dealing with the effects from knee surgery, the Buckeyes still have plenty of talent up front, including Johnathan Hankins at tackle and John Simon at end. Both players will have opportunities to take over the game this Saturday. Michigan State’s defensive line is stocked with talent, including All-American candidate William Gholston. End Marcus Rush is another player to watch (three tackles for a loss), while there’s plenty of size on the interior. This will be the toughest challenge for Ohio State’s offensive line and could be the perfect opportunity for Gholston to get on track this year.

5. Special teams
With Saturday’s matchup is expected to be a close one, a play on special teams could decide the outcome. Michigan State kicker Dan Conroy has connected on 7 of 11 attempts but is just 3 of 7 from 30-49 yards. Ohio State kicker Drew Basil hit his only attempt of the season, while punter Ben Buchanan is averaging 41.3 yards per punt. In last week’s win over UAB, the Buckeyes had a punt that was blocked and returned for a score. Can Michigan State find something on tape that UAB was able to exploit? Considering this game probably won’t be decided until deep in the fourth quarter, one mistake on special teams could be very costly.

Final Analysis

With a light week of games this Saturday, Ohio State-Michigan State has a chance to be the best game on the slate. The Buckeyes have won seven out of the last eight contests in this series, with the Spartans winning 10-7 in Columbus last year. Points should be at a premium in this matchup, with Braxton Miller outdueling Anddrew Maxwell to earn a hard-fought win for Ohio State.

Ohio State 23, Michigan State 20


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven
 

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Teaser:
<p> Ohio State Buckeyes vs. Michigan State Spartans Game Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-week-5
Body:

Every Friday for entertainment purposes only, I will bring you my top college football picks against the spread. I do not condone, approve or encourage gambling on sports in any way. But if you are a fan of football — college or pro — and you don't think gambling has played a huge role in the growth and popularity of the sport, then you are simply being ignorant. And behind closed doors, the powers that be understand the impact betting has had on the game of football.

2012 Record Against The Spread: 17-14
Last Week: 2-4

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Clemson (-9.5) at Boston College
The Tigers had two double-digit leads in the second half over Florida State on the road, so the only reason this line is so small has to be the “letdown” factor. The Tigers crushed the Eagles 36-14 last fall as Dabo Swinney’s team is vastly superior at basically every position. Boston College has allowed 502 yards rushing in two games against FBS opponents so Andre Ellington and Tajh Boyd should find plenty of space in this one. Prediction: Clemson (-9.5)

Minnesota (+7) at Iowa
The Gophers haven’t won in Iowa City since 1999, but have won the last two in this series. In fact, the one-point win over the Hawkeyes last season kick-started the Jerry Kill era in the Twin Cities. Minnesota has won five straight games and, while the Gophers may not win, they will certainly keep it close against a team that is teetering on the brink of self-destruction. Quarterback play for Iowa has been atrocious as the league’s worst scoring offense has accounted for one passing touchdown all season. Iowa may win, but it will be close — like the four total points separating these two since 2010. Prediction: Minnesota (+7)

Nevada (-19.5) at Texas State
The Wolfpack has scored at least 31 points in all four games and has put up 104 points in the last two games. They are averaging 317.8 yards rushing per game and destroyed Hawaii by 45 points last weekend. While Texas State has been sneaky good, like beating Houston in Week 1, they are still getting acclimated with big boy football. Good luck stopping the Pistol. Prediction: Nevada (-19.5)

Ohio State (+3) at Michigan State
These might be the best two teams in the Big Ten. These might be the best two coaches in the Big Ten. And these might be the best two defenses in the Big Ten. But there is one huge difference between these two teams: Quarterbacks. Braxton Miller has been special, accounting for 14 total TDs and 1,195 yards of offense. Andrew Maxwell has been a liability, accounting for 3 total TDs and 851 yards of offense. Miller is the difference. Prediction: Ohio State (+3)

Texas (-1.5) at Oklahoma State
The Longhorns appear to be motivated this season and the offensive statistics play that out. Texas averaged 28.1 points and 392.5 yards per game on offense last season. This season the 'Horns have posted 49.3 points and 514.3 yards per game through three contests thus far. The play of quarterback David Ash has been the difference. Oklahoma State, while still potent on offense, will be asking a freshman — either JW Walsh or Wes Lunt — to defeat one of the most talented defenses in the land. After two losses at home to Brandon Weeden, the Burnt Orange will be fired up for revenge on Saturday. Prediction: Texas (-1.5)

Indiana (+11) at Northwestern
The Wildcats are 4-0 in the standings and 4-0 against the spread in 2012. This offense is beginning to round into form with a power rushing game now at its disposal. And since Week 1, the defense has shown marked improvement — from 596 total yards allowed in a Week 1 to less than 318 in each of the last three games. Against the Hoosiers last fall, Northwestern won by 21 while scoring 59 points. This fall should feature a similar outcome. Prediction: Northwestern (-11)

Baylor (+11.5) at West Virginia
The Mountaineers have been great on offense and not so great on defense. West Virginia is ranked 74th in total defense and is 52nd in scoring defense — against Marshall, James Madison and Maryland. Meanwhile, Baylor has been just as electric on offense — try 51.3 points per game and 568.7 yards per game — in three games. Look for a high-scoring, close game that WVU wins by one score. After all, this is the Mounties first-ever taste of Big 12 action. Prediction: Baylor (+11.5)

Texas Tech (-3) at Iowa State
The Red Raiders claim the nation’s No. 1 defense at an absurd 160.3 total yards allowed per game. But these numbers are a mirage — they did it against Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico — for a team that allowed 39.3 points per game last season. Iowa State has a salty defense that destroyed Tech 41-7 last year in Lubbock and returns largely intact. This unlikely battle of unbeatens should go the way of the home team. Prediction: Iowa State (+3)

Others I like: 

South Carolina (-20.5) at Kentucky
NC State (+3) at Miami
Wisconsin (+11.5) at Nebraska
Central Michigan (+11.5) at Northern Illinois
San Diego State (+7) at Fresno State

2012 Trends Against the Spread:

4-0 ATS 3-1 ATS 1-3 ATS 0-4 ATS
Arizona St (3-0-1) Akron Auburn Arkansas
Ball St Duke Bowling Green Houston (0-3)
Fresno St Florida Cal Iowa
UL-Monroe (3-0) Georgia Tech Colorado Miami (Ohio)
Northwestern Kansas St Colorado St Southern Miss (0-3)
Oregon St (2-0) Minnesota E. Michigan Virginia (0-3-1)
Purdue (3-0) Ole Miss Idaho Washington St
San Jose St Nebraska Kentucky Wisconsin
Texas Tech (3-0) Notre Dame UMass  
UT-San Antonio (2-0) Ohio Memphis  
Utah St Penn St Michigan  
Western Kentucky South Carolina Michigan St  
  Toledo South Florida  
  Troy USC  
  UCLA Syracuse  
  UNLV Tennessee  
    Utah  
    Virginia Tech  

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Teaser:
<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 5</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /nfl/nfl-week-4-under-pressure-michael-vick-chris-johnson-drew-brees
Body:

Each week, Athlon Sports will highlight the three most important names in the NFL. Our editors debate which player must play his best this weekend.

Who needs to step up the most in Week 4: Michael Vick, Chris Johnson or Drew Brees?

Mark Ross, Athlon Sports: Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia
The Eagles are 2-1, so everyone’s happy in The City of Brotherly Love, right? Not so much. The Eagles have been out-scored by 19 points. After posting consecutive one-point victories over the Browns and Ravens to start the season, they got thoroughly out-played by the Cardinals last week, losing 27-6.

What’s more Andy Reid has spent part of this week backtracking/clarifying statements he has made regarding Vick and his job security. That’s what happens when you are currently sporting a 2.3-to-1 turnover-to-touchdown ratio.

At first glance, it appears that Vick, who is third in the NFL in passing yards with 905, is off to a good start throwing the ball. That is until you find out he’s completing just 55.2 percent of his passes (25th in the league), and he’s thrown twice as many interceptions (six) as touchdown passes (three). Add in his three fumbles lost, and he’s responsible for nine of the team’s NFL-worst 12 turnovers. Put it all together and he’s 29th in the league in passer rating at 66.3. Not exactly the type of production you want from your $100-million man, right?

That said, the Eagles can make a huge statement this Sunday when they host the Giants, their division rival and the defending Super Bowl champions. Vick has had his share of success in his career against the G-Men. He holds a 5-2 record, has completed better than 60 percent of his passes and thrown for five touchdowns versus just three interceptions. He’s also rushed for 381 yards (6.8 ypc) and four touchdowns in those games.

To be fair, the offensive line, which has given up nine sacks already, needs to do a better job protecting Vick. Also wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson have both either missed games or been limited by injuries early on, so you could say Vick has yet to have his full complement of weapons. Still in the NFL, it all comes down to the quarterback and it’s up to Vick to silence the critics and put an end to any doubts about his status as the starter. Otherwise, it won’t just be his job security that becomes a hot topic of discussion, right Andy?

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans
Saints quarterback Drew Brees set a new NFL all-time record with 5,476 passing yards last season to go 46 touchdowns passes, and New Orleans finished with a 13-3 record and an NFC South title. However after an offseason bounty scandal that resulted in the suspension of head coach Sean Payton and others, the Saints have shockingly equaled their loss total of last year. Brees’ 904 passing yards and seven scores are solid numbers through three games, but he has already thrown five interceptions and been sacked seven times. The New Orleans defense and offensive line have had major issues this season, but it will have to be the All-Pro signal caller that leads the team out of its current hole if the Saints are going to salvage the 2012 campaign.

The grind gets tougher this week, as the Saints travel to Lambeau Field to meet the 1-2 Packers. The two NFC stalwarts combined for only four losses during the 2011 regular season but have five defeats this year. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is also under pressure this week, but Brees and the Saints offense must find a way to recapture some of last year’s magic in Wisconsin on Sunday. With weapons like Marques Colston and Lance Moore on the outside and elite tight end Jimmy Graham, New Orleans still has a shot to outscore its opponents. But since 1990, only three teams that started the NFL season 0-3 have made the playoffs. That’s a daunting statistic for Brees and company as they head to Green Bay this weekend.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee
On Sept. 1, 2011, the Tennessee Titans made Chris Johnson the highest paid running back on the planet by paying him $53.5 million over four years with $30 million guaranteed. Since being drafted in 2008, Johnson rushed for an NFL-best 4,598 yards on 925 carries, caught 137 passes for 1,008 yards receiving and scored 38 total touchdowns in 47 games. That is 5.0 yards per carry and 119.2 yards from scrimmage per game. The Titans went 13-3 in his rookie season and went 27-21 overall in that span.

In 19 games since the contract was signed, Johnson has rushed for 1,092 yards on 295 carries for an average of 3.7 yards per attempt and has scored four total touchdowns. Clearly, the $50-million man has mailed it in since signing his big contract.

The Titans tailback has been completely uninspired this fall, averaging 1.4 yards per carry (33 att., 45 yards) with nary a trip to paydirt in three games. Jake Locker is the team’s leading rusher currently.

After starting 1-2, the Titans go on the road to face the unbeaten Houston Texans in a huge divisional contest this weekend and Johnson needs to revert to his CJ2K form ASAP. In fact, the Titans will play three of the next four on the road with Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Minnesota coming up after the trip to Texas.

Locker appears to be the long-term solution at quarterback for the Titans, but if this team wants to challenge the Texans in the AFC South, it has to get production from its rushing attack.

@bradengall

Related Content:

2012 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings: Week 4
2012 Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 4

Teaser:
<p> NFL Week 4 Under Pressure: Michael Vick, Chris Johnson, Drew Brees</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/kansas-state-football-where-does-bill-snyder-rank-among-all-time-coaches
Body:

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has to be considered one of college football's best coaches. Snyder is credited with a "Miracle in Manhattan," turning the Wildcats into a consistent winner and a top-10 team in some seasons. After three years in retirement, Snyder has returned to the sidelines and has Kansas State back in contention for a Big 12 title. 

Where does Bill Snyder rank among all-time coaches? 

Coach Bobby Ross, former head coach of Maryland, Georgia Tech and Army and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I got to know Bill some years back when I was an NFL head coach for the Chargers.  He brought his coaching staff to study what we were doing in San Diego and exchanged ideas with him and his staff.  I was very impressed by him and have followed his career since that time. Bill is a no-nonsense type of coach and a great communicator. He built the program from the bottom up.  They were at ground zero when he got there in Manhattan.  And not only did he do it once, he went back a few years ago and has Kansas State playing like a top ten team again. On our Legends Poll weekly conference call, R.C. Slocum said, "I think Bill Snyder ought to be Coach of the Century!"   I would rank him up near the top as well.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
Snyder hasn’t had the national championship breakthrough. He doesn’t run the most exciting schemes. And he doesn’t have the public persona of a Steve Spurrier, Bobby Bowden or even Nick Saban. But the results warrant mentioning him among the greats. Maybe he’s in a second tier after Bear Bryant, Bowden and the like, but he needs to be mentioned among the top 10 or so. Snyder has swooped in to rescue the Kansas State program twice. Say what you want about the light non-conference schedules over the years, but given its history and perennial talent gap with Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska over the years, Kansas State doesn’t have a whole lot of business being consistently competitive against those schools. Yet it’s happened. I’m not a fan of the “they just find ways to win” cliche, but it’s true for Snyder’s teams and it’s been true over the course of two decades.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
It is virtually impossible to rank Bill Snyder all-time against coaches from 100 years worth of football. But against active coaches? He is easily top ten if not top five. Nick Saban, Steve Spurrier, Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer are likely the only coaches I would definitively rank ahead of Snyder. He would be on par with Frank Beamer, Chris Peterson, Chip Kelly and (gasp) Bobby Petrino. The Kansas State coach does more with less than possibly any other head coach in the nation, but at the end of the day, the resume isn't the same as those who have won national championships. Stoops has dominated the head-to-head record with Snyder and has seven Big 12 titles. Spurrier has seven conference championships. Meyer and Saban claim five of the last nine national titles. Snyder is a truly great football coach, and an extremely interesting man, who is entirely responsible for all that Kansas State football is today. But one conference championship in 21 seasons, despite the disadvantages at KSU, keeps him from the top tier of coaches in my opinion. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
There are few coaches who could do what Snyder has done at Kansas State. When he arrived in Manhattan, Kansas State was one of the worst programs in the nation. The Wildcats were coming off back-to-back winless seasons and had just three victories over the last four years. Since Snyder’s arrival at Kansas State, the program has become a consistent winner and nearly played for the national title in 1998. As if his first tenure wasn’t good enough, Snyder returned out of retirement and has Kansas State in the mix to win the Big 12 title this year. It’s always difficult to place where coaches rank among their counterparts, as each job presents different challenges. However, it’s clear Snyder is currently one of the best coaches in college football and has to rank among the best of all-time. I wouldn’t put Snyder in the same class as Bobby Bowden, Nick Saban or Bear Bryant, but he wouldn’t be far behind in the next group.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
He’s clearly an all-time great. He has to be considered one of the great program builders of all-time for what he did during his first stint at Kansas State. He inherited a program that was perceived by many to be the worst in the nation — and rightfully so. The Wildcats went winless in the two previous seasons prior to his arrival. They won one game in his first season, five the next and then broke through with a 7–4 record in Year 3. After a step back in 1992, K-State began a stretch in which it won at least nine games in 10 of 11 seasons. That, alone, is an incredible accomplishment. But Snyder rebuilt the program once again, returning to the sidelines in 2009 after a three-year retirement. Last season, the Cats won 10 games — for the first time since 2003 — with a roster that was probably middle of the pack (at best) in the Big 12. And he has the Cats off to a 4–0 start in ’12, highlighted by last week’s upset win at Oklahoma. As I Tweeted late Saturday night: “Kansas State is amazing. Never picking against the Cats again.”

Mark Ross: 
Snyder is without a doubt the greatest head coach in Kansas State's history. Not only is the football stadium named after him, but he also has more than 120 career wins than any other coach in the program's history. Snyder deserves a lot of credit and a great deal of respect for turning what was a moribund football program into a consistent winner, not once, but twice as he first retired following the 2005 season only to return three seasons later. Snyder has 163 wins and counting in his K-State tenure, which is now in its 21st season, and has a career winning percentage of nearly 66 percent. He has won only one conference title in his career, however, and is 6-7 in bowl games. Snyder is still several good years away from reaching the 200-victory milestone, and considering he will turn 73 in two weeks, you wonder how much longer he will keep going. I don't think he measures up to the all-time greats, but there's certainly no shame in leaving your lasting mark and legacy on a program and university, which is what he has done in Manhattan, Kan.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
Before Coach Snyder arrived in Manhattan, Kansas State had played over 90 years of football and never won a bowl game. In fact, a 1982 loss in the Independence Bowl was the lone postseason appearance in the history of the Wildcats program. The job that Snyder and his staff did in building KSU in to a consistent winner has to rank as the best ever in taking a moribund program and making it relevant. It’s difficult for me to rank Snyder among the top 20 all-time coaches because of a lack of conference or national titles (one Big 12 crown in 2003), but he definitely belongs in the next tier of great coaches and in the College Football Hall of Fame. 

 

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Teaser:
<p> Kansas State Football: Where does Bill Snyder rank among all-time coaches?&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 05:51
Path: /college-football/college-football-award-watch-post-week-4-0
Body:

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.

OFFENSIVE AWARDS
Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Our leader: Geno Smith, West Virginia
Smith was 30-of-43 for 338 yards with three touchdowns against Maryland last week, reminding us that even his season lows in completed passes, completion rate, touchdown passes and yards per attempt are still pretty darn good. Other quarterbacks are gaining, though, after Collin Klein and EJ Manuel had signature games last week. USC’s Matt Barkley, who has four interceptions in his last two games, is fading a bit.
Others: ULM’s Kolton Browning, Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Florida State’s EJ Manuel, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, Georgia’s Aaron Murray

Doak Walker (Top running back)
Our leader: Chris Thompson, Florida State
The field for the nation’s top running back has been an interesting one -- UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin struggled against Oregon State, Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell has been streaky, Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas was solid yet unspectacular against Arizona. Let’s shine the spotlight on Florida State’s Chris Thompson, who has rushed for 300 yards and four touchdowns on only 24 carries in Florida State’s two ACC wins.
Others: Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell, UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin, Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson, South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore, Fresno State’s Robbie Rouse, Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor, Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas

Biletnikoff Award (Top wide receiver)
Our leader: Tavon Austin, West Virginia
One of the byproducts of playing for Dana Holgorsen and with quarterback Geno Smith is the chance to stand out at receiver. Austin, however, made Smith look pretty good against Maryland with 13 catches for 179 yards and three touchdowns. Austin has nine touchdown catches and 46 catches in his last four games dating back to the Orange Bowl.
Others: West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey, USC’s Marqise Lee, Clemson’s Sammy Watkins, Oregon State’s Markus Wheaton, USC’s Robert Woods

Mackey Award (Top tight end)
Our leader: Chris Coyle, Arizona State
Coyle leads the nation’s tight ends in receptions (22) and receiving yards (301) for surprising Arizona State. The junior who had six career receptions coming into the season now has twice as many catches as anyone on the Sun Devils’ roster.
Others: Oregon’s Colt Lyerla, Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Outland Trophy (Top interior lineman)
Our leader: Barrett Jones, Alabama
Another week with Jones looking like the player to beat for the lineman awards. Jones also was named a semifinalist for the Campbell Trophy, whcih is awarded to a player with notable on-field and academic accomplishments.
Others: Virginia’s Oday Aboushi, Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, Utah’s Star Lotulelei

Rimington Trophy (Top center)
Our leader: Alabama’s Jones
Others: Clemson’s Dalton Freeman

 

 


DEFENSIVE AWARDS
Bednarik Award/Nagurski Award (Defensive Player of the Year)
Our leader: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
The play up front has been outstanding for Notre Dame, allowing Te’o to reap the benefits. Te’o had two interceptions against Michigan to go with eight tackles and 1.5 tackles for a loss. Notre Dame has allowed three field goals and no touchdowns in the last two games.
Others: Mississippi State’s Johnathan Banks, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Florida State’s Bjoern Werner

Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)
Our leader: Te’o, Notre Dame
Others: Stanford’s Ben Gardner, UCLA’s Datone Jones, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt, BYU’s Kyle Van Noy, Maryland’s Joe Vellano, 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, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Iowa State’s Jake Knott, Alabama’s C.J. Mosely, Connecticut’s Yawin Smallwood

Thorpe Award (Top defensive back)
Our leader: Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Mississippi State hasn’t faced the toughest schedule yet, meaning the Bulldogs could be bowl eligible before a difficult stretch against Alabama, Texas A&M and LSU in late October and early November. Banks has led the way for the Mississippi State defense the entire season. Against South Alabama last week, he picked up this highlight-reel interception. Banks has three picks on a team that leads the nation in turnover margin.
Others: NC State’s David Amerson, Texas’ Quandre Diggs, Oregon’s Iko Ekpre-Olomu, Alabama’s Dee Milliner, Stanford’s Jordan Richards, Texas’ Kenny Vacarro


SPECIAL TEAMS AWARDS
Groza Award (Top kicker)

Our leader: Jeff Budzien, Northwestern
Budzien is 8 of 8 on field goal attempts this season, including a 5 for 5 mark against Boston College in a 22-13 win two weeks ago.
Others: Iowa’s Mike Meyer, Florida’s Caleb Sturgis

Ray Guy Award (Top punter)
Our leader: Texas A&M’s Ryan Epperson
Epperson has been one of the nation’s most consistent punters, ranking third at 47.6 yards per kick and at least 44 yards per kick in each game this season. The Aggies are also second in the nation in net punting.
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Allen, Utah’s Sean Sellwood, LSU’s Brad Wing


OTHER NATIONAL AWARDS
Freshman of the Year
Our leader: Duke Johnson, Miami
Miami’s comeback against Georgia Tech last week was primarily on the shoulders of quarterback Stephen Morris, but Johnson still finished with 110 yards from scrimmage and 200 total yards. Though Johnson averaged a season-low 9.5 yards per play against Georgia Tech, he remains the national leader in all-purpose yards per game (209.5).
Others: Georgia’s Todd Gurley, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon

Coach of the Year
Our leader: Mike Riley, Oregon State
Even in successful seasons at Oregon State, the Beavers often stumbled out of the gate in September. Riley has navigated an odd early schedule with a canceled season opener and an open date in Week 3 for an impressive pair of wins this season over Wisconsin and a hot UCLA team. Oregon State ranks second in the nation in rush defense.
Others: Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, Minnesota’s Jerry Kill, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, UCLA’s Jim L. Mora, Stanford’s David Shaw

by David Fox

@davidfox615

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Teaser:
<p> College Football Award Watch: Post-Week 4</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 05:06
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-5-emergency-starters
Body:

This piece is intended to assist those college fantasy loyalists who have stuck with us the entire week.  Whether you have an injury to a key player, a tough matchup at a particular position, or play in a deep league, this one is for you.  Good luck!  

Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)

Quarterback

Taysom Hill, BYU vs Hawaii

Tyler Van Tubbergen, Western Michigan vs Toledo

Driphus Jackson, Rice vs Houston

Trent Steelman, Army v Stony Brook

Trey Miler, Navy vs San Jose St
 

Running Backs

Kenneth Dixon, LA Tech at Virginia

Jyruss Edwards, ULM at Tulane

DJ Foster, Arizona St at Colorado

Alonzo Harris, Louisiana vs FIU

Antoine Jimmerson, North Texas at FAU

Dri Archer, Kent St vs Ball St

Zach Laskey, GA Tech vs MTSU
 

Receivers

Willie Snead, Ball St at Kent St

Marcus Lucas, Missouri at Central Florida

Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa at UAB

Ty MacArthur, Air Force vs Colorado St

For Start/Bench advice from Joe DiSalvo, send an email tojoe@thecffsite.com
 

Steven Lassan(@AthlonSteven)

Quarterback

David Fales, San Jose St at Navy

Kawaun Jakes, Western Kentucky at Arkansas St

Tanner Price, Wake Forest vs Duke
 

Running Backs

Shawne Alston, West Virginia vs Baylor

Dri Archer, Kent St vs Ball St

JaTerian Douglas, Tulsa at UAB
 

Receivers

Brelan Chancellor, North Texas at FAU

Brandin Cooks, Oregon St at Arizona

Brent Leonard, UL-Monroe at Tulane

Martel Moore, Northern Illinois vs Central Michigan

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 5 Emergency Starters</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 03:45
All taxonomy terms: Pac-12, UCLA Bruins, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-uclas-makeover-0
Body:
This feature appears in all editions of the Athlon Sports 2012-13 College Basketball annual.

Ben Howland was dead and buried. After a three consecutive Final Four appearances and 30-win campaigns from 2005-06 through 2007-08, UCLA had become mediocre in what had quickly become a downtrodden Pac-12.

Speculation regarding his job security was in ample supply. Then, a national story surfaced about how he’d apparently lost control of his program and one of his star players. Former players took shots at his style of play and skeptics even poked fun at him for hiring an AAU coach from across the country on his staff.

“It was tough,” Howland says. “Probably as difficult a year as I’ve ever had in coaching.”

With all the off-court issues, though, one glaring issue in Westwood stood out above everything else over the last few years — the talent level. It just wasn’t up to UCLA standards.

The dropoff began with the Class of 2008, one that was lauded by just about every recruiting guru. Jrue Holiday, J’Mison Morgan, Drew Gordon, Jerime Anderson and Malcolm Lee. All were considered top-50 players nationally and, as a group, were supposed to help Howland and the program sustain its recent excellence.

Holiday averaged 8.5 points per game before leaving for the NBA after his freshman season. Morgan transferred to Baylor and has been a bust. Gordon bolted six games into his sophomore season after clashing with Howland. Anderson graduated this past season after a disappointing four-year college career. Lee left following his junior campaign and was a second-round pick in the NBA Draft.

The next group was nearly as heralded, with five more players holding a ranking in the top 100. The class was as disappointing as its predecessor.

Tyler Honeycutt underachieved for the majority of two seasons before, like Lee, leaving to become a second-round pick in the NBA Draft. Mike Moser left after logging just 4.7 minutes per contest as a freshman and has turned into a bona fide star and potential first-round pick at UNLV. Brendan Lane started eight games in three seasons before transferring to Pepperdine. Anthony Stover was a complete non-factor before being kicked off the team for academics this past offseason.

Reeves Nelson

And then there’s Reeves Nelson.

Nelson was different. The tough, hard-playing forward was plenty talented enough, but he was a disaster off the court who killed team chemistry. After multiple chances from Howland — probably a few too many — Nelson was finally jettisoned from the program early in the 2011-12. But it didn’t come quick enough as Nelson’s issues became a public embarrassment to Howland and his once-tight grip on this program.

There have been other misses since the vaunted 2008 and 2009 classes. The four-man 2010 group included Matt Carlino, who left and is thriving at BYU. De’End Parker and Norman Powell arrived in 2011, and Parker is already history, leaving for San Francisco. The list seemingly goes on and on with players who didn’t plan out for one reason or another.

But now everything appears to have changed.

The 14–18 record in 2009-10 has become a distant memory. So is last season’s disaster, one in which UCLA failed to make the NCAA Tournament for the second time in the past three seasons. Moreover, UCLA’s struggles have coincided with a conference-wide slump during the last three seasons. There’s a new chapter in UCLA basketball, at least that’s what Howland and Bruins fans hope. Optimism is high the Bruins can return to their glory days, not the ones when they were hanging banners in the John Wooden Era, but the ones when they were competing for national titles shortly after Howland arrived from Pittsburgh.

Howland has added arguably the nation’s top recruiting class, one that stacks up with John Calipari’s haul in Lexington and Sean Miller’s group at Arizona. Simply, that’s what has changed the expectations in Westwood.

Josh Smith

Now Josh Smith’s weight will no longer be the primary focus at UCLA. The Wear twins — David and Travis — won’t have to be anything more than they truly are, which is perform as solid players. North Carolina transfer Larry Drew II can be a role player, maybe even a bench guy. That’s because UCLA has added arguably the two best freshmen in the country.

Shabazz Muhammad comes in as the consensus top-ranked player in the nation. He’s a big, strong and athletic wing from Las Vegas who brings a much-needed toughness mentality to the program. Muhammad had long been considered a favorite to land at UCLA — with the aid of adidas — but Kentucky and other top programs made strong pushes for his services. Muhammad could well wind up being the top pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and should be Howland’s go-to guy from the moment he first takes the court at Pauley Pavilion whenever that may be. The NCAA’s eligibility review of Muhammad was ongoing into late August.

“He’s a great player,” Howland says. “He can do a lot of different things for us and will do a lot of different things for us that we haven’t had recently.”

Then there’s Kyle Anderson, a 6-9 point forward who passes the ball in a similar manner former North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall exhibited in his two years in Chapel Hill. Anderson, no matter what position he plays in Howland’s offense, will have the ball in his hands often because his best asset is his ability to make those around him better.

“He facilitates,” Howland says. “That’s what he does best, but his perimeter shot has improved over the past year.”

These two guys, Muhammad and Anderson, changed the complexion of the entire program. They will give Howland new life, a second chance to get this storied program back on track.

Howland still has pressure on him now, though, maybe even more so with the influx of talent. He can’t swing and miss at the NCAA Tournament again, especially with the addition of Muhammad, Anderson and another top-25 player, Georgia big man Tony Parker.

“It’s all about expectation level here,” Howland says. “That’s what happens when you have the history of UCLA and when you go to three Final Fours in a row.”

“It’s all about expectation level here, That’s what happens when you have the history of UCLA and when you go to three Final Fours in a row.”

-UCLA coach Ben Howland

Muhammad will be the centerpiece of the team. Anderson should make teammates like the Wear twins and Smith more effective with crisp passes that will be converted into easy layups. And Parker has the natural ability to push Smith for playing time in the middle. There’s a second talented freshman out of Georgia, 6-5 wing Jordan Adams, as well as junior guard Tyler Lamb and sophomore Norman Powell.

There are reasons for the lack of success over the past three seasons. Sure, the talent on the West Coast — and specifically California — has been down. But UCLA is also guilty of misevaluating some key players. The Bruins also have had chemistry issues and untimely defections to the NBA Draft.

 “We’ve had so many guys leave early,” Howland says. “It’s not easy to reload every year.”

Holiday, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo all left early. But more recently, the departures of Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee, who bolted despite being sure-fire second round picks, hampered the Bruins a year ago.

But premature defections, even to the NBA,  haven’t been worthy of a free pass for Howland & Co. Not for the elite program out West.

The preseason polls are likely have UCLA in the top 25, perhaps in the top five. Howland is full of smiles these days, knowing he’ll have enough to compete with anyone in the league and nearly anyone in the entire country.

Related: College Basketball Countdown: No. 12 UCLA Preview

“I’m excited about this season,” he says. “But we need to go out and prove it. Rankings don’t mean anything. People can project all they want, but it’s about performance. I think we have a chance to be a really good team, but we need to go out and win games.”

Howland loses his starting backcourt of Lazeric Jones, who was the team’s leading scorer a year ago at 13.5 points per game, and Jerime Anderson, who never came close to fulfilling the potential he brought with him to UCLA. While Jones did have a solid season last year, the duo of Muhammad and Kyle Anderson will be instant upgrades — even with their youth and inexperience.

The Wear twins combined to average 21.7 points and more than a dozen boards per game last season. It’s unlikely they’ll ever be college stars, as many pegged throughout their high school careers before they landed at North Carolina. But they can be solid frontcourt players now that they are surrounded with top-tier talent.

Then there’s the rotund, ultra-talented big man, Smith, who can’t seem to get his weight issues under control — something that could end up costing him a career at the next level. Smith averaged a mediocre 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds last season and enters his junior season as a forgotten man of sorts due to his uninspiring play and lack of consistent production.

The 6-5 Lamb had a solid sophomore campaign, averaging 9.0 points per game. He certainly fill a role, whether it be starting on the wing or coming off the bench.

The Wears aren’t the only ex-North Carolina players in L.A. Drew II is another local kid who left Chapel Hill and wound up back close to home. But his role is uncertain now with the arrival of Anderson.

Ben Howland

“They’ll definitely be playing together at times,” Howland says of a potential Anderson-Drew backcourt. “Larry can facilitate pretty well himself.”

But the Drew Experiment down in the ACC didn’t work well. Then-freshman Kendall Marshall supplanted him midway through the 2010-11 season, prompting Drew to abruptly leave Chapel Hill instead of accepting his role as a backup. Plenty of observers say Drew and his talent level are better-suited as a reserve, but Howland could wind up going with him as a starter, especially early in the season.

Roles will be important for Howland to establish — as will leadership and a defensive philosophy.

The holdovers will need to allow Muhammad and Anderson to come in and not only be the focal points on the court, but also leaders. These guys bring in a much-needed attitude, as well as a physical (Muhammad) and mental (Anderson) toughness that has sorely been lacking in the last few years.

Howland, over the years, has been known as a guy who won’t alter his system. Tough, hard-nosed man-to-man defense has been a staple throughout most of his career as well as an offensive system with limited freedom — something that caused several of his former players to complain.

Howland admits that he’ll likely stick with man-to-man defense, although he understands that his guards, who aren’t overly athletic, won’t be able to pressure the ball as he was able to do in the past.

With the recent struggles, it’s easy to forget what Howland has done over the past nine seasons at UCLA. There have been three Final Four appearances, more than 200 victories and no shortage of pros who have come though the program. He’s brought in heralded guys like Love and Holiday and also developed under-the-radar ones such as Westbrook and Darren Collison.

The program has had stellar seasons in 2006, ’07 and ’08. Then disappointing ones in 2010 and ’12.

“It’s all about expectations,” Howland says. “And I’m OK with that.”

Now we’ll see if this recruiting class, unlike the ones a few years ago, can help the Bruins live up to the hype.

-By Jeff Goodman, CBSSports.com

@AthlonSports

Athlon College Basketball Countdown So Far:
20. Florida

19. Notre Dame

18. Memphis
17. Baylor
16. Missouri

15. San Diego State

14. North Carolina

13. UNLV

12. UCLA

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball: UCLA's Makeover</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 17:07
All taxonomy terms: Pac-12, UCLA Bruins, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-uclas-makeover
Body:
This feature appears in all editions of the Athlon Sports 2012-13 College Basketball annual.

Ben Howland was dead and buried. After a three consecutive Final Four appearances and 30-win campaigns from 2005-06 through 2007-08, UCLA had become mediocre in what had quickly become a downtrodden Pac-12.

Speculation regarding his job security was in ample supply. Then, a national story surfaced about how he’d apparently lost control of his program and one of his star players. Former players took shots at his style of play and skeptics even poked fun at him for hiring an AAU coach from across the country on his staff.

“It was tough,” Howland says. “Probably as difficult a year as I’ve ever had in coaching.”

With all the off-court issues, though, one glaring issue in Westwood stood out above everything else over the last few years — the talent level. It just wasn’t up to UCLA standards.

The dropoff began with the Class of 2008, one that was lauded by just about every recruiting guru. Jrue Holiday, J’Mison Morgan, Drew Gordon, Jerime Anderson and Malcolm Lee. All were considered top-50 players nationally and, as a group, were supposed to help Howland and the program sustain its recent excellence.

Holiday averaged 8.5 points per game before leaving for the NBA after his freshman season. Morgan transferred to Baylor and has been a bust. Gordon bolted six games into his sophomore season after clashing with Howland. Anderson graduated this past season after a disappointing four-year college career. Lee left following his junior campaign and was a second-round pick in the NBA Draft.

The next group was nearly as heralded, with five more players holding a ranking in the top 100. The class was as disappointing as its predecessor.

Tyler Honeycutt underachieved for the majority of two seasons before, like Lee, leaving to become a second-round pick in the NBA Draft. Mike Moser left after logging just 4.7 minutes per contest as a freshman and has turned into a bona fide star and potential first-round pick at UNLV. Brendan Lane started eight games in three seasons before transferring to Pepperdine. Anthony Stover was a complete non-factor before being kicked off the team for academics this past offseason.

And then there’s Reeves Nelson.

Nelson was different. The tough, hard-playing forward was plenty talented enough, but he was a disaster off the court who killed team chemistry. After multiple chances from Howland — probably a few too many — Nelson was finally jettisoned from the program early in the 2011-12. But it didn’t come quick enough as Nelson’s issues became a public embarrassment to Howland and his once-tight grip on this program.

There have been other misses since the vaunted 2008 and 2009 classes. The four-man 2010 group included Matt Carlino, who left and is thriving at BYU. De’End Parker and Norman Powell arrived in 2011, and Parker is already history, leaving for San Francisco. The list seemingly goes on and on with players who didn’t plan out for one reason or another.

But now everything appears to have changed.

The 14–18 record in 2009-10 has become a distant memory. So is last season’s disaster, one in which UCLA failed to make the NCAA Tournament for the second time in the past three seasons. Moreover, UCLA’s struggles have coincided with a conference-wide slump during the last three seasons. There’s a new chapter in UCLA basketball, at least that’s what Howland and Bruins fans hope. Optimism is high the Bruins can return to their glory days, not the ones when they were hanging banners in the John Wooden Era, but the ones when they were competing for national titles shortly after Howland arrived from Pittsburgh.

Howland has added arguably the nation’s top recruiting class, one that stacks up with John Calipari’s haul in Lexington and Sean Miller’s group at Arizona. Simply, that’s what has changed the expectations in Westwood.

Now Josh Smith’s weight will no longer be the primary focus at UCLA. The Wear twins — David and Travis — won’t have to be anything more than they truly are, which is perform as solid players. North Carolina transfer Larry Drew II can be a role player, maybe even a bench guy. That’s because UCLA has added arguably the two best freshmen in the country.

Shabazz Muhammad comes in as the consensus top-ranked player in the nation. He’s a big, strong and athletic wing from Las Vegas who brings a much-needed toughness mentality to the program. Muhammad had long been considered a favorite to land at UCLA — with the aid of adidas — but Kentucky and other top programs made strong pushes for his services. Muhammad could well wind up being the top pick in the 2013 NBA Draft and should be Howland’s go-to guy from the moment he first takes the court at Pauley Pavilion whenever that may be. The NCAA’s eligibility review of Muhammad was ongoing into late August.

“He’s a great player,” Howland says. “He can do a lot of different things for us and will do a lot of different things for us that we haven’t had recently.”

Then there’s Kyle Anderson, a 6-9 point forward who passes the ball in a similar manner former North Carolina point guard Kendall Marshall exhibited in his two years in Chapel Hill. Anderson, no matter what position he plays in Howland’s offense, will have the ball in his hands often because his best asset is his ability to make those around him better.

“He facilitates,” Howland says. “That’s what he does best, but his perimeter shot has improved over the past year.”

These two guys, Muhammad and Anderson, changed the complexion of the entire program. They will give Howland new life, a second chance to get this storied program back on track.

Howland still has pressure on him now, though, maybe even more so with the influx of talent. He can’t swing and miss at the NCAA Tournament again, especially with the addition of Muhammad, Anderson and another top-25 player, Georgia big man Tony Parker.

“It’s all about expectation level here,” Howland says. “That’s what happens when you have the history of UCLA and when you go to three Final Fours in a row.”

Muhammad will be the centerpiece of the team. Anderson should make teammates like the Wear twins and Smith more effective with crisp passes that will be converted into easy layups. And Parker has the natural ability to push Smith for playing time in the middle. There’s a second talented freshman out of Georgia, 6-5 wing Jordan Adams, as well as junior guard Tyler Lamb and sophomore Norman Powell.

There are reasons for the lack of success over the past three seasons. Sure, the talent on the West Coast — and specifically California — has been down. But UCLA is also guilty of misevaluating some key players. The Bruins also have had chemistry issues and untimely defections to the NBA Draft.

 “We’ve had so many guys leave early,” Howland says. “It’s not easy to reload every year.”

Holiday, Kevin Love, Russell Westbrook, Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo all left early. But more recently, the departures of Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee, who bolted despite being sure-fire second round picks, hampered the Bruins a year ago.

But premature defections, even to the NBA,  haven’t been worthy of a free pass for Howland & Co. Not for the elite program out West.

The preseason polls are likely have UCLA in the top 25, perhaps in the top five. Howland is full of smiles these days, knowing he’ll have enough to compete with anyone in the league and nearly anyone in the entire country.

“I’m excited about this season,” he says. “But we need to go out and prove it. Rankings don’t mean anything. People can project all they want, but it’s about performance. I think we have a chance to be a really good team, but we need to go out and win games.”

Howland loses his starting backcourt of Lazeric Jones, who was the team’s leading scorer a year ago at 13.5 points per game, and Jerime Anderson, who never came close to fulfilling the potential he brought with him to UCLA. While Jones did have a solid season last year, the duo of Muhammad and Kyle Anderson will be instant upgrades — even with their youth and inexperience.

The Wear twins combined to average 21.7 points and more than a dozen boards per game last season. It’s unlikely they’ll ever be college stars, as many pegged throughout their high school careers before they landed at North Carolina. But they can be solid frontcourt players now that they are surrounded with top-tier talent.

Then there’s the rotund, ultra-talented big man, Smith, who can’t seem to get his weight issues under control — something that could end up costing him a career at the next level. Smith averaged a mediocre 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds last season and enters his junior season as a forgotten man of sorts due to his uninspiring play and lack of consistent production.

The 6-5 Lamb had a solid sophomore campaign, averaging 9.0 points per game. He certainly fill a role, whether it be starting on the wing or coming off the bench.

The Wears aren’t the only ex-North Carolina players in L.A. Drew II is another local kid who left Chapel Hill and wound up back close to home. But his role is uncertain now with the arrival of Anderson.
 
“They’ll definitely be playing together at times,” Howland says of a potential Anderson-Drew backcourt. “Larry can facilitate pretty well himself.”

But the Drew Experiment down in the ACC didn’t work well. Then-freshman Kendall Marshall supplanted him midway through the 2010-11 season, prompting Drew to abruptly leave Chapel Hill instead of accepting his role as a backup. Plenty of observers say Drew and his talent level are better-suited as a reserve, but Howland could wind up going with him as a starter, especially early in the season.

Roles will be important for Howland to establish — as will leadership and a defensive philosophy.

The holdovers will need to allow Muhammad and Anderson to come in and not only be the focal points on the court, but also leaders. These guys bring in a much-needed attitude, as well as a physical (Muhammad) and mental (Anderson) toughness that has sorely been lacking in the last few years.

Howland, over the years, has been known as a guy who won’t alter his system. Tough, hard-nosed man-to-man defense has been a staple throughout most of his career as well as an offensive system with limited freedom — something that caused several of his former players to complain.

Howland admits that he’ll likely stick with man-to-man defense, although he understands that his guards, who aren’t overly athletic, won’t be able to pressure the ball as he was able to do in the past.

With the recent struggles, it’s easy to forget what Howland has done over the past nine seasons at UCLA. There have been three Final Four appearances, more than 200 victories and no shortage of pros who have come though the program. He’s brought in heralded guys like Love and Holiday and also developed under-the-radar ones such as Westbrook and Darren Collison.

The program has had stellar seasons in 2006, ’07 and ’08. Then disappointing ones in 2010 and ’12.

“It’s all about expectations,” Howland says. “And I’m OK with that.”

Now we’ll see if this recruiting class, unlike the ones a few years ago, can help the Bruins live up to the hype.

-By Jeff Goodman, CBSSports.com

@AthlonSports

Athlon College Basketball Countdown So Far:
20. Florida

19. Notre Dame

18. Memphis
17. Baylor
16. Missouri

15. San Diego State

14. North Carolina

13. UNLV

12. UCLA

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball: UCLA's Makeover</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 17:06
Path: /college-football/lsu-alabama%E2%80%99s-biggest-threat-national-title
Body:

The college football season is only four weeks old, but the general feeling from most of the nation is there is a clear No. 1 team - Alabama. A lot will happen and plenty can change between now and the end of the season, but is LSU the biggest obstacle to another title by the Crimson Tide?

Is LSU Alabama's Biggest Threat to a National Title?

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
Although LSU did not look great in a 12-10 win over Auburn on Saturday, the Tigers still appear to be the biggest threat to another Alabama national title. Any team that’s going to defeat Alabama needs to have an elite defense, and that’s still the Tigers. The road trip to LSU may be the only threat to Alabama during the regular season, but Georgia or South Carolina could be problematic as well in a potential SEC championship game. Either way, Alabama’s biggest threat would seem to come from the SEC rather than any potential foe in the title game -- assuming that opponent isn’t an SEC team again.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
A road trip to LSU on Nov. 3 is the toughest current game left on the schedule, but I am not ready to say that it will be the toughest challenge. Georgia, Florida and South Carolina all have defensive lines that match-up well Bama in a potential SEC title game with the Bulldogs also offering an offense that could put the Tide defense to the test as well. Florida State could provide an equally tricky match-ups should they all get to the national title game. But my pick for the national title game was Alabama and Oregon this summer, so the Ducks are in the mix as well. If I had to rank "biggest threats" to Alabama's third national title in four years: 1) Georgia in SEC title game 2) Oregon or Florida State in the BCS title game 3) LSU.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
LSU was unimpressive in a 12-10 win against Auburn, but I still believe the Tigers are Alabama’s toughest obstacle to a national championship. Outside of LSU, Florida State and Oregon seem to be the most likely candidates for the No. 2 spot in the polls. The Seminoles’ defense is one of the best in the nation, and quarterback EJ Manuel appears to be peaking at the right time. However, is the offensive line up to the task? Oregon has the offense to win a title, but how well would its defense matchup against a physical team like Alabama in the trenches? LSU gets a shot against Alabama in Baton Rouge, and it has defeated the Crimson Tide the last two times during the regular season.  The Tigers are a perfect match for Alabama in the trenches, and their offense should be better by early November. I still think the Crimson Tide wins the national championship, but LSU will be their toughest test in 2012.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
LSU hasn’t looked quite as dominant as we expected — though the Tigers are 4–0 with an average margin of victory of 29 points — but I’d still call the Tigers the biggest threat to Alabama’s quest for a second straight national title. The reason? Alabama must beat LSU in Baton Rouge to continue its perfect season. (And yes, I realize that Bama could lose this game and still play in the national title game). There might be some teams who have looked better to date — Oregon, Georgia and Florida State come to mind — but Alabama won’t have to play any of those teams on their home field. That’s a big difference. 

Mark Ross: 
Not if they play the same LSU team that eked out a two-point victory at Auburn last Saturday. That said, the Tigers are the biggest threat to Alabama's repeat national title hopes in that the two will meet on Nov. 3 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., in a game that will more than likely determine who wins the SEC West. It's still early, but I don't see a repeat of last season happening, meaning the best way for either the Crimson Tide or the Tigers to be in the best position to earn a berth in the BCS Championship Game is by winning the SEC Championship Game. So in my mind, that first Saturday in November is essentially an elimination game. Lose and your title dreams, both SEC and national, are pretty much dashed. But getting into the SEC title game is just the first step, winning it is the second. To that end, I think Alabama's biggest threat, assuming they win the West, to a national title is whoever makes it out of the East. Right now I give the edge to Georgia, but South Carolina is just as capable, and who knows, Florida could be there in the end if the offense continues to develop and can complement an already stout defense. It may not seem like it at this point, but I think that either the Bulldogs or the Gamecocks can match up pretty well against the Crimson Tide, provided they are healthy and clicking on all cylinders come Dec. 1. So while it does seem highly likely at this point that the SEC will be represented in the BCS title game for the seventh straight season, don't be surprised if the team that plays in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Jan. 13, 2013, comes from the East and not the West.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
Absolutely. I would not discount LSU chances of beating Alabama once again in the regular season just because the Tigers had to win a 12-10 slugfest at Auburn. Wild things happen in SEC night games, and coming into last Saturday the visitor in the LSU-Auburn series had gone 1-11 in the last 12 matchups. Plus, Les Miles’ crew has battled multiple injuries (Alfred Blue, Spencer Ware, P.J. Lonergan and Josh Dworaczyk) to key players. Alabama looks like the better team, but LSU has proven it can play in a defensive battle with the Tide. Additionally, this year’s much-anticipated contest is in Baton Rouge. If the Tide makes it to Atlanta, there will a tough and tested East opponent to beat. But a talented LSU bunch is still the biggest obstacle to the Tide repeating as national champions. 

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 5 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Teaser:
<p> Is LSU Alabama’s Biggest Threat to a National Title?&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 15:49
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/10-twitter-accounts-every-golf-fan-should-follow
Body:

Twitter is a powerful medium in today's sports landscape, and golf is no exception. Golfers, and the journalists who cover them, have taken to Twitter to freely share their wit, their insights, their gripes, their expectations and their dinner plans and workout regimens.

As the Ryder Cup kicks off Sept. 28, be sure to add these timelines to your follow list. You'll notice that Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are missing; Tiger's tweets are kinda bland, and Lefty's not on Twitter. They both would be well served to emulate these 10 master Tweeters.
 

@Luke Donald
The former World No. 1 recently learned that social media has a dark side when he took to Twitter to rip the TPC Boston redesign during the Deutsche Bank Championship. He followed that rant with another tweet calling designer Gil Hanse a word that, in polite company, is reserved for a rooster. Apparently, he had intended the tweets to be private messages. The first offending tweet is displayed here; the second isn't fit for our family website. Luke backpedaled and apologized; don't hold his mistake against him. He's worth a follow.


 

@ThePCreamer
Paula Creamer's just so dang adorable. Her current avatar features her snuggling with her impossibly cute puppy; just having that pop up on your feed brightens your day and makes her worth a follow. Paula freely shares her on-course struggles and successes. We're hoping for more of the latter.


 

@JasonSobelGC
Sobel recently took his talents from ESPN to Golf Channel. He's a master tweeter who drops one witty bon mot after another, many of them straight from the course.


 

@stewartcink
Cink's game has suffered lately, but his Tweeting hasn't. This summer, he offered this gem: "Our cat has chlamydia. There goes the reputation." Here's another:


 

@DJohnsonPGA
Dustin Johnson's a big fan of the exclamation point. I'm a big fan of Dustin Johnson, so I can forgive his overuse of punctuation. His enthusiasm is infectious.


 

@Fehertwit
The name says it all. David Feherty doesn't take himself seriously, and that lack of seriousness makes him perfect for Twitter. Golf's clown prince describes his Golf Channel show as "interesting, yet oddly moronic." Kinda captures the man himself, and his Twitter timeline.


 

@IanJamesPoulter
They don't come much more confident than Poulter. In fact, if you're an American looking for a villain to root against in the Ryder Cup, he's your guy. He's heading to Medinah to chew bubble gum and kick butt, and he's all out of bubble gum.


 

@bubbawatson
What you see with Bubba is what you get. The guy wears his heart on his sleeve, whether he's on the Letterman Show, at The Masters or on Twitter. He's apt to share Biblical passages that mark milestones in his spiritual journey, so if you're not into that, he might not be for you. Otherwise, dive in. Almost 700,000 other people have.


 

@McIlroyRory
The kid's getting the hang of this media thing. This week, he killed it on Jimmy Fallon, proving that he's getting more and more comfortable as the face of golf. Some of his 1.3 million Twitter followers may be looking for Caroline Wozniacki updates and photos — she's one of golf's better WAGs — but they get a lot more than that.


 

@PGA_JohnDaly
Golf's rotund everyman in the insanely loud and hideous slacks has mounted a serious comeback from drunkeness and general disgrace, and he's chronicling his journey back to respectability on Twitter. We're rooting for ya, John.


 

I don't always tweet about golf, but if you'd like to add me, I'm @AthlonDoster.

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 13:31
All taxonomy terms: Purdue Boilermakers, Big Ten, News
Path: /news/purdues-punter-cody-webster-throws-behind-back-touchdown-pass
Body:

Purdue has experienced some bad luck with quarterback injuries over the last couple of seasons, but the Boilermakers might have a secret weapon in punter Cody Webster.

Webster is one of the Big Ten's top punters but made quite an impression at quarterback during a flag football game at Purdue.

The punter tossed an impressive behind-the-back 30-yard touchdown pass, which was a key play in leading his team to a 30-7 victory. 

Who says punters can't be weapons on offense?

Teaser:
<p> Purdue's Punter Cody Webster Throws Behind-the-Back Touchdown Pass</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 07:24
Path: /nfl/baltimore-ravens-vs-cleveland-browns-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Two teams on the opposite end of the NFL spectrum will clash tonight when the Baltimore Ravens host the Cleveland Browns at 8:20 pm EST on the NFL Network. The Ravens have the difficult task of a short recovery from an emotional 31-30 Sunday night win over the Patriots, but Ray Lewis and company have beaten Cleveland eight straight times. The Browns are looking for anything positive after an 0-3 start, and Baltimore is a tough place to get well. At least this game will feature the regular NFL referees after an agreement was reached Wednesday night.

When the Baltimore Ravens have the ball:
Quarterback Joe Flacco is off to a great start, leading the AFC with 913 passing yards. His favorite target has been tight end Dennis Pitta, who already has 18 receptions on the season. Second-year wideout Torrey Smith leads Baltimore in receiving yards with 235. And then there is All-Pro tailback Ray Rice, who has compiled over 2,000 total yards in two of the last three seasons and already has three scores this year.

The Browns defense has played decently at times this season, but there must be improvement on the 1,175 yards allowed in three games. Cleveland has been able to pressure opposing passers, totaling nine sacks and an AFC-leading five interceptions this year. Frustrating Flacco and getting some takeaways will be a key for the Browns, but they must be able limit Rice’s production on the ground to do so.

When the Cleveland Browns have the ball:
The rookie tandem of quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Trent Richardson will try to lead a Browns offense that currently ranks 26th in the league in yardage. Cleveland cannot afford to turn the ball over against the Ravens, and Weeden already has six interceptions and has been sacked eight times this year. Finding a way to get the dynamic Richardson more touches will be a key tonight. The Browns challenge becomes even more difficult with receiver Mohamed Massaquoi (hamstring) and tight end Alex Smith (concussion) out for this game.

The Ravens defense has plenty of veteran stars like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, but the usually-elite unit has given up over 400 yards per game this year. Weeden should pose less of a threat than signal callers like Michael Vick and Tom Brady, so the key for Baltimore will be stopping Richardson. As long as the rookie runner never gets into a rhythm, the Ravens should be able to stifle the Browns offense.

Key Factor:
This one looks like a mismatch on paper, with Baltimore heavily favored to make it nine consecutive wins over Cleveland. The Browns must win the turnover battle to stay in this game, and they have shown a penchant for harassing opposing signal callers. If the Ravens protect the ball, an easy home win should follow.

Prediction:
Ravens 27, Browns 13


---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

Teaser:
<p> Baltimore Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/5-biggest-surprising-nfl-season-so-far
Body:

The Arizona Cardinals spent the summer locked in a quarterback controversy, which is usually a death knell for NFL teams. When it was over, they settled on a player who played collegiate ball at Fordham. And then he got hurt.

So, of course, they are one of only three 3-0 teams left in the NFL, right? Makes perfect sense.

It’s hard to believe anybody outside the Cardinals offices even imagined such a hot start was possible – especially since their first three games included a trip to New England and a home game against the supposedly dangerous Philadelphia Eagles. But after they hammered Philly 27-6 on Sunday, the NFL and its fans have no choice but to take notice. The Cardinals are the biggest surprise in the NFL, and they have everyone wondering if they’re for real.

We’ll all find that out soon enough, just like we’ll find out if any of the other surprises have staying power through the next 14 weeks. And there have been plenty of surprises in this wacky opening to the season. Here are the biggest five:

1. The 3-0 Arizona Cardinals After barely beating the Seattle Seahawks in their opener they shocked everyone with a win at New England and that thumping on Philly. Kevin Kolb, filling in for the injured John Skelton, has been everything the Cardinals thought he’d be when they acquired him from Philadelphia. And that’s really the key, because everyone knew he had weapons in receiver Larry Fitzgerald and a diverse rushing attack with Ryan Williams and Beanie Wells.

The real surprise? Their young defense has grown up and they play a hard-hitting, stingy style, much like the San Francisco 49ers did when they shocked everyone last season. Through three games they are ranked seventh in the NFL and are giving up a tiny 13.3 points per game.

 

2. Vikings QB Christian Ponder Seriously, if you were going to bet on one quarterback from last year’s rookie class to be ranked fifth in the NFL through the first three games, how many would you have guessed before you got to Ponder? His 104.9 rating has him ahead of the likes of Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford, Drew Brees and Tom Brady.

OK, sure it’s only three games and his rating is largely on the strength of his no interceptions. But he’s still been an impressive 68 of 97 (70.1 percent) for 713 yards and four touchdowns. The Vikings are also a somewhat surprising 2-1.

 

3. The 0-3 New Orleans Saints Maybe because of Bounty-Gate this shouldn’t have been such a surprise, but for all the Saints lost they still had a dangerous offense and a Top 5 quarterback in Drew Brees. But Brees has been uncharacteristically inaccurate this season, completing just 54.7 percent of his passes and throwing five interceptions to go with his seven touchdowns. Add in a terrible defense and the Saints are a bigger mess than anyone could have imagined.

 

4. Titans RB Chris Johnson Last year was a terrible one for Chris Johnson, and he still managed to top 1,000 rushing yards and catch 57 passes. It made it look like just a blip on his radar and that he’d be primed for a bounce back year. Instead, he smacked into rock bottom, rushing 33 times for 45 yards in the first three games. That’s not a misprint, it’s actually 1.4 yards per carry. He has no touchdowns either. That makes him the biggest fantasy football bust on the planet and one of the biggest busts of any kind in the entire league. Even if someone thought Johnson was on the downslope at age 27, no one thought his decline would be this steep.

 

5. The 1-2 Green Bay Packers Forget about the replacement ref fiasco at the end of their game Monday night. They should never have been so close to the Seahawks anyway. No, 1-2 is not a disaster for this team, but it’s certainly a surprise considering they were 15-1 last season. Heading into this season, dating back to Christmas 2010 and including the postseason, the Packers had been on a 21-2 tear. Now they’ve lost two of three and their high-powered offense is ranked 25th in the league? Maybe they should be 2-1, but either way they don’t look like themselves at all.

—By RALPH VACCHIANO

Teaser:
<p> From Chris Johnson to the Arizona Cardinals, we never saw these coming</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 06:13
Path: /college-basketball/college-football-predictions-10-key-games-week-5
Body:

College football’s Week 5 action features a key showdown in the Big Ten, West Virginia’s first-ever Big 12 game and Texas’ trip to Stillwater to battle Oklahoma State.

10 Biggest Games of Week 5

Ohio State (+3) at Michigan State
After opening the Urban Meyer era with four straight wins at home — some closer than the natives would have liked — the Buckeyes make the short trip to East Lansing for the Big Ten opener for both schools. Ohio State has struggled on defense the past two weeks, giving up 512 and 403 yards to California and UAB, respectively. The major issue has been stopping the pass; the Bucks currently rank 104th in the nation in pass defense, allowing 277.3 yards per game. Good thing for Ohio State that Michigan State has so much trouble with the forward pass. Andrew Maxwell’s numbers aren’t horrible, but MSU ranks 108th as a team in passing efficiency and doesn’t really have many proven downfield threats. Le’Veon Bell has been the primary weapon for the Spartans’ offense, but he hasn’t exactly been a model of consistency. The junior has two games with over 200 yards and two games with under 100. Slowing down Bell will be the key for the Ohio State defense.
Ohio State 17, Michigan State 13

Baylor (+12.5) at West Virginia
Baylor is proving there is life after Robert Griffin III. The Bears improved to 3–0 with a 47–42 win at ULM last Friday night. Nick Florence, RG3’s backup the past three seasons, completed 25-of-39 passes for 351 yards and four touchdowns, to lead Baylor past a solid ULM club that opened the season with an overtime win at Arkansas and an OT loss at Auburn. West Virginia, meanwhile, has cruised to a 3–0 start with home wins over Marshall, James Madison and Maryland. The Mountaineers are putting up gaudy numbers in the passing game: Quarterback Geno Smith ranks second nationally in total offense, and WVU has two players (Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey) ranked among the top 10 nationally in receiving yards per game. This is an underrated matchup on a rather ordinary slate of games.
West Virginia 44, Baylor 34

Tennessee (+13) at Georgia
Georgia looks more and more like a legitimate national championship contender with each passing week. The Bulldogs were sharp on both sides of the ball in an easier-than-expected 48-3 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday night. Aaron Murray has been spectacular at quarterback, and the Bulldogs are getting great production from true freshman tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Tennessee is 3–1, but all is not well in the land of the Volunteers. Derek Dooley’s club struggled with Akron last weekend for the first three-plus quarters before pulling away late. The defense, under the tutelage of Nick Saban disciple Sal Sunseri, is making too many mistakes. A secondary that was exposed during the 37–20 loss to Florida two weeks ago will have a very difficult time against the balanced Georgia attack.
Georgia 38, Tennessee 17

Texas (-2.5) at Oklahoma State
Is Texas back? That has been a popular question early in the 2012 season. Our answer: We think. The Longhorns, as expected, have been very good on defense. The offense, specifically the passing attack, has been better than expected — though the competition hasn’t been great. Sophomore David Ash ranks third in the nation in passing efficiency thanks in large part to his 7-to-0 TD-to-INT ratio. Oklahoma State has sandwiched lopsided wins vs. inferior opponents (Savannah State and UL Lafayette) around a 59–38 loss at Arizona. The Pokes are allowing 438.5 yards per game vs. FBS foes. Look for the outstanding Texas defensive line to make life difficult for the Oklahoma State quarterback — either true freshman Wes Lunt (if healthy) or redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh.
Texas 31, Oklahoma State 17

Stanford (-6) at Washington (Thu)
This is an intriguing game between one program eager to prove it has staying power (Stanford) and one program attempting to climb the food chain in the Pac-12 (Washington). Stanford is 3–0 and has one of the best wins by team in college football this season, a 21–14 victory over USC in Week 2. Washington is 2–1 but played poorly in its only true test this season. The Huskies managed just 157 yards of offense in a 41–3 loss at LSU. The offense, which was a strength a year ago, has scored only 24 points in two games vs. FBS opponents. Junior Keith Price will have to be at his best to give Washington a chance to win.
Stanford 28, Washington 23

Arkansas (+13) at Texas A&M
There are so many words we can use to describe Arkansas’ season to date — debacle, train wreck, dumpster fire, nightmare, etc. One word that can’t be used? Success. Virtually nothing has gone right for the Razorbacks. They are 0–3 vs. FBS opponents, and all three losses have come in the state of Arkansas. There are many culprits, but enemy No. 1 has to the pass defense. Saturday night, Rutgers sophomore Gary Nova threw for 398 yards — 99 more than his previous career high — and five touchdowns in the Scarlet Knights’ win in Fayetteville. This week, Arkansas’ challenge will be even greater as they leave the state for the first time this season. Texas A&M redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel has emerged as one of the most exciting young quarterbacks in the nation. Manziel has rushed for 262 yards and five touchdowns and also thrown seven touchdowns without an interception in 86 attempts. This one could get ugly.
Texas A&M 41, Arkansas 20

Oregon State (+3) at Arizona
Expectations were low at Oregon State this season. So naturally, Mike Riley has the Beavers off to a 2–0 start that includes wins against Wisconsin and UCLA. The Beavers are getting it done by passing the football and playing outstanding defense. Sean Mannion, the strong-armed sophomore, has completed 53-of-82 passes for 655 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. The defense, a weakness a year ago, held Wisconsin to seven points (the Badgers’ lowest total since October 2008) — and UCLA to 20 (20.7 below its average heading into the game). Arizona suffered its first defeat of the Rich Rodriguez era on Saturday night, a humbling 49–0 shutout at Oregon. The Wildcats hung around into the second half — they only trailed 13–0 midway through the third — but gave up five touchdowns in the final 22 minutes of the game. Matt Scott, who had played so well in his first three games under RichRod, completed only 50 percent of his passes and was intercepted three times.
Oregon State 23, Arizona 17

Wisconsin (+12) at Nebraska
Wisconsin has been one of the most disappointing teams in the nation through the early part of the season. Yes, the Badgers are 3–1, but they beat Northern Iowa by five, Utah State by two (when USU missed a 37-yard field goal in the final seconds) and UTEP by 11. But there is still plenty of time to turn things around. Wisconsin is 0–0 in the Big Ten and plays in a division (the Leaders) in which two teams are ineligible for the Big Ten Championship Game. Bottom line: Wisconsin doesn’t need to be very good to reach the league title game; the Badgers just need to be better than Illinois and Purdue. We still don’t know much about Nebraska. The Huskers have defeated three overmatched teams in Lincoln and lost to UCLA in their only game vs. a school from an AQ conference. Even against this soft schedule, Nebraska is having trouble stopping the run. The Huskers have given up 185 yards on the ground to Southern Miss, 355 to UCLA and 148 to Arkansas State. Wisconsin hasn’t been productive on the ground to date, but this a team that is still capable of running the ball well (we think).
Nebraska 27, Wisconsin 20

Virginia Tech (-7) vs. Cincinnati (Landover, Md.)
We are four weeks into the college football season, yet Cincinnati has only played two games — and only one vs. an FBS opponent. The Bearcats did well in that one game, beating Pittsburgh 34¬–10, but this team is still a mystery. George Winn has stepped in for Isaiah Pead at tailback and has 242 yards in two games. Munchie Legaux has been a playmaker at quarterback (142 yards rushing, 413 yards passing), but he threw two interceptions against Delaware State two weeks ago. Virginia Tech bounced back from its troubling loss at Pittsburgh to beat a decent Bowling Green team 37–0 in Blacksburg. Logan Thomas wasn’t sharp at quarterback (he completed only 11-of-26 attempts), but the Hokies ran the ball well, with 246 yards on 43 carries. It’s tempting to compare these teams’ common opponent (Cincinnati beat Pitt by 24 points and Pitt beat Virginia Tech by 18 points), but applying the transitive property in college football can be dangerous.
Virginia Tech 27, Cincinnati 24

NC State (+2.5) at Miami (Fla.)
The first thing that comes to mind about Miami football in 2012 is the Canes’ no-show in a 52–13 loss at Kansas State in Week 2. But that’s far from the complete story. Al Golden’s team is 3–1 overall and 2–0 in the ACC with both wins coming on the road. The Canes showed tremendous resolve at Georgia Tech last weekend, rallying from a 36–19 deficit in the second half to defeat the Yellow Jackets in overtime. NC State has won three straight after opening the season with a 35–21 loss to Tennessee in Atlanta. The schedule, however, hasn’t been too taxing. The Wolfpack won at UConn, which is mildly impressive, before beating South Alabama and The Citadel with ease. Mike Glennon has looked good at times — he was brilliant for a stretch vs. Tennessee — but needs to play well on a consistent basis to give this team a chance at being relevant in the ACC Coastal race.
Miami (Fla.) 27, NC State 20

Last week: 6–4 overall (5–5 against the spread)
Season: 27–13 overall (21–19 against the spread)

By Mitch Light

@AthlonMitch

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> College football’s Week 5 action features a key battle in the Big Ten, West Virginia’s first-ever Big 12 game and Texas’ trip to Stillwater to battle Oklahoma State.</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 06:02
Path: /college-football/sec-week-5-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The SEC slate in Week 5 of the college football season is highlighted by the Arkansas-Texas A&M matchup in College Station and Tennessee’s trip to Georgia. On paper, neither game is expected to be too close — both home teams are favored by about two touchdowns, but these are still compelling matchups.

Other Week 5 Previews and Predictions

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

SEC Top Storylines to Watch in Week 5:

1. Can James Franklin get it going on the ground
James Franklin emerged as one of the top young quarterbacks in the nation last season because of his ability to hurt defenses with his arm and his legs. In his first season as the starter, Franklin threw for 2,865 yards and 21 touchdowns and added 981 yards and 15 scores on the ground. Nationally, only four quarterbacks rushed for more yards than Franklin in 2011. This year, however, the running element has been missing from his game. He has netted only 70 yards and has failed to rush for a touchdown in three games. Part of this can be blamed on his lingering shoulder injury (though he has 35 rushing attempts in his two games vs. FBS competition) and part can be attributed to the quality of competition he has faced. Franklin picked up 39 yards on six carries in the opener against Southeastern Louisiana but gained a combined 31 yards on 35 carries in SEC games vs. Georgia and South Carolina, two of the elite defensive teams in the nation. Both the Bulldogs and Gamecocks were able to get pressure on Franklin without blitzing too often, which allowed the defenses to drop seven players in coverage, and thus limited Franklin’s ability to find openings in the secondary when he was flushed out of the pocket. The question moving forward: Will he enjoy success running the ball against teams not named Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama? The next two games will serve as a barometer. The Tigers head to UCF this week and then host Vanderbilt on Oct. 6.

2. Can Knile Davis return to form?
You might not have noticed — because there are so many other problems with the Arkansas football program — but Knile Davis has been alarmingly unproductive in 2012. A first-team All-SEC back in 2010, Davis missed the entire ’11 season due to an ankle injury. But he was declared 100 percent healthy over the summer and was expected to be a key cog in the Razorbacks’ attack. Hasn’t happened. In four games, Davis has rushed for 208 yards on 64 carries for an average of only 3.3 yards per carry. There are 26 players in the SEC (with at least 30 carries) who have a better yards-per-attempt average than Davis. This week, Davis and the Hogs face a Texas A&M defense that gave up only 106 yards rushing to Florida in its only game vs. an AQ conference opponent.

3. Can the Aggies kill a wounded Hog?
This appears to be a great time to play Arkansas. The Razorbacks, a preseason top-15 team, have lost three straight games and are under the “leadership” of a lame-duck coach who has no chance of being retained once his 10-month contract expires. So, easy win for the Aggies? Maybe not. Arkansas is still a talented team that might actually benefit from leaving the Natural State for the first time this season. There are no distractions on the road. The Hogs can take an “us against the world” mentality into Kyle Field and play with nothing to lose. Meanwhile, there is considerable pressure on Texas A&M to win this game. Beginning with next week’s trip to Ole Miss, the Aggies play five of their next six on the road, and the one home game is against LSU. A&M cannot afford to drop to 0–2 at home in SEC play if it hopes to remain relevant throughout the 2012 season. 

4. Can Tennessee limit the big play?
We were told not to be surprised if the Tennessee defense gave up some big plays while making the transition to Sal Sunseri’s 3–4 scheme. Well, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. Through four games, the Volunteers have allowed 20 plays from scrimmage of 20 yards or more, which is tied with Arkansas for the most in the SEC. Included in those 20 “big plays” are three that went for at least 70 yards. Only Washington State has allowed more nationally. This could spell trouble this weekend in Athens. Guess who leads the nation in offensive plays of 20 yards or more? That’s right, Georgia with 35. The Bulldogs currently rank 13th in the nation in total offense (530 ypg) and have scored 41 points or more in all four games. Tennessee is a 13-point underdog at Sanford Stadium. The Vols must find a way to limit Georgia’s big plays to keep things close.

5. Can Marlon Brown contribute on a consistent basis?
Marlon Brown arrived at Georgia as one of the elite recruits from the Class of 2009. The Memphis native was ranked as the No. 2 wide receiver and the No. 14 overall prospect by Athlon Sports. Through three seasons, Brown was largely considered a bust. He had a total of 18 catches for 291 yards against SEC opponents, with 121 of those yards coming in one game (at Vanderbilt last season). This season, however, Brown has emerged as one of Aaron Murray’s favorite targets. The senior has 16 catches for 264 yards, including 13 for 222 and three touchdowns in the Dawgs’ two SEC games. The key now will be for Brown to maintain this level of production as the season progresses.

6. Can South Carolina continue its dominance against Kentucky?
We all remember the Saturday night in Lexington two years ago when Kentucky stormed back from a 28–10 deficit in the third quarter to steal a 31–28 victory from South Carolina, ranked No. 10 at the time. That, however, is the only time the Gamecocks have lost to Kentucky since the turn of the century. Carolina has won 11 of the past 12 vs. the Wildcats, highlighted by last season’s 54–3 beatdown in Columbia. The Gamecocks outgained UK 639-to-97 and limited the Cats to five total first downs. Following the game, Steve Spurrier offered the following assessment of his opponent: “Kentucky has a heck of a punter, I know that.” There was a time, however, when Kentucky had the upper hand in this rivalry. UK won five of the first eight after South Carolina joined the league in 1992.

7. Who will take snaps for the Wildcats?
Entering last weekend, Kentucky ranked 13th in the nation and first in the SEC in passing with 322 yards per game. But with starter Maxwell Smith sidelined with a shoulder injury, the Wildcats’ offense struggled mightily. Morgan Newton, a senior who stepped in for Smith, had a nightmarish stat line: 7-of-21 for 48 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. The Wildcats are optimistic that Smith will be back, but one thing is clear: Newton, a former 4-star recruit, will not be receiving meaningful snaps. True freshman Jalen Whitlow received all of the work with the second team this week and will get the start if Smith has a setback. Whitlow had been receiving a lot of work with the second team in practice since the season-opening loss to Louisville, but the coaching staff felt more comfortable sending Newton, who has 17 career starts, to play against Florida at the Swamp. “When Max went down, we just felt like he (Jalen) wasn’t ready, wasn’t quite ready to go in (and play) in that type of environment,” UK coach Joker Phillips said earlier this week. “I’ve been down there when we put a freshman quarterback in there, and it’s pretty tough. And we just felt like we wanted to start Morgan. And we did. Didn’t work out. Didn’t play as well as we would have liked. But we still think that that was the right decision.”

8. Can LSU develop a consistent passing attack for the upcoming stretch of games?
There has been some consternation in Baton Rouge about LSU’s offense — specifically the passing attack. Zach Mettenberger, expected by many (including me!) to be the missing piece at quarterback, has been rather ordinary through three games. He has by no means been bad; he just hasn’t been a difference-maker. The Tigers rank 98th in the nation in passing with 194.5 yard per game, but that is a bit misleading. When you run the ball as well as LSU does — and when you are so often nursing a big lead — there isn’t much of a need to fling the ball all over the field. This week, LSU should have no problem moving the ball — either on the ground or through the air — against the mighty Towson Tigers, the alma mater of former New York Giant Dave Meggett. But take a look at the Tigers’ upcoming schedule, a five-game stretch that features road trips to Florida and Texas A&M and home dates with South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi State. LSU will have to be balanced on offense to navigate that brutal stretch without a loss.

9. Can the Ole Miss defense stop the run?
At first glance, it would appear Ole Miss has done a decent job stopping the run. The Rebels rank 40th in the nation and seventh in the SEC in rushing defense, allowing 125.3 yards per game. That, however, doesn’t really tell the story. In its only game vs. a quality opponent (Texas in Oxford), Ole Miss gave up 350 yards on the round. That’s an alarming number for a team that is preparing to visit Tuscaloosa to take on the mighty Crimson Tide. The Alabama offense is quite capable of throwing the forward pass with efficiency, but the Tide are at their best when running the ball with their stable of outstanding tailbacks. It will be considered a victory for the Ole Miss defense if Alabama rushes for less than 250 yards on Saturday night.

10. Can Bama stay perfect in the red zone?
The Alabama offense has entered the red zone 18 times this season. And 18 times the Crimson Tide have put points on the board. Eleven other teams in the nation have been perfect in the red zone, but only Oklahoma State, with 20, has more trips inside the 20-yard line. Prior to last week, Alabama had scored a touchdown on all but one of its 12 red zone opportunities, but the Crimson Tide were forced to settle for field goals on three of their six trips inside the 20 in a 40–7 win vs. Florida Atlantic.

By Mitch Light

  David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Missouri (+3) at UCF Missouri 28-17 Missouri 27-21 Missouri 27-24 Missouri 30-28
Arkansas (+13.5) at Texas A&M Texas A&M 35-28 Texas A&M 34-28 Texas A&M 34-27 Texas A&M 41-20
Tennessee (+13) at Georgia Georgia 31-17 Georgia 34-21 Georgia 34-20 Georgia 38-17
South Carolina (-20.5) at Kentucky South Carolina 42-7 South Carolina 37-10 South Carolina 38-10 South Caroina 27-6
Towson at LSU LSU 56-3 LSU 49-3 LSU 62-3 LSU 41-0
Ole Miss (+31) at Alabama Alabama 49-7 Alabama 41-14 Alabama 45-7 Alabama 38-17
Last Week 9-1 9-1 9-1 9-1
Season Record 37-8 40-5 40-5 39-6

Teaser:
<p> The SEC slate in Week 5 of the college football season is highlighted by the Arkansas-Texas A&amp;M matchup in College Station and Tennessee’s trip to Georgia. On paper, neither game is expected to be too close — both home teams are favored by about two touchdowns, but these are still compelling matchups.</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:50
All taxonomy terms: Ryder Cup, Golf, Monthly
Path: /golf/ryder-cup-numbers
Body:

The 2012 Ryder Cup begins Friday at famous Medinah Country Club outside Chicago, and the United States will try to regain the title from the European squad. In 2008, the U.S. team reclaimed the Cup at Valhalla after three consecutive Euro victories. However in 2010, Europe won it back at Celtic Manor in Wales. Davis Love will captain the U.S. squad at Medinah, while Spaniard José María Olazábal will lead the European contingent. Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Jim Furyk are the veterans on an American team that has four Ryder rookies, while Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy lead a dynamic Euro squad. Here’s a statistical look at golf’s top team competition:

1: Number of winning Ryder Cup teams on which Tiger Woods has played. Woods has played in the Ryder Cup six times, but the U.S. won only one of those — in 1999. He missed the 2008 U.S. victory due to injury.
 
45: The number of feet Justin Leonard’s birdie putt traveled on the 17th green at the Country Club in Brookline, Mass., clinching the half-point necessary for the U.S. to come back from 4 points down and win the Ryder Cup in 1999.
 
9: Appearances, including this year, by Phil Mickelson in the Ryder Cup. In fact, he has also played on nine U.S. Presidents Cup teams and has never required an at-large selection.
 
0: Times 2010 European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie lost in singles during his career, going
6-0-2 for a total of 7 points.
 
7: Major championships won by Jack Nicklaus before he played in his first Ryder Cup. Nicklaus was not eligible to compete until 1969, due to restrictions no longer in place having to do with status as a PGA professional.
 
11: Ryder Cup veterans on the 2012 European team.
Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts is the only Ryder Cup rookie on the European squad.
 
1979: The year the Ryder Cup added players from continental Europe to Great Britain & Ireland.
 
18-8-5: European captain Jose Maria Olazabal’s Ryder Cup record in seven appearances.
 
9-12-5: U.S. captain Davis Love III’s Ryder Cup record in six appearances.
 
8-7-1: Record, in favor of Europe, since 1979, when the matches began to include all of Europe.
 
1993: The year when the U.S. last won a Ryder Cup on foreign soil.
 
Ryder Cup Career Records

Most Appearances
Nick Faldo      11


Most Career Points
Nick Faldo      25


Most Singles Points
Five Players tied with 7:
Colin Montgomerie      (6-0-2)
Billy Casper      (6-2-2)
Lee Trevino      (6-2-2)
Arnold Palmer      (6-3-2)
Neil Coles      (5-6-4)


Most Foursome Points
Bernhard Langer      11½


Most Four-Ball Points
Ian Woosnam, Jose Maria Olazabal      10½


Best Match Winning Percentages
(Min. three matches)
Jimmy Demaret      100% (6-0-0)
Jack Burke     87.5% (7-1)
Horton Smith     87.5% (3-0-1)
Walter Hagen     83% (7-1-1)
J.C. Snead     81.8% (9-2)


Youngest Player
Sergio Garcia     1999 (19 yrs., 258 days)


Oldest Player
Ray Floyd     1993 (51 yrs., 20 days)
 
The last 12 Ryder Cups
 
Year     Venue     Winning Team     Score
2010     Celtic Manor     Europe     14½ to 13½
2008     Valhalla     United States     16½ to 11½
2006     The K Club     Europe     18½ to 9½
2004     Oakland Hills     Europe     18½ to 9½
2002     The Belfry     Europe     15½ to 12½
1999     The Country Club     United States     14½ to 13½
1997     Valderrama     Europe     14½ to 13½
1995     Oak Hill     Europe     14½ to 13½
1993     The Belfry     United States     15 to 13
1991     Kiawah Island     United States     14½ to 13½
1989     The Belfry     Europe *     14 to 14
1987     Muirfield Village     Europe     15 to 13
*retained Cup with tie
 

Teaser:
<p> Ryder Cup: By the Numbers</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:50
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-5-preview-and-predictions
Body:

With only four games involving Big 12 teams, this is a light week in the schedule. But what the Big 12 lacks in quantity, it may make up for it in early signpost games for conference contenders.

A week after Kansas State’s upset of Oklahoma in Norman reset the picture at the top of the conference, teams like Texas, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Baylor will have key games setting the tone for October.

Other Week 5 Previews and Predictions

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

Big 12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions:

Which defense will make the most important big play in Morgantown?
West Virginia’s first Big 12 opponent isn’t Texas or Oklahoma, but this matchup with Baylor in Morgantown could be one of the week’s best thanks to two top-10 pass offenses. We know West Virginia can throw the ball. Geno Smith passed for 338 yards and three touchdowns against Maryland last week. His completion percentage of 69.8 percent was great, but it was his lowest of the season by nearly 20 points. Nick Florence isn’t Robert Griffin III, but he’s topped 300 passing yards in each game this season with 11 total touchdowns. This game may come down to a defensive play or two with both teams ranking eighth or lower in the Big 12 in total defense. Which defense makes that play, though, is anyone’s guess. Baylor second in the Big 12 in takeaways (West Virginia is sixth) while West Virginia leads the league in sacks and tackles for a loss (Baylor is seventh and sixth in those categories, respectively).

Is David Ash a Big 12 title-winning quarterback?
With the Longhorns’ defense and run game, Texas doesn’t need quarterback David Ash to be Colt McCoy or Vince Young. He just can’t be the David Ash of last season. So far, Ash has been much improved from 2011, and Texas’ offense is humming along at seventh in scoring and 16th in yards per game. Ash, who threw an interception every 21.6 attempts last season, has yet to throw a pick in 72 attempts in 2012. He’s already passed for 703 yards and seven touchdowns and notched a road win. But the schedule hasn’t been overly challenging, and the road win was over Ole Miss. Ash went 22 of 40 with 139 yards and two interceptions against Oklahoma State in Austin last season.

Where has Oklahoma State’s ballhawking defense gone?
Oklahoma State isn’t sure if Wes Lunt or J.W. Walsh will play quarterback Saturday, but either way, the Cowboys will be going with a freshman. A bigger question might be on the Oklahoma State defense. A year after leading the nation in takeaways -- and being among the Big 12 leaders each season under defensive coordinator Bill Young -- the Cowboys have forced only three turnovers this season. Two of those came against a woefully overmatched Savannah State team in the opener. Oklahoma State forced three turnovers or more in nine individual games last season. No matter the quarterback, Oklahoma State might need a key play on defense to overcome Texas.

Is Texas Tech’s defense for real?
Even Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville conceded the Red Raiders’ defense is probably more in between where it was last season on defense (114th of 120) and where it is now (first in total defense and pass efficiency defense). Where on that scale this defense falls might be answered against Iowa State. The Cyclones aren’t in the mold of an up-and-down offensive team like many in the Big 12, but Iowa State is a tougher opponent than any of Texas Tech’s foes so far, Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico. Iowa State will present a test for the Texas Tech defense against a balanced offense on the road.

Can Iowa State’s defense limit Texas Tech’s Seth Doege?
The Cyclones rank second in the nation in pass efficiency defense through their first three games, frustrating above-average quarterbacks in the process. Both Tulsa quarterback Cody Green and Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg completed fewer than half their passes against Iowa State while throwing two interceptions apiece. Now here comes Texas Tech’s Seth Doege. The senior is 52 of 67 for 659 yards with 11 interceptions in his last two games.

How much stat-padding can Casey Pachall do against SMU?
Statistically, SMU is one of the nation’s worst defensive teams -- despite a shutout and 10 takeaways against Stephen F. Austin. Allowing 59 points to Baylor and 48 to Texas A&M will do such things. Despite TCU’s inauspicious start in the red zone (9 of 16 with only six touchdowns), Pachall leads the nation in pass efficiency. SMU should provide the Horned Frogs opportunities to build confidence after a few shaking outings in scoring range against Kansas and Virginia.

Week 5 Big 12 Predictions:

Week 5 Big 12 games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Baylor (+12.5) at West Virginia West Virginia 42-28 West Virginia 37-31 West Virginia 41-31 West Virginia 44-34
Texas Tech at Iowa State (+2.5) Iowa State 31-24 Iowa State 21-17 Texas Tech 31-30 Iowa State 27-23
TCU at SMU (+16) TCU 28-10 TCU 31-17 TCU 38-17 TCU 38-13
Texas at Oklahoma State (+3) Texas 35-21 Texas 30-21 Texas 31-27 Texas 31-17
Last week 4-1 4-1 3-2 4-1
Overall 27-3 26-4 25-5 27-3

By David Fox

@DavidFox615

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Teaser:
<p> Big 12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:48
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-5-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The 2012 season is turning into one of the best fans have seen out West in years and it has a chance to get even better. Oregon State and Arizona State made huge statements last week, but both have huge road tests this weekend that will prove if they belong in conference contention. Otherwise, all eyes across the college football world should be on the Pac-12 this Thursday evening.

Pac-12's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 5:

1. Who wants to challenge Oregon?
Stanford and Washington square-off Thursday evening in a game that will likely decide the No. 2 slot in the Pac-12 North. Both teams have had two weeks to prepare for this one and the winner will be the top challenger to the Oregon Ducks in the North. The Huskies, who have been outscored 106-21 in the last two meetings with the Cardinal, begin a four-week stretch that will determine their entire season. After Stanford, Washington visits Oregon, hosts USC and visits Arizona. Meanwhile, Stanford's run isn't much easier with a home game against 'Zona and a road trip to Notre Dame coming up. As if there wasn't enough already riding on this primetime national TV game. 

2. Oregon State defense vs. Arizona offense
The 2-0 Beavers are likely asking, what about us in the North? Mike Riley's bunch boasts the No. 2 rushing defense in the nation and have allowed a total of 27 points thus far in 2012. Despite what fans saw last week from Arizona, the Matt Scott/Ka'Deem Cary-led Wildcats offense is still one of the nation's best. Scott is still leading the league in total offense and Carey has more than one big play up his sleeve for this weekend. If Oregon State wants to be taken seriously in the North, it will have to come up with its second straight road upset (Arizona is a three-point favorite). This is a classic Letdown Alert situation as the Beavers are coming off of an emotional road upset while 'Zona returns home after being shutout 49-0 against Oregon.

3. Arizona State to face first starting quarterback
Assuming nothing tragic happens to Cal starting quarterback Zach Maynard between now and Saturday afternoon, the Sun Devils will actually have to play against someone else's first-string quarterback. Jordan Wynn was the starting quarterback at Utah but has retired from the game, giving way to Jon Hays. Missouri's James Franklin sat out two weeks ago against Arizona State. Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase didn't play in Week 2 against ASU. And in Week 1, Todd Graham's guys knocked out Lumberjack starter Cary Grossart early in the game. As a result, the Sun Devils have surrendered more than 150 passing yards only once and have yet to allow a 200-yard passer. Opposing quarterbacks are averaging 139.8 yards per game with eight INTs and only three TD passes. Maynard and his talented trio of pass-catchers — Keenan Allen, Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs — will easily present the toughest test to date for the Sun Devils' secondary.

4. Cal's 1-3 record is very deceiving
All that may matter to Cal boosters and administrators is the win-loss record, but the 1-3 mark in Berkeley likely has no effect on Arizona State head coach Todd Graham. Cal lost in a nail-bitter at home to a very good Nevada team and has losses to USC and Ohio State on the road. This team is much better than its record indicates and brings a host of elite play-makers on offense into a must-win situation at home. And Graham knows his team will have to click on all cylinders to win a tough road test over the Bears. 

5. How will injuries affect Arizona-Oregon State?
Matt Scott is dealing with a hip injury he sustained on the first drive against Oregon. He is starting for sure, but how will the bum hip impact his ability to run the zone-read option? The talented Oregon State backfield of Sean Mannion, Storm Woods and Malcolm Agnew all missed practice on Monday. Mannion was back on the field after dealing with a sore throwing arm. Woods (ankle) and Agnew (calf) both returned to work on Tuesday as well. Will any of these key players experience any lingering effects? Only time will tell.

6. I wouldn't want to be a Buffalo this weekend
UCLA was flying high when the Oregon State Beavers grounded their 3-0 start last weekend in Los Angeles. Johnathan Franklin rushed for 431 yards in the Bruins first two games but has mustered only 155 yards on 37 carries in the last two. The inability to run the ball cost UCLA the win last week, but didn't slow down star quarterback Brett Hundley. The redshirt freshman has three 300-yard efforts in his first four career games and should have this offense back on track this weekend against the lowly Buffs. The three-touchdown underdog will have to get a huge game once again from Jordan Webb (345 yards passing, four total TD last week) to even have a chance to stay with the angry Bruins.

7. What can we learn from the Ducks visit to Seattle?
There is likely to be a heavy Duck contingent in the semi-road game against Washington State in Seattle this weekend. After Wazzu lost to Colorado at home in heart-breaking fashion, it's hard to see the Cougars keeping pace with Oregon. So what can we learn about the Ducks? Chip Kelly flashed a few wrinkles on offense last week against Arizona, namely a tight end turned power back named Colt Lyerla. He fills the only void on an already explosive unit as a short yardage and goal-line specialist. As usual, fans never know what they will see from the Oregon offense.

8. Athlon's Weekly Player of the Year Watch
One POY awards list this week had De'Anthony Thomas listed as the front-runner with Johnathan Franklin, Taylor Kelly and Matt Barkley listed as the top challengers. While those names are all deserving, others like Matt Scott, Ka'Deem Carey, Marcus Mariota, Kenjon Barner, Stepfan Taylor, Brett Hundley, Keith Price, Marqise Lee, Keenan Allen, Robert Woods, Marquess Wilson, Sean Mannion, Brandin Cooks and even Silas Redd aren't too far behind. The point being, it is impossible to narrow this POY race to three names and the depth of offensive play-making skill in the Pac-12 is second to none (not even the SEC).

Week 5 Pac-12 Predictions:

Week 5 Pac-12 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Stanford (-7) at Washington Stanford, 27-21 Stanford, 28-23 Stanford, 27-24 Stanford, 35-24
Arizona St (+2.5) at Cal Cal, 28-24 Cal, 27-24 Arizona St, 31-27 Arizona St, 28-21
UCLA (-20.5) at Colorado UCLA, 38-20 UCLA, 35-21 UCLA, 45-17 UCLA, 38-14
Oregon St (+3) at Arizona Arizona, 30-24 Oregon St, 23-17 Arizona, 31-28 Oregon St, 35-28
Oregon (-29) at Washington St Oregon, 49-21 Oregon, 51-10 Oregon, 55-17 Oregon, 56-10
Last Week: 2-3 3-2 3-2 3-2
Yearly Totals: 28-11 28-11 28-11 26-13

Bye: USC, Utah

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:48

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