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Path: /college-football/college-football-bcs-analysis-post-week-9

Even as four BCS top-10 teams lost Saturday, the national championship rankings became no less clear. Except, perhaps, Alabama’s status at No. 1.

With former No. 2 Florida losing to No. 10 Georgia on Saturday, the coveted second spot for the national title was up for grabs. Even if Notre Dame had the more impressive win last week by defeating then-No. 8 Oklahoma 30-13 in Norman, Kansas State moved up one spot to No. 2 after defeating No. 14 Texas Tech 55-24 at home.

Oregon remains stuck at No. 4 despite placing second in both the coaches’ and the Harris polls. With a weaker schedule compared to Kansas State and Notre Dame, Oregon is ranked fifth in the computer average. The Wildcats and Irish, meanwhile, are tied at No. 1 in the average ranking of the six computers used in the BCS rankings.

It’s a mess at the top of the rankings, but if there’s any consolation, the teams ranked Nos. 2-4 have a handful of common opponents: Both Kansas State and Notre Dame have defeated Oklahoma and Miami. Both Notre Dame and Oregon will face USC later in the season. Assuming all remain undefeated, those comparisons may make make a difference.

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


BCS Standings
Oct. 28

Coaches' Poll Harris Poll Comp. Avg. Last Wk.
1. Alabama 1 1 3 1
2. Kansas St. 3 3 T-1 3
3. Notre Dame 4 4 T-1 5
4. Oregon 2 2 5 4
5. LSU 5 5 6 6
6. Georgia 6 6 7 10
7. Florida 8 8 4 2
8. S. Carolina 11 11 9 13
9. Florida St. 7 7 T-21 12
10. Louisville 10 10 13 16
11. Oregon St. 13 13 8 7
12. Oklahoma 12 12 10 8
13. Clemson 9 9 T-12 18
14. Stanford 15 14 11 17
15. Miss. St. 18 15 16 11
16. Texas A&M 16 18 18 20

No. 2 Kansas State. The Wildcats were the big winner in the “if the season ended today” scenario by moving up to No. 2 in the BCS standings. Despite Notre Dame’s signature win over Oklahoma, Kansas State continued to have the edge in the human polls, one spot ahead of Notre Dame in both. Although the Wildcats and Irish are tied in the average computer rankings, Kansas State has more opportunities to build a resume against BCS No. 25 Oklahoma State, No. 23 Texas plus TCU and Baylor. Notre Dame has the best remaining opponent in No. 17 USC. If both remain undefeated, the schedule comparisons and the shared wins over Oklahoma will be under the microscope.

No. 7 Florida. The Gators moving from No. 2 to No. 7 is no surprise after the 17-9 loss to Georgia. To reach the BCS title game would take a handful of fortunate events for the Gators: A Georgia loss to Ole Miss or Auburn to give Florida a chance to play in the SEC title game, plus losses from Notre Dame, Kansas State and Oregon. And that doesn’t take into consideration Alabama-LSU this week. The Gators, however, have a BCS at-large spot in play. Regardless of what happens in the SEC race, a trip to Florida State to end the season will be critical for that goal.

No. 1 Alabama at No. 5 LSU. Alabama has a substantial hold of the No. 1 spot in the BCS rankings. A win in Baton Rouge would further solidify that. A loss may mean chaos for a BCS championship spot.

No. 4 Oregon at No. 17 USC. Oregon's schedule has been paper thin this season. This week against USC, however, may give Oregon a boost to crack the top three. Worth keeping in mind, though: Oregon defeated Arizona 49-0. USC just lost 39-36 to the Wildcats.

No. 24 Oklahoma State at No. 2 Kansas State. Kansas State faces its third consecutive ranked team after defeating West Virginia and Texas Tech by a combined score of 110-38. Style points are starting to enter the discussion this week against Okie State.

USC may be the most important team in the BCS. The margin between No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 4 Oregon in the BCS average is 0.001, so the comparisons start with USC. Both face the Trojans in November, starting with the Ducks visiting Los Angeles this week. For Oregon, it’s the biggest statement game of the regular season. For Notre Dame, it will be the last. Oregon, however, may have the upper hand with matchups against No. 14 Stanford and No. 11 Oregon State looming, in addition to a potential Pac-12 championship game.

The ACC could get two BCS bids By moving from No. 18 to No. 13 Clemson crossed the threshold allowing the Tigers to be a BCS at-large team if the Tigers do not win the ACC. Clemson, whose only loss is to Florida State 49-37, is ranked ninth by both human polls, but remains tied with Florida State at No. 21 in the computer average. If both remain in BCS at-large contention on the final day of the regular season, the game against No. 8 South Carolina could be very interesting.

One BCS bowl could have a SEC conundrum. The top eight of the BCS standings include five SEC teams, which could be an interesting problem for BCS games selecting an at-large team. Under most circumstances, only two teams per conference can play in BCS games. Assuming No. 1 Alabama plays for a BCS title, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Georgia, No. 7 Florida and No. 8 South Carolina would all be eligible for an at-large bid if the season ended today. And just outside the top-14 threshold for at-large considerationare No. 15 Mississippi State and No. 16 Texas A&M.

Boise State has a chance at a BCS bid. But it’s close. As a team from a non-automatic qualifying league, Boise State either needs to reach the top 14 for automatic inclusion or the top 16 if it’s ahead of an AQ champion. Boise State sits at No. 19 with the highest-ranked Big Ten team, Nebraska, one spot behind. The Broncos haven’t clinched the Mountain West, but they don’t have a marquee game remaining. The strategy for Boise State: Win out and hope for a lackluster Big Ten champion.

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

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

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

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

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

By David Fox


Related College Football Content
Week 9 Recap: Notre Dame solidfies BCS case
Who votes in the Harris Poll?

<p> College Football: BCS Analysis Post-Week 9</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 21:08
All taxonomy terms: Oregon Ducks, Pac 12, News
Path: /news/deanthony-thomas-shows-ridiculous-moves-punt-return

Oregon's De'Anthony Thomas is one of college football's most exciting players, so Saturday's ridiculous punt return shouldn't have been a surprise. However, this return has to be one of the best in recent memory and maybe one of his most electrifying plays in his short Oregon career.

Thomas had to backtrack and field a punt off a bounce but broke a tackle and patiently followed his blocks down the sideline, before turning on the jets right around midfield. 

This return was just another big play in Thomas' career and a reason why the Ducks are one of the most dangerous teams in the nation.

<p> De'Anthony Thomas Shows Off Ridiculous Moves In Punt Return&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 20:10
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-9-recap-notre-dame-solidifies-bcs-title-case

With the exception of Alabama, Kansas State, Notre Dame and teams not playing Colorado, it was a rough week to be undefeated.

Saturday began with 11 remaining undefeated teams and ended with six as Florida, Oregon State, Mississippi State, Rutgers and Ohio all lost. Only the Bulldogs loss to dominant Alabama did not come as an upset.

For now, the race for the national title is unclear with Alabama, Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame in contention for the BCS championship game. Having four or more undefeated teams at this stage of the season isn’t uncommon, and although this title race tends to shake itself out, that won’t stop the speculation of who would play who if the status quo remains.


Notre Dame’s bold play call.
Moments after Oklahoma tied Notre Dame at 13 in the fourth quarter with the first rushing touchdown all season against the Irish, Brian Kelly wasn’t willing to play it safe, even with his untested quarterback. On second and 2 from his own 35, Kelly called for a play-action deep pass, which Everett Golson completed for a 50-yard gain into the Oklahoma red zone. The play sapped OU momentum, quieted the crowd in Norman and set up up the go-ahead touchdown. In other words, it’s the kind of play that further cemented Notre Dame’s title-contending status. Golson, meanwhile, looks like the quarterback who can deliver in such spots. He finished 13 of 25 for 177 yards and rushed for 64 yards and a touchdown in the 30-13 win.

Georgia’s SEC hopes. Losing 35-7 to South Carolina, struggling with Kentucky and getting into a shootout with Tennessee isn’t exactly the best way to the SEC championship game, but that’s the route Georgia is taking. If the Bulldogs defeat Ole Miss and Auburn the next two weeks, they’ll seal a trip to the SEC title game. A potential trip to the SEC championship game was put in motion thanks to an unorthodox 17-9 win over Florida in which the Bulldogs committed 14 penalties for 135 yards and got three interceptions out of veteran quarterback Aaron Murray. The reason Georgia is in the driver’s seat? Jarvis Jones.

Kansas State’s dominance. The dream season isn’t ending in Manhattan, Kan. Even after a slow start this week, Kansas State found the cracks in the Texas Tech defense and still found time to play its backups in a 55-24 win. Collin Klein started 4 of 7 for 20 yards and lost five yards on three rushing attempts, but finished as he always does -- passing for 233 yards, running for 83 and accounting for four touchdowns.

Florida’s “violators.”
In the 44-11 win over South Carolina, Florida’s defenders kept their eyes out for “violators” -- offensive players who didn’t hold the ball high and tight, players who left themselves susceptible to turnovers. Florida had its own laundry list of violators against Georgia. The Gators turned the ball over six times from three players: Jeff Driskel (two interceptions, two fumbles) and Trey Burton and Jordan Reed (one fumble each). The last fumble by Reed was the most costly. As the Gators’ tight end was driving into the Georgia five-yard line, Jarvis Jones took advantage of Reed’s “violator” status to end the Gators’ bid for a potential game-tying touchdown and two point conversion.

Gary Nova. Rutgers’ formula to remain undefeated wasn’t groundbreaking: Play great defense and avoid turnovers. That came crashing down against Kent State, the second MAC team in two weeks to hand a Big East team its first loss of the season. Rutgers entered the game with a plus-14 turnover margin, but finished minus-5 against the Golden Flashes as quarterback Gary Nova threw six interceptions. Meanwhile, the same team that hadn’t allowed an opponent to rush for 100 yards for the first six games surrendered 224 rushing yards to Kent State. Rutgers’ chances to win the Big East haven’t been harmed, but the luster is gone on a standout season.

Ohio’s BCS bid. The undefeated Bobcats have been flirting with disaster since their season-opening win over Penn State. Where Florida and Rutgers saw their undefeated seasons evaporate due to turnovers, Ohio had a different kind of gaffe against Miami (Ohio). Trailing by a field goal, Frank Solich elected to go for the win when the Bobcats took over on first and goal at the 7. Only one problem: Quarterback Tyler Tettleton lost track of timeouts. Believing he still had one timeout remaining, Tettleton took a sack on the game’s final play as time expired as Ohio’s undefeated season and longshot BCS bid ended in a 23-20 loss.

Manti Te’o, Notre Dame.
A case of being at the right place at the right time in the fourth quarter may have sealed Te’o’s trip to New York. With fellow Notre Dame linebacker Dan Fox draped over Oklahoma receiver Jalen Saunders, Landry Jones’ pass deflected into the air into the hands of a diving Te’o for the Sooners’ only turnover of the day. Te’o added 11 tackles, a sack and two tackles for a loss. If it’s a foregone conclusion Te’o will be a Heisman finalist, the next question is if he can beat out Ndamukong Suh’s fourth place finish in 2009, the best finish for a defensive player since Charles Woodson won the award in 1997.

A.J. McCarron, Alabama. Eventually, McCarron is going to escape the game manager tag. In the 38-7 win over Mississippi State, McCarron was 16 of 23 for 208 yards with two touchdowns. In a matchup with ballhawking cornerback Johnthan Banks, McCarron still avoided throwing his first interception of the season. Game manager? The perfect 57-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Bell said otherwise.

Giovani Bernard, North Carolina. Bernard rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns and caught eight passes for 95 yards against NC State, yet it wasn’t the most impressive part of his day. Bernard ran back a punt for a 73-yard touchdown with 13 seconds remaining to give the Tar Heels a 43-35 win. The TD capped an 18-point fourth quarter and gave North Carolina its first win over NC State since 2006. Bernard has rushed for at least 130 yards in four consecutive games and has accounted for 15 touchdowns in seven games this season.

USC’s Marqise Lee caught 16 passes for 345 yards for a Pac-12 record, but the Trojans still lost 39-36 to Arizona. Lee, who also had two touchdown catches, became the fourth receiver to have 300 yards in a game this season. The others were Arkansas’s Cobi Hamilton, Baylor’s Terrance Williams and West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey.

617. Yes, Auburn can reach new lows this season. The 1-7 Tigers surrendered more yards than in any game in school history with 671 yards allowed to Texas A&M. In the 63-21 loss, the Tigers fell five points short of the most allowed in program history, in a 68-7 loss to Georgia Tech in 1917.

20-3. A sneaky good first season for Rich Rodriguez earned a signature win with the 39-36 upset of USC. The Wildcats are 5-3, but their losses have come against teams with a combined 20-3 record: Oregon (8-0), Oregon State (6-1) and Stanford (6-2). Against USC, Arizona produced two 100-yard rushers (Ka’Deem Carey and Matt Scott), a 300-yard passer (Scott) and a 250-yard receiver (Austin Hill).

Texas 21, Kansas 17
Utah 49, Cal 27
BYU 41, Georgia Tech 17
Alabama’s methodical dominance
Tennessee’s bad luck
USF’s fourth-quarter flops
Oregon 56, Colorado 0
Texas A&M 42, Auburn 7
USF 23, Syracuse 3

Sean Mannion’s ill-fated return. Granted, the No. 7 team on upset alert shouldn’t be overlooked, but a late-night game on Pac-12 Networks with all the other developments of the day seemed to obscure Oregon State’s first loss of the season. Nevertheless, the Beavers followed fellow undefeateds Florida and Rutgers in losing their perfect record on turnovers. Quarterback Sean Mannion returned to face Washington after missing two games with a knee injury, but the return may have been rushed. Mannion threw four interceptions before he was replaced by backup Cody Vaz in the 20-17 loss.

The MAC’s banner year Even in a week in which its last undefeated team and only BCS threat (Ohio) lost, this week signaled a banner season for the MAC. With a win over Rutgers, Kent State was the second MAC team to hand a Big East team its first loss of the season in two weeks, joining Toledo’s upset of Cincinnati. The league has four one-loss teams -- Kent State, Toledo, Northern Illinois and Ohio -- each with a wins over Big Six conference teams. The MAC is 4-4 against the Big East and 3-9 against the Big Ten.

Air Force. The Falcons rushed for 461 yards Friday in a 48-31 win over Nevada, putting Air Force at 4-1 in the Mountain West. Despite returning only six returning starters, Troy Calhoun’s team is right in the thick of the Mountain West race with Boise State (4-0), San Diego State and Fresno State (4-1 each). Air Force does not play Boise State this season, but faces the Aztecs and Bulldogs on the road. A MWC title will be tough, but a bowl game -- which looks probable at this point -- would mark a great coaching job by Calhoun.

The second major injury may be the worst.
Lattimore’s reaction -- his look of panic on the filed and his sobbing into a towel as he was carting off the field -- told the story. The details of the damage to his right knee/leg weren’t released Saturday night, but the gruesome nature of it seems to season-ending at best, career-ending at worst. After his freshman season of 1,197 yards and 17 touchdowns, a run at the Heisman and a likely NFL first-round draft pick seemed to be his future before a torn ACL as a sophomore. His second major injury in two years puts a promising career in question.

Tennessee’s response. After the injury, South Carolina’s players circled in support, as usually happens in a serious injury situation. Tennessee’s players joined South Carolina on the field around Lattimore -- a clear demonstration of sportsmanship in a divisive SEC.

Lattimore carries nationwide admiration. Beyond Tennessee on the field, coaches and Lattimore’s peers chimed in for support at a level rare, even when an elite player suffers a major injury. LSU coach Les Miles and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III chimed in on Twitter. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier told ESPN after the game: “He’s such a wonderful man. Good things will happen for Marcus Lattimore. I don’t know what field of life, but he’s a wonderful guy.” ESPN’s Travis Haney explained why, in part, Lattimore’s injury struck a chord:

Jarvis Jones, Georgia.
Injuries cost Jones two games this season. otherwise, he might be a Heisman contender. Jones turned in one of the best performances in the history of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party with 13 tackles, 4.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 17-9 win over Florida. The biggest play may have been a strip and fumble recovery against Florida tight end Jordan Reed as the Gators were poised for a fourth quarter touchdown. Elsewhere for Georgia, safety Bacarri Rambo, who had been suspended earlier in the season, had an interception and a sack.

Sammy Watkins, Clemson. Remember when the freshman Watkins was one of the stories of the season during an 8-0 start? That seemed like ages ago as Watkins has been out of sorts to start the season, missing three games with a suspension and later an illness. Watkins returned to his 2011 form with eight catches for 202 yards with three plays longer than 50 yards against Wake Forest on Thursday. He doubled his season receiving output in just one game.

De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon. Thomas has had a quiet season, but facing Colorado cured that in in a hurry. His 22 yards per touch was his best against an FBS team all season. With a game against USC coming up next week, this is a good time for Thomas to heat up. Thomas rushed for 97 yards and two touchdowns, but the highlight was this acrobatic 73-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Ohio State can win with defense.
No postseason implications were at stake when Ohio State defeated Penn State 35-23, but there were key developments nonetheless. Penn State’s Matt McGloin passed for 327 yards against a vulnerable Ohio State secondary, but the Buckeyes succeeded in making the game one-dimensional by holding the Nittany Lions to 32 rushing yards.

Wisconsin can’t win without Joel Stave. The Badgers quarterback was an afterthought to start the season with the arrival of Danny O’Brien, but he may be the key to the Badgers offense. Wisconsin struggled to move the ball in the second half after Stave suffered a shoulder injury in the third quarter as Wisconsin lost 16-13 in overtime to Michigan State. O’Brien was 5 of 11 for 44 yards in relief of Stave.

Denard Robinson’s even more important than you think. He’s a dazzling playmaker, but inconsistent and not a great fit for what Brady Hoke wants to do. But without Robinson, Michigan’s just bad right now. Robinson left with an elbow injury in the second quarter, and redshirt freshman Russell Bellomy didn’t distinguish himself. Bellomy started 0 for 11 and threw three interceptions in the 23-9 loss to Nebraska.

Case McCoy, Texas
What did McCoy’s comeback mean for Texas? Did he save Mack Brown’s job? Did he regain the starting quarterback job? Or did he just save Texas from embarrassment? The latter he certainly did when he relieved starting quarterback David Ash in the fourth quarter with Texas struggling to beat Kansas. McCoy was 5 of 7 for 68 yards with a critical fourth-down pass and a touchdown on the game-winning drive. McCoy and Ash traded the starting job last season, but McCoy hadn’t played in a contested game until he entered the 21-17 win over Kansas. Unless Texas has someone on the bench who can play a little defense, the Longhorns may continue to struggle.

Wes Lunt, Oklahoma State. The freshman was named starting quarterback in spring practice, but his coronation was short-lived as he was injured in the third game of the season. J.W. Walsh played admirably with Lunt out, but Walsh was lost to a season-ending injury last week to force Lunt back into duty. After Oklahoma State spotted TCU at two-touchdown lead, Lunt finished 18 of 33 for 324 yards with a touchdown for eight unanswered scoring drives (including five Quinn Sharp field goals) in the 36-14 win.

Steele Jantz, Iowa State Benched for the last three games, Jantz returned against Baylor with new life. Perhaps aided by the porous Baylor defense, Jantz was 36 for 52 for 381 yards with five touchdowns and two turnovers in a 35-21 win. Iowa State needs only one more win for bowl eligibility, which makes the final part of the schedule (Oklahoma, at Texas, at Kansas, West Virginia) much more manageable.

Kansas State
Notre Dame
Alabama at LSU
Oregon at USC
Oklahoma State at Kansas State

Indiana’s Big Ten losing streak.
The Hoosiers gave Ohio State and Michigan State fits earlier this season, but they finally found a willing participant to help end their 11-game losing streak. With backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld playing the final three quarters, Indiana defeated Illinois 31-17 for the program’s first Big Ten win since defeating Purdue 34-31 to end the 2010 season. Indiana may have a chance to win consecutive Big Ten games for the first time since 2007 when it faces struggling Iowa in Bloomington next week.

Pittsburgh wins two in a row vs. FBS teams. With a 47-17 win over Temple, Pittsburgh picked up its first back-to-back wins over FBS teams since the final two games of 2010. That was six coaches ago, including Dave Wannstedt, Todd Graham and current coach Paul Chryst, plus two interim coaches (Phil Bennett and Keith Patterson), the short-lived tenure of Mike Haywood. The last Pitt coach to win back-to-back Big East games was Wannstedt in October 2010. Fellow Big East-to-ACC team Syracuse also won its first consecutive Big East games since October 2010 with consecutive wins over Connecticut as USF.

Ole Miss wins an SEC game ... again. A week after ending a 16-game SEC losing streak, Ole Miss defeated Arkansas 30-27 on a 31-yard field goal as time expired for its first back-to-back conference wins since defeating Tennessee on Nov. 17, 2009 and LSU on Nov. 21, 2009. By winning in Little Rock, Ole Miss picked up an SEC road win for the first time since defeating Vanderbilt 23-7 on Oct. 3, 2009. First-year coach Hugh Freeze has Ole Miss one win a way from bowl eligibility.

By David Fox


<p> College Football Week 9 Recap: Notre Dame solidifies BCS title case</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 11:09
Path: /nfl/new-orleans-saints-vs-denver-broncos-preview-and-prediction

Two of the NFL’s best field generals will meet on Sunday Night Football, when the Denver Broncos host the New Orleans Saints at 8:20 pm EST on NBC. Peyton Manning and the 3-3 Broncos come off a bye week that followed the biggest comeback in Monday Night Football history, a 35-24 victory over the Chargers where Denver trailed 24-0 at halftime. The 2-4 Saints have struggled on defense all season, but Drew Brees always gives New Orleans a chance to win.

When the Denver Broncos have the ball:
Manning has returned to his four-time MVP form during the last month, throwing for 1,314 yards and 11 touchdowns against only one interception over the last four Denver games. However, the Broncos are only 2-2 in those contests because of an inconsistent defense. Manning will need to keep up his stellar play to beat the Saints, and receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker should do well against a meek New Orleans secondary. Denver could also use a solid performance by running back Willis McGahee, who could eat away time of possession and keep Brees off the field.

The Saints defense ranks last in the league, giving up an alarming 465.5 yards per game. The offseason turmoil and new coordinator Steve Spagnuolo seems to have a caused a disconnect for New Orleans defenders so far this year, and they will be challenged greatly by Manning and the Broncos attack. The Saints will need to do a better job of stopping the run (31st in the NFL) and try to make the Denver offense one-dimensional.

When the New Orleans Saints have the ball:
Brees has also been excellent lately, leading New Orleans to two wins in a row after starting the season 0-4. During the last four games, Brees has thrown for an outstanding 1,433 yards and 14 touchdowns. However he may be without Pro Bowl tight end Jimmy Graham, who is listed as questionable with an ankle injury. Receivers Marques Colston and Lance Moore should have plenty of opportunities for a big night, and New Orleans would be helped greatly by any contribution from the NFL’s lowest-rated rushing attack.

The Broncos defense has been very susceptible to bad starts this season, struggling in the first half on multiple occasions. A repeat of those early woes would be a dangerous formula against the intrepid Brees, who can torch any defense when he gets into a rhythm. Denver has been fairly solid with takeaways (10) and sacks (18), and interrupting Brees’ timing will be critical for the Broncos to have success tonight.

Key Factor:
There should be plenty of points scored in Denver tonight, and the defense that gets off to the better start will have a huge advantage in this one. If the Saints can force the Broncos defense into another first-half lapse, then Manning and the offense will have to dig out of another early hole and the crowd will be less of a factor. But if Denver solved some of its defensive issues during the bye, the Saints could be in for an uphill battle. With the raucous home crowd, we’ll take Manning and the Broncos to prevail in a shootout.

Broncos 31 Saints 27

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> New Orleans Saints vs. Denver Broncos Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 09:55
Path: /fantasy/week-8-injury-updates-darren-mcfadden-eddie-royal-jordy-nelson

Here we are — the halfway point of the NFL season and six weeks away from the start of the fantasy postseason for many. Injuries are making lineup decisions harder — sometimes easier in the committee world of some positions — and bye weeks leave us scrambling for the best start at some positions. Here are a few updates to hopefully help you make that push toward the fantasy postseason.

Darren McFaddenDarren McFadden, RB, Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Darren McFadden is listed as probable on the injury report with a shoulder but practiced all week and should be good to go in one of the two late-afternoon games on the Week 8 slate today. The injuries, as feared in the preseason with McFadden, have not been the problem this year; it has strictly been a lack of production. He has four double-digit days in PPR leagues but just one game above 20 points (24.8 in Week 1). Run DMc has rushed for under 70 yards in five of six games and scored just twice. He is a slightly poorer man’s Chris Johnson so far. A return to the 24.8 points from Week 1 would be nice today against a Chiefs team that has allowed seven running backs to have double-digit PPR days thus far.


Eddie Royal, WR, San Diego Chargers vs. Cleveland Browns
This is not so much about Eddie Royal, who has been declared out today, as it is to how much worse Philip Rivers could get. There’s not much worse than the performance Rivers went into the bye week with — a second half against the Broncos that had five turnovers. Royal bailing on a couple of routes did not help matters in that game. But I digress. Royal was limited with a hamstring injury and did not practice on Friday. It was in issue going into the bye week, it is an issue coming out of the bye week and it is an issue for Rivers. The Chargers’ QB has little to no weapons to throw to with Malcom Floyd averaging 6.3 catches for 69.6 yards and just one score this season; free-agents Robert Meachem (12-189-2) and Eddie Royal (13-98-1) have made little impact and Vincent Brown (broken ankle) looks nowhere near ready to return. Tight end Antonio Gates has just 19 grabs for 224 yards and two scores; his 35 targets is 18th amongst tight ends. The Chargers are playing a get-well defense today as Cleveland is ranked 28th against fantasy QBs, but is there enough well on the Chargers’ side for Rivers to be able to capitalize? It’s a four-team bye week so you might not have another route to go, but beware.


Jordy NelsonJordy Nelson, WR, Green Bay Packers vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
Are you excited about a receiver that depends on his speed and is playing with a bum hamstring? Me either. And that is reinforced even more by two factors today: the Packers have other options and they are playing the Jaguars. Jacksonville is ranked 18th against fantasy receivers and have allowed at least 26 points in five of six games; a number Green Bay has reached in the last four outings. Nelson was held out of Thursday and Friday practices and has been declared out for today's game. This game has James Jones, Randall Cobb and Alex Green written all over it. The Packers’ motto today should be: “Get in, get a win and get out in under 3:10.” It’s what they have done with ease the last two outings.
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Week 8 Fantasy and Injury Updates: Darren McFadden, Eddie Royal, Jordy Nelson</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 07:24
Path: /fantasy/week-8-injury-updates-danny-amendola-blaine-gabbert-hakeem-nicks

Danny Amendola

Here we are — the halfway point of the NFL season and six weeks away from the start of the fantasy postseason for many. Injuries are making lineup decisions harder — sometimes easier in the committee world of some positions — and bye weeks leave us scrambling for the best start at some positions. Here are a few updates to hopefully help you make that push toward the fantasy postseason.

Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams vs. New England Patriots (London)
The PPR machine was back practicing for the Rams this week, including Friday in London. He was listed as questionable for today’s game, but has since been downgraded to out. It would have been Amendola's first game since separating his SC joint Oct. 4. It would have been a pretty big risk for both you as a fantasy owner and the Rams as a team to take in activating Amendola. St. Louis has its bye next week and Amendola should be ready to go by Week 10. If he is on your waiver wire, you might want to go ahead and snatch him back up as he is ahead of his recovery.


Blaine Gabbert, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Green Bay Packers
Let’s be clear, this is only to let you know Blaine Gabbert suffered a torn labrum in his non-throwing arm and will start against the Packers in their early game. Gabbert suffered the injury in the second quarter last week in Oakland. He is only being mentioned for three reasons: He’s starting. Two-quarterback leagues. He’s playing the Packers and their 16th-ranked fantasy defense against QBs. Gabbert was 8-of-12 for 110 yards and a touchdown and on pace for his best game of the season. Yes, it could have been because Maurice Jones-Drew went out on the team’s second offensive play, but production is production. The team will insert Rashad Jennings in place of MJD and Gabbert will get to play a Packers team that has allowed five of the seven starting QBs it has faced to throw for at least 211 yards and only Matt Schaub (232 yards) did not throw a TD against them. Gabbert is fantasy’s 30th ranked QB and you would be crazy to start him in any format, but with Schaub, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton and Ryan Fitzpatrick on a bye, he IS viable as the last-ranked QB in 2-QB leagues.


Hakeem NicksHakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Hakeem Nicks was a full participant in practice this week — the first time that has happened this season — and he said he feels “like I finally got over the little hump.” The hump has been foot and knee injuries this season. He was still slowed from the foot injury when the Giants opened with the Cowboys in Week 1 and Nicks had four catches for 38 yards on six targets. He returned the following week to post a 10-for-199 and one-TD game on 15 targets against Tampa Bay. But injuries sidelined him until a return in Week 6. He admitted he was not his normal self in the Week 6 game at San Francisco, receiving five targets and catching three for 44 yards. He garnered 10 targets, catching five for 53 yards in last week’s win against Washington. The Cowboys are the third-best team against fantasy receivers this season, allowing four TDs to the position and only three to eclipse 80 yards. It has been hard to trust Nicks this season, obviously, and Eli Manning has not fared very well either. But if Nicks is healthy it is hard to sit a guy that is fantasy’s 52nd-best receiver despite really only playing as himself in two games (Weeks 2 and 7).
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Danny Amendola, Blaine Gabbert, Hakeem Nicks: Week 8 Injury Updates</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 07:16
Path: /fantasy/week-8-injury-updates-aaron-hernandez-rob-gronkowski-jimmy-graham

Here we are — the halfway point of the NFL season and six weeks away from the start of the fantasy postseason for many. Injuries are making lineup decisions harder — sometimes easier in the committee world of some positions — and bye weeks leave us scrambling for the best start at some positions. Here are a few updates to hopefully help you make that push toward the fantasy postseason.

Rob GronkowskiAaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, TEs, New England Patriots vs. St. Louis Rams (London)
Well, that was a fun two-week return for Aaron Hernandez. He is now back on the shelf as he did not make the trip to London with the Patriots for their early game against the Rams today. Hernandez' ankle injury that sidelined him earlier this season has slowed him down a bit. Still, a bit for him was 11 catches for 84 yards and a score the last two weeks. He was right back to double-digit status in PPR leagues. He will now get Week 8 off and Week 9 for the bye and hopefully return healthy in Week 10 against a Buffalo team that Rob Gronkowski torched for five catches, 104 yards and a score on 11 target sans Hernandez. Gronkowski is listed on the injury report as questionable with a hip but he is expected to play. Gronk, as mentioned, had the 5-104-1 game with Hernandez out of the lineup in Week 4, and he has caught 12 balls for 139 yards and two scores in the two weeks with Hernandez back. If he's dressed, he's in your lineup. St. Louis has been stingy against tight ends, surrendering their first TD to the position in Week 6 and coming back to hold Jermichael Finley to two catches for 31 yards the next week. Brandon Pettigrew (Week 1) and Anthony Fasano (Week 6) are the only two tight ends to reach double digits against the Rams.

Jimmy GrahamJimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints vs. Denver Broncos (Sunday night)
The trifecta of bad for fantasy: An elite player, a game-time decision, a Sunday night game. The ankle injury that sidelined Jimmy Graham last week has limited him in practice all of this week in preparation for tonight's game at Denver. "If it were up to me, I'd play," Graham said Friday. But it is not up to him and it is up to us as fantasy owners to make the call on what to do with Graham this week. First thing, is go get a back up off the waiver wire. It would be nice if we could just get Graham's backup, David Thomas, but he is just not dependable. He has nine targets all season with four catches and one score. There are better options on the wire that will see the ball more frequently. I have Graham and I cannot afford the gamble of hoping he will go in a night game. If Lance Moore was not there to steal some of Thomas's targets it would be a no-brainer to own both Saints TEs and then make the call. But Moore is back and picked right back up where he left off. Look elsewhere for your Graham replacement.
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Week 8 Injury Updates: Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 07:07
Path: /fantasy/week-8-injury-updates-rashard-mendenhall-isaac-redman-jonathan-dwyer-titus-young-brandon-mye

Here we are — the halfway point of the NFL season and six weeks away from the start of the fantasy postseason for many. Injuries are making lineup decisions harder — sometimes easier in the committee world of some positions — and bye weeks leave us scrambling for the best start at some positions. Here are a few updates to hopefully help you make that push toward the fantasy postseason.

Rashard MendenhallRashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, RBs, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Washington Redskins
Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) was ruled out of today's game vs. Washington on Friday. Backup Isaac Redman (ankle) practiced on a limited basis this week. And that leaves Jonathan Dwyer to once again carry the load. A week after rushing for 122 yards on 17 carries against Cincinnati, Dwyer gets a Washington run defense that has allowed six of the 19 running backs they have faced to score double-digit days in PPR, but only Adrian Peterson has sniffed 20 points (19.9). It is unlikely you were counting on a Steelers RB to be an RB1 or 2 this season, and they have only been good plays in any roster slot on four occasions thus far. This should be one of those days for Dwyer.


Titus Young, WR, Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks
The pride was thinned out a bit when Nate Burleson went on IR with a broken leg. That leaves the door open for either Titus Young, Brandon Pettigrew or rookie Ryan Broyles to step right in. But for years now, like in Houston, it has been hard, week in and week out, to trust any receiver not listed as the team's top receiver. In the Lions' case that is Calvin Johnson, and he is not living up to fantasy expectations this season. However, Burleson had flashed on multiple occasions this year, scoring double-digit days in PPR formats on four of six outings. Young, who is battling a knee injury and is listed as questionable, has two double-digit days — thanks to a Hail Mary TD to force OT against Tennessee in Week 3 and a 6-for-81 day last week at Chicago. Young has a chance to shine the rest of the season; unfortunately against Seattle might not be where he builds on last week's efforts. The Seahawks have faced 26 receivers and allowed seven double-digit days in PPR scoring. Young could be an OK flex option against a defense the Lions might have trouble running on — especially after the way Frank Gore embarrassed Seattle last week.


Brandon Myers, TE, Oakland Raiders vs. Kansas City Chiefs
You know we're knee-deep in bye weeks and the tight end landscape is not as rosy as once predicted when you are reading about Brandon Myers. But with Aaron Hernandez out, Jimmy Graham a game-time decision and four teams with serviceable tight ends (Buffalo, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Houston) on byes, it is time to talk Myers. He is listed as probable (knee) this week but should be good to go against the Chiefs. Myers has just one dud in terms of what to expect from fringe tight ends these days. He has caught at least four balls four at least 44 yards in all but one game. He doesn't produced TDs (just one so far) but he receives targets and catches. In the last two weeks, Myers has 17 targets, turning them into 12 catches for 106 yards. Kansas City has not been very forgiving to tight ends as of late. The first three weeks, the position caught 11 balls for 122 yards and three scores. The last three weeks, it has been seven catches for 92 yards and no scores. Perhaps that is because the Chiefs have been bottom eight against fantasy running backs and quarterbacks. Maybe this is the week Darren McFadden finally busts out, but Myers is a decent TE option in a week where the position is weak.
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> To help you decide who to start and who to sit.</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 07:05
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy, News
Path: /fantasy/week-8-injury-updates-daniel-thomas-maurice-jones-drew-rashad-jennings-jeremy-kerley

Here we are — the halfway point of the NFL season and six weeks away from the start of the fantasy postseason for many. Injuries are making lineup decisions harder — sometimes easier in the committee world of some positions — and bye weeks leave us scrambling for the best start at some positions. Here are a few updates to hopefully help you make that push toward the fantasy postseason.

Daniel Thomas, RB, Miami Dolphins vs. New York Jets
Daniel Thomas is listed as probable and set to return from his second concussion of the season. The Dolphins’ running game has produced seven double-digit PPR days in six games and Thomas has had two of those despite missing two games. The Jets are ranked 23rd against fantasy running backs, having allowed seven rushing scores to the position — the fifth most. The Jets are the best in the league against fantasy receivers. So there should be plenty of opportunities for Thomas to help Reggie Bush in the Dolphins’ backfield. Thomas is a low-end flex at best, but could be a good bye-week fill in as he works back into the lineup.

Maurice Jones-DrewMaurice Jones-Drew, Rashad Jennings, RBs, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Green Bay Packers
Jacksonville is ranked 28th against fantasy RBs, 19th against fantasy QBs and 18th against fantasy WRs. There is nothing suggesting that the Jaguars will be able to hang with the host Packers today, particularly with the way the Green Bay offense has caught fire as of late. So what will the effectiveness of the Jacksonville running game be? It will be Rashad Jennings who gets the chance to find out as Maurice Jones-Drew is on the shelf for the foreseeable future with a sprained foot. MJD had four double-digit days in PPR leagues and three of those came in defeats. Jennings stepped in for MJD last week and carries 21 times for 44 yards and one score and added seven catches on nine targets for 58 yards. It is those targets and the fact that Jennings is all the Jags have that makes him a decent RB2 start this week.

Jeremy Kerley, WR, New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins
Stephen Hill is the deep threat and will likely get the scores but it is Jeremy Kerley moving the chains. He collected a season-high 11 targets in last week’s loss to New England. Kerley caught seven of them for 120 yards. Now the Jets take on a Dolphins team that is ranked eighth against fantasy running backs but 26th against fantasy receivers in PPR formats.  Miami’s defense has surrendered just one touchdown to a running back (receiving) and no RB has reached the 80-yard mark on the ground this season. Meanwhile, the Dolphins allow 14.6 catches and 187.3 yards on 26.5 targets per game to the receiver position.
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Week 8 Injury Updates: Daniel Thomas, Maurice Jones-Drew, Rashad Jennings, Jeremy Kerley</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 07:02
Path: /fantasy/week-8-injury-updates-trent-richardson-donald-brown-demarco-murray-felix-jones-phillip-tanne

Here we are — the halfway point of the NFL season and six weeks away from the start of the fantasy postseason for many. Injuries are making lineup decisions harder — sometimes easier in the committee world of some positions — and bye weeks leave us scrambling for the best start at some positions. Here are a few updates to hopefully help you make that push toward the fantasy postseason.

Trent RichardsonTrent Richardson, Montario Hardesty, RBs, Cleveland Browns vs. San Diego Chargers
Eight carries against Indianapolis last week and the first thing we hear regarding Trent Richardson's ribs is "the injury is much bigger than what folks think it is." He will obviously have to play through the pain but as long as Cleveland keeps trotting him out there it seems unlikely he can be started with much confidence in fantasy until there is some marked improvement. He is listed as questionable for the Chargers game and will be a game-time decision. His backup, Montario Hardesty (knee) is listed as probable and is expected to play. San Diego has not allowed a running back to score since Jamaal Charles had two in Week 4 and they have only allowed four scores altogether to the position and four double-digit days in PPR to the position — none since Charles in Week 4.



Vick BallardDonald Brown, Vick Ballard, RBs, Indianapolis Colts vs. Tennessee Titans
Donald Brown looks to be back in the mix after being on the sidelines since knee surgery around Week 4. He is a game-time decision for today's early tilt at Tennessee. He practiced in full on Thursday and Friday and looks like he might get back on the field after missing two games. Vick Ballard bounced back from a poor outing at the Jets - as did the rest of the Colts — when he ran for 84 yards on 20 carries and caught a pass for 19 yards. Delone Carter had 11 carries for 41 yards. Will Brown be eased back into the 11-carry role or take on the 20-carry role? Brown had games of 16, 18 and 17 carries before the injury. Tennessee allowed Buffalo's Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller to account for 120 total yards and a touchdown and 102 total yards last week have been relatively atrocious against the run. Brown did have a breakout game the last time he faced the Titans (16-161-1) and scored in both meetings last season. Ballard could still have a role as either the lead back as Brown's worked in or as a goal line threat against a Tennessee defense that should allow the Colts plenty of opportunities.

DeMarco Murray, Felix Jones, Phillip Tanner, RBs, Dallas Cowboys vs. New York Giants
First it was DeMarco Murray going down, then Felix Jones was ineffective in returning to the starting role and could not stay healthy himself. Murray is out for today's late game against the Giants and Jones is questionable. Phillip Tanner is an option, but we are talking about the Cowboys' third back on a team that has been far from effective on the ground consistently this season. Starting center Phil Costa (ankle) being very doubtful is not a help to the run game, either. It is worth noting that Jones totaled 137 yards on 22 touches in the first meeting with the Giants last year and 77 yards on 18 touches in the Week 17 meeting.
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Week 8 Injury Updates: Trent Richardson, Donald Brown, DeMarco Murray, Felix Jones, Phillip Tanner</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 07:02
Path: /fantasy/week-8-injury-updates-pierre-garcon-leonard-hankerson-santana-moss-jay-cutler-ahmad-bradshaw

Here we are — the halfway point of the NFL season and six weeks away from the start of the fantasy postseason for many. Injuries are making lineup decisions harder — sometimes easier in the committee world of some positions — and bye weeks leave us scrambling for the best start at some positions. Here are a few updates to hopefully help you make that push toward the fantasy postseason.

Pierre GarconPierre Garcon, Leonard Hankerson & Santana Moss, WRs, Washington Redskins vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
I told you in this spot last week that Pierre Garcon should sit until after the Redskins’ Week 10 bye and it looks like that is the best-case scenario. It is either surgery or rest for Garcon. One would mean the end of the season the other means no fantasy value for you. It is unlikely that Garcon will have any fantasy value left this season and it will fall to Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss to pick up the slack. Keep in mind that tight end Fred Davis (Achilles) went down for the year last week and Hankerson and Moss should see a marked fantasy improvement. It might be a coin toss as to who’s more productive week in and week out, but after the Week 10 bye, the Redskins face four teams currently ranked 16th or worse against fantasy receivers. Gut says go with experience: Moss; Upside says go with Hankerson.


Jay Cutler

Jay Cutler, QB, Chicago Bears vs. Carolina Panthers
The rib injury suffered against the Lions on Monday night was worrisome, but Jay Cutler returned to the game and practiced in full on Thursday and Friday this week. The ribs are a concern with how much time Cutler usually spends on the run — and the 150 yards and one score against a Lions team that is ranked 13th against fantasy QBs was not encouraging, either. Carolina is 17th in the league with 14 sacks while Chicago is ranked 28th with 19 allowed. However, the Panthers have allowed the last five starting QBs they’ve faced to throw for at least 221 yards and at least one TD while collecting five interceptions. It should also be a good day for Bears RB Matt Forte as the Panthers are ranked 28th against fantasy RBs. But Cutler could easily benefit from that as Carolina has surrendered the most receptions (53) and the second-most receiving yards (417) to opposing running backs.


Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown, David Wilson, RBs, New York Giants vs. Dallas Cowboys
Ahmad Bradshaw (foot) is listed as questionable after a week in which he missed Friday’s practice and was limited on Wednesday and Thursday. He told reporter “it’s a bone bruise; it may take a while” in regards to his return to a clean bill of health. But we’re in Week 8 of the NFL season; there is no clean bill of health anymore. Fantasy owners have become accustomed to RBBC’s in the NFL. Sometimes injuries to part of that committee leave you with a great play for a couple of weeks, but upon their return the picture is muddled again. Welcome to New York and a number of other teams across the league. The Giants are the ninth-best team in the league in terms of PPR fantasy scoring from their running backs, and everyone has had their day — Bradshaw with five double-digit days, Andre Brown with three and rookie David Wilson with one. Today, all three face a Cowboys team that has surrendered just three scores to the position and outside of Marshawn Lynch’s 122 yards in Week 2, no back has eclipsed 63 yards since. Bradshaw had 17 carries for 78 yards and a score and two catches for 15 yards in Week 1 against the Cowboys. But that was half a season ago at this point.
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Week 8 Injury Updates: Pierre Garcon, Leonard Hankerson, Santana Moss, Jay Cutler, Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown, David Wilson</p>
Post date: Sunday, October 28, 2012 - 06:50
Path: /news/south-carolinas-marcus-lattimore-suffers-nasty-leg-injury-against-tennessee

South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore exited Saturday’s game against Tennessee due to a serious leg injury. Although there has been no official announcement from the school, Lattimore will likely miss the rest of the season.

The junior took a handoff with just over five minutes to go in the second quarter and was tackled high by Tennessee linebacker Herman Lathers, before cornerback Eric Gordon went low and hit Lattimore’s right knee.

The seriousness of the injury was magnified as both teams came out to console Lattimore as he was being loaded onto the cart. And this situation is only made worse by the fact Lattimore was just returning to full strength from a torn ACL last season.

Before his injury, Lattimore rushed for 64 yards and one touchdown on 11 carries. The junior entered Saturday’s game with 597 yards and 10 touchdowns this season, while also catching 24 passes for 165 yards. 

The injury to Lattimore is a tough blow to one of the nation’s best players and arguably the No. 1 running back prospect in the 2013 NFL Draft.

South Carolina has depth at running back with Kenny Miles and Mike Davis, but there’s simply no way to replace Lattimore’s leadership and production. Quarterback Connor Shaw may also have to help pickup the slack on the ground, but South Carolina’s offense certainly won’t be the same the rest of the year.

With losses to LSU and Florida, the Gamecocks’ SEC East title hopes were essentially finished. However, this team now has to regroup after losing its best player and offensive weapon for the second consecutive season. 

Photo of Lattimore's injured leg:

<p> South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore Suffers Nasty Leg Injury Against Tennessee</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 27, 2012 - 12:56
Path: /news/north-carolina-unveils-new-chrome-helmet-against-nc-state

Coaches are always looking for some extra motivation when it comes to rivalry games. So it's no surprise when new helmets and uniforms are unveiled for those matchups. 

North Carolina is ineligible for postseason play this year, which means Saturday's game against NC State has some extra meaning. The Tar Heels wore a white helmet earlier this season but unveiled an interesting chrome (as tweeted by @InsideCarolina) look for Saturday's matchup against the Wolfpack:

<p> North Carolina Unveils New Chrome Helmet Against NC State</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 27, 2012 - 11:47
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-vs-mississippi-state-bulldogs-preview-and-prediction

While most of the attention in the SEC will be focused on Georgia-Florida, Alabama-Mississippi State is a game that shouldn’t be overlooked this Saturday. The Bulldogs are off to their best start since opening 8-0 in 1999 under Jackie Sherrill. Alabama enters this matchup ranked No. 1 in the BCS standings and is a heavy favorite to repeat as national champions.

These two teams have met 96 times, with the Crimson Tide claiming the last four victories in this series. Mississippi State won back-to-back games in 2006-07, but this series has been largely dominated by Alabama. The Crimson Tide has won the last four matchups against the Bulldogs by at least 17 points. 

With a looming showdown against LSU next week, Alabama has to be careful not to overlook Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have played a weak schedule but are a dangerous team and should not be taken lightly.

Storylines to Watch in Alabama vs. Mississippi State

Tyler Russell vs. Alabama’s secondary
Coming into the season, most expected a Tyler (Wilson or Bray) would make All-SEC honors. However, not many placed Tyler Russell into the top half of the SEC in quarterback rankings. The junior has been one of the conference’s top quarterbacks so far, throwing for 1,573 yards and 15 touchdowns. Russell has tossed only one interception and is averaging 260.7 passing yards per game in conference play. Although Russell is off to an impressive start this year, Alabama will be the toughest secondary he has faced. The Crimson Tide rank second nationally in pass defense and has allowed just two passing touchdowns in 2012. Opposing quarterbacks are also completing just 50.8 percent of their passes against Alabama. The Crimson Tide shut down Tennessee’s offense last week and held Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson to just five catches for 95 yards. Not only does Russell need to have his best game for Mississippi State to pull off the upset, he has to continue playing mistake-free ball. 

The turnover battle
One look at the turnover margin stats for 2012 reveals a surprising No. 1 team: Mississippi State. The Bulldogs ranked 59th nationally last season but have forced 21 turnovers in 2012. Alabama isn’t far behind, ranking third nationally in turnover margin with 20 forced turnovers. With both teams ranked atop this category, something has to give on Saturday. If Mississippi State can win the turnover battle, it should have a good chance to pull off the upset. If Alabama wins, the Crimson Tide should roll to an easy victory.

Mississippi State’s secondary vs. AJ McCarron
Just as Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell is taking on his toughest test of the year, the same could be said for Alabama passer AJ McCarron. The Bulldogs rank 21st nationally in pass defense and have allowed only five passing scores this year. Additionally, no SEC opponent has thrown for more than 200 yards on this defense in 2012. In last season’s game, McCarron threw for 163 yards on 14 completions but has improved significantly from the end of 2011. There’s no question Mississippi State’s secondary will be able to challenge Alabama receivers, so repeating last week’s performance against Tennessee (306 yards and four touchdowns) seems unlikely.

Will Mississippi State slow down Alabama’s rushing attack?
The Bulldogs haven’t faced a rushing attack like the one Alabama will bring to Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. The Crimson Tide have gashed opponents for 219.4 yards per game and the backs are running behind one of the nation’s best offensive lines. Mississippi State’s run defense ranks 47th nationally but opponents are averaging 4.1 yards per carry. With Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon both averaging over six yards per carry, Alabama should be able to move the ball on the ground against the Bulldogs. Matching the Crimson Tide’s physical presence in the trenches will be critical for Mississippi State, as well as winning the battle on first and second down against the run.

Final Analysis

This matchup will be a good measuring stick for Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are clearly getting better under coach Dan Mullen but have yet to be tested this season. With a difficult close to the season, a good showing in this game would give Mississippi State some confidence. Although the Bulldogs are improved, beating the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa will be very difficult. Alabama is playing well on both sides of the ball and its defense will be a handful for Bulldogs’ quarterback Tyler Russell and running back LaDarius Perkins. Mississippi State will keep it close in the first half but eventually Alabama has too much firepower and pulls away in the final two quarters.

Final Prediction: Alabama 31, Mississippi State 13

by Steven Lassan


Related College Football Content

ACC Week 9 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 9 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 9 Preview and Predictions

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<p> Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 27, 2012 - 09:28
Path: /fantasy/week-8-injury-updates-peyton-hillis-doug-baldwin-calvin-johnson

Here we are — the halfway point of the NFL season and six weeks away from the start of the fantasy postseason for many. Injuries are making lineup decisions harder — sometimes easier in the committee world of some positions — and bye weeks leave us scrambling for the best start at some positions. Here are a few updates to hopefully help you make that push toward the fantasy postseason.

Peyton Hillis, RB, Kansas City Chiefs vs. Oakland Raiders
Peyton Hillis is set to return to the lineup for the first time since Week 3 after an ankle injury has kept him on the sidelines. When he was active for the Chiefs the first three weeks, Hillis touched the ball 11, 13 and three times for games of 24, 91 and 11 yards. Kansas City is 0-3 in the games since Hills departed and has scored 36 points combined. This is no way to suggest Hills’ presence has anything to do with the Chiefs’ record, but at 1-5 on the season, don’t put it past them to try and find any kind of spark. And perhaps that spark could be started against a Raiders team is 24th against fantasy running backs with six touchdowns allowed to the position. The ultimate desperation play for both you and the Chiefs, but one that I would not be surprised to see finish in low double digits in PPR formats.


Calvin JohnsonCalvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks
A knee issue. Matthew Stafford at quarterback. And the Seattle secondary. This is one of those weeks where you wish you could find a reason to bench Calvin Johnson. You have three pretty good ones already mentioned, but you just cannot sit Megatron. The Seahawks have faced seven double-digit targeted receivers already this season; a stat Johnson has in the last six games. Those seven have combined for 41 catches for 474 yards and three scores — or an average of 15.2 fantasy points in a PPR. While the Seahawks are the fourth-best team against fantasy receivers and Megatron is just the 15th-best receiver in PPR formats, I would take 15.2 from a guy that’s already averaging 17.2 per game.


Doug Baldwin, WR, Seattle Seahawks vs. Detroit Lions
Just in case you thought about starting Doug Baldwin against a depleted secondary, don’t. He is out today with a high ankle sprain. Baldwin should not be on any fantasy roster at this point. Could this clear up the picture for another Seattle receiver to step up? It is unlikely. While their defense is fourth-best against fantasy receivers, the Seahawks offense is ranked fourth worst at the position. No Seattle receiver has more than five catches in a game and no receiver has more than 74 yards in a game. Detroit has been generous to receivers this season, allowing double-digit days in PPR to nine of the 19 receivers it has faced (minimum three targets). Sidney Rice is the only Seahawk worth taking a flier on and feeling a little less than miserable about it. 

—   By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Week 8 Injury Updates: Peyton Hillis, Doug Baldwin, Calvin Johnson</p>
Post date: Saturday, October 27, 2012 - 06:07
Path: /nfl/nfl-picks-against-spread-week-8

A betting preview of every game (against the spread) on Sunday and Monday in Week 8.

Locks of the Week
Take two of the NFC’s toughest teams on the road against familiar division rivals in a pair of high profile contests.

Giants (-2) at Cowboys
The Big Blue Wrecking Crew have demolished the Boys at Jerry’s House. Eli Manning has 1,036 yards, eight TDs and a perfect 3–0 record at the new Cowboys Stadium.

49ers (-7) at Cardinals
San Fran will crash Zona’s Monday night party. Expect John Skelton to take a beating from Patrick Willis and Co.

Blowout Bargains
London Town’s Wembley Stadium and Titletown’s Lambeau Field will host blowouts of covering proportions.

Patriots (-7) vs. Rams (at London)
This London Calling will be played on the pitch across the pond, where Tom Brady will give the people what they came to see — an offensive fireworks display.

Packers (-15) vs. Jaguars
J-Ville was already arguably the league’s least talented team. Now, the Jags are without Mojo Drew, easily the best play on the teal team's roster.

Straight Up Upsets
Don’t be shocked to see two of the more volatile teams in the league — Detroit and Diego — stumble this week.

Seahawks (+1) at Lions
Detroit should keep calling that play where Mikel Leshoure dives for the end zone from the 5-yard-line and then fumbles. That worked great on MNF against Chicago.

Browns (+3) vs. Chargers
San Diego GM A.J. “The Lord of No Rings” Smith thinks the Bolts are going in the “wrong direction fast.” Norv Turner doesn’t understand what he means.


Backdoor Covers
It’s RG3 and Cam time against big numbers on the road. They may not pull off straight up upsets, but they’ll keep it close.

Redskins (+4.5) at Steelers
Rookie quarterbacks have a 1–14 record against Dick LeBeau since he took over in 2004.

Panthers (+9) at Bears
Win or lose, Cam Newton and Jay Cutler are going to act like jerks at their postgame press conferences.

Sucker Bets
Stay away completely unless you’re a degenerate or a hometown homer who always has to have action.

Chiefs (-1) vs. Raiders
The Silver-and-Black are riding a five-game winning streak at Arrowhead Stadium.

Jets (-1) vs. Dolphins
New York beat Miami, 23–20 in overtime in Week 3 in the first meeting this season.

Eagles (-3) vs. Falcons
Mike Vick brings his 13 turnovers and nine total TDs to the field to face his old team.

Titans (-3.5) vs. Colts
Andrew Luck takes his show on the road to Music City for his first gig at Tennessee.

Broncos (-6) vs. Saints
Peyton Manning vs. Drew Brees is a Sunday nighter worth missing a few pitches of the World Series for.

<p> A betting preview of every game (against the spread) on Sunday and Monday in Week 8, including the New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals, New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos, Washington Redskins at Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins at New York Jets, New England Patriots vs. St. Louis Rams in London.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 15:20
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/anchorman-gets-pooped-during-world-series-coverage

During a live broadcast outside AT&T Park in San Francisco, FOX40 anchor Paul Robins got torpedoed by a bird. Robins was a good sport about it, even as his co-anchor Bethany Crouch laughed hysterically while where a ridiculous Panda hat. As Robins said, "One of my goals in life is to make it on YouTube and I think I just did." That's right Paul, dreams really do come true.

Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 14:41
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Links, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-eleven-links-day-2

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for October 26.

• Randy Rosetta has the LSU reaction to four former players — including Tyrann Mathieubeing arrested on marijuana possession charges.

• The Giants won Game 2 over the Tigers to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the World Series, and every break seems to favor San Francisco in the postseason.

• Be careful driving in this neighborhood.

• Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network looks at some the league’s top candidates to become head coaches.

• Oklahoma has only beaten Notre Dame once in nine tries. The Sooners host the Irish in a huge Top 10 matchup this weekend.

• Rookie Doug Martin was the dominant running back in Minnesota as the Buccaneers beat the Vikings, 36-17, on Thursday night.

• Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez did not make the trip to London for Sunday’s game versus the Rams.

• The Penn State-Ohio State matchup this weekend may have a “bowl” feel to it, since both schools are ineligible for the postseason.

• Yankees closer Mariano Rivera may be having second thoughts about returning to the field next season.

• Could the Clippers challenge the Lakers in the Pacific Division?

• Everything seems to be going San Francisco’s way in the World Series, except for this local anchor who gets torpedoed by a bird during a live broadcast.

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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 25

• Jack Curry has an interesting piece on Giants star Pablo Sandoval, who hit three home runs in San Francisco’s 8-3 victory in Game 1 of the World Series.

• The Vikings will try and move to a surprising 6-2 on the season when they host the Buccaneers tonight.

• Why Steelers, why?

• Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt, a former Kansas State linebacker, has an interesting perspective on this weekend’s huge Big 12 matchup between the Red Raiders and Wildcats. Here’s his interview with Chris Level on 104.3 in Lubbock.

• ESPN is reporting that NBA Commissioner David Stern will retire in 2014.

Ginger convention?

• Georgia was blown out at South Carolina, but the Bulldogs can keep their SEC East hopes alive by upsetting the Florida Gators.

• The Jets will look to punish Dolphins running back Reggie Bush this weekend.

• Two-time Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones is now a member of the U.S. bobsled team.

• Top UCLA hoops recruit Shabazz Muhammad was injured in practice yesterday.

• Many hockey and baseball teams grow playoff beards, but we can all participate in “Movember”. Who better to give us tips on growing that mustache than Ron Swanson?

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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 24

• Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star looks at a few of Oklahoma’s past losses to Notre Dame, and how they affected the Sooners.

• The World Series starts tonight in San Francisco, with the resilient Giants taking on the rested Detroit Tigers.

• Check out some of these epic man caves.

• ESPN Pac-12 blogger Kevin Gemmell looks at the surprising undefeated start by Mike Riley’s Oregon State Beavers.

• The ACC race is wide open this season, with Florida State favored in the Atlantic and a complete free-for-all in the Coastal.

• A Lakers preview cover without Kobe Bryant?

• The NHL can’t seem to get a season started for the second time in a decade, but the Islanders have found time to announce their relocation to Brooklyn in 2015.

• Former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine caused a stir last night by saying that slugger David Ortiz “decided not to play anymore” after Boston traded Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Dodgers.

• The NBA is taking the position of “center” off its All-Star ballot, and fans will now vote on three “frontcourt” players.

• Could Nick Saban be lured to the Browns?

• There is no good way to lose a close football game, but these Memphis-area youngsters show us an extra-painful way to suffer a defeat. Are you serious?!

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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 23

• The World Series is now set, with Buster Posey and the cardiac San Francisco Giants meeting Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and the Detroit Tigers.

• Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman has an interesting piece on the origin of “Play Like a Champion Today.” Did it start with Notre Dame, or did Sooners legend Bud Wilkinson coin the popular phrase?

• Type the URL “” into your browser and see what happens. With Derek Dooley struggling, Vols fans are thinking big.

• Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee says the undefeated Mississippi State Bulldogs have no chance to beat No. 1 Alabama.

• The St Louis Cardinals choked away the NLCS versus the Giants, and it was a complete team effort.

• Check out this bearded ninja.

• Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert has torn labrum in his left shoulder.

• Wyoming coach Dave Christensen has been suspended one week and fined $50,000 for his tirade following the Cowboys’ loss to Air Force.

• CBS Sports lists its Top 50 point guards in college basketball, with a Murray State star topping the list.

• A survey of NBA general managers predicts a repeat for LeBron James (MVP) and the Miami Heat.

• ESPN Sunday Soundtracks provided the football public with a gem last night. Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt tells running back Ray Rice of the Ravens, “I've eaten burritos bigger than you.”

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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 22

• RG3 was impressive against the Giants, but Eli Manning added to his amazing fourth-quarter legacy in New York’s 27-23 win over the Redskins.

• CBS’ Tony Barnhart recaps the college football weekend, including telling Oregon fans that the Ducks will be fine in the BCS.

• Check out this Patriots fan’s jersey — well played.

• The San Francisco Giants have all of the NLCS momentum against the Cardinals, but the storied franchise has never won a winner-take-all Game 7.

• Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein has become the new clear-cut favorite in the Heisman race.

• The Red Sox got their guy, trading with the Blue Jays to bring back former pitching coach John Farrell as manager.

• Check out these awful first movies for some of Hollywood’s top actors.

• Lakers big man Dwight Howard tallied a double-double in his preseason debut with Los Angeles.

• The Redskins are bringing back veteran tight end Chris Cooley after Fred Davis was lost for the season with an Achilles injury.

• Rick Pitino has suspended Chane Behanan for Louisville’s exhibition opener and has banned the forward from talking to the media for a semester.

• We’ve seen several people run onto playing fields over the years, but it’s usually not right in the middle of a play like this idiot at the Florida State-Miami game. It’s too bad one of the Seminoles linemen did not level the guy.

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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 13:15
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-9-0

College football’s Week 9 is highlighted by two huge games in the SEC (Florida vs. Georgia, Mississippi State at Alabama) and a meeting of two storied programs in Norman, Okla., as Notre Dame takes on Oklahoma. There is a key clash in the Big East, as Cincinnati makes the short trip to Louisville on Friday night. And USC heads to Tucson for a tricky game with the Wildcats.


No. 39 Cincinnati at No. 17 Louisville
This key Big East clash lost some of its intrigue when Cincinnati suffered a 29–23 defeat at Toledo on Saturday. That loss didn’t hurt the Bearcats’ standing in the Big East, but this is no longer a battle of undefeated and nationally ranked teams.
Louisville 30–20

No. 57 Nevada at No. 94 Air Force
Nevada has tumbled down the Athlon Sports rankings in recent week. The Wolf Pack had some close wins against bad teams — Wyoming (35–28 OT) and UNLV (42–37) — then lost at home last week, in overtime, to San Diego State.
Nevada 34–24


No. 16 Mississippi State at No. 1 Alabama
How good is Alabama? Well, Nick Saban’s club is favored by more than three touchdowns against an undefeated Mississippi State team that is ranked 11th in the BCS standings. The Crimson Tide, ranked No. 1 in the nation, have won their seven games by an average of 32.7 points, and each victory has been by at least 19 points. Can Mississippi State be the first team to make Bama sweat? The guess here is yes — to a degree.
Alabama 30–17

No. 101 Colorado at No. 2 Oregon
Colorado has given up 101 points in its last two games, losses to Arizona State and USC. The Buffs rank 119th in the nation in scoring defense (42.6 ppg). This will not be remotely competitive.
Oregon 58–6

No. 3 Florida vs. No. 10 Georgia (Jacksonville)
There’s plenty at stake when Florida and Georgia get together for their annual tussle in Jacksonville. The Gators, already 7–0 in the league, can wrap up the SEC East with a win. Georgia can’t clinch anything this weekend, but the Bulldogs — who still have games with Ole Miss and Auburn — would control their own destiny with a victory.
Florida 24–17

No. 15 Texas Tech at No. 4 Kansas State
Bill Snyder is the obvious choice for Big 12 Coach of the Year at this point, but Tommy Tuberville has to be No. 2 on the list. The Red Raiders, who went 2–7 in the league last season, are 6–1 overall and 3–1 in the Big 12. And there are some quality wins on the résumé — at Iowa State, vs. West Virginia, at TCU.
Kansas State 35–27

No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 8 Oklahoma
Notre Dame expects Everett Golson to be back at quarterback after missing the BYU game with a concussion. He is far from polished throwing the ball, but he is a dynamic playmaker who can create scoring opportunities with his legs. The Irish will have to limit their turnovers and score touchdowns — not field goals — in the red zone.
Oklahoma 20–17

No. 7 Ohio State at No. 23 Penn State
Penn State has won five straight games after opening the season with losses to Ohio and Virginia. The Nittany Lions are getting it done with a surprisingly potent offense that is led by the surprisingly good Matt McGloin. A year ago, McGloin failed to throw for more than 220 yards in any game and had eight touchdowns and five interceptions in 231 attempts. This season, McGloin has topped the 220-yard mark in five of seven games and has 14 TDs and two INTs in 259 attempts.
Penn State 33–28

No. 36 Tennessee at No. 9 South Carolina
In his Monday press conference, Tennessee’s Derek Dooley said Tyler Bray will be on a short leash in Columbia. “If he’s loose with the football, he’s coming out of the game and we’re going to play Justin (Worley),” Dooley said. “I told him that.” In four SEC games, Bray is completing just over 50 percent of his passes with six touchdowns and eight interceptions. That simply isn’t good enough for a guy with as much talent as Bray.
South Carolina 31–20

No. 11 USC at No. 29 Arizona
USC has quietly won four in a row since its damaging Week 3 loss at Stanford. The Trojans, 6–1 overall and ranked No. 10 in the latest BCS standings, can play their way back into the national title mix with wins this week at Arizona and next week at home vs. Oregon.
USC 34–28

No. 12 Oregon State at No. 40 Washington
Oregon State survived for two weeks without Sean Mannion in the lineup, beating BYU 42–24 and Utah 21–7. Now, Mannion is back, and the Beavers are ready to light up the scoreboard against a Washington team that has given up 41 points or more in three of its five games vs. AQ conference opponents.
Oregon State 37-21

No. 47 Duke at No. 13 Florida State
Duke can relax after picking up that elusive sixth win and becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 1994. The Blue Devils are very much in the mix for the Coastal Division title, but their remaining schedule — starting with Saturday’s trip to FSU — is very difficult.
Florida State 38–20

No. 71 Kent State at No. 18 Rutgers
Former Rutgers assistant Darrell Hazell brings his Kent State Golden Flashes to town for homecoming. This will not, however, be easy for the Scarlet Knights. Kent State is 7–1 overall and has won three games on the road.
Rutgers 21–10

No. 19 Michigan at No. 27 Nebraska
Michigan snapped its four-game losing streak to Michigan State despite failing to score a touchdown. The Wolverines’ defense, which struggled in the first two weeks of the season, has given up an average of 230.6 yards in the last five games. Greg Mattison and his group will have their hands full against Nebraska. Holding the Huskers to 28 points should be the goal.
Michigan 34–28

No. 102 Washington State at No. 20 Stanford
After playing two straight overtime games — beating Arizona and losing to Notre Dame — Stanford enjoyed a relatively stress-free 21–3 win over rival Cal in the Big Game. The Cardinal dominated this game at the line of scrimmage, outgaining Cal on the ground 252 to 3. Expect another easy win this week.
Stanford 44–10

No. 21 Texas A&M at No. 73 Auburn
Auburn’s offense is bad. How bad? Well, the Tigers rank 119th in the nation in total yards (276.7) and have averaged only 229.0 yards against SEC opponents. Last week, in a 17–13 loss at Vanderbilt, Auburn managed 212 total yards. The week before, against Ole Miss, they had 213 yards.
Texas A&M 30–17

No. 24 Louisiana Tech at No. 122 New Mexico State
This is a colossal mismatch in the WAC. Louisiana Tech has scored 53 touchdowns in seven games vs. FCS competition. New Mexico State has scored 14 in six games.
Louisiana Tech 55–7

No. 45 Michigan State at No. 22 Wisconsin
After scoring less than 30 points in four of their first five games, the Badgers have scored 31, 38 and 38 points in their last three. Their three highest yardage totals of the season have also come in the last three games — 427 vs. Illinois, 645 vs. Purdue and 443 vs. Minnesota. Michigan State’s defense will be a bit tougher to penetrate, but the Badgers will score enough to win.
Wisconsin 24–14

No. 26 UCLA at No. 33 Arizona State
I’m surprised the spread is so high between these seemingly evenly matched teams. UCLA is 5–2 and has only played one bad game, a 43–17 loss at California. The Bruins’ other loss was by seven points at home to undefeated Oregon State, and they have a nice win over Nebraska on their résumé.
UCLA 27–24

No. 28 Texas at No. 97 Kansas
Charlie Weis has turned his offense over to Michael Cummings, a redshirt freshman who will get the start over Notre Dame transfer Dayne Crist. He will be facing a Texas defense that has given up 48 points or more in its last three games.
Texas 40–10

No. 32 TCU at No. 30 Oklahoma State
TCU is known more for its defense, but the Horned Frogs are averaging 491.8 yards vs. Big 12 opponents this season. That’s more than West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas Tech (and four other teams). The Frogs’ defense, however, is giving up 387.8 yards in league play. Stopping Oklahoma State, which welcomes quarterback Wes Lunt back to the lineup, will be a challenge.
Oklahoma State 34–27

No. 31 Boise State at No. 112 Wyoming
The schedule hasn’t been too taxing, but Boise State has given up 17 points or less in all but one game this season. The Broncos lead the MWC in total defense and scoring defense.
Boise State 30–10

No. 34 Ohio at No. 109 Miami (Ohio)
Ohio, which is No. 4 in the BCS standings, has been outgained by an average of 64 yards in its three MAC games. This team does not deserve to be ranked.
Ohio 30-23

No. 35 Toledo at No. 116 Buffalo
Toledo continues to roll. The Rockets improved to 7–1 last week with a win over previously unbeaten Cincinnati. Dating back to last season, Toledo has won 15 of its last 17 games. It will be 16 of 18 very soon.
Toledo 37, Buffalo 8

No. 37 NC State at No. 50 North Carolina
Larry Fedora will be a popular man in Chapel Hill if he can do something that Butch Davis failed to do in his time at North Carolina — beat NC State. The Wolfpack have won five straight in this series, four with Davis in charge and one with interim boss Everett Withers running the show. The streak is about to end.
North Carolina 28–27

No. 64 Iowa at No. 38 Northwestern
It’s been a strange season in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes have one of the worst losses by any AQ conference team in the nation this season — at home to Central Michigan. Yet, they’ve also won at Michigan State. Last week, Iowa was dominated at home by Penn State. The Nittany Lions jumped out to a 24–0 lead at the half and cruised to a 38–14 victory.
Northwestern 24–17

No. 42 Baylor at No. 41 Iowa State
How bad has Baylor been defensively in Big 12 games? Well, the Bears are giving up 613.7 points per game and a staggering 7.36 yards per play vs. conference foes.
Iowa State 47–41

No. 121 South Alabama at No. 43 ULM
South Alabama is fresh off its first win over an FBS team, a 37–34 double-overtime thriller at Florida Atlantic. The Jaguars’ winning streak will end at one.
ULM 44-17

No. 123 UMass at No. 48 Vanderbilt
UMass gained a total of 118 yards last week in a 24–0 loss at Bowling Green. The Minutemen had 33 yards passing on 34 attempts. It is very hard to be that bad.
Vanderbilt 44–0

No. 56 Ole Miss at No. 49 Arkansas
There is no doubt that Ole Miss is one of the most improved teams in the SEC. However, it must be noted that the Rebs have yet to beat a good team. Their four wins have come against Central Arkansas, UTEP (2–6), Tulane (1–6) and Auburn (1–6). So can this team take the next step and defeat a quality opponent?
Arkansas 38–30

No. 52 Utah State at No. 114 Texas-San Antonio
The Aggies bounced back from a 6–3 loss to BYU by beating San Jose State and New Mexico State by a combined score of 90–34. The beatings of WAC brethren will continue.
Utah State 44–13

No. 53 Northern Illinois at No. 81 Western Michigan
Northern Illinois and Toledo, both 4–0 in the league, are heading for a huge showdown in mid-November in DeKalb. The Huskies have won seven straight and are playing very well on both sides of the ball.
Northern Illinois 34–20

No. 54 Western Kentucky at No. 106 FIU
Western Kentucky blew a 28–7 second quarter lead last week and eventually lost in overtime to ULM 43–42. It was the Toppers’ first Sun Belt conference defeat since losing to Arkansas State last October.
Western Kentucky 24–21

No. 55 BYU at No. 58 Georgia Tech
Statistically, BYU has one of the top rushing defenses in the nation. But the Cougars were gashed last week by Notre Dame, which had two backs top 100 yards and ended up with 270 yards on 43 carries in a 17–14 Irish win. Georgia Tech’s option attack will provide another stiff test for BYU.
Georgia Tech 28–20

No. 59 Purdue at No. 65 Minnesota
These two teams are a combined 0–6 in the Big Ten. Minnesota is on its third starting quarterback of the season. Philip Nelson, a true freshman who enrolled at Minnesota last January, made his first start last week at Wisconsin. He completed 13-of-24 for 149 yards with two TDs and two interceptions in a 38–13 loss.
Minnesota 24–20

No. 60 California at No. 66 Utah
Losing 21–3 at home to your arch rival isn’t recommended for a coach (Jeff Tedford) whose job security is an issue. The Golden Bears are 3–5 overall and 2–3 in the league. They really need to pick up a win in Salt Lake City.
California 28–17

No. 77 Kentucky at No. 61 Missouri
Beating Kentucky this week is of paramount importance because it’s the last time Mizzou will be favored against an SEC foe. With trips to Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M looming, Gary Pinkel’s club could be staring at an 0–8 record in its maiden voyage through the league if it somehow fails to beat Kentucky.
Missouri 24–14

No. 62 UCF at No. 80 Marshall
Marshall has quietly put together one of the nation’s top offenses — at least statistically. The Thundering Herd rank second in passing offense (390.0 ypg), fourth in total offense (568.4 ypg) and eighth in scoring offense (43.1 ppg). That’s the good part. The bad? Marshall is giving upover 40 points per game.
Marshall 41-40

No. 63 Maryland at No. 98 Boston College
Maryland lost its second quarterback to a torn ACL this season when Perry Hills went down last week against NC State. The Terps will now turn to true freshman Caleb Rowe or third-year sophomore Devin Burns.
Boston College 21–20

No. 67 Syracuse at No. 75 South Florida
South Florida’s disappointing 2012 season took another painful turn last week when the Bulls lost a fourth quarter lead to nationally ranked Louisville. USF is now 2–5 overall and 0–3 in the Big East. Syracuse played its most complete game of the season last week in a 40–10 win over UConn. The Orange, however, are 0–2 on the road in 2012 and have lost five straight on the road dating back to last season.
South Florida 24–20

No. 74 Temple at No. 68 Pittsburgh
Temple surprised the league by winning its first two games in its first season back in the Big East. Then, the Owls jumped on Rutgers last week and led 10–0 at the half. The fun stopped there, however. The Scarlet Knights stormed back and coasted to a 35–10 victory. Pittsburgh is 0–3 in the Big East, but the Panthers have already played two of the league’s best three teams, Cincinnati and Rutgers.
Pittsburgh 17–13

No. 69 Fresno State at No. 95 New Mexico
New Mexico, which has switched to an option offense under new coach Bob Davie, is the only team in the nation that has not completed a pass that has gone for 40 yards or more. The Lobos do, however, have seven rushing plays of 40 yards or more, which ranks second nationally.
Fresno State 31–23

No. 103 UNLV at No. 70 San Diego State
San Diego State had its biggest win of the year last week, rallying to beat Nevada 39–38 in overtime. With Ryan Katz out with an injury (and lost for the season), Adam Dingwell stepped in and threw for 177 yards with three touchdowns and no picks.
San Diego State 30–14

No. 72 Ball State at No. 115 Army
Rich Ellerson’s fourth season at Army isn’t going well. The Black Knights are 1–6 (though the one win came vs. Boston College) and all but one of their losses has been by 10 points or more. Ball State should roll.
Ball State 44–20

No. 87 Navy at No. 78 East Carolina
Navy has won three straight, the last two with true freshman Keenan Reynolds starting at quarterback. East Carolina is 4–1 in C-USA but will have a tough time winning its division. The Pirates trail UCF by one game in the loss column and lost to the Knights 40–20 earlier this month.
East Carolina 34–31

No. 104 Texas State at No. 79 San Jose State
Assuming San Jose State takes care of business this weekend, Mike MacIntyre can claim back-to-back wins over Larry Coker (won a national title at Miami) and Dennis Franchione (former coach at TCU, Alabama and Texas A&M).
San Jose State 44–17

No. 83 Troy at No. 124 FAU
FAU has lost six straight games since edging Wagner 7–3 in the opener. The latest loss was troubling — 37–34 at FBS newcomer South Alabama. The Carl Pelini era is off to a rough start.
Troy 37–14

No. 96 North Texas at No. 85 Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee played well in Starkville for a half last week before being overwhelmed by Mississippi State in the final two quarters. The Blue Raiders miss Bennie Cunningham (torn ACL), but this is still a good offense.
Middle Tennessee 34–27

No. 88 Indiana at No. 89 Illinois
Indiana has lost its last three games (vs. Michigan State, Ohio State and Navy) by a total of eight points. Illinois has lost its last four games (Louisiana Tech, Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan) by a total of 118 points.
Indiana 37–26

No. 117 Memphis at No. 90 SMU
One week after losing to previously winless Tulane 27–26, SMU beat Houston 72–42 (thanks to nine Cougar turnovers). Go figure.
SMU 41–13

No. 99 UTEP at No. 92 Houston
Just when it appeared that Houston was getting its act together, the Cougars turn the ball over nine times and give up 72 points to SMU. When this team takes care of the ball — which isn’t often — it is capable of scoring points.
Houston 38–28

No. 113 Eastern Michigan at No. 93 Bowling Green
Bowling Green gave up a total of 118 yards in a 24–0 win at UMass last week. The Falcons have not allowed more than 12 points in a game since losing at Virginia Tech 37–0 in Week 4.
Bowling Green 27–12

No. 100 UAB at No. 110 Tulane
Tulane is showing improvement under first-year coach Curtis Johnson. The Green Wave broke through with their first win two weeks ago against SMU and then lost at UTEP 24–20 last week. Beating UAB, however, will be tough. The Blazers are 1–6 but have played relatively well against a tough schedule.
UAB 31–21

No. 108 Southern Miss at No. 105 Rice
Is it possible that Southern Miss, a program that has enjoyed 18 straight winning seasons, could go winless in 2012? The Golden Eagles have five games remaining: at Rice, UAB, at SMU, UTEP, at Memphis. My guess is that USM finds a way to win at least one game.
Rice 28–24

No. 111 Akron at No. 107 Central Michigan
Terry Bowden is still looking for his first win vs. an FBS opponent in his first season as the boss at Akron. Central Michigan has lost four straight since its stunning win at Iowa.
Central Michigan 21–20

No. 118 Hawaii at No. 120 Colorado State
These two programs have enjoyed some pockets of big-time success over the past two decades. Now, however, they are among the two worst teams in the nation.
Colorado State 24–16

Last week: 44–11
Season: 361–101

<p> College football’s Week 9 is highlighted by two huge games in the SEC (Florida vs. Georgia, Mississippi State at Alabama) and a meeting of two storied programs in Norman, Okla., as Notre Dame takes on Oklahoma. There is also a key clash in the Big East, as Cincinnati makes the short trip to Louisville on Friday night.</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:40
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/20-twitter-accounts-every-big-ten-fan-should-follow

Fret not, Big Ten fans. The product on the field may be suffering this year in comparison to the other power conferences, but the coverage of the league in the Twitterverse is thriving. Sure, some of that coverage is snarky, but that's what you get when your top-ranked team not on probation is No. 22 Michigan. Here are the top 20 Twitter accounts for the B1G. Unlike some of the teams they cover, they're all leaders and legends.

Since 2008, Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett have been regaling Big Ten fans with news, notes and links for the mothership.


Football, food and female hotness. What more is there to the Internet? Elika Sadeghi covers all three on her Twitter feed, with a Big Ten emphasis. To follow her is to love her.


Jim's the publisher of SPARTAN Magazine and is a one-stop shop for all things Gang Green-related. Especially good for in-game tweets that give you a feel for the action.


Teddy has one of the best self-descriptions on Twitter: "lover, fighter, Chicago Trib sportswriter." Kind of says it all, although he focuses on the sports part on his Twitter feed, in bareknuckles fashion.


A sportswriter for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, Marc Morehouse covers Iowa sports with a stated goal to entertain and inform. Mission accomplished on both counts, although Kirk Ferentz might not be all that entertained by what he reads.


Jeff Potrykus is a sportswriter for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel specializing in Badger sports. Jeff's also apparently a big fan of tacos. Oh, the things you learn on Twitter.


Nick Baumgardner covers Michigan sports for, but he doesn't limit his tweets to the team from the Big House, weighing in with opinions and observations on all sports with a Wolverine State bent.


Joe Rexrode covers Sparty for the Detroit Free Press, and he's not just a mouthpiece for Mark Dantonio and Tom Izzo. Joe delivers unvarnished opinions about the goings-on in East Lansing.


Pioneer Press reporter Marcus R. Fuller is your man on the inside of Gopher sports. After three straight losses, he has to be wondering if there's a bowl trip in his future. Plus, he's gearing up for another season with Tubby's Team Turmoil.


The publisher of, Sean (Don't Call Me Bill) Callahan has seen the Nebraska program suffer through some uncharacteristic struggles the last several years. But unlike the team, Sean's coverage is consistently solid.


Like the rest of Hoosier Nation, Dopirak's thinking hoops right about now. In fact, if you are a Twitter follower of Dustin's, it's like you were there for Big Ten Basketball media day. But if you're an IU football diehard, Dustin's your guy, too.



Doug Lesmerises provides what he calls "news, analysis and inane banter" from his perch as Buckeyes beat guy for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The banter may be inane, but the info's not.


Mike Carmin covers Purdue football and women's hoops for the Lafayette Journal and Courier. Can make for an odd mix of tweets, but if you're a Boilers fan, you won't mind.


Tom's been on the Badger beat for the Wisconsin State Journal for more than a decade, meaning he's seen more highs than lows — although he's not afraid to point out the lows.


Kevin McGuire provides a fount of Penn State and Big Ten information in bite-sized form. Lots of links, stats and tidbits for the Big Ten fan on the go.


Tom Dienhart is the senior writer for, the website for the Big Ten Network. Not surprisingly, he's turned some of his attention to basketball, but as long as there's football to be played, he's got it covered.


Eleven Warriors is your source for all things Scarlet and Grey. It's the largest free Ohio State sports source on the internet, and they've extended their footprint to Twitter in a big way.


It's more of a general college site, but I couldn't let this Twitter rundown lapse without mentioning the guys over at Every Day Should Be Saturday, who freely share a love of college football with a slightly skewed, always amusing perspective.


Jeff Rapp is an Ohio State grad who turned his avocation (Buckeye sports) into his vocation. On his site,, and his Twitter feed, he covers OSU and the Big Ten with a nice eye for detail. 


Jon Miller is publisher of, billed as an independent source for Hawkeye news. That independence comes in handy when your team lays a colossal egg against Penn State.

<p> These tweeting 20 will keep you entertained and educated about Big Ten football</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:34
Path: /college-football/florida-gators-vs-georgia-bulldogs-preview-and-prediction

The annual matchup between Florida and Georgia at the The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville is usually one of the most-anticipated SEC games every season. This season is no different, as both teams enter with a combined 13-1 record and a division title on the line.

Most division titles aren’t decided until the month of November but that’s not the case in the SEC this Saturday. With a 6-0 conference record and a win over South Carolina already, Florida can clinch the SEC East title with a victory over Georgia. After Saturday’s meeting with the Bulldogs in Jacksonville, the Gators play three home games (Missouri, UL Lafayette and Jacksonville State), along with a road date against Florida State. 

While Georgia’ SEC title hopes took a hit with the loss to South Carolina, the Bulldogs can jump back into the race with a win over Florida. Mark Richt’s team still has to play Ole Miss and Auburn but will be heavily favored to win both games. The Bulldogs have one of the SEC’s top offenses, but the defense has yet to find its form from last season.

This series has been dominated by Florida since 1990. The Gators have won 18 out of the last 22 matchups but lost last season’s game 24-20. The last two games in this rivalry have been decided by four points or less.

Storylines to watch in Florida vs. Georgia

Can Georgia stop Florida’s rushing attack?
The Bulldogs’ defense has been one of the SEC’s most underachieving units in 2012. After allowing just 101.2 yards per game last season, Georgia ranks 72nd nationally in rush defense and is giving up 167.9 yards per game this year. The Bulldogs front seven suffered a setback this week, as end Abry Jones could miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury. Losing Jones is another setback for a Georgia defense that has allowed rushing seven touchdowns over the last three games and faces a tough test against a Florida offense that is averaging 212.7 rushing yards per game. Mike Gillislee is the lead back for the Gators but has been held under 100 yards in each of his last two contests. While Gillislee should see 20-25 carries, the Bulldogs have to be wary of Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel. The sophomore has 321 yards on this season, and his mobility only adds another dimension to the Gators’ much-improved rushing attack. Considering Georgia’s struggles against the run and the loss of Jones, coordinator Todd Grantham will have his hands full trying to stop Gillislee and Driskel. 

Will Aaron Murray find success against Florida’s secondary?
After a dismal performance against South Carolina, Murray rebounded with 427 yards and four touchdowns in the 29-24 win over Kentucky. The junior quarterback has been sharp most of the season, completing 65.3 percent of his throws and tossing only four picks. Although Murray seemed to find rhythm last week, Florida’s defense represents the toughest challenge the Bulldogs have seen this year. The Gators are allowing less than 200 passing yards per game and have given up only three passing scores in seven contests. Another key to the success of Florida’s secondary has been a pass rush averaging two sacks a game. Murray didn’t have much time to throw against South Carolina, which didn’t allow the offense to take any shots downfield. For the Bulldogs to win, they have to provide Murray with more protection, along with establishing freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall on the ground.

Will Jeff Driskel throw for more than 100 yards?
The formula for Florida’s turnaround this year is pretty simple. The Gators are winning the battle in the trenches and the turnover battle. With a shutdown defense and a stout running game, quarterback Jeff Driskel hasn’t been asked to do much over the last three games. The sophomore quarterback has not topped 100 passing yards over the last three contests but ran for 177 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Vanderbilt. Although Driskel hasn’t been much of a factor in recent weeks, he will be needed more against Georgia. The Bulldogs rank 28th nationally against the pass and with a lack of proven playmakers for Georgia on the outside, the Bulldogs should own an edge in pass defense. Driskel has been careful with the ball (only one interception on 127 attempts) but this will be a huge test after three games where he didn’t need to do much through the air. Georgia's pass rush is expected to get a boost this week, as linebacker Jarvis Jones is expected to return to the lineup after missing last Saturday's game against Kentucky. 

Final Analysis

Even though Georgia was handled by South Carolina, this team is capable of winning this game. The battle in the trenches will be critical, especially for a Bulldogs’ offensive line that struggled to block the Gamecocks’ defensive front. Florida doesn’t have a difference maker off the edge like Jadeveon Clowney, but what the Gators lack in star power is made up in quality depth. If Georgia can protect quarterback Aaron Murray and open up some holes for running back Todd Gurley, this will be a close game until the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs’ defense has to step up after underachieving this year, which could have a hard time slowing down the Florida rushing attack. Georgia should be motivated to win this one, but the Gators are on a roll and should once again find a way to win.

Final Prediction: Florida 24, Georgia 20

by Steven Lassan


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<p> Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:15
Path: /college-football/college-football-award-watch-post-week-8

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

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

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

Week 9 Previews and Predictions

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

Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Our leader: Collin Klein, Kansas State
In a head-to-head meeting against West Virginia’s Geno Smith, Klein finished as the top quarterback in the country, at least for this week. Klein accounted for all seven touchdowns against the Mountaineers (four rushing, three passing). The senior is second in the nation in pass efficiency behind Alabama’s A.J. McCarron and fifth in rushing touchdowns (14).
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Colby Cameron, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, West Virginia’s Geno Smith

Doak Walker (Top running back)
Our leader: Montee Ball, Wisconsin
Hard to believe with the way Ball started the season, but he now ranks fourth in the nation with 979 rushing yards. In four Big Ten games, Ball has 10 rushing touchdowns and 154.8 yards per game.
Others: Oregon’s Kenjon Barner, North Carolina’s Giovani Bernard, Kansas State’s John Hubert, Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson, Northwestern’s Venric Mark, Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor

Biletnikoff Award (Top wide receiver)
Our leader: Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
West Virginia’s passing game is in a funk. USC’s passing game is starting to recover its early season form (facing Colorado helps). Last week, Patton had one of his least productive games of the season with four catches for 41 yards in a rout against Idaho, but he did catch his 10th touchdown pass of the season. Patton is a week removed from a 21-catch effort against Texas A&M.
Others: Cal’s Keenan Allen, West Virginia’s Tavon Austin, West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey, Clemson’s DeAndre Hopkins, USC’s Marqise Lee, Penn State’s Allen Robinson, Baylor’s Terrance Williams

Mackey Award (Top tight end)
Our leader: Zach Ertz, Stanford
After catching six passes for 134 yards and a touchdown, Ertz leads the nation’s tight ends with 505 receiving yards. He’s a big play threat, too, averaging at least 20 yards per catch in games against Duke, USC and Cal this season.
Others: Arizona State’s Chris Coyle, Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, Washington’s Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, Stanford’s Levine Toilolo

Outland Trophy (Top interior lineman)
Our leader: Barrett Jones, Alabama
Jones is the de facto favorite to win the Outland again, but the gap is closing -- even on his own team. Guard Chance Warmack is having a standout season, as is tackle D.J. Fluker. And that’s just offense in Tuscaloosa. Two of the last five Outland winners have been defensive tackles (LSU’s Glenn Dorsey in 2007, Nebraska’s Ndamukong Suh in 2009). Star Lotulelei and Stephon Tuitt should make a push here.
Others: North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper, Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt

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



Bednarik Award/Nagurski Award (Defensive Player of the Year)
Our leader: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
Te’o continues to lead the Notre Dame defense heading into a huge matchup with Oklahoma this week. Te’o intercepted his fourth pass of the season with a pick against BYU last week, but the senior has only four solo tackles (17 assisted tackles) in the last two weeks.
Others: South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, Utah's Star Lotulelei, Penn State's Michael Mauti, LSU’s Kevin Minter

Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)
Our leader: Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
Clowney was unstoppable against Florida, and it wasn’t his fault hte Gamecocks gave up 44 points as South Carolina special teams and the offense handed Florida the ball around the goal line. Clowney will face one of the top lines in the SEC this week against South Carolina.
Others: Oregon State’s Scott Chricton, Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Penn State’s Michael Mauti, Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt

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

Thorpe Award (Top defensive back)
Our leader: Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Banks had eight tackles and an interception returned for 46 yards last week against Middle Tennessee, giving him four picks this season and 16 in his career. This week brings a compelling matchup between Banks and Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, who has not thrown an interception this season.
Others: Florida’s Matt Elam, Oklahoma’s Tony Jefferson, Alabama’s Dee Milliner, Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer

Groza Award (Top kicker)

Our leader: Jeremiah Detmer, Toledo
Toledo’s offense isn’t all wild passing numbers. Detmer was 5 of 5 on field goals last week in a win over Cincinnati, including kicks of 43, 42 and 47 yards. He’s made the most field goals in the country with 18 converted on 23 attempts.
Others: Louisiana-Lafayette’s Brett Baer, Northwestern’s Jeff Budzien, Clemson’s Chandler Catanzaro, Iowa’s Mike Meyer

Ray Guy Award (Top punter)
Our leader: Florida’s Kyle Christy
Christy is the weapon LSU’s Brad Wing was a season ago. Christy helps the Gators with the field position battle by averaging 47.9 yards per kick. Half of his 36 punts have been longer than 50 yards.
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Allen, Utah’s Sean Sellwood, Oklahoma State’s Quinn Sharp

Freshman of the Year
Our leader: Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Kenjon Barner or Marcus Mariota -- who is the most valuable player on the Oregon offense? A compelling case could be made for Mariota, who leads the Pac-12 in completion percentage (68.3 percent). He had his best rushing day of the season last week by running for 135 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries.
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Dixon, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel

Coach of the Year
Our leader: Bill Snyder, Kansas State
The Wildcats are a legitimate national title contender partly on talent, but they’re also one of the most sound teams in the country. Kansas State has committed the third-fewest penalties in the country after Navy and Air Force and ranks seventh nationally in turnover margin.
Others: Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, Rutgers’ Kyle Flood, Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Florida’s Will Muschamp, Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, Oregon State’s Mike Riley

Broyles Award (top assistant)
Our leader: Art Kaufman, Texas Tech
Texas Tech allowed 53 points in a triple overtime win over TCU, but the Red Raiders have gone from giving up 485.6 yards per game to allowing 282 in the first season under defensive coordinator Art Kaufman. Collin Klein and Kansas State are up next.
Others: Oregon State’s Mark Banker, Notre Dame’s Bob Diaco, Alabama’s Kirby Smart

by David Fox


<p> College Football Award Watch: Post-Week 8</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:11
Path: /college-football/michigan-wolverines-vs-nebraska-cornhuskers-preview-and-prediction

The battle to win the Big Ten Legends Division is still one of the most clouded races in college football. However, there could be some clarity after this weekend’s games. Michigan is the Legends Division’s only unbeaten team in conference play so far, recording wins over Illinois, Purdue and Michigan State. Nebraska and Iowa are tied for second with a 2-1 mark, while Northwestern checks in fourth at 2-2.

With Michigan State off to a 1-3 start, the Wolverines and Cornhuskers appear to be the class of the division. And the winner of Saturday’s game should take a huge step forward in claiming the division title. Michigan has a very manageable schedule the rest of the season, as it should be favored to win every game except the season finale against Ohio State. Nebraska’s schedule features a few more landmines, especially with a road trip to Michigan State and a home game against Penn State.

These two teams have met seven times, with Michigan owning a slight 4-2-1 edge over the Cornhuskers. Nebraska’s only win since 1962 came in the 2005 Alamo Bowl. This last year’s matchup will only be the second between these two teams as Big Ten foes.

Storylines to watch in Michigan vs. Nebraska

Will Rex Burkhead play?
High expectations surrounded Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead coming into this season, but the senior suffered a knee injury against Southern Miss and has been limited to 47 rushing attempts in 2012. Burkhead aggravated his knee injury in last week’s win at Northwestern and is questionable to play against Michigan. With Burkhead likely out or less than 100 percent, the Cornhuskers will turn to a talented trio of young running backs in Ameer Abdullah, Braylon Heard and Imani Cross to pickup the slack. Abdullah led the team with 101 yards against the Wildcats last week and is expected to start this Saturday. Heard and Cross should see an increased role, especially as both bring more size and punch to the rushing attack. As usual, quarterback Taylor Martinez will figure into the ground game, and he rushed for 65 yards on 18 attempts last week. Even though Burkhead will be missed, Nebraska should be able to run the ball against Michigan’s defense. The Wolverines rank 49th nationally against the run but held Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell under 70 yards last Saturday. After struggling to stop Alabama and Air Force, Michigan has tightened its rush defense, but Nebraska will be a huge test for this unit.

Containing Denard Robinson
In last season’s matchup, Robinson accounted for 263 overall yards and four touchdowns. Nebraska can’t afford to let Robinson have his way again this season, and there’s a lot of pressure on coach Bo Pelini and coordinator John Papuchis to find the right answers this week, especially after the defense has allowed 11 rushing touchdowns in the last three games. Nebraska’s defense managed to hold Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter to just 35 rushing yards last week and a similar effort is needed against Robinson if the Cornhuskers want to knock off the Wolverines.

Winning the turnover battle
Holding onto the ball has been a big problem for both teams this season. Michigan is ninth in the Big Ten in turnover margin and has lost 14 turnovers. Nebraska is last in the conference, losing 18 turnovers in 2012. Most of the Wolverines’ turnover problems came in the non-conference portion of their schedule, while the Cornhuskers have forced only two fumbles in Big Ten play. Turnovers are always a key part of any game but with both teams struggling in this department, generating points on a short field would be a huge advantage on Saturday night.

Can Michigan establish its ground game against Nebraska’s rush defense?
Take out Denard Robinson’s 900 yards and Michigan is a very average rushing offense. Fitzgerald Toussaint has just 283 yards and four touchdowns on 81 attempts, with Thomas Rawls ranked third on the team with 174 yards. Robinson will have opportunities to make plays with his legs against the Cornhuskers, but the Wolverines also need Toussaint or Rawls to step up. Nebraska’s rush defense ranks 90th nationally and has allowed a 100-yard rusher in each of the last two games. Michigan’s offensive line has improved significantly from the season opener, which is a bad sign for the Cornhuskers’ struggling front seven. The Wolverines won’t need 100 yards from Toussaint, but this offense needs to take some of the pressure off of Robinson’s shoulders.

Taylor MartinezTaylor Martinez vs. Michigan’s secondary
Statistically, the Wolverines have been very good against the pass this year. Michigan ranks fourth nationally in pass defense and has allowed only four passing scores. However, this secondary has not faced a legitimate passing attack since the season opener against Alabama. Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez struggled in last season’s meeting between these two teams but is a much-improved passer. The junior has thrown for 15 touchdowns and has yet to throw an interception at home this season. Considering the progress Martinez has made this season, he should easily outperform last season’s abysmal showing in Ann Arbor. Nebraska also has one of the deepest groups of receivers in the Big Ten, which should allow Martinez and coordinator Tim Beck opportunities to see if Michigan’s secondary is as good as the stats indicate.  

Final Analysis

This matchup is relatively even, but a slight edge goes to Michigan. Taylor Martinez and his receivers will test the Wolverines’ secondary, but Nebraska’s defense will struggle to stop Denard Robinson. Expect Michigan’s defense to make one play late in the game that seals the victory for the Wolverines.

Final Prediction: Michigan 31-27

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<p> Michigan Wolverines vs. Nebraska Cornhuskers Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-week-9

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

2012 Record Against The Spread: 35-25
Last Week: 3-2

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Northern Illinois (-7) at Western Michigan
Western Michigan has lost two straight games by allowing 71 to Ball State and Kent State. The Broncos have lost three of four games while the Huskies are on an absolute roll at the moment. Behind the play of star dual-threat QB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois has won seven straight, including the last two by an 82-10 margin. Lynch has 1,049 yards rushing and 1,710 yards passing with 13 touchdowns passing and rushing each. WMU won’t be able to stop him. Prediction: Northern Illinois -7

Utah State (-23) at Texas San-Antonio
The Aggies are the only team left in the nation unbeaten against the spread at 8-0. Texas-San Antonio has lost its last two games after allowing 86 points to Rice (34) and San Jose State (52). As a reminder, Utah State defeated San Jose State 49-27 two weeks ago. Chuckie Keeton is on a roll — try 530 yards passing, 128 yards rushing and eight total touchdowns in his last two games — so expect Gary Andersen’s bunch to roll past the Roadrunners. Prediction: Utah State -23

Ball State (-4) at Army
Army is 2-5 against the spread this fall while Ball State is 6-2 against the number. I have picked against Army twice this year (Wake Forest, Kent State) and both delivered. They have one win all year and are allowing 37.9 points per game. Ball State has scored 71 points in two straight conference wins to get to within one game of bowl eligibility. Prediction: Ball State -4

Maryland (+2) at Boston College
The Eagles have yet to win a game over an FBS opponent and have been pounded by 64 combined points the last two weeks. They are also 1-6 against the spread this fall. The Terps are one of the most improved teams in the nation and nearly won their fifth game last weekend against NC State. There is a chance at bowl eligibility for Maryland, but a win this weekend is a must. Prediction: Maryland +2

Texas A&M (-14) at Auburn
Somebody in Vegas was completely inebriated when the original line opened at 8.5. The line moved quickly to a two-touchdown spread as bettors pounced on the Aggies. After all that movement, I am sticking with Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M to crush the hapless Tigers. Auburn, who is 2-5 against the spread this year, is last in the SEC in total offense, scoring offense, rushing defense, sacks allowed and passing efficiency. Texas A&M is leading the league in rushing, total offense and scoring and are coming off of a loss. Prediction: Texas A&M -14

Michigan State (+6) at Wisconsin
The Badgers are playing their best football of late, winning three straight Big Ten games by an average of 22 points (and a minimum of 17). The Spartans have lost three out of four and are 2-6 against the spread this fall. This has been a close game the last four meetings and the Spartans' defense is still fairly strong, but this offense has scored two offensive touchdowns in its last two games. It will need to score at least three to cover the spread this weekend. Prediction: Wisconsin -6

Western Kentucky (-7) at FIU
The Hilltoppers are coming off of a crushing one-point overtime home loss to UL Monroe and has to win out to earn a share of the Sun Belt title. Western Kentucky is 6-1 against the spread this year while FIU has struggled mightily this fall. The Panthers are losers of six straight and have allowed at least 34 points in four straight games. Look for WKU to bounce back this weekend. Prediction: Western Kentucky -7

- by Braden Gall


2012 Trends Against the Spread:

Undefeated ATS: Utah St (8-0)

Winless ATS: Virginia (0-7-1)

One Loss Against the Spread Two Losses ATS One Win ATS Two Wins ATS
Arizona St (5-1-1) Ball St (6-2) Boston College (1-6) Arkansas (2-5)
Florida (6-1) Clemson (5-2) C. Michigan (1-6) Army (2-5)
Fresno St (7-1) Duke (6-2) Colorado (1-6) Auburn (2-5)
Kansas St (5-1-1) La. Tech (5-2) Colorado St (1-6) Georgia (2-5)
Kent St (6-1) Mississippi St (5-2) Idaho (1-7) Illinois (2-5)
UL Monroe (6-1) New Mexico (6-2) Miami, Ohio (1-6) Iowa (2-5)
Ole Miss (6-1) N. Illinois (6-2)   Kentucky (2-6)
Northwestern (7-1) Oklahoma (4-2)   UMass (2-5)
Oregon St (5-1) Rutgers (5-2)   Michigan St (2-6)
Penn St (6-1) S. Carolina (6-2)   Nevada (2-6)
San Jose St (6-1) Texas St (4-2)   NC State (2-4-1)
Texas Tech (6-1) Toledo (6-2)   USC (2-5)
W. Kentucky (6-1) UNLV (6-2)   S. Miss (2-5)
      Syracuse (2-5)
      Tennessee (2-5)
      UTEP (2-6)
      Virginia Tech (2-6)
      Washington St (2-5)
      West Virginia (2-5)

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<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 9</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-offensive-tackles

It is never too early to begin looking ahead to next year's NFL Draft. Each year a unique set of prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country's most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft won’t be any different.

Today, we rank college football's best offensive tackles prospects:

1. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M (6-6, 310, Jr.)
The big blocker from Arlington, Texas, has seen his level of competition increase significantly with the shift to the SEC. He has faced LSU and Florida and he gave his team a chance to win both times. He has perfect size, power and fundamentals to play the prototypical left tackle position. He leads the way on an offense that is one of, if not the, best in the SEC with a record-setting quarterback.

2. Jake Matthews, Texas A&M (6-5, 305, Jr.)
No player may ever enter the NFL with a better pedigree than Matthews. His father is Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews. His older brother, Kevin, started for two seasons along the Aggies' offensive line. The Missouri City, Texas, native has tremendous knowledge of the game and a refined overall technique — as expected from a prospect who comes from the Matthews family tree. It means he is developed and should contribute immediately, but it could also mean his upside is more limited than his teammate.

3. D.J. Fluker, Alabama (6-6, 335, Jr.)
Coming out of high school in Foley, Ala., Fluker was considered one of the biggest prospects in Alabama history. He was a surefire can’t-miss superstar. It took him some time to adapt to the SEC, but he has blossomed into one of the better tackles in the nation. He has a huge, powerful frame, has the best coaching in the country, has a national championship ring and has faced the nation’s best defensive lineman in the SEC.

4. Taylor Lewan, Michigan (6-8, 310, Jr.)
Center David Molk led this offensive line in 2011 and Lewan took over that role this season. He has faced defensive lines like Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin. He has one of the longer frames in this class and plays an aggressive brand of football (as was evident by his numerous penalties early in his career). He is a bit unrefined and may not be ready to start right away but has loads of upside.

5. Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin (6-6, 320, Sr.)
The Bagders have been churning out excellent lineman for the better part of two decades and this offense has been amongst the nation’s best over the last few seasons. He has a solid frame and is an excellent athlete for his size but questions remain about his overall upside. Players like Whitney Mercilus and William Gholston have been able to play effectively against him. He might be more of a right tackle as his overall toughness and consistency needs to improve.

6. Dallas Thomas, Tennessee (6-5, 310, Sr.)
He isn’t the biggest prospect so he may not stick at tackle, but he is one of the more versatile. This offense has shown marked improvement over the last few seasons with Thomas’ leadership. He played relatively well against elite level competition in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina on the slate this fall. Where scouts evaluate his long-term future will largely determine if he lands in the first round or not.

7. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan (6-8, 305, Sr.)
The scouting report should be fairly easy to pinpoint for the big guy from Rochester, Mich. He has great size, has been a steady force on the edge for the Chippewas and large questions remain about his level of competition. There has been some talent to come from CMU along the line of late but dominating the MAC doesn’t mean you can block in the NFL. He has all the tools needed and simply needs to prove he can handle the jump in talent.

8. Brennan Williams, North Carolina (6-7, 315, Sr.)
The steady road grader has watched his stock steadily climb over the last two seasons after finally earning a starting spot as a junior. He has proven to be a tremendous commodity in the running game and will need to prove himself against elite pass rushers at events like the Senior Bowl. He is one of the bigger players at his position, but scouts need to figure out if the Tar Heels' O-Line is greater than the sum of its parts. Both Hurst and Williams team with elite guard Jonathan Cooper to form one of the better units in the ACC.

9. James Hurst, North Carolina (6-7, 290, Jr.)
One of the top recruits in the nation from Plainfield, Ind., Hurst started 12 games as a  true freshman back in 2010. He has improved each season and has a chance to sneak up draft boards with an excellent 2012 campaign. While the ACC gets knocked for its overall talent, programs like Virginia Tech, Miami and Florida State have excellent defensive lineman that offer scouts a quality barometer for Hurst'a ability and potential. He has a huge frame and is an above average athlete for his size. He may be a bit of a project but has plenty of upside.

10. Oday Aboushi, Virginia (6-6, 310, Sr.)
The Cavs have a sneaky good tradition of offensive lineman and Aboushi is the next name. He won’t be considered elite until he proves he can consistently be a dominant force. At times, he is the prototypical blocker with great size, solid quickness and a killer instinct. Other times, his play is rough around the edges and he will get beat. Added strength would go a long way towards improving his draft stock.

11. John Wetzel, Boston College (6-8, 305, Sr.)
Wetzel is next in a long line of excellent Eagles' offensive line prospects.

12. Alex Hurst, LSU (6-6, 340, Sr.)
Has dropped due to poor 2012 campaign but still has lots of talent.

13. Cyril Richardson, Baylor (6-5, 335, Jr.)
Massive prospect might have to slide inside (which would improve his stock).

14. Brian Winters, Kent State (6-6, 295, Sr.)
A bit undersized and competition is a question, but loads of upside.

15. David Yankey, Stanford (6-5, 300, Jr.)
Hails from a program known for physical, pro-style schemes.

16. Xavier Nixon, Florida (6-6, 295, Sr.)
Nation’s No. 1 OL prospect as a recruit needs to add size and consistency.

17. Chris Faulk, LSU (6-6, 320, Jr.)
Would likely be better off rehabbing this fall and returning to LSU.

18. Justin Pugh, Syracuse (6-6, 295, Sr.)
Not an overly talented prospect but a long-time starter and dependable.

19. Elvis Fisher, Missouri (6-5, 300, Sr.)
Has dealt with numerous injuries that will limit his upside.

20. Tanner Hawkinsson, Kansas (6-6, 295, Sr.)
Has a tough job in Lawrence, but has size and overall talent to contribute.

Other names to watch:

Zach Martin, Notre Dame (6-4, 305, Sr.)
Seantrel Henderson, Miami (6-8, 340, Jr.)
Jeff Braun, West Virginia (6-5, 320, Sr.)
Emmett Cleary, Boston College (6-7, 313, Sr.)
LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech (6-6, 330, Sr.)
Oscar Johnson, Louisiana Tech (6-6, 330, Sr.)
Luke Marquardt, Azusa Pacific (6-9, 320, Sr.)
Roger Gaines, Tennessee Tech (6-7, 320, Sr.)
David Quessenberry, San Jose State (6-6, 295, Sr.)
Lane Johnson, Oklahoma (6-7, 305, Sr.)

- by Braden Gall


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Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:00