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Path: /college-football/who-best-bowl-eligible-team-big-ten

With Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for the postseason, the Big Ten will be missing two of its top teams in bowl games. The conference did not have a team ranked in the USA Today Coaches Poll this week, while the Buckeyes are really the only team that merits consideration in the top 10 of any poll they are eligible to be ranked.

Who Is the Big Ten's Best Bowl-Eligible Team in 2012?

Coach John Cooper, former head coach of the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, Arizona State Sun Devils and Ohio State Buckeyes, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I thought Nebraska would be that team but their defense has been awful. They gave a lot yardage to Ohio State and UCLA earlier this year. I don't know what happened to the black shirt defense. I would have to pick Michigan at this point in the season. They are starting to show the most improvement in the Big Ten.

Kevin McGuire,, (@KevinonCFB)
Picking the best bowl-eligible team out of the Big Ten is difficult because there are huge holes everywhere you look. No bowl eligible team in the conference has come up big in the spotlight this season, and that should be very alarming for the conference moving forward. But now that we are in conference play the question will be which team will rise to the top and that is why I am suggesting Michigan. After getting trounced by Alabama in week one Michigan's defense has been pretty solid, holding their last three opponents under 14 points. In conference play the offense should be able to get by, although a home game against Michigan State could be tough. Even if they slip up against the Spartans, I think they somehow manage to end the regular season as the best bowl-eligible team in the Big Ten.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
What a mess. I guess we’re down to Michigan and Nebraska, whose signature wins this season are over Purdue and Wisconsin, respectively. When Nebraska gets a good game from Taylor Martinez and when the mix of Ameer Abdullah and Rex Burkhead are moving the ball, the Cornhuskers are pretty tough to beat. But I’ve given up on that defense. Not many teams in the Big Ten are as good on offense Ohio State, but two of them -- Michigan and Northwestern -- face Nebraska in the next two games. Where Nebraska had to come back to beat a subpar Wisconsin team, at least we saw Michigan dominate Purdue, a solid team with an elite defensive tackle, Kawann Short. That’s a good sign for the Wolverines. We may have overreacted to Michigan’s two losses as well. Alabama and Notre Dame are two of the nation’s elite defenses, if not the top two. Michigan won’t see teams that good the rest of the season until Ohio State -- and that includes Nebraska.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
Bueller? Bueller? Anyone in the Big Ten want to take this one? Michigan and Michigan State have looked really strong at times and really poor at others. Nebraska had a chance to put its stamp on the league last weekend but allowed 63 points to Ohio State. And Wisconsin and Purdue will battle this weekend for what should be the Leaders Division title in West Lafayette. The Buckeyes and Nittany Lions are beginning to look like the best two teams in the league, so that means the eventual champion — and Rose Bowl participant — will be the third best team in the league at best. A two-week round robin between the Wolverines, Cornhuskers and Spartans will start next weekend and a 1-1 finish for all three is likely. I will tentatively take the Maize and Blue after the very impressive showing on the road against the Boilermakers, but road games at Nebraska and Ohio State likely make 6-2 in the Big Ten the high water mark for any bowl eligible team. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven):
I think the answer to this question boils down to two teams: Nebraska and Michigan. Although Michigan State has to be in the conversation, the Spartans still have road trips to Michigan and Wisconsin, and I still need to see more from quarterback Andrew Maxwell. I’m going to give a slight edge to the Wolverines over the Cornhuskers, but my opinion might change from week-to-week. Michigan has one of the nation’s most dynamic playmakers (Denard Robinson) but needs other parts of the offense to step up. Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint has only 169 yards in four games, while the defense is allowing 156.8 rushing yards per game. Although the Wolverines are allowing some yards, the defense has not given up more than 13 points to an opponent in each of the last three games. Michigan isn’t perfect but I think this team will finish as the Big Ten’s best bowl-eligible squad at the end of the year. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
I’ll stick with Michigan. The Wolverines are 3–2 on the season, but two of the losses have come away from home against teams ranked in the top five in the nation — Alabama (in Arlington, Texas) and at Notre Dame. Michigan played its best game of the season last week, rolling past Purdue 44–13 in West Lafayette. That’s probably the best win for any of the bowl-eligible teams in the Big Ten. Michigan was obviously manhandled in the loss to Alabama in Week 1 and had some trouble with the Air Force option the following week, but the Wolverines have been solid defensively over the last few weeks. They gave up 13 points to both Notre Dame and Purdue, which will be good enough for this team to win on most Saturdays. 

Mark Ross: 
For me, I considered four teams, all of which reside in the Legends division, but in the end it came down to the two from the state of Michigan. The Wolverines have been a little under the radar since getting beat soundly by Alabama in their opener and then losing to Notre Dame 13-6 a couple of weeks ago. However, the Maize and Blue reasserted themselves in convincing fashion in their 44-13 dismantling of Purdue last week. Denard Robinson still makes his share of mistakes and isn't the most polished passer, but there's no denying his ability to make plays. The defense also has been solid as they are currently No. 19 in the nation. Meanwhile Michigan State has been fine defensively (No. 8 overall), it's the offense that has been the issue. That said, the Spartans' two losses have been by one point to Ohio State and a 20-3 defeat to Notre Dame. Between the Wolverines and the Spartans, all three teams they have collectively lost to are currently ranked among the top 8 in the country. But since I have to choose one, I give a slight edge to the Spartans over the Wolverines. The Spartans are a little better on defense, especially against the run, and when these two teams meet next Saturday in Ann Arbor, it will be Sparty's ability to contain Robinson and company that will be the difference in the game. As long as the Spartans continue to play good defense, I think the offense will continue to develop under quarterback Andrew Maxwell with a healthy assist from running back Le'Veon Bell and the Spartans will earn a second straight trip to the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
With Ohio State on sanctions, I would have to go with Michigan State as the league’s best postseason team. The Spartans schedule will be difficult with trips to Michigan and Wisconsin remaining, but Pat Narduzzi’s defense should make the difference in the end. Despite sleepwalking through some of last week’s game at Indiana, the Spartans have the ability to run the ball (Le’Veon Bell) and stop the run (10th nationally) better than anyone else in the Big Ten. Quarterback Andrew Maxwell should improve in the second half of the season, especially if heralded freshman receiver Aaron Burbridge plays like he did versus the Hoosiers.

Michigan obviously has the talented Denard Robinson as a top playmaker, but the Wolverines passing game and run defense are major concerns. Nebraska can scare opponents with Taylor Martinez and Rex Burkhead on offense, but unfortunately the Huskers defense is scaring the fan base for a second straight season. With the league’s top defense and a physical run game, I’ll take Sparty to top the B1G’s bowl list.

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<p> Best bowl eligible team in Big Ten?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 06:11
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-one-year-coaching-tenures-good-bad-and-ugly

After Arkansas’ 24-7 dismantling of Auburn on Saturday, coach John L. Smith has a reason to smile. Sure, it’s been a disappointing season for the coach who will likely spent only one season at Fayetteville, but at least a bowl game remains a possibility now

For Arkansas, Smith’s one-year tenure will be one of the most painful single seasons in recent years. For fans outside of Arkansas, it’s at least been one of the more intriguing one-year coaching situations.

Smith isn’t first one-year tenured coach and won’t be the last. Even some of the all-time greats have made short stints at other schools -- Bear Bryant, Bill Parcells, Darrell Royal and Howard Schnellenberger had one-year stints in their careers.

Just last season, four coaches had one year tenures either due to taking other jobs (Hugh Freeze and Todd Graham) or like Smith, had the job on an interim basis (Luke Fickell and Everett Withers).

Here are the good, the bad, the ugly and the interesting for college football’s one-year coaching tenures:

Hugh Freeze, Arkansas State (2011)
10-3, 8-0 Sun Belt
Freeze got the job in unorthodox fashion as he was the offensive coordinator for the head coach the program just fired. But his only season at Arkansas State was the best in team history. The Red Wolves won an outright Sun Belt title for the first time and reached only their second bowl game. Freeze set the table for another high school coach-turned-offensive mastermind in Gus Malzahn.

Todd Graham, Rice (2006)
7-6, 6-2 Conference USA
Before Pittsburgh, Graham left Rice in the lurch after one season. But that single  was one of the best for a moribund program. Graham took over a 1-10 team under Ken Hatfield the year before to lead Rice to its first bowl game in 45 years. When his year was over, he returned to Tulsa, where he was defensive coordinator before landing at Rice.

Steve Mariucci, Cal (1996)
6-6, 3-5 Pac-10
A 6-6 season is enough to put current Cal coach Jeff Tedford on the hot seat watch. Yet in the mid-90s, this was Cal’s best record and only bowl appearance between 1994-2002, the latter being Tedford’s first season. At age 41, Mariucci left to coach the San Francisco 49ers to replace George Seifert, who abruptly resigned after the ’96 season.

Nick Saban, Toledo (1990)
9-2, 7-1 MAC
Saban’s first head coaching gig was short-lived but successful with a share of a MAC title and the Rockets’ best season in seven years. And as a sign of the times, Toledo’s nine wins weren’t enough to earn the Rockets a spot in one of 19 bowl games in 1990. Saban left after his only season in Toledo to be Bill Belichick’s defensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns.

Frank Broyles, Missouri (1957)
5-4-1, 3-3 Big 7
Broyles’ stint was sandwiched between two of Missouri’s most accomplished coaches. He preceded Dan Devine and succeeded Don Faurot, who would later be the namesake of Missouri’s field. After one year in Columbia, he embarked on his Hall of Fame career with Arkansas.

Jim Tatum, Oklahoma (1946)
8-3, 4-1 Big 6
Tatum led Oklahoma to a conference title and a Gator Bowl victory, but he’ll be better remembered for who he left behind in Norman before he bolted for Maryland. Tatum paid players out of the athletic department coffers and was notoriously difficult to deal with. That said, he brought nine All-Americans to Oklahoma, including Buddy Burris and eventual Texas coach Darrell Royal, in addition to hiring the legendary Bud Wilkinson as his offensive coordinator.

Bear Bryant, Maryland (1945)
6-2-1, 3-2 ACC
Maryland athletic director Curley Byrd was impressed enough with the 32-year-old career assistant Bryant to give him his first head coaching job. But the Bear and Byrd clashed in his lone season with the Terrapins, and Bryant bolted for Kentucky after one season. Two years later, Maryland would benefit from a one-year stint at another school when it hired Jim Tatum from Oklahoma.

John L. Smith, Arkansas (2012)
2-4, 1-2 SEC
This season has been so bad for Arkansas, the question remains if this team could contend in the SEC West no matter the coach. With one of the worst defenses in the SEC, the Razorbacks are just looking to salvage a bowl game before moving on to the next coach.

Luke Fickell, Ohio State (2011)
6-7, 3-5 Big Ten
With Jim Tressel resigning on Memorial Day before the 2011 seasons, Ohio State had its first losing season since 1988 and lost to Michigan for the first time since 2003. But the season under the interim coach Fickell wasn’t a total loss -- the Buckeyes defeated Big Ten champion Wisconsin and lost only one game by more than a touchdown. Meanwhile, quarterback Braxton Miller made his debut. New coach Urban Meyer retained Fickell as defensive coordinator.

Lane Kiffin, Tennessee (2009)
7-6, 4-4 SEC
Kiffin brought swagger to Knoxville. He got under the skin of Florida’s Urban Meyer and other SEC rivals. And he signed an elite recruiting class. Tennessee loved all that. Then he took the USC job in mid-January, weeks after most coaching changes. Tennessee fans did not like that. Moreover, Kiffin’s top-10 signing class never panned out as a bulk of the class transferred, failed to qualify or ran into legal trouble.

Dennis Erickson, Idaho (2006)
4-8, 3-5 WAC
Erickson was not the most in-demand coach when he returned to the program that gave him his first job, but a year later, Arizona State came calling. Erickson returned to the Pac-10 and left Idaho with a team that went 3-19 the two seasons after he left.

Sam Wyche, Indiana (1983)
3-8, 2-7 Big Ten
Wyche would eventually take the Cincinnati Bengals to the Super Bowl, but he couldn’t win more than three games at Indiana. The last coach to leave the Big Ten for and NFL job, Wyche had his Hoosers tenure preceded by eventual ESPN analyst Lee Corso and followed by Bill Mallory.

Todd Graham, Pittsburgh (2011)
6-7, 4-3 Big East
The high-octane offense never delivered at Pittsburgh, where Graham took over for a coach, Mike Haywood, who didn’t even make it into his first season, much less complete a full season. When Graham bolted unexpectedly for Arizona State, he left behind a fractured locker room and an angry team for Paul Chryst to repair.

Howard Schnellenberger, Oklahoma (1995)
5-5-1, 2-5 Big 8
In stints at Miami, Louisville and FAU, Schellenberger’s credentials as a program-builder are impeccable. As a program rebuilder at Oklahoma, he was a disaster. He arrived to clean up a mess left by Barry Switzer but never fit in culturally in Norman. He was forced out amid rumors of off-field issues and was replaced by John Blake.

Lou Saban, Northwestern (1955)
0-8-1, 0-6-1 Big Ten
The well-travelled Saban had many jobs in the college ranks and pro ranks, but few of them were as bad as his lone year at Northwestern. Saban’s 0-fer in 1955 was the first at Northwestern, but not the last. Saban would be succeeded by Ara Parseghian, who had a successful run in Evanston before going to Notre Dame.

Houston Nutt, Boise State (1997)
4-7, 3-2 Big West
Houston Nutt was Boise State’s first hire after the Broncos became a Division I-A program. After a successful run in I-AA at Portland State and Boise State, then-Broncos coach Pokey Allen was poised to guide the Broncos into major college football before he died of cancer shortly after the 1996 season. After one season at Boise State, Nutt left for Arkansas and was replaced by Dirk Koetter, who began a run of three wildly successful Boise State coaches.

Bill Parcells, Air Force (1978)
Parcells’ first head coaching job was not with the New York Giants, instead it came five years earlier at Air Force. Parcells wasn’t thrilled with the recruiting process, so he left after a year to be an assistant with the Giants. Coaching stability, though, was easy to find at Air Force thereafter. The Falcons have had only three head coaches since The Tuna left -- Ken Hatfield, Fisher DeBerry and Troy Calhoun.

Pat Dye, Wyoming (1980)
6-5, 4-4 WAC
Wyoming once had a nice coaching tree with Fred Akers (who would coach at Texas), Dennis Erickson (who won two national titles at Miami), Joe Tiller (who would coach at Purdue), and Pat Dye. A long time assistant to Bear Bryant at Alabama, Dye was a possible successor to Bryant, who was then two years away from retirement. Dye instead took the job at rival Auburn, where he won 142 games in 11 seasons.

Jackie Sherrill, Washington State (1978)
3-8, 2-5 Pac-8
Sherrill’s first head coaching job was also one his least successful. After going 3-8 at Wazzu, Sherrill landed at Pittsburgh where had four top-10 finishes in five seasons with a little help from Dan Marino. Sherrill then went to Texas A&M, but his .273 win percentage in his single season at Washington State was the worst of his career until 1995 at Mississippi State.

Darrell Royal, Washington (1956)
5-5, 4-4 Pacific Coast Conference
After a middling season at Washington, Royal returned to his Midlands roots by taking the Texas job, where he’d become the Longhorns’ most celebrated coach. After Royal’s short stint, Washington had only two coaches (Jim Owens and Don James) from 1957-92.

by David Fox


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<p> College Football's Coaching Tenures: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/south-carolina-or-florida-which-team-best-sec-east

With South Carolina's blowout win over Georgia and Florida's victory over LSU, the Gamecocks and Gators seem to be the top two teams in the SEC East. Georgia may have a chance to get back in the race, but the division title could come down to the Oct. 20 meeting between Florida and South Carolina.  

South Carolina or Florida: Who is the best team in the SEC East?

Coach Vince Dooley, former head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I think South Carolina is really good.  Their defense is terrific and they were ready to play against Georgia.  They shocked them early the other night getting 21 points.  I think they can beat LSU at Baton Rouge this coming weekend. But I don't think they can beat Florida the following weekend.  Florida is about as disruptive a defensive team as I've seen.  It will be too difficult for South Carolina to win those three games in a row away from home. I would say that Florida will be the best team in the SEC East.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
The nod for me still goes to South Carolina, though Florida has been awfully impressive through the first half of the season. The Gamecocks are just too good at too many things. First, there’s the elite defensive line led by Jadeveon Clowney. Then there’s special teams with two big returns in the first two weeks from Ace Sanders. On offense, Connor Shaw isn’t going to confuse anyone for a Steve Spurrier quarterback of old, but he can win with both his arm and his legs. Meanwhile, South Carolina has been this dominant without a true jaw-dropping dominant game from Marcus Lattimore. South Carolina hasn’t needed it. Florida has proven it can look like an elite team for a half. But this is also a team that can be incapable of protecting quarterback Jeff Driskel at times, and this is a team that is prone to stupid, drive-killing penalties. Against a team as balanced as South Carolina, those kinds of errors could cost Florida.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
Six of one, half a dozen of the other. These two teams are not only evenly matched but virtually identical. They have unreal defensive front sevens stocked with NFL talent. They have hard-nosed running backs who have carried their teams to marquee SEC wins this fall. They have game-manager quarterbacks who are protecting the football and can make things happen with their legs. And they both lack elite offensive play-makers on the outside. The head coaching edge clearly falls on the Gamecocks' side of the ledger, so I will give the slight edge to South Carolina. That said, with a road trip to LSU and having to face the Gators in Gainesville makes Florida the pick to win the East.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
With South Carolina’s win over Georgia, the Gamecocks and Gators appear to be the teams to beat in the SEC East. The Bulldogs might be able to work their way back into the mix but need to catch a couple of breaks. It’s a really a tossup between Florida and South Carolina for the No. 1 spot, but I’ll give a slight edge to the Gamecocks. While Jeff Driskel will only get better with more snaps, South Carolina has an edge at quarterback with Connor Shaw. The Gamecocks also have a few more playmakers at receiver, including Ace Sanders, Bruce Ellington and Damiere Byrd. South Carolina’s defensive line is also one of the best in the nation, which helps to compensate for a secondary that had to break in three new starters this season. Florida’s defense isn’t statistically far behind the Gamecocks, but its pass rush hasn’t quite matched South Carolina’s this year. The matchup between the Gamecocks and Florida should be one of the SEC’s best games this year, and my early lean is that South Carolina is the better team. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
Great question, and it’s very tough to answer at this point in the season. If I had to pick one — and I will since the question is being asked — I’d go with South Carolina. Florida is probably a little more battle-tested, with road wins at Texas A&M and Tennessee and a home win vs. LSU, but South Carolina also has some quality victories. Both teams are outstanding on defense. I’d probably give South Carolina the slight edge on offense (due in large part to Connor Shaw’s experience) and you have to give the Gamecocks the edge in coaching. Will Muschamp has done a great job with his second Florida team, but Steve Spurrier is an all-time great.

Mark Ross: 
Right now, I will give the slightest of edges to South Carolina, based on their impressive win over Georgia. Both teams are similar in that they have stout defenses and rely more on running the ball rather than passing it. Their quarterbacks are also similar in that they can make plays with either their arm or legs, but even here, I would give a slight edge to South Carolina because I think Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw is a little more polished as a passer compared to Florida's Jeff Driskel. Bottom line is I think these are two evenly matched teams and provided both take care of business this week (South Carolina at LSU, Florida at Vanderbilt) we should find out who's better next Saturday in Gainesville.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
Both of these undefeated teams have a stingy defense and power running game, and I would give a slight edge — very slight — to the Gators based on the head-to-head contest being in the Swamp and their ability to succeed late in games. Florida’s defense has not allowed a single point in the fourth quarter this season, and the Gators have only given up a combined six second-half points in their four SEC wins. Quarterback Jeff Driskel still struggles in the passing game and takes too many sacks, but he is a quality athlete who seems to make just enough of the right plays when UF needs it. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease will find creative ways as the season goes on to complement the physical running attack led by Mike Gillislee.

Obviously South Carolina has the same type of resume with top back Marcus Lattimore on offense and a ferocious pass rush led by Jadeveon Clowney on defense. The Gamecocks, however, have brutal back-to-back road trips to LSU and Florida the next two weeks. Both South Carolina and Florida have the roster and mentality to win the East and challenge Alabama for the SEC crown. For now, I’ll take the physical Gators to be in Atlanta this December.

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<p> South Carolina or Florida: Which Team is the Best In the SEC East?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 06:05
All taxonomy terms: Big 12, Kansas Jayhawks, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-countdown-no-4-kansas-preview
Visit the online store for Kansas and other editions of the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual.

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

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

We continue our countdown with a preview of No. 4 Kansas.

It’s hard to imagine a team losing a top-five NBA Draft pick in the paint and a four-year starter at the point and somehow getting better. But that’s the scenario facing the Kansas Jayhawks as they enter the 2012-13 season.

On the heels of their thrilling run to the 2012 national championship game, Bill Self’s squad returns several key pieces from last year’s team and will look to replace leading scorers Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor with one of the deepest and most talented recruiting class of the Self era.

Although the talent is in place — isn’t it always at Kansas? — Self’s biggest challenge will be getting the group to mesh while also relying on new leadership.

Top returners Elijah Johnson and Jeff Withey will get the first crack at leading this year’s Jayhawks, who figure to enter the season more motivated than ever.

“I think (that) experience will only make us more hungry for next year,” Withey said of reaching the 2012 title game but falling to Kentucky. “We’ll have a great team, and I’m really excited for the opportunity to be a leader.”

Withey was a force defensively in his first season as a starter at KU. He set a record with 31 blocks in the NCAA Tournament and finished the year with a Big-12-best 140 rejections. This season, he will be asked to contribute more on the offensive end.

“I don’t think I was too much of an offensive threat last year,” Withey says. “A little bit here and there, maybe, but not what I’m capable of. So for next year, offensively, I’m going to try to get better and stronger and try and look like T-Rob. That’s the game plan.”

Is that even possible?

“I could see that happening,” senior forward Travis Releford says. “Because that’s how it’s been in the past. Guys leave, other guys step up. It’s going to continue to be like that at a program like Kansas.”

Joining Withey up front will be impact freshman Perry Ellis, a four-time Kansas Gatorade Player of the Year, along with Kevin Young and redshirt freshman Jamari Traylor. Young, a former transfer from Loyola Marymount, averaged 3.4 points in his first season at KU. Traylor was academically ineligible last season but practiced with the team.

After his breakout NCAA Tournament, Johnson takes the reins at point guard. Like Taylor, his predecessor, Johnson is an athletic guard with good size and toughness. Unlike Taylor, Johnson seems to be a better decision-maker and a more natural shooter. The Las Vegas native played extremely well late last season, averaging 15.1 points in the final eight games and scored in double figures in all six NCAA Tournament games.  

Ben McLemore, a 4-star recruit in the Class of 2011, was forced to sit out last season because of academic issues. Self has said that McLemore, a possible starter at shooting guard, might have emerged as the team’s top pro prospect had he played last season.

Releford, like Johnson, played well in the NCAA Tournament, scoring in double figures against Purdue (10 points), North Carolina (11) and Ohio State (15). Seldom-used early in his career, he emerged as a key cog in his first season as a starter.  

Freshmen Anrio Adams and Milton Doyle and sophomore Naadir Tharpe will push for playing time. Adams, a shooting guard from Seattle, has been compared to Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade.
“He can certainly score,” Self says. “He’s capable of being an elite guard.” Tharpe arrived as a highly regarded recruit but failed to crack the rotation as a freshman last season.

Last year’s squad survived and thrived because of heart and will, but this year’s team figures to benefit from different strengths. Chief among them is depth, something the Jayhawks had little of a season ago.

While KU’s roster will give Self plenty of options, it also figures to provide a few growing pains as nearly half of the rotation could be first-year players. In addition, Self’s bench will feature two new faces — Norm Roberts steps in for his second stint at KU to replace Danny Manning (now the head coach at Tulsa), and Doc Sadler, formerly the head coach at Nebraska, takes over as the director of basketball operations. Self doesn’t seem to be concerned.

“I love the makeup of this team, especially the newcomers,” says the veteran coach. “This is going to be a young group that will rely heavily on senior leadership.”


Athlon College Basketball Countdown So Far:
20. Florida

19. Notre Dame

18. Memphis
17. Baylor
16. Missouri

15. San Diego State

14. North Carolina

13. UNLV

12. UCLA
11. NC State

10. Michigan State
9. Duke

8. Ohio State

7. Arizona

6. Michigan

5. Syracuse

<p> College Basketball Countdown: No. 4 Kansas Preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Heisman Trophy
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-contenders-post-week-6

Each week, the Athlon editors and others who closely follow college football vote on the most prestigious award in the sport. A 13-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports and other publications cast their votes this week for their top Heisman Trophy candidates. The votes will be tallied and the result will be posted as the Athlon Sports Heisman Watch List every week of the regular season.

Voting: Each first-place vote receives 10 points. A second-place vote receives nine points. So on and so forth with a 10th-place vote receiving one point. Here are Athlon's guest voters:

Barrett Sallee: Bleacher Report SEC Lead Writer (@BarrettSallee)
Jim Young: (@ACCSports)
Blair Kerkhoff: Kansas City Star (@BlairKerkhoff)
Chris Level: (@ChrisLevel)

1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia (13 first-place votes)
Season Stats: 
166-204, 1,996 yards, 24 TD, 0 INT, 26 att., 66 yards, TD
His 268 yards and four touchdowns paled in comparison to his monster game against Baylor, but this one came in a road win over Texas. It was a signature performance in a marquee win for the Mountaineers. Smith got all 13 first-place votes and is leading the nation in passing efficiency at 202.38. Next game: at Texas Tech

  Last Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. (1) Geno Smith QB W. Virginia 130/130 13 - - - - 13/13
2. (4) Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 104/130 - 7 1 4 - 13/13
3. (3) Collin Klein QB Kansas St 102/130 - 3 8 1 - 13/13
4. (7) Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame 73/130 - 2 2 2 2 12/13
5. (9) Marcus Lattimore RB S. Carolina 48/130 - - 1 2 1 9/13
6. (6) De'Anthony Thomas AP Oregon 46/130 - 1 1 1 3 7/13
7. (8) Matt Barkley QB USC 40/130 - - - 2 2 8/13
8. (10) A.J. McCarron QB Alabama 26/130 - - - 1 1 6/13
9. (ur) Kenjon Barner RB Oregon 18/130 - - - - 2 4/13
10. (ur) Mike Gillislee RB Florida 17/130 - - - - 1 7/13
11. (2) E.J. Manuel QB Florida St 17/130 - - - - - 6/13
12. (17) Stedman Bailey WR W. Virginia 15/130 - - - - 1 3/13
13. (12) Marqise Lee WR USC 14/130 - - - - - 5/13
14. (ur) Tavon Austin WR W. Virginia 11/130 - - - - - 4/13
15. (16) Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M 10/130 - - - - - 4/13
16. (ur) Jadeveon Clowney DE S. Carolina 10/130 - - - - - 4/13
17. (ur) DeAndre Hopkins WR Clemson 9/130 - - - - - 2/13
18. (14) Barrett Jones OL Alabama 6/130 - - - - - 2/13
19. (13) Sean Mannion QB Oregon St 5/130 - - - - - 1/13
20. (20) Tajh Boyd QB Clemson 4/130 - - - - - 1/13
21. (5) Aaron Murray QB Georgia 3/130 - - - - - 2/13
22. (11) Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
23. (ur) Denard Robinson QB Michigan 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
24. (ur) Venric Mark RB Northwestern 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
25. (ur) Joseph Randle RB Oklahoma St 1/130 - - - - - 1/13

2. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Season Stats: 
83-135, 1,060 yards, 9 TD, 3 INT, 106 att., 763 yards, 8 TD
The Ohio native continues to make video game-esque runs and clutch throws for the Buckeyes. He rushed for a school-record 186 yards for a quarterback on 16 carries without a turnover in the blitzing of Nebraska last Saturday. He helped drop 63 points on the Black Shirts and is now second in the Heisman voting. Next Game: at Indiana 

3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Season Stats:
 63-94, 887 yards, 7 TD, 2 INT, 73 att., 405 yards, 7 TD
It was a bit of a slow start for CK7, but eventually he finished with 129 yards passing, 116 yards rushing, four total touchdowns and a 40-point win over his in-state rival. Smith, Miller and Klein are the only three players on all 13 ballots and are clearly the top three candidates for the 2012 stiff-armed trophy.
Next Game: at Iowa State

4. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Season Stats: 48 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 3 INT, FR, 3 PBU
The heart and soul of the Irish defense continues to lead by example with 10 tackles in the virtual shutout of Miami. Notre Dame is No. 2 nationally in scoring defense at 7.8 points allowed per game and has allowed 12 points in its last three games — against Michigan State, Michigan and Miami.
Next Game: Stanford

5. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Season Stats: 116 att., 549 yards, 9 TD, 18 rec., 133 yards
Another SEC win and another 100 yards rushing for the best runner in the nation. Lattimore is No. 2 in the SEC in all-purpose yards (Todd Gurley) and is averaging 136.3 yards from scrimmage and has scored seven touchdowns in four SEC wins for the Gamecocks. He has touched the ball 106 times in those games. 
Next game: at LSU

6. De’Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon
Season Stats: 41 att., 377 yards, 6 TD, 20 rec., 205 yards, 3 TD, 10 PR, 150 PR yards, 6 KR, 88 yards
Next Game: Bye Week

7. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Season Stats: 111-173, 1,308 yards, 15 TD, 5 INT, 12 att., minus-64 yards
Next game: at Washington

8. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Season Stats: 73-111, 999 yards, 12 TD, 0 INT, 19 att., minus-41 yards
Next Game: at Missouri

9. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Season Stats: 116 att., 727 yards, 9 TD, 11 rec., 111 yards, TD
Next Game: Bye Week

10. Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida
Season Stats: 103 att., 548 yards, 7 TD, 2 rec., 14 yards
Next Game: at Vanderbilt

by Braden Gall


Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 6 Recap

ACC Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Pac-12 East Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 6 Power Rankings 

<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Contenders: Post-Week 6</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-using-vegas-odds-determine-best-week-7-plays

In the world of fantasy football, some team owners are relentless in their search for information that will give them a competitive edge over their competition.  Others just simply rely on projections from so-called experts, who try to convince everyone they have devised a computer program that accurately projects player stats by using a scientific formula so complicated that it makes the Drake equation seem elementary.  Eventually, those computer-driven computations prove no more accurate than an old-fashioned gut feeling.  However, in a quest to find a formula for fantasy success, one should just ask the question, “What are the odds?”

Quite simply, Vegas odds could give you all of the necessary insight to make smart roster decisions on a week-to-week basis.  In this weekly article, theCFFsite considers the point spreads and totals(over/under) in order to give our readers a unique perspective into some of the week’s most interesting fantasy matchups.

Week 7

Best Fantasy Matchups(Games with the most fantasy potential)

West Virginia at Texas Tech

Line:  West Virginia -3.5(O/U-78)

Projected score based on point spread:  West Virginia 41-37

Best plays:

West Virginia (QB-Geno Smith, RB-Andrew Buie, WRs-Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey)

Texas Tech (QB-Seth Doege, RB-Eric Stephens, WRs-Darrin Moore, Eric Ward)

Also consider:

West Virginia (K-Tyler Bitancurt)

Texas Tech (TE-Jace Amaro)

theCFFsite projects:  West Virginia 52-35


Oklahoma St at Kansas

Line:  Oklahoma St -23(O/U-74.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oklahoma St 49-25

Best plays:

Oklahoma St (QB-JW Walsh, RB-Joseph Randle, WR-Josh Stewart, K-Quinn Sharp)

Kansas (QB-Dayne Crist, RB-James Sims)

Also consider:

Oklahoma St (RB-Jeremy Smith, WR-Tracy Moore, TE-Blake Jackson)

Kansas (RB-Tony Pierson)

theCFFsite projects:  Oklahoma St 42-28


Western Michigan at Ball St

Line:  Ball St -3(O/U-66)

Projected score based on point spread:  Ball St 35-32

Best plays:

Western Michigan (QB-Tyler Van Tubbergen, WR-Jaime Wilson)

Ball St (QB-Keith Wenning, WRs-Willie Snead, Jamill Smith, K-Steven Schott)

Also consider:

Western Michigan (RB-Dareyon Chance, WR-Josh Schaffer)

Ball St (RB-Jahwan Edwards)

theCFFsite projects:  Western Michigan 35-31


North Carolina at Miami

Line:  North Carolina -6.5(O/U-69)

Projected score based on point spread:  UNC 38-31

Best plays:

North Carolina (QB-Bryn Renner, RB-Gio Bernard, TE-Eric Ebron, K-Casey Barth)

Miami (QB-Stephen Morris, RBs-Duke Johnson, WR-Philip Dorsett)

Also consider:

North Carolina (WRs-Erik Highsmith, Sean Tapley)

Miami (RB-Mike James)

theCFFsite projects:  UNC 38-30


Texas A&M at Louisiana Tech

Line:  Texas A&M -7.5(O/U-80)

Projected score based on point spread:  Texas A&M 44-36

Best plays:

Texas A&M (QB-Johnny Manziel, RB-Ben Malena, WRs-Ryan Swope, Mike Evans)

Louisiana Tech (QB-Colby Cameron, RB-Kenneth Dixon, WR-Quinton Patton, K-Matt Nelson)

Also consider:

Texas A&M (WR-Uzoma Nwachukwu)

Louisiana Tech (RB-Ray Holley, WRs-DJ Banks, Myles White)

theCFFsite projects:  Louisiana Tech 45-42


One-Sided Matchups(Using the odds to find a dominating ‘D’)

Alabama at Missouri

Line:  Alabama -21.5(O/U-43.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Alabama 33-11

Stay away from:

Missouri (RB-Kendial Lawrence)

theCFFsite projects:  Alabama 31-13


Illinois at Michigan

Line:  Michigan -23(O/U-49.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Michigan 36-13

Stay away from:

Illinois (QB-Nathan Scheelhaase)

theCFFsite projects:  Michigan 31-14


Boston College at Florida St

Line:  Florida St -28(O/U-54)

Projected score based on point spread:  Florida St 41-13

Stay away from:

Boston College (RB-Andre Williams)

theCFFsite projects:  Florida St 34-21


Florida Atlantic at Louisiana-Monroe

Line:  Louisiana-Monroe -24(O/U-54)

Projected score based on point spread:  ULM 39-15

Stay away from:

Florida Atlantic (RB-Damian Fortner)

theCFFsite projects:  ULM 38-13


Must Watch Games(The games with the biggest headlines)

Texas vs Oklahoma

Line:  Oklahoma -3(O/U-61.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oklahoma 32-29

Outlook:  Both teams will be fighting to stay alive in the Big 12 title chase as they square off in this neutral site rivalry game.  We’re expecting the Longhorns to bounce back from last week’s loss to West Virginia by slowing down the Oklahoma offense with a solid defensive performance.

theCFFsite projects:  Texas 31-20

USC at Washington

Line:  USC -12.5(O/U-55.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  USC 34-22

Outlook:  One week after knocking off an undefeated Stanford team, the Huskies were embarrassed in a 52-21 loss at Oregon.  Washington should keep the game close, but the big-play ability of Marqise Lee will be the difference in this one.

theCFFsite projects:  USC 31-28


Stanford at Notre Dame

Line:  Notre Dame -9(O/U-45.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Notre Dame 27-18

Outlook:  The Irish begin the toughest three-game stretch on their schedule when they host Stanford this weekend.  We don’t think they will win three consecutive games against Stanford, BYU, and Oklahoma, but the Irish should be fresh and healthy enough to squeeze past the Cardinal at home.

theCFFsite projects:  Notre Dame 24-21


South Carolina at LSU

Line:  LSU -2.5(O/U-40.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  LSU 21-18

Outlook:  South Carolina demolished an undefeated Georgia squad that was clicking on all cylinders heading into last week’s showdown in Columbia.  Expect the Gamecocks to win the time of possession battle and eventually wear down the Tigers defense with a heavy dose of Marcus Lattimore.

theCFFsite projects:  South Carolina 24-17


theCFFsite in Must Watch games:

2012 Season:  Straight Up (12-7)  ATS: (9-10)

2011 Season:  Straight Up (40-9) ATS: (35-14)

By Joe DiSalvo,

Follow Joe DiSalvo on twitter (@theCFFsite)

<p> College Fantasy Football: Using Vegas Odds to Determine Best Week 7 Plays</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 - 03:47
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/sandusky-statement-surfaces

Bellefonte, PA (Sports Network) - Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to 30-60 years in prison for his conviction on charges of child sexual abuse.

Judge John M. Cleland handed down the sentence on Tuesday after Sandusky was found guilty in June on 45 counts charging him with sexual abuse of 10 boys over a 15-year period.

The scandal, which broke last November with Sandusky's arrest, brought down the Penn State football program, tarnished the legacy of the late Joe Paterno and scarred the entire university.

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced to 30-60 years in prison for his conviction on charges of child sexual abuse.
Post date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 23:00
Path: /nascar/nascar-news-notes-week-7

Matt Kenseth’s win Sunday at Talladega completed one of the greatest seasons of restrictor-plate racing in NASCAR since 1988, the first season the plates were used for all the races at Daytona and Talladega.

Kenseth won the Daytona 500, finished third at Talladega in the spring, was third at Daytona in July and won at Talladega last weekend, giving him an average finish of 2.0 in those four plate races.

Dale Earnhardt Sr. owns the greatest average finish in NASCAR history in those four plates races at 1.5 in 1999. He won two of those races and finished second in the other two. Next is Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 2004 season when he had an average finish of 1.75 in the restrictor-plate races, recording two wins, one second-place finish and a third-place finish.

Kenseth’s 2.0 average finish is next, tied with what Dale Earnhardt Sr. did in 1990 and 1993.

Kenseth’s total might have been better. He led the next-to-last lap at Daytona in July before Tony Stewart took the lead and won. Kenseth led with two laps to go at Talladega in the spring before losing the lead to Brad Keselowski, who went on to win the race.

In an era where restrictor-plate racing can be a game of chance—Jimmie Johnson was collected in crashes in three of those four races and blew an engine in the other—Kenseth’s run is remarkable. Add to it that Kenseth isn’t known for his restrictor-plate prowess and the accomplishment is even more impressive.

“I feel like through my career, honestly, it’s been one of my weak points,” said Kenseth, whose average finish in plate races last year was 22.5. “I never felt like I was very good at it, felt like we’d make not the right decisions when we had really fast cars. I felt like that a couple of times, the second Daytona and the first Talladega, both of them races were mine to lose and I lost them for my team. I thought they gave me the stuff to win both of those races as well. Super, super thankful we were able to win this (past) weekend.

“I had no idea our plate stuff was going to run that good. After the 150 (-mile qualifying race at Daytona) with this package, I felt like we learned a few things and I learned a few things. Honestly, from the 150s all the way until we got done with the race last Sunday we’ve been surprisingly good.”

SPOKE TOO SOON  Dale Earnhardt Jr. had some strong words to say about the racing at Talladega after he was collected in a 25-car crash on the last lap of a green-white-checker finish.

“If this is what we did every week I wouldn’t be doing it I will just put it to you like that,” Earnhardt said. “If this is how we raced every week I would find another job.”

When a reporter suggested that fans enjoyed such a chaotic finish with cars spinning and crash, Earnhardt said: “Really? It’s not safe. Wrecking like that is ridiculous. It’s bloodthirsty if that is what people want. It’s ridiculous.”

When asked what changes he’d like to see, Earnhardt said: “The way we are going ain’t the right direction. There are plenty of engineers out there I’m just a driver. There are plenty of smart people out there that can figure something out where when one guy gets in trouble we don’t have 30 cars tore up at the expense of it. I mean it’s awesome in a word and everybody can get on the chip about it and get excited about all that which just happened, but for the longevity of the sport that ain’t healthy.”

Tuesday, Earnhardt told he regretted what he said.

“I regret making a bit of a scene and not considering the fact we're going to be in a totally different racecar for 2013. It's probably going to present a totally different style of racing at those tracks, so I probably have a bit more of a positive outlook on the potential for that style of racing to be really good with the next car.

“It was a bit heat of the moment, and I kind of regret getting that emotional about it. But I was just really upset about how that all went down. We'd run so good. I was really, really happy with my car in that race and I thought we should have been able to finish really good.”

TV RATINGS FOR ’DEGA DOWN  ESPN reported that Sunday’s broadcast of the Talladega Sprint Cup race earned a 3.7 household rating. That’s down from last year when the race drew a 3.9 household rating. In 2010, the race drew a 3.6 household rating.

ESPN also noted that the Talladega race drew an average audience of 5.1 million viewers. To compare, the Dover race the previous week on ESPN drew an average audience of 3.5 million viewers.

A GOOD SIGN  The points leader after the fifth race in the Chase has gone on to win the title in five of the previous eight years.

The years the champion was not the points leader after the fifth race was 2011 when Tony Stewart was fifth in the points after the fifth race, 2007 when Jimmie Johnson was second in the points and 2006 when Johnson was sixth in the points. Saturday night’s Charlotte race is the fifth race in the Chase.

by Dustin Long
Follow Dustin on Twitter: @DustinLong


<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long discusses Matt Kenseth's restrictor plate record in 2012, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s statements about plate racing and ESPN's ratings for NASCAR's Good Sam 500 at Talladega.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 18:59
Path: /nfl/2012-nfl-picks-every-game-week-6

NFL Week 6 previews and predictions for every game on the schedule:

Steelers (2-2) at Titans (1-4)
The last time the Titans defeated the Steelers was Chris Johnson’s rookie season in 2008, when CJ taunted Troy Polamalu en route to a TD that locked up the No. 1 seed in the playoffs for Tennessee. Afterwards, the other half of "Smash and Dash," LenDale White, stomped on Pittsburgh’s signature "Terrible Towels" on the sideline. The curse was on, as the Titans lost eight straight games immediately after and have since gone 0–3 against the Steelers.
Steelers by 8

Chiefs (1-4) at Buccaneers (1-3)
"We are athletes. We are not gladiators," said Kansas City tackle Eric Winston, in a postgame rant. "When you cheer somebody getting knocked out, I don’t care who it is, and it just so happened to be Matt Cassel, it’s sickening." Good time for a road game. Brady Quinn — the Notre Dame golden boy with 10 TDs, nine INTs and a 67.3 passer rating over five seasons — will put his 3–9 record as a starter on the line.
Buccaneers by 6

Colts (2-2) at Jets (2-3)
"No question" that Mark Sanchez will be the Jets starting quarterback, according to coach Rex Ryan. But that won’t stop the Tim Tebow cheers when the league’s most popular lefty backup enters the game — or the boos when Sanchez comes back on the field.
Jets by 3

Bengals (3-2) at Browns (0-5)
For the second time in five games, Cincinnati and Cleveland will meet for a battle of the Buckeye State. In Week 2, the Bengals beat the in-state AFC North rival Browns, 34–27.
Browns by 1

Lions (1-3) at Eagles (3-2)
Michael Vick’s seven TDs (six pass, one rush) and 11 turnovers (six INTs, five lost fumbles) through five games are not a good sign of things to come for Philly.
Eagles by 4

Raiders (1-3) at Falcons (5-0)
The Silver-and-Bleak rank 32nd in the NFL in stopping opposing offenses on third down. Meanwhile, the Falcons’ Tony Gonzalez (29) and Roddy White (27) rank Nos. 1 and 2 in the NFL in passes caught for a first down. Add in the fact that Matt Ryan has a 27–4 record at the Georgia Dome and it looks like Atlanta will be 6–0 for the first time in franchise history.
Falcons by 10

Rams (3-2) at Dolphins (2-3)
Jeff Fisher turned down the Dolphins during the offseason. The Fins may need to brace for another disappointment caused by the mustache.
Dolphins by 2

Cowboys (2-2) at Ravens (4-1)
Tony Romo had the bye week to stew on his five-INT Monday night effort against Chicago. Things won’t be any easier for Romo against Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata and Co.
Ravens by 5

Bills (2-3) at Cardinals (4-1)
Buffalo has been getting slaughtered the past two weeks, losing to San Francisco 45–3 after taking a 52–28 defeat against New England.
Cardinals by 5

Patriots (3-2) at Seahawks (3-2)
New England brings its Oregon Ducks-style hurry-up and run offense to the Pacific Northwest, where another neon Nike team awaits.
Patriots by 5

Giants (3-2) at 49ers (4-1)
A rematch of last season’s epic NFC title game, when the G-Men topped the Niners, 20–17, thanks to a Kyle Williams fumbled punt return that led to a game-winning FG in overtime by Lawrence Tynes. The Giants went on to win their second Super Bowl in five years, while the 49ers went home hungrier than ever. San Fran has been on a mission so far, with a balanced offense and relentless defense. Last week, the Niners became the first team in NFL history with 300 yards passing and 300 yards rushing in a single game, a 45–3 win over the Bills.
49ers by 4

Vikings (4-1) at Redskins (2-3)
All eyes will be on the status of RG3, who was knocked out of a loss to the Falcons with a ìmildî concussion and what appeared to be a few stitches to the face.
Vikings by 1

Packers (2-3) at Texans (5-0)
Green Bay can’t seem to get its footing in 2012. After losing to the Colts last week and losing running back Cedric Benson to a Lisfranc foot injury, the Packers will take on the undefeated Texans on the road on Sunday night — in what could be a defining do-or-die crossroads.
Texans by 2

Broncos (2-3) at Chargers (3-2)
Peyton Manning earned his first career win against the Chargers back in 1998. But the high points have been few and far between since. Manning has a 4–5 career record against the Bolts, including a 2–2 mark on the road in sunny San Diego and an 0–2 playoff record against the Super Chargers. Overall, Manning has thrown 16 TDs compared to 18 INTs — including a career-worst six picks during a 2007 loss and a four-pick game in a 2010 loss.
Chargers by 1

Last week: 11–3 // Season: 48–29

<p> A look at every game on the NFL schedule for Week 6, including Green Bay Packers at Houston Texans, Denver Broncos at San Diego Chargers, New York Giants at San Francisco 49ers, Dallas Cowboys at Baltimore Ravens, Detroit Lions at Philadelphia Eagles, Indianapolis Colts at New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers at Tennessee Titans.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 18:48
Path: /nfl/colts-%E2%80%9Cchuckstrong%E2%80%9D-upset-win-over-packers

Against all odds, the Indianapolis Colts proved they were indeed "ChuckStrong" during an unbelievable come-from-behind 30–27 win over the Green Bay Packers.

When first-year Colts coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia, many thought the 2012 season was essentially over for the Colts, who posted the NFL’s worst record last year and have a young roster led by rookie quarterback Andrew Luck.

When Indianapolis trailed 21–3 at halftime against Green Bay — in its first game without Pagano pacing the sidelines — nearly everyone wrote off the Colts. After such a trying time dealing with Pagano’s sudden illness, there were countless built-in excuses for losing to the Packers.

But Indy never gave up, kept its foot to the floorboard and made a speedy second-half comeback. The Colts outscored the Packers 27–6 after the break, capping the unlikely rally with a four-yard scoring strike from Luck to Reggie Wayne with just 35 seconds remaining.

"I think we all went out there wanting to do it for Chuck more than anything else. To see all the emotions on Mr. Irsay’s face, BA’s (interim coach Bruce Arians), everyone in there," said Luck. "I think it’s one of the greatest athletic moments I’ve ever been a part of."

In his finest performance since being the No. 1 overall pick out of Stanford, Luck completed 31-of-55 passes for a career-high 362 yards, two TDs and one INT, along with 24 yards and one TD on the ground.

Luck’s go-to guy was Wayne, who hauled in 13 catches for a career-best 212 yards and the game-winning TD. The effort was Wayne’s 15th game with 10 or more catches and his 40th game with 100-plus-yards in a game. The 12th-year wideout also made a fashion statement to honor his hospitalized coach, wearing orange gloves for leukemia awareness rather than the traditional pink gloves for breast cancer awareness.

"I just wanted to do something, you know, for Chuck," said Wayne. "I had some equipment guys make some calls. If they fine me, they fine me. ... I’ll go ahead and take the fine and do it for Chuck."

The Colts were able to "do it for Chuck." As a result, owner Jim Irsay brought the game ball to the coach at IU Simon Cancer Center.

"In my 40 years in this business, I’ve never been prouder of a team and how they battled back," said Irsay.

"I’ve been in a lot of winning locker rooms, Super Bowl locker rooms, but I’ve never had an experience like this. People talk about money, what the team is worth, those kinds of things. But this was priceless. Absolutely priceless.

"We walked in, he got up, we all embraced and shed some tears, and Chuck said, ‘You know, I don’t feel so sick right now.’"

<p> The Indianapolis Colts, led by Andrew Luck and Reggie Wayne, proved to be "ChuckStrong" during a come-from-behind 30-27 win over the Green Bay Packers. The victory was dedicated to hospitalized coach Chuck Pagano, who was given the game ball by owner Jim Irsay after the game.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 18:04
Path: /nfl/2012-nfl-power-rankings-going-week-6

Athlon Sports’ weekly rankings of the best and worst teams in the NFL starts at the top with the undefeated Houston Texans and goes all the way to the bottom with the winless Cleveland Browns. Here are our NFL Power Rankings following Week 5 of the season.

1. Texans (5-0) Cushing injures left knee in MNF victory over Jets.

2. Falcons (5-0) Off to first 5–0 start in franchise history, since ’66.

3. 49ers (4-1) Strike gold with franchise-record 621 total yards.

4. Ravens (4-1) Defense holds strong, Tucker hits FGs in ugly win.

5. Bears (4-1) Have five INTs returned for TDs over last three weeks.

6. Cardinals (4-1) Kolb sacked nine times by Rams in first loss of year.

7. Vikings (4-1) Riding first three-game winning streak since ’09.

8. Patriots (3-2) Brady improves career record vs. Manning to 9–4.

9. Steelers (2-2) Polamalu aggravates calf, won’t play at Tennessee.

10. Eagles (3-2) Vick loses two fumbles in close call loss to Steelers.

11. Giants (3-2) Bradshaw romps, Cruz cha-chas, Wilson flips in win.

12. Packers (2-3) Crosby misses game-tying 51-yard FG in loss at Indy.

13. Bengals (3-2) Late fourth-quarter INT by Dalton ends loss to Fins.

14. Broncos (2-3) Manning-led second-half rally falls short at Patriots.

15. Saints (1-4) Brees breaks Unitas’ record in Big Easy’s first win.

16. Chargers (3-2) Rivers throws INT, loses fumble in fourth quarter.

17. Cowboys (2-2) Used bye to ìrecoup, refresh, regroup,î says Carr.

18. Rams (3-2) Fisher has Rams above .500 for first time since ’06.

19. Seahawks (3-2) No controversy over Golden go-ahead TD at Carolina.

20. Redskins (2-3) RG3 bloodied, concussed after hit by Weatherspoon.

21. Colts (2-2) Dedicate ìChuckStrongî win over Packers to Pagano.

22. Jets (2-3) Tebow fake punt first-down run highlights defeat.

23. Dolphins (2-3) Have not allowed 100-yard rusher in 19 contests.

24. Bills (2-3) Have allowed combined 97 points last two weeks.

25. Lions (1-3) Stafford hopes bye ìrefocusesî disappointing Detroit.

26. Buccaneers (1-3) Schiano uses bye for top-to-bottom team review.

27. Raiders (1-3) Have yet to record INT, high-flying Falcons up next.

28. Titans (1-4) Have league-worst negative-93 point differential.

29. Panthers (1-4) Newton sophomore slump continues vs. Seahawks.

30. Chiefs (1-4) Winston ìsickenedî by fans cheering Cassel injury.

31. Jaguars (1-4) Gabbert throws two pick-sixes to Bears in defeat.

32. Browns (0-5) Fall to 0–5 for first time since returning to NFL in ’99.

<p> Athlon Sports’ weekly rankings of the best and worst teams in the NFL starts at the top with the undefeated Houston Texans and goes all the way to the bottom with the winless Cleveland Browns. Here are our NFL Power Rankings following Week 5 of the season.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 17:41
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-20-coaches-hot-seat-post-week-6-rankings

Week 6 of the 2012 college football season is in the books and plenty of coaches saw the temperature on their seat increase by a few degrees. Kentucky's Joker Phillips and Boston College's Frank Spaziani continue to hold down the top two spots in the rankings. Phillips' Kentucky team is off to a 1-5 start, while Spaziani and Boston College are coming off of a disappointing loss to Army. 

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 6 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank: 1
Record at Kentucky: 12-19 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-5
The bad news for Phillips only got worse on Saturday. Highly touted true freshman quarterback Patrick Towles led a touchdown drive on his first series but left shortly after with an ankle injury. With Maxwell Smith and Towles sidelined indefinitely, Kentucky is down to true freshman Jalen Whitlow and struggling senior Morgan Newton at quarterback. The Wildcats are playing a lot of young players, which would seem to help Phillips’ case that he should get another year. However, with six games to go, Kentucky needs to be competitive and pull out an upset or two to give Phillips enough cache to return for 2013.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Boston College: 21-23 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-4
If there was any doubt Spaziani was gone at the end of the year, Saturday’s loss to Army clinched his fate. Boston College dropped its third game in a row, falling 34-31 to the Black Knights. Spaziani is known for his background on defense, but the Eagles have struggled on that side of the ball this year, ranking 117th nationally against the run and 104th in total yards allowed. Barring a couple of upsets, Boston College will miss out on a bowl game for the second consecutive season.

3. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Rice: 24-43 (6th season)
2012 Record: 1-5
After beating Kansas in Week 2, Bailiff appeared to have Rice on the right track and was moving off the hot seat. However, it’s been all downhill since then, as the Owls have lost four consecutive games, including a disappointing 14-10 loss to Memphis on Saturday. Rice’s offense averaged 34.3 points a game through the first four weeks but is averaging just 12 points over the last two contests. Outside of an Oct. 20 date at Tulsa, every remaining game on Rice’s schedule is winnable. Needless to say, the next six contests will likely decide Bailiff’s fate.

4. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Buffalo: 6-23 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-4
Quinn jumps two spots in this week’s coaches on the hot seat ranking, but let’s give the Bulls a little credit. Buffalo gave Ohio all it could handle before losing 38-31. The Bulls have pushed Connecticut and Ohio in the last two weeks and played relatively well in the opener against Georgia. While Buffalo has shown flashes of promise, Quinn needs to get this team over the hump and convert close games into victories. The Bulls won’t have an easy road over the next three games, as they take on Northern Illinois, Pittsburgh and Toledo.

5. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Central Michigan: 8-21 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-3
The momentum that Central Michigan established with a win over Iowa has quickly eroded over the last two weeks. The Chippewas fell to 2-3 with a 50-35 loss to Toledo on Saturday, which is the third game the defense has allowed 40 or more points. Central Michigan returns home for its next four games, including a nationally televised game against Navy this Friday.

6. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Auburn: 31-14 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-4
After losing 12-10 to LSU in Week 4, most thought Auburn had found some answers on both sides of the ball and was ready to turn things around in the second half of the season. However, the Tigers were awful in Saturday’s game against Arkansas, losing 24-7 and falling to 0-3 in the SEC. Although Auburn has plenty of issues, the Razorbacks came into this game in a freefall and thoroughly handled the Tigers. While Chizik’s overall record (31-14) is impressive, take out the 14-0 national championship season and Auburn is just above a .500 team (17-14) – which won’t get it done in the SEC.

7. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at New Mexico State: 10-34 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-5
As we have mentioned in this space about Walker this year, New Mexico State is a difficult job and this program needed a lot of work when he became head coach. However, the Aggies have lost four in a row, including a 35-14 blowout defeat to UTSA (a program in its second year of football) and a 26-18 loss to Idaho. With the uncertainty over New Mexico State’s future conference, Walker is probably safe for another year. However, a 1-11 or 2-10 record this season would be a major disappointment.

8. Robb Akey, Idaho
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Idaho: 20-48 (6th season)
2012 Record: 1-5
The Vandals finally cracked the win column, beating New Mexico State 26-18 in Week 6. Idaho’s schedule hasn’t afford many opportunities for victories, but this team played well in a loss against Bowling Green and nearly beat Wyoming on Sept. 22. The win over the Aggies snapped an eight-game losing streak and should allow this team to build some momentum for WAC play in the second half of the season. Akey is in a difficult position with Idaho’s uncertainty surrounding its conference. However, just like New Mexico State’s DeWayne Walker, this program can’t afford to fall too far behind and a 1-11 season might bring a coaching change for 2013.

9. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at California: 81-52 (11th season)
2012 Record: 2-4
With their backs against the wall, the Golden Bears responded with a 43-17 victory over UCLA on Saturday night. The win not only snaps a three-game losing streak, but should reduce some of the pressure on Tedford. The veteran coach has taken a lot of heat this year and still needs a few more wins to keep his job. Although California’s 2-4 record is disappointing, its schedule has been one of the most difficult in the nation through the first six weeks of 2012.

10. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Tennessee: 14-16 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-2
With an upcoming schedule that features games against Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina, the bye week came at a good time for Tennessee. Although Volunteers’ fans want to be undefeated, this team simply lost to better teams so far (Georgia and Florida) and have not played bad in either game. While the next three contests could all be losses, Tennessee could finish out 2012 on a four-game winning streak, as Troy, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky should all be victories. Dooley’s team has made some progress, but the next seven games will be crucial for his future in Knoxville.

11. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UNLV: 5-26 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-5
As the hot seat watch has mentioned in previous editions, Hauck seems to have UNLV pointed in the right direction. However, the harsh reality remains: The Rebels are 1-5 and lost to Northern Arizona in Week 2. UNLV’s schedule hasn’t been particularly easy and the next two games are daunting: Nevada and at Boise State. Looking ahead to the last month of the season, the Rebels should have a chance to win all four games, which would help Hauck make a case for another year in 2013.

12. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Iowa: 99-68 (14th season)
2012 Record: 3-2
Ferentz has experienced a roller coaster ride on the hot seat rankings this season, as he climbed into the top 10 with a bad loss to Central Michigan but tumbled down the list after beating Minnesota on Sept. 29. With Iowa’s next victory, Ferentz will top 100 victories in his career in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes travel to Michigan State this week and host Penn State on Oct. 20, which won’t make it any easier for Ferentz to hit that milestone.

13. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Southern Miss: 0-5
2012 Record: 0-5
The disastrous start to Johnson’s tenure at Southern Miss continued with a 40-14 loss to Boise State. In fairness to the Golden Eagles, the schedule hasn’t been easy, as all five of their opponents should be bowl teams. However, Southern Miss’ offense has not scored more than 17 points in each of its last four games and the defense ranks 105th nationally in points allowed. With a game at UCF this Saturday and a home date against Marshall on Oct. 20 coming up, the Golden Eagles could be 0-7 heading into a road trip to Rice at the end of October.

14. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at South Florida: 15-16 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-4
The Bulls are one of college football’s biggest disappointments through the first six weeks of the season. With a roster that returned 13 starters, South Florida was expected to be in the mix for the Big East title, while erasing the disappointment from a 5-7 finish last year. Instead, the Bulls have slumped to a 2-4 start, which includes losses at Ball State and Temple. South Florida simply has too much talent to be 2-4, leaving Holtz and his coaching staff with much of the blame. Holtz signed a hefty contract extension in the offseason, so it’s unlikely the school will make a change. However, another 5-7 or 4-8 year won’t sit well in Tampa.

15. Mike Price, UTEP
Last Week’s Rank: Not ranked
Record at UTEP: 46-57 (8 years)
2012 Record: 1-5
Although UTEP has close calls against Oklahoma and Wisconsin this season, the Miners have only one win at the midpoint of 2012 and are 0-2 in C-USA play. UTEP’s second half schedule doesn’t provide a ton of relief, especially with road trips to Tulsa and Houston, along with a visit from UCF. Price has not had a winning year since 2005 and the Miners appear to be headed for their seventh consecutive season of at least seven or more losses.

16. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank: 15
Record at Colorado: 4-14 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-4
Colorado had a bye week on Saturday and return to action against Arizona State on Thursday night. The off date came at a good time for the Buffaloes, as they had a handful of injured players and had a full week to make some much-needed adjustments. Colorado is going to struggle to win another game this year, but Embree doesn’t appear to be in any danger of losing his job.

17. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at MTSU: 38-42 (7th season)
2012 Record: 3-2
The week after beating Georgia Tech on the road, it was no surprise MTSU lost to Louisiana-Monroe. The Blue Raiders had a letdown performance, but the Warhawks are also one of the best teams in the Sun Belt this year. Stockstill’s seat was scalding hot after losing the season opener to McNeese State, but MTSU rebounded and could make a run at six victories.

18. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank: 16
Record at Western Michigan: 50-42 (8th season)
2012 Record: 3-3
With quarterback Alex Carder sidelined with a hand injury, backup Tyler VanTubbergen led Western Michigan to an easy 52-14 win over UMass. VanTubbergen threw for five touchdowns and 283 yards, while the Broncos’ defense limited the Minutemen to 135 passing yards. Cubit entered this season with a lot of pressure on his shoulders, as Western Michigan has yet to win the MAC West under his watch. The Broncos were picked by many to win the division but need some help after losing to Toledo 37-17. Western Michigan’s next five games – including four on the road – will decide whether or not this team can play in Detroit for the conference championship in early December.

19. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Last Week’s Rank: 12
Record at Syracuse: 19-23 (4th season)
2012 Record: 2-3
Marrone is one of the biggest winners from the Week 6 action. The Orange got a much-needed victory over Pittsburgh, edging the Panthers 14-13. The win was Syracuse’s first over a FBS team since beating West Virginia 49-23 on Oct. 21 last season. Barring a disastrous finish to 2012, Marrone shouldn’t be in any danger of losing his job. However, the Orange needs to show more progress in the second half of the season, especially as a move to the ACC is on the horizon for 2013.

20. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Maryland: 5-12 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 3-2
Saturday’s 19-14 win over Wake Forest wasn’t pretty, but the victory ensured Maryland would finish 2012 with a better record than it did last season. Edsall has been under fire since he took the job in College Park, but the Terrapins are making progress, which has been made possible by a true freshman quarterback (Perry Hills) and a dynamic playmaker at receiver (Stefon Diggs). Maryland still needs some help to get to a bowl game, but upcoming match-ups against Virginia and Boston College are very winnable.

Honorable Mention

John L. Smith, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas:
2012 Record: 2-4
As the hot seat watch has mentioned every week, Smith is on a one-year contract, so he’s not really in any danger of being fired. After a 24-7 victory at Auburn, the Razorbacks are building some momentum for the second half of the season, and they still have a chance to make a bowl game. Arkansas has winnable games against Kentucky, Ole Miss and Tulsa but would need to pull off an upset over Arkansas, Mississippi State or LSU to get to six wins. Although Smith has taken a lot of heat over the last few weeks, he deserves credit for Saturday’s win over Auburn. 

by Steven Lassan


Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 6 Ranks
ACC Post-Week 6 Power Rankings

Big East Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
College Football Week 6 Recap

<p> College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 6 Rankings</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-6-bowl-projections

College football's bowl season is inching closer, but it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like. With six weeks of results in the books, it's hard to make long-term projections about teams, especially with several teams just getting into conference play. 

With little data to work with, the post-Week 6 bowl projections are a mixture between preseason projections, how things would look if the season ended today, and a dose of the results so far this year. Expect more changes over the next few weeks, especially as we see how teams perform in conference games. 

2012-2013 Post-Week 6 College Football Bowl Projections

Bowl Date Tie-In Projected Matchup
New Mexico Dec. 15 MWC vs. Pac-12 Arizona vs. Nevada
Famous Idaho Potato Dec. 15 MAC vs. WAC Utah State vs. N. Illinois
Poinsettia Dec. 20 BYU vs. MWC BYU vs. San Diego State
Beef 'O'Brady's Dec. 21 Big East vs. C-USA East Carolina vs. Connecticut
New Orleans Dec. 22 Sun Belt vs. C-USA UL Lafayette vs. Tulsa
Las Vegas Dec. 22 MWC vs. Pac-12 UCLA vs. Boise State
Hawaii Dec. 24 C-USA vs. MWC Fresno State vs. SMU
Little Caesars Dec. 26 Big Ten vs. MAC Minnesota vs. Toledo
Military Dec. 27 ACC vs. Army Duke vs. Marshall*
Belk Dec. 27 ACC vs. Big East NC State vs. Cincinnati
Holiday Dec. 27 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Stanford vs. Baylor
Independence Dec. 28 ACC vs. SEC Wake Forest vs. La. Tech*
Russell Athletic Dec. 28 ACC vs. Big East Miami vs. Rutgers
Meineke Car Care Dec. 28 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Iowa vs. Texas Tech
Armed Forces Dec. 29 C-USA vs. MWC Houston vs. Air Force
Kraft Fight Hunger Dec. 29 Pac-12 vs. Navy Navy vs. Washington
Pinstripe Dec. 29 Big East vs. Big 12 Pittsburgh vs. Iowa State
Alamo Dec. 29 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Oregon State vs. Texas
Buffalo Wild Wings Dec. 29 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Okla. State vs. Northwestern 
Music City Dec. 31 SEC vs. ACC Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech
Sun Dec. 31 ACC vs. Pac-12 Arizona State vs. Va. Tech
Liberty Dec. 31 SEC vs. C-USA Arkansas vs. UCF**
Chick-fil-A Dec. 31 ACC vs. SEC Clemson vs. Miss. State
Heart of Dallas Jan. 1 Big Ten vs. C-USA Purdue vs. TCU Gator Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Texas A&M vs. Michigan State
Capital One Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Florida vs. Nebraska
Outback Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Wisconsin vs. Georgia
Cotton Jan. 4 Big 12 vs. SEC Oklahoma vs. LSU
BBVA Compass Jan. 5 SEC vs. Big East Vanderbilt vs. UL Monroe* Jan. 6 MAC vs. Sun Belt W. Kentucky vs. Ohio
BCS Bowls      
Rose Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Michigan vs. USC
Orange Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Florida State vs. Louisville
Sugar Jan. 2 BCS vs. BCS South Carolina vs. Kansas State
Fiesta Jan. 3 BCS vs. BCS West Virginia vs. Notre Dame
National Title Jan. 7 BCS vs. BCS Oregon vs. Alabama

* Indicates an at-large team due to a conference unable to fill bowl slots according to Athlon's projections.

** UCF is appealing a postseason ban and for now, is eligible to compete in the 2012 postseason.

by Steven Lassan


(published Oct. 9, 2012)

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 6 Ranks
ACC Post-Week 6 Power Rankings

Big East Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
College Football Week 6 Recap

<p> College Football Post-Week 6 Bowl Projections</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-waiver-wire-week-6

Several top fantasy producers will be getting a rest in Week 6 with Carolina, Chicago, Jacksonville and New Orleans all on bye. Not only does that mean no Drew Brees, Cam Newton or Jay Cutler, it also means owners won’t get anything out of Matt Forte, Maurice Jones-Drew, Brandon Marshall, Marques Colston, or Jimmy Graham, among others. And don’t forget about Chicago’s defense/special teams, which is far and away the No. 1 unit in all of fantasy football as the Monsters of the Midway have out-scored opposing offenses on their own over the past three weeks.

While there is not a suitable replacement for the Bears DST out there, that does not mean there aren’t any viable options available on the waiver wire. The same goes for other positions that are either impacted by the bye week, injury or a lack of production. Here are some names worth considering.

Week 6 Positional Rankings

Week 6 Start or Sit

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

Week 5 Recap: This past week didn’t go that well for Matt Hasselbeck, Kevin Kolb or Ryan Tannehill, although Tannehill’s Dolphins were victorious over the Bengals. Hasselbeck had the best fantasy numbers thanks to a fourth quarter touchdown in the Titans’ loss to the Vikings, but overall his numbers (200-1-1, 10 rushing yards) were nothing to get that excited about. Hasselbeck will get another chance this Thursday at home against Pittsburgh as Jake Locker (shoulder) has already been ruled out by head coach Mike Munchak. Hasselbeck also could benefit from facing a Steelers defense that won a physical, hard-hitting affair against the Eagles on Sunday, but besides being battered and bruised, suffered even more injuries and faces a quick turnaround for this week's game. Kolb and Tannehill scored even fewer fantasy points than Hasselbeck, as the Rams knocked Kolb around (9 sacks) and he committed three turnovers (2 INT, 1 fumle), while Tannehill wasn’t called on to do that much (17-of-26, 223 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT) in the passing game. Kolb appears to have the better match-up this week as the Cardinals will host Buffalo, while Tannehill and the Dolphins welcome the aforementioned Rams to Miami.

Kirk Cousins, Washington Redksins
Purely speculative, but starter Robert Griffin III suffered an apparent concussion in Sunday’s loss to Atlanta, so he will need to pass all the mandatory tests and be cleared to not only practice, but play Sunday against Minnesota. If Griffin can’t go, Cousins will get the start, as he made his NFL debut in relief of Griffin and picked up his first career touchdown pass, a 77-yard strike to Santana Moss to give the Redskins the lead early in the fourth quarter. He also was picked off twice as the Falcons scored the final 10 points for the victory, but the rookie still finished with decent numbers (5-of-9, 111 yards, TD, 2 INT) in his first taste of NFL action. He could be in line for significantly more this Sunday.

Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Freeman hasn’t done an awful lot (790 yards passing, 5 TD, 4 INT, 22 yards rushing) in his first four games, but Tampa Bay is coming off of its bye week, allowing Freeman and the offense time to work out the kinks. Also, don’t overlook that this week the Buccaneers will host Kansas City. Even after holding Joe Flacco and the Ravens to just nine points (yet still losing), the Chiefs are still allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. They have given up a total of 10 passing touchdowns compared to just three interceptions so far.

Brady Quinn, Kansas City Chiefs
Matt Cassel left Kansas City’s 9-6 loss to Baltimore with an apparent head injury, opening the door for Quinn. The reality is that while injury may end up being the official reason for a quarterback change in KC, the truth is that this was probably coming regardless. The Chiefs are 1-4 and in spite of the defense’s own issues, it’s quite easy to point the finger at Cassel. He is completing less than 59 percent of his passes for an average of 230 yards per game. More troubling is the turnovers, as he’s coughed it up 13 times (9 INTs, 4 fumbles) while accounting for only six touchdowns (5 passing, 1 rush) in five games. Injury or not, there’s a good chance Quinn will get the nod this Sunday in Tampa Bay. Quinn started 12 games in 2008-09 for the Browns, and for his career has completed less than 53 percent of his attempts for 1,934 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions. One other thing to keep in mind: Tampa Bay has given up an average of 345 yards passing in its first four games.

Tim Tebow, New York Jets
Like Quinn, Tebow may soon get the chance to show what he can do under center for the Jets, especially if Mark Sanchez and the offense continue to struggle. By now, it’s no secret what Tebow can and can not do when it comes to playing quarterback, but if he gets the opportunity to start, it instantly increases his fantasy value. His shortcomings as a passer aside, Tebow has already shown that he’s capable of producing as a rusher. Even with his limited playing time so far, Tebow is third on the team in rushing and is responsible for the Jets’ longest running play (22 yards) from scrimmage.

Running Backs
Week 5 Recap: Rashard Mendenhall certainly made his presence felt in his season debut, as he led the Steelers in carries (14), rushing yards (81) and scored the team’s only touchdown in the win over the Eagles. There’s no reason to think he’s not the team’s top back moving forward. Kendall Hunter also had 81 yards rushing as he made the most of his opportunities in San Francisco’s 45-3 blowout of Buffalo. Jackie Battle, Brandon Bolden and Ronnie Hillman combined for 83 rushing yards on 21 carries as they saw the starters in front of them, namely Ryan Mathews for San Diego and Stevan Ridley for New England, assert themselves. All three are still worth owning, but expectations, barring injury, for each moving forward should probably be tempered.

Alex Green, Green Bay Packers
Cedric Benson left Sunday’s game in Indianapolis with a foot injury and Green got the most carries (9) after that. The second-year pro from Hawaii, who was the team’s third-round pick in 2011, finished with 55 yards (6.1 ypc) and is now in line for even more opportunities, as Benson will be out for at least eight weeks (possibly lost for the season) after suffering an apparent Lisfranc injury to his foot. James Starks (and perhaps Brandon Saine) could still have something to say about this. Starks, who was the presumed starter before the Packers signed Benson during training camp, has missed the first five games with a toe injury, but is reportedly almost healthy enough to return to the field. Regardless, I wouldn’t expect a great deal out of any of the Packers' backs this week when they take on the undefeated Texans and their No. 6-ranked defense.

Isaac Redman, Pittsburgh Steelers
Rashard Mendenhall made his triumphant return as the Steelers’ lead back on Sunday against the Eagles and looks to have cemented his status as such moving forward. That said, Redman finished with only one fewer carry (13 to 14) than Mendenhall and he is currently the team’s leading rusher. Also, the Steelers decided to make Jonathan Dwyer inactive, even though he was healthy, against the Eagles, so it appears that Redman, and not Dwyer, will maintain the role of the team’s No. 2 back. There could be worse positions to be in considering the Steelers’ propensity to run the ball and this Thursday’s match-up with Tennessee, who is giving up more than 144 yards rushing per game.

Darius Reynaud, Tennessee Titans
Chris Johnson isn’t losing his job as the Titans’ starting running back, especially now that backup Javon Ringer is out four to six weeks after spraining his left knee. However, that doesn’t mean that CJ might not lose some carries, as he’s been largely ineffective (210 yards, 2.9 ypc, 0 TD) running the ball and has yet to score. To that end, it appears that Reynaud (who also could be eligible at WR depending on the league) would get the chance, as he currently has more carries, targets and receptions than Jamie Harper, who is also on the roster. The Titans already know about Reynaud’s speed and playmaking ability, as he’s averaging 27.6 yards per kickoff return, including one he brought back 105 yards for a touchdown. At this point, it certainly can’t hurt to give someone other than Johnson a shot at running the ball.

LaRod Stephens-Howling, Arizona Cardinals
Beanie Wells is already on injured reserve because of a toe injury, but there’s a chance he will return at some point this season. The same cannot be said for Ryan Williams, however, as the shoulder injury he suffered during Thursday’s loss to St. Louis ended up being worse than initially believed. Williams’ 2012 season is over as the second-year back will need to undergo shoulder surgery to repair the damage. Stephens-Howling is expected to move to the top of the Cardinals’ depth chart at running back, although he has missed the past two games with a hip-flexor injury. He was reportedly close to playing last Thursday, so if he’s healthy enough, he should get the first shot. The Cardinals also have William Powell, the only other running back other than Williams to get a carry against the Rams, and Alfonso Smith on the roster. This is a situation that bears watching, especially in deeper leagues, as Arizona welcomes Buffalo to the desert on Sunday. The Bills’ defense is among the worst in the league statistically and it gave up 311 yards rushing and 45 points to San Francisco last week.

David Wilson, New York Giants
Ahmad Bradshaw rumbled for 200 yards on 30 carries (6.7 ypc) against Cleveland, but it was Wilson who perhaps made the most of his chances against the Browns. Andre Brown went down early with a head injury, presenting Wilson with an opportunity as the Giants looked to eat up some time with a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter. Wilson finally got another chance to run the ball and he promptly took it 40 yards to paydirt. Whether or not this results in Wilson getting more opportunities in the future remains to be seen, but it certainly doesn’t hurt the rookie that he capitalized on the chance he got on Sunday, especially in light of Brown’s injury and the Giants’ renewed emphasis on running the ball.

Wide Receivers
Week 5 Recap: James Jones (4-46-2) made the most noise in Week 5, while Brian Hartline, Domenik Hixon and Andre Roberts each caught at least four passes. Donald Jones only managed two receptions, but then again the Bills had a total of 204 yards of offense and scored three measly points against the 49ers. Hartline, James Jones and Roberts appear to the most appealing options of these moving forward based on their respective situations, although Hixon’s outlook is tied directly to the health of Hakeem Nicks.

Brandon Gibson, St. Louis Rams
The Rams will be without the services of leading receiver Danny Amendola for at least a month, meaning some other wideout will need to step up in his absence. Gibson appears to be the most likely candidate to assume Amendola’s role, as he’s second on the team in targets, receptions and receiving yards and he’s already caught two touchdowns. Rookie Chris Givens probably bears watching as well. He caught a 51-yard touchdown against the Cardinals, but has had problems holding on to the ball overall (4 receptions, 15 targets).

Mario Manningham, San Francisco Giants
Alex Smith, the NFL’s top-rated passer, threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns against Buffalo. Not to say the 49ers will continue to air it out, but Smith’s showing himself capable as a passer. To that end, Manningham is third on the team in both targets (23) and receptions (19) and has the same number of touchdown catches (one) as leading receiver Michael Crabtree. It also doesn’t hurt that this Sunday Manningham’s former team, the Giants, will be making the cross-country trip to take on the 49ers.

Robert Meachem, San Diego Chargers
Perhaps all it took was some familiar faces to get Meachem going. After catching just six passes for 92 yards in the Chargers’ first four games, the free agent acquisition erupted for three catches, 67 yards and two touchdowns against the Saints, his former team. Malcom Floyd is Philip Rivers’ top target and tight end Antonio Gates will probably continue to get more looks, but Meachem can still be a productive receiver for the Chargers and someone’s fantasy team. It starts by putting together two solid games in a row as the Chargers will host Denver this coming Monday night.

Mike Williams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Vincent Jackson gets more targets (and makes considerably more money), but Williams has been a reliable and productive secondary option for Josh Freeman in Tampa Bay’s passing attack. Williams is averaging slightly more yards (19.9 to 19.0) per reception than Jackson and each have caught two touchdown passes so far. The Bucs have had an extra week to get ready for Kansas City, who has had its share of problems on defense and is giving up an average of 29 points per game.

Kendall Wright, Tennessee Titans
Tennessee’s offense is struggling, especially when it comes to running the ball, but you can’t pin it on the rookie. Not only is he leading the team in receptions, he’s tied for 19th in the league as his 27 is also the most of any first-year wide receiver. Wright’s not getting a lot of yards (214, 7.9 ypc), but he’s tied for the team lead in touchdown catches with two and has caught a total of 13 passes the past two games. Wright is worth keeping an eye on as the season progresses, especially in PPR leagues.

Tight Ends
Week 5 Recap: Scott Chandler was the Bills’ leading receiver (4 rec., 40 yds.) against San Francisco, which isn’t saying much, but he also lost a fumble. Greg Olsen fared similarly (2, 37), minus the fumble, but that’s not surprising considering Cam Newton was 12-for-29 for only 141 yards (4.9 ypc) against Seattle. The Bills will try to get some offense going at Arizona, while Olsen and the Panthers have the week off.

Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati Bengals
Gresham is averaging five catches and 57 yards over his last three games and he’s also caught a touchdown during that span. He’s second on the Bengals in receptions and even though A..J. Green is the clear-cut primary option in the team’s passing attack, Andy Dalton has been averaging nearly 34 pass attempts per game and is seventh in both passing yards and touchdowns. With numbers like that, there should be more than enough to make Gresham fantasy relevant too.

Rob Housler, Arizona Cardinals
Housler’s not catching a ton of passes, only eight on the year, but seven of those have come over the past three weeks. He’s also averaging nearly 15 yards per reception and Kevin Kolb targeted him six times last week. If anything, it appears that Housler has established himself as the Cardinals’ primary tight end moving forward. If he can increase his production and show some consistency, at worst he could become a viable bye week replacement option.

Defense/Special Teams

Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins' defense has played well to start the season, especially against the run. The 'Fins are No. 1 in rush defense as they have allowed only 61.4 yards per game and have already faced off against running backs like Arian Foster and Darren McFadden. They have been a little more susceptible to the pass (281.8 ypg), but are only surrendering 20.6 points per game. Next up is a Rams team at home that's lost its top wide receiver and only completed seven passes last week. Following their bye in Week 7, the Dolphins have the Jets, Colts, Titans, Bills and Seahawks on their slate. Of these six teams, only Indianapolis ranks higher than 21st in the league in total offense.

Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings are tied for fourth among DSTs in fantasy scoring, largely due to their ability to pressure the quarterback (14 sacks) and having viable threats for both kickoff (Percy Harvin) and punt (Marcus Sherels) returns. Overall, the Vikings' defense has been a pleasant surprise thus far and their upcoming schedule — at WAS, ARI, TB, at SEA — doesn't appear to be all that daunting either. In fact, this week's game in Washington could look a lot different if Robert Griffin III is unable to play because of the concussion he suffered last week.

Scoring is based on Athlon Sports default scoring which is 6 points for all TDs, .5 points per reception and 1 point per 25 yards passing, 10 yards rushing/receiving and 40 return yards.

— By Mark Ross, published on Oct. 9, 2012

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 6</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-countdown-no-5-syracuse-preview
Visit the online store for Syracuse and other editions of the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual.

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

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

We continue our countdown with a preview of No. 5 Syracuse.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim prefers to look at the players he has and not the ones who are gone. So while many pundits will pore over Syracuse’s extensive personnel losses off last year’s team that went 34–3 and advanced to the Elite Eight, Boeheim will stick to one of his favorite mantras.

“I coach the players that are here,” Boeheim says.

Syracuse’s losses would debilitate most programs. Gone from last year’s team are three starters — seniors Scoop Jardine and Kris Joseph plus NBA first-round pick Fab Melo — and Big East Sixth Man of the Year Dion Waiters, who was the No. 4 pick in the draft despite not starting a game for SU in ’11-12.

Syracuse, however, should maintain its customary spot at or near the top of the Big East standings. Senior guard Brandon Triche and sophomore forward Rakeem Christmas return as starters, while senior James Southerland and juniors C.J. Fair and Baye Keita should step into bigger roles this season after gaining a wealth of experience last year.

“The fact that you have six guys that played a lot, that’s a lot,” Boeheim says. “Most teams don’t have that many. We have a good, solid nucleus of players.”

The key to Syracuse’s frontcourt rotation could be the readiness of DaJuan Coleman. The  6-10, 285-pound freshman local product led Jamesville-Dewitt High to four New York State Class A titles and was a McDonald’s All-American last year. “I think he’s got good tools,” Boeheim says. “He’s underrated as a ball-handler and passer. He can do those things even though he’s a big guy.”

If Coleman proves ready to start, Christmas can remain at power forward. Christmas averaged just 2.8 points and 2.9 rebounds last year, but he had big moments like an eight-point, 11-rebound game against Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament.

Joseph led Syracuse in scoring in each of the last two seasons, but Fair has been preparing for a featured role for two years. Fair played 26.4 minutes per game off the bench last season, second-most on the team team behind Joseph. Fair can play either forward position but needs to extend his range out to the 3-point line to become a complete player.

Southerland could start at forward if Christmas gets moved to center, or the long, lanky senior will come off the bench ready to launch his accurate jumper from 3-point range. Expect Keita and freshman forward Jerami Grant to provide depth.

Last year, Syracuse’s backcourt was one of the most experienced in the country. This year, Triche will be the only SU guard with any substantial experience.  Still, the Orange backcourt could be just as potent.

Triche will need to emerge as a vocal leader and a become more aggressive on the offensive end of the court. Improving his 3-point shooting (35.0 percent last year) would be nice, too.

“I think he’s important,” Boeheim says. “He’s got to be ready. It’s his fourth year. He knows what to do.”

Complementing Triche will be two young players in sophomore Michael Carter-Williams and redshirt freshman Trevor Cooney. Carter-Williams, whose lean 6-5 frame reminds some of a young Jason Kidd, has outstanding court vision. His passing ability will create easy looks for the big guys up front. Carter-Williams averaged 2.1 assists in only 10.3 minutes of action as a freshman.

Cooney, a Delaware native who signed with SU two years ago, can drill the spot-up 3-pointer, but don’t label him, says Boeheim. “He’s not a guy we look at as just being a shooter. We think he’s a good player.”

Despite losing four players, including three NBA Draft picks, Syracuse will compete for the Big East title in what will be its last year in the conference before leaving for the ACC.

The Orange have enough experience in Triche, Fair, Southerland and Christmas, but the big keys will be two of the team’s younger players. If Carter-Williams can handle the point and Coleman can step in and contribute in the middle, the Orange could emerge as a Final Four contender.

“I think it’s always difficult to replace a lot of guys,” Boeheim says. “The good news is that the other guys all got to play a lot last year. We have seven guys that we think can play, and we think the two freshmen certainly are playing right away.”


Athlon College Basketball Countdown So Far:
20. Florida

19. Notre Dame

18. Memphis
17. Baylor
16. Missouri

15. San Diego State

14. North Carolina

13. UNLV

12. UCLA
11. NC State

10. Michigan State
9. Duke

8. Ohio State

7. Arizona

6. Michigan

<p> College Basketball Countdown: No. 5 Syracuse Preview</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 05:54
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-who-votes-harris-poll
Former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden is one of 115 voters in the Harris poll for 2012.

The calendar has turned to October, and the unveiling of the BCS standings is near.

For college football fans, in short, this can be an infuriating time. College football’s national championship is decided by a handful of components -- active coaches, computers and the mix of personalities in the Harris Interactive top 25.

Part of the BCS standings since 2005 when the Associated Press pulled its poll out of the formula, the Harris poll may be the least understood of the postseason components.

Its 115 voters are randomly selected to represent each conference and the independents. Harris Interactive selects 10 voters each from a pool of candidates provided by each conference, bringing the total voters to 110. Candidates submitted by the four independents make up the final five spots in the poll.

But who are the voters? Harris releases a list of names of the panel, but not their relationship to college football, the conference from which they were selected, or the college or conference that nominated to the panel in the first place.

Through research, we have filled in the gaps with a quick description of each voter for 2012.

Here are a few of our observations on the panel.

The mix is as expected among former players, former coaches, current and former media members and college administrators.

Our breakdown is as follows:

39 former players. This includes football players who went on to broadcast careers but not former college football players who went on to become coaches or administrators. One Heisman winner, Army’s Pete Dawkins, is in the panel.

31 former administrators. This includes former commissioners, athletic directors and sports information directors. The most notable is former SEC commissioner Roy Kramer, who is considered to be the father of the BCS.

27 current and former media members for print, broadcast and online outlets.

13 former coaches. This includes Lloyd Carr (Michigan), Tommy Bowden (Clemson and Tulane), Rich Brooks (Kentucky and Oregon) and Jackie Sherrill (Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Pittsburgh and Washington State).

5 “others.” This includes a former head of officials (Tim Mills), a former television executive (Loren Matthews) and a director of college scouting for the Green Bay Packers (John Dorsey).

Other notes:

Of the 115 voters, 29 have participated in the Harris poll every season since it began in 2005.

The Harris poll features 15 new voters from last season including former Tulane quarterback Shaun King, former Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle El, former Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner, former Minnesota running back Darrell Thompson and former Cincinnati and Florida State athletic director Bob Goin.

Another new voter, Bob Condron, spent the last 28 years as the director of media services for the United States Olympic Committee. His last experience in college athletics was sports information staffer at SMU and Texas Tech in the early 1980s.

Gary Hogeboom was a quarterback at Central Michigan and with the Dallas Cowboys, but he was also a contestant on Survivor: Guatemala in 2005.

Voter Description
*Denny Aldridge Texas player 1966-68
Bob Anderson Army player 1956-60
Eric Bailey Reporter, The Tulsa World
James Bates Florida player 1993-96, CBS Sports Network broadcaster
Sammy Batten Reporter, The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer
*Dick Bestwick Georgia administrator 1986-88, South Carolina athletic director 1988, Virginia coach 1976-81
*Joe Biddle Former columnist, The Nashville Tennessean
*Blaine Bishop Ball State player 1990-92, Radio host, WGFX in Nashville
Tommy Bowden Tulane coach 1997-98, Clemson coach 1999-2008
Dave Braine Georgia Tech athletic director 1997-2006, Virginia Tech AD 1988-97, Marshall AD 1985-87
Gil Brandt analyst, Former Cowboys director of player personnel
Rich Brooks Oregon coach 1977-94, Kentucky coach 2003-09
Chip Brown Reporter,
*Brenston Buckner Clemson player 1990-93
Grant Burget Oklahoma player 1970-74
Chris Carlin Broadcaster for Rutgers and SNY
Lloyd Carr Michigan coach 1995-2007
*Charlie Cavagnaro UNLV athletic director 1995-2001, Memphis AD 1982-95
Pete Cavender Boise State player 2003-07, radio analyst BSU Sports Radio Network
Tony Collins East Carolina player 1977-80
Bob Condron Former USOC director of media services 1984-2012, former SID staffer at Texas Tech and SMU
Gene Corrigan Notre Dame athletic director 1981-87, Virginia AD 1971-80, ACC commissioner 1987-97
Joe Crowley Former University of Nevada president, former NCAA president
Dick Crum North Carolina coach 1978-87, Kent State coach 1988-90
Fran Curci Miami coach 1971-72, Kentucky coach 1973-81
*Pete Dawkins 1958 Heisman winner at Army, former CEO of Primerica Financial Services
Herb Dromedi Central Michigan coach 1978-93
Mark Dienhart Minnesota athletic director 1995-2000, Executive Vice President, University of St. Thomas
John Dorsey Green Bay Packers director of college scouting, Connecticut player 1980-83
Bob Dunlevy West Virginia player 1963-65
Chuck Ealey Toledo player 1969-71
Jack Ebling Columnist,; Former columnist Lansing (Mich.) State Journal
Rondo Fehlberg BYU athletic director 1995-99
Robert Gagliardi Reporter, Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
Richard Giannini Southern Miss athletic director 1999-2011, former administrator at ULM, Florida and Duke.
Bob Goin Cincinnati athletic director 1997-2005, Florida State athletic director 1990-94
Joe Gottfried South Alabama athletic director 1984-2009
Mike Griffith Reporter,
*Bob Grim Oregon State player 1964-66
Lee Grosscup Utah player 1957-58
Mark Hermann Purdue player 1977-80
*Tommy Hicks Columnist, Mobile (Ala.) Press-Register
Gary Hogeboom Central Michigan player 1976-79
David Horning NC State administrator 1984-2010
*David Housel Auburn athletic director 1990-2004
Todd Husak Stanford player 1996-99
J.J. Joe Former Baylor player 1990-93; Radio analyst, Baylor
Scott Johnson Fresno State athletic director 2001-05
Tony Jones Texas player 1986-89
Adam Jude Reporter, The Oregonian
Don W. Kassing San Jose State president 2005-08
Laing Kennedy Kent State athletic director 1994-2010, Cornell athletic director 1983-94
*Blair Kerkhoff Reporter, The Kansas City Star
*Mike Kern Reporter, The Philadelphia Daily News
Shaun King Tulane player 1995-98
*Roy Kramer SEC Commissioner, 1990-2002
Nate Kreckman Radio host, KXDP in Denver
*Bobby Leach SMU player 1981-84
Sonny Lubick Colorado State coach 1993-2007
*Mike Lude Auburn athletic director 1992-93, Washington athletic director 1975-91
*Tom Luicci Reporter, Newark (N.J.) Star Ledger
John Mallory West Virginia player 1965-67
Bob Marcum Kansas athletic director 1978-82, South Carolina AD 1982-88, Marshall AD 2002-09
Loren Matthews Former ABCSports Senior Vice President
Derrick Mayes Notre Dame player 1992-95
*Mike McGee Duke coach 1971-78, Cincinnati athletic director 1979-84, USC athletic director 1984-93
*Lance McIlhenny SMU player 1980-83
Pete Medhurst Radio reporter and host, Navy Radio Network
Tim Millis Former executive director of the NFL Referees Association, former Big 12 supervisor of officials
Eric Mizell Troy player 1990-91
*Craig Morton Cal player 1962-64
Gerald Myers Texas Tech athletic director 1996-2011
Joe Novak Northern Illinois coach 1996-2007
Jim Oakes Louisiana Tech athletic director 1994-2008
Denny O'Brien Reporter on East Carolina for
David Paschall Reporter, Chattanooga (Tenn.) Free-Press
Allen Pinkett Notre Dame player 1982-85; Radio analyst, Notre Dame
Doug Plank Ohio State player 1972-74
Mike Prater Sports editor, Idaho Statesman
*Steve Preece Oregon State player 1966-68
Antwaan Randle El Indiana player 1998-2001
*Pat Richter Wisconsin athletic director 1989-2004
Earle Robinson Radio host, AM870 East Lansing, Mich.
*Kenny Roda Radio host WKNR 850 in Cleveland
Gary Sanders Former radio broadcaster, UAB
*Harvey Schiller CEO of GlobalOptions Group, SEC Commissioner 1986-90, Former VP at TBS
*Terry R. Schmidt Ball State player 1971-73
Terry Shea San Jose State coach 1990-91, Rutgers coach 1996-2000
Jackie Sherrill Pittsburgh coach 1977-81, Texas A&M coach 1982-88, Mississippi State coach 1991-2003
Corky Simpson Former columnist, The Tucson (Ariz.) Citizen
Riley Skinner Wake Forest player 2006-09
Joe Smigiel Arizona player 1992-94
Adam Sparks Reporter, The Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Daily News Journal
Fred Stabley Former Central Michigan sports information director
Patrick Stevens Reporter, The Washington Times
Don Strock Florida International coach 2002-06
Pat Swilling Georgia Tech player 1982-85
Mel Thomas Former TCU administrator and assistant coach
Darrell Thompson Minnesota player 1986-89
*John Toner Connecticut athletic director 1969-87
Charlie Trotman Auburn player 1977-79
*Max Urick Iowa State athletic director 1983-93, Kansas State athletic director 1993-2001
*Roger Valdiserri Former Notre Dame sports information director
Jeff Van Note Kentucky player 1966-68
Tommy Vardell Stanford player 1988-91
Mike Vaught Former SMU administrator
Jim Vruggink Former Purdue sports information director
*Bob Wagner Hawaii coach 1988-95
Jim Walden Iowa State coach 1987-94, Washington State coach 1978-86
Jay Walker Radio host, KPEL in Lafayette, La., play-by-play announcer, Louisiana-Lafayette
John Walters Former columnist, The Daily
Jack White Alabama player 1971, former director for PGA Tour's Shotlink
Dwayne Woodruff Louisville player 1976-78
Rick Wright Reporter, Albuquerque (N.M.) Journal
*Hugh Yoshida Hawaii athletic director 1992-2002
  *Indicates voters since first Harris poll in 2005
  Bold indicates new voter in 2012

By David Fox


<p> College Football: Who votes in the Harris Poll?</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 05:53
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-running-backs

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 best running back prospects:

1. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina (6-0, 220, Jr.)
He appears to be fully recovered from his torn ACL in 2011. He still might be a bit tentative but he is rounding into form. He is big, physical, never goes down on first contact, is a tremendous receiver and works hard off the field. He is the most talented, most complete runner in the nation. For his career (26 games), he is averaging 126.6 yards from scrimmage per game and has scored 39 touchdowns. He might be the only back taken in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Comparison: Adrian Peterson

2. Stepfan Taylor, Stanford (5-11, 215, Sr.)
Few players have as complete a game as the Cardinal ball-carrier. He is the workhorse back for a program that uses a physical, pro-style attack based around Taylor’s ability. He is thickly built, has a tremendous work ethic, plays smart football, can catch passes and runs hard every game. His workload in college could be his only negative, as he will be over 800 touches from scrimmage by the time his career is over. Comparison: Frank Gore

3. Giovani Bernard, North Carolina (5-10, 205, rSo.)
This tough little runner came to UNC from St. Thomas Aquinas H.S., a storied South Florida program that prepares football talents for the next level. And as a redshirt freshman, Bernard exploded onto the scene with 239 carries for 1,253 yards, along with 45 receptions for another 362 yards and a total of 14 touchdowns. He has missed some time in 2012 but also delivered a huge performance in a win over one of the best defenses in the country (262 yards against Virginia Tech, Week 6). He is a bit smaller than a proto-type back but has speed to burn and the talent to play all three downs. In addition, as a redshirt sophomore, Bernard will have the most “tread left on the tires” of any back in the class. Comparison: LeSean McCoy

4. Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State (6-1, 240, Jr.)
Bell has some negatives — average shiftiness, straight line speed and work ethic — but also has the biggest, most powerful frame of anyone in the class. He is accustomed to power-I formations and can carry the load if needed (see games of 44, 36 and 37 carries in 2012). He is right at home in a play-action style offense and will be a huge asset around the goal line. If he can stay focused on keeping his weight down and works hard, he could be a future feature back. Comparison: Steven Jackson

5. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma St (6-0, 205, Jr.)
Production hasn’t been an issue for Randle after a school-record 26 touchdowns in 2011. He has been outstanding as the leader of the revamped Pokes offense this fall and brings breakaway speed to the edge, power up the middle and will play a big role in the passing game. Randle is taller than most ideal backs who aren’t 230 pounds, but he has plenty of big-play ability. Comparison: DeMarco Murray

6. Montee Ball, Wisconsin (5-11, 210, Sr.)
Scouts cannot argue the production for a guy who has a chance to finish his career with more rushing touchdowns than anyone in the history of the sport (73). He dropped weight before his junior season and it helped with quickness and burst. Yet, he lacks the top-end skills of the NFL’s elite. However, he is a tough player who consistently produces and has fumbled one time in his entire career. Comparison: Ahmad Bradshaw

7. Andre Ellington, Clemson (5-9, 190, Sr.)
The only real knock on Ellington is his durability, which stems from his overall lack of size. His frame isn’t ideal and he has been banged up throughout his Tigers career. That said, he will finish with over 4,000 yards from scrimmage and more than 30 touchdowns in his career. He has the raw ability to do everything an NFL back is asked to do, but can he be a true workhorse on Sundays? Comparison: Donald Brown

8. Rex Burkhead, Nebraska (5-11, 210, Sr.)
He won’t wow scouts at the combine with his average measurables, but he makes up for it with things that simply cannot be tracked with a stop watch: intangibles, leadership, blitz pick-ups, toughness and heart. He is one of the most complete players in the nation and will be a welcome addition to any NFL locker room. He will be a late-round steal and could be very productive for many years — even if he is never a star. Comparison: Matt Forte

9. Silas Redd, USC (5-10, 210, Jr.)
Redd was the only star for an average Penn State team (1,241 yards, 7 TD as a sophomore) before heading out West to USC for his junior season. He is a pro-style runner who has the skills to be a three-down back should he get a little bigger. He runs with power and has adequate speed. Should he develop his skills, he could be a sneaky good player on Sundays. Comparison: Rashard Mendenhall

10. Mike Gillislee, Florida (5-11, 210, Sr.)
This Gator tailback was a late bloomer — 920 yards and 10 TDs in his first three seasons — but developed into an SEC Player of the Year candidate with hard running and toughness throughout a brutal conference schedule in 2012. He was miscast in Urban Meyer’s scheme and fits much better into the pro-style attack Will Muschamp brought to Gainesville. Look for Gillislee to continue to move up draft boards with his excellent play this fall. Comparison: Cedric Benson

11. Eddie Lacy, Alabama (6-1, 220, Jr.)
All the physical talent in the world, but can never stay healthy.

12. Jonathan Franklin, UCLA (5-11, 195, Sr.)
Long track record of success but could be limited physically on the next elevel.

13. Ray Graham, Pitt (5-9, 195, Sr.)
Has NFL ability but is still regaining form after torn ACL. Size could be an issue as well.

14. Knile Davis, Arkansas (6-0, 225, Sr.)
Not the same back as he was before suffering a major ankle injury in 2011.

15. Christine Michael, Texas A&M (5-11, 220, Sr.)
Much like Davis and Lacy, he has the talent... and the long track record of injuries.

16. Cierre Wood, Notre Dame (6-0, 215, Jr.)
Off the field focus issues have knocked him down a peg, but coming on strong.

17. DJ Harper, Boise State (5-9, 205, Sr.)
This should be a sneaky draft day value for someone. Can do a little bit of everything.

18. Kenjon Barner, Oregon (5-11, 192, Sr.)
Tremendous talent, but has been banged up and scouts will question scheme and size.

19. Spencer Ware/Michael Ford/Alfred Blue, LSU (5-11, 225/5-10, 215/6-2, 220, Jr.)
Three burly backs who are tremendously physical. Each could be a steal on draft day.

20. Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt (5-9, 210, Sr.)
Short, stocky player with lots of potential and is accustomed to high level of competition.

Third-Down Speedsters 

Curtis McNeal, USC (5-7, 190, Sr.)
Chris Thompson, Florida State (5-8, 190, Sr.)
Onterio McCalebb, Auburn (5-11, 175, Sr.)
Perry Jones, Virginia (5-8, 187, Sr.)
Dennis Johnson, Arkansas (5-8, 212, Sr.)

Other Names to Watch:

Michael Dyer, Ark. Baptist (5-8, 210, Sr.)
Orwin Smith, Georgia Tech (6-0, 205, Sr.)
Cameron Marshall, Arizona St (5-11, 220, Sr.)
Miguel Maysonet, Stony Brook (5-9, 205, Sr.)
John White, Utah (5-8, 190, Sr.)
Matthew Tucker, TCU (6-0, 225, Sr.)
Dominique Whaley, Oklahoma (5-11, 205, Sr.)
Mike James, Miami (5-11, 220, Sr.)
Ronnie Wingo, Arkansas (6-2, 230, Sr.)

- by Braden Gall


Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

2013 NFL Draft: Running Backs

2013 NFL Draft: Tight Ends
2013 NFL Draft: Safeties

2013 NFL Draft: Defensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers

2013 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Inside Linebackers

<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Running Backs</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 - 05:50
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /news/athlon-sports-college-football-top-25-poll-week-7

Each week Athlon Sports ranks the Top 25 college football teams in the nation. Alabama and Oregon remain No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, with the South Carolina Gamecocks shooting up four spots to the No. 3 slot. West Virginia, who toppled Texas on Saturday, moves into the No. 6 spot. The week's biggest sliders include Georgia (down 7 spots to No. 10) and Florida State (down 9 spots to No. 13.) 

Teams falling out of the Top 25 include Washington, Nebraska and UCLA.


Rank Team Last Week
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide #1 (-)
#2 Oregon Ducks #2 (-)
#3 South Carolina Gamecocks #7 (+4)
#4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish #6 (+2)
#5 Florida Gators #9 (+4)
#6 West Virginia Mountaineers #12 (+6)
#7 Kansas State Wildcats #10 (+3)
#8 LSU Tigers #5 (-3)
#9 Ohio State Buckeyes #11 (+2)
#10 Georgia Bulldogs #3 (-7)
#11 USC Trojans #13 (+2)
#12 Texas Longhorns #8 (-4)
#13 Florida State Seminoles #4 (-9)
#14 Oklahoma Sooners #14 (-)
#15 Clemson Tigers #15 (-)
#16 Oregon State Beavers #17 (+1)
#17 Louisville Cardinals #18 (+1)
#18 Rutgers Scarlet Knights #19 (+1)
#19 Stanford Cardinal #24 (+5)
#20 Michigan Wolverines #23 (+3)
#21 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs #25 (+4)
#22 Mississippi State Bulldogs #27 (+5)
#23 Cincinnati Bearcats #29 (+6)
#24 Texas A&M Aggies #28 (+4)
#25   Arizona State Sun Devils #35 (+10)

To see our rankings for all 124 teams, visit Athlon's 124.

<p> Ranking the best college football teams in the nation</p>
Post date: Monday, October 8, 2012 - 16:34
Path: /mlb/10-worst-contracts-baseball

Fans love it when their team signs a big-name free agent or locks up a current star, but too many times organizations pay for past accomplishment instead of future production. There are obviously some baseball superstars on this list, but unfortunately much is expected from those who have been compensated at the highest level. Here’s our look at the 10 worst contracts in major league baseball.

1. Vernon Wells, Los Angeles Angels; 2 years and $42 million left on his deal.
Blue Jays general manger Alex Anthopoulos may never construct a playoff team, but his bosses were elated when he dumped this contract (originally seven years for $126 million). Not only did Anthopoulos save the club a ton of money, he got Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera in return. Wells is a great guy, but the reality is that he’s making over $20 million a year as a non-starter. Ouch. Wells has a combined .222 average and .667 OPS in his two seasons in Anaheim. Double ouch.

2. Carl Crawford, Los Angeles Dodgers: 5 years and $106.8 million left on his deal.
The speedy outfielder was outstanding during his (Devil) Rays tenure, but Crawford has struggled mightily since leaving Tampa Bay. His 2011 campaign was a season-long slump in Boston, hitting .255 with 11 home runs in over 500 at-bats. With injuries cutting his 2012 season to 31 games, the Red Sox decided to dump their massive mistake on the Dodgers. Of course, that cost Boston Adrian Gonzalez as well. Maybe Crawford will regain his form on the west coast once healthy, but his Boston deal just looks awful at the current time.

3. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees: 5 years and $119 million left on his deal.
Obviously A-Rod was once the best player in baseball, and he’s a lock (barring a PED protest by the writers) for the Hall of Fame. However, Rodriguez’s last two years average out to 110 games played, a .274 batting average, 17 home runs and 60 RBIs. Astros/Diamondbacks third baseman Chris Johnson and his $495,000 salary matched those types of numbers this season. A-Rod turned 37 this summer and is just an average third baseman now. He can make additional bonuses should he reach all-time home run milestones, so this deal is a dud even with the Yankees' deep pockets.

4. Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels: 9 years, $228 million left on his deal.
The baseball world cringed when the Angels gave a 32-year-old first baseman a 10-year deal over the winter, and owner Arte Moreno was not counting on missing the postseason when he inked Pujols to such a large contract. King Albert’s final numbers were solid (.285, 30 home runs and 105 RBIs), but his slow start set a tone for an underachieving team that should have been better. We all know the slugger’s deal will become an albatross in a few years, but missing the playoffs in its cheapest year was not in the plans of Angels management.

5. Jayson Werth, Washington Nationals: 5 years and $101.8 million left on his deal.
This oversized contract becomes easier to take with the Nationals' pitching leading the team to the postseason. Baseball pundits screamed at Washington in December 2010 for signing a .272 hitting outfielder who had never driven in 100 runs to a seven-year, $126 million contract. Werth hit .232 and knocked in only 58 runs for the Nats in 2011, and he battled injuries and only totaled five homers (although he did hit .300 in his 81 games played) this season. Werth turns 34 next May, so the length of this deal is scary.

6. Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs: 2 years, $38 million left on his deal.
The embattled outfielder has topped this list for a few years now, but his 2012 numbers (32 home runs and 108 RBIs) showed a little bit of his old form. Soriano is considered a non-leader and a below-average fielder, which seemed to make his power bat untradeable for new Cubs management who would love to get him out of their clubhouse.

7. Joe Mauer, Minnesota Twins: 6 years and $138 million left on his deal.
We all loved it when Minnesota kept the likeable Mauer at home, instead of seeing him become the next big-market acquisition. However, Mauer’s total of 22 home runs from 2009-11 make it difficult to deal with his stranglehold on the Twins payroll. He hits for average and gets on base, but Mauer’s deal will hinder Minnesota efforts to acquire pitching to help the ball club become relevant again.

8. Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies: 4 years and $105 million left on his deal.
We all feared what the 2011 NLDS-ending Achilles injury could mean for the slugger’s career, and Howard only posted a .219 average and .718 OPS in 71 games played this season. He turns 33 this winter, and it will be interesting to see if he can regain his dependable form in 2013. If not, Philly management has a big issue on its hands.

9. John Lackey, Boston Red Sox: 2 years and $31 million left on his deal.
The big right-hander missed this season after having Tommy John surgery, and Lackey was already struggling in New England before his injury. A 4.40 ERA and 1.42 WHIP in his 2010 Boston debut turned into a disastrous 6.41 ERA and 1.62 WHIP during the 2011 campaign. The Red Sox were able to dump Crawford’s contract, but they look to be stuck with Lackey’s deal during their attempt to rebuild.

10. Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees: 4 years, $92.5 million left on his deal.
It was a tough call to put the Yankees first baseman on the list, but his .249 average and .822 OPS over the last two years is concerning. He played 123 games this season, and injuries could become a large concern for Teixeira who turns 33 next April. He still plays quality defense and can produce a 30-100 season, but $23+ million for four more years seems excessive even with the Yankees' budget.

<p> 10 Worst Contracts in Baseball</p>
Post date: Monday, October 8, 2012 - 15:11
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Legends Poll
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-6

South Carolina, West Virginia and Florida moved into the top 5 of the rankings this week as the Legends Poll saw its first big shake-up of the season.

Florida State, LSU and Georgia all suffered defeats, which opened the door for a new look in the top 5.

Third-ranked South Carolina moved up four spots after its dominant 35-7 performance against Georgia, the former No. 5 team.

West Virginia jumped to No. 4 after a 41-38 victory at Texas and No. 5 Florida was the biggest mover in the top 5, jumping six spots in the rankings.

“I thought Florida was really impressive,” former Auburn coach Pat Dye said — he voted Florida No. 4. “They had a week off to prepare for LSU and put it together in the second half. But I don’t think anyone expected South Carolina to dominate Georgia like they did. That was something.”

Alabama remained the unanimous top-ranked team followed by Oregon, and No. 6 Kansas State and No. 7 Notre Dame each moved up two spots.

Florida State was the highest ranked one-loss team, dropping five spots to No. 8 after being upset at North Carolina State. Fellow one-loss teams USC and LSU rounded out the top 10.

Georgia was tied for the biggest tumble in the rankings, falling nine spots to No. 14. No. 22 TCU also fell nine spots following its loss to Iowa State, which moved the Cyclones into the rankings at No. 24.

No. 23 Boise State moved back into the Legends Poll top 25 this week and was joined by unbeaten Louisiana Tech at No. 25.

Nebraska, Northwestern and UCLA fell out of the rankings.

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



1 AlabamaAlabama (17) 5-0 425 1
2 OregonOregon 6-0 408 2
3 South CarolinaSouth Carolina 6-0 386 7
4 West VirginiaWest Virginia 5-0 375 6
5 FloridaFlorida 5-0 343 11
6 Kansas StateKansas State 5-0 342 8
7 Notre DameNotre Dame 5-0 334 9
8 Florida StateFlorida State 5-1 269 3
9 USCUSC 4-1 265 12
10 LSULSU 5-1 256 4
11 OklahomaOklahoma 3-1 238 15
12 ClemsonClemson 5-1 219 14
13 StanfordStanford 4-1 212 16
14 GeorgiaGeorgia 5-1 201 5
15 TexasTexas 4-1 197 10
16 Oregon StateOregon State 4-0 185 19
17 Mississippi StateMississippi State 5-0 171 20
18 LouisvilleLouisville 5-0 158 17
19 Texas A&MTexas A&M 4-1 122 23
20 CincinnatiCincinnati 4-0 85 24
21 RutgersRutgers 5-0 82 25
22 TCUTCU 4-1 48 13
23 Boise StateBoise State 4-1 31 -
24 Iowa StateIowa State 4-1 29 -
25 Louisiana TechLouisiana Tech 5-0 24 -

Others Receiving Votes

Michigan State 18, Arizona State 15, UCLA 13, Northwestern 13, Nebraska 12, Oklahoma State 11, North Carolina State 10, Michigan 10, Baylor 9, Ohio 5, Texas Tech 3, Wisconsin 1

Teams Dropped Out from Last Week's Poll

Nebraska, Northwestern, UCLA


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

<p> As voted on by 17 coaching legends</p>
Post date: Monday, October 8, 2012 - 14:50
Path: /nascar/kenseth-survives-talladega-destruction

It’s a NASCAR theme that plays out as regularly as the seasons on the calendar change—in fact, it occurs seasonally, as NASCAR’s four restrictor-plate dates reside in February, May, July and October: The perils of “pack racing” at the sport’s largest venues, Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

Quarterly, television commercials sell viewers on the promise of intense, white-knuckle, photo-finish action, complete with a major-league version of the local Saturday night Demolition Derby.

Make no mistake, the selling points are true. Horsepower-sapping restrictor plates put a ceiling on the power each engine produces. The result is a giant pack of sleek racecars, jostling just inches from one another at nearly 200 mph.

The spectacle is undeniable; the outcome all-too-predictable. Drivers, hellbent on leading the only lap that counts—the last one—fight for every inch of real estate in the race’s final circuits. Inevitably, the paint-swapping turns too aggressive and savagery commences.

Such was the case on Sunday, when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series made its fall pilgrimage to Talladega, Ala., home to the 2.66-mile behemoth superspeedway, with its lurching tri-oval and 33-degree-banked turns.

Filling in the event’s template this trip, it was Matt Kenseth that avoided the big wreck on the final lap of a green-white-checker overtime finish, taking the win. Sunday’s version of the “Big One” was, in fact, an actual big one, as 25 cars piled into one another.

Tony Stewart accepted blame for this trip’s destruction, which occurred as the 30-car pack barreled through Turns 3 and 4. Defending the lead, his ill-timed block of Michael Waltrip’s surging machine ignited the grinding melee that saw Stewart’s car turn upside down, only to land on all four wheels. He, along with all others involved, walked away physically unharmed.

“I just screwed up,” Stewart said. “I turned down across Michael (Waltrip) and crashed the whole field. It was my fault blocking to try to stay where I was.

“I was trying to win the race. Michael got a great run on the bottom, a big head of steam. When I turned down, I turned down across Michael’s racecar. Just a mistake on my part that cost a lot of people.”

Kenseth, meanwhile, had the good fortune to be on the high side of the three-wide pack. As chaos ensued behind his Ford, he had clean track in the windshield and sailed through the tri-oval unchallenged to take the checkered flag.

Somehow (and there’s always a “somehow” in these wrecks) Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch skated past the mess and finished second and third.

Kenseth, as most race-winning survivors state, had little insight into what happened. After all, he was in front of the incident. The obligatory, “I’m really proud to be in Victory Lane with these guys; they worked on it hard today,” and “I don't know how that happened,” was all the victor could muster.

However, other drivers—even those not involved— had strong words about the style of racing on NASCAR’s two largest tracks.

“At the end you know it’s going to get aggressive,” Gordon said. “It started to ramp up, so you’re pretty sure there’s going to be a caution, and then with the green-white-checker, you know you’re not making it back to the checkered (flag).

“I remember when coming to Talladega was fun, I really do, and I haven’t experienced that in a long, long time. I don’t like coming here. I don’t like the type of racing that I have to do.”

The most unlikely critic this time (and there’s always at least one post-race critic), was the man who once championed pack racing: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“If this is what we did every week, I wouldn’t be doing it, I will just put it to you like that,” said Earnhardt, who was swept up in the accident and finished 20th. “If this is how we raced every week, I would find another job.

“I don’t even want to go to Daytona or Talladega next year, but I ain’t got much choice.”

But return the series and its band of driver will. Daytona testing is scheduled for January while Speedweeks at the same facility culminates with the Daytona 500 on Feb. 24.

And the same story will be written then. Just insert here the race-winner’s quote, offending-party’s name and number of cars involved in the last-lap crash.

by Matt Taliaferro
Follow Matt on Twitter:

<p> Matt Kenseth survived a last-lap crash that involved 25 cars to win NASCAR's Good Sam 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Monday, October 8, 2012 - 13:24
Path: /nfl/houston-texans-vs-new-york-jets-preview-and-prediction

Two contrasting AFC teams will meet on Monday Night Football when the New York Jets host the Houston Texans at 8:30 pm EST on ESPN. The Texans are off to a stellar start, standing at 4-0 and topping their opponents by a combined 70 points on the year. On the other hand, the Jets enter the game at 2-2 but have been outscored 81-33 since their Week 1 victory over the Bills. Additionally, New York has already lost two top playmakers for the season in cornerback Darrelle Revis and receiver Santonio Holmes.

When the New York Jets have the ball:
The Jets were all about the “ground-and-pound” running attack when they went to consecutive AFC title games in 2009 and 2010, but they are only averaging 86.5 yards per game on the ground this season. In fact, top tailback Shonn Greene is only averaging 2.8 yards per carry on 68 rushes this year. Quarterback Mark Sanchez has struggled mightily over the last three weeks, and many fans are waiting to see the polarizing Tim Tebow take over at signal caller. With Holmes out and tight end Dustin Keller and receiver Stephen Hill listed as doubtful, it’s difficult to see the Jets moving the ball on a consistent basis.

The Texans defense ranked No. 2 in the NFL in 2011, and that number has improved to No.1 in the league this season. Wade Phillips’ group has allowed only 273 yards and 14.0 points per game this season, while also compiling nine takeaways. Additionally, Houston defenders scored twice on interception returns in last week’s 38-14 win over the Titans. The key on Monday night for the Texans defense will be to not lapse in concentration against a struggling Jets attack.

When the Houston Texans have the ball:
The running game has been the calling card for the Houston offense over the last couple of seasons, but quarterback Matt Schaub has also been very effective this year. The veteran signal caller has 953 passing yards and seven touchdowns this season against only one interception. Arian Foster has compiled 380 rushing yards and four touchdowns in four games, but the Houston ground game has not been able to break many long runs so far. Andre Johnson is still the Texans top receiving threat, while tight end Owen Daniels and fullback James Casey have played a large role in the passing game as well.

The Jets defense was a force to be reckoned with over the last few years, but the 2012 unit has been gashed on a constant basis. New York is allowing over 27 points per contest, and the defense has only compiled five sacks and six takeaways on the season. The biggest issue for Jets has been their 31st-ranked run defense, as they are giving up over 170 yards per game on the ground. Last week against the 49ers, New York surrendered an alarming 245 yards and three touchdown runs.

Key Factor:
Houston appears to be the most balanced team in the NFL on both sides of the ball, and New York is simply not playing well. To stay in this game and give themselves a chance to win in the fourth quarter, the Jets must find a way to limit the Texans running attack. If Rex Ryan’s team can force Schaub into mistakes and not turn the ball over, then perhaps the home crowd can lift the Jets. Look for New York to play inspired ball, but for the better team to take this game and move to 5-0 on the season.

Texans 24 Jets 16

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> Houston Texans vs. New York Jets Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Monday, October 8, 2012 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/eight-amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-5

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

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 5 of NFL play:

9-4: Tom Brady's win-loss record against Peyton Manning
When it comes to raw football talent and overall ability, Peyton Manning may get the slight edge over Tommy Boy. But ask any quarterback who has ever taken a snap in the National Football League and they will tell you, winning is all that matters. Brady has clearly owned the head-to-head series with Mr. Manning after a dominating 31-21 performance this weekend. The former Michigan grad won the first six meetings, has won three of the last four and is 2-1 in playoff meetings all time against his rival. Brady's Patriots have never scored fewer than 20 points against the Tennessee grad while Manning has failed to reach the 20-point plateau four times. Sunday marked the first time in NFL history that a game featured two quarterbacks with at least 300 touchdown passes and was only the second meeting of two quarterbacks with at least 125 wins (Elway-Marino, 1998).

No. 12: Jersey number for Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck
These two quarterbacks put on a show on Sunday afternoon in Indianapolis. It's only fitting considering these two signal callers will likely be tethered to one another for the rest of their careers. Both got prestigious degrees from Pac-12 Bay Area programs. Both are first-round saviors replacing legends in Midwestern NFL strongholds. They are virtually identical in stature, athletic ability, arm strength and demeanor. And both wear No. 12.  In their first career meeting, however, it was The Pupil who took The Master to school in what was the fourth battle of a reigning MVP and reigning No. 1 overall pick — and the first time the rookie won. Luck became only the second QB to throw for 300-yards in three of his first four career games (Cam Newton) and is the first rookie QB to ever throw for at least 1,200 yards and record two wins in his first four career games. He is averaging 302 yards passing per game, has two final-minute, game-winning drives and is leading all AFC quarterbacks in rushing (104 yards, TD). While Redskins fans are wondering how long RGIII will be out after a nasty smack from Sean Weatherspoon, Colts fans might be thinking Wild Card.

7-to-11: Michael Vick's total touchdown-to-total turnover ratio in 2012
Michael Vick lost his fourth and fifth fumbles on the season in the two-point loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday. It is the most lost fumbles for Vick in a season since 2005 (5) and is just two shy of his career-worst mark (7), which he set in 2004. That gives him 11 total turnovers in five games (really four games since he had none last week against the Giants) and only seven total touchdowns (6 pass, 1 rush). In 25 career starts with the Eagles prior to 2012, Vick turned the ball over only 27 times with 52 total touchdowns. Phily has played four of five games in which the final margin of victory was two points or less, so a quarterback who is turning the ball over 2.2 times per game isn't acceptable. Vick is on pace for 19 interceptions and 16 fumbles lost and just 22 total touchdowns. 

5-0: The best start in Atlanta Falcons' franchise history
Matt Ryan moved to 15-0 when throwing for at least 300 yards with another stellar performance against Washington. It gives the Falcons their first-ever 5-0 start in franchise history. Ryan tossed it around for 345 yards and two touchdowns — including a gorgeous scoring strike to Julio Jones to take the lead in the fourth quarter. It was Ryan's 18th career game-winning drive, the most by a quarterback in his first five years in the Super Bowl era. Future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez posted his 29th career 100-yard receiving effort, as his 13 catches and 123 yards were personal bests as a Falcon. The Redskins fall to 2-3, but more importantly, lost Robert Griffin III to an injury after the young quarterback made a terrible decision to cut up field instead of throwing the ball away near the goal line.

35-27: The Bears defense has outscored its last three opponents
Chicago has scored five defensive touchdowns in the last three games against St. Louis, Dallas and Jacksonville. Those three teams combined to score 27 points against the Bears defense. Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs both scored again this weekend on INT-TDs, marking the first time in NFL history two teammates each returned an interception for a touchdown in consecutive games. Had the offense not scored a single point in any of the three games, the Bears would have finished 2-1 over that span with wins over the Rams and Jags. This unit is right there with San Francisco as the best in the NFC. Speaking of...

556: Rushing yards by the 49ers in the last two weeks
Jim Harbaugh is now 17-4 as a head coach in the NFL after the Niners posted its best two-game stretch in 50 years. No 49ers team has had back-to-back 30-point wins since 1961, but did so with wins over the Bills and the Jets the last two weeks by a combined 76 points (79-3). Buffalo entered the game leading the NFL in offensive touchdowns (16) and managed just three points in the crushing road loss. The Niners rolled-up a franchise record 621 yards of offense and have rushed for an absurd 556 yards rushing over the last two weeks (245 and 311). Alex Smith continues his evolution from first round bust to All-Pro as San Fran looks like the best team in the league right now.

212: Career-high receiving yards by Reggie Wayne
The former Miami Hurricane abused Charles Woodson all afternoon in Indy to the tune of 13 receptions, a career-high 212 yards and the game-winning touchdown. He showed toughness, heart and plenty of spring in his 33-year-old legs. It was a tremendous day for a historic player who is two catches shy of 900 for his career and scored his 75th receiving touchdown to give the Colts their second win of the year. It was a remarkable performance for a truly great player who has 12,214 career receiving yards in 12 NFL seasons. And by the way, his 506 yards this season is his best four-game start to any of those 12 years.

0: Seconds the Kansas City Chiefs have led in regulation
It's hard to believe, but the Chiefs have yet to hold a lead in regulation in 2012. The Ravens never trailed this weekend in the 9-6 victory that dropped KC to 1-4. Even in the overtime win over New Orleans last weekend, the Chiefs never held a lead in regulation. To make matters worse for one of the worst teams in the league, Arrowhead faithful were cheering when embattled starting quarterback Matt Cassel got hurt late in the game. It was ugly football, but have some class folks. Even if your team has played five football games and never has really been ahead at any point.

Bonus Super Stat!

48: Drew Brees consecutive games with a TD pass
I covered this in last week's stats, so I didn't want to dive too deep into Brees' record. It is an amazing accomplishment and congrats are due. But the most important number for the Saints is the "1" in the win column. As a side note, Brady moved into sole possession of third place with his 37th consecutive game with a touchdown pass.

- by Braden Gall


<p> Eight Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 5</p>
Post date: Monday, October 8, 2012 - 06:50
Path: /college-football/sec-post-week-6-power-rankings

There was a big shakeup in the SEC on Saturday. South Carolina climbed to No. 2 in the league power rankings (and No. 3 in the nation) with their impressive win over Georgia, and Florida moved up to No. 3 after beating LSU 14–6 in Gainesville. Also, Vanderbilt jumped from 12th to ninth after beating Missouri in Columbia.

Post-Week 6 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Mike Gillislee, Florida — The senior tailback rushed for 146 yards and scored the game’s only two touchdowns in Florida’s 14–6 victory over LSU. Gillislee leads the SEC in rushing with 109.6 yards per game.

2. Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M — Manziel threw for 191 yards and rushed for a career-high 129 as the Aggies rallied from 10 points down in the fourth quarter to beat Ole Miss in Oxford. Manziel has thrown for 1,285 yards with 11 touchdowns and two interceptions and has rushed for 495 and seven scores.

3. Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina — Lattimore has rushed for 100-plus yards in three of four SEC games, including 109 on 24 carries in the Gamecocks’ 35–7 win over Georgia on Saturday. He is averaging 106.0 yards and has scored seven touchdowns in four SEC games.


Post-Week 6 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina — The likely No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft helped shut down what had been a potent Georgia attack on Saturday night. Clowney recorded four tackles, two for a loss (plus one sack) in South Carolina’s 35–7 win over Georgia.

2. Jarvis Jones, Georgia — It wasn’t the finest moment for the Georgia defense, but Jones is still one of the elite defensive players in the nation. The junior linebacker had four tackles, including 1.5 for a loss, vs. South Carolina.

3. Kevin Minter, LSU — Minter was a monster for the LSU defense in a 14–6 loss at Florida. The junior linebacker recorded 20 tackles (including two sacks) and forced a fumble vs. the Gators. In six games, he has 54 total tackles, two tackles and three pass break-ups.


Post-Week 6 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Nick Saban, Alabama — It’s tempting to put Steve Spurrier up top, but Saban is the boss of the consensus No. 1 team in the nation.

2. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina — The Gamecocks have ascended to No. 3 in the nation in the polls after beating Georgia on Saturday night. South Carolina is playing with supreme confidence.

3. Will Muschamp, Florida — The Gators improved to 4–0 in the SEC with an impressive win over LSU. The defense was dominant and the running game was sound — just like Muschamp likes it. 


1. Alabama (5–0, 2-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 5 result: Bye
The Tide took the week off and watched three top-five teams lose on a crazy Saturday of college football. Next week, Alabama heads to Missouri, which must regroup after losing at home to Vanderbilt. Mizzou quarterback James Franklin is not expected to play.
Next week: at Missouri

2. South Carolina (6–0, 4–0, SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 5 result: Beat Georgia 35–7
On a special night in Columbia, South Carolina delivered arguably the biggest win in school history. The Gamecocks discarded SEC East rival Georgia with stunning ease and have now entered the national championship picture. “We definitely sent a message out to the whole country,” Gamecocks tailback Marcus Lattimore said. “It’s not the old South Carolina. We can play with y’all. We can play with anybody.” Lattimore led the way with 109 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries. Connor Shaw only completed six passes but he threw for 162 yards and two touchdowns and did not throw an interception for the third straight game.
Next week: at LSU

3. Florida (5-0, 4-0 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 5 result: Beat LSU 14–6
The Gators passed another huge test on Saturday afternoon to improve to 4–0 in the SEC. The Florida defense, which gave up a total of 74 points in losses to LSU in 2010 and ’11, was dominant. LSU managed only 200 total yards and was held to two field goals — both in the first half. Tailback Mike Gillislee pounded out 146 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries to lead the Florida offensive attack. “I’ll take Gilly over anybody,” UF coach Will Muschamp said after the game. “I tell him that all the time, and I mean that. I felt that way in spring and going into fall camp. He’s a Will Muschamp guy.” The Gators only had 248 total yards, but converted 7-of-14 on third down and averaged a respectable 3.2 yards per rush.
Next week: at Vanderbilt

4. LSU (5–1, 1–1 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 5 result: Lost to Florida 14–6
LSU boasts a championship defense. The Tigers’ offense? Not so much. Les Miles’ club had only 200 yards of offense and did not score a touchdown on its way to its first regular-season loss since a 24–17 setback at Auburn in October 2010. Zach Mettenberger, who was expected to provide an upgrade at the quarterback position, completed only 11-of-25 passes for 158 yards — with 56 coming on one play that ended up with a fumble and lost possession. And the Tigers’ usually rock-solid rushing attack was limited to 42 yards on 25 carries.
Next week: South Carolina

5. Georgia (5–1, 3–1 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 5 result: Lost to South Carolina 35–7
Time to put the brakes on the “Georgia is elite” talk. The Bulldogs, who opened the season with five straight wins and climbed into the top five in the national rankings, suffered a sobering defeat at Williams-Brice Stadium Saturday night. Georgia entered the game averaging 536.0 yards and 48.2 points per game; they had 224 and seven vs. the Gamecocks. Freshman tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, both averaging over 85 yards through the first five games, were held to a total of 76 yards on 25 carries. And Aaron Murray, the savvy junior quarterback, had the worst game of his career, completing only 11-of-31 for 198 yards and no touchdowns.
Next week: Bye

6. Mississippi State (5–0, 2–0 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 5 result: Beat Kentucky 27–14
With a huge home game with Tennessee looming, the Bulldogs avoided a letdown by beating Kentucky by 13 points in Lexington. Mississippi State jumped out to a 14–0 lead in the first quarter and was never really threatened. The Bulldogs outgained UK 428 to 228 and shined on third down, converting 10-of-18 (compared to 5-of-15 for Kentucky). Tyler Russell threw for 273 yards and two touchdowns, and LaDarius Perkins ran for 110 yards and a score on 24 carries. Russell, in his first season as the full-time starter, has only thrown one interception in 129 attempts.
Next week: Tennessee

7. Texas A&M (4–1, 2–1 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 5 result: Beat Ole Miss 30–27
It’s not often that you can win a game on the road in the SEC when you turn the ball over six times. But Texas A&M did just that, thanks to a fourth quarter rally that turned a 27–17 deficit into a 30–27 victory — the first on the road for the Aggies in the SEC. Johnny Manziel, who didn’t throw an interception through his first four games, was picked off twice, but he made big plays when the game was on the line. He cut the lead to four with a 29-yard touchdown run with just under seven minutes remaining, and he put the Aggies on top with 2:33 on the clock when he found Ryan Swope for a 20-yard score. The redshirt freshman quarterback ended the game with 191 yards passing and 129 on the ground.
Next week: at Louisiana Tech

8. Tennessee (3–2, 0–2 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 5 result: Bye
The Vols are bracing for a brutal three-game stretch that features road trips to Mississippi State and South Carolina sandwiched around a home game with Alabama. Derek Dooley cannot afford to lose all three games.
Next week: at Mississippi State

9. Vanderbilt (2–3, 1–2 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 5 Result: Beat Missouri 19–15
Vanderbilt finally won a close game. The Commodores had lost six straight games decided by seven points or less but gutted out a four-point win over Missouri in Columbia. The Commodores struggled for much of the night on offense, but moved the ball at key times in the second half and dominated on special teams to give James Franklin his first SEC road win as the head coach at Vanderbilt. Tailback Zac Stacy’s stat line wasn’t overly impressive — he netted 72 yards on 29 carries — but he scored two touchdowns, threw a 24-yard pass to Jordan Rodgers and salted the game away with a third down run in the final 90 seconds.
Next week: Florida

10. Missouri (3–3, 0–3 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 5 result: Lost to Vanderbilt 19–15
Missouri is still searching for its first win in the SEC. The Tigers opened strong against Vanderbilt, marching 61 yards and 90 yards on their first two possessions (both resulting in field goals) with James Franklin running the show. But after Franklin went down with a knee injury, the Mizzou offense sputtered. Backup Corbin Berkstresser, who led MU to a win over Arizona State earlier this season, completed only 9-of-30 passes in relief. Missouri outgained Vanderbilt by 100 yards (395 to 295) but the Tigers lost the special teams battle. Punter Trey Barrow dropped a snap in the end zone that resulted in a safety in the first quarter, and MU botched a potential game-tying extra point in the fourth quarter. Next week, No. 1 Alabama rolls into town, and Franklin is not expected to play. Good luck Tigers.
Next week: Alabama

11. Ole Miss (3–3, 0–3 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 5 result: Lost to Texas A&M 30–27
Ole Miss is clearly an improved team under first-year coach Hugh Freeze, but the Rebels are still looking for their first SEC win of the season. They led Texas A&M 27–17 midway through the fourth quarter but were unable to come up with big stops when it mattered most. The Rebels’ offense did its part, with 464 total yards and a solid 9-of-19 conversion rate on third down. But the Ole Miss defense gave up 481 yards, including 290 on the ground, and allowed A&M to convert 9-of-15 on third down. Through six games, Ole Miss ranks 42nd in the nation in total offense and 56th in total defense; last year, through six games, the Rebs ranked 117th and 106th.
Next week: Auburn

12. Arkansas (2–4, 1–2 SEC)
Last week’s rank: 14
Week 5 result: Beat Auburn 24–7
The Hogs broke through with their first win against an FBS opponent this season — and it was done without breaking too much of a sweat. Arkansas pounded Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium, taking advantage of an inept Tiger offense that had 321 total yards and committed five turnovers. The Razorback pass defense that had been torched in the first five games “held” Auburn to only 242 yards through the air. Tyler Wilson was sharp at quarterback for Arkansas, completing 20-of-27 for 216 yards. The running attack was paced by Dennis Johnson, who had 17 carries for 76 yards and two scores. Knile Davis, a preseason All-American, only had three rushing attempts for minus-4 yards.
Next week: Kentucky

13. Auburn (1-3, 0-2 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 5 result: Lost to Arkansas 24–7
It’s never a good sign when the head coach issues an apology to the fans who paid money to attend the game. But that’s what Gene Chizik did following his team’s 24–7 loss to Arkansas. The Tigers managed only 321 yards of offense against a Razorback defense that had given up 525 yards or more in three of its previous four games. Quarterback Kiehl Frazier, who has struggled in his first season as the starter, was pulled at the half in favor of Clint Moseley. A junior who started six games last season, Moseley completed 13-of-21 passes for 163 yards and one touchdown, but he also tossed two interceptions and was sacked four times.
Next week: at Ole Miss

14. Kentucky (1–5, 0–3 SEC)
Last week’s rank:
Week 5 Result: Lost to Mississippi State 27–14
There were some moments of hope — most notably when true freshman Patrick Towles guided the Wildcats on an 80-yard touchdown drive in the first half — but in the end it was another double-digit loss for Kentucky. The Wildcats were held to 228 yard of offense and are averaging an alarmingly low 230 yards in three SEC games. Towles completed 5-of-6 passes for 71 yards and one touchdown in his debut that was cut short by an ankle injury. Jalen Whitlow, the starter (and also a true freshman), completed 10-of-21 for 73 yards. On a positive note, UK did not commit a turnover for the first time since a Week 2 win over Kent State.
Next week: at Arkansas


<p> There was a big shakeup in the SEC on Saturday. South Carolina climbed to No. 2 in the league power rankings (and No. 3 in the nation) with their impressive win over Georgia, and Florida moved up to No. 3 after beating LSU 14–6 in Gainesville. Also, Vanderbilt jumped from 12th to ninth after beating Missouri in Columbia.</p>
Post date: Monday, October 8, 2012 - 06:45
Path: /college-football/pac-12-post-week-6-power-rankings

This weekend in college football was the biggest and most volatile to date. However, out West, Week 6 functioned more as an elimination weekend. Utah and UCLA have been all but removed from South Division contention. Washington proved it was still miles from competing with the North Division champs. And while Rich Rodriguez appears to have a solid team in Tucson, Arizona has started its conference slate 0-3, albeit in somewhat unlucky fashion.

Post-Week 6 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Matt Barkley, QB, USC - It was only a matter of time before Barkley returned to the top slot. He completed 23-of-30 passes for 303 yards and three scores with no interceptions in a huge come-from-behind road conference win over Utah. He leads the league with 15 TDs and is still the best player in the league.

2. Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State -
 The Beavers quarterback showed flaws this weekend, throwing three picks, but in a league loaded with huge statistical performers, Mannion is still unbeaten and is No. 2 in total offense at 324.3 yards per game. 

3. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - His running backs continue to cancel each other out, Taylor Kelly was on bye, Matt Scott and Ka'Deem Carey can't win a big game, the UCLA Bruins backfield choked this weekend and Mariota played his best in the biggest spot. He is tied with Barkley with 15 TD passes after four against UW and he is No. 2 in passing efficiency behind only Kelly. He has settled in as the leader of the best team in the league.

Post-Week 6 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State - The defense had to carry the Beavers to victory this weekend and Poyer was one of two stars. He intercepted three passes and now leads the league in INTs. He also had four tackles, one for loss and his seventh pass defended. He added a 24-yard punt return as well. 

2. Scott Crichton, DL, Oregon State - Normally two defenders from the same team would cancel each other out (see Oregon's RBs), but on the league's top defense, Crichton has been equally as important as Poyer. He posted four tackles, four tackles for loss and three sacks while holding Wazzu to 20 yards rushing. He now leads the league in TFL and sacks.

3. Nickell Robey, CB, USC - Oregon's Michael Clay falls off the list after not playing this weekend while Robey was brilliant on Thursday night. He had seven tackles, a forced fumble and the ended the game with a 38-yard INT returned for a touchdown. 

Post-Week 6 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Chip Kelly, Oregon - The Ducks are clearly the best team in the league to date. The offense hasn't missed a beat after losing two stars from last season and the defense is much improved — despite not having leader Michael Clay on the field against Washington.

2. Mike Riley, Oregon State - Oregon State's defense is starting to deserve some national attention as one of the best in the country. It allowed 227 total yards and six points to a MIke Leach team to stay undefeated.

3. Todd Graham, Arizona State  - Graham's team didn't play but made significant gains in the South standings due to key losses by UCLA, Utah and Arizona. The road trip to Heritage Hall on Nov. 10 is starting to look like a huge national game.

Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (6-0, 3-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 6 result: Beat Washington 52-21
Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas combined for 197 yards rushing, but Mariota was the star of the show. He kept plays alive with his legs, threw four scoring strikes and got the entire offense involved in the Ducks' attack (five different players scored six offensive touchdowns). The defense scored a touchdown for the third straight weekend as well. This team is clearly the best in the league, as the top offense in the Pac-12 scored at least 50 points for the fourth time in six games. Oregon averages over 300 yards rushing per game, has the league's No. 2 most efficient quarterback and, now, gets a chance to rest up for a marquee Thursday night trip into the desert to face an improved Arizona State team in 11 days.
This week: Open Date

2. USC (4-1, 2-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 6 result: Beat Utah 38-28
Lane Kiffin's offensive line was shaky to start and it gifted Utah a 14-0 lead with bad turnovers deep in their own territory. But Matt Barkley wasn't fazed and led his team back with, at one point, a 28-0 run to keep USC headed in the right direction. He posted his 13th career 300-yard effort and three big scoring strikes, including a game-changing 83-yard scoring toss to Marqise Lee. Curtis McNeal, who suffered an early concussion, and Silas Redd, who paced the team with 77 yards and a touchdown, both missed time due to minor injuries but both are expected to be fine for the trip to Seattle next weekend. There is no such thing as a bad road conference win on national television, but Kiffin will likely address the 14 penalties and two early turnovers accrued by the Trojans on Thursday night.
This week: at Washington (3-2)

3. Oregon State (4-0, 3-0)
Previous rank: 3
Week 6 result: Beat Washington State 19-6
The offense carried this team to a road win over Arizona two weeks ago. This week, Mike Riley used a dominate defense to stay unblemished. The Beavers allowed 20 yards rushing to the Cougars and continues to pace the league in rushing defense at 67.3 yards allowed per game. The improvement in stopping the ground game in Corvallis is one of the most remarkable one-year turnaround stories in the nation. Last fall, Riley's bunch ranked dead last in the Pac-12 and 101st overall at just under 200 yards rushing allowed per game. They are fourth nationally at stopping the run after four games. And while Sean Mannion reminded fans that he is still a sophomore this weekend, he is still leading his team to 458 yards per game.
This week: at BYU (4-2)

4. Stanford (4-1, 2-1)
Previous rank: 6
Week 6 result: Beat Arizona 54-48 (OT)
Josh Nunes was highly criticized after three straight poor passing performances for the Cardinal. Well, the normally dreaded vote of confidence turned out to be just what Nunes needed (facing the Wildcats defense helped some too). The senior signal caller set career highs in nearly every category — 365 passing yards, 33 rushing yards, 5 total TD — and was efficient throwing the football (21-of-34 passing). He led Stanford to 20 straight points to end the game and secure the overtime win. Stepfan Taylor also got back on track with 32 touches, 147 yards rushing and two touchdowns. This was a quality gut-check, bounce-back victory for David Shaw's squad.
This week: at Notre Dame  (5-0)

5. Arizona State (4-1, 2-0)
Previous rank: 8
Week 6 result: Off
There is a good chance that Todd Graham starts 5-1 in his first year in Tempe. More importantly, a win over Colorado next Thursday night would give him a 3-0 start in league play. And the national television opportunity gives him a chance to showcase his program in a big way against the lowly Bufffs.
This week: at Colorado (1-4)

6. Washington (3-2, 1-1)
Previous rank: 4
Week 6 result: 
Lost to Oregon 52-21

The Huskies defense made a huge statement in a Week 5 win against Stanford and then came crashing back down to earth in Eugene. It allowed Oregon to rush out to a 21-0 lead and an eventual 35-7 halftime lead. It allowed 299 yards rushing and six offensive touchdowns to the Ducks. Washington's rushing game showed signs of life (208 yards rushing, 3 TD), but Keith Price could never get anything going through the air  — and actually scored more for Oregon (INT return TD) than he did for Washington. Oregon has now won nine straight games against the Huskies. Things don't get any easier as Steve Sarkisian's month from hell culminates with a visit from a resurgent USC team.
This week: USC (4-1)

7. UCLA (4-2, 1-2)
Previous rank: 5
Week 6 result: Lost to Cal 43-17
This was one of the most disappointing scores in the league to date this fall. This is the type of game true contenders have to win to stay relevant in the Pac-12 title race and Jim Mora's bunch was completely out-played. Brett Hundley and the offense turned the ball over six times, including four interceptions from the developing passer, and allowed four sacks. Meanwhile, the defense got torched through the air (295 yards, 4 TD) as well as on the ground (186 yards, 2 TD). This performance against a reeling Cal team likely reminds UCLA fans entirely too much of previous regimes. UCLA and Utah square-off this weekend in a game that could determine bowl eligibility.
This week: Utah (2-3) 

8. Arizona (3-3, 0-3)
Previous rank: 7
Week 6 result: Lost to Stanford 54-48
It was a great game with 10 lead changes, superstar performances and over 1,200 yards of offense. But for Matt Scott (506 yards, 3 TD) and Ka'Deem Carey (133 yards, 3 TD), the result was the same: Another crushing conference loss. With just over nine minutes to go, the Wildcats pushed its lead to 48-34 only to watch its defense allow yet another fourth-quarter comeback. Rich Rodriguez' offense is virtually unstoppable and was very impressive against a normally sound Stanford defense, but this team won't be able to compete in the South until it upgrades the talent on the defensive side of the ball. 
This week: Open Date

9. California (2-4, 1-2)
Previous rank: 10
Week 6 result: Beat UCLA 43-17
Jeff Tedford's tenure in Berkeley isn't over just yet. With their backs against the wall, the Golden Bears put together what was easily their best performance of a very disappointing 2012 campaign. They set a season-high for rushing attempts (42), passing yards (295), turnovers forced (6), points allowed (17) and scored more points than they had against FBS competition all year. Quarterback Zach Maynard played his best game of the year. The win merely stopped the bleeding for Tedford, who needs to continue to win to stay employed at Cal.
This week: at Washington State (2-4)

10. Utah (2-3, 0-2)
Previous rank: 
Week 6 result: Lost to USC 38-28
The Utes got a few lucky turnovers early, capitalized on them to build a 21-10 second quarter lead, but simply couldn't hold onto victory against a far superior football team. USC held the Utes running game in check and got off the field on third-downs — Utah was just 3-of-12 converting them — to rally for a clutch road win. Jon Hays was forced to throw short passes and couldn't get much going on offense after the nine minute-mark of the second period. With back-to-back road trips to UCLA and Oregon State now facing Kyle Whittingham's bunch, bowl eligibility is looking more and more unlikely by the week. At least, the uninformed national media got a clear look at just how good Star Lotulelei can be.

This week: at UCLA (4-2)

11. Colorado (1-4, 1-1)
Previous rank: 11
Jon Embree's squad needed the bye week to regroup after a brutal first month of the season. Next on top is a much-improved Arizona State Sun Devils team coming to Boulder with a balanced attack and off of a week of rest as well. Every game is a must-win for the embattled Buffs coach.
This week: Arizona State (4-1)

12. Washington State (2-4, 0-3)
Previous rank: 12
Week 6 result: Lost to Oregon State 19-6
Mike Leach has coached 132 games in his career and has failed to score 10 points only six times. Saturday's dreadful offensive performance featured five turnovers and only 227 yards of total offense as the Cougars failed to reach the end zone for the second time in five games this fall. Leach never has featured a stellar ground attack but 20 yards on 14 attempts isn't even trying. Wazzu now ranks 98th in scoring offense, 96th in total offense, 100th in total defense and 91st in scoring defense. It's been a rough return to the field for the quirky head coach.

This week: Cal  (2-4)

by Braden Gall


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<p> Pac-12 Post-Week 6 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 8, 2012 - 06:15