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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


Related College Football Content

ACC Week 7 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 7 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 7 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 7 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 7 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 7 Preview and Predictions

Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 6

<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
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-countdown-no-1-indiana-preview
Visit the online store for Indiana and other editions of the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual.

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

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

We continue our countdown with a preview of No. 1 Indiana.

Less than one hour after the 2012 college basketball season ended, Indiana coach Tom Crean discovered the expectations his Hoosier program would face this season: IU was ranked No. 1 in the nation in a hastily released preseason poll.

This is why: Indiana returns four starters from a team that won 27 games, including three against top-5 opponents as well as two in the NCAA Tournament. Two of the returnees — Cody Zeller and Christian Watford — could have departed for the NBA. Add a five-player, top-10 recruiting class to a pair of experienced reserves.

Quite a change for a program that had only won 28 of 94 games the previous three seasons.

“When Coach Crean and I first got here, there’s no way we were even in the talk,” says Jordan Hulls, the team’s senior point guard. “Now it’s pretty special for us to be in that talk, but those polls don’t really mean anything until the end of the year.”

Zeller, the team’s center, was billed as the recruit who made it cool to sign with Indiana again — and he justified the hype from the opening dribble. He led the Hoosiers in scoring and rebounding and tied for the team lead in steals, while giving Indiana its first legitimate low-post presence in four seasons.

Zeller would have been a top-10 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft but said he wasn’t “ready to grow up.” Another summer in the weight room should make him capable of a double-double every night, and Crean wants Zeller to become a perimeter threat.

Watford’s 3-pointer at the buzzer to beat Kentucky was The Shot of the Year in college basketball, but more impressive was the way he finished the season. Watford averaged 16.7 points and 7.7 rebounds over IU’s final seven games, grabbing at least 10 rebounds three times.

Will Sheehey, hard-nosed and relentless, plays small forward. Sheehey needs to expand a solid mid-range game. Derek Elston, another senior, can play all three frontcourt spots, but is trying to improve his rebounding. Three freshmen — Hanner Mosquera-Perea, Jeremy Hollowell and Peter Jurkin — give Crean more depth than he’s ever enjoyed.

Related: Q and A with Indiana's Cody Zeller

No player appreciated Indiana’s turnaround more than Hulls, who grew up in Bloomington and suffered through two difficult seasons. His role changed last season as Victor Oladipo became more of a ball-handler who attacked high ball screens set by Zeller and Watford.

Oladipo is the team’s best athlete, capable of getting to the rim on anybody. He is also a ferocious defender.

As Oladipo evolved into a co-point guard, Hulls found ways to park himself on the wing and punish Big Ten opponents. He led the Hoosiers with 72 made 3-point field goals, making 49.3 percent of his attempts.

Crean believes Hulls can do better with the arrival of freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell, a McDonald’s all-American who led Park Tudor High School to back-to-back Indiana Class 2A state titles.

“Jordan stands to gain as much as anybody from having a group of freshmen coming in that can help impact the game athletically, especially with the way Yogi passes the ball,” Crean says. “The key will be, ‘Can the two of them play together defensively.’”

Sophomore Remy Abell looked like Indiana’s most improved player during the summer, but he must prove he can consistently make the 15-footer. Sheehey can play short stretches in the backcourt, too.

After several years of what the Indiana players called “getting punked” by stronger and deeper Big Ten programs, Indiana pushed back last season. This season the Hoosiers should do some of the punking.

Zeller is a National Player of the Year candidate, a big man who never stops running. Watford is a 6-9 forward who made nearly 44 percent of his 3-pointers — and showed the maturity to defend and rebound late in the season. Big Ten coaches will tell you that Oladipo and Sheehey, the team’s two juniors, changed the program’s mindset. Hulls, Mr. Hoosier, knows what a Final Four — or national title — would mean to Bloomington and the state. The freshmen are talented, but playing time won’t be available to rookies the way it has been the last four seasons.

“There’s not a sense that any complacency has crept it,” Crean says. “We don’t have any guys who feel they’ve arrived at any point.”


Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
20. Florida

19. Notre Dame

18. Memphis
17. Baylor
16. Missouri

15. San Diego State

14. North Carolina

13. UNLV

12. UCLA
11. NC State

10. Michigan State
9. Duke

8. Ohio State

7. Arizona

6. Michigan

5. Syracuse

4. Kansas

3. Kentucky

2. Louisville

<p> College Basketball Countdown: No. 1 Indiana Preview</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 06:45
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-start-or-sit-week-6

Drew Brees won’t be extending his NFL record for consecutive games with a touchdown pass since the Saints aren’t playing in Week 6. The Bears, Panthers and Jaguars are also off, meaning fantasy owners will have to do without the services of Cam Newton, Jay Cutler, Maurice Jones-Drew, Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, Marques Colston, Jimmy Graham and others.

These offensive stars aside, the biggest loss felt this week might end up being by those who have the Bears DST on their roster. By far the highest scoring DST in fantasy football, the Monsters of the Midway have scored five defensive touchdowns in the last three weeks. Regardless, unless you want to run the risk of fielding an illegal lineup or are willing to accept getting no points from your DST this week, Bears owners will need to find a fill in, and the same goes for the other aforementioned players.

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

Week 6 Positional Rankings

Week 6 Waiver Wire

Bye week teams: Carolina, Chicago, Jacksonville, New Orleans

Sneaky Start of the Week
Shonn Greene, RB, New York Jets vs. Indianapolis
How sneaky is this? Going with a running back that is averaging less than three yards per carry and is coming off of a 26-yard effort on Monday night? Yes, Greene and the Jets as a team have had all sorts of trouble running the ball so far, despite head coach Rex Ryan’s insistence that they would return to their “ground and pound” ways.

The Jets are averaging 83 yards per game on the ground and only 3.2 yards per carry. They have only one rushing touchdown (by Greene), and the longest run from scrimmage is 22 yards and it belongs to backup quarterback Tim Tebow. Put it all together and it’s more like the Jets’ rushing attack has been grounded rather than pounding the opposition.

However, in Greene’s and the Jets’ defense, they have had to play some of the tougher rush defenses in the league. Four of the Jets’ first five opponents – Houston, Miami, Pittsburgh and San Francisco – rank among the top 11 in rush defense. Against these four teams, Greene has rushed for a grand total of 123 yards on 49 carries (2.5 ypc).

The Jets’ other opponent has been Buffalo, who they destroyed 48-28 in Week 1, and against whom Greene rushed for 94 yards on 27 carries (3.5 ypc) and also scored his lone touchdown of the season. Not incredible numbers, granted, but far better than his other games. This week should present another opportunity for Greene to do some damage as Indianapolis is currently ranked 22nd in rush defense, giving up an average of 135.8 yards per game and 4.7 yards per attempt.

Ryan has voiced his support of Greene to the media, but Greene also knows that he needs to start producing or he will begin to cede some carries to backup Bilal Powell and possibly Tebow as well. So between the matchup and increasing pressure on him to perform, the timing just feels right for Greene to make his owners proud, at least those who have stuck with them to this point.

Surprise Sit of the Week
Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington vs. Minnesota
Griffin took a nasty hit last week against Atlanta as Falcons linebacker Sean Weatherspoon undoubtedly made an impression on the rookie quarterback, and I’m not just talking about the stitches RGIII needed after the blow. Griffin suffered a concussion, which immediately put his playing status for this week up in the air.

Griffin has returned to practice, but has yet to be cleared for contact (as of Thursday) and will still have to pass a battery of tests before his playing status is determined. So in some ways this Sit designation is health-related, as there’s a chance he may not be on the field Sunday against Minnesota.

That said, even if he does play against the Vikings, I am still saying it’s probably best to leave him on your bench, and this declaration is more about the Minnesota defense than it is RGIII. The Vikings’ defense has been pretty solid thus far - No. 7 against the run and No. 15 against the pass. They’ve done a good job of pressuring the quarterback (14 sacks) and have allowed only six touchdown passes in five games.

Griffin has been everything advertised to this point, as he’s No. 6 among quarterbacks in fantasy scoring, but a closer look at his numbers reveal something rather telling. Griffin has as many rushing touchdowns as he does passing, four apiece. While his versatility and ability to make plays with his legs are part of the reason he’s so deadly and been so productive, it’s also why he’s recovering from a concussion that could keep him out this week.

Understandably, Griffin, who is just five games into his NFL career, still has much to learn about pocket awareness and decision-making. More importantly, he has a lot to learn when it comes to protecting himself and his body when he does scramble out of the pocket and take off down field.

Should Griffin play, my thinking is that a combination of two things will occur: his coaches order him to not try and be a hero every time he feels the pocket collapsing, and the Vikings won’t let him out of their grasp and make plays with his legs. As talented as RGIII is, he is not an experienced or polished enough passer in the NFL to do a lot of damage with just his arm. Because of the lingering concussion, RGIII is a one-dimensional weapon this week. And as it stands right now, I don’t think he’s good enough using only his arm, to count on for your fantasy team.


Philip Rivers (SD) vs. Denver (Monday)
Prior to last week’s game in New Orleans, Rivers was averaging less than 225 yards passing per game. Contrast that to the last two seasons in which he averaged nearly 300 yards (291.7) per contest. So needless to say, Rivers owners were happy to see him break out for 354 yards passing in the loss to the Saints. The other good news is that to this point, Rivers has done a much better job of taking care of the ball. He has just six total turnovers (5 INTs, 1 fumble) compared to eight touchdown passes in his first five games. Rivers also is more than familiar with this week’s opponent, Denver, who the Chargers host on Monday night. In 13 career games against his AFC West rivals, he has thrown 20 touchdowns versus just seven interceptions.

Kevin Kolb (ARI) vs. Buffalo
Kolb has yet to really light it up, averaging 243.8 yards passing in four games as Arizona’s starter with six touchdowns and two interceptions. However, this could be his best chance yet as he’s facing a Buffalo defense that has been absolutely shredded – try 1,201 yards and 97 points – in its last two games. What’s more, the Bills are allowing the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. This includes 26.6 points to Mark Sanchez and 23.5 to Matt Cassel, who are currently ranked 31st and 32nd respectively in passer rating. I’m not sure opportunity could knock any louder.

Brandon Weeden (CLE) vs. Cincinnati
Weeden may be the 33rd-ranked passer in the league right now, but he’s also showing signs of progress. He was huge in helping the Browns jump out to an early lead on the road against the defending Super Bowl champs. And even though the Giants came back and won the game fairly easily, Weeden finished with decent stats – 22-of-35, 291 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. This week, Weeden finally gets to face someone for a second time as the Browns and Bengals get together again. The Bengals won the first meeting back in Week 2, but Weeden did his part, as he completed 70 percent of his passes for 322 yards, two scores and no interceptions in the best outing of his rookie season. Considering the improvement of the Browns’ rushing attack behind fellow first-round pick Trent Richardson and that he’ll be playing at home, there’s really no reason to not expect Weeden to post similar, if not better, numbers this time around.

Matthew Stafford (DET) at Philadelphia

Through the first four games of last season, Stafford had already thrown 11 touchdown passes compared to just three interceptions. This season those numbers have completely reversed, as the Lions’ gunslinger has tossed only three touchdown passes to go with four interceptions. For whatever reason, the Lions’ offense has been out of sync to start the season, but the team was off last week giving the unit plenty of time to work out the kinks, right? Perhaps, but I still wouldn’t expect Stafford and company to go off this week in Philadelphia. The Eagles are allowing only 209 yards passing per game and are giving up an average of 13.2 fantasy points per contest to opposing quarterbacks.

Carson Palmer (OAK) at Atlanta
Like Stafford, Palmer and the Raiders also were off last week. While the break allowed injured players the chance to recover and the team had more practice time to get everyone on the same page with rookie head coach Dennis Allen and his staff, the schedule-makers didn’t really do the Raiders any favor coming out of it. The west coast team has the pleasure of making the cross-country trip to take on an undefeated Atlanta team on its home turf. The Falcons’ defense is No. 9 in the league against the pass, as the unit has surrendered just five touchdown passes, while picking off nine, including three Peyton Manning passes in the first quarter in Week 2.

Brady Quinn (KC) at Tampa Bay
Yes, Tampa Bay is allowing a league-worst 345 yards passing per game, but that’s largely because Eli Manning hung 510 on them in Week 2. Take out that game and the average drops to 303 yards per game. But also let’s not kid ourselves here, Quinn is not anywhere near the quarterback that Manning is, not to mention that he will be making his first start since 2009. There’s absolutely no reason to try and be sneaky or clever here. Just walk away and move on.

Running Backs

Trent Richardson (CLE) vs. Cincinnati

Richardson is still in search of his first breakthrough performance in his rookie season, and there’s a chance it could happen this week. Not only will he be playing in front of the home crowd, but he gets the Bengals, who are allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. This also is the same team he posted his first and only 100-yard game against thus far, picking up 109 on just 19 carries (5.7 ypc) in Week 2. Can anyone say repeat?

DeMarco Murray (DAL) at Baltimore
The Cowboys have had plenty of time to digest their disappointing 34-18 Week 4 loss to Chicago. First and foremost on the team’s to do list during the bye was probably how to fix the running game. After posting 131 yards rushing against the Giants in Week 1, Murray has accumulated a total of 106 yards on the ground in the three games since. Besides being well rested, Murray has the benefit of going against Baltimore and its 22nd-ranked rush defense. The Ravens are allowing 118.4 yards per game on the ground and are coming off of Jamaal Charles gouging them for 140 last week. Not saying Murray will get that many, but I do think he will be able to his share of damage, which also will help stabilize Tony Romo and the passing game.  

C.J. Spiller (BUF) at Arizona
After injuring his shoulder in Week 3 against Cleveland, everyone was expecting Spiller to miss at least one game, if not more. Everyone that is, except Spiller himself, who returned to the field that next week and has proceeded to produce a grand total of 62 yards of total offense in the past two games. Some of this has to do with the simultaneous return of opening-week starter Fred Jackson, as well as the Bills match-ups with New England and San Francisco. To put it mildly, the Bills’ defense has been lit up two straight weeks, and the carnage caused by the Patriots’ and 49ers’ offenses did not help the production of the Bills’ offense, even if it resulted in more possessions. That said, I think this week’s game in Arizona will not follow the same script, and I also think that since he appears to be completely recovered from the shoulder injury, Spiller, and not Jackson, will get the majority of the touches. This will allow him to look more like the player that led the NFL in rushing after the first two weeks of the season, compared to the one that’s been out there these past three weeks.

Alfred Morris (WAS) vs. Minnesota
First, let’s give credit where credit is due. Morris, the Redskins’ sixth-round pick out of Florida Atlantic, is fourth in the NFL in rushing (491 yards), is averaging nearly five yards per carry and is No. 6 in fantasy scoring for his position. Unfortunately, his next opponent, Minnesota, could care less. The Vikings are seventh in the league in rushing defense and have allowed a grand total of one touchdown on the ground. Combine that with the Redskins’ quarterback situation heading into Sunday’s game (see above), and you may want to consider letting Morris sit this one out.

Ahmad Bradshaw (NYG) at San Francisco
There’s no backfield controversy with the Giants, not after Bradshaw ran over and through the Browns for 200 yards last week. But while his starting job may be secure, don’t expect a repeat performance in San Francisco this week. The 49ers have allowed only one running back (Adrian Peterson) to rush for more than 53 yards this season and have yet to allow a rushing touchdown. The Giants relied heavily on Eli Manning and his arm to beat the 49ers in last season’s NFC Championship Game, and I’m expecting a similar game plan this Sunday as well.

Steven Jackson (STL) at Miami
Miami is No. 1 in the NFL in rushing defense, as they have allowed a total of 307 yards rushing in its first five games. That is only 36 yards less than what Jackson himself has accumulated thus far, which is an average of 54.2 yards per game. Considering the Rams completed a total of seven passes last week against Arizona, and are now without the services of their top wide receiver (Danny Amendola), I’m not expecting either of these numbers – what the Dolphins are allowing or what Jackson is getting – to change that much.

Wide Receivers

Andre Johnson (HOU) vs. Green Bay
Johnson started out strong with eight catches for 119 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. Since then he’s caught nine passes for 164 yards and one other score. Johnson’s getting good yardage – he’s averaging 16.6 yards per reception – he’s just not catching a bunch of passes. He has been dealing with a groin issue, but it hasn’t kept him from playing and doesn’t appear to be serious. Green Bay is allowing the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers and I have a feeling that AJ may break out this Sunday against the Packers.

Michael Crabtree (SF) vs. New York Giants
With the exception of his Week 4 performance against the Jets, Crabtree has caught at least six passes in every game. Last week against Buffalo he grabbed six for 113 yards and his first touchdown of the season. The Giants are allowing the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, including eight touchdown catches already. The 49ers are showing trust in Alex Smith by letting him throw the ball more, and I think this trend continues Sunday.

Jeremy Kerley (NYJ) vs. Indianapolis
Houston has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to opposing wide receivers, an average of 20 per game. On Monday night, Kerley caught five passes against the Jets for 94 yards or 11.9 points. That’s the second-most yards the Texans have allowed to a receiver (Eric Decker had 136 in Week 3) and it was the fourth-most fantasy points (17.6, also to Decker, is the most). This week the Jets get Indianapolis, who is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing wideouts. I think the Jets’ offense will be able to do a little more this week against the Colts than have been the previous few weeks. And part of the reason will be due to the new Sanchez-to-Kerley connection.

Brandon Lloyd (NE) at Seattle
Lloyd is more of a deep threat than Wes Welker or any of the other Patriot wide receivers. When Brady is content to attack a team with quick reads, underneath stuff and timing routes, like he did last week against Denver, Lloyd has a tendency to disappear from the game plan. That’s why he had just three catches for 34 yards against the Broncos. It’s not going to get any easier for Brady, Lloyd and the Pats this week in Seattle either, as the Seahawks’ defensive pressure and aggressive secondary will take the deeper routes, and therefore Lloyd, away for a second straight week.

Torrey Smith (BAL) vs. Dallas
As talented and dangerous as Smith is, he’s still learning how to play his position. Case in point, Smith has struggled against press coverage, which is what Kansas City primarily used against him last week. Smith had a hard time getting free, which is part of the reason why he had just three catches for 38 yards. There’s no reason to think Dallas won’t follow the same game plan this Sunday. What’s more, the Cowboys have allowed the fewest catches (38) and yards (515) to opposing wide receivers thus far, along with just two touchdowns.

Brian Hartline (MIA) vs. St. Louis
Hartline is leading the NFL in receiving yards, averaging more than 102 per game. The Rams have allowed just one touchdown catch by a wide receiver and only two receivers have gone for more than 71 yards against their defense. Their names are Calvin Johnson (111) and Larry Fitzgerald (92). Hartline is not Johnson or Fitzgerald and he has a rookie quarterback throwing to him. Any questions?

Tight Ends

Kyle Rudolph (MIN) at Washington
Rudolph caught only four passes for 23 yards last week against Tennessee, but one of those resulted in a touchdown, his fourth of the season. Washington is tied with New England for giving up the second-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. I also think that Vikings’ quarterback Christian Ponder, who threw his first two interceptions last week, may look to his sure-handed tight end a little more than usual.

Dustin Keller (NYJ) vs. Indianapolis
Keller hasn’t played since Week 1, sitting out the past four games with a hamstring injury. He is expected to return this week against Indianapolis and, other than Keller, no one is happier than Mark Sanchez. With Santonio Holmes already out for the season with a foot injury, Keller is far and away Sanchez’ favorite and most trusted target. Sanchez needs a productive game passing, and I fully expect him to look to Keller early and often to try and accomplish that. 

Aaron Hernandez (NE) at Seattle
Hernandez has not played since injuring his ankle in Week 2, but he returned to practice this week and could be back out there Sunday in Seattle. The Patriots haven’t really missed Hernandez in terms of offensive production as Wes Welker, Stevan Ridley and others have picked up the slack. Even though the Patriots are in for a tough test against the Seahawks on their home field, I don’t think they “need” Hernandez. So even if he is able to return to the field, I don’t think he gets enough snaps to make much of an impact this week.

Jermichael Finley (GB) at Houston
Finley has scored just one touchdown, and that came in Week 1. He’s averaged less than four catches since collecting seven in the opener against San Francisco. Last week he had just three catches for 11 yards against Indianapolis and also suffered a minor shoulder injury. He is hoping to play on Sunday in Houston, but considering the Texans’ defense and his recent production, I would not have high expectations for Finley this week.

Defense/Special Teams

Miami vs. St. Louis
The Dolphins’ defense is ranked No. 18 overall, but they are No. 1 against the run. While they have been more susceptible to the pass (281.8 yards per game), this week they are facing the Rams, who are averaging the second-fewest yards through the air in the league. The Rams have also had issues protecting the quarterback, which plays into the Dolphins’ hands (15 sacks). Also, don’t forget that the Rams won’t have leading receiver Danny Amendola for this game (and many to follow), and quarterback Sam Bradford completed a total of seven passes last week against Arizona. 

Tampa Bay vs. Kansas City
The Buccaneers have given up a league-worst 345 yards passing per game, but this week’s quarterback won’t be Eli Manning, Cam Newton, Tony Romo or Robert Griffin III. No, it’s Brady Quinn, who last started a game in 2009 and for his career has completed less than 53 percent of his pass attempts. The Bucs will have their hands full trying to contain Jamaal Charles, the league’s leading rusher, but rush defense (73.8 ypg) hasn’t really been an issue so far. With Quinn trying to shake the rust off on the road, I just don’t think the Bucs will have to worry about the pass that much, allowing them to focus on Charles. I don’t have a problem if you want to take a chance with them as your starting DST this week.  

Dallas at Baltimore
Statistically, the Cowboys’ defense has fared very well, No. 1 in both total and pass defense. However, that has not translated to fantasy success, much like the Steelers last season, as they are not getting many sacks (9) or turnovers (4). In fact, the Cowboys are currently No. 26 among DSTs in fantasy scoring. While the Ravens have given up a fair number of sacks (13), they’ve only turned the ball over six times and have played very well at home. I just don’t see the Cowboys feasting on the Ravens in this one.

Cincinnati at Cleveland
The Bengals are tied for the league lead in sacks with 18, but they also gave up 439 yards of total offense and 27 points to the Browns back in Week 2. Since then the Browns have been fairly competitive in road losses to Baltimore and the Giants. This game is at home, and I think the Browns will finally break into the win column by posting similar, if not better, offensive numbers against their AFC North and in-state rivals.


Greg Zuerlein (STL) at Miami
The Rams haven’t exactly been the most explosive team on offense this season, but as Zuerlein has already shown, he doesn’t need them to get very far to be in field goal range. The rookie is tied for the league lead in made field goals with 13, and he’s yet to miss one. Nine of his makes have come from 40 yards and beyond, including a franchise-record 60-yarder against Seattle. Unless the Dolphins just completely shut the Rams down, “Greg the Leg” will put some points on the board.

Justin Tucker (BAL) vs. Dallas
Tucker also in his first season as the Ravens’ kicker and has been equally effective, connecting on 11 of his 12 field goal attempts. He’s made two from beyond 50, including a long of 56 yards and has been successful on all of his PATs. The Cowboys’ defense has played very well so far, but I think the Ravens will be able to move the ball enough so that Tucker’s services will be needed a few times.

Dan Carpenter (MIA) vs. St. Louis
The Redskins parted ways earlier this week with Billy Cundiff, who was successful on only seven of his 12 field goal attempts. With that move, Carpenter takes over the “lead” in the field goal inaccuracy department, as he’s only connected on six of 10 attempts. Job security may not be an issue yet, but you have to think the coaching staff will be leery of letting him try any real long ones this week. Couple that with the Rams’ defense and Carpenter may not see much field time this Sunday.

Rian Lindell (BUF) at Arizona
Lindell has attempted (and made) a total of two field goals so far this season. One of those came last week against the 49ers and it also was the only points the Bills put on the scoreboard. While I am expecting a little more offense from the Bills this Sunday against Arizona, there’s no reason to trust Lindell to be in a position to score a lot of points, for his team or yours.

— By Mark Ross, published on Oct. 12, 2012

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 6</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 06:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big 12, SEC, Big East
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-7-0

College football's Week 7 action is highlighted by a huge matchup in the SEC — what else in new? — Stanford's trip to Notre Dame (will the Irish give up a touchdown), and the Red River Shootout in Dallas. 

Our picks for every game in Week 7


No. 91 Navy at No. 99 Central Michigan
Central Michigan ranks 114th in the nation in stopping the run. Not a good stat with Navy coming to town. This is not a vintage Navy team — it’s not even a good navy team — but the Midshipmen should be able to run the ball enough to win this game.
Central Michigan 33-31


No. 1 Alabama at No. 48 Missouri
Missouri picked up 395 yards in a loss at home to Vanderbilt last week, but the Tigers struggled to move the ball after James Franklin was sidelined by a knee injury. Mizzou averaged 9.5 yards per play in the two drives with Franklin in the game and 4.2 yards for the final three-plus quarters after Corbin Berkstresser took over. This week, the Tigers will face an Alabama defense loaded with future pros at every level. Good luck, Mizzou.
Alabama 30-10

No. 3 South Carolina at No. 8 LSU
LSU has struggled to stop the run the last two weeks, giving up 188 yards on 40 carries to Towson and 176 on 58 carries to Florida. That brings us to South Carolina and its star tailback Marcus Lattimore. The junior leads the SEC in conference games in both rushing (106.0 ypg) and rushing touchdowns (seven). The Gamecocks will need Lattimore to be at his best to win in Baton Rouge — something that has happened only once (in 1994) in South Carolina’s 11 trips to Tiger Stadium.
South Carolina 17-13

No. 19 Stanford at No. 4 Notre Dame
It’s kind of strange to say, but this Notre Dame team isn’t getting enough credit. The Fighting Irish are 5–0, with four of the wins coming against AQ conference teams. The defense has been absolutely dominant. Consider the following: Michigan State, Michigan and Miami (Fla.) combined to scored 12 points against the Irish in successive games.
Notre Dame 24-13

No. 5 Florida at No. 57 Vanderbilt
Florida’s trip to Nashville is sandwiched between two of the Gators’ biggest games of the season — last week vs. LSU (a win) and next week’s home date with South Carolina. Will Muschamp’s task this week is simple: Keep his team focused on Vanderbilt. The Gators are clearly the more talented team, but Vanderbilt is good enough to make Florida sweat. Expect the Gators to lean on tailback Mike Gillislee. Vanderbilt ranks 33rd nationally in total defense but has struggled to stop the run against the better teams on its schedule.
Florida 24-14

No. 6 West Virginia at No. 41 Texas Tech
It’s no secret that Geno Smith is having a spectacular season, but have you taken a close look at his numbers? They are simply amazing. He’s completing 81.4 percent of his passes (No. 1 in the nation); he’s averaging 399.2 passing yards per game (No. 1 in the nation); he’s averaging 9.8 yards per attempt (No. 3 in the nation); he’s thrown 24 touchdowns (No. 1 in the nation and six more than anyone else); and he hasn’t thrown an interception (one of four quarterbacks nationally with over 100 attempts and no picks). Bottom line: He’s very good at playing quarterback.
West Virginia 44-24

No. 7 Kansas State at No. 42 Iowa State
It’s a battle of two coaches who have made a habit of doing more with less. Bill Snyder has Kansas State ranked in the top 10 after a 5–0 start that features wins over Miami (Fla.) and Oklahoma. Collin Klein has been sensational at quarterback for the Cats; he ranks ninth in the nation in passing efficiency and is averaging 81.0 yards rushing per game. Iowa State is 4–1 under fourth-year coach Paul Rhoads thanks to a defense that is giving up 15.8 points per game.
Kansas State 27-17

No. 9 Ohio State at No. 97 Indiana
Indiana hasn’t defeated Ohio State since 1988, and the Hoosiers haven’t lost by less than 10 points to Buckeyes since 1993 (23–17 in Columbus). This one won’t be close.
Ohio State 44-17

No. 11 USC at No. 26 Washington
USC’s last trip to Seattle didn’t go too well. Back in 2009, the Trojans were held to a season-low 13 points in a four-point loss in the first and only Pete Carroll vs. Steve Sarkisian matchup. Sarkisian is 1–1 vs. Carroll’s successor, Lane Kiffin, with a win in L.A. in 2010 and a loss in L.A. last fall.
USC 30-23

No. 12 Texas vs. No. 14 Oklahoma (Dallas)
First the good news: Texas is averaging 46.8 points per game and has finally identified a quarterback in sophomore David Ash. Now, the bad news: A Longhorn defense that was expected to be among the best in the nation has given up 115 points in the last three weeks. The most troubling part has been Texas’ inability to stop the run. Last week, West Virginia’s Andrew Buie gashed the Horns for 207 yards on 31 carries. Oklahoma is hoping to be the next team to take advantage of Texas’ cooperative run defense.
Oklahoma 35-31

No. 96 Boston College at No. 13 Florida State
Florida State’s national title received a crippling blow last week at NC State. Now, the Seminoles must regroup and focus on winning their first ACC title since 2005. Boston College figures to put up little resistance after losing last Saturday to an Army team that lost to Stony Brook the previous week.
Florida State 38-13

No. 16 Oregon State at No. 46 BYU
Oregon State received a dose of bad news early this week when starting quarterback Sean Mannion was ruled out indefinitely after hurting his knee in the Beavers’ win over Washington State last week. The next man up is junior Cody Vaz, who hasn’t thrown a pass since his redshirt freshman season in 2010. With the inexperienced Vaz taking snaps, expect to see the Beavers lean on tailbacks Storm Woods and Marcus Agnew.
Oregon State 24-14

No. 17 Louisville at No. 67 Pittsburgh
Louisville is only a field goal favorite over a Pittsburgh team that has lost to Youngstown State by 14 points, Cincinnati by 24 points and Syracuse by one point. That line seems a bit low, but the Cardinals struggled on the road against inferior opponents in their last two games, beating FIU by seven and Southern Miss (in a driving rainstorm) by four points.
Louisville 27-23

No. 66 Syracuse at No. 18 Rutgers
Rutgers is undefeated and nationally ranked thanks to a defense that has given up an average of 10.8 points per game. Syracuse scored a total of 70 points in its first two games vs. FBS foes but has totaled 24 points in its last two. Points will be tough to come by for the Orange on Saturday.
Rutgers 24-10

No. 71 Illinois at No. 20 Michigan
Michigan is no doubt disappointed to “only” be 3–2 at this point of the season, but it’s important to note that the Wolverines’ two losses came to Alabama and Notre Dame, two top-five teams with a combined record of 10–0. This is still a solid Michigan team.
Michigan 38–13

No. 21 Louisiana Tech at No. 24 Texas A&M
Louisiana Tech has made its first-ever appearance in the coaches poll thanks to a 5–0 start that features road wins over Houston, Illinois and Virginia. The Bulldogs are averaging 523.4 yards and 53.2 points per game running Sonny Dykes’ wide-open attack. Tech will need to score plenty of points on Saturday because its defense — which ranks 119th in the nation — will have a tough time slowing down Texas A&M.
Texas A&M 44–37

No. 34 Tennessee at No 22 Mississippi State
It’s not an overstatement to say this is the most important game in Derek Dooley’s tenure at Tennessee. With Alabama and South Carolina looming, the Vols, who have lost nine of their last 10 SEC games, simply cannot afford to lose in Starkville.
Tennessee 30–24

Fordham at No. 23 Cincinnati
We are in the seventh week of the season, and Cincinnati has only played three FBS opponents. The Bearcats have had two byes and are playing an FCS foe for the second time.
Cincinnati 47-7

No. 60 Iowa at No. 27 Michigan State
Michigan State avoided disaster by rallying from deficits of 17–0 and 27–17 (in the fourth quarter) to beat Indiana 31–27. Iowa is back in action after enjoying a week off. The Hawkeyes have found a running game — Mark Weisman is fourth in the Big Ten in rushing with 103.0 yards per game — but quarterback James Vandenberg only has two touchdown passes in 159 attempts. He had 25 in 404 attempts last year.
Michigan State 13-10

No. 28 Nevada at No. 103 UNLV
Nevada has won seven straight in this in-state rivalry — and each of the last four have been by 18 points or more. The Wolf Pack struggled last week with Wyoming, winning by seven in overtime in Reno. That is not a good sign.
Nevada 37-20

No. 55 Utah at No. 30 UCLA
The Bruins have lost two of three after opening the Jim Mora era with three straight wins. UCLA scored a total of 37 points in its losses — vs. Oregon State and at Cal — despite averaging a more-than-respectable 408 yards in those two games. Brett Hundley was picked off four times vs. California. That, obviously, cannot happen.
UCLA 30–17

No. 32 Oklahoma State at No. 95 Kansas
Kansas lost to Rice, which lost to Memphis (yes, Memphis), which lost to Tennessee-Martin. Things aren’t going well in Year 1 of the Charlie Weis era.
Oklahoma State 41-10

No. 70 Fresno State at No 33 Boise State
Boise State might be 4–1 and nationally ranked — though not by Athlon Sports — but this is not a great Bronco team. They struggled with New Mexico two weeks ago before beating up on a Southern Miss team in shambles. Fresno State has the edge at the skill positions. I smell upset.
Fresno State 30, Boise State 23

No. 43 TCU at No. 36 Baylor
TCU lost at home to Iowa State 37–23 in its first game without Casey Pachall. Trevone Boykin stepped in and threw for 270 yards but was picked off three times. The Horned Frogs need to bounce back quickly, because the schedule in the second half of the season is not kind.
Baylor 27–18

No. 110 Akron at No. 37 Ohio
Ohio is still undefeated, but the Bobcats haven’t exactly been playing great football. Here are their last three games vs. FBS opponents: Marshall (27–24), UMass (37–34) and Buffalo (38–31).
Ohio 30-23

No. 39 Northwestern at No. 68 Minnesota
Both of these teams only have one loss on the season, but Northwestern is far more battle-tested. The Wildcats have wins over Syracuse (on the road), Vanderbilt, Indiana and Boston College, while Minnesota’s lone FBS win came against Syracuse. Last week, the Gophers were handled with ease in their Big Ten opener by Iowa, 31–13.
Northwestern 33-30

No. 40 Wisconsin at No. 45 Purdue
Purdue had a chance to make a statement last week but was surprisingly uncompetitive in a 44–13 loss at home to Michigan. Wisconsin is quietly playing much better in recent weeks. Joel Stave has been solid at quarterback.
Wisconsin 23-17

No. 51 North Carolina at No. 44 Miami (Fla.)
Still not sure what to make of either one of these teams. They’ve both looked good at times — Miami scored a total of 86 points in wins over Georgia Tech and NC State; North Carolina pounded Virginia Tech last weekend. And they’ve both looked bad at times — Miami lost to Kansas State and Notre Dame by a combined score of 93–16; Virginia Tech lost to Wake Forest and trailed Louisville at the half 36–7.
Miami (Fla.) 37-33

No. 123 Florida Atlantic at No. 47 ULM
After opening up with three straight games against AQ conference opponents — and doing quite well (1–2 vs. Arkansas, Auburn and Baylor) — ULM beat Tulane and Middle Tennessee (both on the road) by a combined score of 94–27. The Warhawks shouldn’t have any trouble with FAU.
ULM 47, Florida Atlantic 13

No. 50 California at No. 102 Washington State
Cal was in a must-win mode last weekend, and the Golden Bears delivered with a 43–17 victory over UCLA in Berkeley. Zach Maynard was very sharp (25-of-30 for 295 yards), and C.J. Anderson rushed for 151 yards on 21 carries. This team has plenty of talent.
California 37-17

No. 52 Utah State at No. 79 San Jose State
It’s a big battle in the WAC between two of the nation’s most underrated coaches, Utah State’s Gary Andersen and San Jose State’s Mike MacIntyre. Utah State has lost two games, to Wisconsin and BYU by a combined five points; San Jose State has lost one game, to Stanford by three points. These are quality teams.
Utah State 27, San Jose State 24

No. 53 Duke at No 54 Virginia Tech
Duke is 5–1 and one win away from bowl-eligibility, but the Blue Devils still have plenty of doubters. The schedule has been very kind. Virginia Tech has lost three of its last four and has given up 27 points or more in all three defeats. This will be a tough test for the Hokies’ defense.
Virginia Tech 27-17

No. 62 Auburn at No. 58 Ole Miss
Ole Miss is much improved under first-year coach Hugh Freeze, but it’s still alarming that Auburn — a program that won the national title two years ago — is a six-point underdog to the Rebels. The Tigers’ faithful won’t be pleased with Gene Chizik if Auburn loses in Oxford.
Ole Miss 27-20

No. 105 Southern Miss at No. 59 UCF
Southern Miss continues to struggle under first-year coach Ellis Johnson, who is under fire from a program that expects to win. The Golden Eagles rank 114th in the nation in scoring offense and 105th in scoring defense.
UCF 37-17

No. 81 Kentucky at No. 61 Arkansas
The Hogs have a great opportunity to win their second straight game with a wounded (both physically and mentally) Kentucky team visiting Fayetteville. The Wildcats dropped to 1–5 with a 27–14 loss at home to Mississippi State last week. Kentucky’s best two quarterbacks, Maxwell Smith and Patrick Towles, are out with injuries, leaving true freshman Jalen Whitlow and senior Morgan Newton as the only two options for Joker Phillips.
Arkansas 38-17

No. 114 Buffalo at No. 63 Northern Illinois
Jordan Lynch is having a terrific first season as the Huskies’ starting quarterback. The junior is averaging 209.2 yards passing (with nine touchdowns and three INTs) and 131.5 yards rushing (with nine TDs). Denard Robinson is the only quarterback with better rushing numbers nationally.
Northern Illinois 47-17

No. 65 Toledo at No. 117 Eastern Michigan
It’s been a struggle in 2012 for Ron English and Eastern Michigan. After breaking through with six wins in 2011, hopes were high for the Eagles this fall. It hasn’t quite worked out. EMU is 0–5 (with a loss to FCS foe Illinois State) and is ranked near the bottom of the nation in total offense and total defense.
Toledo 44-16

No. 72 Western Michigan at No. 83 Ball State
Ball State has split its last four games, beating two AQ conference opponents (Indiana and South Florida) and losing to two MAC teams (Kent State and Northern Illinois). Western Michigan, which lost to Toledo at home a few weeks ago, cannot afford another loss in league play.
Western Michigan 30-27

No. 75 Temple at No. 73 Connecticut
Connecticut has been one of the most “lopsided” teams in the nation. The Huskies rank sixth in the nation in total defense (248.8 ypg) and 110th in total offense (310.5 ypg). This figures to be a low-scoring affair.
Connecticut 17–10

No. 74 Maryland at No. 78 Virginia
We thought Virginia might take a step back in 2012 after suffering some key personnel losses. But we didn’t expect this: a 2–4 record with a 36-point loss to Georgia Tech and a 25-point loss to Duke. Maryland, on the other hand, is showing signs of being a competitive football program — a positive step after last year’s debacle.
Maryland 17-13

No. 116 Memphis at No. 80 East Carolina
Last week, Memphis won its first C-USA home game since October 2009. The Tigers rallied to beat Rice 14¬-10 in a game that featured only 466 yards of total offense. Memphis’ winning streak will be snapped at one.
East Carolina 37-10

No. 82 Kent State at No. 113 Army
It’s been a strange three-game stretch for Army. The Black Knights scored a total of 71 points in two games vs. AQ conference opponents (37 in a loss to Wake Forest and 34 in a win over Boston College) and three points in loss at home to FCS foe Stony Brook. That doesn’t make much sense.
Kent State 31-17

No. 85 SMU at No. 124 Tulane
In very un-June Jones-like fashion, SMU beat UTEP 17–0 on the road last week. In the last two games, the Mustangs have allowed a total of 431 yards. They gave up 452 yards or more in each of their first three games.
SMU 37-0

No. 98 UAB at No. 86 Houston
This is a bit of a statistical oddity: Houston is ranked ninth in the nation in total offense despite scoring 13 points in two of its five games. The Cougars are piling up the yards but have struggled to score at times due a turnover differential of minus-0.8 per game.
Houston 31-20

No. 87 Middle Tennessee at No. 100 FIU
FIU might be the most disappointing team in the nation. The Golden Panthers, expected to compete for the Sun Belt title, are 1–5 overall (with the one win coming at home in overtime to Akron) and 0–2 in league play.
Middle Tennessee 21-20

No. 121 South Alabama at No. 89 Arkansas State
Maybe my expectations were too high for the Gus Malzahan-Ryan Aplin combo, but it’s a bit of a surprise that Arkansas State hasn’t scored more than 34 points vs. an FBS opponent this year.
Arkansas State 34-13

No. 119 Colorado State at No. 90 San Diego State
Jim McElwain is discovering that it’s far more difficult calling plays with Colorado State’s players than it was at Alabama. The Rams rank 115th in the nation in scoring offense and 106th in total offense.
San Diego State 37-17

No. 92 New Mexico at No. 118 Hawaii
Bob Davie is doing a fine job in his first season at New Mexico. The Lobos, who are running an option attack, have three wins through six games in 2012; they had a total of three wins from 2009-11.
New Mexico 31-23

No. 109 Miami (Ohio) at No. 93 Bowling Green
Ohio is clearly the team to beat, but Bowling Green is good enough to be a factor in the MAC East. Miami is 2–0 in the league, but that record is a product of a soft early slate. Bowling Green is the better team.
Bowing Green 31-20

No. 115 Idaho at No. 104 Texas State
Texas State has struggled a bit since its shocking season-opening win at Houston. The Bobcats are 1–3 since that win, with a four-point victory over Stephen F. Austin and losses to Texas Tech, Nevada and New Mexico.
Texas State 30-27

No. 111 Texas-San Antonio at No. 106 Rice
David Bailiff’s job security took a huge hit last week when Rice lost at Memphis. The Owls have one win on the season — at Kansas.
Texas-San Antonio 28-24

No. 107 Air Force at No. 122 Wyoming
Air Force is one of only two teams nationally (Texas-San Antonio is the other) that has not allowed a sack. It’s worth noting, however, that the Falcons have only attempted 57 passes in five games.
Wyoming 23-21

Last week: 33-19
Season to date: 287-79


<p>  </p> <p> College football's Week 7 action is highlighted by a huge matchup in the SEC — what else in new? — Stanford's trip to Notre Dame (will the Irish give up a touchdown), and the Red River Shootout in Dallas.&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 06:10
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-7-preview-match-ups-upset-picks-and-storylines-watch

Week 7 of the college football season doesn't feature a ton of prominent match-ups, but there are a lot of games that will set the table for the rest of the year. West Virginia scored a huge victory over Texas last week but has a potential trap game at Texas Tech this Saturday. In addition to the West Virginia-Texas Tech pairing, the Big 12 also features Texas-Oklahoma and Baylor-TCU. As usual, the SEC isn't short on intrigue, as South Carolina-LSU is one of the must-watch games for Week 7. 

Top Storylines to Watch in Week 7

Elimination Game in the Big 12?
With West Virginia and Kansas State off to 2-0 starts in Big 12 play, Texas and Oklahoma cannot afford to fall two games behind in the standings. The stakes in the Red River Rivalry are always high, but with this year’s meeting essentially an elimination game for the conference title, there’s even more pressure on both teams to win on Saturday. One of the season’s biggest surprises has been the struggles of Texas’ defense, which ranks 74th nationally in yards allowed and 83rd against the run. Although the Longhorns are allowing over 400 yards per game, this defense will cause problems for Oklahoma’s offense, especially in the trenches with Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor – two of the nation’s best defensive ends – lining up on the outside. Texas could also get a boost with the return of linebacker Jordan Hicks, who has missed the last two games due to an injury. Although quarterback Landry Jones has played well in the last two meetings against the Longhorns, the Sooners have to establish balance if they want to win. Considering how well quarterback David Ash has played this season, the Sooners will have their hands full trying to slow down a much-improved Texas offense. Texas-Oklahoma is usually the Big 12’s most-important game of the season. However, West Virginia and Kansas State appear to be the frontrunners for the Big 12 title, which makes this year’s game in Dallas a must-win if either team wants to be a conference champion.

Showdown in Baton Rouge
With LSU’s loss to Florida, Saturday’s match-up between the Tigers and South Carolina lost a bit of its appeal. However, this is still a huge game on the national scene and will have an impact on who wins the SEC East. LSU desperately needs to win, as a loss to the Gamecocks would put the Tigers two games behind Alabama in the SEC West standings. With a win over LSU, South Carolina would set up a huge showdown on Oct. 20 against Florida, which will likely decide the winner of the East Division. Although quarterback play is always important, it’s even more crucial for Saturday’s game. The Tigers struggled to establish their passing attack in last week’s loss to Florida and need to find a spark against the Gamecocks. Considering both defenses rank in the top 10 in scoring defense, whichever team finds a spark on offense first should emerge from this SEC clash with a victory.   

BCS defining game for Notre Dame?
There’s a lot of football left and anything could happen in the second half of the season, but Saturday’s game could be a defining contest for Notre Dame’s BCS bowl hopes. With a schedule that features winnable games against BYU, Pittsburgh, Boston College and Wake Forest, a victory over Stanford would likely lock Notre Dame into 10 wins and a BCS bowl. The Cardinal are anything but a guaranteed victory for the Irish, especially after Stanford’s offense got on track in last week’s win over Arizona. Although the Wildcats aren’t one of the Pac-12’s best defenses, it was a critical performance for quarterback Josh Nunes to build some confidence for the second half of the year. Notre Dame’s secondary has played well despite the new faces, but the key to this match-up will be the battle in the trenches. Stanford wants to pound the ball at opposing defenses, but Notre Dame ranks 17th nationally against the run and is the only team not to allow a rushing touchdown through the first six weeks of action. If Notre Dame controls the line of scrimmage, Nunes will have to show he can play well on the road, something he did not do in the loss to Washington. Notre Dame probably isn’t thinking about the BCS implications of this game, but a win against Stanford will go a long ways towards the Irish earning their first BCS bowl berth since 2007.

Wisconsin vs. Purdue…A Big Game?
Don’t laugh, this is an important game in the Big Ten standings. With Ohio State and Penn State ineligible to win the Leaders Division, Wisconsin and Purdue are the two favorites to play the Legends Division winner in Indianapolis. After a slow start, the Badgers seem to be on the right track. Joel Stave has stabilized the quarterback position, while running back Montee Ball has five touchdowns in his last two games. The Boilermakers are reeling after a 44-13 loss to Michigan and have yet to beat an opponent from a BCS conference this season. Purdue quarterback Robert Marve is dealing with a torn ACL, but played in last week’s game against the Wolverines, completing 5 of 8 passes for 43 yards. Wisconsin has won the last six meetings in this series, including a 62-17 beatdown in Madison last year. The Boilermakers are capable of playing better than they did last week, but the Badgers seem to have found the right answers on offense and still hold the edge in this game.

Under the Radar Games

Louisiana Tech vs. Texas A&M (Shreveport)
This game was originally scheduled for the first week of the season, but Hurricane Isaac forced it to be postponed. The Bulldogs are ranked in the Associated Press and USA Today polls and need to keep winning to have a shot at a BCS game. This match-up shouldn’t be hurting for points, as both teams are averaging over 40 points a contest.

North Carolina at Miami
It’s unfortunate that the Tar Heels are ineligible to play for the ACC Championship, as this team might be the best in the Coastal Division. North Carolina beat Virginia Tech 48-34 last week and its offense should have no trouble moving the ball against a Miami defense allowing 510 yards a game.

Auburn at Ole Miss
What a difference a year makes. Last season, the Rebels were the worst team in the SEC West and lost to Auburn 41-23. Could we see that score reversed on Saturday? Ole Miss is a much-improved team under new coach Hugh Freeze, while the Tigers continue to search for answers on both sides of the ball. If Auburn struggles to generate its offense once again, the Rebels should be able to add to the Tigers’ misery this season.

Duke at Virginia Tech
In a bit of a surprise, Duke enters this game with a better ACC record than Virginia Tech. The Blue Devils also need just one more victory to become bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. The Hokies have lost three out of their last four games and a defense that was expected to be among the nation’s best is allowing nearly 400 yards per game.

TCU at Baylor
These two teams met for a 50-48 shootout game last season and there should be plenty of fireworks once again this Saturday. TCU will be without quarterback Casey Pachall for the rest of the season, but Baylor’s defense ranks dead last (120th out of 120 FBS schools) nationally in yards allowed. The Horned Frogs rank 19th nationally in pass defense but have yet to be tested by a passing attack as potent and produtive as Baylor's.

Utah State at San Jose State
Both teams are looking up at Louisiana Tech in the WAC pecking order, but this is still a huge game. Utah State has a win over Utah this year, along with a two-point loss to Wisconsin and a three-point defeat to BYU. The Spartans are off to a 4-1 start and nearly beat Stanford in the opener. This game also features two of the nation’s rising stars in the coaching ranks – Gary Andersen (Utah State) and Mike MacIntyre (San Jose State).

Oregon State at BYU
The Beavers will be without quarterback Sean Mannion, but don’t write off the Beavers in Provo. The Cougars expect to have quarterback Riley Nelson back under center, but BYU’s offense struggled mightily against Boise State and Utah State. Expect a low-scoring game, with a play or two on defense likely deciding the outcome.

USC at Washington
Although USC has a clear edge in talent, this game may be closer than some expect. The Huskies won the last meeting  played in Seattle, and two out of the last three games in this series have been decided by three points or less. The two coaches in this game (Steve Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin) are certainly familiar with each other, which will help keep this one close into the fourth quarter.

Tennessee at Mississippi State
Could this game decide Derek Dooley’s future at Tennessee? It’s unlikely, but this still is a must-win game for the Volunteers. With match-ups against Alabama and South Carolina coming up the next two weeks, a loss to Mississippi State would more than likely leave the Volunteers with a 3-5 mark heading into the final month of the season. The Bulldogs are 5-0 but have played a soft schedule.

Upset Watch

Fresno State (+7) at Boise State
The Broncos have lost only three games at home since 2000, and the Bulldogs have not fared well on the blue turf in recent years. However, Boise State is still trying to find the right answers after losing a handful of key contributors from last season’s team, while Fresno State boasts two of the nation’s most underrated players in quarterback Derek Carr and running back Robbie Rouse.
Prediction: Fresno State 31, Boise State 27

Kansas State at Iowa State (+6.5)
The Cyclones are always good for an upset or two, and the last four meetings in this series have been decided by eight points or less. Kansas State is the better team, but Iowa State’s run defense will be a tough test for Wildcats’ quarterback Collin Klein.
Prediction: Kansas State 31, Iowa State 24

Louisville at Pittsburgh (+3)
The Big East is unpredictable, so nothing in this game would be a surprise. Pittsburgh has won the last four games in this series, including a 21-14 win in Louisville last year. The Cardinals are clearly the better team, but the Panthers are capable of getting hot at the right time.
Prediction: Louisville 27, Pittsburgh 20

Letdown Alert?

West Virginia at Texas Tech
After a big win at Texas last Saturday, the Mountaineers should be wary of this week’s trip to Lubbock. Texas Tech is coming off a loss to Oklahoma, but the Red Raiders’ offense will test a shaky West Virginia defense. Back-to-back road games are never easy, especially for a team that has never played in Lubbock.

California at Washington State
The Golden Bears desperately needed a win last week, and they responded with a surprising 43-17 blowout victory over UCLA. The second half schedule features a handful of tough games, including road trips to Oregon State and Utah, along with home contests against Stanford, Washington and Oregon. If California wants to go to a bowl game, it can’t afford a letdown on the road at Washington State.

Florida at Vanderbilt
Coming off a big win against LSU and with a key SEC East showdown against South Carolina next Saturday, the Gators have to be careful not to overlook the Commodores. Even though Vanderbilt is 2-3, the Commodores nearly beat Florida last season (26-21) and have some momentum after beating Missouri 19-15 last week. It’s a longshot, but a road game in the SEC is never easy.

Injuries to Watch

James Franklin, QB, Missouri – Franklin suffered a knee injury in last week’s loss to Vanderbilt and is out indefinitely.

MarQueis Gray, QB, Minnesota – Gray has not played since suffering a high ankle sprain against Western Michigan on Sept. 15. However, the senior quarterback is close to 100 percent and is expected to play against Northwestern this Saturday.

Jordan Hicks, LB, Texas - Hicks has missed the last two games with a hip injury but is expected to return for Saturday's game against Oklahoma. The junior's return should help the Longhorns' defense, which struggled against Oklahoma State and West Virginia.

Alex Hurst, OT, LSU – The Tigers’ offensive line has not played up to preseason expectations and could have even bigger issues on Saturday, as Hurst is dealing with personal issues and may not play against South Carolina.

Wes Lunt, QB, Oklahoma State – Lunt is still recovering from a knee injury suffered against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 15. J.W. Walsh filled in admirably for Lunt against Texas and appears to be in line to get the start once again this week.

Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State – Mannion suffered a knee injury in last week’s win over Washington State and is out indefinitely after surgery. Cody Vaz will get the start under center for Oregon State.

Sean Renfree, QB, Duke - Renfree missed last week's game against Virginia due to an elbow injury but all signs point to the senior returning this Saturday against Virginia Tech.

Dion Sims, TE, Michigan State – Sims suffered an ankle injury against Indiana last week and is out for this Saturday’s game against Iowa.

Patrick Towles, QB, Kentucky – A bad season only got worse for Kentucky last Saturday. Towles, who led the Wildcats on a scoring drive in his first collegiate action, suffered an ankle injury against Mississippi State is out indefinitely.

Josh Williford, OL, LSU – Williford was banged up in last week’s loss to Florida and is questionable to play this week due to a head injury.

Games to Avoid

Alabama at Missouri
With quarterback James Franklin sidelined, Missouri will have a tough time moving the ball against Alabama’s defense. With the Crimson Tide having two weeks to prepare and a well-rested team after an off date, this one should get ugly early.

Boston College at Florida State
Both teams are coming off of disappointing losses, but the situation is more dire for Boston College, especially after slumping to a 1-4 start, including last Saturday's loss to a struggling Army team. Expect an angry Florida State team to handle its business and keep its ACC title hopes alive with an easy win over the Eagles.

Oklahoma State at Kansas
Thanks to two off dates, this will be Oklahoma State’s second game in four weeks. The Jayhawks hung tough for a half against Kansas State but dropped their fourth consecutive game of the year. The Cowboys might be a rusty early on, but it’s hard to see this one being close in the fourth quarter.

Illinois at Michigan
The Tim Beckman era is off to a horrendous start at Illinois. The Fighting Illini are 2-4, with their only wins coming over Western Michigan and Charleston Southern. Illinois has been blown out in all four losses, and Michigan seems to be finding its stride after beating Purdue 44-13 last week.

Fordham vs. Cincinnati
The Bearcats are quietly flying under the radar with a 4-0 start and should remain unbeaten with an easy victory over Fordham.

by Steven Lassan


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<p> College Football Week 7 Preview: Match-Ups, Upset Picks and Storylines to Watch</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-countdown-no-2-louisville-preview
Visit the online store for Louisville and other editions of the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual.

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

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

We continue our countdown with a preview of No. 2 Louisville.

Last February nobody expected the University of Louisville to crash the Final Four, not after the Cardinals finished seventh in the Big East. Surprise, surprise. The Cardinals made it to New Orleans. Now many expect Rick Pitino’s team to make it back to the season’s final weekend.

A 31-point loss to Providence, a homecourt Senior Night loss to South Florida and a 49-point performance at Syracuse were all forgotten after Louisville won the Big East Tournament and backed it up by winning four NCAA Tournament games, including the West Regional final against Florida.

Most of the prime contributors return, led by Big East Tournament MVP Peyton Siva, the point guard, center Gorgui Dieng and powerful forward Chane Behanan. The Cardinals should also be healthier after losing four guys to injuries for at least 25 games.

Dieng is the center Louisville recruited after Fab Melo shocked Pitino by signing with Syracuse three seasons ago. Dieng returns as the most complete big man in the Big East, a guy on the brink of averaging a double-double (9.1 ppg, 9.1 rpg in ’11-12). He also topped four blocked shots per game.

Behanan is a sophomore who finished last season like a senior, averaging 13.2 points and 8.0 rebounds in five NCAA Tournament games while making 60 percent of his shots. He should team with his best friend, fellow sophomore Wayne Blackshear, to give Pitino the inside-outside blend the coach loves. Blackshear battled through surgery to both shoulders to finish with gusto, scoring nine points in Louisville’s season-ending loss to Kentucky in the national semifinals.

Blackshear and junior Luke Hancock will form a hybrid combo on the wing — both are capable of playing either small forward or shooting guard. Pitino has called Hancock, who sat out last season after transferring from George Mason, the team’s best player. Hancock was named a co-captain in April.

There should be plenty of depth, as long as the Cardinals stay healthy. Pitino expects Zach Price, a sophomore center, to be one of the team’s most improved players. Stephan Van Treese reconsidered his decision to transfer and is back on the team. Freshman Montrezl Harrell, a superb athlete, was a late addition after originally signing with Virginia Tech.

For more than three months, Siva battled through a difficult season. He sprained his left ankle in November. It was slow to heal. He lost confidence in his jumper. Opponents started playing him exclusively to drive.

On the eve of the Big East Tournament, Pitino showed Siva video of how Steve Nash played the point guard position, preaching the value of not forcing plays. The message registered. Siva was great in the postseason, improving his shot selection and leadership skills.

Pitino has called Russ Smith, his other starting guard, a player unlike anybody he has coached at any of his four college stops. Smith led Louisville in field goal attempts last season, although he only made 35.6 percent of his shots. That’s usually a losing formula, but Pitino was OK with Smith forcing the action because of the Cards’ erratic offense. Smith needs to remain a creative shot-maker, but keep learning to share the ball.

Kevin Ware should be the first backcourt reserve, but he did not make a 3-point shot last season. Pitino believes sophomore Angel Nunez will become a dependable 3-point threat, but Nunez only played 55 minutes last season.

The Cardinal faithful grumbled louder than they had in years after Louisville lost three of its final four games to finish the regular season 22–9. Eight straight postseason victories silenced the complaints and positioned Pitino to win another Big East championship and plan for another big March.

Siva finally figured out how to play winning point guard. Dieng and Behanan understand the requirements of blue-collar Big East basketball as well as any pair of frontcourt players in the league.

Here are three factors that will decide if Louisville will reach its considerable potential — health (especially of Blackshear), 3-point shooting and the maturation of Smith.

Louisville needs Blackshear to become the guy who can make plays late in the shot clock. Departed seniors Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith made 143 of team’s 233 3-pointers last season. Somebody — Hancock and Blackshear — must fill that void. And Russ Smith can’t keep taking all his crazy shots.


Athlon College Basketball Countdown So Far:
20. Florida

19. Notre Dame

18. Memphis
17. Baylor
16. Missouri

15. San Diego State

14. North Carolina

13. UNLV

12. UCLA
11. NC State

10. Michigan State
9. Duke

8. Ohio State

7. Arizona

6. Michigan

5. Syracuse

4. Kansas

3. Kentucky

<p> College Basketball Countdown: No. 2 Louisville Preview</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 06:04
Path: /college-football/college-football-award-watch-post-week-5-0

The Heisman Trophy isn’t the only award worth watching on a weekly basis. The Lombardi, Outland, Davey O’Brien and Biletnikoff races are all worth watching and debating as the season goes along.

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

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

Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Our leader: Geno Smith, West Virginia
The Heisman frontrunner answered his first road test by completing 25 of 35 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns against Texas. He lost two fumbles but he hasn’t thrown an interception in 260 consecutive pass attempts, dating to the last regular season game of 2011. The next challenge is completing back-to-back road trips to the state of Texas.
Others: USC’s Matt Barkley, Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller

Doak Walker (Top running back)
Our leader: Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Lattimore has yet to carry South Carolina on his back, as he did at times during his first two seasons. The Gamecocks haven’t needed it. That said, Lattimore has scored a touchdown in every game this season. Against SEC opponents, he’s averaging 106 yards per game with seven touchdowns.
Others: Oregon’s Kenjon Barner, North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard, Florida’s Mike Gillislee, Kansas State’s John Hubert

Biletnikoff Award (Top wide receiver)
Our leader: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia
Teammate Tavon Austin, with his production in the return game and run game, is more versatile, but Bailey may be the better pure receiver. He has 49 catches for 710 yards with 13 touchdown catches. No one else in the country has more than eight touchdown catches -- and one of those two is Austin.
Others: West Virginia’s Tavon Austin, Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins, USC’s Marqise Lee, Penn State’s Allen Robinson, Baylor’s Terrance Williams

Mackey Award (Top tight end)
Our leader: Zach Ertz, Stanford
Teammate Levine Toilolo had the more productive game in the shootout with Arizona last week, but Zach Ertz had a touchdown catch early and then came up with a key catch on fourth down and 9 to set up the game-tying touchdown late in regulation.
Others: Arizona State’s Chris Coyle, Oregon’s Colt Lyerla, Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Stanford’s Levine Toilolo

Outland Trophy (Top interior lineman)
Our leader: Barrett Jones, Alabama
The defending Outland Trophy winner returns from an open date to prepare for a unique scheme up front from Missouri. The Tigers are third nationally in tackles for a loss.
Others: North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper, Texas A&M’s Luke Joekel, Rutgers’ Kaleb Johnson, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt, Florida State’s Bjoern Werner

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



Bednarik Award/Nagurski Award (Defensive Player of the Year)
Our leader: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
Te’o had 10 tackles and one pass breakup against a hot Miami offense to help Notre Dame extend its streak of 12 quarters without a touchdown. With 48 stops, Te’o has 20 more tackles than anyone else on the Irish roster.
Others: South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, Utah's Star Lotulelei, Penn State's Michael Mauti

Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)
Our leader: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Will there be a player to split the defensive player of the year vote with the frontrunner Te’o? Maybe it will be Clowney, who led a dominant effort up front against Georgia. The sophomore had two tackles for a loss against Georgia, giving up 11.5 for the season. Clowney has had a sack in five of six games this year.
Others: Oregon State’s Scott Chricton, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore, Ohio State’s John Simon, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt, BYU’s Kyle Van Noy, Florida State’s Bjeorn Werner

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

Thorpe Award (Top defensive back)
Our leader: Jordan Poyer, Oregon State
One of the nation’s most underrated defenders is finally starting to get his due. A lockdown cornerback, Poyer had three interceptions last week against Washington State. With four picks this season, he’s already matched his season total from a year ago.
Others: Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks, Florida’s Matt Elam, Alabama’s Dee Milliner

Groza Award (Top kicker)

Our leader: Jeff Budzien, Northwestern
At 11 for 11, Budzien is one of two perfect kickers with 10 or more attempts. The other is Clemson’s Chandler Catanzaro, who is also 11 of 11. Budzien was 5 of 5 in a win over Boston College and 3 for 3 in wins over Vanderbilt and Indiana.
Others: Louisiana-Lafayette’s Brett Baer, Clemson’s Chandler Catanzaro, Iowa’s Mike Meyer, Florida’s Caleb Sturgis

Ray Guy Award (Top punter)
Our leader: Texas A&M’s Ryan Epperson
The Aggies lead the nation in net punting behind Epperson’s 46.1 yards per kick. Epperson has landed nine of his 18 punts inside the 20.
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Allen, Utah’s Sean Sellwood, LSU’s Brad Wing

Freshman of the Year
Our leader: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Manziel threw his first two interceptions of the season against Ole Miss. By the fourth quarter he helped vanquish the Aggies’ difficulties in the fourth quarter. Texas A&M trailed by 10, but “Johnny Football” completed 17 of 26 for 191 yards with a touchdown. He also rushed for 129 yards and a score.
Others: Georgia’s Todd Gurley, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Miami’s Duke Johnson, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon

Coach of the Year
Our leader: Urban Meyer, Ohio State
The Buckeyes may come to regret taking the bowl ban this season rather than skipping a bowl last season -- Ohio State lost to Florida in the Gator Bowl to finish 6-7. The Buckeyes are 6-0 and the highest ranked team in the Big Ten by a long shot. Ineligible for the coaches’ poll, Ohio State is No. 8 in the AP poll, followed by No. 25 Michigan.
Others: Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen, Florida’s Will Muschamp, Penn State’s Bill O’Brien Oregon State’s Mike Riley, Kansas State’s Bill Snyder

by David Fox


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<p> College Football Award Watch: Post-Week 6</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-week-7

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

2012 Record Against The Spread: 26-21
Last Week: 4-4

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Oregon State (+6) at BYU
No, Sean Mannion isn’t going to be playing. But Oregon State still has a talent advantage at every other position on the field — and on the sideline. And with the offensive struggles of BYU, 12 total points scored against Boise State and Utah State, Oregon State’s fully healthy defense should keep this game close. The Beavers rank No. 1 in the Pac-12 in rushing defense (67.3 ypg) and are No. 2 in scoring defense (17.0 ppg). If BYU wins, it will be very low scoring and very close. Prediction: Oregon State +6

Fresno State (+7.5) at Boise State
The Bulldogs, behind great play from quarterback Derek Carr, are 6-0 against the spread this fall. This team is scoring nearly 40 points per game and has great balance on offense — 315.5 pass yards per game, 178.3 rush yards per game. So it is on Boise State to outscore FSU-West and the Broncos are 85th in the nation in offense. I like Fresno State to win outright in a marquee upset for new coach Tim DeRuyter. Prediction: Fresno State +7.5

North Carolina (-8) at Miami
Which Miami team shows up this weekend? The one that got beat by a total of 77 points to Kansas State and Notre Dame? Or the one that dropped more than 40 points on ACC foes Georgia Tech, NC State and BC? At home, I like Al Golden’s bunch to play very well against a Tar Heels team primed for a letdown after the big win over Virginia Tech last weekend. Both backfields should be on full display in what should be a high-scoring affair. North Carolina wins, but not by much. Prediction: Miami +8

Wisconsin (+3) at Purdue
Both teams understand what this game means. A chance at a Big Ten title. This is the de facto Leaders Division championship game and each team enters the weekend on much different notes. The Badgers have rediscovered the ground game and have found a quarterback after a thrashing of Illinois. Purdue still isn’t sure what quarterback to use and is coming off of a home beatdown at the hands of Michigan. Wisconsin has won six straight in the series, Bret Bielema has never lost to Purdue, and UW hasn’t lost in West Lafayette since 1997. And frankly, this game hasn’t been close since a three-point win in 2004 for UW. The Badgers have won the last four by an average of 31 points (and at least 21). Prediction: Wisconsin +3

Utah State (+3) at San Jose State
This one is getting a lot of love in the Athlon Sports offices due to severe man-crushes on both head coaches. The Aggies are 6-0 against the spread this fall and San Jose State is 5-0 so, baring a three-point Spartans win, something has to give, right? Utah State has played the tougher schedule and is road tested (despite tough, close losses). This is going to be a great game and I’ll take Gary Andersen to edge Mike MacIntyre. Prediction: Utah State: +3

Kent State (-2) at Army
The Golden Flashes have quietly started 4-1 this fall with the same mark against the spread. They have won three straight and have scored 86 points in their last two wins. They are leading the MAC in rushing defense, they create turnovers and are solid in the return game. Army does little well (other than run the ball) and won’t be able to stop Kent State. Prediction: Kent State -2

West Virginia (-3.5) at Texas Tech
This line opened with the Mountaineers as a 5.5-point favorite. Somebody somewhere knows something that we don’t know, so the betting public worked this line down two full points by agreeing with shadowing Vegas wise guys. Now that it is down to 3.5, I am back on the 'Eers. Certainly, the letdown factor must be considered after the win over Texas and weird things can happen in Lubbock, but Geno Smith knows full well he can’t take a break. Tech is improved on defense, but they are much closer to the team that allowed 41 points and 380 yards of offense to Oklahoma than the unit that was ranked No. 1 in the nation two weeks ago. As a program, WVU is 172-0 when scoring 40 or more points. Prediction: West Virginia -3.5

Texas A&M (-7.5) at Louisiana Tech
The Bulldogs have built an impressive resume thus far in 2012. Road wins over Big Ten and ACC members validate the 523.4 yards of offense and 53.2 points per game Louisiana Tech is posting this fall. The Aggies, led by star quarterback Johnny Manziel, will score plenty too, but this could be the biggest "home" game — it's being played in the Independence Bowl — to ever take place in program history, so Tech has a chance to win the game outright. Prediction: Louisiana Tech +7.5

- by Braden Gall


2012 Trends Against the Spread:

Undefeated ATS: Arizona State (4-0-1), Fresno St (6-0), UL Monroe (5-0), San Jose St (5-0), TX-San Antonio (3-0), Utah St (6-0), Western Kentucky (5-0)

Winless ATS: Virginia (0-5-1)

One Loss ATS One Win ATS
Cincinnati (3-1) Arkansas (1-5)
Duke (5-1) Auburn (1-4)
Florida (4-1) Boston College (1-4)
Kansas St (4-1) Central Michigan (1-4)
Kent St (4-1) Colorado (1-4)
Ole Miss (5-1) Colorado St (1-4)
Northwestern (5-1) Eastern Michigan (1-4)
Notre Dame (4-1) Idaho (1-5)
Oregon St (3-1) Iowa (1-4)
Penn St (5-1) Kentucky (1-5)
South Carolina (5-1) Miami, Ohio (1-5)
Texas Tech (4-1) Michigan St (1-5)
Toledo (5-1) USC (1-4)
Troy (4-1) Southern Miss (1-4)
  Syracuse (1-4)
  Virginia Tech (1-5)

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<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 7</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-sooners-vs-texas-longhorns-preview-and-prediction

With Texas and Oklahoma each having one loss in Big 12 play this season, Saturday’s annual matchup in Dallas is essentially an elimination game. The winner keeps its Big 12 title hopes alive, while the loser is not only out of the mix for the conference championship but is also likely out of the picture for an at-large spot in a BCS game.

Oklahoma bounced back after losing to Kansas State on Sept. 22, beating Texas Tech 41-20. The win was huge for the Sooners’ offense, which had four turnovers and never established a rushing attack in the loss to the Wildcats. The Longhorns find themselves in Oklahoma’s position this week, as they hope to rebound from a 48-45 loss to West Virginia.

The Sooners have won the last two matchups in this series and have claimed three out of the last five. Oklahoma’s 55-17 victory last season was Texas’ worst showing in this game since losing 65-13 in 2003.

Not only is this game big for positioning in the conference standings and in the polls, this is a huge matchup for recruiting purposes. While a win on the field isn’t necessarily going to guarantee players landing at a particular school, it doesn’t hurt to have a good showing against a rival school.

Storylines to Watch in Texas vs. Oklahoma

Can Oklahoma lean on Landry Jones to win this game?
In Oklahoma’s last two games against Texas, Jones has been solid, throwing for five touchdowns and 603 yards. However, Jones has been inconsistent at times throughout his career and did not play well in the 24-19 loss to Kansas State. Even though the senior may not be a Heisman Trophy contender or the Big 12’s first-team quarterback, he does have 100 touchdown passes and 13,411 passing yards in his career. In order for Jones to lead Oklahoma to a victory on Saturday, he has to get help from his supporting cast. The Sooners have a young receiving corps but has to be optimistic about its passing attack after watching Texas allow 268 yards and four touchdowns to West Virginia’s Geno Smith. The key battle for Oklahoma to win will be in the trenches and with the rushing attack. Although the Sooners are averaging 190.5 yards per game, they have not rushed for more than 121 yards against a BCS opponent in 2012. While Jones is capable of throwing for 350 yards and four touchdowns against Texas, Oklahoma’s best plan should be balance, especially with the emergence of Damien Williams at running back.

Is Texas’ defense ready to turn things around?
One of the biggest surprises of the 2012 season has to be Texas’ defense. The Longhorns were supposed to have one of the nation’s best, especially with the Big 12’s No. 1 secondary and defensive line returning. However, this unit has not met expectations, allowing 404.2 yards per game, while ranking 83rd nationally against the run. The defense could get one piece of good news this Saturday, as linebacker Jordan Hicks could be ready to return to the lineup. Hicks’ leadership should help the defense correct some of the assignment problems it has experienced over the last few games. All of the pieces are in place for the Longhorns to have their best defensive effort in Big 12 play this year. The defensive line seemed to find its rhythm last week and with Hicks returning, the linebacking corps should be in better shape. If there’s ever a week for Texas to turn its defense around, Saturday’s matchup against Oklahoma would be the one.

Which team will win the battle on the ground?
Although both teams can win this game by throwing 35-40 passes, expect both offenses to strive for balance. Oklahoma’s rushing attack ranks ninth in the Big 12 in conference-only games, while Texas checks in at No. 5. Junior college recruit Damien Williams helped to provide a spark to Oklahoma's rushing attack in the first two games, but he has just 82 yards over the last two contests. The Longhorns may not have Malcolm Brown available for this game, which means Joe Bergeron and true freshman Johnathan Gray will handle the majority of the carries. Texas clearly has the edge in talent at running back, but the Sooners have been slightly tougher against the run, allowing 142.5 yards per game. The matchup favors Texas, but Oklahoma will be geared to stop the Longhorns’ rushing attack and hopes to force David Ash to win this game through the air.

Final Analysis:

The stakes are usually high in the Red River Rivalry but there’s even more pressure on both teams to win on Saturday afternoon. Even with one loss, Texas and Oklahoma still have legitimate Big 12 title hopes but can’t afford to drop another contest.

The Longhorns’ passing attack has improved from a weakness to a strength, especially considering quarterback David Ash has thrown just one interception on 138 attempts this year. The sophomore has a handful of quality weapons at receiver, including Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis, Marquise Goodwin and Daje Johnson.

This matchup will likely come down to how quickly Texas’ defense can turn things around against a potent Oklahoma offense. Even though Landry Jones has struggled at times during his career, he has a solid group of weapons – led by junior receiver Kenny Stills – and has played well against Texas in his previous two matchups.

The Longhorns are more balanced on offense, and their defensive line should get enough pressure to make things uncomfortable on Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones. Expect a close game, but Texas snaps a two-game losing streak to the Sooners on Saturday afternoon.

Final Prediction: Texas 31, Oklahoma 27

by Steven Lassan


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<p> Oklahoma Sooners vs. Texas Longhorns Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 05:50
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Nebraska Cornhuskers
Path: /college-football/5-things-watch-nebraskas-second-half

The Nebraska Cornhuskers are 4-2 at the halfway point of the regular season and stand 1-1 in Big Ten play. Bo Pelini’s club is still reeling from a 63-38 loss to Ohio State, and the Huskers will use a much-needed bye week to work on their goal of winning the Legends Division. The NU offense has the firepower to win the league, while the defense must improve greatly from its performance in the first six games. The division race should be very compelling in October and November, and here are five things to watch for Nebraska during the second half of the 2012 campaign.

1. Defense
The Cornhuskers have struggled mightily on this side of the ball, and the issues range from tackling problems to missed assignments within the scheme to keeping composure during adversity. In two losses, Nebraska gave up an alarming 653 total yards to UCLA and 371 rushing yards against the Buckeyes. The defensive deficiencies must stop if NU wants to win its first conference crown since 1999. The Huskers have been solid against the pass and in pressuring opposing quarterbacks, but that will not matter if the nation’s 92nd-rated rush unit does not improve. In fact, Indiana is the only Big Ten squad to give up more rushing yards per game. Pelini and coordinator John Papuchis must use the bye week to solve the defense’s execution issues.

2. Health
Nebraska received a major scare in the Ohio State game when I-back Rex Burkhead had to leave with a knee injury. The senior runner has already missed the UCLA and Arkansas State games this season, and the Huskers will need their senior leader in league play. Burkhead is expected to return for the October 20 Northwestern game, and his presence along with the emergence of Ameer Abdullah gives Nebraska a formidable rushing tandem that can put up points and dominate the time of possession. The Huskers will also need to manage the carries of quarterback Taylor Martinez, who could wear down if he absorbs too many hits in the second half of this year.

3. Passing Game
The Nebraska passing game has been fairly solid this season, although Martinez’s three interceptions against the Buckeyes is cause for concern. There is not a huge need for tons of yards in the passing attack, but the ability to make first downs and not let opponents key on the run game will be paramount down the stretch. Martinez has been very efficient this season, and he has solid targets in Kenny Bell, Quincy Enunwa and tight end Kyler Reed. The NU offense must continue to carry the team and help keep the defense on the sideline, and continued production in the passing game will assist the Huskers in remaining among the elite scoring offenses in the nation.

4. Schedule
Nebraska is 3-8 in its last 11 games away from Memorial Stadium. And while the Huskers have played many top opponents during that stretch, the road woes must change in order to win the Big Ten. NU’s next three games will be huge in the Legends race, and two of those — Northwestern and Michigan State — are on the road. The home contest sandwiched in between is versus Michigan, who blew out Nebraska by a 45-17 mark last season. Martinez’s play has been subpar in many of the aforementioned road losses, but the entire roster must step up during this critical three-game stretch.

5. Pelini stability
We are not trying to suggest a “hot seat” issue here, but another four-loss season would make some in the passionate Nebraska fan base feel like the program has become fairly stagnant. Most schools would love to have those types of “issues”, but the NU tradition under legends like Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne is among the best in the history of college football. While the overall results are still solid, Pelini has a club in his fifth season that has struggled with penalties, turnover margin and porous run defense. With new athletic director Shawn Eichorst taking over, the NU staff could feel some extra pressure. Pelini’s Huskers have an opportunity to fix some issues during the bye week, and they should compete much better on defense down the stretch.  The second half of the season will definitely be fun to watch, as Nebraska strives for that elusive league crown.

<p> &nbsp;5 Things To Watch in Nebraska's Second Half</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 05:43
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-countdown-1-1-indianas-cody-zeller

When Cody Zeller signed with Indiana in November 2010, a string of stories were written about how Zeller’s decision made it cool to play in Bloomington again. Then Zeller began his freshman season, and the Hoosiers returned to the national conversation after a three-season absence. Not only did Indiana win 27 games and advance to the Sweet Sixteen, the Hoosiers also defeated three top-five opponents — Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan State. Credit Zeller, who averaged 15.6 points and 6.6 rebounds.

He starts the 2013 as a top Player of the Year candidate and is the potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Zeller’s Indiana team checked in at No. 1 in our Countdown.

You signed with Indiana when the Hoosiers were coming off two of the worst seasons in school history. Although you grew up in Washington, Ind., you could have gone anywhere in the country. Your older brothers Luke (Notre Dame) and Tyler (North Carolina) did not pick IU. Why Indiana when North Carolina, Butler, Florida and others wanted you?
I had confidence in what Coach (Tom) Crean was doing. The players that were already here seemed to be working hard and heading in the right direction with everything. It just felt like it was the right thing for me. A lot of people asked me why I went here and my brothers didn’t. It was a completely different situation for them, different coaches. I’m definitely happy with my decision. I’d do it all over again.”

Do you have any sense of the impact your decision had on Indiana basketball?
A little bit. I wasn’t too worried about validating all that. You have to make you’re your decision selfishly and whether it’s going to benefit you. That’s kind of what I made my decision on. All the rest of it kind of followed.”

You made another decision last spring to return to Indiana for your sophomore season, even though you figured to be a top-10 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Many freshmen can’t wait to get to the NBA. Why are you still on campus?
My final decision was that I wasn’t ready to grow up yet. Everyone tells me that college is the best years of your life. I’m not ready to pay bills, buy a house and start paying rent and everything else. It was mostly that I wasn’t ready to grow up yet. No reason to leave.”

You’ve earned a 3.6 grade point average in the Kelley School of Business, one of the top 20 business schools in the country. When will you earn your degree?
I should have it in two-and-a-half years. I came here with 16 hours out of high school. I earned six last summer and 12 more this summer.

You’ve always been a good student?
I got one A-minus my freshman year of high school in English. Tyler got an A-minus. Same class. Luke got a 4.0. Tyler and I were 3.99. Luke was the valedictorian. I was the salutatorian.

So Luke is obviously the best student?
No. Luke got that 4.0 before that English teacher got there.

Were you upset you were only salutatorian?
Actually we had co-valedictorians, and I was third, but they still gave me salutatorian. I was only mad because I had to give a speech on graduation. I thought I was getting out of the speech, but apparently not.

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

You’re pretty active on Twitter. Do you do your own Tweets?
I do. Just random stuff I see around campus.

The word is that when the Arizona Diamondbacks started following your Tweets last winter, you asked if they were going to select you in the next MLB Draft?
I did.

Maybe the next Randy Johnson, a 6-11 pitcher?
I’m a catcher. Our whole family was kind of catchers. I played until seventh or eighth grade, then I had to give it up. I just didn’t have enough time.”

If the walls at the Washington High School gymnasium could talk about the two-on-two games that you, Tyler, Luke and your father (Steve) played, what would they say?
Growing up my Dad was always beating on us, making us go one-on-one. We do go at it pretty good. My Dad still tries to go at it. He’s pretty competitive. We can beat him fairly easy now. Tyler and Luke and I play more one-on-one type stuff now. We’ll do things like set up on the block and say, ‘You have three seconds to make a move.’ We’ll set up different situations like that. Stuff that you would see in a real game, not your traditional one-on-one. We definitely compete and go at each other. Once we step off the court, we’re definitely very tight.

What’s your favorite gym, other than Assembly Hall?
The Hatchet House, my high school gym. It’s unbelievable to play there. It prepared me for playing in Assembly Hall because we had so many fans and it was always so packed. Even for regular season games we might have 5,000 people there. It wasn’t too much of a change or a shock when I got to college, playing in front of 17,000 people.

Who was the toughest player you guarded last season?
John Shurna of Northwestern. Our team loves everything he does because he’s so tough to guard with everything he does. He’s undersized a little bit but he finds a way to make it. Everyone is like, ‘Hey, I can stop him.’ Then you get out there and he puts up 30.

Who was the toughest player defending you?
Tyler. He’s so strong. The bench press doesn’t say so, but he’s stronger than me. He’s faster than me. I usually have one or the other – strength or speed.  But he’s pretty comparable, probably a step better.

Who is the best college coach out there not named Tom Crean?
All the great college coaches that recruited me were extremely nice. I have a lot of respect for Roy Williams (of North Carolina), just because of all stories from Tyler and how well he treated Tyler and the family.

Indiana’s breakthrough moment last season was that 73–72 win against Kentucky on Christian Watford’s three-pointer at the buzzer in Assembly Hall. This season, Indiana isn’t playing Kentucky, at least not in the regular season. Are you disappointed?
I don’t care too much. We’re still going to have a strong schedule. It was a fun game last year, but I don’t think it’s too big of a deal we’re not playing them this year.”

Other than Purdue, who is Indiana’s biggest rival?
Maybe Kentucky this past year, but it kind of changes with how good the teams are. A lot of the rivalries are because they’re two of the best teams. IU-Purdue, you can definitely feel the tension. I’d go with all the teams in the Big Ten because they all seemed to play us tough.

What’s been your primary focus during this offseason?
Strength has definitely been a big part of my summer workouts because you can put on a lot of weight. I’ve been doing a lot of squats and lower body stuff. You can put a lot of weight into your legs and it won’t affect your speed or anything else. Actually my vertical and some of that stuff has gone up, even though I have put on weight. It’s been a big part of my offseason workouts. You can put on weight and it will help all parts of my game, whether it is holding post position, rebounding, banging with the big guys in the Big Ten.

Did you come back to win a national championship?
We’re going to have high goals this year. We’ll see what happens.


Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
20. Florida

19. Notre Dame

18. Memphis
17. Baylor
16. Missouri

15. San Diego State

14. North Carolina

13. UNLV

12. UCLA
11. NC State

10. Michigan State
9. Duke

8. Ohio State

7. Arizona

6. Michigan

5. Syracuse

4. Kansas

3. Kentucky

2. Louisville

1. Indiana

<p> College Basketball Countdown: 1 on 1 with Indiana's Cody Zeller</p>
Post date: Friday, October 12, 2012 - 05:18
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-fighting-irish-vs-stanford-cardinal-preview-and-prediction

As each week passes, the pressure only increases on college football’s top 10 teams. Notre Dame finds itself in that position each week, as this team has a legitimate chance to play for the national title. The Irish rank seventh in the Associated Press and USA Today polls and have opportunities to pickup quality wins with games against USC and Oklahoma later this season. Outside of those two games, Notre Dame figures to be heavily favored in its other matchups, which makes Saturday’s game against Stanford even more important. If the Irish take care of business against BYU, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh and Boston College as expected, this team is only one win short of getting to 10 victories and likely securing a spot in a BCS bowl.

The last three matchups in the Notre Dame-Stanford series have gone in favor of the Cardinal. However, Stanford is still going through growing pains at quarterback without Andrew Luck and lost its only road matchup of the season (Washington 17-13 in Week 5). The Cardinal rebounded after a disappointing showing against the Huskies, edging Arizona 54-48 in overtime. Although Luck and a couple of other key pieces from last season's team are gone, Stanford is still one of the Pac-12's most-talented teams. 

Storylines to Watch in Notre Dame vs. Stanford

Can Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes build off his Week 6 performance?
After struggling in a 17-13 loss to Washington, Nunes was crucial to Stanford’s victory over Arizona. The junior completed 21 of 34 throws for 365 yards and two touchdowns. Nunes has been steady in his first year as the starter but struggled in his only road appearance and playing in South Bend is no easy task. While Stanford’s passing game took off against the Wildcats, Notre Dame’s defense is one of the best in the nation and there won’t be as many open targets for Nunes. The key to getting Stanford’s passing game on track is not only efficient play by the quarterback, but the offensive line also needs to step up its protection. The Irish are averaging 2.8 sacks a game and will try to make Nunes as uncomfortable as possible in the pocket.

Will Stanford establish its rushing attack against Notre Dame?
There’s no secret what Stanford wants to do on offense. Even though quarterback Josh Nunes showed progress in the win over Arizona, the Cardinal want to lean on their ground attack to win games. Running back Stepfan Taylor has rushed for 100 yards in back-to-back contests against the Irish and is averaging 111 yards per game this season. Running against Notre Dame’s defense has been nearly impossible this season, as the Irish rank 17th nationally in rushing yards allowed per game (106.8). Expect Notre Dame to stack the box and force the Cardinal to throw to win. Even though running room will be limited, Stanford still needs to get Taylor – one of the offense’s top playmakers – 25-30 carries.

A breakout game for Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson?
Golson did not start against Miami due to a violation of team rules but finished with 186 yards on 17 completions. Through the first five games of the year, the redshirt freshman is completing 60.4 percent of his throws, while tossing three touchdowns and three picks. Golson has topped 200 passing yards only once this year but that could change against Stanford. The Cardinal ranks 113th in pass defense, allowing 302.4 passing yards per game. The pass defense numbers are slightly skewed for Stanford, especially after Arizona torched the secondary for 506 yards last week. Even though the averages might be slightly off, as the Wildcats showed, the opportunities will be there for Golson to make plays. Considering Stanford ranks sixth nationally against the run, the Irish will need the passing attack to lead the way on offense.

Tyler Eifert vs. Levine Toilolo and Zach Ertz
This matchup features three of college football’s top tight ends and each figure to play a key role in deciding the outcome of this game. Eifert has been the subject of a lot of defensive attention so far this year, recording only 11 receptions for 189 yards and one touchdown. Toilolo and Ertz have combined for 34 receptions through five games and will be counted upon even more this Saturday, as Stanford likely won’t have receiver Ty Montgomery due to a knee injury. It’s rare to see three of the NFL Draft’s top tight end prospects in one game and their performance will be crucial to the success of the passing attacks on Saturday afternoon.

Final Analysis

There’s still a lot of football to be played, but Notre Dame has to win out to have any shot at reaching the national championship. Stanford is out of the BCS title mix but has an opportunity for a huge win in South Bend, which would help build confidence for a team that is breaking in a new quarterback and replacing a couple of key offensive linemen.

Stanford’s defense was torched in a loss to Arizona, but Notre Dame is a much better matchup. Expect the Cardinal to pressure Golson and try to force him into mistakes, which should allow the Irish to hit a few big plays in the passing game.

When Stanford has the ball, Notre Dame will load the box and force quarterback Josh Nunes to prove he is ready to win on the road with his arm. If the Irish can shut down Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor, they should be able to contain a passing attack that lacks playmakers at receiver.

Both defenses will make it difficult for the offenses in the first half, but Notre Dame should take control of this game in the second half. Golson should find his rhythm against Stanford’s secondary, while the rushing attack will make a few plays in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

Final Prediction: Notre Dame 30, Stanford 20

by Steven Lassan


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<p> Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Stanford Cardinal Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 13:49
Path: /nascar/earnhardt-miss-races-concussion

Hendrick Motorsports announced on Thursday that driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. will sit out the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway after suffering a concussion at Talladega on Sunday.

In a release, the company stated that Earnhardt was diagnosed with a concussion Wednesday afternoon in Charlotte and that Regan Smith will serve as the No. 88 team’s substitute driver in his absence.

Earnhardt currently sits 11th in the Chase for the Championship, a distant 51 points behind leader Brad Keselowski. Earnhardt was involved in a final-lap crash in the Oct. 7 Good Sam 500 that also collected 24 other cars.

Earnhardt revealed that he suffered an initial concussion during a wreck on Aug. 29 while conducting a tire test at Kansas Speedway.

“I decided to push through it,” Earnhardt said of the concussion at Kansas. “I’d had concussions before and knew exactly what I was dealing with. I felt pretty good after a week or two and definitely 80 to 90 percent by the time the Chase started (Sept. 23) and by the time we got to Talladega I felt 100 percent.”

Earnhardt said that while the impact at Talladega was roughly half as hard as the Kansas hit, the proximity of the two concussions raised concerns.

“If you have more than one in a small period of time you need to take that quite seriously. The one in Kansas was really bad and to get shaken up so quickly (at Talladega) over something so trivial—that one shook me up and I thought I should take that seriously.

“I knew that I had sort of regressed and had a bit of a setback. You know how your body is and if something is not quite right. I knew as soon as it happened that I had re-injured myself.

“I went a couple days wondering how my body would react and sort of waited for it to process what was happening. I was still having some headaches — that was really the only symptom I was having. So I took it upon myself to contact my sister (Kelley Earnhardt Miller) and we talked about seeing a neurosurgeon and ended up getting steered toward Dr. Petty.”

Dr. Jerry Petty is a Charlotte neurosurgeon that consults for NASCAR as well as the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Dr. Petty stressed that an MRI on Earnhardt came back normal, meaning no damage was found.

After conducting tests, Earnhardt explained that Petty spent the night thinking about the situation and decided he could not clear the 38-year-old to race.

“His neurological exam was normal. He had no amnesia after either incident, which is very important,” Petty said. “We want to give him four or five days without a headache and then we’ll try to invoke a headache. Then we’ll let him go out and drive a lap or two and see how that goes. If that goes well, we’ll probably clear him to race.”

Earnhardt said that he did not seek medical advice about the concussion he suffered at Kansas and that he regretted not doing so.

“I was stubborn and I’d had concussions before and thought I knew what I was dealing with. I felt like I was capable of doing my job and I had called Steve (Letarte, crew chief) and we talked about how I was feeling, but I really wouldn’t know if I would be able to compete until I got in the car.

“When you have a concussion the symptoms can be really mild and then they’ll typically go away after a couple of days and you feel perfectly normal. But when you get in a car and go around a track at a high rate of speed, you start to understand that some things aren’t quite where they need to be; some reactions just aren’t as sharp.”

He was hesitant to get checked out with his team being in championship contention.

“If I was to volunteer myself to medical attention and be removed from the car, I didn’t know how difficult it’d be to get back in.”

Team owner Rick Hendrick praised Earnhardt for taking action.

“One thing everyone admires about Dale is how honest and up-front he is,” Hendrick said. “When he knew there was something not right, he went to see Dr. Petty. We were so happy yesterday that the MRI was completely normal—that no damage had been done.

“He has a lot of years left to race. And I applaud Dale for getting checked out.”

In 2002, Earnhardt admitted that he had raced for months with a concussion suffered at Auto Club Speedway earlier in the season. Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Operations, addressed the subject of drivers not revealing injury, saying, “You saw a driver (Earnhardt) who is racing for a championship, who is our most popular driver, get up here and ask to go see a doctor and get out of a car. That takes a lot of guts. I think it also shows where our sport has come, and they know that safety is first and foremost.”

He also outlined NASCAR’s procedure in evaluating injuries—specifically concussions:

“First and foremost, a driver is evaluated in the (track’s) infield care center where we've got board certified emergency technicians or doctors. If the driver complains of any symptoms or if the emergency room physician believes there may be symptoms, we refer them to a neurologist—in most cases, it is Dr. Petty.

“At that point he's required to go through the tests, then it's up to our neurologists to make the call on whether or not that driver's going to be back. We (NASCAR) take ourselves out of that, and rely on our doctors to make the call on whether or not the driver could be back.”

In missing the upcoming events, Earnhardt will not only be eliminated from title contention—although his chances were slim as it was—but he will break a streak of 461 consecutive Cup Series starts. The streak was the fifth longest among active drivers.

“I'm really going to feel pretty odd not being in the car,” Earnhardt said. “I'm real anxious just to get back into the car and get back. I think you learn not to take things for granted, and I just hate that this has caused such a fuss.”

by Matt Taliaferro
Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattTaliaferro

<p> Hendrick Motorsports announced that Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss the next two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races after sufferring two concussions since Aug. 29.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 13:00
Path: /mlb/joe-girardi-pinch-hits-rod

For two days, Yankees manager Joe Girardi deflected questions about moving third baseman Alex Rodriguez down in the batting order for last night’s Game 3 of the ALDS vs. Baltimore due to A-Rod’s recent struggles.

Girardi explained his decision to keep A-Rod near the top of the lineup by saying trust was a major piece of the Yankees’ success. He reiterated how important it is for him to trust his players and that his players trust him. And after Wednesday night, his players have multiple reasons to trust their skipper.

Two moves the manager made in the Yankees’ 12-inning comeback win over the Orioles give fans, media, and most importantly, his players plenty of reasons to trust the fifth-year manager.

The most notable move was pinch-hitting for Rodriguez with the game on the line in bottom of the ninth inning as the Yankees trailed, 3-2. Girardi called on 40-year-old Raul Ibanez to pinch-hit for Rodriguez. The two players’ history together goes back to Appleton Foxes of the Midwest League in 1994. Ibanez, a 36th-round draft pick of Seattle out of Miami, spent much of his time in the minors behind the plate. His was a slow climb through the minors to the big leagues. Rodriguez, a No. 1 overall selection by Seattle out of Miami in 1993, was on a fast track to the bigs, making his debut in 1994.

But on October 10, 2012, Girardi had more faith in the lefty Ibanez against the Orioles’ premier closer Jim Johnson. And Ibanez rewarded his manager, not once, but twice. His solo home run in the ninth inning sent the game into extra frames. Ibanez, making just $1.1 million this season with no 2013 contract, came up again leading off the 12th inning off tough young lefthander Brian Matusz. Ibanez sent another pitch into the right field seats for a walk-off winner.

The other decision Girardi made? It may be meaningless, but Derek Jeter was not on the field for the final 12 outs. After fouling a pitch off his foot early in the game, Jeter was noticeably limping after singling in the sixth. Girardi called on Jayson Nix to play shortstop in the ninth inning. Last night, the defensive replacement was most likely due to an ailing Jeter. But the door is open for Girardi to replace the future Hall of Famer on defense late in games. Will a healthy Jeter be replaced later this postseason? Maybe not, but Girardi has earned some trust among all his players should he pull the trigger and pull Jeter late in games.

-Charlie Miller (@AthlonCharlie)

<p> By pinch-hitting for Alex Rodriguez and allowing backup shortstop Jayson Nix finish the game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi may have opened the final chapter for the Old Guard for New York.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 11:12