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Path: /college-football/pac-12-2012-second-half-predictions-and-midseason-review

At the midpoint of the 2012 season, it's time to take a look at the first half and predict how the second half will turn out in the Pac-12.

First-Half Awards

Coach of the Year: Mike Riley, Oregon State
Todd Graham has quickly turned around Arizona State. Chip Kelly has the best team in the league. And Lane Kiffin will certainly have a chance to join the fray. But for the time being, no one has done a better job than Mike Riley. His defense has gone from one of the worst in the conference to one of the best in one offseason. Now, he is winning tough road games without his starting quarterback. With one of the best resumes in the nation, Riley isn't just Pac-12 Coach of the Year material, he is squarely in the National COY race as well.

Freshman of the Year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
UCLA's Brett Hundley deserves a lot of credit for stabilizing the quarterback position in Westwood for the first time in over a decade. But Mariota is leading the league's top team, scoring the most points (52.3 ppg) and is the Pac-12's No. 2 most efficient passer (156.42). He is poised beyond his years and has proven in short order to be a leader on and off the field. He is completing 67.9 percent of his passes for 1,301 yards, 15 touchdowns, five interceptions, 221 yards rushing and another score on the ground. Honorable mention falls to Oregon State stud freshman blocker Isaac Seumalo.

Newcomer of the Year: Xavier Su'a Filo, OL, UCLA
The team's top offensive lineman has been a huge part of the improvement on offense for the Bruins. The big Utah native was a top-100 prospect coming out of high school before taking his two-year LDS mission. He returned this fall and stepped directly into the starting lineup. The Bruins rank No. 2 in the Pac-12 in rushing, No. 3 in total offense and are top 10 nationally in sacks allowed, due in large part to improved offensive line play. Of which, Su'a Filo is the best player. USC's Silas Redd gets a big honorable mention here for the work he has done in the Trojans' backfield.

Offensive Player of the Year: Pick a quarterback, any quarterback!
Matt Barkley is the best player in the league and leads the Pac-12 with 16 touchdown passes. Taylor Kelly is the most efficient passer on a surprise team but has played a weak schedule. Sean Mannion's team is unbeaten against a nasty schedule, but he will miss at least two more games with a knee injury. Marcus Mariota is No. 2 in passing efficiency and leads the league's top offense on the Pac-12's best team. Matt Scott is lapping the field from a statistical standpoint, leading the league in total offense. Brett Hundley has been extremely productive at a position UCLA hasn't been good at in over a decade. The argument is likely between Barkley vs. Kelly with beauty falling to the eye of the beholder. For right or wrong, I lean towards the best player on what could be the best team over slightly better stats on a surprise team against a weak schedule. Don't even get me started on Lee vs. Woods vs. Allen vs. Hill vs. Crooks vs. Wilson. Or Taylor vs. Barner vs. Thomas vs. Franklin vs. Carey. This has to be one of the deepest collections of elite offensive skill talent ever assembled in any league.

Defensive Player of the Year: Jordan Poyer, DB, Oregon State
After his league leading fifth interception of the season — this one he returned for a touchdown to clinch the road win over BYU — the talented Oregon State cover man became the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year honors. This defense could be considered the best in the league and his team is undefeated because of it. He has 15 total tackles, one sack, five interceptions, a forced fumble, and also returns punts for the unbeaten Beavers.

Midseason Disappointment (Team): Utah
The Utes were one win away from playing in the Pac-12 championship game last season when it lost to lowly Colorado in the season finale. Kyle Whittingham's squad is 2-5 in regular season action and hasn't won a conference game since. John White set a school record for rushing yards last season and has only one 100-yard effort on his resume this fall and that came against Northern Colorado. Quarterback play has been downright atrocious after the injury to starter Jordan Wynn. All three of this team's league losses have come within the division.

Midseason Disappointment (Player): Keith Price, QB, Washington
Certainly, Price hasn't gotten much help from his decimated offensive line, but Price has been a shell of his 2011 self. At the halfway point of the season, the Huskies passer has completed 61.3 percent of his passes for 1,080 yards, almost as many interceptions (6) as touchdowns (7) and wasn't able to keep his team very competitive against Oregon or USC. This from a guy who threw for 3,063 yards and accounted for 36 total touchdowns on 66.9 percent passing a year ago.

Midseason Surprise (Team): Oregon State
Arizona State has been the South's version of Oregon State, except the Beavers have played a dramatically tougher schedule. In fact, with wins over Wisconsin, UCLA, Arizona and BYU, it might be the best resume in the country. Mike Riley's defense is arguably the most improved unit in the entire nation and it has led to an undefeated first half of the season — the latest win coming on the road against BYU without starting quarterback Sean Mannion. 

Midseason Surprise (Player): Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State
The sophomore signal caller battled with Michael Eubanks all summer long for the right to run Todd Graham's new offense in Tempe — a unit that had to replace its quarterback and top two pass catchers. Kelly, the league's top-rated passer, has made it look easy. He is completing 68.3 percent of his passes for 1,600 yards, 14 touchdowns, only two interceptions with 210 yards rushing on 57 attempts. Most importantly, his team is unbeaten in conference play.

What Athlon Sports got right: Predicting the division champions is the most important part of Athlon's preseason prognostication and both USC and Oregon are the class of the Pac-12. Colorado and Washington State also appear to be right on as the worst two teams in the league. UCLA and Arizona will battle for third in the South as expected while Cal wallows in fifth up North. Stanford could also finish as the North's top challenger to Oregon if it can defeat Oregon State.

What Athlon Sports got wrong: The Utah-Arizona State flip-flop is one of the biggest misses by our staff. Utah, picked second, will likely finish fifth in the South while the Sun Devils, picked to finish fifth, have a good shot at finishing second. Up North, the Oregon State Beavers are the only miss as they are dramatically outperforming preseason expectations. Otherwise, the other nine slots could finish exactly as predicted in the summer.

Second-Half Predictions

Here's how we think the final standings will look before the Pac-12 Championship.

North Division

1. Oregon
2. Stanford
3. Oregon State
4. Washington
5. Cal
6. Washington State

South Division

1. USC
2. Arizona State
4. Arizona 
5. Utah
6. Colorado

Pac-12 Championship: Oregon over USC

Three Things to Watch

Oregon's four second-half road games 
The Ducks, behind the best defense of Chip Kelly's tenure in Eugene, have made it to the halfway point unbeaten without really breaking a sweat. But things get a lot tougher from here on out. Four road trips dot the perilous second-half slate beginning with a Thursday night primetime showdown with much-improved Arizona State in Week 8 and wrapping up with an in-state Civil War battle in Corvallis. In between are trips to national power USC and Cal — a team that nearly derailed the Ducks' 2010 national title hopes in Berkeley — as well as a home test against Stanford. There is a lot of work left for the high-flying Ducks if they expect to win their fourth straight Pac-12 championship and possibly, the program's first-ever national championship.

The 2012 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year race
This is going to be a crazy race to watch the rest of the season. Matt Barkley looks like he is in the best position to win the award, while power names like Kenjon Barner, Stepfan Taylor, De'Anthony Thomas, Johnathan Franklin, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee have all lived up to the preseason hype. But new faces like Taylor Kelly, Matt Scott, Ka'Deem Carey, Brett Hundley, Sean Mannion and Marcus Mariota have all produced in a fashion that warrants consideration. And I haven't even mentioned Keenan Allen, Marquess Wilson, Markus Wheaton or Austin Hill (or anyone from Washington, for that matter). This league is loaded with elite offensive weapons and should make the second half out West extremely entertaining. 

Who has staying power out West?
Arizona State and Oregon State are two of the biggest surprises in the nation at the midway point of the season. UCLA has also shown that it is much improved. Washington and Stanford have flashed major potential as well. In a league that could be second only to the mighty SEC, can any of these conference upstarts that are looking up at favorites USC and Oregon stay in the race deep into the winter months? Many believe the Sun Devils will come back to earth as the schedule gets tougher, while the Beavers should take some sort of a hit without Mannion under center. And the Bruins' schedule is a nasty five-game stretch following next week's bye. Are these teams simply nice stories worth noting in the grand scheme of the USC-Oregon dominated 2012 Pac-12? Or does one of these unexpected contenders pull off a huge upset, totally shaking up the league and sending ripples throughout the national title picture?

Three Games to Watch in the Second Half

1. Oregon at USC (Nov. 3)
The Ducks and Trojans have been on a collision course since the 2011 season ended last January. It will likely be the first of two meetings between the two, and fans can only hope it is as entertaining as the 38-35 USC win a year ago in Eugene.

2. Oregon at Oregon State (Nov. 24)
The only two teams left unbeaten out West hail from the Beaver State. It is highly unlikely both make it to The Civil War unbeaten, but if by chance it does happen, it could be the single biggest in-state bout between these two adversaries in the 118-year history of the rivalry. The Beavers will likely be the underdog regardless of what happens from here on out, but getting the Ducks at home gives the Beavers as good a chance as anyone to upset Oregon.

3. Notre Dame at USC (Nov. 24)
The Arizona State Sun Devils have the unfortunate luck of facing both Oregon and USC, so their round-robin with the Ducks and Trojans is more important within the Pac-12. But when it comes to national importance, interest and history, there are few games that would be able to match a Notre Dame-USC top 5 match-up. Even if one or both lose a game along the way, a BCS bowl bid and potential top 10 bragging rights should be on the line.

Post-Week 7 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (6-0, 3-0)
Perfect first half gives way to tough second half road slate with visits to USC, Arizona State, Oregon State and Cal. 

2. USC (5-1, 3-1)
It hasn't been pretty at times, but Lane Kiffin still has his team poised for a Pac-12 title. 

3. Stanford (4-2, 2-1)
The most physical team in the league played valiant football in South Bend. An upcoming tilt against Oregon State looms large.

4. Oregon State (5-0, 3-0)
No Sean Mannion, no problem. Even without their star quarterback, the Beavers won on the road to stay unbeaten.

5. Arizona State (5-1, 3-0)
Todd Graham has found himself a quarterback in Taylor Kelly, but ASU faces tough second half.

6. UCLA (5-2, 2-2)
The Bruins bounced back from an ugly loss to Cal to get back to even in the league. This team goes as Brett Hundley goes.

7. Arizona (3-3, 0-3)
A much better team than the 0-3 mark indicates but the defense needs to show up at some point to win games.

8. Washington (3-3, 1-2)
The Huskies' defense is dramatically improved. But can Justin Wilcox and Tosh Lupoi coach the O-Line?

9. Cal (3-4, 2-2)
Got two clutch wins when Jeff Tedford needed them most. But Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford and Washington still left.

10. Utah (2-4, 0-3)
Shocking turn of events in Salt Lake City have led to horrific start to 2012 — with little light at the end of the tunnel. 

11. Washington State (2-5, 0-4)
Home games against Colorado and Cal were best two chances at league wins and Cougs lost both.

12. Colorado (1-5, 1-2)
The Buffaloes have shown little fight all season and might not win another game the rest of the way. 

by Braden Gall


Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 7 Recap

ACC 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big East 
2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big Ten 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big 12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Pac-12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
SEC 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review 

<p> Pac-12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-basketball/2012-13-college-basketball-preview-top-freshmen
Visit the online store for UCLA and other editions of the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual.

Led by Anthony Davis, Marcus Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague,  Kentucky ended the notion that freshman-laden teams couldn’t win a national championship.

Granted, the group in Kentucky was one of the best rookie classes in college basketball history with David and Kidd-Gilchrist being selected Nos. 1 and 2 in the NBA Draft. There likely won’t be a class that strong in the country this season, but plenty of prominent programs are counting on freshmen to rebuild or reload.

Of course, John Calipari has another star-studded class coming to Kentucky, led by Nerlens Noel. On the other side of the country, UCLA is counting on Shabazz Muhammad and Ryan Anderson to 1.) pass NCAA eligibility standards and 2.) lead the Bruins back to national prominence.

And at Indiana, the addition of Cody Zeller as a freshman last season was only the start. The Athlon preseason No. 1 team added Yogi Ferrell, listed below, to a veteran mix ready to contend for a national title.

Here’s a look at the top 10 freshmen who could shape the national and conference landscapes:

Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
The highest-rated recruit ever to sign with Pittsburgh, Adams will be asked to be a factor on both ends of the court for the Panthers. The native of New Zealand is still relatively new to the game, so there might be some growing pains early in the season, but he has the size (7-0, 210) and athleticism to be a dominant big man in the Big East.

Kyle Anderson, F, UCLA
Anderson will team with guard Shabazz Muhammad to give Ben Howland two of the elite freshmen in the nation. Anderson, who played for legendary prep coach Bob Hurley at St. Anthony (N.J.) High School, is a swingman who boasts a true inside-outside game. Anderson can knock down the perimeter jump shot but is at his best when taking the ball to the basket.

Related: Arrival of Muhammad, Anderson leads makeover at UCLA

Brandon Ashley, F, Arizona
Fellow Arizona freshman big man Kaleb Tarczewski received more hype through the recruiting process, but don’t be surprised if Ashley makes a bigger impact this season for the Wildcats. At 6-8, 230 pounds, Ashley can play both forward spots, though he likely will see most of his minutes at the 3. He should be one of the most productive players in the Pac-12.

Isaiah Austin, C, Baylor
The 7-footer from Arlington, Texas, will be one of the best big men in the Big 12 in ’12-13. His game has few weaknesses, if any. He has the skills to play on the wing but has the size to be a dominant player around the basket — both offensively and defensively. It will be a surprise if he doesn’t average a double-double for a Baylor team that had three frontcourt players taken in the first 38 picks of the 2012 NBA Draft.

Yogi Ferrell, G, Indiana
Ferrell is a true point guard who will be a great facilitator on an Indiana team loaded with weapons. The Indiana native has range out to 3-point line, but don’t expect him to be a high-volume shooter. His job will be to penetrate the defense and find the open man. Big man Cody Zeller will be the biggest beneficiary of Ferrell’s arrival in Bloomington.

Gary Harris, G, Michigan State
Harris is a shooting guard from Indiana who does just about everything well on the court. He isn’t an elite outside shooter, but he is a threat from behind the arc. Harris will thrive on the defensive end for Tom Izzo’s club right away.

Shabazz Muhammad, G, UCLA
UCLA managed to keep Muhammad, the No. 1 player in the class according to some, away from the likes of Kentucky and Duke. The left-handed swingman is adept at getting to the rim and scoring in traffic, and he shines on the defensive end. This was a huge get for Ben Howland, who is trying to return UCLA to elite status on the national scene.

Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Noel will replace Anthony Davis as the shot-blocking machine on the back end of the Kentucky defense. His offensive game is still a work in progress, but he will get his share of points on dunks and put-backs. His decision to sign with UK over Georgetown instantly made the Wildcats a threat to repeat as national champs.

Marcus Paige, G, North Carolina
Paige will have an opportunity to slide into the starting point guard spot vacated by Kendall Marshall. A 6-1 lefthander, Paige averaged 28.4 points per game as a senior at Linn-Mar (Iowa) High School and played in the McDonald’s All-American Game. He suffered a stress fracture in his left foot in the spring but is expected to be 100 percent by the time practice starts.

Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford signed an elite talent from Texas for the second straight season. Smart will join forward LeBryan Nash, a rising sophomore, to give the Pokes two of the top players in the Big 12. Smart is a combo guard who is regarded as a tremendous leader. Opposing coaches have raved about Smart.


Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

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

<p> 2012-13 College Basketball Preview: Top Transfers</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 05:59
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Legends Poll, News
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-7

In the seven-year history of the Legends Poll, fifth-ranked Notre Dame had never been ranked in the top 5.

That streak ended this week as the Fighting Irish and Kansas State made their first ever top 5 appearances in the Legends Poll rankings. Both teams improved to 6-0 and benefited from a second straight week of upsets.

“I think Notre Dame’s offense is definitely getting better,” former Indiana coach Bill Mallory said. “But I think their defense is the thing that’s really improved. From what I’ve seen last year to this year, they’ve definitely improved on the defensive side of the ball. Their defensive front is really strong and that linebacker (Manti Teo) is really outstanding.”

Alabama continued its dominance with a commanding victory at Missouri and remained the unanimous No. 1 team. Idle Oregon maintained its spot at No. 2.

No. 3 Florida also moved up two spots this week after a win over Vanderbilt, but the Gators face another tough test next week when their former coach pays a visit to Gainesville with his South Carolina Gamecocks.

The SEC gauntlet caught up with Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, and they failed to stay unbeaten, falling 26-23 at LSU. The Gamecocks fell six spots to No. 9.

With the victory, LSU moved up four spots to No. 6, and jumped seventh-ranked Florida State as the highest ranked one-loss team.

No. 8 Oklahoma moved back into the top 10 after a resounding 63-21 victory over archrival Texas. The lopsided loss catapulted Texas out of the top 25.

No. 11 Oregon State was the biggest mover in the poll this week, jumping five spots following a 42-24 win at BYU.

West Virginia slid 11 spots all the way to No. 15 after it was embarrassed at Texas Tech, 49-14. The loss was a huge blow to quarterback Geno Smith’s Heisman hopes.

Texas Tech moved into the rankings for the first time following their surprise upset, debuting at No. 21. No. 24 Michigan and No. 25 Arizona State joined the Red Raiders as newcomers to the rankings.

Iowa State and Louisiana Tech along with Texas dropped out of the top 25 this week.

To see the individual votes by coach, visit the Legends Poll.


1 AlabamaAlabama (17) 6-0 425 1
2 OregonOregon 6-0 408 2
3 FloridaFlorida 6-0 384 5
4 Kansas StateKansas State 6-0 361 6
5 Notre DameNotre Dame 6-0 352 7
6 LSULSU 6-1 344 10
7 Florida StateFlorida State 6-1 307 8
8 OklahomaOklahoma 4-1 302 11
9 South CarolinaSouth Carolina 6-1 287 3
10 USCUSC 5-1 266 9
11 Oregon StateOregon State 5-0 250 16
12 ClemsonClemson 5-1 230 12
13 GeorgiaGeorgia 5-1 218 14
14 Mississippi StateMississippi State 6-0 193 17
15 West VirginiaWest Virginia 5-1 180 4
16 LouisvilleLouisville 6-0 170 18
17 Texas A&MTexas A&M 5-1 150 19
18 StanfordStanford 4-2 144 13
19 RutgersRutgers 6-0 117 21
20 CincinnatiCincinnati 5-0 108 20
21 Texas TechTexas Tech 5-1 82 -
22 TCUTCU 5-1 74 22
23 Boise StateBoise State 5-1 60 23
24 MichiganMichigan 4-2 53 -
25 Arizona StateArizona State 5-1 18 -

Others Receiving Votes: Louisiana Tech 13, Wisconsin 5, Ohio 4, Nebraska 4, Iowa State 4, Northwestern 4, Oklahoma State 4, UCLA 3, Iowa 1

Teams Dropped Out From Last Week's Poll: Texas, Iowa State, Louisiana Tech

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

<p> As voted on by 17 coaching legends</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 05:55
Path: /news/ball-states-crazy-tip-drill-interception-highlights-win-over-wmu

The MAC is a conference known for its offensive fireworks, but Ball State used a little creativity on defense to beat Western Michigan on Saturday.

With Western Michigan ready to punch in a score to take a lead, the Cardinals tipped a pass intended for a receiver in the endzone. One tip is usually enough for a pass to be intercepted or caught, but this time, the ball was tipped twice and picked off. Another element to the play was another Ball State defender ripping the ball from a defensive lineman in an attempt to take it back for a score.

<p> Ball State's Crazy Tip Drill Interception Highlights Win over WMU</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 05:17
Path: /news/streaker-interrupts-texas-tech-west-virginia-game

Saturday's West Virginia-Texas Tech matchup was supposed to be one of the weekend's best games. However, the Red Raiders scored an easy 49-14 win, effectively ending any hopes the Mountaineers had of making the national title game.

Although the game had a few highlights, one of the best moments was when a streaker jumped onto the field in the second half. Although the streaker managed to make his way around the field, he was quickly nabbed before he removed all of his clothing.

The best part of this video? Watching the police in cowboy hats trying to catch and tackle the streaker.

<p> Streaker Interrupts Texas Tech-West Virginia Game</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 05:10
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-post-week-7-waiver-wire-report

This week's Waiver Wire may be the weakest of the season in regards to past fantasy performance, but the list offers several names with a lot of fantasy potential over the final six weeks of the season.  For those of you jockeying for a playoff spot, do not sleep on anyone listed below because you must assume that your opposition will not.

Trevone Boykin, QB-TCU

Boykin was impressive commanding the offense against Baylor on Saturday and his dual-threat ability adds extra value for owners needing quality depth at the quarterback position.

Taylor Kelly, QB-Arizona St

Kelly has thrown at least three touchdown passes in three consecutive games and has rushed for at least 40 yards in three of his six starts.

James Sims, RB-Kansas

Since his return from suspension, Sims has rushed for 344 yards and four touchdowns in three games and has carried the ball at least 27 times the past two weeks.

Jeff Scott, RB-Ole Miss

Scott has three 100-yard performances to his credit this season and has scored a touchdown in five of the six games in which he has played.

Bronson Hill, RB-Eastern Michigan

When a guy comes out of nowhere and rushes for 283 yards and four touchdowns this late in the season, we’re going to make room on our roster for him, especially when he plays in the MAC

Jeremy Hill, RB-LSU

We know the Tigers are loaded at running back, but don’t leave him on the waiver wire and let someone else have a shot at the talented freshman, especially if you play in a BCS-only league.

Devin Street, WR-Pitt

Street has caught at least ten passes in his last two games and has scored a touchdown in three of his last four.  Even better, the junior receiver should continue his hot streak over the next two weeks as the Panthers play Buffalo and Temple.

Richy Turner, WR-Nevada

Turner has caught at least seven passes in four of Nevada’s previous five games and has found the end zone two weeks in a row.

Jordan Leslie, WR-UTEP

Leslie is averaging five catches and 83 yards per game and has scored in four of seven contests.  UTEP’s six losses have all been by ten points or more, so expect the Miners’ to be playing from behind for most of the remainder of the season.

by Joe DiSalvo

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Email:  [email protected]

<p> College Fantasy Football: Post-Week 7 Waiver Wire Report</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 04:22
Path: /college-football/college-football-bcs-analysis-post-week-7

The first BCS standings for 2012 began where they ended in 2011 -- with an all-SEC title game scenario.

A near-unanimous No. 1 in the coaches’ and Harris polls, Alabama began in the BCS standings in the top spot. But the surprise was at No. 2.

Propelled by a No. 1 average in the computer polls, Florida opened the BCS standings at No. 2 ahead of Oregon. The Ducks were No. 2 in both human polls, but ranked sixth in the computer component.

Florida’s spot at No. 2 was a surprise, but yet another sign of the SEC’s dominance of the BCS rankings. Six SEC teams were in the top six -- Alabama, Florida, No. 6 LSU, No. 7 South Carolina, No. 11 Georgia, No. 12 Mississippi State).

The Gators’ rank was only part of the story in the disparity between the two human polls, which each count as one-third of the BCS formula, and the average of the six computer rankings. With a limited sample size, the computers are expected to digress from the human polls at this stage of the season.

Here are a few observations from the first release of the BCS standings:

BCS Standings: Oct. 14

Coaches Poll Harris Poll


1. Alabama 1 1 3
2. Florida 4 3 1
3. Oregon 2 2 6
4. Kansas State 3 4 4
5. Notre Dame 5 5 2
6. LSU 6 6 9
7. South Carolina 8 7 7
8. Oregon State 11 10 5
9. Oklahoma 7 9 10
10. USC 9 11 15
11. Georgia 12 12 17
12. Mississippi St 16 14 T-12
13. West Virginia 15 15 T-12
14. Florida State 10 8 28
15. Rutgers 17 17 11
16. Louisville 14 16 19

The computers love Florida. With road wins over Texas A&M, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, plus the win over LSU, the Gators were the No. 1 team in the computer average. Only the Richard Billingsley computer had Florida outside of the top two at No. 5. Florida ranked third in the Harris poll and fourth in the coaches poll. Florida will face three more BCS top-15 teams (South Carolina, Georgia and Florida State) during the regular season.

The computers also love Notre Dame. All six BCS computers had Notre Dame in the top four, resulting in the Irish’s computer rank averaging to No. 2. Notre Dame ranked fifth in both human polls. This sets up a huge game with BCS implications with No. 9 Oklahoma on Oct. 27. A win over Oklahoma may all but clinch a BCS berth for Notre Dame. A win over Notre Dame may be the Sooners back into the title picture.

Seeing a trend? Road wins against big teams matter. Oregon State barely cracked the top 10 in the human polls, but the Beavers are fifth in the computers thanks to road wins over UCLA, Arizona and BYU.

Oregon needs to make up ground... and it can. And the Ducks will have ample opportunity to do so. Despite being No. 2 in both human polls, the Ducks were ranked sixth or lower in five of the six computers. Four home games and none against BCS top 25 teams hammered Oregon in the schedule strength department, but the Ducks face three BCS top-25 teams in November (USC, Stanford, Oregon State).

Alabama has a commanding presence at No. 1. The Crimson Tide have a BCS average of 0.9761 compared to 0.9092 for Florida. The difference between Alabama and Florida is more than the difference between the No. 2 Gators and No. 5 Notre Dame. All 59 voters in the coaches’ poll and 110 of 115 voters in the Harris poll voted Alabama No. 1 on their ballots.

The non-AQ teams picked a bad year to have a down season. The Big Ten is absent from the first BCS standings. Normally, this news would be a boon to BCS busters. A champion of a non-automatic qualifying conference finishing in the top 16 would receive an automatic BCS bid. (Otherwise, a non-AQ champ has to finish in the top 12). Right now, that rule would not be in effect. Ohio is the only remaining undefeated team in the non-AQ conferences, but the Bobcats are absent from the BCS top 25. Instead, this may be better news for one-loss Boise State, ranked 22nd in the BCS. The Broncos would need to move up six slots to capture an automatic bid as long as the Broncos are ranked ahead of the Big Ten (or ACC, or Big East) champion. Ranked seventh the Associated Press poll, Ohio State is ineligible for the BCS standings.

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

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

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

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

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

By David Fox


Related College Football Content
Week 7 Recap: Notre Dame, Texas Tech make defensive statements
Who votes in the Harris Poll?

<p> College Football: BCS Analysis Post-Week 7</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 14, 2012 - 19:51
Path: /mlb/st-louis-cardinals-vs-san-francisco-giants-nlcs-preview

Neither the Giants nor the Cardinals made anything look easy in the NLDS. After losing the first two games at home, the Giants handed the Reds three losses in a row in Cincinnati, the only time the Reds dropped three straight at home all season. The Cardinals — stop me if you’ve heard this before — were down to their last strike twice, down two runs at Washington. Now the last two world champions will meet in a rematch of the 1987 and 2002 NLCS. The teams split six regular season games. The Giants outhit the Cardinals .281 to .247 but the Cardinals hit for extra bases and outslugged the Giants .428 to .389. San Francisco outscored St. Louis 30-22, but that included a 15-0 blowout. Bruce Bochy’s troops win with excellent pitching and just enough hitting. St. Louis relies on a potent offense, which at times struggles with inconsistency. They scored 2, 12, 8, 1 and 9 runs against the Nationals in the NLDS.

Keys for San Francisco
The Giants hit just .194 in the Reds’ series, getting outhit in two of their wins. They managed just three hits in their 10-inning win in Game 3. San Francisco cannot win games that turn into shootouts, but they love close, low-scoring games.

Keys for St. Louis
The Cardinals seem to manage the staff through the first six innings pretty well. Whether it’s Chris Carpenter shutting down teams, or relievers Joe Kelly et al picking up the slack when Jaime Garcia and Adam Wainwright couldn’t get through three innings. And closing out games can be an adventure, but when given run support, the Redbirds’ pitchers don’t throw away too many games. So getting the offense going will be the difference.

Giants to Watch
The offense revolves around Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey. However, center fielder Angel Pagan provided a huge spark in August and September and was instrumental in the wins at Cincinnati from his leadoff positon. The Cardinals will try to negotiate around the big hitters in the middle. If Marco Scutaro can be effective as a table-setter and Hunter Pence proves he can drive in big runs, the Giants will be tough to beat. It will be interesting to see whether Bochy goes with Tim Lincecum or Barry Zito in Game 4. The Giants have won 12 straight when Zito starts, but he struggled in Game 4 and was bailed out by Lincecum, who looked more like the Cy Young Lincecum than the out-of-sorts pitcher we’ve seen all season. Lincecum was certainly more effective than Zito, but is more suited to coming out of the pen, where he has proven to be a weapon.

Cardinals to Watch
Leadoff hitter Jon Jay is 11-for-18 against the scheduled starters for the first three games. With Jay on base in front of Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday and Allen Craig, life will be much more difficult for the Giants’ starters. Manager Mike Matheny, who has juggled lineups all season in an effort to keep guys sharp, has stuck with the same batting order in the postseason. But if he needs to change things up, look for Matt Carpenter in the lineup against Matt Cain. He was 4-for-4 this season off the Giants’ ace while David Freese was 0-for-4 with three Ks. However, I don’t see Matheny pulling Freese. Adam Wainwright appears to have hit a wall, not unexpected coming of Tommy John surgery and missing all of 2011. So Lance Lynn must step up and be the No. 3 starter behind Chris Carpenter and Kyle Lohse. Joe Kelly, Trevor Rosenthal and rookie Shelby Miller could be instrumental out of the bullpen as reliever Mitchell Boggs is showing signs of fatigue.


-Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)

<p> Athlon previews the Cardinals-Giants matchup in the NLCS.</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 14, 2012 - 13:16
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-7-recap-notre-dame-stops-stanford-aggies-manziel-shines

The 24 hours before the first BCS standings of 2012 gave voters -- and computers -- plenty to consider.

Teams like Alabama and Oregon may be secure at the top of the polls, but other spots may be a mystery. LSU upended South Carolina’s dominance in another night game win in Baton Rouge. Against Texas, Oklahoma looked like a title contender, despite a loss to Kansas State on its resume. And Notre Dame, despite its juggling act at quarterback, may have the best defense North of Tuscaloosa, perhaps with the help of some beneficial officiating.


Texas A&M 59, Louisiana Tech 57.
Good things come to those who stay up until 1 a.m. Eastern to watch college football. The late-night college football crowd watched one of the games of the year so far when Louisiana Tech overcame a 27-0 deficit to come within a fade pass into the end zone to force overtime against Texas A&M. The wild game included a 23-point second half comeback, 40-point fourth quarter, record-breaking heroics by Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel and 21-catch performance from Louisiana Tech receiver Quinton Patton. Louisiana Tech never led but scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes to keep the pressure on Texas A&M. And even in shootout, the little things matter -- Louisiana Tech had an extra point blocked in the second quarter, returned for two points for the Aggies.

Texas Tech’s pass defense. The aura of invincibility around the West Virginia came to a convincing end in Lubbock. After a setback against Oklahoma, the Texas Tech defense kept the pressure on Geno Smith like no defense has so far this season. The West Virginia quarterback was 29 of 55 for a season-low 275 yards with a touchdown. One of the worst pass defenses a year ago, Texas Tech held West Virginia to 5 yards per pass attempt, compared to the Mountaineers’ 9.4 yards per attempt entering the game. New defensive coordinator Art Kaufman, a former North Carolina assistant, has been the best assistant coach hire of the offseason.

Notre Dame in the clutch. A disputed call may have been the difference in the win over Stanford, but the Notre Dame defense again stifled a quality opponent in crunch time in the 20-13 win over Stanford. The Cardinal advanced to first and goal from the four, but Notre Dame held Stepfan Taylor to 3 yards on four consecutive carries, the last of which was ruled a stop before the end zone. Almost as important, Notre Dame clamped down on a Stanford drive to the 5 to force a field goal. On the disputed play, Fox Sports’ officiating guru Mike Pereira Tweeted the following:

Texas’ last two years against Oklahoma
Early in the first quarter, Texas defensive back Quandre Diggs returned Oklahoma’s blocked extra point for two. For most of the Red River Rivalry, that was pretty much all that went right for Texas. In the final minute of the first half, Oklahoma had run more plays (52) as Texas had gained yards (48) in the eventual 63-21 rout. The loss was embarrassing enough for Texas, but the trends may be even worse. Oklahoma has outscored the Longhorns 118-38 the last two seasons. The Sooners’ 118 points against Texas since 2011 is the most against the Longhorns in a two-year span in the series. By allowing 677 yards, Texas has allowed 450 yards in three consecutive games. The pressure is on defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and coach Mack Brown, who is now 5-9 against Bob Stoops.

South Carolina Just a week ago, South Carolina looked like a dominant title contender, and LSU looked like it was stumbling through the SEC season. Both were on hold in Baton Rouge. LSU’s defense held serve until the offense could catch up as South Carolina amassed only 211 yards. Gamecocks running back Marcus Lattimore, who was automatic for about 100 yards and a touchdown in every game this season, rushed for only 34 yards and a touchdown against LSU. The Gamecocks were a paltry 3 of 13 on third down (compared to 11 of 19 for LSU), leaving South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier as exasperated as he’s been all season. The loss may not necessarily knock South Carolina out of the BCS title race, but puts more pressure on the Gamecocks against Florida next week.

Louisiana Tech’s BCS hopes. The thrilling finish for Louisiana Tech against Texas A&M was probably a good thing in exposing Sonny Dykes’ program to the masses, but the loss likely costs Louisiana Tech a trip to the BCS. The Bulldogs already defeated Illinois and Virginia on the road, but needed the win against Texas A&M to secure a spot for BCS inclusion. Despite the bowl picture, going toe to toe with Texas A&M in front of a late-night national crowd gave the program the most exposure it has seen in years. In related news, Ohio remains the only undefeated team in the BCS non-automatic qualifying leagues.

Collin Klein, Kansas State.
In typical fashion, Klein didn’t have the Heisman-capturing deep pass play or long run, but he did what he always does, grinding out yards and picking up third downs. Klein was 16 of 24 for 187 yards and rushed for 105 yards with three touchdowns to set up a key game against West Virginia and Geno Smith next week.

Geno Smith, West Virginia. Whether the windy conditions in Lubbock affected him (as coach Dana Holgorsen said) or not (as Smith contended), the Mountaineers quarterback had his worst game of the season. Smith still finished with a stat line most quarterbacks would love -- 29 of 55 for 275 yards with a touchdown. Smith remained an overwhelming favorite for player of the year entering the week, one bad performance may not derail his ability to win the Heisman. But it cracked open the door for others.

Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M. A freshman on a freshman team in the SEC has the top two single-game totals for total offense with 576 yards against Louisiana Tech and 557 yards against Arkansas, beating out records from Ole Miss’ Archie Manning and LSU’s Rohan Davey. No freshman has ever won the Heisman, but Manziel could make a case for votes -- prolific numbers for a winning team and making key plays (a 72-yard run in the fourth quarter that turned out to be the winning score.). He’s a Heisman moment waiting to happen on every play.

With three touchdowns agains Purdue this week and 72 in his career, Wisconsin running back Montee Ball broke Ron Dayne’s Big Ten record of 71 career touchdowns. Ball isn’t going to be a Heisman finalist again, but he has returned to his 2011 form. Ball rushed for a career-high 247 yards in the 38-14 win over the Boilermakers, giving him seven touchdowns in three Big Ten games.

20. With four touchdowns on 11 carries against Texas, Oklahoma backup quarterback Blake Bell has 20 rushing touchdowns on 72 career carries. That gives “The Belldozer” a touchdown every 3.6 plays. By comparison, Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas averages a touchdown every eight plays. Granted, Thomas’s touches aren’t confined to goal line.

2.Through the midway point of the season, only two teams have not allowed an opponent to rush for 100 yards in a game. One is Alabama, which held Missouri to three rushing yards in a 42-10 win Saturday. The other is Rutgers, which limited Syracuse to 62 yards in a 23-15 win. Not surprisingly, both are 6-0.


Oklahoma State 20, Kansas 14
Ohio State 52, Indiana 49
Texas State 38, Idaho 7
Arizona State
Kent State
Western Kentucky
Iowa (2-0 Big Ten)
Maryland (2-0 ACC)
Temple (2-0 Big East)

Giovani Bernard’s hot streak. North Carolina can’t play in a bowl, but running back Giovani Bernard is a worthy candidate for postseason awards. Bernard rushed for 177 yards in an 18-14 win over Miami to give him 439 rushing yards the last two weeks against Virginia Tech and the Hurricanes. North Carolina is 5-0 when he plays and 0-2 when he doesn’t.

No panic at TCU. A week after TCU lost 37-23 to Iowa State days after quarterback Casey Pachall left the team, the Horned Frogs regrouped against Baylor. Redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin was stellar in his second start, finishing 22 of 30 for 261 yards with four touchdowns to go with 56 rushing yards and a score against a struggling Baylor defense. More impressive was an offense that forced six turnovers (four interceptions from four players and two recovered fumbles).

Tulane ends losing streak. The Green Wave ended the nation’s longest losing streak with a 27-26 win over SMU, snapping a 15-loss skid. With Army, Idaho and Memphis all ending eight-game losing streaks last week, the nation’s longest winless streak now belongs to Eastern Michigan. The Eagles put up a fight Saturday, but lost 52-47 to Toledo to extend their losing streak to eight games.

USC’s pass game falls flat.
Matt Barkley and his receivers may still be the strength for the Trojans, but they haven’t been overwhelming since this first two weeks of the season. Against Washington, Barkley was 10 of 20 for 167 yards, the third time USC has passed for fewer than 200 yards this year. Silas Redd, who wasn’t even a part of the team until weeks before the season, carried the offense with 155 yards and a touchdown. Not to be ignored: The USC defense recovered four turnovers and the special teams blocked a punt in a 24-14 win over the Huskies.

Oregon State survives without Sean Mannion. Oregon State scored more touchdowns against BYU (five) than the Cougars had allowed all season (four). And the Beavers did it with a backup quarterback making his first start. Cody Vaz was 20 of 32 for 332 yards with three touchdowns in a 42-24 win over BYU, proving he can win on the road just as well as injured starter Sean Mannion.

Boise State gets stronger each week.The Broncos are out of the spotlight thanks to a rebuilding season, but they still manage to impress. Boise State dominated both sides of the run game against a solid Fresno State team. Boise State’s D.J. Harper and and Jay Ajayi combined for 213 rushing yards while the defense held the Bulldogs to 56 yards. Meanwhile, Boise State shut out its opponent in the first half for the fourth consecutive game.

Jeremy Hill, LSU.
Just what LSU was lacking: Another quality running back. That’s sarcasm, but where had Hill been this season? The freshman had three carries in the last three games, but emerged for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries against South Carolina.

Bo Wallace, Ole Miss. Four touchdowns in an SEC game have been tough to find for the Rebels over their 16-game conference losing skid. Wallace delivered one in style. The Ole Miss quarterback accounted for two touchdown runs, a touchdown pass and a touchdown catch in a 41-20 win over Auburn. It was Ole Miss’ first win over an SEC opponent since Sept. 25, 2010 against Kentucky.

J.C. Coleman, Virginia Tech. Have the Hokies finally found the answer to their stagnant run game? Coleman entered the game against Duke with 136 yards this season but responded with 183 rushing yards and two touchdowns against Duke. Virginia Tech had rushed for 136 yards a touchdown as a team in its two ACC games this season before Coleman’s breakout. The rookie from Chesapeake, Va., had touchdown runs of 45 and 86 yards against Duke.

Boston College
South Carolina at Florida
LSU at Texas A&M
Kansas State at West Virginia

Virginia Tech 41, Duke 20.
For nearly a quarter, Duke looked prepared to make December plans not involving Cameron Indoor Stadium. The Blue Devils jumped to a 20-0 lead on Virginia Tech in a dominating effort on both sides of the ball, including a interception returned for a touchdown off Logan Thomas. Duke’s long wait for a bowl eligibility will have to wait another week as the Hokies scored 41 unanswered points.

Temple 17, Connecticut 14 (OT). With its limitations in the passing game and an injured Matt Brown, Temple isn’t really built to stage a major comeback -- unless it has help. Connecticut obliged. The Huskies jumped to a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but an inept offense and four missed field goals allowed Temple to crawl back -- and crawl the Owls did. Temple didn’t tie the game until the final 19 seconds and then clinched the 17-14 win with a field goal in overtime.

Nevada 42, UNLV 37. Without starting quarterback Cody Fajardo, Mountain West contender Nevada fell behind 31-14 at halftime to lowly UNLV. Nevada regrouped in the second half with both Stefphon Jefferson and backup quarterback Devin Combs topping 100 rushing yards.

By David Fox


<p> College Football Week 7 Recap: Notre Dame stops Stanford, Aggies' Manziel shines</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 14, 2012 - 11:09
Path: /nfl/green-bay-packers-vs-houston-texans-preview-and-prediction

Two preseason favorites with drastically different 2012 results will meet on Sunday Night Football when the Houston Texans host the Green Bay Packers at 8:20 pm EST on NBC. The Texans are off to a perfect 5-0 start, besting their opponents by a combined 76 points on the season. Meanwhile, the Packers have languished through two excruciating losses in the last three weeks. A terrible call in Seattle and a blown 21-3 halftime lead in Indianapolis have Green Bay standing at 2-3 and in desperate need of a victory.

When the Houston Texans have the ball:
The Texans offense is tied for third in the NFL in scoring at 29.8 points per game, and they of course are led by Pro Bowl runner Arian Foster. The league’s second-leading rusher has 532 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, and he can be a threat in the passing game as well. Quarterback Matt Schaub has been excellent in spreading the ball around this season, as five Texans have already reached double-digits in receptions. Tight end Owen Daniels and veteran receiver Andre Johnson have been the top pass-catching targets, while fullback James Casey has been a solid dual-threat player with quality blocking and 16 catches on the year.

The Packers defense has been inconsistent against the run this season, and that cannot be the case versus Foster and the Texans. Another concern for Green Bay is the likely absence of defensive tackle B.J. Raji, who is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. If the Packers can limit the Houston run game, then they will have an opportunity to add to their NFL-leading sack total (T-1st with 18) against Schaub. Houston will definitely focus on Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews, who tops the entire league with eight sacks (0.5 ahead of Watt).

When the Green Bay Packers have the ball:
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense have not been able to find the same rhythm as last season, and the reigning MVP will be without several key weapons on Sunday night. Star wide receiver Greg Jennings is still out, and running back Cedric Benson was lost for the year with a foot injury suffered in the Colts loss. Additionally, tight ends Jermichael Finley (shoulder) and D.J. Williams (hamstring) are listed as questionable against Houston. The Green Bay offensive line must play well versus the formidable Texans pass rush, as Rodgers has been sacked 21 times in five games.

The Texans defense has been very stingy this season, ranking No. 3 in the NFL after five weeks. However, Houston suffered a huge blow last Monday night against the Jets when top linebacker Brian Cushing tore a knee ligament on a low block. Without their top tackler, the Texans will need to rally around replacement Tim Dobbins to continue their current momentum. Houston has found a star in second-year end J.J. Watt, who has seven and a half sacks and eight pass deflections on the season.

Key Factor:
The Packers defense must improve on its recent play to stay in this game, as Green Bay has allowed 57 points and over 900 yards in its last two contests. The undefeated Texans will be tough to beat at home in front of an electric crowd, as Houston has proven to be solid on all phases of the game this season. Look for the Packers to play inspired ball as they try to get back to .500, but for the better team to win a close one.

Texans 27 Packers 24

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> Green Bay Packers vs. Houston Texans Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 14, 2012 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-6-jerome-simpson-alex-smith-aaron-hernandez

The injuries are piling up, the bye weeks are in full effect and there are some names in the fantasy world you did not think you would have to rely on so early. Such is life as a fantasy owner as we reach Week 6 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week.


Alex Smith, injury updateAlex Smith, QB, San Francisco 49ers vs. New York Giants
Alex Smith (finger on his throwing hand) is coming off of a 303-yard, three-touchdown game against visiting Buffalo and now gets another New York team at Candlestick. The Giants are ranked 22nd in defending fantasy quarterbacks, having allowed all starters to throw for at least 241 yards and all but Cam Newton to throw for at least one touchdown. Smith's three-TD game last week was his third multi-TD game of the season and he has just one interception. San Francisco is a running team and the Giants are 16th against fantasy running backs. Bye weeks for others, home game for Smith, friendly pass defense means he's worth a shot if you're looking.


Jerome Simpson, WR, Minnesota Vikings vs. Washington Redskins
A back injury has Jerome Simpson's status in the air for a late game at Washington today; he is listed as questionable. While the Redskins are the worst in the league at defending fantasy receivers, you just cannot take the risk with an iffy receiver in a late game that has done little since the return from his suspension. Simpson has four catches for 50 yards and is a waiver-wire prospect until further notice.


Aaron Hernandez, injury updateAaron Hernandez, TE, New England Patriots vs. Seattle Seahawks

It appears Aaron Hernandez (ankle) is ready to make his return this week after being close last week. Seattle is the fourth-best team against fantasy tight ends, but we are talking Todd Heap, Jermichael Finley, Lance Kendricks and Greg Olsen to go along with a drop-happy Jason Witten in Week 2.Of course, you are starting a healthy Hernandez over any of the aforementioned, but therein lies the problem: How healthy is he? The Boston Globe is reporting that while Hernandez made the trip to Seattle and is expected to play it will likely be in a limited stint. The tight end field is deep and there is no need to take a chance on Hernandez against this defense in a late-afternoon game. Consider this one a scouting game; see how Hernandez does and hope for an increased role against the Jets in Week 7.

—   Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Which NFL player is healthy enough to start for your fantasy football team</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 14, 2012 - 07:55
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-6-brandon-pettigrew-ben-tate-brian-hartline

Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Detroit LionsThe injuries are piling up, the bye weeks are in full effect and there are some names in the fantasy world you did not think you would have to rely on so early. Such is life as a fantasy owner as we reach Week 6 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week.

Brandon Pettigrew, TE, Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles
A knee injury limited Brandon Pettigrew in practice this week but he is listed as probable and should start today against Philadelphia. But should you start him against the Eagles and their fifth-best defense against fantasy tight ends? Only Dennis Pitta has had over four catches and only Pitta has had over 41 yards against Philly this season. Pettigrew has eclipsed four and 41 in three of four games this season, in fact he's had at least five and 61 in those three games. But will he have to stay on the line to try and fend off that Eagles pass rush or can he roam free and help move the Lions down the field? He's worth a shot on a team that has attempted at least 32 passes every game and at least 42 in three of four games. Do keep in mind that Bear Pascoe has the only TD scored against the Eagles at the position this season.


Ben Tate, RB, Houston TexansBen Tate, RB, Houston Texans vs. Green Bay Packers (Sunday night)
The toe injury that kept Ben Tate out of the Monday night game against the Jets has him as probable on the injury report for this week's Sunday night game. The Houston Chronicle reports that Tate will play, but does he resume his more-than-a-handcuff role behind Arian Foster? The Chronicle goes on to say the team is hopeful he can get 10-12 touches. In the six games last season where Tate got 9-15 touches, he averaged 76.2 yards with two touchdowns. Sounds like Tate could be right back in his flex wheelhouse.


Brian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins vs. St. Louis Rams
Miami is still the 25th ranked team when it comes to wide receiver production and that is because the Dolphins don't score touchdowns at the position. Hartline has the lone score and that was as a part of his 12-253-1 day. He has never dipped below 50 yards receiving this season and he has the 253 and a 111-yard day. But you have to wonder if he is not going to settle in as a 4-59 guy like he was against a more than gracious fantasy WR defense like Cincinnati last week. Now Hartline gets a Rams team that allowed Larry Fitzgerald to go 8-for-92 on 15 targets last week - the most any receiver has been targeted against St. Louis this season. Outside of his 92-yard, no-TD day, the Rams have allowed four receivers to eclipse a 4-59 day (Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Leonard Hankerson and Brandon Marshall). It is Hankerson who has the lone wide receiver TD against St. Louis this season. Look elsewhere for a receiver this week as there is nothing to say Hartline can get loose against the Rams.

—   Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Which NFL player is healthy enough to start for your fantasy football team</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 14, 2012 - 07:45
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-6-adrian-peterson-hakeem-nicks-titus-young

The injuries are piling up, the bye weeks are in full effect and there are some names in the fantasy world you did not think you would have to rely on so early. Such is life as a fantasy owner as we reach Week 6 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week.

Adrian PetersonAdrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings vs. Washington Redskins
Whether he is in the clear after the knee surgery is not known, but five double-digit fantasy efforts is good enough for me. He is dealing with an ankle injury this week but was a full participant in practice on Thursday and Friday. Now he gets a Redskins team that is ranked 10th against fantasy running backs, mostly because they are ranked last against fantasy receivers and 30th against quarterbacks. Only three backs have had double-digit carries against Washington and two of them have had double-digit fantasy days. If Peterson is playing he is in your lineup.


Titus Young, WR, Detroit Lions vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Titus Young (knee) was limited in practice the last two days after missing Wednesday's practice. He is listed as probable and has a decent flex play matchup playing for a team that has attempted at least 42 passes in three of four games. The Eagles are ranked 14th against fantasy receivers, allowing No. 2 options to catch 21 balls for 347 yards (4.2 catches for 69 yards a game) to average 11.1 fantasy points in a PPR. Just because it's a relatively decent flex play doesn't mean Young should be in there. He has been stuck on three targets in three of the four games and caught one pass apiece in those games. His highlight of the year was the seven-target, six-catch, 75-yard, one-touchdown day against Tennessee - 46 yards and the score coming on a Hail Mary at the end of regulation.


Hakeem NicksHakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants vs. San Francisco 49ers
After missing the last three games (foot and knee), Hakeem Nicks made the trip to San Francisco and made it through two limited practices and Saturday's walkthrough. This one has all the makings of a one-play-and-injured again type of game. In addition to his durability is it being a late-afternoon start and the 49ers' fantasy defense against wide receivers. The team has allowed just one TD to receivers this season (Week 1). San Francisco faced Buffalo and the New York Jets the last two weeks - not a hot bed of reliable receivers - and played Minnesota, Detroit and Green Bay the first three weeks. Which group do you think had the better production? It was the first three, and that gives fantasy owners hopes against the 49ers. Percy Harvin had nine catches for 89 yards, Calvin Johnson had eight catches for 94 yards and the Packers' four-headed WR corps combined for 23 catches and 256 yards. It's a tough call with the health and the late start, but if you have Domenik Hixon or Ramses Barden, it might be worth the wait and plug in whoever goes.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Which NFL player is healthy enough to start for your fantasy football team</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 14, 2012 - 07:39
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-6-percy-harvin-martellus-bennett-malcom-floyd

The injuries are piling up, the bye weeks are in full effect and there are some names in the fantasy world you did not think you would have to rely on so early. Such is life as a fantasy owner as we reach Week 6 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week.

Percy HarvinPercy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings vs. Washington Redskins
Percy Harvin joined the injury report on Thursday with a hamstring but was a full participant in Friday's practice. He is listed as probable and you certainly are not going to sit fantasy's No. 8 receiver. And you won't sit him with such an appetizing matchup as he has today against a Washington Redskins team that allows the most points to fantasy receivers. The 'Skins have surrendered eight touchdowns, 77 catches and 1,234 yards thus far; ten receivers have eclipsed at least 60 yards against Washington. Six of the 10 had double-digit target days and five of them have the highest scoring fantasy days. Now the Redskins face Harvin, again the No. 8 fantasy receiver, who has done his damage with just three double-digit target days so far.


Martellus Bennett, TE, New York Giants vs. San Francisco 49ers
A knee injury hampered Martellus Bennett's day against Cleveland last week. He stayed in the game after suffering the injury in the first quarter and finished with three grabs for 30 yards. That was certainly not the kind of day we wanted to see with Hakeem Nicks out himself. Bennett, after drawing 23 targets for 15 catches, 185 yards and three scores the first three weeks of the season, has just four catches for 32 yards on seven targets the last two weeks. The luster might have worn off a bit, but chances are he will return to fantasy relevance later this season as injuries pile up and knowing that Eli Manning has gone to reliable tight ends in the past in new York. I am not playing Bennett today at the 49ers. The tight end class is deep and there is someone else like a Jermaine Gresham, Jacob Tamme or Owen Daniels that has a better matchup.


Malcom Floyd, WR, San Diego Chargers vs. Denver Broncos (Monday night)
A groin injury has Malcom Floyd as questionable on the injury report and he was limited at practice on Friday but returned in full on Saturday. It is a little concerning since he is Philip Rivers' only reliable receiver at this point in the season. When did you think you'd ever read that sentence about Maclom Floyd? It is interesting to note that Floyd has never been targeted more than nine times as the team's No. 1 receiver this season. He has caught 20 of his 34 targets (58.8 percent) for 358 yards and one TD so far. Robert Meachem, the free agent signing, has 19 targets for nine catches and 159 yards and two scores. Antonio Gates has 13 catches for 143 yards and no scores on 25 targets. Monday, Rivers and Floyd get a Broncos team ranked 19th against fantasy receivers with five touchdowns and six receivers having already eclipsed 60 yards. The matchup is there but is the consistency from Floyd going to follow. That would be a tough Monday for me, knowing I had to depend on Floyd to bring home the week for me.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Which NFL player is healthy enough to start for your fantasy football team</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 14, 2012 - 07:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-6-josh-gordon-dustin-keller-darrius-heyward-bey

The injuries are piling up, the bye weeks are in full effect and there are some names in the fantasy world you did not think you would have to rely on so early. Such is life as a fantasy owner as we reach Week 6 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week.


Dustin KellerDustin Keller, TE, New York Jets vs. Indianapolis Colts
Dustin Keller (hamstring) has not played since Week 1 and has aggravated the injury already this season. He expects to play today and the Jets need him in the worse way. If Mark Sanchez is the starter and Keller is playing it's a decent combo. Keller was targeted 115 times last season for 65 catches, 815 yards and five TDs in 16 games. To put it in perspective, conflict between the two or not, No. 1 receiver Santonio Holmes was targeted 101 times in 16 games. The Colts have only allowed 11 catches for 97 yards and one TD to tight ends. You are likely not playing Keller but don't be surprised if he makes some noise in his expected return.


Josh Gordon, WR, Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals
I told you to take a flier on Josh Gordon here last week and he came through with two touchdowns and 82 yards on just two catches from eight targets. The receiving injuries are about the same this week, and now add Jordan Norwood (foot) to the list. Gordon is about all Brandon Weeden has left outside of Greg Little; so Gordon is all Weeden has left. So take that flier again. In Week 2 against these Bengals, Little and Mohamed Massaquoi combined for 10 catches, 147 yards and a score on 14 targets - and that was with Trent Richardson getting 19 carries for 109 yards and a TD on the ground and 4-36-1 through the air. Since the Week 2 game, the Bengals have allowed five receivers to eclipse 60 yards, seven receivers to have at least five catches and have allowed six passing touchdowns. A matchup is a matchup is a matchup.


Darrius Heyward-BeyDarrius Heyward-Bey, WR, Oakland Raiders vs. Atlanta Falcons
Last time we saw DHB, he was being laid out in the end zone against Pittsburgh. A bye week and a return to practice later, and Heyward-Bey is listed as probable and slated to be back in the lineup this afternoon against the Falcons. Atlanta has allowed just three touchdowns to receivers this season and Santana Moss' two-catch, 80-yard, one-TD performance was the first time a receiver has had over 60 since Demaryius Thomas in Week 2. Coming off a concussion, the way the Falcons' defense is playing (258 yards allowed to Matt Cassel in Week 1 is a season high) and Oakland being on the road makes for a scary proposition.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Which NFL player is healthy enough to start for your fantasy football team</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 14, 2012 - 07:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-6-jermichael-finley-ryan-williams-donald-jones

The injuries are piling up, the bye weeks are in full effect and there are some names in the fantasy world you did not think you would have to rely on so early. Such is life as a fantasy owner as we reach Week 6 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week.

Jermichael Finley, Green Bay PackersJermichael Finley, TE, Green Bay Packers vs, Houston (Sunday night)
Jermichael Finley (shoulder) is questionable as of today on the injury report and considered a game-time decision. Bum shoulder or not, Finley has probably already reached droppable status in most leagues. He is ranked 18th at TE in PPR leagues with 22 catches for 198 yards and one TD on 31 targets. With receiver Greg Jennings (groin) already ruled out and Finley questionable, tight end D.J. Williams could possibly be in play, but the Packers are ranked 17th in the league in fantasy TE scoring. It's probably best to avoid all Packers not named Aaron Rodgers or James Jones this week.


Ryan Williams (William Powell), RB, Arizona Cardinals vs. Buffalo
Ryan Williams went on season-ending IR last week after the shoulder injury he suffered against St. Louis. With Beanie Wells already on designated-to-return IR and out until Week 12 that left owners salivating at the wire to pick up a gem - a starting RB for an NFL team in Week 6. That doesn't come along too often and when it does it rarely produces. Then there's the Cardinals. They are already ranked 31st in fantasy production from the RB position, so whether you go and grab William Powell or LaRod Stephens-Howling, it's hard to imagine either being productive in the short-term, long term or even against a terrible defense like Buffalo today. The Bills matchup is a juicy one because they are 31st against fantasy running backs, but unless you are in a DEEEEEP league, there is no reason to start a Cardinals running back. 

Donald Jones, Buffalo BillsDonald Jones, WR, Buffalo Bills vs. Arizona Cardinals
Donald Jones is questionable but is likely to play despite being listed on the report with a head injury. But it is Donald Jones. The Bills are terrible all the way around. Ryan Fitzpatrick has the accuracy of most of my articles and the team boasts the 27th-ranked fantasy receivers in the NFL. Outside of Jones' two-catch, 90-yard, one-TD performance against New England in Week 4, no only Steve Johnson in Week 3 has eclipsed 60 yards (7-61-1). Arizona is ranked 20th against fantasy receivers and most of that comes from the Week 4 game against Miami in which it allowed Brian Hartline and Davone Bess to combine for 19 catches, 376 yards and a score. Can you believe you just read that? It probably lends credence to the fact that Jones could be a good play if those two did that to Arizona just two weeks ago.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Which NFL player is healthy enough to start for your fantasy football team</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 14, 2012 - 07:25
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-6-daniel-thomas-steven-jackson-marshawn-lynch

The injuries are piling up, the bye weeks are in full effect and there are some names in the fantasy world you did not think you would have to rely on so early. Such is life as a fantasy owner as we reach Week 6 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week.

Steven Jackson, RB, St. Louis RamsSteven Jackson, RB, St. Louis Rams vs. Miami Dolphins
While Reggie Bush and Lamar Miller will have a tough road against the Rams' run defense, the same can be said for Steven Jackson. For the first time in a while, Jackson is not on the injury report, however, he is facing the eighth-ranked fantasy run defense. Jackson has faced three top-six fantasy run defenses each of the last three weeks and averaged 15.6 carries for 53.3 yards with no scores. At least he doesn't tease us like Chris Johnson and is consistently a bad fantasy play.


Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami Dolphins vs. St. Louis Rams
Daniel Thomas lands on the injury report with a concussion for the second time this season. He is out for today's game against the Rams. Reggie Bush is on the injury report with a knee but. All of this means more touches for rookie Lamar Miller. However, there are two major problems for Miller today. One: He did not see a touch last week. Two: The St. Louis run defense. Miller had 10 carries in Week 2, nine carries in Week 3, four carries in Week 4 and none last week. See a trend? Hard to trust as him as an even a flex when his carries have trended downward to zero. The Rams have allowed four rushing touchdowns and Alfred Morris (89) and Marshawn Lynch (118) are the only two backs to eclipse 65 yards.


Marshawn LynchMarshawn Lynch, RB, Seattle Seahawks vs. New England Patriots
Marshawn Lynch (back) is on the injury report but practiced in full on Friday and Saturday and should be good to go against the Patriots and their ninth-ranked fantasy defense. Lynch is the only Seahawk fantasy option of any consistency this year, but beware he does get a defense that has allowed just one rushing touchdown and one game above 51 yards - Ray Rice had both in Week 3 (20-101-1).

— Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Which NFL player is healthy enough to start for your fantasy football team</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 14, 2012 - 07:20
All taxonomy terms: NFL, Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-6-donald-brown-cedric-benson-andre-brown

The injuries are piling up, the bye weeks are in full effect and there are some names in the fantasy world you did not think you would have to rely on so early. Such is life as a fantasy owner as we reach Week 6 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week.

Cedric Benson, RB, Green Bay PackersCedric Benson, RB, Green Bay Packers vs. Houston Texans
Cedric Benson went on the designated to return IR with a Lisfranc injury and will miss the next eight weeks. The Packers' attempt to run the ball was no joke through five weeks. Benson had days of nine, 20, 17 and 18 carries and had seven when he went down in the first quarter last week. Green Bay rushed at least 17 times with one back just once last year (Ryan Grant, 17-92 in Week 3) and never eclipsed 13 afterwards. Alex Green is the "hot hand" for the Packers and should get first crack at keeping a running game alive for Green Bay. He stepped in for Benson last week and went 9-for-55 and one catch for six yards. There are two major downers for Green this week: James Starks is back and the Packers are facing a Texans team that is ranked seventh against fantasy RBs. This is a good week to monitor how the Packers use the two backs and then play the weekly matchups based on your deduction. Sit them this week, however.


Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis Colts vs. New York Jets
Donald Brown had knee surgery on Tuesday and now Vick Ballard gets the start in his place. For fantasy, it is encouraging because the Colts' backfield becomes a little less crowded for a few weeks. Brown is ranked as fantasy's 29th-best RB. The Jets of just a few years ago are long gone. They are 29th against fantasy running backs, having allowed singular days of 169 and 152 yards and a touchdown each to C.J. Spiller and Arian Foster and double-dips from Daniel Thomas and Reggie Bush (130 yards and one TD), Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter (118 yards and two TDs). Ballard was averaging 4.2 carries while Brown was getting 15 carries per game. Now that it is Ballard's backfield, he should be able to have solid production against a team that cannot stop the run.


Andre Brown, RB, New York Giants vs. San Francisco 49ers
Andre Brown, the waiver wire darling from Weeks 2 and 3, suffered a concussion against Cleveland last week and has been ruled out for today's game at San Francisco. He had five carries the week before and was injured during a first-quarter kickoff. Rookie David Wilson re-entered the picture behind Ahmad Bradshaw and scored his first NFL TD (40 yards in the fourth quarter). He finished with just two carries for 44 yards and the score. Bradshaw was the hot hand with 30 carries for 200 yards and a score and four catches for 29 yards. It's hard to determine how this will work. Yes, Bradshaw was hot, but for Wilson to get just two carries is a little concerning. Also concerning is that the Giants are on the road at a 49ers team that is No. 1 against fantasy running backs with just 287 yards and no TDs allowed this season. Like Green vs. the Texans, you might want to use this one as strictly observation on Wilson. But Brown might be back next week and everything is in the air again.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Which NFL player is healthy enough to start for your fantasy football team</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 14, 2012 - 07:15
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-6-matt-cassel-robert-griffin-iii-christian-ponder

RG3, Robert Griffin III, Washington RedskinsThere are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of injury question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 6 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these players and what you should consider.


Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins vs. Minnesota Vikings
Knocked out of last week's game against Atlanta with a concussion, RGIII has passed all his tests this week and did practice this week. Minnesota is 14th against fantasy quarterbacks and second-best against fantasy running backs through five games. The Vikings have allowed all five opponents to throw for at least 200 yards and at least one touchdown and at least 31 attempts. If Griffin is active, he's active in your lineup. Even getting knocked out in the third quarter of last week's game, RGIII is still fantasy's third-best QB this season.


Matt Cassel (Brady Quinn), QB, Kansas City Chiefs  vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Matt Cassel was knocked out of last week's game against Baltimore with a concussion and is out for this week's game against the Buccaneers. Brady Quinn entered last week and was 3-of-3 for 32 yards. Today will be his first start since 2009 and he is a 52.5-percent passer with a QB rating of 67.3 for his career. Yes, this is the bye weeks and you might be hurting. Yes, Tampa Bay is allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to QBs and are ranked 12th against fantasy RBs. Outside of two-QB leagues, look elsewhere.


Christian Ponder, QB, Minnesota Vikings vs. Washington Redskins
Christian Ponder (knee inflammation) has to be the favorite bye-week replacement quarterback this week. He has thrown for two touchdowns in three of his first five games season and for at least 245 yards in three of five games. His interceptions on back-to-back series against Tennessee last week were his first two picks of the year. Now Ponder gets a Redskins team today that is ranked 30th against fantasy quarterbacks. Washington has allowed multi-touchdown games in four of five games and 300-plus yard days in those same four games. The lone outlier is Josh Freeman's 299-yard, one-touchdown, one-interception game.

— Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Who's healthy enough to start for your fantasy football team&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 14, 2012 - 07:10
Path: /fantasy/injury-updates-week-6-miles-austin-demaryius-thomas-jacob-tamme

The injuries are piling up, the bye weeks are in full effect and there are some names in the fantasy world you did not think you would have to rely on so early. Such is life as a fantasy owner as we reach Week 6 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little info about those that are injured or those replacing the injured that can hopefully help lead you to a fantasy victory this week.

Miles AustinMiles Austin, WR, Dallas Cowboys vs. Baltimore Ravens
A bye week later and Miles Austin is still on the injury report (hamstring), but he's probably always going to be on the injury report. Now he and the Cowboys' struggling offense travel to Baltimore to take on a Ravens team that has been friendly to opposing fantasy receivers. Dwayne Bowe (6-60), Greg Little (4-77), Brandon Lloyd (9-108) and Wes Welker (8-142), DeSean Jackson (7-114) and A.J. Green (5-70) and Andrew Hawkins (8-86) all had double-digit days in PPR leagues against the Ravens. The only thing Baltimore is stingy on is the TD production as just two of them have been surrendered to fantasy receivers this year and they surrendered just eight to the position last year. Austin is one of those that you are starting as long as he is healthy and as long as Dez Bryant continues to consistently play inconsistent.


Jacob Tamme, TE, Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers (Monday night)
Every Joel Dreessen touchdown is just a gut-punch to Jacob Tamme owners. Tamme has not had one of those since Week 1. But fantasy owners can take solace in the fact that it is Tamme that helps get Dreessen into position. He has 36 targets to Dreessen's 16 and 21 catches to JD's 11. But it's those three scores that have Dreessen ahead of Tamme in points at the TE position for Denver. A groin injury has Tamme listed as probable on the injury report, and Dreessen TDs or not, you can't bench Tamme. He has 27 of his 36 targets in the last three weeks and could be in a shootout Monday night with San Diego. Enjoy the targets and hope for the occasional bone in the red zone.


Demaryius Thomas, Denver BroncosDemaryius Thomas, WR, Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers (Monday night)
A hip injury lands Demaryius Thomas on the report as probable but he did practice in full on Saturday in advance of the Monday night game with San Diego. And what a matchup he has in store for him in prime time. The Chargers just allowed two New Orleans receivers to go over 120 yards and each score TDs. A week earlier Dwayne Bowe went 7-108-1 and even Jonathan Baldwin posted a 4-50 day. A week before that Atlanta's dynamic duo of Julio Jones and Roddy White combined for 10 catches, 122 yards and one score. Thomas has had 11 targets in three of the five games this season and in the two he didn't he had five catches for 110 and 103 yards. Wow.


— Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Who's healthy enough to start for your fantasy football team</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 14, 2012 - 07:05
Path: /mlb/alcs-preview-tigers-over-yankees

On Sept. 17, the Tigers lost a make-up game to the White Sox that dropped Detroit three games behind Chicago in the American League Central and not even in the wild card discussion. The Tigers finished 11-5 and flipped the standings ending the season with a three-game lead over Chicago. During that time, the Tigers’ starting pitching found a groove. The Yankees, on the other hand, took over first place on June 11 and built a 10-game lead by mid-July before hanging on over Baltimore down the stretch.

The Yankees won six of 10 meetings during the regular season. CC Sabathia struck out 20 in 21.1 innings and allowed 20 hits in his three starts agains the Tigers this season. Sabathia will face Tigers’ ace Justin Verlander in Game 3 and again in Game 7 if the series goes down to the wire. Both pitched complete games in their respective Game 5s in the Division Series.

Keys for Detroit
The Tigers’ offense begins and ends with the two big guys in the middle, triple crown winner Miguel Cabrera, and his protection Prince Fielder. But the Tigers will live and die with starting pitching. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez combined to go 12-4 with a 2.21 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in September. That level of performance continued in the playoffs. Detroit starters held Oakland hitters to a .176 average in their five-game series. They had 41 strikeouts but allowed just 21 hits and 10 walks. Setup man Joaquin Benoit, and especially Jose Valverde, were horrible in the ALDS. That can’t help Jim Leyland’s confidence in his bullpen, which was so good last season. That will put added pressure on the starters to go deeper in games.

Keys for New York
The Yankees must get their bats going. They hit just .211 in the five games with Baltimore. Manager Joe Girardi was able to push all the right buttons, but the lineup can’t rely on clutch swings off the bench to carry the team through a seven-game series. Girardi, who was dealing with the death of his father, was masterful in the Division Series. Whether it was pinch-hitting twice for Alex Rodriguez with the game on the line or benching his aging star for Game 5, Girardi earned his money with tough decisions. But only Derek Jeter (.364) and Mark Teixeira (.353) hit better than .217 off Baltimore pitching. A-Rod wasn’t the only hitter struggling.

Tigers to Watch
Anibal Sanchez and Doug Fister will each get two starts if the series goes six games. Fister won his only start against New York this season, but Sanchez was hit hard, lasting just three innings with seven earned runs in his start. First baseman Fielder didn’t have a good series against Oakland stats-wise, but looking a little deeper into his at-bats reveals that he was hitting the ball well. He was robbed of at least four hits with good defensive plays and backed up Oakland outfielders to the track on more than one occasion. If his line drives begin to find holes, he’ll be tough for New York hurlers to deal with.

Yankees to Watch
Lefthander Clay Rapada will have some opportunities to neutralize Fielder. But he could be used to get more than just lefties out. Players on the Tigers roster are 1-13 off Rapada with the only hit by Quintin Berry. Rodriguez and his fragile psyche will certainly grab media attention whether he is in the lineup and no matter where he is in the batting order. But A-Rod isn’t the only Yankee struggling. Second baseman Robinson Cano, who was so good down the stretch, is just 2-for-22.  

Detroit in 5

-Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)

<p> Detroit Tigers vs. New York Yankees ALCS Preview</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 13, 2012 - 15:34
Path: /nfl/nfl-picks-against-spread-week-6

A betting preview of every game (against the spread) on Sunday and Monday in Week 6.

Locks of the Week
Take the birds in a pair of blowouts over a couple of teams who have made a trend of getting blown out on the road so far this season.

Cardinals (-5) vs. Bills
Buffalo has been getting slaughtered the past two weeks, losing to San Fran 45–3 after taking a 52–28 defeat against New England.

Falcons (-9) vs. Raiders
Oakland has not won in the Eastern Time Zone since Week 10 of the 2009 season. Meanwhile, Matt Ryan has a 27–4 career record at the Georgia Dome.

Straight Up Upsets
Familiarity breeds contempt. Division rivalries produce upsets.

Broncos (+1.5) at Chargers
Peyton Manning is only 4–5 against the Bolts, including a 2–2 mark in sunny San Diego. But No. 18 has shined on Monday Night Football, with an 11–4 record under the lights.

Browns (+3) vs. Bengals
In Week 2, Cincy beat Cleveland 34–27. This time around, the winless Browns will put it together for an in-state upset at the Dawg Pound.

Backdoor Covers
These may turn out to be straight up upsets when the dust settles. If not, a close loss should pay the same as an outright win for those trying to scratch out some more scratch.

Rams (+4) at Dolphins
Jeff Fisher’s mustache hits South Beach to wax the unpredictable Fins.

Seahawks (+4) vs. Patriots
This will be Tom Brady’s first game in Seattle and the Pats are 5–4 on the West Coast under Bill Belichick.

Giants (+6.5) at 49ers
A rematch of last year’s NFC title game, which was a 20–17 win for the G-Men.

Sucker Bets
Good games but bad bets. Treat these matchups like Rex Ryan treats Tim Tebow — ignore that they exist despite constant reminders to the contrary.

Jets (-3) vs. Colts
Tim who? The J-E-T-S quarterback is Mark Sanchez, a USC product. Back on the Farm, Andrew Luck was 3–0 against the Trojans.

Texans (-3) vs. Packers
Houston is riding high, Green Bay is laying low; this Sunday night fight could go either way.

Buccaneers (-4) vs. Chiefs
K.C.’s Brady Quinn has a 3–9 record as a starter, but betting on the inconsistent young Bucs to cover is a risky proposition.

Ravens (-4) vs. Cowboys
The Boys are coming off a bye week, while the Ravens are fresh off an ugly 9–6 win at Kansas City.

Eagles (-4) vs. Lions
Michael Vick’s seven TDs (six pass, one rush) and 11 turnovers (six INTs, five lost fumbles) make Philly too volatile to bank on.

Off the Board
As long as the status of RG3 is up in the air, the Vikes-Skins game will be off the board.

Vikings (N/A) at Redskins
Let’s bet on the game day betting line: I’ll take Redskins (-2.5) if RG3 plays, Vikings (-1) if it’s the other rookie (KC1?) at QB.

<p> A betting preview of every game (against the spread) on Sunday and Monday in Week 6, including the Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers, New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys at Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles, Oakland Raiders at Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots at Seattle Seahawks.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 12:11
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Links, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-eleven-links-day-0

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for October 12.

• Tigers ace Justin Verlander was dominant in his Game 5 victory over the A’s, and he set a new LDS record with 22 strikeouts in the series. Plus he dates Kate Upton.

• On the eve of the Tennessee-Mississippi State matchup, Kyle Veazey of the Commercial Appeal has the amazing story of Memphis’ Canale brothers — three who were Vols and three who were Bulldogs.

• has us covered on the “go to the NFL game” versus “watch it on the couch” decision.

• Bleacher Report’s Michael Felder believes that Texas must play power football to beat Oklahoma in the Red River Rivalry.

• It should be an incredible night of baseball, with the Yankees-Orioles ALDS and Cardinals-Nationals NLDS being decided in Game 5s.

• NFL scouts will be drooling watching the defensive ends in the South Carolina-LSU matchup this weekend.

• 49ers receiver Mario Manningham will have an interesting perspective when San Francisco takes on the Giants in an NFC Championship Game rematch.

• The Rolling Stones 50th anniversary has the band’s marketing team going full throttle.  But what about some upcoming shows?

• The Stanford-Notre Dame game should be a physical battle, and it will have big-time national implications.

• Is there really a Kobe Bryant-Smush Parker feud?

• We tend to stay away from politics on the E11, but all of us can agree that it would be nice if our elected officials actually listened to their constituencies. Some Kent State students (MACtion!) decided to write their Ohio Congressional delegation for some healthcare information, and here is the result.

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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 11

• The struggling Titans host the Steelers tonight, and Tennessee running back Chris Johnson said earlier this week that his team “is not close” to being good. That can happen when you pay a runner "superstar" money and he produces only 2.9 yards per carry and zero touchdowns.

• FOX’s Jon Paul Morosi provides insight into the decision by Yankees manager Joe Girardi to pinch-hit for the slumping Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning of ALDS Game 3. It paid off royally as Raul Ibanez homered twice, and New York won 3-2 in 12 innings.
• If there’s a water shortage in your town, it could be this guy’s fault. He makes a rather large ninja.

• Popular NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been diagnosed with a second concussion in six weeks and will miss the next two Chase races.

• The A’s had a dramatic, season-saving, comeback 4-3 win over the Tigers in Game 4 of the ALDS. Will Oakland’s magic extend to Game 5 against Detroit ace Justin Verlander?

• College football historian and former ESPN commentator Beano Cook has passed away at age 81.

• The debut of the Texas Kickoff Classic will be next August at Reliant Stadium in Houston, with an Oklahoma State versus Mississippi State matchup.

• It looks like Rick Pitino may sign an extension with Louisville in the near future.

• Check out Broncos receiver Demaryius Thomas’ new method for trying to cure his fumbling issues.

• Is a knee scope on the horizon for Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki?

Washington State coach Mike Leach is always a unique quote, and he said yesterday that some of his seniors have “an empty-corpse quality.” We just wondered how that fact may affect any of his players’ “fat little girlfriends.”

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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 10

• Many Yankees fans are waiting to see if manager Joe Girardi will adjust the lineup — especially dropping the slumping Alex Rodriguez down in the batting order — for Game 3 versus the Orioles tonight.

USA Today’s George Schroeder has an interesting column on former Auburn running back Michael Dyer, who now attends Arkansas Baptist College while still hoping to be a football star once again.

• David Teel of the Daily Press looks at the ACC’s “defenseless” Coastal Division.

• Whether this is the best or worst “cosplay” ever, you have to love Patrick from SpongeBob.

• details at Steve Spurrier’s lofty perch in league coaching lore.

• Former NFL star defensive lineman and actor Alex Karras has passed away at age 77.

• Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is enjoying the new Mike Tice offense.

• LSU’s Sam Montgomery will take on his hometown friends from South Carolina in this week’s huge SEC clash.

• Check out these wild slides at the plate, inspired by Ichiro’s amazing play in Game 2 of the ALDS.

• Kansas coach Charlie Weis decided to practice without the seniors on Sunday.

• Check out this incredible moment from the South Carolina game against Georgia. Sergeant First Class Scott Faile’s family is being honored on the field while he is talking to them (and the crowd) on the Jumbotron. After his heartfelt message, Faile had a surprise for everyone.

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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 9

• The Texans beat the Jets 23-17 on Monday Night Football and moved to 5-0 on the season. However, Houston fears it may have lost top linebacker Brian Cushing to an ACL injury.

• The monster that is former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced today to between 30-60 years in prison after being convicted on 45 counts of child sexual abuse.

• ESPN’s Dana O’Neil has a moving column on the Richmond basketball family and coach Chris Mooney.

• Jim Lamar of the Tallahassee Democrat calls Florida State’s loss at NC State an “embarrassment” among other things.

• Much like the NFL, guys in the Canadian Football League are always looking to make explosive plays.

• Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads provided some wonderful GIF material with his referee reaction against TCU.

• It looks like veteran manager Jim Leyland will return to the Detroit Tigers dugout in 2013.

• With the Georgia Tech defense struggling mightily, coach Paul Johnson felt he had to fire coordinator Al Groh.
• The polarizing Terrell Owens decided to let the Jets know that he’s available.
• Will the Red Sox re-sign designated hitter David Ortiz?

• Check out Ichiro Suzuki’s amazing ability to avoid multiple tags and score in last night’s ALDS game against the Orioles.

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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 8

• Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star has an excellent column on the Colts emotional 30-27 comeback win over the Packers. A week ago, Indy head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia. After the victory, Colts management presented Pagano with the game ball at the IU Simon Cancer Center.

• Mitch Vingle of the Charleston Gazette looks at West Virginia’s huge road win against Texas, a victory that proves the Mountaineers belong with college football’s “big boys.”

Is this really Meg Griffin?

• Kudos to Chiefs offensive lineman Eric Winston for calling out the fans who were booing an injured Matt Cassel. Check out his postgame take from the Kansas City locker room.

• Florida and South Carolina had huge wins on Saturday, setting up a very compelling SEC East race.

• The Cincinnati Reds steamrolled their way to a 2-0 lead over the Giants with impressive wins in San Francisco.

• As expected, Saints quarterback Drew Brees broke Johnny Unitas’ all-time NFL record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass. His streak reached 48 games in New Orleans’ 31-24 win over the Chargers.

• ACC football fans — and the league’s gridiron image — need a break after Saturday’s results.

• What will LeBron’s psyche be now that he has won that elusive NBA title?

• The Detroit Tigers found a way to slow down the Oakland A’s momentum, as Jim Leyland’s club took a commanding 2-0 lead in the ALDS.

• Football fans have been clubbed over the head by that new IE9 commercial (with the pop song “Too Close”) that seems to run during every break of every game this season. Here’s a humorous different version of that ad.

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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 12:03
Path: /college-football/lsu-tigers-vs-south-carolina-gamecocks-preview-and-prediction

Another week, another big showdown in the SEC. This matchup lost some of its appeal when LSU lost to Florida last week, but this game still features two of the nation’s top-10 teams.

South Carolina blasted Georgia last Saturday, dominating from the opening snap and finishing with a 35-7 victory. Although the win over the Bulldogs was huge for positioning in the SEC, the Gamecocks can’t afford to be overconfident, especially with Florida emerging as a top-five team.

Night games in Baton Rouge have provided some memorable moments, and the home crowd should give LSU plenty of momentum after last week’s disappointing road loss. The Tigers have not lost back-to-back games since 2008 and in 19 matchups against South Carolina, LSU has lost just two times.

Storylines to Watch in South Carolina vs. LSU

South Carolina’s defensive line vs. LSU’s offensive line
This was supposed to be a strength versus strength matchup. However, LSU’s offensive line has suffered a few setbacks this year, as starting left tackle Chris Faulk was lost for the year with a torn ACL, and guard Josh Williford left last week’s game against Florida due to injury. Tackle Alex Hurst missed practice time due to personal issues and may not play on Saturday night. The Tigers’ injury and personnel concerns on the line will be magnified this week, especially with South Carolina’s defensive front coming to town. The Gamecocks rank ninth nationally in rush defense and are averaging 4.2 sacks per game. End Jadeveon Clowney is one of the top players in the nation and has plenty of help around him. LSU needs its offensive line to step up after struggling to generate a push against Florida’s defense. If the Gamecocks dominate the line of scrimmage, LSU will once again have a hard time moving the ball on offense.

Can LSU get quarterback Zach Mettenberger on track?
While it wasn’t expected to be overly prolific, LSU’s passing offense was expected to show improvement in 2012. However, the Tigers have sputtered once again, as they rank 12th in the SEC in passing offense and are averaging just 195.7 yards per game. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has thrown for 1,174 yards and six touchdowns but failed to throw a score against Florida and completed less than 50 percent of his passes. The junior doesn’t need to throw for 300 yards every game, but he has to hit more big plays than LSU has connected on so far. South Carolina’s secondary ranks 28th nationally in pass defense, while its pass rush never allows opposing quarterbacks to get comfortable in the pocket.

Marcus Lattimore vs. LSU’s run defense
As each week passes, South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore looks more and more comfortable in his return from a torn ACL. The junior has three 100-yard games this year and has reached paydirt in all six contests. LSU will be Lattimore’s toughest test this season, as the Tigers rank 14th nationally against the run and have allowed only five rushing touchdowns. The Gamecocks’ offensive line has struggled at times this season and matching up against one of the nation’s best defensive fronts will be a challenge. Lattimore is the glue to South Carolina’s offense, as his success helps take the pressure off of quarterback Connor Shaw. Even if running room is limited early on, the Gamecocks need to give Lattimore 20-25 touches. While LSU has plenty of depth on the defensive line, South Carolina’s rushing attack figures to get stronger as the game progresses.

Final Analysis

This is a crucial game for both teams, but there is more pressure on LSU to win on Saturday night. The Tigers can’t afford to fall two games behind Alabama in the SEC West standings.

For South Carolina, a win in Baton Rouge would keep alive its national title hopes, as well as move the Gamecocks one step closer to booking a trip to Atlanta to play for the SEC title in December.

There’s no question LSU is a desperate team and it has to have this game. Although quarterback Zach Mettenberger has struggled to find his rhythm, the homefield edge and defense should be enough for the Tigers to beat the Gamecocks on Saturday night.

However, with a tight game expected, the team with the better quarterback will find a way to win.

Final Prediction: South Carolina 20, LSU 17

by Steven Lassan


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<p> LSU Tigers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 08:56
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/20-twitter-accounts-every-sec-football-fan-should-follow

As you would expect from the nation's pre-eminent football conference, the SEC is well-represented in the Twitterverse by people who know the league intimately and aren't afraid to tell you about it. We took a look at the lengthy list of SEC-oriented Twitter accounts and whittled them down to 25 that are definitely worth a follow.


Love him or hate him, you can't deny that Travis entertains and inflames with his SEC-centric observations. Prepare to get angry, although Travis' affection for those he lampoons takes some of the edge off. Just beware of his new obsession with butt-chugging.


Alabama's versatile o-lineman is that rare college athlete who's worth following. No nonsense, no inside jokes, just a smart kid who doesn't take himself too seriously. He's funny, too.


Herb Hand, Vandy's exceptional (and exceptionally nice) o-line coach, beats the drum on Twitter for Vandy, Nashville and the SEC while offering words of wisdom for everyday living. Not your usual coach-speak.


With a name like that, you better deliver the goods. And he does, covering the league's 14 teams from every angle — coaching, recruiting and on-the-field performance. Lots of useful links, too.


The worldwide leader doesn't disappoint with its SEC coverage thanks to lead bloggers Chris Low and Edward Aschoff, who scour the corners of the interwebs for nuggets of SEC wisdom and share them with hungry SEC fans everywhere. In addition to @ESPN_SEC, which is links central for fans of the nation's best conference, Aschoff maintains his own Twitter account with tidbits like this.


The Florida Gators beat writer for the Palm Beach Post, Jason Lieser is a one-stop shop for all things Swamp-related, but he doesn't limit his tweets to the Gators, offering sharp observations on what's happening in all 12 SEC shops.


Seth's hunkered down in Athens ready to bring you any relevant Dawg news he uncovers. Mark Richt may have lost control, but Seth hasn't.


Covering Kentucky football is a thankless task, but Kyle Tucker of the Louisville Courier-Journal handles the chore admirably, giving you everything you need to know as the UK coaches rearrange their deck chairs while the ship goes down.


Mizzou's new to the SEC this season, but Matter's a seasoned veteran at providing news you can use out of the other Columbia. As the author of The Mizzou Fan's Survival Guide to the SEC, he knows what his team has gotten itself into.


Slater's on the beat with the ol' ball coach, covering the Gamecocks for the hometown paper and sharing insights via Twitter. He has a little fun with it in the process.


Lockridge is the Vandy man for The Tennessean. If James Franklin says something controversial, Lockridge will let you know.


Cecil's been covering Bama since the Bear's last season. I'd say that makes him a suitable go-to guy for all things Tide-related.


Tom's had his hands full this season covering the dumpster fire that is Arkansas football in the post-Petrino era so far, but he's handling the transitional season far better than John L. Smith is.


@JayGTate bills itself as your No. 1 source for Auburn athletics and recruiting news. Jay's one of the reasons why. The Auburn program's suddenly in tatters, but the coverage is still solid.


Randy should be the envy of the SEC. He gets to cover Les Miles on a daily basis, giving him first-hand access to some of the best material in the Twitterverse.


Hugh Kellenberger covers Ole Miss for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. A couple things become obvious when you visit his page: He loves college football, and he loves Mumford & Sons. Only one of those things is relevant to this discussion.


Brad Locke covers Dan Mullen's Mississippi State Bulldogs. Now that things are rocking over in Scott Field, that's become a pretty plum gig, and Brad handles it well.


Brent brings you all the news from Aggie-land. He's on the front lines of A&M coach Kevin Sumlin's love-hate relationship with the media.


All of us here at Athlon Sports — @AthlonMitch, @BradenGall, @DavidFox615, @AthlonDoster — are worth following, but Steven Lassan's our resident college football prodigy. Ask him anything — the backup quarterback situation at UL Lafayette, for example — and he can tell you everything you need to know.


The mere mention of his name provokes outrage in some quarters. Paul Finebaum has been stirring the pot in the Yellowhammer State for three decades now and has taken his talents to Twitter, although he spends a lot of Tweets quoting what others have to say. For the Finebaum haters, that's just as well.


World-wide Wes' specialty is Tennessee Vols football at, but he has plenty to say about everything that's remotely relevant in SEC football on his Twitter feed. Also, he uses his avatar to keep us apprised of his beard status (currently negative).


Jon Solomon writes about SEC football for the Birmingham News. As you'd expect, he has plenty to say about Bama and Auburn, but he has a special focus on the media biz that separates him from the pack.


Referring to yourself as Mr. College Football may seem a little self-aggrandizing, but after years in the SEC trenches, Tony Barnhart's earned the right to pat himself on the back.


Part columnist, part professional internet troll, Orlando's Mike Bianchi is an equal opportunity offender where Florida and Florida State are concerned. That makes him worth following, although he does spend a lot of time plugging his radio gig.


Bleacher Report's lead SEC college football writer is a fountain of information on his home site and a premium pot-stirrer on Twitter, weighing in with uncensored opinions on all things SEC. Plenty of useful links, too.

<p> These tweeting 25 will you keep you entertained and educated</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 07:00