Articles By All

Path: /college-football/big-ten-post-week-3-power-rankings
Body:

After two concerning weeks of play in the Big Ten, the league watched many of its teams bounce back with easy wins. It finished 10-2 this week with losses to Notre Dame and Ball State, but what was the top win of Week 3? Ohio State inching past Cal? Wisconsin luckily topping Utah State? Or Nebraska over Arkansas State? The point being, it wasn't exactly a marquee slate and Michigan State failed the one national test the league was facing against the Irish. The truth of the matter is there is no BCS national title contender in the B1G this season. That much is obvious.

However, it doesn't mean there won't be plenty of excitement and drama. Both divisions appear to be wide open with at least legit contenders in each one. And quarterback play looks like it will be the key to success. Indiana has lost Tre Roberson. Illinois has been without Nathan Scheelhaase now for two weeks. Purdue looks to have lost Robert Marve (which could be a blessing). And now, both Minnesota and Wisconsin are makings switches — for two very different reasons.

Post-Week 3 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State - Is there anything this kid cannot do? Miller threw for 249 yards and four touchdowns, including two huge fourth-quarter strikes that won the game for the Buckeyes. He added another 75 yards rushing and his fifth touchdown on the ground as well. That's 12 total TDs thus far in three games.

2. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan - The competition was pretty weak, but Robinson was up to his old tricks. He threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns while topping the century mark in rushing (106) and scoring again on the ground. These two dual-threats should battle for POY all season.

3. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska - The junior QB bounced back from the loss to UCLA in excellent fashion. He completed 13-of-14 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns to go with 54 yards rushing and another score. He leads the league in passing yards and is No. 2 in efficiency to go with 176 yards rushing and two more scores.

 

Post-Week 3 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Will Compton, LB, Nebraska -
The Huskers defense got off the mat and played well in a bounce-back performance against a solid Arkansas State offense (286 total yards allowed). Compton posted seven tackles and another tackle for loss. He now leads NU in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks. 

2. Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin - The Badgers struggled to defeat a solid Utah State team but Taylor was the main reason they held on to win. He was all over the field against the dynamic USU option attack. He is now second in the league in tackles after a 15-stop performance this week.

3. Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State - The speedy Buckeye tackler stood out all day in the win over Cal. He made bone-crushing hits, posted 13 total tackles, two tackles for a loss and one of the Bucks' six sacks. He has all the skills needed to be the next great OSU linebacker.

 

Post-Week 3 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State - The Buckeyes' head man gets the nod because A) His team hasn't lost yet B) He has the best team in the league C) And there are no other clear candidates for COY.

2. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern - Most of the coaches in the Big Ten are dealing with major adversity, so an unbeaten record against three consecutive BCS AQ teams makes Fitz a prime candidate (today, at least) for COY.

3. Pick a Name, State U - Mark Dantonio's team got man-handled (again) by Notre Dame. Jerry Kill is 3-0, but who have they beaten? Brady Hoke's team is going to be good but has some major weaknesses. There is no clearcut No. 3 candidate, but I have a feeling Bo Pelini will be back on this list after recovering from a health scare this weekend.

 

Post-Week 3 Power Rankings

1. Ohio State (3-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 3 result: Beat Cal 35-28

The Buckeyes welcomed back starting tailback Jordan Hall and got six sacks from six different players in a game that was much tighter than expected. After taking a 20-7 commanding lead in the first half on the dynamic play-making ability of star quarterback Braxton Miller, Cal dominated the third period of play. It out-gained Ohio State 190-10 and eventually took the lead 21-20 a few minutes into the fourth quarter. But time after time, the Buckeyes turned to Miller to overcome the big-play punches by the Golden Bears. The star dual-threat QB led two long scoring drives to give OSU the lead twice in the final frame, the last of which ended on a game-winning 72-yard touchdown pass in which Miller scrambled right and found a wide open Devin Smith. After another 324 yards of total offense and five total touchdowns, Miller has placed himself squarely in the Heisman race with key completions and gritty runs. He has seven passing touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns on the season. Despite the play of Miller, Urban Meyer knows his team still has some issues. The running game got a boost from Hall (17 att., 87 yards), but was still lackluster. While his pass rush was clearly improved, the tackling was an issue all day as the defense allowed big plays in the running game that nearly cost OSU the win. There are plenty of kinks that need ironing out with one cupcake left to go before the Big Ten season begins in East Lansing.
This week: UAB (1-1)

2. Michigan (2-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 3 result: Beat UMass 63-13
The Wolverines entered this weekend ranked 113th nationally against the run and Brady Hoke was undoubtedly hoping to rebuild those stats against lowly UMass. And while 112 yards isn't exactly what he was hoping for, it was 139 yards fewer than his team had been allowing. Otherwise, Denard Robinson and company got their reps in against a team that had no chance to win the game. Shoelace finished with four total touchdowns and 397 yards of total offense (291 pass, 106 rush) in a warm-up for what should be a monster game next weekend against Notre Dame. He will need his rushing attack against that Irish front seven and it showed up in Week 3 to the tune of 294 yards and six touchdowns on the ground in the win over the Minutemen. See the Michigan State Spartans to know exactly what the Maize and Blue will be facing next week against the Golden Domers.
This week: at Notre Dame (3-0)

3. Michigan State (2-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 3 result: Lost to Notre Dame 20-3
For the second straight season Michigan State got physically dominated by Notre Dame. Le'Veon Bell found no room to run (19 att., 77 yards), Andrew Maxwell was uninspiring (23-of-45, 187 yards, 0 TD) and the vaunted Spartans defense could not make the key play against a freshman quarterback. A combined score of 51-16 over the last two seasons clearly give the Irish's Brian Kelly an advantage over Mark Dantonio. It was a deflating performance that highlighted the weaknesses of a one-dimensional offense in East Lansing. The great news, however, is that Michigan State lost to ND last fall in ugly fashion and then went on to win the Legends Division. Sparty is still very much a top contender for the wide open Big Ten championship. 
This week: Eastern Michigan (0-3) 

4. Nebraska (2-1)
Previous rank: 4
Week 3 result: Beat Arkansas State 42-13

Nebraska took a 28-3 lead into halftime at Memorial Stadium, but when it came out to play the second half, Bo Pelini wasn't in the building. The head coach was taken by ambulance to Bryant West Hospital for precautionary reasons after falling ill in the first half. Huskers athletic director Tom Osbourne released a statement that Pelini is "doing fine" and "looks as though he's in pretty good shape." Arkansas State put together its rally in the third, cutting the lead to 28-13 before Taylor Martinez and Ameer Abdullah willed their team to victory for "interim coach" and current DC John Papuchis. Martinez was brilliant, completing 13-of-14 passes and accounting for three touchdowns, while Abdullah was the workhorse Nebraska needed with Rex Burkhead sitting on the sidelines once again. The sophomore runner carried 30 times and caught two passes for 206 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. The defense also bounced back from its poor Week 2 showing by holding Ryan Aplin and Arkansas State to only 286 total yards. The four turnovers are concerning for NU, but this was an incredibly efficient performance by the Big Red: 10-of-13 on third down, 13-of-14 passing, 5.9 yards per carry and only four penalties. The head coach and star tailback likely won't be needed to defeat Idaho State next weekend, but a healthy Pelini and Burkhead would be a welcome sight for Nebraska fans.
This week: Idaho State (1-1)

5. Northwestern (3-0)
Previous rank: 6
Week 3 result: Beat Boston College 22-13
It was frustrating at times for Northwestern but a win is a win, and now the Wildcats are the only team in the nation with three wins over BCS AQ teams. Pat Fitzgerald's offense drove into the redzone numerous times throughout this game but simply could not convert, settling for a career-high five field goals from Jeff Budzien. The ground game was the big difference for NW as three different players got at least 15 carries and the team nearly rushed for 300 yards. Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian continue to split reps and both were effective this week. Will Coach Fitz have to pick one or can he continue to rotate passers deep into the Big Ten schedule? That remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the once-maligned Wildcats defense continues to show slight improvement, holding BC to 25 yards rushing on 21 carries while keeping them 20 points below their scoring average (33 ppg coming in). With South Dakota and Indiana up next, a 5-0 start is likely for a team that appears to have plenty of mental toughness. 
This week: South Dakota (1-1)

6. Purdue (2-1)
Previous rank: 9
Week 3 result: Beat Eastern Michigan 54-16
With just over nine minutes to go in the second quarter, Eastern Michigan kicked a field goal to cut the lead to four points at 13-9. Purdue then scored five straight touchdowns and outscored EMU 41-7 the rest of the way to win the first of a four-game home stand. Without having to look over his shoulder at Robert Marve, Caleb TerBush spread the wealth all over the field in West Lafayette. Six different Boilermakers scored seven offensive touchdowns and four players rushed for at least 47 yards. In fact, of Purdue's 576 total yards of offense, 392 came on the ground on an absurd per carry average of 9.3 yards. With a bye week coming next Saturday and stability under center, this rushing attack should have the Boilermakers 3-1 when Michigan heads to town on Oct. 6.
This week: Open Date

7. Wisconsin (2-1)
Previous rank: 5
Week 3 result: Beat Utah State 16-14
The Badger faithful need to head into Week 4 extremely thankful to be 2-1. After making a coaching change along the offensive line, Wisconsin's once-vaunted power rushing attack continues to be a shell of its former self (3.5 yards per carry on 45 attempts). It did show improvement from last week, and when needed, the Badgers drove the ball on the ground giving the football to Montee Ball six straight times for the go-ahead touchdown. That said, it took a huge third-quarter special teams touchdown from Kenzel Doe and a missed 37-yard yard field goal from Utah State as time expired to beat the Aggies. The biggest issue? Play-calling and quarterback play. Matt Canada continues to be lackluster as the architect and Danny O'Brien was so lost in the first half against a WAC team that he was benched at halftime. Joel Stave, a big 6-foot-5, 220-pound youngster, played the entire second half and showed a nice arm. But he wasn't asked to do much of anything (2-of-6 passing, 15 yards) and there are serious doubts about this passing game being able to complete big plays in key spots late in games. This team is nowhere near what it was last fall and games against Purdue, Illinois and Penn State are now complete toss ups in the race for the Leaders Division crown.
This week: UTEP (1-2)

8. Illinois (2-1)
Previous rank: 7
Week 3 result: Beat Charleston Southern 44-0
Starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase sat out his second straight game, but this time around Reilly O'Toole was near perfect. And the defense did the rest. The back-up signal caller completed his first 10 passes for 106 yards and two scores to kickstart the Illini offense and he finished 26-of-31 for 333 yards and five touchdowns in the blowout win. The defense whitewashed the overmatched Buccaneers with relative ease as CSU finished 0-of-13 on third downs and totaled 125 yards of offense. It was a much-needed breather after the ugly West Coast trip to Arizona State last week. And in this league, any easy win is welcomed with open arms. Scheelhaase is questionable for the tricky test with the defending WAC champion Bulldogs next weekend.
This week: Louisiana Tech (2-0)

9. Iowa (2-1)
Previous rank: 8
Week 3 result: Beat Northern Iowa 27-16
The Hawkeyes needed to find offense from somewhere, but I doubt many believe walk-on fullback Mark Weisman would be the guy. He carried the ball 23 times for 113 yards and three short touchdown runs in place of the injured Damon Bullock and Greg Garmon. Weisman's three scores were three time the total number of touchdowns scored all season by the entire Iowa team in its first two games. Quarterback James Vandenberg played his best game as the Hawks battled with in-state upstart Northern Iowa for three quarters before eventually shutting out UNI in the final frame. The offense was better (429 total yards), but this team still does not have a passing touchdown on the season and played a third-straight tight game. Can I? Should I? Okay, why not: Weisman for Heisman!
This week: Central Michigan (1-1)

10. Penn State (1-2)
Previous rank: 10
Week 3 result: Beat Navy 34-7
Finally, Nittany Lion nation can breathe a sigh of relief. Bill O'Brien's team showed marked improvement from Week 1 to Week 2, but simply couldn't close the deal against Virginia in heart-breaking fashion. This Saturday, he made sure his team left no doubt as they rolled through the Naval Academy with relative ease. Without either of his top two tailbacks, quarterback Matt McGloin had the best games of his career (231 yards, 4 TD) in leading his team to a 34-0 lead before the Midshipmen finally got on the board for the first time with 10 minutes to go in the game. Wideout Allen Robinson continues to shine with another great game: 5 rec., 136 yards, 3 TD. There are few wins this weekend that mean as much and feel as good as Penn State's did Saturday as this program was in dire need of something positive to rally behind. And who knows, in this year's Big Ten Leaders Division that appears to be completely wide open, maybe the Nits will be a factor after all.
This week: Temple (0-2)

11. Minnesota (3-0)
Previous rank: 11
Week 3 result: Beat Western Michigan 28-23
The Gophers were trailing 10-7 with four minutes to go in the second quarter when Marqueis Gray hurt his left ankle and leg. The Big Ten's most efficient passer after two weeks (yes, you read that right) was carted off the field and never returned. Never fear, however, as back-up Max Shortell reenergized the sputtering passing attack by completing 5-of-6 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns in the final minutes of the first half to give the Gophers a 21-10 halftime lead. The Broncos made it interesting in the final few minutes with a late touchdown but Minnesota held on for its first 3-0 start since 2008. Tailback Donnell Kirkwood helped his young quarterback by rushing for a career-high 123 yards on 23 attempts, including one key 26-yard run late in the game that all but sealed the win. Jerry Kill's three wins this year have already matched the win total in each of the previous two seasons in the Twin Cities.
This week: Syracuse (1-2)

12. Indiana (2-1)
Previous rank: 12
Week 3 result: Lost to Ball State 41-39
In what was likely the most entertaining game of the Big Ten Week 3 slate, Indiana lost a heart-breaking affair for the second straight season to Ball State. Without star quarterback Tre Roberson, the Hoosiers saw the lead change hands seven times including twice in the final 49 seconds. Cameron Coffman, in his first career start, threw for 251 yards and two scores before being pulled for true freshman Nate Sudfield. And in one quarter trailing by 13, Sudfield rallied Indiana with one big 70-yard touchdown throw and another 77-yard drive to take the lead with less than a minute left. He finished 13-of-20 for 172 yards and two scores. However, Ball State QB Keith Wenning was masterful in guiding his team on yet another scoring drive in the final 49 seconds to set up the game-winning 42-yard field goal. Unfortunately, Kevin Wilson's bunch might be done winning games in 2012.
This week: Open Date


by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 3 Recap

ACC Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Pac-12 East Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 3 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Post-Week 3 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, September 17, 2012 - 06:01
Path: /nfl/49ers-defeat-lions-27-19-sunday-night-football
Body:

The San Francisco 49ers dominating defense and methodical offense won for the second straight week, beating the Detroit Lions by the score of 27-19 in Candlestick Park. Jim Harbaugh’s club is looking like the early NFC favorite after defeating fellow NFC playoff clubs, the Packers and Lions, in their two victories. Patrick Willis and San Francisco defense held the high-octane Detroit attack to under 300 total yards and just 15 first downs, with much of those totals coming in the fourth quarter. When the Lions did move the ball, the Niners were able to keep them out of the end zone and force four Jason Hanson field goals.

The 49ers are not just about defense, however, with quarterback Alex Smith racking up another efficient performance in passing for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Both scoring passes went to tight end Vernon Davis, while receiver Michael Crabtree (six catches for 67 yards) was a valuable target on third down. Veteran tailback Frank Gore added 17 carries for 89 yards and a touchdown

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford had thrown for over 350 yards in four straight games dating back to last season, but he was held to 230 yards and one late touchdown by the stifling Niners defense. Additionally, All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson was held under 100 yards and did not score.

San Francisco will try to go 3-0 in Minnesota next Sunday afternoon, while Detroit will travel to Tennessee.

Teaser:
<p> The 49ers defeat the Lions 27-19 on Sunday Night Football</p>
Post date: Monday, September 17, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-post-week-3-power-rankings
Body:

The Pac-12 continues to show its depth as the second-best league in the country. But it might have cost them a national championship contender. And Stanford was the culprit that both illustrates the strength of the league while also potentially knocking USC out of the BCS title game. The run the Cardinal are on against the Trojans is remarkable and will only make the North Division race that much more interesting. Meanwhile, the South Division just got extremely intriguing. UCLA and Arizona are clicking on an unprecedented number of cylinders while Utah won a key non-conference game against a very solid BYU team. Oh, and USC is trailing all of them in the division standings currently.

Post-Week 3 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Matt Scott, QB, Arizona - The opponent leaves much to be desired, but Scott has simply been unstoppable. He completed 30-of-36 passes for 288 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing nine times for 61 yards and another score on the ground. His 395.0 yards of total offense per game is fourth nationally and leads the Pac-12.

2. De'Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon - There is no more dangerous and explosive player in the nation. Thomas carried three times for 62 yards and a TD. He caught three passes for a team-leading 72 yards and a touchdown. And he returned four punts for 87 yards. That is seven total TDs in 24 offensive touches in three games (really, just three first halves).

3. Brett Hundley and Johnathan Franklin, UCLA -  Hundley threw for his second-straight 300-yard effort and has eight passing touchdowns in three games. He leads the league's top offense as UCLA trails only Oklahoma State nationally in yards per game (622 ypg). Franklin's 168 yards from scrimmage (110 rushing) and no scores seems so paltry compared to his first two games, but still gives him the lead nationally in rushing (180.3 ypg).

Note: Don't worry, Matt Barkley will be back in the top three shortly, so I thought I would throw a bone to the rest of the loaded Pac-12

Post-Week 3 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Star Lotulelei, DL, Utah - The Utes totally shutdown the BYU Cougars for three quarters. He posted seven tackles, one tackle for loss and blocked the game-tying 51-yard field goal attempt with no time left on the clock. He is arguably the best defensive player in the league and was on full display Saturday night in one of the best rivalries in college football.

2. Jake Fischer, LB, Arizona - The Pac-12's leading tackler (11.0 per game) posted another six stops and a tackle for loss as the leader of a defense that pitched its first shutout in four seasons and allowed 154 total yards of offense.

3. Jordan Richards, DB, Stanford - Really the Defensive Human of the Week is Stanford DC Derek Mason, but Richards had a huge game against the best passing attack in the nation. He posted two interceptions, four tackles, a tackle for loss and four passes defensed — which gives him a Pac-12-best nine on the year.

Post-Week 3 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Chip Kelly, Oregon - The Ducks have been so dominant that few of Kelly's starters have gotten any playing time in the second half. His offense is arguably the best in the nation and, now, he will be ranked ahead of a one-loss USC in the polls. His defense will get a test this weekend from Rich Rodriguez' Wildcats.

2. David Shaw, Stanford - Shaw's coaching staff deserves loads of credit for the game plan against Matt Barkley, both offensively and defensively. Shaw has never lost to Lane Kiffin and now is doing it without all-universe quarterback Andrew Luck. No doubt, Shaw is the national coach of the week this weekend.

3. Jim Mora Jr., UCLA - Few teams in the nation have shown more improvement than UCLA and after another 567 total yards, 98 plays and 37 points, the Bruins are 3-0 and poised to challenge in the South. Is this the same team that lost eight games last fall?

Post-Week 3 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (3-0)
Previous rank: 2
Week 3 result: Beat Tennessee Tech 63-14
Former Tennessee wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers caught a touchdown pass for Tennessee Tech to make the score 7-0. Oregon then scored seven straight touchdowns and that was that for Chip Kelly. Most of the starters were out of the game by halftime as the high-flying offense continued its mastery of college football. Marcus Mariota threw four touchdown passes, De'Anthony Thomas touched the ball six times and scored twice and the defense allowed a total of 177 yards. This offense is such a machine that stud recruit Byron Marshall was the most used weapon, carrying 13 times for a game-high 125 yards and the Ducks' final touchdown. Tennessee Tech is obviously no challenge and the schedule only gets tougher for Oregon from here on out, however, Alabama might be the only team that has looked better than Kelly's bunch. This team has scored 162 points in three games with 125 coming in the first half — when the starters have been playing.  
This week: Arizona (3-0)

2. Stanford (3-0)
Previous rank: 4
Week 3 result: Beat USC 21-14
The numbers are well reported. It is the fourth straight win for Stanford and the fifth in sixth years over USC. But this win, without Andrew Luck or Jim Harbaugh, has to be the most satisfying. Not only were the Trojans ranked No. 2 in the nation, but some of the David Shaw/Josh Nunes doubters have to pipe down for the time being. The defensive game plan from coordinator Derek Mason was brilliant as it shut down one of the nation's premiere offensive attacks. He attacked the Khaled Holmes-less offensive line up the gut and it knocked Matt Barkley completely out of rhythm. Then Nunes delivered on a handful of big passes and the power rushing attack took over the game. The underrated Stepfan Taylor carried the offense, rushing 27 times for 153 yards and a score on the ground to go with five receptions for 60 yards and another score through the air. Fans of other teams from around the Pac-12 can thank the Cardinal and Shaw for executing the precise blueprint for success over USC. Slow the game down and be physical. Stanford gets a well-desreved rest this weekend and it comes at a great time as the upcoming schedule doesn't get much easier: at Washington, Arizona, at Notre Dame and at Cal.
This week: Open Date

3. USC (2-1)
Previous rank: 1
Week 3 result: Lost to Stanford 21-14
Star center Khaled Holmes didn't play and the void left in the middle of the USC offensive line was likely the difference between an unbeaten season, and now, a vicious battle for the Pac-12 South title. Matt Barkley had little time to throw and the Trojans ground game had little space to run as Stanford consistently attacked the heart of the USC offense. The Heisman frontrunner is now a very Peyton Manning-esque 0-4 against Stanford for his career and won't get another shot unless the two squads rmeet again in the Pac-12 title game. He finished 20-of-41 for 253 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns for the first time since getting hurt against Oregon State two seasons ago. The dynamic wideout tandem of Robert Woods and Marqise Lee posted 37 receptions, 398 yards and eight touchdowns combined through two games. They caught no touchdowns and combined for 138 yards Saturday night. Lane Kiffin is now 0-2 against David Shaw and USC has lost four straight for the first time in the history of this rivalry. A conference crown and national title are still very much within reach and losing early isn't the worst thing that could happen to the Men of Troy. If they win out, there is still a good chance they land in the national title game. But make no mistake, the worst fears of Trojan supporters were realized: USC could have trouble stopping a power rushing attack in big games. Stanford out-rushed the Trojans 200 to 23 yards and Monte Kiffin's defense couldn't get any key stops in the fourth quarter.
This week: Cal (1-2)

4. UCLA (3-0)
Previous rank: 3
Week 3 result: Beat Houston 37-6
Houston defeated UCLA 38-34 last season in Houston and what a difference a year makes. Both teams have changed coaches and quarterbacks, and this time around, UCLA completely crushed the C-USA power. The No. 1 offense in the Pac-12 rolled-up 247 yards rushing and 320 yards passing and 37 points in the third straight win for the Bruins under Jim Mora. Eleven different players caught a Brett Hundley pass, including defensive line standout Datone Jones, who caught a touchdown pass to go with his four tackles and three tackles for loss. Led by Jones, the defense also played well, holding the once-stellar Cougar offense to zero points for the first 55 minutes of play. The statistical improvement from last year has been remarkable for UCLA. This team was 72nd in total offense last year nationally and sits at No. 2 nationally in 2012. This team was 88th in scoring at 23.1 points per game and are now scoring 40.7 per game this year. This team was 92nd in scoring defense at 31.4 points per game last fall and are now 40th at 20.0 per game this time around. This week: Oregon State (1-0) 

5. Arizona (3-0)
Previous rank: 5
Week 3 result: Beat South Carolina State 59-0
There was little to learn about Arizona against SCSU this weekend, but sandwiched around national games against Oklahoma State in Week 2 and a trip north to Oregon next weekend, the Wildcats had to take of business in Week 3. And take care of business was exactly what RichRod's team did. The defense pitched a shutout and allowed only 154 yards of total offense, stopping SCSU on all but two of its 13 third-down attempts. On offense, Matt Scott continued his brilliance. His offense ran 102 plays for 689 yards and registered 43 first downs in the blowout win. Ka'Deem Carey also scored his sixth touchdown of the season. This team is good, but how good won't be known until it attempts to head north to Eugene this weekend. There should be plenty of points, but is Zona ready for the big time? A 3-1 start is still good, right?
This week: at Oregon (3-0)


6. Washington (2-1)
Previous rank: 6
Week 3 result: Beat Portland State 52-13
Consider the wounds officially licked. However, the Huskies better rest up during the bye week because their journey only gets worse. After a brutal thrashing at the hands of LSU, and with Stanford, Oregon and USC the next three games, Portland State was exactly what Washington needed. Keith Price was effective and spread the ball around to his big-play receivers on the outside.  The running game was reestablished behind a great afternoon from Bishop Sankey. And the defense got third-down stops and the turned the ball over to its offense. It was a great confidence boost heading into arguably the toughest three-game stretch any team in the Pac-12 will play all season. Ideally, the trip to Baton Rouge was a learning experience because this league appears much deeper than believed.
This week: Open Date


7. Utah (2-1)
Previous rank: 10
Week 3 result: Beat BYU 24-20
The 12-year winning streak over Utah State that was snapped last week, and combined with the retirement of starting quarterback Jordan Wynn, fans in Salt Lake City were very nervous about The Holy War. Well, just because the Utes have issues on offense, doesn't mean the defense isn't still one of the league's best. Led by Star Lotulelei and a game-changing defensive touchdown, Utah won a quirky rivalry game to save its season. Late in the third quarter, BYU had a first down on the Utah 25 trailing 10-7. A bad snap and subsequent fumble was scooped up by Mo Lee and returned for a touchdown, capping a 17-point quarter. BYU came back with two fourth-quarter touchdowns but Lotulelei delivered the final blow, blocking a potential game-tying 51-yard field goal attempt as time expired. Quarterback play will be an issue for this team going foward — and the rushing game struggled against a quality defense — but this defense should keep the Utes in most games they play from here on out. Kyle Whittingham's bunch is still a major factor in the suddenly very interesting Pac-12 South race.
This week: at Arizona State (2-1)

8. Oregon State (1-0)
Previous rank: 7
Week 3 result: Bye Week
With two open dates in the first three weeks, intentionally or not, Oregon State now looks at 11 straight weeks of play. At least Mike Riley's bunch should be rested as they will play three of the next four on the road: at UCLA, at Arizona, Washington State and at BYU.
This week: at UCLA (3-0)

9. California (1-2)
Previous rank: 9
Week 3 result: Lost to Ohio State 35-28
Coaches will never claim a moral victory but Cal fans have to be very pleased with the way their team played this weekend in the Horseshoe. After falling behind 20-7 at halftime, Cal dominated the third quarter 190-10 in yardage and eventually took the lead early in the fourth quarter. Behind big plays from freshman tailback Brendan Bigelow, Cal battled back into the game and nearly pulled off the upset. The Bears out-gained the Buckeyes by 100 yards (512 to 412) but Ohio State's star quarterback Braxton Miller and angry pass rush was too much to overcome on the road. Miller was unstoppable in the final frame making clutch throws and gritty runs on two huge scoring drives. The key breakdown coming on a 72-yard touchdown pass in which Cal allowed Devin Smith to stroll wide open down the right sideline. Zack Maynard and brother Keenan Allen played valiantly but could not overcome six sacks (Cal had none on defense) and eventually fell to the Big Ten power. Jeff Tedford, who seems to be getting some unfair levels of heat in Berkeley, now faces USC, Arizona State and UCLA in his next three. So while he criticism might be somewhat unwarranted, a 1-5 start to the season would likely be unacceptable.
This week: at USC (2-0)

10. Arizona State (2-1)
Previous rank: 8
Week 3 result: Lost to Missouri 24-20
The Sun Devils put themselves in a big hole, trailing 24-7 entering the fourth quarter. But Todd Graham's guys showed some fight and clawed back to within four and nearly overcame four turnovers on offense to defeat a James Franklin-less Missouri team. Quarterback Taylor Kelly has played well this season and led ASU on two fourth-quarter scoring drives which ended in two Marion Grice touchdown runs. However, a botched extra point attempt on the final score likely cost the Sun Devils a chance to send the game into overtime. Arizona State got the ball back with 1:58 left in the game in field goal range at the Mizzou 21. Three plays later, Kelly tossed his second interception in the endzone to thwart the comeback effort. Had the extra point not been missed, an ASU field goal could have tied the game. A bowl pecking order contest with Utah is not on tap for the Sun Devils.
This week: Utah (2-1)

11. Washington State (2-1)
Previous rank: 11
Week 3 result: Beat UNLV 35-27
Back-up quarterback Connor Halliday is making a serious case to be the starting quarterback at Washington State. He made his second career start Friday night, throwing for four first-half touchdowns and 378 yards in a key road win for the Cougars. He already has two freshman passing records — 494 yards and four touchdowns coming off the bench to beat Arizona State last year — to his credit and starter Jeff Tuel has been unable to stay on the field for any extended period of time. These two factors alone could make Mike Leach's coming decision on who should start a bit more difficult. In the win over UNLV, the Air Raid offense looked its best thus far this season and receivers Marquess Wilson and Gabe Marks got on track, catching two long scoring strikes as Wilson finally looked like the preseason All-American experts believed him to be. Yet, there is still cause for concern. Wazzu allowed 460 yards of offense, needed a stop in its own territory as time expired to hold on for the win and lost the time of possession battle by more than 11 minutes (35:32 to 24:28). Not being able to run the football (83 yards on Friday) or convert on third down (5-of-14) or keep the flags off the field (12 penalties for 128 yards) against a team as bad as the 0-3 Rebels is a warning sign that this team might not be ready for postseason play just yet.
This week: Colorado (0-3)

12. Colorado (0-3)
Previous rank: 12
Week 3 result: Lost to Fresno State 69-14
At this point, there isn't much to say. The Buffs are off to arguably the worst start in school history with losses to two "mid-majors" and an FCS program. But at least the first two were extremely competitive. That was not the case against Fresno State. Derek Carr led his team to a 35-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. The first quarter. The Bulldogs out-gained the Buffaloes 665 yards to 278 and forced four Colorado turnovers in the lop-sided victory. An 0-12 season is very much a possibility.
This week: at Washington State (2-1)

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 3 Recap

ACC Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 3 Power
Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 3 Power Rankings

Pac-12 Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 3 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Post-Week 3 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, September 17, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /nfl/most-important-stats-nfl-sunday-week-2
Body:

NFL football is the greatest reality TV program of all time. The Giants and Colts made sure of that back in 1958. Each NFL fall weekend is a completely new and original experience for every player, fan and coach alike. New stories, new personalities, new winners and new losers. And new statistics.

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 2 of NFL play: 

Nov. 18, 2001: The last time the New England Patriots lost at home to an NFC West team
The last time New England lost at home to an NFC West team, the NFL only had six divisions. The St. Louis Rams were the last such team to go into the Pats' home stadium and win. It puts into perspective what the Arizona Cardinals accomplished on Sunday in their 20-18 win in Foxborough. In fact, only once since 2002 has any NFC team gone into Gillette Stadium and won — the 2011 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. The Green Bay Packers in '02 were the last NFC team before last year's Giants to win in New England. 

75: Total points allowed in two games by the New Orleans Saints
Against two teams that combined for a 11-21 record last fall, Washington and Carolina, the Saints allowed 40 and then 35 points in two bad losses to start 2012. The 75 total points allowed is worst in the NFL as the defense has allowed a league-worst 922 total yards of offense to start the year. Not having the leadership of Sean Payton has clearly had an impact on the Saints' playoff chances. A visit from the equally defensively inept Kansas City Chiefs should help in Week 3, but a trip to Green Bay and a home game against San Diego loom large before the bye week. The Chiefs are tied for last in the league with the Saints in points allowed, so there should be plenty of offense in the Superdome. Having said all of that, have no fear Who Dat? Nation because...

12%: The number of 0-2 teams that will make the playoffs
Since 1990, 12 percent of teams that begin the season 0-2 have gone on to make the playoffs. That is roughly one out of eight. The Saints are actually the only NFC team without a win thus far while the AFC claims the Titans, Jaguars, Browns, Raiders and Chiefs. There is obviously a chance none of those winless teams makes the postseason, but it seems pretty fair to assume that one and only one of those six will land in the promised land. And let's be honest, none of those other five teams appear capable of making any sort of playoff push, so if this year features an 0-2 playoff team, odds are it will be the Saints.

43:17: A Texans franchise record for time of possession
Houston held the ball for a franchise record 43:17 in the dominating 27-7 win over Jacksonville. The Texans also set a team record for total offensive plays with 83 and rushing attempts with 48. The 28 first downs were No. 2 all-time in team history. The defense set a few records for Jacksonville as well, by allowing a Jaguars team only 117 yards of total offense and a pathetic 16:43 minutes time of possession. While New England fell to Arizona, the Texans flexed some serious muscle on both sides of the ball. After two weeks of play, the Texans look like the best team in the AFC.

26-to-5: Alex Smith's TD-to-INT ratio under Jim Harbaugh
Smith has played 20 total games under Jim Harbaugh's leadership in San Francisco including the playoffs. He is 16-4 as the starter, with one of those losses coming in the NFC Championship game against the eventual champions last year. He hasn't throw an interception in a franchise-record 216 consecutive passes and has the 49ers 2-0 against two playoff hopefuls from the NFC North. To put these numbers into perspective, consider his win-loss record and TD:INT ratio prior to Harbaugh's arrival. Smith was 19-31 as a starter with 41 touchdowns and 53 interceptions. Now, under the tutelage of the QB Whisperer, Smith hasn't missed a start and is the leader of the best team in the NFL.

1: Total interceptions thrown by the five rookie quarterbacks
The five rookie quarterbacks making their debut in Week 1 combined to throw 11 interceptions and only four touchdowns in their first taste of NFL football. They went 1-4 as starters with Robert Griffin III and the Redskins getting the only win. This week, the quintet was dramatically improved, throwing only one interception (RG3) and accounting for 10 total touchdowns. The group improved to 3-2 as starters and three of the five now have a career 300-yard passing game as Brandon Weeden joined Griffin III and Andrew Luck with 322 yards against the Bengals.

12: NFL-record first-half receptions by Rams Danny Amendola
The stars of what was likely the best game of the day were certainly Sam Bradford and Robert Griffin III — and possibly the replacement refs, but that is for an entirely different reason. But the little St. Louis wideout tied an NFL record by catching 12 passes in the first half of the huge 31-28 over the Redskins. Bradford finished with 26 completions, 15 of which went to the former Texas Tech receiver, which tied a franchise record for catches in a game with Isaac Bruce and Willie Anderson (who went for a team-record 336 yards on his 15 receptions). Amendola finished with 160 yards and one touchdown after catching five total passes in 2011.

364: C.J. Spiller's total yards from scrimmage in two games
The NFL's leading rusher by a mile (292 yards) is the Bills third-year running back from Clemson. The all-purpose dynamo's 364 yards from scrimmage is the third-best two-game start to a season in Buffalo history (ESPN.com). Thurman Thomas (410, 1991) and O.J. Simpson (405, 1975) are the only other players in franchise history to gain more yards in the team's first two games. That is pretty good company for Spiller. He has topped 100-yards in both games and has scored three times — tied for the NFL lead in touchdowns with three others (Arian Foster, Vernon Davis, Nelson Rosario). Most importantly, the Bills got the win in Week 2.

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> Most Important Stats From NFL Sunday: Week 2</p>
Post date: Monday, September 17, 2012 - 05:59
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Legends Poll
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-week-3
Body:

The first Legends Poll of the season has come out. The top 25 poll, as voted on by 17 retired college football coaching legends, has Alabama and LSU ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.

Alabama was the unanimous top-ranked team amongst the voters after starting the season 3-0 and demolishing Arkansas, 52-0, on Saturday.

“Alabama is the most physical football team in the country,” former Auburn coach Pat Dye said. “They just keep bringing in good players and they don’t miss a beat.”

LSU claimed the No. 2 spot, followed by the top team in the Pac-12, Oregon. Fourth-ranked Florida State made its first appearance in the Legends Poll in a long while. And Georgia was ranked fifth, giving the SEC three teams in the top 5.

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

THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25

Rank Team Record Points Pv Rk  
1 Alabama (17) 3-0 425 -  
2 LSU 3-0 402 -  
3 Oregon 3-0 382 -  
4 Florida State 3-0 374 -  
5 Georgia 3-0 349 -  
6 Oklahoma 2-0 320 -  
7 West Virginia 2-0 291 -  
8 Stanford 3-0 284 -  
9 South Carolina 3-0 279 -  
10 Clemson 3-0 260 -  
11 Notre Dame 3-0 254 -  
12 Texas 3-0 242 -  
13 USC 2-1 220 -  
14 Florida 3-0 197 -  
15 Kansas State 3-0 195 -  
16 Ohio State 3-0 192 -  
17 TCU 2-0 166 -  
18 Michigan 2-1 131 -  
19 UCLA 3-0 122 -  
20 Louisville 3-0 119 -  
21 Arizona 3-0 85 -  
22 Michigan State 2-1 76 -  
23 Boise State 1-1 43 -  
24 Nebraska 2-1 21 -  
25 Missouri 2-1 20 -  
           
Others Receiving Votes

Virginia Tech 19, Oklahoma State 11, Tennessee 10, Mississippi State 10, Texas A&M 9, Wisconsin 6, Texas Tech 4, Northwestern 2, Pittsburgh 2, Georgia Tech 1, Utah 1, Cincinnati 1

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

Teaser:
<p> As voted on by 17 coaching legends</p>
Post date: Monday, September 17, 2012 - 05:47
All taxonomy terms: Washington Redskins, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/redskins-robert-griffin-iii-victimized-teammates-stupidity
Body:

We have a leader in the clubhouse for bonehead play of the year, and this one may stand up for the whole season.

With the Washington Redskins trailing the St. Louis Rams 31-28, the Skins were driving toward a potential tying field goal, or go-ahead touchdown. The Rams had done what the Rams do — leaving the Skins in the game by fumbling at the Washington 37 with 2:40 left. Seeing a chance to add to his budding legend, Robert Griffin III guided the Skins into scoring territory. Facing 3rd-and-8 at the St. Louis 36, Griffin hit Josh Morgan with a 7-yard pass to the 29, where Morgan decided the moment had come to try to show up Rams pest-in-chief Cortland Finnegan, who probably had it coming, but still. The resulting unsportsmanlike penalty forced the Skins back to the 44-yard line, and from there, Billy Cundiff's 61-yard field goal fell harmlessly short.

The penalty, part of a general late-game meltdown by players who lost their composure and replacement refs who lost control of the proceedings, marred RG3's latest heroics. Griffin finished 20-of-29 passing for 206 yards and a touchdown and added 82 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. He's the most electric rookie since, well, 2011, when a guy named Cam Newton was pulling off similar feats, and suffering similarly frustrating losses.

Kudos to Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, though, who passed for 310 yards and three touchdowns in giving the 'stache, Jeff Fisher, his first win in St. Louis.

Elsewhere...

• Okay, Chris Johnson's lack of production has gone from a concern to a four-alarm crisis. Through two games, Johnson has 19 carries for 23 yards. His Titans were never in their game with the Chargers, who struck early and often in a 38-10 drubbing.

• Sorry, Jets and Cowboys fans — your Week 1 successes were apparently a mirage. The Cowboys' special teams were especially horrendous,  surrendering an early 10-0 lead to the Seahawks on the way to a shocking 27-7 Seattle win, as rookie Russell Wilson outdueled Tony Romo. And the Jets returned to their preseason ways, mustering only 10 points a week after putting 48 on Buffalo. Mark Sanchez was a tidy 10-for-27 in the Steelers' 27-10 win, for a hellish passer rating of 66.6. I thought Tim Tebow was the Jets quarterback who couldn't pass.

Teaser:
<br />
Post date: Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 19:45
Path: /nfl/sunday-stunners-eli-manning-goes-wild-panic-time-drew-brees-saints
Body:

The NFL spent the first part of Sunday proving why it's America's game. Fantastic finishes, epic blunders and logic-defying comebacks were the order of the day. Thoughts after a wild slate of early games on the second NFL Sunday of 2012:

Eli Manning is the Man in Second Half
How good was Eli Manning in the second half of the New York Giants' 41-34 win over Tampa Bay? More to the point, how bad are the Bucs defensive backs?

Overcoming an abysmal three-interception first half, Manning threw for a career-high 510 yards, enhancing his rep as a closer by pitching two fourth-quarter touchdowns and erasing a 27-13 deficit. Hakeem Nicks (10 catches, 199 yards, 1 TD) and Victor Cruz (11 catches, 179 yards, 1 TD) made Bucs DBs Aqib Talib and Brandon McDonald look like Washington Generals trying to guard Globetrotters, flailing and grasping at air. And the Giants escaped an 0-2 hole that, as we all know, spells doom for playoff chances. Under the current playoff format, only 12 percent of teams starting 0-2 have recovered to make the playoffs. Sigh of relief for the defending champs.

Panic Time for Drew Brees, Saints
Speaking of 0-2, that's where the New Orleans Saints find themselves. The Carolina Panthers piled up 463 yards against a Saints defense that is suddenly leakier than a Lake Pontchartrain levee. Cam Newton threw for 253 yards and rushed for a career-high 71 as the Panthers piled up 219 yards on the ground and averaged 5.3 yards per rush. New Orleans has now allowed 924 yards and 75 points in two games. This one was a little bit personal for Carolina, which was still smarting from Drew Brees' five-touchdown game in Week 17 last season, when he was chasing NFL records. Today, Brees threw a single TD and was picked off twice. 

Arizona Cardinals Shock Tom Brady, New England Patriots
It looked like the Arizona Cardinals had Cardinal'ed the bed and Cardinal'ed away the lead when Ryan Williams fumbled at his own 30 with Arizona clinging to a 20-18 lead against the Patriots. But after having a touchdown called back by a penalty, the Patriots saw Steven Gostkowski's 42-yard potential game-winner sail wide. Tom Brady lost to Kevin Kolb. As someone Tweeted, maybe the Mayans were right. The end of the world is nigh.

Elsewhere...

• Philly shocked Baltimore 24-23 with a Michael Vick TD run inside two minutes. The Eagles now have consecutive wins despite four turnovers in both games. They ain't the Dream Team, but they're doing something right, in spite of themselves.

• Statistical stars:
Eli Manning — 31-of-51, 510 yards, 3 TDs (we'll cut him a break and not mention his three interceptions and pick-6)

Buffalo's C.J. Spiller — 15 carries, 123 yards rushing, 47 yards receiving, 2 TDs in the Bills' 35-17 win over the Chiefs

Indianapolis' Andrew Luck — 224 yards passing, 2 TDs and the first game-winning drive of his career in the Colts' 23-20 win over the Vikings

Cincy's Andy Dalton — 318 yards, 3 TDs in the Bengals' 34-27 win over Cleveland. Brandon Weeden also redeemed himself with a 114.9 passer rating and no

Miami's Reggie Bush - 172 rushing yards in Miami's 35-13 win over Oakland

Teaser:
<p> Fantastic Finishes Highlight Week 2</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 17:01
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-3-recap-three-and-out
Body:

The day in college football Saturday began with an upset no one saw coming when Pittsburgh, a team that looked like a mess against Youngstown State and Cincinnati, was dominant on both sides of the ball against Virginia Tech.

The night ended with Utah fans prematurely rushing the field twice against BYU -- first when officials ruled one second remained in the game and again before a blocked kick was called back on a 15-yard penalty. When the 36-yard attempt missed, Utah rushed the field, appropriately this time, for the 24-21 win.

In the middle, Stanford bruised USC’s national championship and Heisman hopes with yet another win over the Trojans, its fourth in a row. Alabama again flexed its muscles with a dismantling of Arkansas. Florida State and Notre Dame hinted Saturday this year might be different from previous seasons.

THREE AND OUT: WEEK 3 RECAP

MOVING THE CHAINS
Notre Dame.
Pick the reason Brian Kelly picked up his signature win of his tenure at Notre Dame: A 3-0 start. A win over a ranked team. Holding a top-10 team to a field goal on the road. The end of a six-game losing streak to ranked teams. In any event, it was a key win for Kelly, whose team was more physical than Michigan State, recording four sacks. Everett Golson was a lackluster 14-of-32, but he passed for a touchdown and rushed for a score in the second half.

Florida State. Against Wake Forest, the Seminoles conquered the thorn in their side in definitive fashion. The Demon Deacons had won four of the last six against the Seminoles before Florida State drilled Wake Forest 52-0. After facing Murray State and Savannah State, it was the first real test of the season, which Florida State answered with 385 rushing yards. The biggest story of the day, however, was Chris Thompson. He suffered a career-threatening broken back against Wake a year ago but returned to rush for 197 yards on nine carries. Thompson ran for touchdowns of 74 and 80 yards.

Jeff Driskel, Florida. Few players have enjoyed a rise in stature since the opener as much as the Gators’ quarterback. He left Gainesville as a questionable starter following a close win over Bowling Green and returns with wins in College Station and Knoxville. Driskel was 27 of 36 for 381 yards in wins over Texas A&M and Tennessee the last two weeks and added 82 rushing yards in the 37-20 win over the Volunteers. Along the way, Florida has outscored opponents 50-13 in the second half this season.

FALSE STARTS
USC.
Stanford exposed the cracks in USC’s national championship bid, taking advantage of the Trojans’ lack of depth in a 21-14 win. With Athlon second-team preseason All-American center Khaled Holmes out, USC’s offensive line was a mess. The Trojans gave up five sacks, including two on USC’s final drive. Combined with USC’s struggles against Syracuse last week, the Trojans road to a Pac-12 title, never mind a BCS championship, looks much tougher.

Virginia Tech. On a day full of shocking final scores and surprising upsets, the Hokies made an early bid for the most inexplicable outcome of the day. Virginia Tech lost 35-17 to Pittsburgh, a team that lost by two touchdowns to Youngstown State and by 24 to Cincinnati. It’s tough to pick the most strange aspect of the game: Pitt rushed for 254 yards against a normally stout Hokies’ defense, and Virginia Tech ran for only 59 yards. Cincinnati ran for nearly as much (58 yards) on its first play from scrimmage against Pitt last week.

SEC hot seat coaches. Arkansas’ John L. Smith made a bid to fail to complete his one-year contract when Arkansas followed up a loss to Louisiana-Monroe with a 52-0 rout against Alabama. In a potential referendum on his tenure at Tennessee, Derek Dooley’s Volunteers blew a 20-13 lead to give up 24 unanswered points in the second half against Florida. The defining moment may have been an errant pass from Tyler Bray, which Dooley caught on the sideline. Dooley caught it with one hand and nonchalantly spiked it to the ground. Meanwhile, Kentucky coach Joker Phillips went 0-for-2 against the state with an overtime loss at home to Western Kentucky.

HEISMAN MOVERS
Matt Barkley, USC. Barkley played most of the 21-14 loss to Stanford under pressure, finishing the game with five sacks and two interceptions. The preseason Heisman favorite completed 20 of 41 passes, the first time he completed fewer than half his passes since going 7-of-22 against Arizona State during his freshman year.

Braxton Miller, Ohio State. The Buckeyes’ sophomore quarterback keeps rolling through the Buckeyes’ non-conference schedule. Miller started his game against with a 55-yard run for a a touchdown in the first quarter and then capitalized on broken coverage for the game-winning 72-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith. Miller failed to crack 100 rushing yards for the first time this season but attempted a career-high 30 passes in the 35-28 win over Cal.

Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech. Thomas entered the season with as much fanfare as any Hokies quarterback since Tyrod Taylor, if not Michael Vick. Perhaps it’s time to slow down on the lofty comparisons. Thomas had the worst game of his career against Pittsburgh, throwing three interceptions and completing only 14 of 31 passes in a stunning 35-17 loss.

WEEK 3 BIG EAST WINS OVER THE ACC
Louisville 39, North Carolina 34
Connecticut 24, Maryland 21
Pittsburgh 35, Virginia Tech 17
WEEK 3 SCORES THAT MAKE YOU GO ‘HUH?’
Pittsburgh 35, Virginia Tech 17
Fresno State 69, Colorado 14
Western Kentucky 32, Kentucky 31 (OT)
THREE MAJOR CONFERENCE TEAMS TO LOSE TO NORTHWESTERN
Boston College, 22-13
Vanderbilt, 23-13
Syracuse, 42-41

STAT WATCH
9. West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith completed 34 of 39 passes for 411 yards with five touchdown passes against James Madison. For the second week in a row, Smith has accounted for as many touchdown passes as incompletions, giving him nine of each this season. Throw in the rushing TD against Marshall, and Smith has more touchdowns (10) than incomplete passes (nine) this season.

2. Sun Belt teams had never won two games in a single season against the SEC, but the league did it in back-to-back weeks in overtime. A week after ULM upset Arkansas, Western Kentucky defeated Kentucky 32-31 in overtime when Hilltoppers coach Willie Taggart called for lateral and a pass back to the hands of quarterback Kawaun Jakes on a two-point conversion. Meanwhile, ULM took Auburn to overtime before a 31-28 loss. Meanwhile, Troy played within a touchdown in a 30-24 loss to Mississippi State, and North Texas put a scare into Kansas State in a 35-21 loss.

4. Duke Johnson touchdowns. Where would Miami be without it star freshman? Johnson accounted for four touchdowns against Bethune-Cookman on a 95-yard kickoff return, a 1-yard run, a 50-yard reception and a 38-yard run. Ole Miss’ Jaylen Walton, Northwestern’s Venric Mark, Cal’s Keenan Allen and North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard are the only players with a touchdown run, catch and return this season. Only Bernard and Johnson did them all in the same game.

THREE SUPERSUBS
Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska. In his second game subbing for Rex Burkhead, Abdullah rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries in a 42-13 win over Arkansas State. Defensive coordinator John Papuchis also stepped in for an ailing starter when coach Bo Pelini was taken to the hospital during the game for “precautionary tests.”

Max Shortell, Minnesota. The Gophers backup quarterback stepped in for MarQuies Gray to complete 10 of 17 passes for 188 yards and three touchdowns in a 28-23 win over Western Michigan. Gray was carted off the field with a high ankle sprain.

Corbin Berkstresser, Missouri. Redshirt freshman quarterback Corbin Berkstresser wasn’t perfect, but the Tigers built a 17-0 lead against Arizona State in his first career start. Berkstresser completed 21 of 41 passes for 198 yards with an interception and a rushing touchdowns in Mizzou’s 24-20 win over the Sun Devils.


BURIED ON THE DEPTH CHART
Vanderbilt. A week before facing Georgia, Vanderbilt switched quarterbacks. The Commodores started Wyoming transfer Austyn-Carta Samuels against Presbyterian instead of Jordan Rodgers, who had started nine games in a row. Carta-Samuels completed 13 of 20 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown. Commodores coach James Franklin did not announce Carta-Samuels as the starter for the Georgia game.

Ball State. The Cardinals defeated Indiana for the third straight time with a 41-39 win in Bloomington on a 42-yard field goal in the final six seconds. Ball State led by 14 going into the fourth quarter before an Indiana comeback bid.

Northern Illinois. The defending MAC champions survived a scare with a 41-40 win over Army. The Black Knights’ option can give defenses trouble, but Army produced three running backs who topped 100 yards and scored at least one touchdown.

 

DANG, THEY’RE GOOD
Alabama
LSU
Texas
DANG, THEY’RE BAD
Colorado
Indiana
SMU
BEST GAMES NEXT WEEK
Michigan at Notre Dame
Kansas State at Oklahoma
Clemson at Florida State

THREE CRAZY THINGS TO HAPPEN IN LESS THAN FOUR MINUTES
In 3:59, Florida ran a failed fake punt to safety Matt Elam. Then, Tennessee failed to capitalize on field position with a three-and-out. On Florida’s next play, Trey Burton took a direct snap for an 80-yard touchdown. The Vols’ ensuing drive ended on a Tyler Bray interception to Elam. Florida took advantage with a quick 70-drive ending on a Jeff Driskel touchdown pass to Jordan Reed. A 20-13 Tennessee lead evaporated to 27-20 Gator lead, and Tennessee never recovered.

In 3:03, Stanford and USC traded interceptions. Josh Nunes, then Matt Barkley and Nunes again threw picks on three consecutive plays late in the second quarter. Nunes wrapped up the interception-fest five plays later.

In 2:30, Fresno State scored two touchdowns of 90 yards or more against Colorado. The first was a 97-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Isaiah Burse. After a quick Colorado possession and punt, Robbie Rouse rushed for 3 yards on first down and 94-yards on second down to open a 35-0 lead after the first quarter.

THREE OUT-OF-THE-ORDINARY THINGS FROM ALABAMA 52, ARKANSAS 0
Arkansas was shutout at home for the first time since a 7-0 loss to Baylor in 1966. The difference between that Razorbacks’ team and this one: The 1966 Arkansas team finished 8-2 and shut out five opponents that season.

Despite not playing, injured quarterback Tyler Wilson asked to speak to the media after the loss to call out his team. “Do I feel that we, at times, gave up out there? Yeah, absolutely,” he said.

Arkansas coach John L. Smith, who has a track record of speaking off the cuff in halftime interviews, continued to do so during the Alabama game. Arkansas trailed 24-0 at the time:

By David Fox

@DavidFox615

Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 3 Recap: Three and Out</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 11:24
Path: /nfl/michael-vick-should-sit-fantasy-bench-week-2
Body:

Michael VickFour interceptions. Cleveland Browns. Michael Vick. Wow!

That was my thought pattern upon seeing how poorly the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback performed against host Cleveland last week.

Then my thoughts quickly shifted to Week 2 and Vick vs. Baltimore.

No sooner do you start thinking, “If Cleveland did that, what’s Baltimore going to do?” before you hear receivers DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and Jeremy Maclin (hip) are iffy for the second game of the season.

Now you are just getting irritated across the fantasy board: Vick stinks it up, his top two receivers had good debuts but are now hurt and a top-three pick in LeSean McCoy is going to be the focus of the Ravens’ defense.

Both Jackson and Maclin practiced in a limited capacity on Friday and are expected to be game-time decisions. The Eagles did not sign a receiver from the practice squad, so perhaps optimism is high that these two will make it through another 60 minutes.

So then we’re back to Vick. 

He threw a career-high 56 passes against Cleveland last week. Repeat — 56 passes against Cleveland last week, the 30th-ranked rush defense from a year ago at 174.7 yards allowed per game. Vick completed 51.7 percent (29) of those passes for 317 yards and two scores.

Now he faces a Ravens defense, whose top two corners were targeted six times, allowed four catches and 40 yards combined in a 44-13 win over Cincinnati. Unless Vick finds a third receiver — i.e. a receiver paired up against Baltimore defensive back Cary Williams, who allowed seven catches for 82 yards on 10 targets, according to Pro Football Focus — then it’s hard to figure where much of his production will come from.

At least McCoy rushed 20 times for 110 yards and caught six balls for 26 yards and gets a Ravens defense that allowed BenJarvus Green-Ellis to collect 95 total yards and a score. Of course, this is also a Ravens rush defense that was No. 2 in the league last season at 92.6 yards per game. However, BJGE had 56 yards and his score in the first half when it was still a 17-10 game.

If Maclin, Jackson and Vick — all sixth-round fantasy picks or better — are not performing, at least the guy taken top four has a chance to do something. And McCoy as a check down or screen receiver could boost Vick’s numbers. 

But that is asking an awful lot of a QB who had such a poor performance in Week 1 against an inferior team and is now expected to correct himself a week later against a much better defense with his top two receivers iffy at best.

Then there’s this notable stat: Baltimore has not allowed multiple touchdown passes from opposing quarterbacks in a regular season game since Drew Brees tossed three in Week 15 of the 2010 season.

It’s hard to walk away from Vick in a week in which his health is not an issue, but this is one of those weeks where I can do it and have no regrets.

—Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 08:56
Path: /nfl/injury-updates-week-2-jeremy-maclin-ryan-mathews-pierre-garcon
Body:

There are a few key fantasy contributors that have had a number of question marks surrounding their playing status leading up to Week 2 of the 2012 NFL season. Here’s a little bit about these three and why you should look elsewhere today.

Jeremy Maclin, WR, Philadelphia

Two good things happened in the last few days for the Eagles top PPR receiver: he practiced on Friday — albeit on a limited basis — and the team did not sign another receiver from the practice squad to address the issues with Maclin (hip) and fellow receiver DeSean Jackson (hamstring).

So Maclin is likely to play, which is the good news. 

The bad news is that Maclin will still likely draw either draw Lardarius Webb or Jimmy Smith in coverage.

According to Pro Football Focus. Webb was in on 537 snaps a season ago, targeted 90 times and allowed 52 catches for 615 yards with no scores and five picks. Smith played 173 snaps as a rookie, was targeted 33 times, allowed 16 catches for 217 yards with three TDs and two picks.

If you take anything away from last week’s game against Cleveland rookie QB Brandon Weeden, Webb was in on 37 snaps, had five passes thrown his way, allowed three catches for 23 yards; Smith played 28 snaps, saw one target which he allowed a 17-yard completion on. 

Weeden or Vick, it’s a pretty bad matchup all around for the Eagles’ passing game.

Ryan Mathews, RB, San Diego

Will he play? Won’t he play? Why would he play?

If you saw the Titans’ defense against the run last week, apparently anyone could rush for 100 yards. Have you seen the Titans record on the West Coast since they moved from Houston? It is not good, as in 4-11 not good since 1997.

I would expect the Chargers to be in control of this game and Mathews, while he might return from his clavicle injury, should not have to be counted on for a full workload. 

This is not a situation like Adrian Peterson or Maurice Jones-Drew from a week ago. Both of their squads, actually facing off against each other, were in contention for a win and those backs were called upon for the entire 60 minutes to try and help attain that win.

This should not be the case for Mathews and the Chargers, who are already plus-one in the win column, sans their star running back.

Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington

A right foot injury is likely to keep the Redskins’ No. 1 receiver out of the contest at St. Louis today. It would be quite a blow to QB Robert Griffin III’s success against the Rams, but could mean bigger things for fellow rookie Alfred Morris in regards to running the ball.

Garcon, in just eight plays, was a stud last week thanks to a screen pass he turned into an 88-yard touchdown; it’s always nice to get 15.8 points in a PPR on one play. He finished with four catches for 101 yards and the score — on eight plays. However, Garcon was limited in practice all week and even if he were to miraculously suit up, with little prep it’s hard to advise on placing him in your lineup.

If you want to have a back up option, go get Aldrick Robinson off the waiver wire. The SMU product — plug for my dad’s alma mater there — caught four balls for 52 yards, including 30 yards of after-the-catch production, and a score in Week 1.

The two benefactors if Garcon were to sit have to be Morris and Robinson versus the Rams today.

—Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /news/anquan-boldin-start-ravens-receiver-against-eagles
Body:

Where you rank Baltimore Ravens receiver Anquan Boldin for Week 2 depends on two things: 1) How many plays you believe Baltimore will run its no-huddle offense against the Philadelphia Eagles, and 2) how many times you believe Boldin will line up in the slot — i.e. away from Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.

The Ravens ran the no-huddle on 21 of 58 offensive plays in the Week 1 44-13 win over Cincinnati. If Baltimore continues to run the no-huddle and move the ball down the field at a fast pace, it can offset the Eagles’ deep set of pass rushers and keep the standout defensive backs on their heels.

Enter Anquan Boldin. 

Assuming Jacoby Jones and Torrey Smith can handle the outside receiver duties, then Boldin can move to the slot where he is historically a monster. He should also draw rookie defensive back Brandon Boykin in coverage while in the slot. 

That is a 6-1, 223-pound 10-year veteran versus a 5-9, 182-pound rookie.

According to Pro Football Focus, Boldin played 48 snaps and saw five targets in the win over Cincinnati. He pulled in four of the targets for 63 yards and a score. Now, only 16 of those 48 snaps and only two of those targets were in the slot. But the one slot target he caught was for a 34-yard touchdown.

Boykin did hold Greg Little to no catches in the opener last week. But, that is Greg Little and that was rookie Brandon Weeden throwing to him. This is Flacco — never thought I’d type that with such affirmation — and this is a veteran receiver.

If it was not already moving fast enough for a rookie, then what will a no-huddle in your second week of NFL action against a slot veteran mean for Boykin? It should mean good news for Boldin and bad news for Boykin.

Overall in 2011, Boldin was targeted a team-high 105 times and had a team-high 240 snaps and 39 targets in the slot. He caught 23 of them for 354 yards and a score. It is possible that Asomugha covers Boldin in the slot, but of the 540 snaps Asomugha played in coverage last season, only 107 of them were in the slot, according to Pro Football Focus.

Points may be at a premium in this game. Flacco’s time to get rid of the ball may be a premium versus that pass rush in this game. Boldin’s experience and matchup may be just the answer for both premiums.

If I’m picking one Ravens receiver this week it’s Boldin.

—Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 08:14
Path: /nfl/lance-moore-start-saints-receiver-against-panthers-week-2
Body:

If only Lance Moore could stay healthy and that New Orleans receiving corps could be thinned out a bit. Those were two of the things I was looking for when scouting Moore’s fantasy prospects for 2012. 

Well, both have happened and there he sits on on my dynasty league roster. Now, what do I do with him in Week 2?

Do I look at the 10-target, six-reception, 120-yard, one-touchdown performance in Week 1 and say, I told me so? Or do I say it was all in garbage time in a loss to Washington?

Moore, who played 56 of the 75 offensive plays, was targeted on the second offensive play of the game and it was incomplete. He was not targeted on a seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive on the second series. He was targeted again on the first play of the third series and it was incomplete. Moore then did not see a target again until 11:24 remained in the third quarter with the team down 27-14 — it was incomplete. It took 13 more plays before Moore saw another target — a deep pass that went incomplete.

Then the middle of the fourth quarter came; the Saints were down 33-17. Moore was targeted on the first play and made his first grab for 12 yards. Four plays later, it was Brees to Moore again for an incompletion on third-and-10. Trailing big, the Saints go for it and Brees finds Moore for a 33-yard TD.

Through 56 minutes, Moore had six targets, two catches, 45 yards and a TD in a game that was now 33-25. There’s a 12.5-point day in fantasy right there. 

Until he’s more consistent, Moore is not a WR1 or 2 but is a decent flex. So 12.5 from a flex is OK to get your Week 1 going.

The next drive started with a pass intended for Moore that was intercepted. The Redskins converted it into an Alfred Morris 3-yard score and 40-25 lead.

There’s 3:18 left on the clock. Now it’s garbage time.

Moore is targeted two times, catches two for 34 yards and sets up another player to salvage his fantasy day as Darren Sproles had a receiving TD from the 2.

Moore catches his next two targets for 15 and 26 yards, Brees is intercepted on a Hail Mary and the day is over. Pre-garbage for Moore is 2-45-1; by game’s end it is 6-120-1.

This is a long road to lead you down to say: start Lance Moore as at least a WR2 this week.

Three reasons: Teammate Devery Henderson (concussion) is out. Chris Gamble for the Panthers. The Saints’ passing defense.

Henderson’s absence thins out the receiving corps, thus more opportunities for Moore early and often. 

Gamble is the top corner in the NFC South and just posted a game in which only four passes came his way for one catch and six yards and a TD (Mike Williams with 5:20 left in the first quarter).

New Orleans just allowed rookie Robert Griffin III to throw for 306 yards and two scores on 19-of-26 passing with no interceptions.

The knock on Moore could be his performance away from domes — 76-807-6 to 174-2,096-25 indoors in 24 versus 46 games. But he has also not had the opportunity to be the clear-cut No. 2 WR for the Saints like he has now.

If there was EVER a week to trust Lance Moore, this has to be the week.

—Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 08:10
All taxonomy terms: Brandon LaFell, Carolina Panthers, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/brandon-lafell-carolina-panthers-receiver-could-have-big-week-2
Body:

You cannot call Brandon LaFell the clear-cut No. 2 receiver for the Carolina Panthers, but his connection with quarterback Cam Newton has not faded from a season ago. 

Brandon LaFell was targeted five times in the Week 1 loss to Tampa Bay and caught three of them for 65 yards. Those numbers are nearly identical to Louis Murphy, who was acquired in a trade with Oakland in the offseason. Murphy had five targets, three catches for 63 yards. 

LaFell’s third-quarter, 22-yard touchdown and the fact he played 100 percent of the snaps (52) were the difference between the two receivers in Week 1.

So why would you consider starting LaFell in Week 2 against the visiting New Orleans Saints?

Well, there are a few reasons. 

No. 1 is the health of Steve Smith, who has battled a knee injury this week. No. 2 is the Saints’ pass defense, or lack thereof. No. 3 is LaFell played every offensive snap a week ago.

New Orleans just allowed Washington rookie Robert Griffin III to throw for 320 yards and two scores on 19-of-26 passing with no interceptions. All but two Redskins pass catchers averaged double-digits in yards per catch against the Saints in Week 1.

So the numbers are there for the taking for Carolina’s receivers.

Let us also keep in mind the Panthers were the No. 24 defense against the pass last season. Holding Josh Freeman to 16-of-24 for 138 yards and a first-quarter TD pass in Week 1 is one thing compared to Drew Brees throwing for 748 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions in the two meetings against Carolina a year ago.

Newton was not nearly as productive in his two games with the Saints — 382 yards, three passing TDs and two interceptions. 

However, as most Saints’ games go, expect a shootout. 

If you’re telling me each team allows at least 20 points — something the Saints allowed last week and eight times last season — once to the Panthers — and something Carolina allowed 11 times last season — and in both meetings against the Saints, then give me a receiver that’s going to be a part of that.

LaFell was targeted 56 times last season, pulling down 36 of those balls for 613 yards and three touchdowns in 16 games played and five starts. LaFell also played 27 of his 52 snaps last week in the slot, garnering three targets, two catches and the 22-yard TD, according to Pro Football Focus.

Murphy, in 11 games and one start with Oakland last season, was targeted 33 times for 15 catches, 241 yards and no scores. Murphy had seven of his 39 snaps in the slot last week, was targeted once there and did not catch it.

—Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 07:53
Path: /nfl/chris-johnson-sit-titans-running-back-week-2-versus-san-diego-chargers
Body:

At what point do we stop starting Tennessee Titans' running back Chris Johnson on the “potential” that he could do something each week?

Unless you are in a PPR league, there is NO way you can comfortably insert Johnson into your starting lineup on a weekly basis. Even as a flex he is questionable.

Yes, you spent the high draft pick on potential. And that was unfortunate on your part. But the theory of “you picked ’em high, start ’em” is flawed. If someone has a better matchup and you know it, you go with the better matchup. 

There are very few RBs that are immune to this theory. 

Johnson used to be one of them; two years ago for sure, last year because we were naïve. Arian Foster, Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, DeMarco Murray, a healthy Darren McFadden and Matt Forte, before Thursday’s injury, all still hold the status of “start ’em no matter what.”

But there is very little through 2011, three 2012 preseason games and one 2012 regular season game — albeit against a stout New England front — that says Johnson is anywhere close to having that status as a reliable starter.

If the four rushing yards on 11 carries in Week 1 were not enough to convince you then how about the fact that he only pulled off double-digit rushing performances on four occasions last season. And those came against the Nos. 30, 25, 6 and 28th ranked rush defenses. 

That was a year ago. After one week, all four of those defenses were ranked 21st or worst against the run.

Johnson, who eclipsed 70 yards rushing just four times last season, had eight double-digit fantasy days altogether in 2011, and four of those were 13.2 points or less. Is that what you want from a top-12 pick? Take away the PPR and he drops to five double-digit days. 

Now it’s on to San Diego and a Chargers team that was 20th against the run last season. All they did was finish the first week as the sixth-best team against the run, holding Oakland’s Darren McFadden to 32 rushing yards on 15 carries.

McFadden, like Johnson, only salvaged his high-pick status in Week 1 by catching a career-high 13 balls for 86 yards. Johnson did the same, countering the 11 yards on the ground with six catches for 47 yards. 

The Titans’ offensive line looked awful against the Patriots and the few chances Johnson did have he danced behind the line of scrimmage. Meanwhile, his counterpart, Stevan Ridley, was aggressive running through any lane created by the Patriots’ offensive line. 

Oh, remember when Johnson was aggressive? But I digress.

There is nothing to suggest that the Titans, who have traditionally been awful on the West Coast — 4-11 since moving to Tennessee in 1997 — can have success running against the Chargers.

Add in that starting QB Jake Locker (shoulder) and starting receiver Nate Washington (leg contusion) are hurting and receiver Kenny Britt (knee/suspension) will be on a limited snap count as he makes his first appearance since Week 3 of 2011 and there are not a lot of positives surrounding the Titans’ camp.

The only saving grace for Johnson will be in PPR leagues as Javon Ringer (elbow) is still out and will not vulture snaps. But if you are banking on starting CJ on just the PPR potential, it’s going to be a long year at your RB1 or 2 spot.

I may be wrong, but I will take being wrong until Johnson can consistently prove he’s right again. I am tired of starting him on “potential” when players like Ridley, Doug Martin, C.J. Spiller, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and even Alfred Morris clearly have better matchups in Week 2.  

—Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 07:45
Path: /nfl/detroit-lions-vs-san-francisco-49ers-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Some of the national attention will be on the two coaches when the San Francisco 49ers host the Detroit Lions Sunday night at 8:20pm EST on NBC, but the real story is a solid NFC matchup between two postseason teams with high goals for this season. After San Francisco’s 25-19 win last October, Lions coach Jim Schwartz and 49ers boss Jim Harbaugh had a rather contentious postgame handshake that was played over and over again on the highlight shows. However both coaches say it was overblown, and that the focus belongs on two 1-0 squads with Super Bowl aspirations.

When the San Francisco 49ers have the ball:
The Niners are known for a conservative offensive attack featuring physical tailback Frank Gore, but they did finish 11th in the league in scoring last season. Gore was excellent (16 carries for 112 yards and TD) in Week 1, but quarterback Alex Smith was also huge with an efficient 20-for-26 performance that included two touchdowns. With Randy Moss and Mario Manningham joining Michael Crabtree and tight end Vernon Davis on the receiving unit, the San Francisco offense has a very dangerous balance for its opponents.

The Lions defense had a quality outing against St. Louis, holding the Rams to just 250 total yards. It will be a more difficult challenge this week with 49ers power running game, which is led by an excellent offensive line. Detroit must limit Gore’s production, while also hoping that a banged up secondary does not get beat for big plays on the outside. Smith does not turn the ball over, so the Lions must tackle well to get off the field.

When the Detroit Lions have the ball:
After a slow start that included three first-half interceptions, Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford finished with 355 passing yards against the Rams in a 27-23 victory. Receiver Calvin Johnson had a routine six catches for 111 yards, while an important contribution was made by oft-injured running back Kevin Smith (62 rush yards and a score plus a touchdown catch). Detroit should look to work underneath routes in order to combat the ferocious Niners pass rush, so Smith, wideout Nate Burleson and tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler will be valuable targets in this game.

The 49ers defense is their catalyst, and their performance in a 30-22 win at Green Bay last week was stellar. The high-octane Packers only managed seven points in the first three quarters and totaled just 45 rushing yards (with 27 by quarterback Aaron Rodgers) for the game. San Francisco’s linebackers group — NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks — can handle the run game and blitzing Stafford, so the secondary’s top priority will be doing whatever it takes to slow down Johnson.

Key Factor:
The 49ers have historically dominated the Lions, and this contest will come down to the Lions ability to stop Gore and force Smith to beat them through the air. Detroit could be depleted with injuries on the back end, but giving up clock-eating rushing yards to San Francisco would be a losing formula. Schwartz will have his team motivated, but Harbaugh’s crew will win at home in the end.

Prediction:
49ers 24 Lions 17


---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 

Teaser:
<p> Detroit Lions vs. San Francisco 49ers Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 16, 2012 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Oklahoma State Cowboys, Big 12, News
Path: /news/wes-lunt-injures-knee-oklahoma-state-win
Body:

Oklahoma State starting quarterback Wes Lunt was injured during Saturday's win over Louisiana-Lafayette, and his long-term status for the rest of the season is up in the air. However, early reports have indicated Lunt's injury may not be significant, and he could return for the Sept. 29 matchup against Texas.

If Lunt is unable to return, the Cowboys will turn to J.W. Walsh. The redshirt freshman completed 21 of 30 passes for 347 yards and four scores against the Ragin' Cajuns. He also rushed for 73 yards and one touchdown.

Although Oklahoma State would have liked to get Lunt more comfortable in the offense with Big 12 play coming up, Walsh's performance was encouraging and shows the Cowboys are still a Big 12 title contender even if Lunt can't play for a couple of games.

Oklahoma State also has the potent combination of Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith at running back, while the defense is solid. 

The extent of Lunt's injury probably won't be known for a few days, but as the video below shows, it could have been a lot worse. 

Oklahoma State's next game isn't until Sept. 29, so the true freshman has plenty of time to heal. However, even if Lunt misses time, Walsh showed he is capable of leading the Cowboys to a victory over Texas.

Teaser:
<p> Wes Lunt's Injury A Big Loss for Oklahoma State</p>
Post date: Saturday, September 15, 2012 - 17:20
All taxonomy terms: crossword, Monthly
Path: /monthly/september-2012-crossword-solution
Body:

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, September 14, 2012 - 15:15
Path: /nfl/nfl-picks-against-spread-week-2
Body:

A game-by-game betting preview (against the spread) for each of the 15 games on Sunday and Monday in Week 2. Here are the teams to pick and the ones to stay away from.

Locks of the Week
Ride the hot hands and go with two veteran teams that looked like Super Bowl contenders in Week 1, the reigning Super Bowl champs and the phenom du jour.

Ravens (+3) at Eagles
Baltimore has a short week after a dominant 44–13 win over Cincinnati on Monday night. But the way Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata and the Ravens defense was swarming, Michael Vick — who threw four INTs in the opener — might be in trouble.

Redskins (-3) at Rams
Why not? Ride the RG3 bandwagon until the wheels fall off.

Giants (-7) vs. Buccaneers
The G-Men have had 10 days to prepare for the young Bucs.

Patriots (-14) vs. Cardinals
The biggest number of the week is also one of the safest bets. The home opener in New England will showcase the new faces on the Pats defense — at the expense of whichever quarterback Arizona sends to slaughter.


Blowout Bargains
Don’t be afraid of a big spread. Ten of the 16 games played in Week 1 were decided by eight or more points — including five contests with a margin of 20 or more points.

Bengals (-7) vs. Browns
Bet against Brandon Weeden (4 INTs, 5.1 passer rating in Week 1) every week until his passer rating is at least in the teens.

Texans (-7.5) at Jaguars
Houston had no problem dubbing the Dolphins and should handle the Jaguars with similar ease.


Straight Up Upsets
These underdogs don’t look as good as Kate Upton’s Twitter pics, but they look good.

Seahawks (+3) vs. Cowboys
Tony Romo may not be the holder for field goals anymore, but he’s still the Cowboys quarterback.

Titans (+6) at Chargers
Chris Johnson will need to run for more than four yards in order for Tennessee to pull off the West Coast upset.


Sucker Bets
Stay away completely. These games are meant for local yokels who always bet on their home team, or for degenerates who always have to have action.

Vikings (-1.5) at Colts
Andrew Luck’s home opener pits two of the worst squads in the league against each other.

Raiders (-3) at Dolphins
Oakland’s backup long-snapper is a better bet than this race to the bottom.

Bills (-3) vs. Chiefs
Two teams with goals of approaching mediocrity this season.

Saints (-3) at Panthers
A division showdown between two teams already in panic mode.

Steelers (-6) vs. Jets
Gang Green lit up the scoreboard for 48 points last week after the first team offense failed to score a touchdown during the preseason.

49ers (-7) vs. Lions
Untuck your shirt, jump around and slap your rival on the back, but stay away from this Sunday night fight.


Monday Money    
Another chance to wager for those who have to “get back” or “let it ride” this week.

Falcons (-3) vs. Broncos
Dome sweet dome. Matt Ryan has a 26–4 record in the Georgia Dome.
 

Teaser:
<p> A game-by-game betting preview (against the spread) for each of the 15 games on Sunday and Monday in Week 2.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 14, 2012 - 12:58
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Links, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlon%E2%80%99s-essential-eleven-links-day-16
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for September 14.

• Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson will not play Saturday versus No. 1 Alabama.

• Jay Cutler and the Bears offensive line failed miserably in last night’s 23-10 loss to the Packers.

• Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee looks at what a victory in the Florida-Tennessee game would mean for coaches Will Muschamp and Derek Dooley.

• Check out this gallery of mascots behaving badly.

• The UConn basketball program is in shambles as Jim Calhoun retires.

• Mark Ennis of Big East Coast Bias details at the struggles of USF and quarterback B.J. Daniels in league play.

• Will the Eagles have any healthy wide receivers against the Ravens?

• The red-hot Orioles have won their last 13 extra-inning games, and Baltimore is ready for postseason baseball.

• Oh those Apple hipsters.

• Can a “no-Luck” Stanford team surprise USC on Saturday?

• You gotta love Dad going Happy Gilmore off the tee.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


September 13

• The Bears and Packers play tonight at Lambeau Field, and this year's Chicago offense has massive potential.

• Yahoo’s Les Carpenter believes that retiring UConn coach Jim Calhoun changed for the worst in order to win big.

• MrSEC.com looks into the recruiting rumors around Mississippi State caused by controversial “7-on-7 coach” Byron De’Vinner.

• LostLetterman.com ranks college football’s best end zone designs.

• Remember that band guy in high school with the funny name?

• The Oakland A’s and their small-budget payroll have won 12 consecutive road games and lead the American League wild card standings.

• Miami Heat star LeBron James has decided to change agents.

• One Texas football star doesn’t believe the Longhorns’ crowd is very loud.

• The Arizona Cardinals will start Kevin Kolb against the Patriots on Sunday. Adjust your wagers accordingly.

• The Penn State football program has had another player defection.

• Check out the awesome fake on this defensive play by Orioles rookie third baseman Manny Machado. Baltimore is tied with the Yankees atop the AL East and is battling to make the postseason for the first time since 1997.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


September 12

• The news broke this morning that Notre Dame will join the ACC in all sports but football and hockey. The agreement is expected to begin whenever ND can exit the Big East, and the Irish will play five football games per year against ACC opponents.

• Texans defensive end J.J. Watt says he learned the Dolphins snap count from watching Hard Knocks on HBO. Good luck to the network trying to find a team to do the show next preseason.

• The Packers host the Bears on Thursday night in a huge NFC North matchup. How will Green Bay running back Cedric Benson fare against his former team?

• This seems pretty prophetic with blush wine.

• USC football has banned Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News for two weeks for…reporting the news.

• The Orioles and A’s keep winning as the American League playoff race continues to be a wild one.

• Easy on those touchdown celebrations, kids.

• This two-minute video pretty much sums up the pending NHL lockout.

• It seemed like a great story when Harvard basketball made last season’s NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1946, but now comes the news that co-captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry have been accused of being part of a large academic cheating scandal at the school.

• If you’ve got some extra time on your hands, get up to Maine and help solve this canoe mystery. A gallon of gin could be yours!

• Check out the reaction of Slayer guitarist Kerry King and other musicians to the popular new ESPN commercial that has NFL insider John Clayton wearing the metal band’s t-shirt.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


September 11

• Ravens safety Ed Reed set a new all-time NFL record for interception return yards in Baltimore’s 44-13 victory over the Bengals.

• Is Angels rookie Mike Trout still the favorite for the American League MVP?

• Check out what happens to Browns’ receiver Mohamed Massaquoi on the new Madden13. That’s gotta hurt.

• ESPN Big Ten blogger Brian Bennett looks at the recent struggles of the Nebraska defense.

• Apparently the nation’s top football recruit, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche of Grayson H.S. in Georgia, is not a fan of the AJC’s Michael Carvell.

• The SEC has unfortunately made a Goodell-like decision in suspending Ole Miss defensive back Trae Elston for a hit that was deemed “a flagrant and dangerous act.” The play did not draw a flag in the Rebels win over UTEP, but Elston will sit against Texas this week.

• The Raiders special teams gaffes were paramount in last night’s 22-14 home loss to the Chargers.

• Is UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin a dark-horse Heisman candidate?

• Ken Pomeroy takes an in-depth look at the infamous USA-USSR Olympic basketball final from 1972 on its 40th anniversary.

• Kudos to Andy Murray for winning an elusive Grand Slam title. He beat Novak Djokovic in the U.S. Open final to become the first British man to win a singles Grand Slam championship since 1936.

• Does the AMC hit show Breaking Bad need a new open? Here is a worthy candidate for Walter White and the boys.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


September 10

• There is a new excitement around the Redskins with Robert Griffin III at quarterback. The rookie threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Saints in his NFL debut.

• Mike Klis of the Denver Post looks at the “superb quarterbacking” in the Broncos 31-19 win over the Steelers. New Denver signal caller Peyton Manning became the third QB in NFL history to throw for 400 career touchdowns.

• LSU is kicking butt on the field, and so is their fan base with this R2D2 keg.

• Dave Miller of the National Football Post recaps a wild Week 2 of college football.

• FOX’s Jon Paul Morosi calls out the Nationals management for their mishandling of ace Stephen Strasburg.

• The 49ers made a big statement at Lambeau Field yesterday, beating the Packers 30-22.

• Check out this beer koozie.

• Four-time champion Jeff Gordon slipped into the last spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

• Twitter was abuzz on Saturday night as Louisiana-Monroe upset Arkansas in overtime.

• Props to Brent Sutton of the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. He found the lost wallet of Rays' speedster B.J. Upton and then tweeted the outfielder to set up a return.

• We're not sure which is worse: Arkansas losing to Louisiana-Monroe or this video made by a very unique Hogs fan.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 

Teaser:
<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 14, 2012 - 12:34
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-3-1
Body:

College football's third weekend of action is highlighted by Notre Dame’s trip to Michigan State and a huge showdown in the SEC East. Here’s a prediction on every game this weekend.

Friday

No. 78 Washington State at No. 115 UNLV
Mike Leach and the struggling Cougars take their show to Sin City this weekend. Wazzu likely will send out Connor Halliday at quarterback due to a knee injury to starter Jeff Tuel.
Washington State 27-13

Saturday

No. 1 Alabama at No. 34 Arkansas
Arkansas’ loss to UL Monroe last week was a blow to the Razorbacks’ ego, but it’s important to remember that it was not a conference game. However, it’s very difficult to envision a scenario in which a team that lost a 28–7 lead at home (in Little Rock) to UL Monroe is good enough to challenge Alabama and LSU in the SEC West.
Alabama 31-7

No. 2 USC at No. 24 Stanford
Matt Barkley has been nearly flawless through two games. The senior quarterback has completed 67.6 percent of his passes for 559 yards with an amazing 10 touchdowns — four more than any other player in the nation. It helps when Marqise Lee and Robert Woods are your primary targets, but Barkley is clearly playing the position at the highest level.
USC 38-24

No. 124 Idaho at No. 3 LSU
Idaho is 0–2 with a 20–3 loss at home to Eastern Washington and a 21–13 loss at Bowling Green. The Vandals have scored one touchdown in eight quarters. They will have one touchdown after 12 quarters.
LSU 48-3

Tennessee Tech at No. 4 Oregon
Oregon is the far superior team, but the best wide receiver in the game will be wearing a Tennessee Tech uniform. Da’Rick Rogers, an All-SEC pick last year while at Tennessee, has caught eight passes for 163 yards and two touchdowns in his two games with the Golden Eagles.
Oregon 54-10

No. 48 California at No. 6 Ohio State
Cal’s defense has been a disappointment through two games, giving up an average of 410.5 yards and 31.0 points against Nevada (loss) and Southern Utah (win). This was looking like a potential upset back in August. Not anymore.
Ohio State 28-14

No. 121 FAU at No. 7 Georgia
After an emotional win at Missouri last week, the Bulldogs return home to face one of the worst FBS teams in the nation. This will be an easy win.
Georgia 38-3

No. 53 Wake Forest at No. 8 Florida State
The betting line, FSU by 24 points, seems a bit high considering that Wake Forest beat Florida State last season and played well last week in a 28–27 win over a well-regarded North Carolina team.
Florida State 30-17

No. 9 Texas at No. 72 Ole Miss
Ole Miss sophomore Bo Wallace has been a pleasant surprise at quarterback for first-year coach Huge Freeze. The junior college transfer has completed 76.1 percent of his passes for 438 yards with five touchdowns and one interception and has also rushed for 135 yards and two scores. Those stats, however, were accumulated against Central Arkansas and UTEP. Now, the Tennessee native will test his mettle against a ferocious Texas defense that has allowed a total of 17 points in two games.
Texas 30-10

James Madison at No. 10 West Virginia
James Madison has allowed only one touchdown in two games this season. West Virginia scored 10 touchdowns in its only game this season.
West Virginia 44-17

No. 109 UAB at No. 11 South Carolina
Steve Spurrier has been quick to point out that first-year UAB head coach Garrick McGee experienced a ton of success against South Carolina while the offensive coordinator at Arkansas. UAB, however, doesn’t have Tyler Wilson, Knile Davis, Greg Childs, Joe Adams, etc. on its roster.
South Carolina 38-0

Furman at No. 12 Clemson
Furman has lost its first two games by a total of five points, including a 47–45 triple-overtime thriller to Coastal Carolina last week. The Paladins won’t have to worry about a close loss this week.
Clemson 44-7

No. 16 Notre Dame at No. 13 Michigan State
The key for Notre Dame will be its ability to slow down Le’Veon Bell and the Michigan State rushing attack. Andrew Maxwell is a talented quarterback, but the first-year starter made some key mistakes in the win over Boise State two weeks ago. Notre Dame must force Maxwell to make plays down field. 
Michigan State 27-21

No. 123 UMass at No. 14 Michigan
UMass is an FBS team in name only. The Minutemen are 0–2 and have lost their two games by a combined score of 78–6. They are also one of two teams in the nation (joining Iowa) that does not have an extra point.
Michigan 51-0

No. 15 Virginia Tech at No. 99 Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh’s season has been a disaster. The Panthers opened with a demoralizing loss at home to Youngstown State and then looked bad in a 34–10 loss to Big East rival Cincinnati last Thursday night. Paul Chryst needs something to go well this weekend.
Virginia Tech 27-17

No. 17 TCU at No. 84 Kansas
TCU ventures into Big 12 play with a trip to Lawrence to play the worst team in the league. The Jayhawks lost last week at home to a Rice team that gave up 646 yards to UCLA at home in a Week 1 loss.
TCU 34-13

No. 54 Louisville at No. 18 Louisville
The Cardinals are 2–0 after beating Kentucky and Missouri State at home. Sophomore Teddy Bridgewater has been terrific in both games. He’s completed 49-of-60 (81.7 percent) for 576 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Nobody expects him to continue to operate with that type of efficiency, but Bridgewater is emerging as one of the top young quarterbacks in the game.
Louisville 24-20

No. 29 Florida at No. 19 Tennessee
A few months ago, when CBS was selecting its early season schedule, the network passed on the Tennessee-Florida game (for the first time since 1995) in favor of Alabama’s trip to Arkansas. Now, however, after Tennessee’s hot start, Florida’s win at Texas A&M and Arkansas’ shocking loss to UL Monroe, the Vols vs. Gators showdown in the marquee game of the day in the nation’s premier conference.
Florida 24-21

No. 100 Miami (Ohio) at No. 20 Boise State
Ready for a misleading stat? Boise State ranks 120th in the nation in total offense with 206 yards per game. The Broncos have played one game — on the road at Michigan State, one of the best defensive teams in the nation.
Boise State 40-17

No. 101 Houston at No. 21 UCLA
It’s arguably the nation’s most disappointing team (Houston) vs. the most surprising team (UCLA). The Bruins have been putting up Houston-like offensive numbers, ranking third in the nation in total offense (649.5 ypg) and 18th in scoring (42.5 ppg).
UCLA 38-24

No. 103 North Texas at No. 22 Kansas State
K-State is fresh off one of the most impressive victories of the young college football season, a 52–13 win over Miami (Fla.) in Manhattan. The Wildcats will be 3–0 when they head to Norman next weekend.
Kansas State 31-10

No. 65 Arkansas State at No. 23 Nebraska
It should be noted that Arkansas State did a bunch of damage during garbage time in its Week 1 loss at Oregon, but the Red Wolves are averaging 574.5 yards per game. They will move the ball on Nebraska, which has given up over 900 yards total in its two games.
Nebraska 37–20

South Carolina State at No. 25 Arizona
The Wildcats can relax this week before a brutal six-game stretch that features road trips to Oregon, Stanford and UCLA and home dates with Oregon State, Washington and USC.
Arizona 44-10

No. 70 UL Lafayette at No. 26 Oklahoma State
These teams met last September in Stillwater in a game that featured 986 yards of offense (666 by O-State) and 95 points (61 by the Pokes). The scoring might be down a bit this time around.
Oklahoma State 44-28

Portland State at No. 27 Washington
The Huskies need a get-well game after their humbling trip to Baton Rouge. They picked up a total of 183 yards in a 41–3 loss.
Washington 41-10

Northwestern State at No. 30 Nevada
Nevada would be 2–0 with wins over two AQ conference teams if it hadn’t given up two touchdown passes of 50-plus yards in the final three minutes in last week’s 32–31 loss to South Florida.
Nevada 41-14

No. 31 Mississippi State at No. 105 Troy
The Bulldogs have struggled in recent years with some teams from so-called lesser conferences. They beat Louisiana Tech last season and UAB in 2010 by an average of 5.5 points and lost to Houston 31–24 in ’09 and Louisiana Tech 22–14 in ’08. Dan Mullen is well aware of what his team can accomplish this season and will do everything in his power to be sure the Bulldogs are mentally ready to take care of business at the venue formerly known as Movie Gallery Stadium.
Mississippi State 33-14

No. 46 Arizona State at No. 32 Missouri
Todd Graham might not be the most well-liked coach in America, but he’s done a terrific job early in his first season at Arizona State. The Sun Devils are 2–0 with wins over Northern Arizona (63–6) and Illinois (45–14). Now, Graham and the Devils take their show on the road to face a Missouri team that must bounce back — both physically and emotionally — from a 41–20 loss at home to Georgia in the school’s first-ever SEC game.
Missouri 30-24

No. 33 Texas A&M at No. 94 SMU
The Aggies are no doubt disappointed with their loss to Florida in the school’s SEC debut, but they had to like what they saw from redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel. The Texas high school legend threw for 173 yards and added 60 on the ground and did not turn the ball over.
Texas A&M 38-20

No. 37 Virginia at No. 35 Georgia Tech
This is pretty much a must win for Georgia Tech if it hopes to compete with Virginia Tech for the ACC Coastal Division title. The Yellow Jackets are already 0–1 in the league after losing at Virginia Tech in the opener. Virginia is 2–0 but struggled a bit in last week’s 17–16 win over Penn State at home. The Cavs will have to play better to be a factor in the ACC.
Georgia Tech 28-21

No. 36 BYU at No. 62 Utah
Utah’s season hasn’t exactly gone as planned. First, the Utes had a 12-game winning streak vs. in-state rival Utah State snapped. Then starting quarterback Jordan Wynn announced that he was retiring from football after suffering another shoulder injury. BYU will be out for some revenge after getting pounded at home, 54–10, last season by its hated rivals from Salt Lake City.
BYU 24-14

Sam Houston State at No. 38 Baylor
Sam Houston State is 1–0 with a 54–7 win over Incarnate Word. I don’t think Incarnate Word is very good.
Baylor 48-10

Western Illinois at No. 39 Iowa State
Iowa State will be halfway to bowl-eligibility after beating Western Illinois on Saturday. But then the fun begins — a stretch of nine straight Big 12 games.
Iowa State 37-7

No. 40 Ohio at No. 92 Marshall
There was no letdown for Ohio last week after its big win at Penn State on opening day. The Bobcats rolled past New Mexico State 51–24. Their third win should come this Saturday in Huntington.
Ohio 34-20

No. 119 South Alabama at No. 41 NC State
NC State gutted out a 10–7 win at Connecticut last week, but the Wolfpack have to be a bit worried about an offense that picked up only 258 yards.
NC State 41-10

No. 61 Utah State at No. 43 Wisconsin
One team is fresh off one of its best wins in school history. The other must regroup after a surprising loss on the road. Utah State snapped a 12-game losing streak to hated rival Utah, knocking off the Utes, 27–20, in overtime Friday night. I smell upset.
Utah State 24-23

No. 66 UL-Monroe at No. 44 Auburn
This game Saturday features one of the nation’s hottest quarterbacks (Kolton Browning) vs. one of the most maligned (Kiehl Frazier). Browning, a former 3-star recruit (Scout) who had no BCS offers, threw for 412 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 69 more and one score in the Warhawks’ thrilling overtime win at Arkansas last weekend. Meanwhile, Frazier, a consensus top-100 national recruit two years ago, is struggling mightily in his first season as the starter.
Auburn 30-17

No. 77 Boston College at No. 45 Northwestern
Northwestern in the only school from an AQ conference to open the season with three non-league games vs. AQ conference opponents. The Wildcats beat the first two, Syracuse and Vanderbilt, and should make it No. 3 on Saturday.
Northwestern 30-21

Delaware State at No. 49 Cincinnati
Munchie Legaux was outstanding in the Bearcats’ Week 2 win over Pittsburgh, throwing for 205 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 117 yards on only six carries. Expect more fireworks this week.
Cincinnati 44-10

No. 116 New Mexico at No. 50 Texas Tech
Texas Tech’s soft early season schedule continues with a visit from New Mexico, which lost 45–0 at Texas last week. The Lobos completed only six passes vs. the Longhorns.
Texas Tech 41-14

Presbyterian at No. 51 Vanderbilt
The Commodores have held leads in the fourth quarter in both games this season but have nothing to show for it. They will break into the win column this Saturday.
Vanderbilt 41-0

Charleston Southern at No. 52 Illinois
Charleston Southern is 0–2 and has lost its two games by a total of 56 points. Illinois has some issues, but the Fighting Illini will roll.
Illinois 41-10

Northern Iowa at No. 55 Iowa
Iowa is one of only three teams nationally that has played two games but scored only one touchdown. The Hawkeyes also rank in a tie for second with six field goals.
Iowa 20-17

No. 111 Eastern Michigan at No. 56 Purdue
Purdue fell short last week at Notre Dame, losing 20–17 on a late field goal, but the Boilermakers will be a tough out in the Big Ten. This is team that is capable of winning eight games.
Purdue 37-15

Bethune-Cookman at No. 57 Miami (Fla.)
The Hurricanes have given up 84 points in two games this season. The 2001 Canes, who won the national title, gave up 117 for the entire season.
Miami 38-10

No. 71 Navy at No. 58 Penn State
Bill O’Brien is still searching for his first win as the head coach at Penn State. He should find it this weekend.
Penn State 17-13

No. 59 Louisiana Tech at No. 83 Rice
Louisiana Tech gave up 693 yards last week yet still beat Houston thanks to an offense that scored 56 points and rolled up 598 yards. It will be a surprise if the Bulldogs don’t top 500 yards against Rice.
Louisiana Tech 44-20

Stony Brook at No. 60 Syracuse
Ryan Nassib has thrown for a total of 804 yards and six touchdowns in two games, but the Orange have yet to win a game. They lost to Northwestern 42–41 at home and then dropped a 42–29 decision to USC at the Meadowlands.
Syracuse 37-21

No. 63 UConn at No. 79 Maryland
It’s the highly anticipated Randy Edsall bowl. The not-so-popular head coach went 74–70 in 12 years at Connecticut before bolting for his “dream job” at Maryland. Things haven’t gone so well in College Park, where Edsall has a 4–10 record through the second week of the 2012 season.
UConn 13-10

No. 76 Western Michigan at No. 64 Minnesota
This is a good measuring stick for Minnesota. We think the Gophers are improved, but this will be a nice test. Western Michigan is good enough to win this game if Jerry Kill’s club doesn’t play well.
Minnesota 28-20

No. 102 Western Kentucky at No. 67 Kentucky
After losing its first two games in the series by an average of 36.5 points (in ’08 and ’10), Western Kentucky made the boys from Big State U sweat in last season’s opener played in Nashville. The final score was 14–3, but Kentucky didn’t put the game away until the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Kentucky 20-10

No. 86 Bowling Green at No. 68 Toledo
Toledo bounced back from a tough overtime loss at Arizona to defeat a solid Wyoming club 34–31 on the road. Bowling Green unexpectedly struggled with Idaho (the Falcons won 21–13) after giving Florida trouble in Week 1.
Toledo 38-30

No. 87 FIU at No. 69 UCF
FIU has been a disappointment through the first two games of the season. The Golden Panthers were blown out at Duke by 20 (and Duke went on to lose badly at Stanford) and then had to go to overtime to beat Akron at home.
UCF 38-17

North Carolina Central at No. 73 Duke
Duke expected to be a bit more competitive last week at Stanford, but the Blue Devils were soundly beaten (50–13) in Palo Alto. They threw for 363 yards but managed only 37 rushing yards.
Duke 37-13

No. 81 East Carolina at No. 74 Southern Miss
We still don’t know too much about this Southern Miss team. The Golden Eagles have only played once and gave up 632 yards en route to a 49–20 loss at Nebraska.
Southern Miss 34-28

Nicholls State at No. 75 Tulsa
Nichols State picked up a grand total of 118 yards in its only game this season, a 9–3 loss at South Alabama. This will get out of hand very early.
Tulsa 48-7

No. 82 Northern Illinois at No. 97 Army
Northern Illinois isn’t usually known for its defense, but the Huskies have only given up two touchdowns in two games this season — an 18–17 loss to Iowa in Chicago and a 35–7 win over Tennessee-Martin.
Northern Illinois 31-13

No. 110 Colorado at No. 85 Fresno State
The optimist points to the fact that Colorado has lost its two games — vs. Colorado State in Denver and Sacramento State at home — by a total of five points. The realist points to the fact that Colorado is not good at football.
Fresno State 30-17

No. 114 New Mexico State at No. 88 UTEP
UTEP is struggling to score points. The Miners have one offensive touchdown and are averaging 283.0 yards per game. It might be time to panic if they have trouble scoring this weekend.
UTEP 28-13

No. 107 Colorado State at No. 89 San Jose State
Colorado State’s Week 1 win over rival Colorado was followed up by a sobering 22–7 loss at home to North Dakota State. San Jose State continues to improve under third-year coach Mike MacIntyre. This is a game the Spartans should win.
San Jose State 24-13

No. 104 Ball State at No. 91 Indiana
I realize that Ball State beat IU on a neutral field last year, but it has to be alarming for Kevin Wilson that his team is only a three-point favorite at home to a middle-of-the-pack (at best) team from the MAC.
Indiana 21-20

North Dakota at No. 94 San Diego State
Ryan Katz, a former starter at Oregon State, is off to a solid start in his only season with the Aztecs. He has completed 24-of-40 passes for 343 yards and two scores and has added 86 yards rushing.
San Diego State 33-10

Cal Poly at No. 95 Wyoming
Wyoming let one get away last week in a loss at home to Toledo. Those are the type of games the Cowboys need to win to reach a bowl game.
Wyoming 34-17

Lamar at No. 108 Hawaii
Hawaii makes its home debut with native Hawaiian Norm Chow as the head coach. The Warriors lost in Week 1 at USC, 49–10.
Hawaii 37-7

Morgan State at No. 120 Akron
Akron showed significant improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. After losing at home 56–14 to UCF, the Zips took FIU to overtime before losing 41–38 on the road. This week, Terry Bowden’s club will break through.
Akron 37-14

No. 118 Middle Tennessee at No. 122 Memphis
For the second straight week, Middle Tennessee is involved in a game that features two of the worst 10 teams in the nation (according to our rankings). Unlike last week, the Blue Raiders won’t win.
Memphis 23-17

Last week: 52–17
Season: 107–28
 

— By Mitch Light

Teaser:
<p> Can Michigan State hold off Notre Dame? Can the Gators survive Rocky Top? Predictions on every game in Week 3</p>
Post date: Friday, September 14, 2012 - 09:51
All taxonomy terms: NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /nfl/5-conspiracy-theories-changed-sports-history
Body:

Conspiracy theories are a part of America's culture, covering everything from government cover-ups to suspicious murders. But the world of sports also has its share of conspiracy theories. Here are the five biggest, and the impact they had on the history of their sport.

1. 1919 World Series — Chicago Black Sox Scandal

“Say it ain’t so, Joe.”

Eight members of the Chicago White Sox — “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, Eddie Cicotte, Claude “Lefty” Williams, Buck Weaver, Arnold “Chick” Gandil, Fred McMullin, Charles “Swede” Risberg and Oscar “Happy” Felsch — were banned from baseball for conspiring with gamblers and gangsters (notably New York’s Arnold Rothstein) to throw the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.

The plan worked, as the heavily favored White Sox — one of the era’s highest profile teams and arguably one of the most talented squads of all time — fell to the Reds, 5-to-3, in the best-of-nine series.

Strangely, “Shoeless Joe” hit the 1919 World Series’ only home run and led all batters with a .375 average (12-for-32), six RBIs and five runs scores. But Jackson’s implication in the scandal ended his career at only 32 years old, with a .356 career average and three top-5 finishes in AL MVP voting.

As a result of what would become known as the “Black Sox Scandal,” Kenesaw Mountain Landis was named the first “Commissioner of Baseball” in 1920.

 

2. Super Bowl III — New York Jets upset Baltimore Colts

“We’re going to win Sunday. I guarantee it.”

Joe Namath backed up his famous guarantee with the New York Jets upsetting the Baltimore Colts, 16–7, in Super Bowl III. But since “Broadway Joe” trotted off the field pointing No. 1 to the sky, there have been more than a few rumblings that the Colts took a dive against the Jets.

The legitimacy of the NFL-AFL merger of 1970 was greatly aided by the AFL’s win in Super Bowl III on Jan. 12, 1969. The fact that the game was won by New York — a massive media market with a coverboy quarterback — was icing on the cake. In hindsight, it could be argued that the Jets’ win over the Colts was a triumph worth not just millions but billions of dollars for the league.

“That Super Bowl game, which we lost by nine points, was the critical year (for the AFL),” Colts defensive end Bubba Smith famously told Playboy. “The game just seemed odd to me. Everything was out of place. I tried to rationalize that our coach, Don Shula, got out-coached, but that wasn’t the case. I don’t know if any of my teammates were in on the fix.”

Baltimore had a 13–1 record in 1968 and dominated the Cleveland Browns, 34–0, in the NFL title game. Meanwhile, New York went 11–3 and barely escaped with a 27–23 win over the Oakland Raiders in the AFL title game — thanks in large part to a fluke play late in the fourth quarter, when the Jets recovered a lateral fumble that the Raiders thought was an incomplete pass.

The Colts committed five costly turnovers, including three interceptions by quarterback Earl Morrall. One interception was particularly suspicious. With Colts receiver Jimmy Orr wide open near the end zone, Morrall checked down to running back Jerry Hill only to throw an errant pass intercepted by Jets safety Jim Hudson.

“I’m just a linesman but I looked up and saw Jimmy (Orr) wide open,” said Colts center Bill Curry, currently the head coach at Georgia State.

Baltimore coach Don Sula — who would later coach Morrall with the Miami Dolphins — may have the most damning non-quote of all. Smith wrote in his autobiography, “Kill, Bubba, Kill,” that he believed the fix was in at Super Bowl III. Shula’s response was the classic husband-caught-cheating reply.

“I think it’s too ridiculous for me to comment on,” said Shula.



3. Muhammad Ali vs. Sonny Liston — “Phantom Punch”

“Get up and fight, sucker!”

Muhammad Ali stood over Sonny Liston shouting at him to get up, while ringside photographer Neil Leifer captured the iconic moment in what many have called the greatest sports photograph in history.

Ali-Liston II was originally scheduled for Nov. 16, 1964 at the Boston Garden. But the fight was postponed after a pre-fight injury suffered by Ali. Rumors of organized crime connections to the fight promotion caused the city of Boston to reject the fight. Then, amid continued fixed fight talk, the city of Cleveland followed suit and also denied the fight.

Finally, on May 25, 1965, the heavyweight championship bout took place at St. Dominic’s Hall in Lewiston, Maine, and was refereed by former heavyweight champ Jersey Joe Walcott. The fight did not last long, however. Liston went down in the first round — as rumors swirled that Liston owed money to the mafia and/or had been threatened by the Nation of Islam.

Worst of all, Ali was reportedly overheard asking his corner crew a crucial question about the so-called “phantom punch.”

“Did I hit him?”


4. 1985 NBA Draft Lottery — Patrick Ewing to the New York Knicks

In 1985, Georgetown center Patrick Ewing was a “can’t miss” NBA prospect. Ewing lived up to his advanced billing, as an 11-time NBA All-Star and member of the Basketball Hall of Fame. He never won an NBA championship, primarily due to the greatness of Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon. But Ewing was the centerpiece of 13 playoff teams for the New York Knicks — a team that acquired the 7-footer via the first-ever NBA Draft Lottery.



After watching the footage, several oddities stand out. When putting the seven envelopes into the drum, the fourth envelope is noticeably thrown against the side of the clear sphere — bending one corner of the envelope — while the other six are simply dropped into the bottom of the drum. Then, Commissioner David Stern lets out a stressful deep breath before diving his hand into the drum, passing over several envelopes and drawing what turned out to be the New York Knicks — Stern’s self-proclaimed favorite team. Along with the bent-corner theory, many have speculated that the Knicks’ envelope had been frozen prior to the drawing.

Since the Ewing scandal, the NBA Draft Lottery has cleaned up its act. The ping-pong ball lottery takes place in a room with no cameras, then the “results” are announced by opening the envelopes on television. Stern is nowhere near the event. Who has been involved? The trustworthy employees of Ernst & Young, whose honest oversight experience also includes the fraudulent accounting practices of Lehman Brothers.

It’s all on the up and up. The Bulls received the right to draft Chicago native Derrick Rose, despite only a 1.7 percent chance of “winning” the Lottery. The Orlando Magic won back-to-back No. 1 picks, including Shaquille O’Neal. The New Jersey Nets won the No. 1 pick in Rod Thorn’s first draft running the Nets, after 15 years of Thorn being Stern’s right-hand man in the league office. The Cleveland Cavaliers got the top pick the year the best player in state history (LeBron James) was available and the year after King James left town. The most recent Lottery was won by the New Orleans Hornets — a team owned by the NBA during the 2011-12 season, before being sold to Tom Benson.

If the real lottery were run the way Stern runs the NBA Draft Lottery, no one would buy a ticket. And the right to draft Ewing, Shaq, LeBron, etc., is worth more than the PowerBall.


5. 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals, Game 6 — Sacramento Kings at L.A. Lakers

Tim Donaghy was an NBA referee from 1994 to 2007, officiating in 772 regular season games and 20 playoff contests. But rumors of fixing games caused Donaghy to resign in July 2007. Concrete evidence presented by the FBI resulted in Donaghy pleading guilty to federal charges and being sentenced to 15 months in federal prison.

After being released, Donaghy began telling tales of NBA officiating, gambling and controlling the outcome of games. His legal team even filed loosely veiled allegations against the NBA in U.S. District Court.

Although he does not name team or referee names, it is clear that Donaghy’s attorney is referring to Game 6 of the 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals between the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers.

“Referees A, F and G were officiating a playoff series between Teams 5 and 6 in May of 2002. It was the sixth game of a seven-game series, and a Team 5 victory that night would have ended the series.

“However, Tim learned from Referee A that Referees A and F wanted to extend the series to seven games. Tim knew Referees A and F to be ‘company men,’ always acting in the interest of the NBA, and that night, it was in the NBA’s interest to add another game to the series. Referees A and F heavily favored Team 6.

“Personal fouls (resulting in obviously injured players) were ignored even when they occurred in full view of the Referees. Conversely, the Referees called made-up fouls on Team 5 in order to give additional free throw opportunities for Team 6. Their foul-calling also led to the ejection of two Team 5 players.

“The referees’ favoring of Team 6 led to that team’s victory that night, and Team 6 came back from behind to win that series.”



To translate:

The referees that May 31, 2002 night were Dick Bavetta, Bob Delaney and Steve Javie. The Kings led the Lakers, 3–2, in the best-of-seven series. A Kings win would send Sacramento to the NBA Finals, where it would face the New Jersey Nets. A Lakers win would force a Game 7 and keep alive the dynasty dreams of the two-time defending champions.

Kings centers Vlade Divac and Scot Pollard both fouled out of the game. Pollard picked up two fouls in 14 seconds, fouling out with 11:34 remaining in the fourth quarter; Divac fouled out with 2:56 remaining. Kings forward Chris Webber picked up three fouls in the fourth quarter, his fifth foul coming with 3:07 to play.

The Lakers led the Kings in free throw attempts, 40-to-25. In the fourth quarter, L.A. went 21-of-27 from the free throw line, while Sacramento was 7-of-9 in the final period. And in a symbolic display of unfairness, Kings guard Mike Bibby was called for a foul after being elbowed in the nose by Kobe Bryant.

After the game, Ralph Nader called for investigation. But Lakers fans smiled all the way to a 106–102 Game 6 win, a 112–106 Game 7 victory and a four-game sweep of the overmatched Nets in the NBA Finals, en route to a star-studded three-peat led by Shaq, Kobe and Phil Jackson.

“I’m not going to say there was a conspiracy,” said Pollard. “I just think something wasn’t right. It was unfair. We didn’t have a chance to win that game.”
 

Teaser:
<p> The five conspiracy theories that changed sports history, including the 1919 World Series, Super Bowl III and Ali-Liston II.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 14, 2012 - 08:31
Path: /college-football/college-football-award-watch-post-week-2
Body:

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

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

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

OFFENSIVE AWARDS
Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Our leader: Matt Barkley, USC
Barkley didn’t have one of his best days in a USC uniform against Syracuse. His 187 yards is the second-lowest total since the start of last season. That said, Barkley still had six touchdown passes, giving him 20 TD passes in his last four games going back to last year.
Others: West Virginia’s Geno Smith, Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, Tennessee’s Tyler Bray

Doak Walker (Top running back)
Our leader: Johnathan Franklin, UCLA
Franklin was not a first- or second-team All-Pac-12 honoree last season despite rushing for 976 yards. He’ll eclipse that total easily if he continues at this rate. Franklin had his second 200-yard game of the season with 217 against Nebraska. He added three catches for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Others: Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas, Michigan State’s Le’Veon Bell, South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore

Biletnikoff Award (Top wide receiver)
Our leader: Marqise Lee, USC
Just another day for Lee: Double-digit receptions and multiple touchdowns. Lee caught 11 passes for 66 yards with three scores against Syracuse. He has 13 total touchdowns (11 receiving, two kickoff returns) in his last seven games.
Others: USC’s Robert Woods, Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin

Mackey Award (Top tight end)
Our leader: Kaneakua Friel, BYU
Friel came into the season with little buzz, but he’s already one of BYU’s key players. The junior added another touchdown catch, his third of the season, last week against Weber State. BYU faces its toughest opponent of the season this week against Utah.
Others: Arkansas’ Chris Gragg, Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Outland Trophy (Top interior lineman)
Our leader: Barrett Jones, Alabama
Alabama’s offensive line had a rough day against Western Kentucky, allowing six sacks and blocking for a run game that averaged 3.3 yards per carry. But don’t forget how dominant Alabama was in the opener against Michigan. It would be shocking for Alabama not to show that again during the SEC season.
Others: Michigan State’s Chris McDonald, Virginia’s Oday Aboushi

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

 

 


DEFENSIVE AWARDS
Bednarik Award/Nagurski Award (Defensive Player of the Year)
Our leader: Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o picked up his first career interception in Week 1. Jarvis Jones had his first pick against Missouri last week. Jones had perhaps the most dominant individual defensive performance of the season with two forced fumbles, two sacks and a pick as Georgia pulled away from Missouri in the Tigers’ SEC opener.
Others: Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, Alabama’s Dee Milliner

Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)
Our leader: Jones, Georgia
Others: BYU’s Kyle Van Noy, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, LSU’s Sam Montgomery, Cincinnati’s Walter Stewart

Butkus Award (Top linebacker)
Our leader: Jones, Georgia
Others: Michigan State’s Max Bullough,Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, Virginia’s Steve Greer, Kansas State’s Arthur Brown

Thorpe Award (Top defensive back)
Our leader: Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Banks may start to get his due as one of the premier defensive players in the SEC. His two interceptions against Auburn last week gave him 14 in his career and nine against SEC quarterbacks. Others: Alabama’s Dee Milliner, Texas’ Kenny Vacarro


SPECIAL TEAMS AWARDS
Groza Award (Top kicker)

Our leader: Caleb Sturgis, Florida
Sturgis connected on a 51-yard field goal at Texas A&M on Saturday for his second 50-yarder of the season.
Others: Iowa’s Mike Meyer, Nebraska’s Brett Maher, UTSA’s Sean Ianno

Ray Guy Award (Top punter)
Our leader: Brad Wing, LSU
Wing boomed a 62-yard punt to the Washington 4-yard line in his first punt of the season last week. He finished with an average of 54.3 yards on his three kicks.
Others: Sean Sellwood, Utah, Michigan’s Will Hagerup


OTHER NATIONAL AWARDS
Freshman of the Year
Our leader: Brett Hundley, UCLA
Again, why did Hundley redshirt last season? UCLA’s long-time quarterback troubles may be coming to an end with Hundley, who passed for 305 yards and four touchdowns against Nebraska last week.
Others: Miami’s Duke Johnson, Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon

Coach of the Year
Our leader: Jim L. Mora, UCLA
We’ll learn more once conference play starts, but Mora has made a major change in culture at UCLA. The Bruins could have an impressive record by the time they face USC on Nov. 17.
Others: Arizona State’s Todd Graham, Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer

by David Fox

@davidfox615

Related College Football Content:

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 2
Post-Week 2 Bowl Projections

Post-Week 2 Heisman Contenders

ACC Week 3 Previews and Predictions
Big East Week 3 Previews and Predictions

Big Ten Week 3 Previews and Predictions
Big 12 Week 3 Previews and Predictions
Pac-12 Week 3 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 3 Previews and Predictions

College Football Week 3 Upset Picks

Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections

Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

 

 

 

 

 

Teaser:
<p> College Football Award Watch: Post-Week 2</p>
Post date: Friday, September 14, 2012 - 07:55
Path: /nfl/bears-qb-jay-cutler-underwhelms-against-green-bay-packers
Body:

We fell for it and we could not have been any angrier watching that disaster of a fantasy, er, football game Thursday night as the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears, 23-10.

We fell for Jay Cutler’s Tuesday presser this week where he told us “this is a totally different scheme, a mentality and direction that we’re going offensively.”
 
Why didn’t we just see it right there? 
 
He all but told us he was the same Cutler, just with a healthy thumb now. 
 
Totally different scheme, mentality and direction could have been looked at as where the offense goes from here under new offensive coordinator Mike Tice and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates. After all, it’s Tice who was set to get a true ground game going in Chicago and Bates who coached Cutler for three seasons in Denver.
 
In hindsight, it looks like Cutler again placing blame where he always has — elsewhere.
Cutler was cocky and confident on Tuesday. He invited press coverage; he invited man coverage from the Packers.
 
Yes, my heart believed while my mind was telling me: “You know better than this.”
But it was all there for the taking.
 
We saw Green Bay’s last-ranked pass defense from a year ago that showed up at home in Week One and allowed San Francisco’s Alex Smith to throw for a pedestrian 211 yards but on 20-of-26 passing with two scores and no interceptions.
 
We saw Cutler’s two new weapons — Brandon Marshall (6-5) and Alshon Jeffery (6-3) going against smaller cornerbacks Tramon Williams (5-11) and Jarrett Bush (6-0). He even has his old Vanderbilt buddy, Earl Bennett, to run around the middle of the field and make plays. 
 
But numbers are numbers are numbers. We don’t even care that he was 1-5 in six starts against Green Bay; this is fantasy football. However, Cutler had completed just 56.9 percent of his passes for 240.2 yards per outing with 11 interceptions and seven scores going into Thursday’s game. That’s terrible.
 
And if that’s terrible, what’s this?: 11-of-27 for 126 yards, one TD and four interceptions. Well, that’s just “same old Jay” as Packers defensive back Charles Woodson said after the game.
 
Why didn’t it just register in my mind that Cutler was 1-for-10 for 13 yards before elite pass rusher Dwight Freeney went out of the game last week against the Indianapolis? I’m pretty sure 32nd-ranked pass defense or not, the Packers have more to offer in the form of pressure than the Colts do.
 
But there we were, holding out hope much like Cutler was holding on to the ball for….ev…..er.
 
It may be said that Thursday night was a result of his offensive line, the drops from his receivers or that running back Matt Forte went out with an ankle injury in the third quarter. But it’s always going to be something with Cutler. 
 
With this performance fresh in our minds, it is easy to be beyond pessimistic on what Cutler has in store as a fantasy QB the rest of the way. 
 
Next up are the Rams, Cowboys and Jaguars before a bye. He returns to face the Lions, Panthers, Titans, Texans and 49ers. 
 
Call us pessimistic. 
 
Look at the numbers see that Cutler was only a top-10 fantasy quarterback on three occasions last season and a top-12 in only four outings. On three occasions he was 24th or worse. He reached as high as fifth in his last game before the thumb injury but that came a week after he was 31st.
 
That about sums it up, don’t you think? 
 
Cutler will get his some weeks. But with games against Dallas, Detroit, Houston, San Francisco and Carolina, yes, even Carolina where he finished 32nd amongst QBs when he faced them last year, he just can’t be trusted as a weekly starter.
 
Perhaps he will put it together against the likes of the Rams and Jaguars and Titans and you can trust him again. But then fate and Packers rear their heads again as he gets Green Bay again in the fantasy semifinals Week 15.
 
In the words of Jay Cutler this week: “Good luck.” 
 
— By Corby A. Yarbrough,  @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter
Teaser:
<p> Despite his assurances, Cutler was a fantasy football dud.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 14, 2012 - 07:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-week-2-start-or-sit
Body:

Week 2 of the 2012 NFL season is here, which means it's time to get those fantasy lineups in order for this weekend’s action. Just like the 16 NFL teams that lost in Week 1, there’s still plenty of time to right the ship if your fantasy team is 0-1, especially if you can get into the win column this week.

Athlon Sports is to help you make those important decisions each week with our Start and Sit suggestions. Keep in mind these are merely our suggestions as the ultimate decision comes down to you, the owner.

Week 2 Positional Rankings

Sneaky Start of the Week
Alex Smith, QB, San Francisco vs. Detroit
San Francisco had the third most rushing attempts in the NFL last season, compared to the second-fewest pass attempts. During the offseason, the 49ers added wide receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham through free agency and drafted A.J. Jenkins in the first round, looking to give Alex Smith more weapons. If the early results are to be believed, it looks like the team is in fact serious about airing it out more in 2012.

Against Green Bay in Week 1, Smith had just six fewer pass attempts (26) compared to rushes (32) by the team, completing 20 passes for 211 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He connected with six different receivers, including four times each with Moss and Manningham. This week Smith and the 49ers open up at home against Detroit and a secondary that’s still dealing with several injuries. If Smith plays like he did against the Packers, I think he’s in for an even bigger week, as he’s also capable of making plays with his legs.

Surprise Sit of the Week
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore vs. Philadelphia
Fewer quarterbacks had a better opening week than Flacco, who threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns on 21-of-29 passing against Cincinnati on Monday night. Uncharacteristically, the Ravens threw more times (32) than they ran the ball (23), as Ray Rice had just 10 carries on the night.

Those who are expecting similar numbers from Flacco this week against Philadelphia are going to be in for rude awakening, I’m afraid. For one, the Eagles defense figures to be a little more difficult to post big numbers against compared to the Bengals. Last week, the Eagles hurried and harassed Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden all game as the rookie struggled mightily in his NFL debut, connecting on just 12 of 35 pass attempts for only 118 yards. He also threw four picks and was sacked twice. Besides the Eagles’ pass rush and secondary, I also think Flacco will be held in check by the Ravens’ own game plan, which I believe will feature a much heavier dose of Rice and the running game.

Quarterbacks
START
Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) vs. New York Jets
Big Ben was solid in Week 1 against Denver, but his pass protection broke down late and he threw a costly pick-six in the fourth quarter. Even though it’s the Jets this week, the game is at home, where Roethlisberger always plays well, and the visitors will more than likely be missing their best defensive player. Cornerback Darrelle Revis suffered a concussion in last week’s win against Buffalo and as of Thursday had not yet been cleared to practice. No Revis completely changes the complexion of the Jets’ secondary and defense as a whole, which increases Big Ben’s fantasy appeal.

Christian Ponder (MIN) at Indianapolis
Ponder was very solid (20-27, 270 yards) in the Vikings' win against Jacksonville. He didn’t throw any touchdown passes, but that should change, especially with Adrian Peterson appearing to be close to his usual form after his first game back since tearing his ACL late last season. This week, Ponder and the Vikings will get their shot at a Colts’ defense that gave up more than 400 yards of total offense, including 333 through the air, to the Bears in Week 1.

Kevin Kolb (ARI) at New England
This is a tentative endorsement as you should have better options than Kolb on your roster, but I am curious to see how Kolb does against New England. The high-priced backup entered last week’s game against Seattle in the fourth quarter after starter John Skelton went down with an ankle injury. Kolb completed six of the eight passes he threw, including the game-winning score. Skelton will more than likely be unable to go this Sunday against the Patriots, giving Kolb another shot to show everyone why the Cardinals traded for him in the first place. New England gave up 264 yards passing to the Titans in Week 1, and you have to figure Kolb will get his chances to air it out as the Cardinals will be trying to keep up with the Patriots on the scoreboard.

SIT
Michael Vick (PHI) at Baltimore
The Eagles won, but Vick (completed just 52 percent of passes, 4 INTs) didn’t play all that well even though he finished with more than 300 yards passing. That was against Cleveland. This week it’s Baltimore and the Ravens defense that limited Andy Dalton to 211 yards passing with no touchdowns, sacked him four times and forced two turnovers. It also doesn't help that both of Vick's top wide receivers, DeSean Jackson (hamstring) and Jeremy Maclin (hip), missed practice on Thursday and their status is uncertain headed into Sunday's game.

Carson Palmer (OAK) at Miami
Palmer completed 32 passes on Monday night against San Diego, with 13 of those going to his running back, Darren McFadden. The Raiders’ wide receivers situation is a mess right now because of injuries and I don’t think it will get markedly better this week as the Silver and Black make the cross-country trip to take on Miami.

Mark Sanchez (NYJ) at Pittsburgh
Sanchez was near spectacular (266 yards, 3 TDs, INT) against Buffalo in Week 1 as Tim Tebow was basically relegated to mop-up duty. This week the Jets go to Pittsburgh to take on a Steelers defense that’s still smarting from the loss in Denver and gets starting free safety Ryan Clark and linebacker James Harrison back. I expect the going for the Jets’ offense to be much tougher this Sunday and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Tebow sees significantly more snaps as the Jets will turn to their version of the Wildcat to keep the Steel Curtain off balance.

Running Backs
START

Doug Martin (TB) at New York Giants
Martin dominated the carries for the Buccaneers in Week 1, getting 24 of the team’s 36, and also caught four passes out of the backfield. The Giants gave up 131 yards on the ground to DeMarco Murray in their opener, and I think Martin will get more than enough touches in this game to be a factor.

Jonathan Stewart (CAR) vs. New Orleans
Barring a late setback, Stewart should make his season debut against the Saints after missing Week 1 because of an ankle injury. The good news for Stewart is twofold: 1) The Panthers rushed for a grand total of 13 yards on 10 carries without him last week against Tampa Bay and 2) He’s going up against a rush defense that gave up 153 yards to the Redskins in Week 1. Stewart also is a legitimate threat as a receiver out of the backfield, further increasing his value.

Jonathan Dwyer (PIT) vs. New York Jets
Isaac Redman got the start and more carries (11 to 9) against Denver, but it was Dwyer who did more damage, finishing with a team-high 43 yards rushing. His solid production was enough to earn him a bigger role for this Sunday’s game against the Jets. Remember, the Jets gave up 169 yards on the ground to C.J. Spiller, who like Dwyer was initially Buffalo’s backup running back, last week. Depending on your other options, Dwyer may be worth taking a flyer on as a RB3 or flex option this week.

SIT
Michael Turner (ATL) vs. Denver (Monday)
Going into the season, the expectation was that the Falcons would cut down on Turner’s workload. That came to fruition last week as he got only 11 carries against Kansas City, finishing with a mere 32 yards. The Falcons seem very comfortable with a more pass-oriented offense and between that and the presence of Jacquizz Rodgers, who got seven carries and is a bigger threat out of the backfield as a receiver, I expect we will see more of the same on Monday night against Denver.

Aflred Morris (WAS) at St. Louis
Yes, Alfred Morris got more than 65 percent of the Redskins’ carries in Week 1, turning those opportunities into 96 yards and two touchdowns. However, that doesn’t mean that this week it won’t be Roy Helu or Evan Royster or even Robert Griffin III with that distinction. Plus, the Redskins will be going up against a St. Louis defense that surrendered a total of 83 yards on the ground to Detroit in Week 1. If you want to jump on the Morris bandwagon, you go right on ahead. I’m just not quite ready to join you.

Kevin Smith (DET) at San Francisco
The good: Smith scored two touchdowns last week against St. Louis, one rushing, one receiving. The bad: He only had 81 total yards (62 rushing, 29 receiving) in that game. The ugly: That came against St. Louis, this week the Lions take on San Francisco, who gave up only 45 yards rushing to Green Bay in Week 1.

Wide Receivers
START

Wes Welker (NE) vs. Arizona
Including Welker here says his three-catch, 14-yard effort against Tennessee last week is the exception and not the norm. I expect Tom Brady will look to get Welker involved early and often this Sunday against Arizona.

Antonio Brown (PIT) vs. New York Jets
Brown’s numbers (4 rec., team-high 74 yards) weren’t bad in Week 1 against Denver; they just don’t jump out at you either. It wouldn’t surprise me to see that change this Sunday as the Jets will more than likely be without All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis. No Revis thins out the Jets’ secondary from the start, and I think Brown is the Steeler receiver who will benefit most from his absence.

Andre Roberts (ARI) at New England
Larry Fitzgerald is the main man in Arizona, there’s no doubt about that, but there’s plenty of room for a No. 2 and right now that appears to be Roberts, and not first-round pick Michael Floyd. Roberts finished second to Fitzgerald in targets in Week 1, turning nine of them into a team-high five receptions. One of those was the game-winning touchdown pass from Kevin Kolb in the fourth quarter. Kolb is expected to start this Sunday’s game in New England.

SIT
Sidney Rice (SEA) vs. Dallas
The Cowboys upgraded their secondary during the offseason through both free agency (Brandon Carr) and the draft (Morris Claiborne) and it held up very well against Eli Manning and the Giants’ pass attack in Week 1. Russell Wilson looked every bit the rookie in his first NFL start last week against Arizona. Don’t expect drastic improvement from the Seahawks’ passing game this Sunday either.

Kevin Ogletree (DAL) at Seattle
Ogletree stole the show a week ago when he starred in the NFL’s season opener, grabbing a game-high eight passes for 114 yards and two touchdowns. Seattle’s secondary will be a much tougher test for Ogletree and the entire Cowboys’ passing game this week compared to the Giants’ injury-depleted corps they faced in Week 1. Ogletree may be productive again, but expectations should be limited to that of a possible WR3, and not along the lines of what he did in Week 1.

Titus Young (DET) at San Francisco
Young caught just one pass in Week 1 as he committed a personal foul penalty that earned him a seat on the bench for much of the game. Young is oozing with fantasy upside, especially if he grabs hold of the No. 2 wide receiver job for the Lions, but just hasn’t been able to get out of his own way. Until he can prove that he can maintain his composure on the field, including practicing with his own teammates, it’s probably best to leave him on your bench.

Tight Ends
Start
Jared Cook (TEN) at San Diego
Cook led all Titans receivers with 64 yards on four catches last week and his workload should only increase as the season goes on. The Titans could have wide receiver Kenny Britt back on the field this week, which should help Cook more than hurt him as Britt’s presence, especially as a deep threat, helps open the middle of the field even more for the athletic tight end.

Kyle Rudolph (MIN) at Indianapolis
It's Coby Fleener’s home debut, but don’t be surprised if Rudolph is the young tight end that finishes with better numbers in this game. The Colts’ linebacking corps is missing its leader as Pat Angerer is still sidelined by a broken foot. Rudolph, who caught five passes for 67 yards last week, should be able to find plenty of room to roam in the middle of the field this Sunday.

Martellus Bennett (NYG) vs. Tampa Bay
Eli Manning found Bennett in the end zone in Week 1 against Dallas and will look for his tight end again this week against Tampa Bay. Bennett’s size is a weapon in the red zone, and Manning has never been afraid to throw to his tight ends.

SIT
Fred Davis (WAS) at St. Louis
Surprisingly, Davis and Robert Griffin III only connected twice during the rookie’s impressive debut against New Orleans. While that could change any given week or as the season progresses, I would consider benching Davis until Griffin starts looking his way more consistently.

Jason Witten (DAL) at Seattle
Let’s give credit where credit is due. I was stunned when Witten played last week against the Giants in the first place. However, it shouldn’t be ignored that he caught just two passes and was only targeted three times. It’s completely understandable that Witten may not be back to 100 percent health for several more weeks. This is also the reason why I would bench the All-Pro, at least until his production is more along the lines of what we have come to expect.

Brent Celek (PHI) vs. Baltimore
Michael Vick did look Celek’s way eight times in Week 1 against Cleveland, but what’s more concerning to me is that Clay Harbor, and not Celek, appeared to get the looks when the Eagles were in the red zone. That coupled with Ray Lewis and co. on the docket this Sunday is more than enough reason for me to bypass Celek this week.

Defense/Special Teams
START

New England vs. Arizona
Arizona should be able to get some yards and points against the Patriots, but their run defense was awfully stout against Tennessee last week and I expect the opportunistic unit to get a score via a turnover or on special teams.

Cincinnati vs. Cleveland
What better way to let your defense get healthy and gain some confidence than to face an offense with a rookie quarterback that did next-to-nothing in Week 1, right?

Oakland at Miami
See above and add to it the fact that the Raiders gave up just one touchdown to the Chargers in five red zone attempts on Monday night. It’s entirely possible that the Dolphins end up with fewer this Sunday.

SIT
New York Giants vs. Tampa Bay
The Giants’ defense yielded both a 100-yard rusher and 300-yard passer in their opener. While the Cowboys’ offense and the Buccaneers’ offense are two entirely different animals, I think Tampa has enough weapons and will get enough opportunities to make the Giants’ defense a fantasy non-factor once again.

Detroit Lions at San Francisco
The Lions’ defense more than held its own against St. Louis in Week 1, but will face something completely different this Sunday in San Francisco. The 49ers attacked Green Bay in Week 1 with both the run and the pass, and I’m expecting more of the same this Sunday in their home opener. The Lions' D relies heavily on big plays and turnovers, but the 49ers have a reputation for protecting the ball.

Kickers
START

Nate Kaeding (SD) vs. Tennessee
The Chargers had all sorts of trouble punching it into the end zone against Oakland, which resulted in Kaeding kicking five field goals. Given their issues along the offensive line and with the running game, I don’t expect much to change this Sunday against the Titans.

Justin Tucker (BAL) at Philadelphia
Baltimore should be able to move the ball and put several drives together against the Eagles, but I think they will have trouble getting into the end zone. This should leave Tucker with plenty of chances to put three points on the board.

SIT
Dan Carpenter (MIA) vs. Oakland
Carpenter’s chances to kick will be limited as long as Ryan Tannehill struggles under center.

Phil Dawson (CLE) at Cincinnati
Dawson and Carpenter will probably remain linked throughout the season as both kickers are relying on struggling offenses led by rookie quarterbacks to provide them with scoring opportunities.

— By Mark Ross, published on Sept. 14, 2012

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football: Week 2 Start or Sit</p>
Post date: Friday, September 14, 2012 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-3-preview-match-ups-upset-picks-and-storylines-watch
Body:

College football's Week 3 slate is full of interesting action. Arkansas had a surprising defeat to Louisiana-Monroe last week but has a chance to knock off No. 1 Alabama this Saturday. The Razorbacks are heavy underdogs and could be without starting quarterback Tyler Wilson. The action in the SEC isn't limited to Arkansas-Alabama, as Florida-Tennessee meet in Knoxville for a crucial East Division showdown. Notre Dame-Michigan State, USC-Stanford, BYU-Utah and North Carolina-Louisville are some of the other top games to monitor this weekend.

Top Storylines to Watch in Week 3

1. Will Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson play against Alabama?
With or without Tyler Wilson, Arkansas has an uphill battle to beat Alabama on Saturday. The Razorbacks have lost their last five games against the Crimson Tide, including a 38-14 matchup last season. In addition to preparing for college football’s No. 1 team, Arkansas is still reeling from last week’s loss to Louisiana-Monroe. If Wilson can’t go, redshirt freshman Brandon Allen or junior Brandon Mitchell will get the start. The offense isn’t the only side of the ball dealing with question marks, as the Razorbacks have to play better on defense to beat Alabama. Even if Wilson plays, this matchup has all of the makings of an Alabama blowout.

2. SEC East Showdown
The Tennessee-Florida rivalry isn’t quite ready to become nationally relevant once again, but it’s getting closer. Both teams are off to 2-0 starts, and the winner of this game could challenge Georgia or South Carolina in the East. The Volunteers’ passing attack (353.5 yards per game) will be challenged by a Florida secondary that has yet to allow a passing touchdown this season. While Tennessee should be able to move the ball on the Gators’ secondary, it needs to establish the ground game and bring some balance to the offense. When Florida has the ball, all eyes will be on Jeff Driskel. The sophomore finished with 162 passing yards against Texas A&M but didn’t throw an interception. For the Gators to win, Driskel needs to be efficient, while running back Mike Gillislee needs to get to at least 100 yards.

3. Can Matt Barkley finally beat Stanford?
The only Pac-12 team Matt Barkley hasn’t defeated during his illustrious USC career is Stanford. The Cardinal have won the last three games in this series and had a convincing 50-13 win over Duke last week. While Stanford has had success against the Trojans in recent years, Barkley should be able to win his final matchup against the Cardinal. Stanford’s secondary is allowing 290 yards a game and has yet to play a passing attack as skilled and talented as the Trojans'. The Cardinal’s rushing attack will test USC’s defense, but the Trojans simply have too much firepower on offense.

4. Can Michigan State remain unbeaten?
With Michigan and Nebraska losing in the first two weeks of the season, Michigan State is the Big Ten’s best shot at reaching the national title. The Spartans had a sluggish showing in the opener against Boise State but as expected, had a convincing win over Central Michigan last week. Michigan State takes on Notre Dame this Saturday, a team it has defeated two times in a row in East Lansing. The Irish handled the Spartans 31-13 in South Bend last year. Quarterbacks will be in the spotlight in this game, as Michigan State wants to see progress from Andrew Maxwell, while this will be Everett Golson’s toughest challenge as Notre Dame’s quarterback. Golson did not finish last Saturday’s game against Purdue but has thrown for 433 yards and two touchdowns on 49 attempts thus far. With two young quarterbacks still finding their rhythm, look for a low-scoring, defensive game. Turnovers will play a large role in determining the outcome of this matchup, while it’s also important for both quarterbacks to get on track early in the game.

5. The Holy War
The Holy War is one of the nation’s top rivalry games and Saturday’s game will be an important one for both BYU and Utah. The Cougars lost 54-10 to the Utes last season and need to go unbeaten to have any shot at a BCS game. Utah is reeling a bit, as it lost to in-state foe Utah State last Friday and lost quarterback Jordan Wynn for the season with a shoulder injury. The stakes are always high when these two teams meet, but there’s an extra sense of urgency. The Utes need a good showing to erase last week’s disappointing effort, especially with Pac-12 play beginning on Sept. 22 at Arizona State. For the Cougars, it’s all about revenge and keeping BCS hopes alive. With both teams ranked in the top 20 in total defense, points could be at a premium on Saturday.
 

6. Intriguing Off-the-Radar Games

Wake Forest at Florida State – This is the first real test for Florida State. Games against Murray State and Savannah State didn’t give much insight into the Seminoles, who are expected to challenge for the national title. The Demon Deacons are a big underdog but are 2-2 in their last four games against Florida State. One area to watch for the Seminoles on Saturday will be a revamped offensive line.

Virginia at Georgia Tech – It’s only Week 3, but this is a crucial game for the Yellow Jackets. With an opening week loss to Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech needs to win to keep its ACC Coastal title hopes alive. With a win over the Yellow Jackets, Virginia would be positioned to be the top challenger to the Hokies.

Arkansas State at Nebraska – After allowing 36 points to UCLA last Saturday, the Red Wolves won’t be an easy out for Nebraska. Arkansas State quarterback Ryan Aplin ranks eighth nationally in total offense, while Tennessee transfer David Oku is averaging 96 yards a game on the ground. The Red Wolves may not win, but will give Nebraska all it can handle.

Connecticut at Maryland – Otherwise known as the Randy Edsall Bowl. Edsall had a messy departure from Connecticut and hasn’t won over all Maryland fans after a 4-10 start to his tenure in College Park. While Edsall facing his old team will be intriguing, the real matchup to watch is the Huskies’ defense against the Terrapins’ offense. Connecticut’s defense has allowed 10 points through the first two games of this year and could make life difficult on Maryland true freshman quarterback Perry Hills.

North Carolina at Louisville – The Tar Heels struggled to stop Wake Forest last week, allowing 327 passing yards to quarterback Tanner Price. North Carolina’s secondary will be under fire once again, as it looks to slow down Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater.

Arizona State at Missouri – These two teams met for a 37-30 shootout last season, and there should be no shortage of points this Saturday. The Sun Devils are off to a fast start under new coach Todd Graham, while Missouri dropped its SEC opener to Georgia last week.

TCU at Kansas – The Jayhawks are reeling, especially after losing to Rice last week. The Horned Frogs easily took care of Grambling last Saturday, but this will be their first Big 12 game in school history. TCU should win without much trouble, but this is a historic moment in the program’s history.

Washington State at UNLV – The Rebels shouldn’t pose much of a threat to the Cougars, especially after losing to Northern Arizona last week. However, it will be interesting to watch Washington State’s offense. Surprisingly, the Cougars have yet to get on track, and will likely have a new quarterback under center (Connor Halliday).
 

7. Five Players to Watch

Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State – Thanks to two strong performances, Miller has thrown his name into the Heisman mix. The sophomore has back-to-back 100-yard rushing efforts, while throwing for 362 yards and three scores. Miller should shine once again against California, but Urban Meyer would like to reduce his carries this Saturday.

David Ash, QB, Texas – Saturday’s game at Ole Miss will be Ash’s second start on the road. Although the competition hasn’t been great, the sophomore has thrown for 377 yards and three touchdowns in two games and has yet to throw an interception. If Ash has another solid performance in Oxford, it would help ease the concerns about the offense going into Big 12 play.

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson – After sitting out the first two games of the year due to a suspension, Watkins will be back in the lineup against Furman. The Tigers shouldn’t need Watkins to win, but it’s a crucial time to have the sophomore back in the lineup. With Florida State up next, Clemson needs Watkins and quarterback Tajh Boyd to be on the same page.

Kiehl Frazier, QB, Auburn – Auburn’s offense ranks among the worst in the SEC and it may not get much better if Frazier doesn’t improve along the way. The sophomore has thrown for 319 yards in the first two games but has also tossed four picks. It’s important that Frazier gain some measure of confidence before the Tigers play LSU on Sept. 22.

Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M – Manziel was solid in his college debut, throwing for 173 yards, while rushing for 60 yards and a touchdown. He should get better with more experience and should have a huge day against a SMU defense allowing 532.5 yards per game.
 

8. Desperate for a Win

Auburn (0-2) – With a schedule that features LSU, Arkansas, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M in the upcoming SEC slate, Saturday’s game against Louisiana-Monroe is a must-win game for Auburn. The Tigers are struggling to find the right mix on offense, but the defense has to tackle better and stop opposing team’s rushing attacks.

Colorado (0-2) – Coach Jon Embree inherited a tough situation at Colorado, but he has done little to show the Buffaloes are on the right track. After losing to Colorado State and Sacramento State, Colorado desperately needs to beat Fresno State this Saturday.

Penn State (0-2) – The Nittany Lions nearly broke into the win column against Virginia last week but missed a last-second field goal for the victory. Penn State gets a Navy team that’s always difficult to prepare for, but the Nittany Lions’ defense should be up to the task.

Pittsburgh (0-2) – The Panthers were a popular sleeper pick in the preseason, but they are off to a disappointing 0-2 start, which includes a 31-17 loss at the hands of Youngstown State. Getting into the win column for Pittsburgh won't be easy, especially with a tough matchup against Virginia Tech this Saturday.

Wisconsin (1-1) – The Badgers have not looked like a Big Ten title contender through the first two weeks of the season, barely beating Northern Iowa in Week 1 and losing to Oregon State in Week 2. Wisconsin faces a dangerous Utah State team on Saturday, and it will be interesting to watch how the Badgers' offensive line plays, especially after line coach Mike Markuson was fired after last week’s game.
 

9. Injuries to Monitor

Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois – Scheelhaase did not play in the loss to Arizona State but is expected to play against Charleston Southern this Saturday.

Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina – Shaw missed last week’s game against East Carolina due to a shoulder injury, but backup Dylan Thompson threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns in his absence. Shaw is getting closer to a return, but the Gamecocks may hold him out until next week’s SEC game against Missouri.

Jeff Tuel, QB, Washington State – Tuel suffered a knee injury against Eastern Washington and is unlikely to play in Friday’s game against UNLV.

Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas – Wilson suffered a concussion in last week’s loss to Louisiana-Monroe and is questionable to play on Saturday. Even if Wilson plays, it will be tough for Arkansas to beat Alabama.

Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina – Bernard missed last week’s game against Wake Forest due to a knee injury but is back at practice and is expected to play on Saturday.

Rex Burkhead, RB, Nebraska – Burkhead missed last week’s game against UCLA due to a sprained MCL and may not play once again this week. The Cornhuskers should be able to establish their ground attack against Arkansas State without Burkhead, so they can afford to allow him another week of rest. 

Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida – Gillislee has been a key factor in Florida’s 2-0 start this season, rushing for 231 yards and four touchdowns so far. He suffered a groin injury against Texas A&M, but it is not expected to sideline him against Tennessee this Saturday.

Nick Harwell, WR, Miami (Ohio) – Harwell is battling a knee injury, which is a concern for the RedHawks’ passing attack with Boise State on tap for this Saturday.

Khaled Holmes, C, USC – Holmes left last Saturday’s game against Syracuse with a leg injury, and his status for this week’s game against Stanford is uncertain. The senior is one of the nation’s best centers, so if he is forced to miss any time, it will be a huge blow to USC’s offense.
 

10. Upset Picks to Watch

Ball State at Indiana (-2.5)
The Hoosiers are off to a 2-0 start, but their schedule has been very soft. Quarterback Tre Roberson was lost for the year due to a leg injury against UMass, which means junior college recruit Cameron Coffman will step into the starting role. Ball State upset Indiana last season, so a victory this Saturday wouldn’t be much of a surprise.
Pick: Ball State 31-27

Louisiana-Monroe at Auburn (-16.5)
Thanks to their upset win against Arkansas last Saturday, the Warhawks have been in the spotlight all week. Can they make it two in a row? Auburn’s defense is capable of playing better than it has so far this year, which will make life tough for ULM quarterback Kolton Browning. If the Tigers struggle on offense once again, the Warhawks will have a shot at the upset.
Pick: Auburn 30-24

Utah State at Wisconsin (-13)
The Badgers have not impressed through the first two weeks of the season, and coach Bret Bielema isn’t waiting long to make changes. Line coach Mike Markuson was fired, which is yet another change to a coaching staff that went through many personnel changes following the 2011 season. Utah State is coming off an upset over Utah last week and if it doesn’t suffer much of a hangover from beating the Utes, it could pull off another one this Saturday.
Pick: Wisconsin 34-27

Western Kentucky at Kentucky (-7)
Kentucky coach Joker Phillips desperately needs to win this Saturday. The Wildcats were handled by in-state rival Louisville in the season opener and can’t afford to lose to the Hilltoppers this week. Western Kentucky doesn’t have an explosive offense, but its defense picked up six sacks against Alabama last week.
Pick: Western Kentucky 24, Kentucky 20
 

11. Five Games to Avoid

James Madison at West Virginia
This game should be an opportunity for West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith to pad his stats for a run at the Heisman.
Pick: West Virginia 58-7

UMass at Michigan
Even though the Wolverines are allowing 33 points a game, UMass’ offense should pose little threat after scoring six points through the first two contests.
Pick: Michigan 52-7

Idaho at LSU
After losing to Eastern Washington in the season opener, the Vandals played better in Week 2 against Bowling Green. However, Idaho is simply overmatched against LSU.
Pick: LSU 52-3

FAU at Georgia
The Owls barely squeaked by FCS opponent Wagner in the season opener and lost to MTSU in Week 2. The Bulldogs might have a bit of a letdown after winning at Missouri last week, but they will still pull away for one-sided victory on Saturday.
Pick: Georgia 50-7

Tennessee Tech at Oregon
The Ducks haven’t had to sweat much through the first two weeks of the season and should have another breather against Tennessee Tech. The only intrigue surrounding this matchup will be former Tennessee receiver Da’Rick Rogers (now at Tennessee Tech) taking on the Ducks’ secondary.
Pick: Oregon 62-10


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


Related College Football Content

Week 3 ACC Preview and Predictions
Week 3 Big East Preview and Predictions

Week 3 Big 12 Preview and Predictions

Week 3 Big Ten Preview and Predictions

Week 3 Pac-12 Preview and Predictions

Week 3 SEC Preview and Predictions

Week 3 Upset Predictions

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 2

Post-Week 2 Bowl Projections

Post-Week 2 Heisman Contenders

Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 3 Preview: Match-Ups, Upset Picks and Storylines to Watch</p>
Post date: Friday, September 14, 2012 - 06:06

Pages