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All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-6-sit-or-start
Body:

We’ve reached the midway point of most fantasy league regular-season schedules.  Gone are the non-conference mismatches, as the weekly schedule shifts into conference play overload.  No more Oregon versus Tennessee Tech.  No more Florida State versus Savannah State.  No more SEC versus Sun Belt Conference……bad example.  No more Big Ten versus MAC…….another bad example.  For those of you who loaded your rosters with non-BCS players, your time is finally here.

Start

Chase Rettig, QB-Boston College vs Army

Rettig should shred an Army defense giving up 38.8 points and nearly 475 yards per game this season.
 

Tyler Van Tubbergen, QB-Western Michigan vs Massachusetts

Van Tubbergen’s first start of the season did not go as planned last week, but look for the junior to bounce back against a Minutemen defense allowing 41.8 points and 494 yards per game.
 

Tevin Washington, QB-Georgia Tech at Clemson

Clemson is giving up more than 175 yards per game on the ground and that number figures to climb after the Yellow Jackets leave town.
 

Cody Green, QB-Tulsa at Marshall

Expect Cody Green to fill up the stat sheet through the air and on the ground against a Marshall defense allowing 44.4 points per game, worst in the FBS.
 

Terrance Broadway, QB-Louisiana vs Tulane

Terrance Broadway has taken over for starting quarterback Blaine Gautier, who may miss the rest of the regular season with a hand injury.  Broadway’s confidence should continue to grow as he faces a Tulane defense allowing 42.8 points per game.
 

Zac Stacy, RB-Vanderbilt at Missouri

Stacy’s only 100-yard game of the season came against Presbyterian three weeks ago, but we’re expecting the Vandy offense to rely heavily on its senior tailback this week at Missouri
 

Trayion Durham and Dri Archer, RBs-Kent St at Eastern Michigan

This thunder and lightning combination has scored nine of the Golden Flashes’ thirteen offensive touchdowns.  Expect another 2-3 scores this week against an Eastern Michigan defense that gives up 36.3 points per game.
 

John White, RB-Utah vs USC

This decision was not an easy one, but White should be well rested and healthy when the Trojans come to Rice-Eccles Stadium for a nationally televised Thursday night contest.
 

Todd Gurley, RB-Georgia at South Carolina

Gurley’s touches have increased over the past two weeks and the freshman should get another heavy workload on the road at South Carolina.
 

Jared Abbrederis, WR vs Illinois

Since his return from injury two weeks ago, Abbrederis has gone for 6-147-1 and 7-142-1 in back-to-back weeks.  We believe he will reach the century mark for the third week in a row.
 

Keyarris Garrett, WR-Tulsa at Marshall

Last week, Garrett was posted on our Emergency Starters list and caught six passes for 52 yards and a touchdown.  In an up-tempo game against Marshall, Garrett has the potential to post bigger numbers this week.
 

Bench

Shane Carden, QB-East Carolina at Central Florida

The Pirates defeated UTEP by ten points last week, despite three interceptions by the sophomore quarterback Shane Carden.  Expect a lot pressure from a Central Florida defense that held Missouri to 21 point last week.
 

James Franklin, QB-Missouri vs Vanderbilt

You can’t convince us that Franklin is the same quarterback since his shoulder injury.  For the season, he has rushed for 52 yards and zero touchdowns in 50 attempts.
 

James Sims, RB-Kansas at Kansas St

Sims was impressive two weeks ago in his debut against Northern Illinois, but this week he faces a Kansas State defense ranked 15th ranked in the country against the run.
 

Lyle McCombs, RB-UConn at Rutgers

McCombs has only eclipsed the 100-yard mark once in 2012 and this week he faces the nation’s No. 1 ranked rush defense.
 

Mike Gillislee, RB-Florida vs LSU

You can make worse roster moves than starting Gillislee against an LSU defense that is only giving up 86 yards rushing per game, but a roster with solid depth may have more favorable options. 
 

Dominique Whaley, RB-Oklahoma at Texas Tech

Whaley has only rushed for 168 yards and one touchdown this season, so we’re going to take a wait-and-see approach with a player on the verge of being dropped, if he hasn’t already been thrown back into your league waiver pool.
 

Orleans Darkwa, RB-Tulane at Louisiana

Darkwa made his return last week and rushed for seven yards on seven carries against LA-Monroe.  In four games this season, Tulane has run the ball for a total of 20 yards, averaging 5 yards per game.  Five!
 

Phillip Dorsett, WR-Miami at Notre Dame

Dorsett was listed in our Waiver Wire on Monday, but we’re not sure he’s a solid play against the Irish’s 19th ranked pass defense.

 

For Start/Bench advice from Joe DiSalvo, send an email to[email protected]

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 6 Sit or Start</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 04:56
Path: /nascar/backseat-drivers-fan-council-29
Body:

Members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council take a wider look at the sport this week, judging who they think the best crew chief in the Chase is and if the length of the Chase should remain 10 races. Here’s a look at what they had to say:

Who is the best crew chief in the Chase?

42.4 percent said Chad Knaus (Jimmie Johnson)
25.2 percent said Paul Wolfe (Brad Keselowski)
18.3 percent said Darian Grubb (Denny Hamlin
5.0 percent said Steve Letarte (Dale Earnhardt Jr.)
2.7 percent said Alan Gustafson (Jeff Gordon)
1.5 percent said Kenny Francis (Kasey Kahne)
1.1 percent said Steve Addington (Tony Stewart)
1.1 percent said Jimmy Fennig (Matt Kenseth)
1.1 percent said Chad Johnston (Martin Truex Jr.)
0.8 percent said Gil Martin (Kevin Harvick)
0.8 percent said Brian Pattie (Clint Bowyer)
0.0 percent said Matt Puccia (Greg Biffle)

What Fan Council members said:
• Five championships, well in contention for six. Chad has been and continues to be the best.

• Chad, and then everyone else. Chad Knaus has revolutionized the crew chief position and forced every other one to step up. If it wasn't for him, I'm not sure J.J. has even one title under his belt.

• Paul Wolfe is not afraid of taking a chance and he and Brad sure make a good pair.

• I gotta give it to Paul for this year. So far they have not faltered, in fact they've shown the way to others by giving his driver all the adjustments necessary to excel at the end, when it counts. And he can count fuel mileage unlike others.

• Darian Grubb has shown that he has what it takes to be a great crew chief. He took Tony Stewart to a championship last year and then was dumped. He bounced back and has given Denny Hamlin his best year yet. No matter if he wins the championship or not, Denny is having a great year. And if he does win the championship, it will be with the help of a great crew chief.

• I think that Darian is the best in the garage. Look at his record the last two years and you can't say any other crew chief has won more races. He's the top dog.

• I chose Steve Letarte because he is responsible for the unbelievable transformation of Dale Jr. I rode with Junior during driver's introduction in 2010. What I saw was a very unhappy and depressed man with no confidence. Interviews were done with his head down. Now he appears to be a happy, confident driver who has an awesome relationship with his crew chief and is appreciative of what he has. One of the biggest changes is what you hear on the scanner.

• So far it's hard to bet against Alan Gustafson. Not only has he made the right calls, the obvious respect he and Jeff have for each other along with the trust Jeff has in Alan's decisions make them a team worth noting.

• Mr. Fennig has forgotten more about technical matters than the other crew chiefs can ever hope to learn.

• Gil is an outstanding crew chief and gets very little credit for having to put up with Harvick on a daily basis.


How long should the Chase be?

80.8 percent said 10 races
10.8 percent said 5 races
4.2 percent said 8 races
4.2 percent said 6 races

What Fan Council members said:
• 10 weeks is good, that way if you blow it one week it does not mean game over.

• I think 10 is perfect. It has most every type of track there is other than a road course. Put one of those in and take one of the 1.5-milers out and you have a perfect collection.

• I like the number of races just the way it is. With 10 races it gives the fans a chance to see who will be the cream of the crop — who really deserves to be in the Chase. The champion won't be fluke, but a team who has shown to have consistency and can win some races.

• Five races. Richmond to get in, Bristol to start, then Watkins Glen, Talladega, Martinsville, Homestead. 10 races is too long. We got spoiled last year with the epic battle to the last lap of the season. I have a feeling we wont see that ever again.

• The Chase is perfect the way it is. If the number of races is shortened there will be no suspense at all. The driver who wins the first race will most likely win the championship. Right now it is fun to watch Jeff Gordon try to redeem himself. He wouldn't have a chance with a shortened Chase.

• One race each at a short track, road course, plate, 2-mile, 1.5-mile and a 1-mile track. Change the 1.5-mile track each year for the finale or have it at Las Vegas permanently.

• I picked 10, but believe 12 drivers and 12 races (with the current 36-race schedule) works best. Makes sense: a greater spread of races and possibility to make moves to the current bland schedule. Richmond could move back to the Chase decider or become a late-season race (a la Rockingham back in the day). I like the thought of a 500-mile race at Atlanta opening the Chase more than Chicago or New Hampshire.

• I don't like the Chase, but 10 is a good number. Attrition/elimination are about to enter into the picture. Fewer races would just make it about luck and who's hot at the moment.


Grade Sunday’s race at Dover

45.2 percent called it Fair
33.3 percent called it Good
18.8 percent called it Poor
2.7 percent called it Great

What Fan Council members said:
• One word for Sunday's race: STRANGE.

• We attended the race and came up with three exciting moments: The one instance of three-wide racing in Turn 2, Kyle Busch gaining on Jimmie Johnson toward the end and the breath-holding laps of Jeff Gordon fans hoping Alan Gustafson was right about having enough fuel (thanks Alan & Jeff for a very nice birthday gift! lol) 400 miles of racing & three moments of excitement (unless you're also a big fan of Brad Keselowski, then add his win). No wonder the stands were barely half full and emptied out by another quarter by the time the race ended. We used to love going to Dover. It's a shame the racing has gone downhill there too.

• What is going on in this Chase? No exciting races yet! This is another “Poor” rating for me for watching another high-speed parade of cars go around the track.

• I was there and any race at Dover is a great “in-person” race.

• Boring race till the last 50 laps.

• Boring race from start to finish. Didn't seem to be much hard racing, excitement or drama. Strategy and fuel mileage races will always be a part of the sport but it really doesn't make for a very exciting finish when drivers can't race each other because they have to slow down so they don't run out of fuel.

• It certainly was not a great race at all but not the worst. Only having six cars on the lead lap shook it up, which was fun to see. Otherwise, it seemed there was only a few passes and the finish wasn't too bad.

• I was there. This was without a doubt the most boring race I've ever been to (or seen on TV)! I left with about 70 laps to go. I've never seen so many folks leave so early en mass. I used buses provided by local law enforcement and encouraged by the track. Six full buses left before I was able to get on one (before race was over)!

• I really hated to give it a rating of “Poor” because that first caution put a lot of cars a lap or more down. NASCAR can't do anything about that — just dumb luck.

• It was my first NASCAR race and I enjoyed every moment of it. Great strategy towards the end and a surprise winner.


The Backseat Drivers Fan Council was founded and is administered by Dustin Long. Fans can join by sending Dustin an email at [email protected]

Please include the following information:
Name, city, state, Twitter name, e-mail address and favorite driver.
 

Teaser:
<p> Dustin Long's Backseat Drivers Fan Council shares its thoughts on the best crew chiefs, whether the Chase length is too long or just right and grades the racing at Dover.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 19:39
Path: /nfl/2012-nfl-picks-every-game-week-5
Body:

NFL Week 5 previews and predictions for every game on the schedule:

Cardinals (4-0) at Rams (2-2)
The Cardinals return to St. Louis, the city where the Birds played from 1960-87 before heading to the Valley of the Sun. The Cards are flying high, off to their best start in 38 years. In fact, Arizona has won 11 of its last 13 games dating back to last November.
Rams by 1

Eagles (3-1) at Steelers (1-2)
Although Pittsburgh has the historic edge over Philadelphia in Super Bowls — at six-to-zero — the City of Brotherly Love has the bragging rights head-to-head against the Steel City, with a 47–27–3 record. Eagles quarterback Mike Vick has a banged up knee and a bruised touchdown-to-turnover ratio, at five-to-nine. The dynamic lefty will have his work cut out for him against the Steelers, who return a healthy safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker James Harrison following their bye week.
Steelers by 3

Packers (2-2) at Colts (1-2)
Indy is in an impossible position following the sudden news that first-year coach Chuck Pagano has been diagnosed with leukemia and is out indefinitely. That puts even more of the burden on rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, who has been solid but not RG3-spectacular.
Packers by 10

Browns (0-4) at Giants (2-2)
The road doesn’t get any easier for winless Cleveland. After a tough Thursday night loss at Baltimore, the Browns take on the defending Super Bowl champion Giants in New Jersey. That’s a tough task for even the league’s best — but especially for arguably the NFL’s worst.
Giants by 11

Falcons (4-0) at Redskins (2-2)
Hot-lanta has been on fire so far this season. But so has Robert Griffin III, who has completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 1,070 yards, four TDs and one INT for a 103.2 passer rating, while rushing for 252 yards and four more TDs.
Falcons by 3

Dolphins (1-3) at Bengals (3-1)
Miami enters with the league’s top rushing defense (56.8 ypg) but the 30th-ranked passing defense (297.8 ypg). That could be a problem, as Cincy has the eighth-best passing offense (279.2 ypg) and one of the top young receivers in the game in A.J. Green.
Bengals by 5

Ravens (3-1) at Chiefs (1-3)
Baltimore has had 10 days to prep for K.C., a team whose running back, Jamaal Charles, said that he “sucked” last week.
Ravens by 9

Seahawks (2-2) at Panthers (1-3)
Imagine if the emotional Cam Newton had lost a game to a Golden Tate non-catch?
Panthers by 4

Bears (3-1) at Jaguars (1-3)
New owner, new coach, new quarterback, but same results for Jacksonville. On the bright side, the Jags are at home, playing a team coming off a short week, with a bipolar QB.
Bears by 7

Broncos (2-2) at Patriots (2-2)
Ali-Frazier. Russell-Chamberlain. Magic-Bird. Federer-Nadal. Brady-Manning. While Eli has redefined the meaning of Brady-Manning — by beating Tom Terrific in two Super Bowls — there’s nothing quite like Tommy Boy’s original rivalry with Peyton. The two best quarterbacks of the generation have met 12 times, with Brady carrying an 8–4 edge, with a 6–3 mark in the regular season and 2–1 playoff record.
Patriots by 6

Bills (2-2) at 49ers (3-1)
San Fran’s travel schedule has been hectic — going from the Bay to the Twin Cities to the Big Apple and back to the Bay for a contest with Canada’s favorite team.
49ers by 10

Titans (1-3) at Vikings (3-1)
The Jake Locker vs. Christian Ponder showdown of second-year signal-callers is off, following a blindside blitz from the Texans that knocked Locker’s left shoulder out of socket for the second time in a month. But the Chris Johnson vs. Adrian Peterson track meet is still on — that is, if Johnson plays like he did in Week 4 (141 yards) and not Weeks 1-3 (35).
Vikings by 4

Chargers (3-1) at Saints (0-4)
Drew Brees’ Sunday night showcase coincides with New Orleans hitting the panic button following an 0–4 start. Brees was drafted by the Chargers in 2001 — in a pick received as part of the Michael Vick draft day trade — and played in San Diego through 2005, when the Bolts decided to hand the keys to young gun Philip Rivers — who was acquired as part of the Eli Manning draft day trade of 2004. This week, the former mentor-protege duo of Brees and Rivers will go toe-to-toe in prime time.
Saints by 3

Texans (4-0) at Jets (2-2)
The stage is set on Monday night and there are countless drama-filled potential storylines. Will this be the week that the Jets crash and burn? Will Tim Tebow get a chance to steal the show? Will Jon Gruden’s head explode? Who knows?
Texans by 10
 

Last week: 11–4 // Season: 37–26

Teaser:
<p> NFL Week 5 previews and predictions for every game on the schedule, including Denver Broncos at New England Patriots, Houston Texans at New York Jets, Arizona Cardinals at St. Louis Rams, Philadelphia Eagles at Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons at Washington Redskins and Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 11:27
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /mlb/braves-sheets-retire-after-wednesdays-start
Body:

Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) - Atlanta Braves pitcher Ben Sheets will make the final start of an injury-plagued 10-year major league career when he takes the mound in Wednesday's regular-season finale at Pittsburgh.

Sheets, who returned to the big leagues in July after sitting out the entire 2011 season recovering from elbow surgery, told the Braves' official site of his decision on Tuesday.

"I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt I'm not playing again," he said. "No matter what, there is not enough help or money to pull me out of this one."

The veteran right-hander has not pitched since Aug. 24 due to a sore shoulder, but is expected to throw two innings to begin Wednesday's contest. Sheets will be taking the place of orginally scheduled starter Tim Hudson, who is slated to pitch Game 1 of a potential appearance in the National League Division Series if the Braves win Friday's wild card game at Turner Field.

Atlanta was eliminated from NL East title consideration following Monday's 2-1 loss to the Pirates.

Sheets is not expected to be included on Atlanta's postseason roster.

The 34-year-old has compiled a 94-96 record and a 3.54 earned run average over 249 career starts with Milwaukee, Oakland and the Braves and was named to the NL All-Star team four times (2001, 2004, 2007, 2008) during an eight-year stint with the Brewers from 2001-08. He missed all of 2009 after undergoing surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his elbow.

Sheets has gone 4-4 with a 3.54 ERA in eight starts with Atlanta this season.

Teaser:
<p> Atlanta Braves pitcher Ben Sheets will make the final start of an injury-plagued 10-year major league career when he takes the mound in Wednesday's regular-season finale at Pittsburgh.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 09:47
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /nfl/report-jets-holmes-miss-rest-season
Body:

New York, NY (Sports Network) - New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes will miss the remainder of the season with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot, according to a report in the New York Daily News.

Holmes suffered the injury during the fourth quarter of Sunday's 34-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers after making a catch. He immediately fell to the ground without being contacted and let go of the ball, which 49ers cornerback Carlos Rogers promptly returned for a 51-yard touchdown

The seven-year veteran was unable to put any weight on his left leg and was carted off the field.

X-rays of the foot were negative, but the Daily News reported an MRI on the injury by foot specialist Robert Anderson in North Carolina discovered the extent of the injury.

Holmes recorded four catches for 29 yards before exiting Sunday, and has 20 receptions for 272 yards and a touchdown this season.

This would be the second significant injury for the Jets this season as the team already lost superstar cornerback Darrelle Revis for the season due to an ACL injury.

Teaser:
<p> New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes will miss the remainder of the season with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot, according to a report in the New York Daily News.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 07:26
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-15-freshmen-after-week-5
Body:

With the halfway point of the 2012 college football season approaching, it's time to take a look at some of the top freshmen performers so far this season. For the purpose of this article, Athlon included true and redshirt freshman, with an emphasis on the offensive and defensive performers. Quarterbacks grabbed three of the top five spots, as UCLA's Brett Hundley barely edges Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel for No. 1.
 

College Football's Top 15 Freshmen After Week 5

1. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
The Bruins are off to their best start since 2005, largely due to the play of running back Johnathan Franklin and the emergence of Hundley. The redshirt freshman has been the perfect triggerman for coordinator Noel Mazzone’s spread attack, throwing for 1,470 yards and 11 touchdowns. Hundley has recorded 165 yards and four scores on the ground, including 53 in a 36-30 upset win over Nebraska. With a favorable schedule that features home games against Arizona, Stanford and USC, the Bruins could push the Trojans for the Pac-12 South crown. It's a tossup between Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel and Hundley for the No. 1 spot. Although Manziel has the edge in completion percentage and has yet to throw an interception, Hundley has less of a supporting cast, which is the tiebreaker in this vote for No. 1.

2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Aggie fans had high hopes for Manziel, and he hasn’t disappointed through the first four games of the season. “Johnny Football” has thrown for 1,094 yards and 10 touchdowns, while rushing for 366 yards and six scores. While those stats are impressive, Manziel has yet to throw an interception and is completing an impressive 70.2 percent of his throws. The competition will get tougher in the second half of the season, but Manziel is clearly a player Texas A&M will be able to build around over the next couple of seasons, and he could be one of the SEC’s top quarterbacks going into 2013.

3. Todd Gurley/Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia
For the purposes of this article, we will count the Marshall-Gurley duo as one player. This freshman duo has been dynamic for Georgia this season, with Gurley leading the team with 536 yards and nine touchdowns. Marshall ranks just behind Gurley with 428 yards and five touchdowns but leads the team with an 8.2 yards per carry average. Both players contribute in the passing game, while Gurley is averaging 34.7 yards per kickoff return and took one for a score in the season opener against Buffalo. Gurley and Marshall's numbers are even more impressive when you consider Georgia had a couple of holes to fill up front, and helping to lead the way for the rushing attack is true freshman right tackle John Theus.

4. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Thanks to Oregon putting most of their opponents away by halftime, Mariota hasn’t been called upon to do much in the second half. However, the redshirt freshman has shown flashes of ability when called upon, throwing for 1,103 yards and 11 touchdowns, while adding 181 yards and one score on the ground. Oregon has played in only one road game this year (Washington State), and even though he tossed two picks, Mariota showed poise and never seemed to get rattled. Expect the redshirt freshman to get more comfortable over the second half of the season, and his solid play could be crucial to helping Oregon reach a spot in the national title game. 

5. Duke Johnson, RB, Miami
With Lamar Miller leaving early for the NFL, Johnson was expected to immediately contribute and so far, he’s been one of the ACC’s top playmakers. The true freshman has recorded 359 rushing yards and five scores, while catching 15 passes for 147 yards and one touchdown. Johnson has been a factor on special teams as well, averaging 29.6 yards per kickoff return on 14 attempts. Through five games, he leads the ACC with 184 total yards per game. Johnson will continue to share carries with Mike James, but he should be a lock for ACC Rookie of the Year honors.

6. Devonte Fields, DE, TCU
All of the preseason hype on TCU’s defense centered on defensive end Stansly Maponga, but Fields has quickly emerged as one of the Horned Frogs’ top defenders. Fields leads the team with five sacks and ranks fourth with 17 tackles. The true freshman has also started all four games and leads the Big 12 with 8.5 tackles for a loss. Fields is a big reason why TCU ranks as one of the top defenses in the nation and could be in the mix for first-team All-Big 12 honors at the end of the season. 

7. Wes Lunt/J.W. Walsh, QB, Oklahoma State
No Brandon Weeden, no problem for Oklahoma State. Wes Lunt started the first three games of the year for the Cowboys, but he suffered a knee injury in the first quarter against Louisiana-Lafayette. With Lunt sidelined, J.W. Walsh stepped up and threw for 347 yards and four touchdowns against the Ragin’ Cajuns and played well in the 41-36 loss to Texas. Oklahoma State may not repeat as Big 12 champions but the future looks bright with Lunt and Walsh competing for the starting job for the next couple of seasons.

8. Isaiah Bruce, LB, West Virginia
Baylor gashed the Mountaineers’ defense for 700 yards and 63 points in Week 5, but it’s hard to overlook Bruce’s performance so far this season. The redshirt freshman leads the team with 43 tackles and has one fumble recovery. In the season opener against Marshall, Bruce recorded 16 stops and earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week honors. Bruce has good speed and athleticism, which allows him to be one of West Virginia’s most active playmakers on defense.

9. Isaac Seumalo, C, Oregon State
It’s not often a true freshman cracks the starting lineup at center, but that’s exactly what Seumalo has done this season. The Corvallis native was one of the nation’s top 150 recruits coming out of high school and is a big reason why Oregon State’s offensive line is improved from last season. The Beavers rank 97th nationally in rushing offense but that’s an improvement from finishing 118th last season. Seumalo is the first true freshman to start at center for Oregon State since Roger Levasa in 1978.

10. Leonard Williams, DL, USC
The defensive line was considered USC’s biggest weakness in the preseason, but thanks to Williams and the play of junior college recruit Morgan Breslin, the Trojans’ front four has emerged a strength. Williams has nine tackles and three sacks through the first four games and made his first career start against Stanford. With another offseason in the weight room, Williams could make a run at preseason All-American honors in 2013.

11. Jalen Mills, CB, LSU
Mills was thrown into the fire this season, as LSU’s secondary suffered a setback with the dismissal of Tyrann Mathieu before spring practice. The true freshman has passed every test so far, ranking fourth on the team with 25 tackles and tying for the team lead with two interceptions. Mills has started all five of LSU’s games so far and will be a key cog in the Tigers’ run to repeat as SEC champs. The true freshman will take his lumps every now and then, but Mills looks like another star at cornerback for LSU.

12. Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
With a true freshman directing Maryland’s offense, it’s easy to see why Diggs has only 12 catches for 259 yards and three touchdowns. However, the numbers don’t really indicate how well Diggs has play, as he has 20 yards on rushing attempts and is averaging 11.8 yards per punt return and 26.6 on kickoffs. The true freshman also leads the team in scoring and all-purpose yardage this season. Expect Diggs to be a bigger factor in the offense in the second half of the year, especially as freshman quarterback Perry Hills gets more snaps under his belt.  

13. T.J. Yeldon, RB, Alabama
The Crimson Tide has one of the deepest backfields in the nation, so the stat sheet doesn’t show just how effective Yeldon has been this season. The true freshman has one 100-yard effort, rushing for 111 yards and one touchdown against Michigan in the season opener. Yeldon has at least 10 carries in four out of the five games this year and ranks just behind Eddie Lacy in rushing yards (314 to 292).

14. Shaq Thompson, S, Washington
Thompson was practically handed a starting job when he committed to Washington and has played a key role in turning the Huskies’ defense around in 2012. The true freshman ranks third on the team with 20 tackles through four games and also has three tackles for a loss and one blocked kick. Thompson has started every game this year and ranked second on the team with seven stops in Washington’s upset victory over Stanford in Week 5.

15. Jaime Wilson, WR, Western Michigan
With the departure of All-MAC receiver Jordan White and two other key pass catchers, the Broncos were searching for new playmakers for quarterback Alex Carder this season. Wilson was a three-star recruit coming out of Glades Central and has been one of the conference’s top performers through the first five weeks. The true freshman has 47 receptions for 533 yards and five touchdowns and has four consecutive 100-yard efforts heading into Saturday’s game against Massachusetts.

Other Notable Freshmen

QB Perry Hills, Maryland
RB Storm Woods, Oregon State
WR Quinshad Davis, North Carolina
WR Amari Cooper, Alabama
WR Mike Evans, Texas A&M
OL Evan Boehm, Missouri
OL Le’Raven Clark, Texas Tech
OL John Theus, Georgia
DE Deion Barnes, Penn State
LB Jabari Hunt-Days, Georgia Tech
LB Sir Thomas Jackson, Arizona
LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia
LB Eddie Johnson, Miami
LB Darryl Monroe, Washington State
LB Denzel Nkemdiche, Ole Miss
LB Nate D. Smith, Temple
CB Jalen Collins, LSU
CB De’Vante Harris, Texas A&M
CB Nick VanHoose, Northwestern
SS Micah Eugene, LSU
K Ross Martin, Duke
P Will Monday, Duke

 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

 

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 5
College Football's Top 15 Freshmen After Week 5

College Football Bowl Projections After Week 5

ACC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
S
EC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 15 Freshmen After Week 5&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 06:26
Path: /college-football/arkansas-or-auburn-which-team-can-turn-it-around-2012
Body:

Arkansas and Auburn are the SEC's most disappointing teams through the first five weeks of the season. The Razorbacks had SEC title hopes in the preseason but have struggled to overcome the loss of head coach Bobby Petrino. Auburn wasn't expected to challenge LSU or Alabama in the SEC but this team was expected to show some improvement off of last season's 8-5 record. The Tigers head into Week 6 with a 1-3 record and could miss out on a bowl appearance if they don't turn things around.

Arkansas or Auburn: Which Team Can Turn Things Around in 2012?

Coach Pat Dye, former head coach of Auburn and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I don't know how you can say you're going to turn it around against Auburn or turn it around against Arkansas. One of them is going to win this weekend ... but I don't know if that is going to turn it around for either team. You go back and take the Clemson game and the LSU game and just one play made by Auburn would've made a difference in the outcome of the ball game. That is not the case in the Arkansas play this year. Based on how both teams have played so far this year, I am not sure either team will turn it around.

Barrett Sallee, Lead SEC Blogger for Bleacher Report (@BarrettSallee):
Auburn is more likely to get things turned around this season primarily due to the small bit of momentum that the Tigers were able to generate vs. LSU two weeks ago. LSU was criticized mightily for it's sluggish performance vs. a "bad Auburn defense," but it wasn't a bad defense on that particular night. Auburn's strength—its pass rush—plays right into one of Arkansas' primary weaknesses, which is an inability to pass block. Plus, if Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier is ever going to get things headed in the right direction, it will be against the Arkansas pass defense which is ranked 121st out of 124 teams in Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Plus, with games against Ole Miss and Vanderbilt following this weekend's matchup, there's a real opportunity for Auburn to build some momentum for the stretch run.

David Fox (@DavidFox615):  
I look at both teams and think the chances are slim either can rebound and make a bowl game, but if one of the two is going to pull itself together and win six games, I’m going to pick Auburn. It’s really tough to bet against a team quarterbacked by Tyler Wilson for one quarterbacked by Kiehl Frazier, but the Tigers have at least been close to eking out an extra win or two this season. Meanwhile, Arkansas has been a mess since Day One this season. Auburn lost by seven to Clemson in a game Clemson took over late, and Auburn played LSU close in a 12-10 loss last week. We’re talking about two games where a break or two could have led to improbable Auburn wins. You can’t say the same of Arkansas against Alabama or Texas A&M. Although Arkansas has the new head coach, Auburn has the two new coordinators. I could see the Tigers executing game plans from Scot Loeffler and Brian Van Gorder a little better as the season goes along. A team that plays within one score of Clemson and LSU could certainly play well enough to defeat Ole Miss and Vanderbilt on the road, as Auburn will after this week.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
Neither. Arkansas players and coaches have completely packed it in so there is little chance the Hogs can turn around this season — even with Kentucky, Ole Miss and Tulsa coming up after Auburn. Optimistically, Arkansas will be 5-7 (with a win over Auburn). Auburn has a better chance to salvage the year after, if they can play the way they did against LSU and not like they have in every other game. Optimistically, Auburn will be 6-6 (with wins over Arkansas and Vanderbilt), so if six wins and a bowl game is saving the season, then I would guess the Tigers. But make no mistake, 2012 will be viewed as a failure by both programs.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
I have very low expectations for both teams the rest of the season, but I think Auburn ends up with a better record and maybe squeaks out a bowl appearance. Arkansas just has too many issues to address, starting with a defense that is allowing 40.6 points a game. The offense isn’t playing at a high level either, but there’s some potential as long as Tyler Wilson and Knile Davis remain in the lineup. Auburn’s offense ranks as the worst in the SEC, but the offensive line is young and should improve over the second half of the season. The defense has some nice pieces but has to tackle better and force a few more turnovers. The Tigers are no better than a 5-7 or 6-6 team this season. However, there’s more talent and potential for Auburn to turn things around in the second half of 2012. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
Neither. Arkansas has been the nation’s most disappointing team to date. The Razorbacks have yet to defeat an FBS opponent thanks in large part to a defense that is incapable of stopping the forward pass. Throw in the off-the-field issues — i.e. the John L. Smith sideshow — and it’s hard to envision this team winning more than three more games. There’s not as much drama at Auburn — though Gene Chizik isn’t on the firmest of ground — but this edition of the Tigers simply isn’t good enough to be much of a factor in the SEC West. Auburn might scratch and claw to get to six wins and reach bowl-eligibility, but that’s hardly a reason to celebrate for a program that won the national title two years ago.

Mark Ross: 
Whichever team wins on Saturday would certainly get off to the right start towards that goal, but I'm not sure either team can truly salvage its season at this point. That's not to say that neither won't earn a postseason invitation, mind you. I just think it's fair to say that unless one is able to completely turn things around, neither team will be able to match preseason expectations, especially as far as Arkansas is concerned. Both teams have several winnable games on their remaining schedules, but both teams also have obvious question marks and weaknesses, so I think it's a stretch to call many of these, especially when it comes to SEC plays, "guaranteed" victories. Arkansas gets Kentucky and Ole Miss at home following Saturday's visit to Auburn, but faces a November slate of Tulsa and LSU along with road games at South Carolina and Mississippi State. The defense has to start playing better, and soon, and the offense needs to find a rhythm both passing and running the ball or I'm afraid it's going to be a long and dreary fall for Hog fans. On the other side, Auburn has to travel to Ole Miss and Vanderbilt following Saturday's game with Arkansas and still has Texas A&M, Georgia and the Iron Bowl in Tuscaloosa left on its conference slate. The Tigers also have home games against New Mexico State and Alabama A&M to break up the SEC dates. As good as the Tigers' defense has been at times, they will have to find a way to score more than 18 points a game if they want to win many of these. Preseason expectations have obviously been thrown out the window, but I am still very leery of either team being able to finish with any more than six wins. Using that as the new measuring stick, I give Auburn a slightly better chance to get there because of those two remaining non-conference games, But again even these so-called "cupcake" opponents are guaranteed walkovers, at least not based on how this Tigers team has played so far.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
The Tigers showed signs of life in the close LSU loss and could still make a bowl game, while I see the Arkansas season as a dumpster fire that will only be extinguished with new leadership. Auburn will probably continue to struggle at quarterback throughout the season, but the solid running tandem of Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb and a talented defense should allow the Tigers to win close games. If Gene Chizik’s crew plays well over the next month, there is a good possibility of Auburn winning four of its next five contests. As far as the Razorbacks, it’s difficult to see any positives when your defense allows over 40 points per game. That’s just scary bad. And how do you rank 111th nationally in rushing with Knile Davis and Dennis Johnson in the backfield? Maybe Tyler Wilson and company will find a way to turn it around, but I do not see the Arkansas program moving forward until a new coach is hired.

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ACC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
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Big 12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
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S
EC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Teaser:
<p> <strong>Arkansas or Auburn: Which Team Can Turn Things Around in 2012?</strong></p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 06:20
Path: /nfl/top-10-nfl-coaches-hot-seat-week-5
Body:

Week 5 of the 2012 NFL season will kick off on Thursday night, which means we’ve reached the quarter-mark of the regular season. Teams across the league are evaluating where things stand right now, and that starts with the head coaches. Speaking of which, while no coach seems in imminent danger of losing his job, there are certainly a few who are starting to feel the heat.

Top 10 NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat: Week 5

1. Rex Ryan, New York Jets
Preseason Rank:
3
2012 Record: 2-2


Yes, the Jets are currently tied for first in the AFC East, and technically hold the advantage thanks to a 2-0 divisional record. However, the overall picture and in many ways, the immediate outlook, does not paint nearly as rosy a picture. Following Sunday’s 34-0 shutout loss to San Francisco at home, the Jets have scored just 33 points in their past three games after scoring 48 in a Week 1 win over Buffalo. In that game, the Jets had 384 yards of total offense. Since then, they are averaging a little more than 250 per game, and had just 145 total yards against the 49ers.

Before the season started, Ryan expressed a desire to return to the team’s “Ground N Pound” ways. Well it’s the Jets’ whose run game, which is averaging 3.2 yards per carry, has been grounded, while their rush defense has been pounded. The defense is giving up nearly five yards a carry as the 49ers ran roughshod for 245 yards on 44 carries (5.6 ypc) on Sunday. That’s the most allowed by the team in 52 games under Ryan. Obviously the defense has been impacted by the season-ending loss of All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis, but the Jets’ problems, on both sides of the ball right now, run much deeper than that. These are now Ryan’s problems to try and address as he gets his team ready for a visit from the undefeated Houston Texans this coming Monday night.

2. Jason Garrett, Dallas Cowboys
Preseason Rank:
4
2012 Record: 2-2

Dallas is just one game behind current NFC East leader Philadelphia and has won its only divisional game (Week 1 against the Giants) so far, so there’s no reason to panic in Big D. However, there is certainly plenty to be concerned about following the Cowboys’ disappointing 34-18 home loss to Chicago on Monday night. The game wasn’t as close as the score indicated, as Tony Romo was picked off five times and the Bears returned two of those for touchdowns. The good news is the coaching staff and team have an extra week to work on things before travelling to Baltimore in Week 6. The bad news is that there is a lot to address, starting with a running game that has all but disappeared since Week 1, and Garrett and the coaching staff know that expectations are always high when it comes the Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones. The team has missed the playoffs the past two seasons. It’s entirely possible that Jones, who is not known for his patience, will decide to make a change should that streak continue this season.

3. Romeo Crennel, Kansas City Chiefs
Preseason Rank:
9
2012 Record: 1-3


Injuries derailed the Chiefs’ 2011 season and have been an issue for the defense at the start of this season. The team is getting healthier, now it’s just a matter of producing on the field. Running back Jamaal Charles has returned from a torn ACL to power the offense, which needs better play from quarterback Matt Cassel (6 total TDs, 10 total turnovers). The defense is having its problems stopping anyone, as they have allowed an average of 34 points per game. Only the Tennessee Titans (37.8 ppg) are giving up more. Crennel took over the team late last season, and is now 3-4 with the Chiefs in his second stint as a head coach. He went 24-40 in four seasons as the Browns’ head coach from 2005-08.

4. Jim Schwartz, Detroit Lions
Preseason Rank:
NR
2012 Record: 1-3


Much was expected of the Lions after finally putting an end to the franchise’s 12-year playoff drought last season. However, after scratching out a win over St. Louis in Week 1, the Lions have lost three in a row, including Sunday’s 20-13 divisional defeat at home to Minnesota. The Lions will have a week to reassess and address any issues that need to be fixed before starting a difficult three-week stretch – at Philadelphia, at Chicago and home to Seattle. The pressure is on Schwartz and his team to show that last year’s breakthrough wasn’t a fluke.

5. Pat Shurmur, Cleveland Browns
Preseason Rank:
8
2012 Record: 0-4


The Browns and the Saints are the only winless teams left in the NFL, but there’s no “interim” in front of Pat Shurmur’s title. Shurmur’s young charges are playing better, three of the four losses have been by seven points or less, but the easiest way to measure progress is with wins. After giving divisional foe Baltimore all it could handle last Thursday, the Browns will have another chance to make a statement when they go to New York to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. The reality for Shurmur is he’s now 4-16 as the Browns’ head coach. Even with a rookie quarterback and running back leading his offense, he needs to find a way to get at least five victories or else the team may decide to bring someone else to oversee the rebuilding process.

6. Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers
Preseason Rank:
1
2012 Record: 3-1

For Turner, and general manager A.J. Smith for that matter, it’s pretty simple. At the minimum, the Chargers have to make the playoffs to have any shot at keeping their jobs. So far, so good as the Chargers have gotten off to an uncharacteristic 3-1 start. The offense hasn’t been as explosive as it has been in the past, but the defense is playing well, especially against the run (80.3 yards rushing per game, 6th in the NFL), and Philip Rivers and the rest of the offense have done a much better job of holding onto the ball (+3 turnover ratio). The Chargers go to New Orleans and then host Denver before their Week 7 bye, so we should know more about this team at that point.

7. Chan Gailey, Buffalo Bills
Preseason Rank:
7
2012 Record: 2-2


Buffalo rebounded from a rough opening week loss to the Jets to win their next two over Kansas City and Cleveland. That modest winning streak came to a screeching halt on Sunday as New England scored 35 unanswered points in the second half to erase a 21-7 Bills lead. The Patriots won the game 52-28, gashing a revamped Bills’ defense that was expected to be one of the team’s strengths after the offseason additions, for 580 yards. The Bills’ offense (387.8 ypg, 11th in the NFL) has more than held its own, but the defense must play better as they already face a 0-2 hole in the AFC East divisional race.

8. Andy Reid, Philadelphia Eagles
Preseason Rank:
2
2012 Record: 3-1

The Eagles are 3-1 and currently in first place in the NFC East, but that doesn’t mean the pressure is off for Reid and the coaching staff. First, owner Jeffrey Lurie has basically made it pretty clear that the Eagles need to do more than just into the playoffs this season. Second, the Eagles have been winning, but it hasn’t exactly been pretty. They’ve won their three games by a combined five points, while their one loss was by 21 on the road at Arizona. Also, the Eagles have turned the ball over 12 times already, with quarterback Michael Vick being responsible for nine (6 INT, 3 fumbles) of those. Vick and the team, however, did play turnover-free football in Sunday night’s big win over the Giants. So for now, everything seems copacetic in The City of Brotherly Love, but will only remain that way as long as Reid’s team keeps on winning.

9. Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers
Preseason Rank:
NR
2012 Record: 1-3


The Panthers lost a tough one in Atlanta on Sunday as the Falcons forced the Panthers to punt with a little more than a minute left in the game. Matt Ryan then drove the team into position for Matt Bryant to kick the game-winning 40-yard field goal with just five seconds left. The good news for Rivera and the Panthers is that quarterback Cam Newton rebounded nicely after a rough Week 3 outing, accounting for more than 300 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, it didn’t result in a win and the Panthers will try again next week at home against Seattle.

10. Lovie Smith, Chicago Bears
Preseason Rank:
6
2012 Record: 3-1

Smith and the Bears have bounced back with two straight victories following an ugly 23-10 loss at Green Bay in Week 2. The Bears were at their best on Monday night, thoroughly beating Dallas in all aspects in a convincing 34-18 victory in the palace that Jerry Jones built. Besides the defense intercepting Tony Romo five times (returning two of those for touchdowns), the offense did its part as Jay Cutler threw for 275 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He did have one fumble, but he was only sacked twice and the Bears also got Matt Forte back in the lineup. There’s still a long ways to go and the Bears are already down a game to the Packers in the NFC North race, but there’s still plenty of reasons to be optimistic regarding the team’s outlook this season.

Others:
New Orleans is 0-4, but remember they are being led by an interim to the interim right now, so it doesn’t matter how many games Joe Vitt/Aaron Kromer win or lose. They both know they are merely keeping the seat warm for Sean Payton. Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier (No. 5) and Arizona’s Ken Whisenhunt (No. 10) both made the preseason Hot Seat list, but have since poured a big ‘ol bucket of ice cold water on any such talk as their teams are a combined 7-1 to start the season. In fact, right now you have to say these two are the current leaders for Coach of the Year honors.

Of the six first-year head coaches, Jeff Fisher in St. Louis is the only one with two wins. The rest – Dennis Allen (Oakland), Mike Mularkey (Jacksonville), Chuck Pagano (Indianapolis), Joe Philbin (Miami) and Greg Schiano (Tampa Bay) – are either 1-3 or 1-2 as Pagano’s Colts were on bye in Week 4. There’s no reason to think any of these coaches are in jeopardy of losing their job just four games into it. That is especially the case with Pagano, who now has something far more important to deal with as he’s been diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia.

— By Mark Ross, published on Oct. 3, 2012

Teaser:
<p> Top 10 NFL Coaches on the Hot Seat: Week 5</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 06:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-contenders-post-week-5
Body:

Each week, the Athlon editors vote on the most prestigious award in all of college football. A 13-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports voted 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.

Since the college football season is five weeks old, we figured we would expand our Heisman voting to include some of the best college sports analysts and writers from around the nation. So instead of just nine Athlon editors, our Heisman voting panel is made up of a total of 13 respected members of the college sports media, including:

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

1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia (13 first-place votes)
Season Stats: 
141-169, 1,728 yards, 20 TD, 0 INT, 20 att., 99 yards, TD
This was a showcase moment for the WVU signal caller. He threw for a school-record 656 yards and tied the Big 12 record with eight touchdown passes on an ridiculous 35-of-41 passing rate. He now leads the NCAA in passing efficiency and total offense and has yet to turn the ball over for West Virginia. No rest for the weary, however, as Smith leads his team into Austin, Texas for a huge game against the Longhorns. Next game: at Texas

  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. (5) E.J. Manuel QB Florida St 90/130 - 2 2 5 2 13/13
3. (4) Collin Klein QB Kansas St 88/130 - 2 4 3 2 12/13
4. (3) Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 87/130 - 4 2 - 5 13/13
5. (11) Aaron Murray QB Georgia 62/130 - 1 1 2 2 12/13
6. (2) De'Anthony Thomas AP Oregon 55/130 - 2 3 - - 9/13
7. (6) Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame 37/130 - 1 1 - - 8/13
8. (7) Matt Barkley QB USC 34/130 - - - 2 1 7/13
9. (9) Marcus Lattimore RB S. Carolina 29/130 - - - - 1 8/13
10. (12) A.J. McCarron QB Alabama 23/130 - - - 1 - 6/13
11. (10) Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 19/130 - 1 - - - 5/13
12. (15) Marqise Lee WR USC 11/130 - - - - - 4/13
13. (UR) Sean Mannion QB Oregon St 8/130 - - - - - 3/13
14. (16) Barrett Jones OL Alabama 7/130 - - - - - 2/13
15. (17) Kolton Browning QB UL Monroe 6/130 - - - - - 2/13
16. (UR) Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M 5/130 - - - - - 1/13
17. (UR) Stedman Bailey WR W.Virginia 5/130 - - - - - 2/13
18. (14) Johnathan Franklin RB UCLA 4/130 - - - - - 2/13
19. (UR) David Ash QB Texas 4/130 - - - - - 2/13
20. (18) Tajh Boyd QB Clemson 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
21. (UR) Kain Colter QB N'Western 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
22. (UR) Joseph Randle RB Oklahoma St 2/130 - - - - - 2/13
23. (UR) Stefphon Jefferson RB Nevada 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
24. (UR) Taylor Martinez QB Nebraska 1/130 - - - - - 1/13

2. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State
Season Stats: 69-94, 905 yards, 8 TD, 1 INT, 24 att., 188 yards, TD
It wasn't the same type of performance that earned him national notoriety two weeks ago, but Manuel led his team to a relatively easy road win over an in-state BCS conference rival. He threw for 242 yards and a touchdown in the 30-17 win. The top challenger to Geno Smith gets another tricky test this weekend on the road at NC State. He missed the last trip to Raleigh two seasons ago when FSU lost. Don't expect the same outcome this time around.
Next Game: at NC State

3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Season Stats:
 56-80, 758 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT, 63 att., 289 yards, 5 TD
CK7 got to rest his bloody elbows this weekend after the huge road win over Oklahoma. Kansas State now gets rival Kansas and Iowa State in the next two, making a 6-0 start for the Wildcats extremely likely.
Next Game: Kansas

4. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Season Stats: 
76-121, 933 yards, 8 TD, 3 INT, 90 att., 577 yards, 7 TD
Miller's toughness was on full display in the gritty road win over Michigan State this weekend. He carried the ball 23 times for 136 yards and threw the game-winning scoring strike late in the second half. He battled injury and willed his team to a 5-0 mark. He is the clearcut Big Ten POY and is the Big Ten's No. 2 rusher. He received the most second-place votes with four. Next Game: Nebraska

5. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Season Stats: 89-130, 1,378 yards, 12 TD, 3 INT, 21 att., minus-8 yards, 3 TD
Murray had to battle with SEC East counterpart Tyler Bray more than he anticipated. But when the game was over, the Dawgs were unbeaten and their quarterback had another 286 yards and two touchdowns on his resume. He is leading the SEC passing efficiency and is second to only Bray in yards and touchdown passes.
Next Game: at South Carolina

6. De’Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon
Season Stats: 25 att., 276 yards, 4 TD, 13 rec., 165 yards, 3 TD, 8 PR, 131 PR yards
Next Game: Washington

7. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Season Stats: 38 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 3 INT, FR, 2 PBU
Next Game: Miami (Chicago)

8. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Season Stats: 88-143, 1,005 yards, 12 TD, 5 INT, 11 att., minus-61 yards
Next game: at Utah

9. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Season Stats: 92 att., 440 yards, 8 TD, 16 rec., 109 yards
Next game: Georgia

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

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 5 Recap

ACC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Pac-12 East Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Contenders: Post-Week 5</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 06:10
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Duke Blue Devils, College Basketball
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-countdown-no-9-duke-preview
Body:
Visit the online store for Duke 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. 9 Duke.

The stunning ending to last season, when unheralded Lehigh knocked Duke out of the NCAA Tournament, jolted the Blue Devil program to its core last spring. For only the second time since 1996, the Blue Devils failed to win at least one game in the NCAAs.

While admitting Lehigh was the better team that night, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski nevertheless set out to ensure such a defeat doesn’t become normal for the Blue Devils.

“(We) just need to be tougher in what we’re doing, how we’re practicing, how we condition, how we bond as a group,” Krzyzewski says. “I take a look at all those things. I think you’d look at it closer no matter who we got beat by. … When you leave the tournament that early, that’s not what you want to do.”

While a foot injury to forward Ryan Kelly slowed Duke in March, it was an overall lack of size on the perimeter that hampered the team all season. This season, Krzyzewski believes that won’t be a problem with the arrival of 6-4 freshman guard Rasheed Sulaimon to go along with a pair of 6-8 freshman small forwards, Alex Murphy (redshirt) and Amile Jefferson.

“I thought we were just a very fair defensive team last year, and I think we can be much better defensively next season, much more versatile,” Krzyzewski said. “We’re going to be bigger and more athletic.”

While a 27–7 overall record would be welcomed at many college basketball programs, losing to a No. 15 seed in the NCAA Tournament caused some serious introspection at Duke.
“I don’t think we had the internal leadership to be an outstanding team,” Krzyzewski says. “I mean 27–7 is good, but we wanted to win championships.”
 
FRONTCOURT
The Blue Devils hope to create a balanced attack this season after being too reliant on jump-shooting last season. Mason Plumlee passed on the chance to be a first-round NBA Draft pick to return for his senior year. His work over the summer at Amare Stoudemire’s Skills Camp are an indication he intends to be a force in the middle as a senior.

Kelly, who also stands 6-11, is more a roving big man. He has 3-point shooting skills (40.8 percent last season) but can help with rebounding and defense inside. He scored 15 points or more 12 times last season.

 Marshall Plumlee, the youngest of the three brothers, will add depth in the middle after redshirting last season. Unlike his older brothers, Marshall is a true on-the-blocks post player. Junior Josh Hairston, at 6-7, needs to become more polished on both ends if he is to contribute more.

Jefferson and Murphy give the frontcourt much-needed athleticism. Murphy, in particular, should be able to step out and guard away from the basket while also providing some rebounding help.
 
BACKCOURT
Seth Curry should be Duke’s most consistent perimeter scorer. An accomplished 3-point shooter, Curry has become better at driving and dishing as his career has progressed. His scoring will be needed even more with Andre Dawkins sitting out the 2012-13 season as a redshirt.

Sulaimon, a top-20 national recruit, arrives at Duke with the reputation as a scorer who also can create scoring opportunities for his teammates. His ability to defend will be a welcome addition as well.

Point guard will be an area of intense focus. Junior Tyler Thornton and sophomore Quinn Cook both started last season but neither was consistently effective. Thornton is a respected team leader who is adept on the defensive end. But he shot only 37.9 percent last season and lacks scoring punch to keep opponents honest. Cook struggled early last season with a lingering knee issue that carried over from high school. He’s healthy now and possesses the playmaking skills to make a big difference for the Blue Devils.
 
FINAL ANALYSIS
Duke possesses all the pieces necessary to challenge for the ACC championship. The Blue Devils have three experienced senior starters returning in Curry, Kelly and Mason Plumlee who will provide scoring from the perimeter to the post. Kelly and Plumlee are strong team defenders and rebounders.

To reach maximum potential, which at Duke means competing for a NCAA championship, the Blue Devils must find a competent, consistent point guard. They’ll also need scoring and defensive contributions from newcomers Murphy and Jefferson, and Sulaimon must prove he can score and defend at college basketball’s highest level.

@AthlonSports

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

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball Countdown: No. 9 Duke Preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 06:05
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/ranking-nfls-starting-quarterbacks-week-5-update
Body:

After four weeks of play, the preseason NFL starting quarterback rankings have changed dramatically. It is a difficult undertaking and the criterion are endless. Toughness, efficiency, physical ability, injury history, leadership, statistical production and, of course, winning are all taken into account.

But taking all aspects of playing the position into account, I ranked all 32 starting quarterbacks in the NFL prior to the start of the season. So after reaching the quarter pole of the 2012 season, has anything changed?

I put my general manager's hat on and asked this question:

If my goal is to win the Lombardi Trophy in 2012, who do I want under center?

Note: Age is at time of start of 2012 season

1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay (Age: 28, Record: 43-23)
2012 Stats: 1,064 yards, 69.9%, 7 TD, 3 INT, 15 att., 51 yards
The Packers' offense struggled by their lofty standards through the first three weeks — albeit against three of the top defenses in the NFC. But against the Saints, Rodgers looked like the reigning MVP, throwing for 319 yards and four touchdowns on 75.6% passing. Preseason Rank: 1

2. Tom Brady, New England (Age: 35, Record: 128-39)
2012 Stats: 1,227 yards, 65.6%, 7 TD, INT, 6 att., 11 yards, TD
Brady is currently fourth in passing yards this season and has tied Brett Favre for the third longest streak in NFL history of at least one touchdown pass in a game. His resume speaks for itself. Preseason Rank: 2

3. Drew Brees, New Orleans (Age: 33, Record: 92-65)
2012 Stats: 1,350 yards, 10 TD, 5 INT, 3 att., rush TD
The Saints have started 0-4 but the NFL's leader in passing yards can't be blamed too much. Yes, he has five picks, but this team has no head coach and no defensive identity. Brees played his best last weekend against Green Bay, nearly pulling off the upset, and is still one of the elite passers in the NFL. Preseason Rank: 3

4. Eli Manning, New York Giants (Age: 31, Record: 71-52)
2012 Stats: 1,320 yards, 7 TD, 4 INT
The younger Manning already has had some insane second halves of play (did you see what he did to Tampa?). And he still throws a few too many interceptions. But his talent and track record makes him one of the game's most dependable signal callers. He is the defending Super Bowl champion. Preseason Rank: 4

5. Peyton Manning, Denver (Age: 36, Record: 143-69)
2012 Stats: 1,162 yards, 8 TD, 3 INT
Manning clearly doesn't have the same arm strength as he used to, but he has the same everything else. His mental preparation and commitment to winning is unmatched. And his three interceptions all came in one quarter against the 4-0 Falcons. Neck surgeries and diminishing physical skills keeps him from the top four. Preseason Rank: 5

6. Matt Ryan, Atlanta (Age: 27, Record: 47-19)
2012 Stats: 1,162 yards, 11 TD, 2 INT, 10 att., 48 yards, TD
No quarterback has played better in 2012 than Matty-Ice (No. 1 in QB rating 112.1). He leads the NFC in touchdown passes and owns the best record in the league at 4-0. The only thing keeping him from the top five, however, is his lack of production in the playoffs. His career winning percentage is remarkable but the 0-3 mark in the playoffs needs to be rectified. Preseason Rank: 10

7. Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh (Age: 30, Record: 81-36)
2012 Stats: 904 yards, 8 TD, INT
Big Ben has been lights out in 2012 and is off to one of the best starts of his career. The 109.2 QB rating is tops in the AFC for qualifed passers and he is fifth in yards per game (301.3). His playoff mark alone makes him one of the best options in the league. Preseason Rank: 7

8. Joe Flacco, Baltimore (Age: 27, Record: 47-21)
2012 Stats: 1,269 yards, 7 TD, 3 INT, 6 att., 6 yards, TD
The Ravens quarterback is consistently one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the league. He has improved his numbers each of his three seasons and appears to be headed for his best year yet. No QB benefited more from a change in offensive scheme than Flacco in the Ravens' shift to their up-tempo, no-huddle attack. Preseason Rank: 11

9. Matt Schaub, Houston (Age: 32, Record: 36-34)
2012 Stats: 953 yards, 7 TD, INT
The quarterback for the best team in the AFC has proven to be a tough customer this season. And his 105.3 QB rating is No. 3 in the NFL and No. 2 in the AFC. His history of serious injuries keeps him from being much higher, however — he has missed at least five games in three of the last five years. Preseason Rank: 12

10. Tony Romo, Dallas (Age: 32, Record: 49-32)
2012 Stats: 1,148 yards, 5 TD, 8 INT
Cowboys fans certainly don't feel like they have a top 10 quarterback after his 5-INT game on Monday night. However, the loss wasn't just Romo's fault. The offensive couldn't block. The running game was non-existent. And No. 88 continues to waste his remarkable raw talent. The front office hasn't helped much either with few quality high draft picks. Romo is better than his 2012 numbers indicate. Preseason Rank: 8

11. Matthew Stafford, Detroit (Age: 24, Record: 14-19)
2012 Stats: 1,182 3 TD, 4 INT, 8 att., 36 yards, TD
He snapped his 21-game streak of throwing at least one TD when his Lions lost to the Vikings. He has regressed from last year as he is currently on pace for just 12 TDs after 41 last fall. Preseason Rank: 7

12. Philip Rivers, San Diego (Age: 30, Record: 66-34)
2012 Stats: 897 yards, 6 TD, 4 INT
His abrasive attitude and penchant for turnovers — as well as his inability to win big games — drops him outside of the top ten. Preseason Rank: 9

13. Andy Dalton, Cincinnati (Age: 24, Record: 12-8)
2012 Stats: 1,111 yards, 8 TD, 4 INT, 14 att., 36 yards, TD
Dalton has been outstanding during the Bengals' quiet three-game winning streak. His 103.0 QB rating is No. 5 in the NFL as the redhead continues to grow into a star. Preseason Rank: 18

14. Andrew Luck, Indianapolis (Age: 22, Record: 1-2)
2012 Stats: 846 yards, 5 TD, 4 INT, 10 att., 80 yards
It didn't take long for fans to see how good this kid is going to be. He already has two 300-yard games and a fourth-quarter game-winning drive in his first three games. He is 11th at 282.0 ypg. Preseason Rank: 17

15. Michael Vick, Philadelphia (Age: 32, Record: 56-38-1)
2012 Stats: 1,146 yards, 4 TD, 6 INT, 27 att., 130 yards, TD
Vick has led the Eagles to three close wins, but continues to turn the ball over like crazy (nine TO lost) and he takes more hits than anyone else in the NFL. Will he survive? Preseason Rank: 14

16. Cam Newton, Carolina (Age: 23, Record: 7-13)
2012 Stats: 1,013 yards, 4 TD, 5 INT, 33 at., 167 yards, 3 TD
Defenses are starting to catch up with Newton, who can still out-athlete most teams. But he needs to stay focused and start winning games to be considered elite. Preseason Rank: 16

17. Robert Griffin III, Washington (Age: 22, Record: 2-2)
2012 Stats: 1,070 yards, 4 TD, INT, 39 att., 252 yards 4 TD
This kid will set plenty of Washington team records this fall. He has a game-winning drive and is No. 4 in QB rating (103.2). But how long can he play the game the way he does and stay healthy? Preseason Rank: 21

18. Carson Palmer, Oakland (Age: 32, Record: 51-59)
2012 Stats: 1,081 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT
Palmer continues to find yards in Oakland, but needs some support from the defense and pass-catchers. He protects the football and moves the offense, but one man can only do so much. Preseason Rank: 15

19. Jay Cutler, Chicago (Age: 29, Record: 44-38)
2012 Stats: 917 yards, 5 TD, 6 INT
Cutler played well on MNF against Dallas, but has had a terrible start to the year. His toughness, dedication and maturity will continue to be major question marks for a guy who has obvious talent. Preseason Rank: 13

20. Alex Smith, San Francisco (Age: 28, Record: 35-35)
2012 Stats: 784 yards, 5 TD, INT, 15 att., 58 yards
He continues to be one of the most efficient QBs in the league — his 98.1 rating is No. 7. He leads arguably the best team in the NFL and rarely turns the ball over (two total in 2012). Preseason Rank: 25

21. Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buffalo (Age: 29, Record: 19-33)
2012 Stats: 931 yards, 12 TD, 7 INT, 15 att., 66 yards
Fitz continues to cause tantrums on the sidelines. He is a solid player who is leading the NFL in TDs. But is also leading the NFL in INTs as well. Preseason Rank: 19

22. Sam Bradford, St. Louis (Age: 24, Record: 10-20)
2012 Stats: 881 yards, 4 TD, 4 INT
Bradford has loads of ability but has struggled to stay upright behind a porous offensive line. He has led the Rams to two wins six weeks earlier than this team's second win last fall. Preseason Rank: 20

23. Jake Locker, Tennessee (Age: 24, Record: 1-3)
2012 Stats: 781 yards, 4 TD, 2 INT, 8 att., 67 yards
The second-year player is dripping with talent. He was coming off of a 400-yard offensive performance and was the Titans leading rusher before being knocked out after two pass attempts last week. Health is an issue, but his ability is not. Preseaon Rank: Unranked

24. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets (Age: 25, Record: 29-22)
2012 Stats: 813 yards, 5 TD, 4 INT
Right there with Romo and Cutler, Sanchez is the most scrutinized QB in the league. His team is tied for the division lead with two AFC East wins after getting little to no help from his defense and running game last weekend. Stop the Tebow talk right now. Preseason Rank: 22

25. Josh Freeman, Tampa Bay (Age: 24, Record: 18-26)
2012 Stats: 790 yards, 5 TD, 4 INT
Freeman has a big frame and a big arm. But he also has 50 career interceptions and 27 fumbles (10 lost) in 45 career games. Will the light bulb ever click on again or was 2010 a complete fluke? Preseason Rank: 24

26. Kevin Kolb, Arizona (Age: 28, Record: 9-10)
2012 Stats: 752 yards, 7 TD, 2 INT, 10 att., 32 yards, TD
The former Eagle is slowing rebuilding his credibility. He is 3-0 as the starter this season and stepped in late in Week 1 to lead the Cards to a win over Seattle. He did the same against Miami last weekend. Kolb has a positive trajectory once again. Preseason Rank: 30

27. Christian Ponder, Minnesota (Age: 24, Record: 2-8)
2012 Stats: 824 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT, 12 att., 46 yards, TD
He has been incredibly efficient by not taking sacks and protecting the football. He has wins over the 49ers and Lions, but special teams and the defense won the game last weekend. There is a lot to like here and Ponder has plenty of upward mobility. Preseason Rank: 27

28. Russell Wilson, Seattle (Age: 23, Record: 2-2)
2012 Stats: 594 yards, 4 TD, 4 INT, 22 att., 80 yards
He is a natural leader who competes on every play and is a wonderful face to any franchise. But he also has a lot to learn still about playing QB in the NFL. Preseason Rank: Unranked

29. Brandon Weeden, Cleveland (Age: 28, Record: 0-4)
2012 Stats: 997 yards, 3 TD, 7 INT, 4 att., 31 yards
The early production indicates that Weeden has some staying power in the NFL. But he will have to get some support and learn how to protect the ball quickly due to his age. Preseason Rank: 28

30. Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville (Age: 22, Record: 5-13)
2012 Stats: 654 yads, 5 TD, INT, 11 att., 41 yards
He has shown drastic improvement from a year ago by not throwing an interception until Week 4 and showing signs of confidence in the pocket. But on a bad team, he has a ways to go before he is a top 25 QB. Preseason Rank: 32

31. Matt Cassel, Kansas City (Age: 30, Record: 29-29)
2012 Stats: 1,058 yards, 5 TD, 7 INT, 7 att., 47 yards, TD
Cassel is leading the NFL in interceptions and fumbles lost by a quarterback through four games. His team is 1-3 and there are signs that he could lose his starting job soon if he can't produce. Preseason Rank: 31

32. Ryan Tannehill, Miami (Age: 24, Record: 1-3)
2012 Stats: 1,046 yards, 2 TD, 6 INT, 9 att., 16 yards, TD
The athletic ability is obvious. The arm strength is obvious. And he just dropped 431 on a solid Cards defense. He could jump Cassel, Gabbert and Weeden quickly, but inexperience and inefficiency keeps him on the bottom for now. Preseason Rank: Unranked

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> Update: Ranking the NFL's Starting Quarterbacks in 2012</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Miami Hurricanes, News
Path: /college-football/miami-hurricanes-football-can-hurricanes-win-acc-2012
Body:

Thanks to a 4-1 start and three wins in ACC play, Miami has some momentum entering its Week 6 matchup against Notre Dame. The Hurricanes were picked by many to finish fifth in the Coastal but are in position to make some noise in the division. 

Is Miami a Legitimate ACC Title Contender?

Coach George Welsh, former head coach of Navy and Virginia and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
Miami's coach Al Golden has a horseshoe back there in his pocket somewhere.  Those miracle catches at the end of the game have won two for him.  They're liable to win the Coastal Division. The other contender in the Coastal, Virginia Tech, has been very disappointing.  I don't think either of those two teams are very good this year, especially on defense.  At this point in the season, unless Miami improves dramatically on the defensive side of the ball they will not be to win the ACC title against either FSU and Clemson.

Ryan Tice (@RyanTice), TheWolfpacker.com
How can Miami not be considered an ACC title contender? In my mind, they’re clearly the favorite in the Coastal Division, especially since Virginia Tech is having such a down year. The Hurricanes are the only squad with a 3-0 record against ACC competition, and quarterback Stephen Morris looks to be the real deal after throwing for 1,002 yards in the past two games. The squad is a young and inconsistent one, which explains how they’ve let Georgia Tech and NC State back in games despite big leads, but their offense is an explosive one that can score from anywhere at anytime. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, and since the ACC’s top two teams reside in the Atlantic Division, if Miami takes care of business and gets to the Championship game, I’ll give that offense a chance. We’ll learn a lot this weekend about the Canes when they face Notre Dame — who looks to be back, as well — but as long as they keep winning league contests, there’s always a chance to hoist the trophy in Charlotte.

David Fox (@DavidFox615):  
Miami is a solid team, exceeding all expectations this season, but Miami still has work to do to be an ACC contender. At the start of the season, I wondered where Miami would be without Duke Johnson, the Hurricanes’ playmaking freshman running back. In the last two weeks Mike James, Phillip Dorsett and, most of all, Stephen Morris have emerged on offense. Against Georgia Tech and NC State, Morris put up passing numbers Miami hasn’t seen since the days of Gino Torretta, Bernie Kosar and Craig Erickson. This is a fun offense to watch, for sure. But that defense, wow. Giving up 32 points to Boston College and 37 to NC State, that’s not good, never mind 52 to Kansas State. Take out the win over Bethune-Cookman, and Miami is allowing 530 yards per game. That’s not going to be good enough to win the ACC. With the exception of Florida State, Miami has the ability to beat any ACC team left on the schedule. That’s enough to win a division, but my guess is that the Hurricanes’ leaky defense catches up with them at some point.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
Let me ask you this: If Miami wins the Coastal but no one is there to see it, does it really happen? Miami football has been a roller-coaster of emotion this season, and while this team is clearly atop the standings after two huge wins over Georgia Tech and NC State, the tracks are about to hit a pretty nasty spiral. Notre Dame in Chicago, North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia Tech are the next four. If this team finishes 2-2 in that stretch, it would be a major victory for Al Golden. There are way too many questions for me to put this team in the championship mix, but that doesn't mean there is any excuse for the lack of support the pathetic fans in South Florida are showing this hard-working upstart. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
I’ve been impressed with Miami this season, but I still think this team has a lot of work to do before we can seriously call it a contender for the ACC crown. The Hurricanes have scored 38 or more points in four games this season but haven’t exactly faced the gauntlet of defenses in the ACC. Boston College, Georgia Tech and NC State are all struggling on defense, so Miami’s numbers are slightly inflated. However, the play of quarterback Stephen Morris and true freshman running back Duke Johnson is impressive and they will only get better with more snaps. The Hurricanes’ defense is filled with youth and inexperience, but this group should not be allowing 494.6 yards and 33.4 points per game. Al Golden is a good coach, but Miami is probably a year or two away from contending for the ACC. However, playing in a weak Coastal Division might allow the Hurricanes to make some noise, but the two best teams in the ACC rest in the Atlantic with Florida State and Clemson. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
The Hurricanes are clearly a contender to win the ACC Coastal Division — they are already 3–0 in the league and Virginia Tech has been a disappointment — but I’m reluctant to call them a true contender to win the ACC title because Florida State and Clemson, the top two teams in the Atlantic Division, would be considerable favorites over Al Golden’s club in a hypothetical ACC Championship Game. Give Miami credit; this team has shown tremendous resolve in recent weeks, but the defense is a major concern and the quarterback (Stephen Morris) is too inconsistent.

Mark Ross: 
Miami could be a contender to win the Coastal division, especially given Virginia Tech's struggles on offense, but there's still a long ways to go and I need to see more from the Hurricanes, particularly on defense, before I am convinced. It's quite impressive that the Hurricanes are 4-1 as the calendar turns to October. However, they got destroyed 52-13 by Kansas State, the only ranked team they have played so far, and the collective record of the other three FBS teams they have defeated, which also happen to be ACC teams, is 6-8. Further, these teams — Boston College, Georgia Tech and NC State — are a combined 1-5 in the conference and are ranked 64th and lower in the nation in total defense. Miami has made most of its noise thus far on offense, ranking 35th in the nation in total offense (472.6 ypg) and scoring 35.6 points per game. However, the defense is giving up nearly 500 yards a game, which ranks them 114th out of 120 FBS teams, and surrendering nearly as many points (33.4 per game) as they are scoring. Given the competition they have played so far, Miami will be hard-pressed to continue to have success if they run into a defense that is capable of slowing the 'Canes offense down. To that end, Miami's next three opponents — Notre Dame (Chicago), North Carolina, Florida State — each rank among the top 16 nationally in total defense. Barring a complete collapse or late ruling by the NCAA, Miami should win enough games to make it back to a bowl this season, but this is not an ACC title contender.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
Al Golden and staff have done a solid job in getting the Hurricanes to a 4-1 record, but I do not see The “U” as a league title contender. Miami’s offense has been impressive with the marked improvement in quarterback Stephen Morris’ game, and running back Duke Johnson is one of the best freshmen in the country. However the Hurricanes defense ranks 114th in the nation and is giving up over 33 points per game, and that fact will keep them from competing for the ACC crown. Despite’s Virginia Tech’s “Big East” troubles this season, I still see the Hokies as the team to beat in the Coastal Division. Frank Beamer’s program has a way of turning early-season problems into solutions by conference play, and the Hokies-Hurricanes Thursday night clash on November 1 should be exciting to watch. Give credit to the Canes for a great start, but the next four games (vs. Notre Dame in Chicago, North Carolina, Florida State and Virginia Tech) will be very difficult for Golden’s crew.

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Teaser:
<p> Miami Hurricanes Football: Can the Hurricanes Win the ACC in 2012?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 05:59
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-using-vegas-odds-determine-best-week-6-plays
Body:

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 6

Best Fantasy Matchups (Games with the most fantasy potential)

Georgia Tech at Clemson

Line: Clemson -10 (O/U-73.5)

Projected score based on point spread: Clemson 42-32

Best plays:

Georgia Tech (QB-Tevin Washington, RB-Orwin Smith)

Clemson (QB-Tajh Boyd, RB-Andre Ellington, WRs-Sammy Watkins, DeAndre Hopkins, TE-Brandon Ford)

Also consider:

Georgia Tech (RB-Zach Laskey)

Clemson (K-Chandler Catanzaro)

theCFFsite projects: Clemson 49-28
 

Tulsa at Marshall

Line: Tulsa -3.5(O/U-67.5)

Projected score based on point spread: Tulsa 36-32

Best plays:

Tulsa (QB-Cody Green, RB-Alex Singleton, WR-Keyarris Garrett)

Marshall (QB-Rakeem Cato, WRs-Tommy Shuler, TE-Gator Hoskins)

Also consider:

Tulsa (RBs-Trey Watts, K-Daniel Schwarz)

Marshall (RB-Kevin Grooms, WRs-Aaron Dobson, Antavious Wilson)

theCFFsite projects: Tulsa 41-40

 

Northern Illinois at Ball St

Line: Northern Illinois -2.5(O/U-67.5)

Projected score based on point spread: NIU 35-32

Best plays:

Northern Illinois (QB-Jordan Lynch, RB-Leighton Settle)

Ball St (QB-Keith Wenning, WR-Willie Snead, K-Steven Schott)

Also consider:

Northern Illinois (WR-Martel Moore, K-Mathew Sims)

Ball St (RB-Jahwan Edwards, WR Jamill Smith)

theCFFsite projects: Northern Illinois 45-40

 

Louisiana-Monroe at Middle Tennessee

Line: LA-Monroe-3(O/U-66.5)

Projected score based on point spread: LA-Monroe 35-32

Best plays:

LA-Monroe (QB-Kolton Browning, RB-Jyruss Edwards, WR-Brent Leonard)

MTSU (QB-Logan Kilgore, RB-Ben Cunningham)

Also consider:

LA-Monroe (WR-Tavarese Maye)

MTSU (WR-Anthony Amos)

theCFFsite projects: LA-Monroe 45-28

 

Central Michigan at Toledo

Line: Toledo -10.5(O/U-66.5)

Projected score based on point spread: Toledo 39-28

Best plays:

Central Michigan (QB-Ryan Radcliff, RB-Zurlon Tipton, WR-Titus Davis)

Toledo (QB-Terrence Owens, RB-David Fluellen, WR-Bernard Reedy)

Also consider:

Central Michigan (WR-Cody Wilson)

Toledo (WR-Alonzo Russell)

theCFFsite projects: Toledo 42-31

 

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

Kansas at Kansas St

Line: Kansas St -24(O/U-53.5)

Projected score based on point spread: Kansas St 39-15

Stay away from:

Kansas (RB-James Sims)

theCFFsite projects: Kansas St 31-10

 

Michigan St at Indiana

Line: Michigan St -15.5(O/U-48)

Projected score based on point spread: Michigan St 32-16

Stay away from:

Indiana (RB-Stephen Houston)

theCFFsite projects: Michigan St 32-16

 

Tulane at Louisiana

Line: Louisiana -23.5(O/U-56.5)

Projected score based on point spread: Louisiana 40-16

Stay away from:

Tulane (RB-Orleans Darkwa)

theCFFsite projects: Louisiana 41-10

 

Connecticut at Rutgers

Line: Rutgers -9(O/U-40.5)

Projected score based on point spread: Rutgers 25-16

Stay away from:

Connecticut (RB-Lyle McCombs)

theCFFsite projects: Rutgers 24-13

 

Must Watch Games (The games with the biggest headlines)

Nebraska at Ohio St

Line: Ohio St -3.5(O/U-57.5)

Projected score based on point spread: Ohio St 31-27

Outlook: If the Nebraska team that showed up in the second half against Wisconsin plays four quarters in Columbus, the Buckeyes are in for a dogfight. However, the Cornhuskers’ inability to take care of the football will lead to too many easy scoring opportunities for Ohio State.

theCFFsite projects: Ohio St 27-24
 

West Virginia at Texas

Line: Texas -6.5(O/U-74.5)

Projected score based on point spread: Texas 41-34

Outlook: West Virginia’s Geno Smith comes into this contest as the early-season Heisman front-runner. If the senior quarterback can lead the Mountaineers to an impressive victory on the road, he’ll distance himself from the field.

theCFFsite projects: West Virginia 41-37

 

LSU at Florida

Line: LSU -2.5(O/U-44.5)

Projected score based on point spread: LSU 24-21

Outlook: The Gators have had two weeks to prepare for the Tigers, who have looked anything but impressive in their previous two games. Can Florida keep the LSU offense under wraps and put enough points on the board to upset the nation’s No. 3 ranked team?

theCFFsite projects: LSU 24-21

 

Georgia at South Carolina

Line: South Carolina -2.5(O/U-57)

Projected score based on point spread: South Carolina 30-27

Outlook: The Georgia offense is finely tuned right now and has enough explosive playmakers to go into Columbia and pull out a victory in a critical SEC East showdown.

theCFFsite projects: Georgia 31-28


theCFFsite in Must Watch games:

2012 Season: Straight Up (10-5) ATS: (8-7)

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

 

 

By Joe DiSalvo, thecffsite.com

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Find us on facebook

Email us:

[email protected]

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Using Vegas Odds to Determine Best Week 6 Plays</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 04:34
All taxonomy terms: MLB, News
Path: /mlb/mets-dickey-have-surgery
Body:

R.A. DickeyMiami, FL (Sports Network) - New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey revealed after his final start of the season he will undergo surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle.

He received a no decision while allowing three runs on seven hits with no walks and eight strikeouts over six innings in the Mets' 4-3 extra-inning victory over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday.

The Cy Young candidate said he has been dealing with the injury since April, but it was not significant enough to keep him out of action.

Dickey will have the surgery on Oct. 18 in Philadelphia and expects to be ready for the start of spring training.

The 37-year-old knuckleballer is coming off a career year in which he went 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA and 230 strikeouts through 233 2/3 innings.

Teaser:
<p> New York Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey revealed after his final start of the season he will undergo surgery to repair a torn abdominal muscle.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 02:06
Path: /nfl/new-orleans-saints-start-season-0-4-record
Body:

The way the 2012 season has started for the New Orleans Saints, you would think that Gregg Williams and/or Jonathan Vilma had put a bounty — “allegedly” — on their old teammates from the Crescent City.

Most believed that the Saints would take a step back following the season-long suspension of head coach Sean Payton. But no one predicted the team that has a combined 37–11 record over the last three seasons — including a victory in Super Bowl XLIV — would start the 2012 season so slow.

New Orleans opened the year with a stunning 40–32 loss at home to Washington, whose rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III started the Twitter trend of “Griffining” after throwing an 88-yard scoring strike for his first career touchdown pass.

On the road at Carolina in Week 2, the Saints fell 35–27 to the NFC South rival Panthers. Through two weeks, the Saints defense had allowed a combined 922 yards and 75 points to RG3- and Cam Newton-led teams.

A return trip to New Orleans for a matchup against then-winless Kansas City in Week 3 looked like a can’t miss. But that was not the case, as the Saints took a 24–6 lead in the third quarter before collapsing for a 27–24 overtime loss to the Chiefs — in a game where the Saints defense allowed the longest touchdown run in franchise history (91 yards).

Although, New Orleans did appear to have won for one brief, shining moment when the replacement refs wrongly ruled a Kansas City fumble and Roman Harper return for a touchdown in overtime.

A trip to Lambeau Field in Week 4 was the last thing anyone in black and gold wanted to see on the horizon. But New Orleans went blow-for-blow with Green Bay. The Saints even had a chance to take a late fourth-quarter lead on a 48-yard field goal. Garrett Hartley missed, however, and the Saints lost, 28–27, falling to 0–4 for the first time since 2007.

Now New Orleans heads back home to face San Diego in prime time on Sunday night. The stars appear to have aligned. The Saints have not lost three straight games at home since 1995. And the Chargers franchise provides inspiration, as the only team to make the playoffs after starting 0–4.

To top it off, Brees is poised to break the all-time record for consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass — a mark he currently shares with Johnny Unitas (47) — against his former team.

Despite a brutal offseason and first quarter of the season, there is hope.

“The fact that we have great guys and the leadership in the locker room is allowing us to improve. I say it again, it’s not good enough; 0–4 is not good enough,” said interim coach Aaron Kromer.

“You can see it coming. You can see we’re on the cusp of breaking out. … This team is all in, and they are on the cusp of becoming a very productive, winning team.”

Teaser:
<p> The New Orleans Saints are 0-4 after losing to the Washington Redskins, Carolina Panthers, Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers over the first four weeks of the 2012 season.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 18:41
Path: /nfl/2012-nfl-power-rankings-going-week-5
Body:

Each week during the season Athlon Sports looks at the best and worst football teams in the NFL. Here are our NFL Power Rankings following Week 4 of the season.

1. Texans (4-0) Top-ranked defense makes Houston a problem.

2. Falcons (4-0) Matty Ice leads last-minute comeback over Carolina.

3. Cardinals (4-0) Have won eight straight at home, including five in OT.

4. 49ers (3-1) Kaepernick shows Jets how Wildcat should be run.

5. Eagles (3-1) Improve to 8–1 in last nine games against Giants.

6. Ravens (3-1) Regular officials return to ovation on Thursday night.

7. Giants (2-2) Tynes’ potential game-winning FG wide left at Philly.

8. Patriots (2-2) Score 45 second-half points in blowout at Buffalo.

9. Packers (2-2) Bounce back to win after replacement ref scandal.

10. Bears (3-1) Monsters of the Midway dominate on MNF in Big D.

11. Bengals (3-1) Dalton-to-Green too much for overmatched Jaguars.

12. Chargers (3-1) Rivers tops 25,000 yards passing in 100th NFL start.

13. Broncos (2-2) Outscore Raiders 27–0 in second half of blowout.

14. Steelers (1-2) Polamalu (calf), Harrison (knee) set to play after bye.

15. Vikings (3-1) End 11-game losing streak against NFC North foes.

16. Cowboys (2-2) Romo throws career-high five INTs in loss to Bears.

17. Redskins (2-2) RG3 overcomes headset failure on winning drive.

18. Bills (2-2) Fall to 1–17 in last 18 games vs. AFC East rival Pats.

19. Jets (2-2) Still no Tebow despite worst shutout loss since 1989.

20. Rams (2-2) Rookie Zuerlein hits team record 60-yard FG in win.

21. Seahawks (2-2) Some fans calling for Flynn after Russell struggles.

22. Panthers (1-3) Let victory slip through their claws against Falcons.

23. Saints (0-4) Brees ties Unitas with TD pass in 47 straight games.

24. Titans (1-3) Locker dislocates shoulder; CJ141Y has breakout.

25. Lions (1-3) Victimized by special teams for second straight week.

26. Buccaneers (1-3) Victory Formation would be nice right about now.

27. Dolphins (1-3) Wake records 4.5 sacks in losing effort at Arizona.

28. Raiders (1-3) Worst loss to Broncos since 1962, pre-Al Davis era.

29. Chiefs (1-3) Lose six turnovers in loss to AFC West rival Chargers.

30. Jaguars (1-3) Fred Taylor inducted into ring of honor before loss.

31. Colts (1-3) Pagano diagnosed with leukemia, out indefinitely.

32. Browns (0-4) Weeden air mails last chance pass in loss at Ravens.
 

Teaser:
<p> Each week during the season Athlon Sports looks at the best and worst football teams in the NFL. Here are our NFL Power Rankings following Week 4 of the season.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 18:28
Path: /nascar/nascar-news-notes-week-6
Body:

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Brad Keselowski admits he has conflicting emotions heading into this weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“There’s part of me that says no matter how bad Talladega goes I can only be 47 points back or 46 or so, so it can’t be that bad,” he said Tuesday. “Then there’s the other side of me that thinks that if we go to Talladega and have a bad day and end up losing a championship by those points, that would really be a shame.”

Keselowski admits he’s not trying to “overthink” the Chase and just race.

One thing he’s pondered, though, is how much he’ll compete in the Nationwide Series as he goes for his first Cup title. Keselowski said he will not run the Kansas Nationwide race — Ryan Blaney will — and could drop more races depending on how he’s doing in the Chase.

Keselowski enters this weekend’s Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 with three victories, eight top-five finishes and 12 top 10s in the last 13 races. He’s also won two of the first three Chase events to hold a five-point lead on Jimmie Johnson.

“There isn’t one silver bullet,” Keselowski said of his strong run since late June. “It’s everything. The cars are good. The execution on pit road has been strong. Knock on wood we haven’t had (mechanical) failures, which is a credit to the staff at Penske Racing. With the exception of Bristol, I haven’t driven it in the wall. That’s what it takes. Just having one of those pieces isn’t enough. You have to have them all. Just missing one of those pieces will keep you from having a solid day. Right now as a team we’ve had it all.”

As he did after winning Dover last weekend, Keselowski reiterated that seven races remain in the Chase. Defending series champion Tony Stewart was 24 points out of the lead with five races to go last year.

“There’s a lot of fight left,” Keselowski said.


INSIDE A WRECK  It will likely happen often this weekend at Talladega, cars skidding, sliding and slamming into each other. It’s one thing to see it from the stands or watching on TV, but what’s it like inside a car during a crash at Talladega?

Jimmie Johnson explains:

“When something happens you start evaluating the damage to your car. If there are a couple of small bumps along the way, your mind’s thinking, ‘OK, that’s not too bad. I didn’t get hit in a wheel, maybe just a fender. We can fix that. We can fix that.’ And you’re keeping some hope until there’s always typically a moment when you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s going to hurt, that’s going to require some behind-the-wall time to fix that up.’

“So, you just kind of hang on and go for the ride. I’ve been fortunate to stay on my wheels and not be upside-down, so I don’t necessarily have a good play on that. Although it would be kind of cool to flip if you’re going to out, you may as well go out in style. But you just kind of evaluate what’s going on and hope that you don’t hit anything too hard and you can get to pit lane and get it fixed.”


STRONG START  Joey Logano has recorded a top-10 finish in each of the three Chase races so far. He’s actually scored more points (107) than Chase drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. (100), Martin Truex Jr. (100), Kevin Harvick (96), Jeff Gordon (94), Greg Biffle (85) and Matt Kenseth (67).

Logano opened the Chase by finishing seventh at Chicagoland Speedway, was eighth at New Hampshire and placed 10th at Dover last weekend. It’s the first time this season he’s scored three consecutive top-10 finishes.
 

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long takes a spin around the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Highlighting this week's news is Brad Keselowski's points lead heading to Talladega, changes on Ryan Newman's team and Joey Logano's strong run during the Chase.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 18:19
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/presidents-cup-assistants-named
Body:

International captain Nick Price named Shigeki Maruyama, Mark McNulty and Tony Johnstone as his assistants for the Presidents Cup on Tuesday, while U.S. captain Fred Couples selected Jay Haas.

Dublin, OH (Sports Network) - International captain Nick Price named Shigeki Maruyama, Mark McNulty and Tony Johnstone as his assistants for the Presidents Cup on Tuesday, while U.S. captain Fred Couples selected Jay Haas.

Couples will name additional assistants in the coming months.

This marks the first time that each captain has the option of naming three official assistants.

Maruyama, who has won three PGA Tour events, has an overall record of 6-2-0 in the Presidents Cup, including a 5-0-0 showing during the International team's lone outright victory in 1998.

McNulty, a Presidents Cup teammate of Price in 1994 and 1996, has a 3-4-2 overall record in the event. He currently competes on the Champions Tour.

Johnstone, who, along with Price and McNulty, hails from Zimbabwe, spent most of his career on the South African Sunshine Tour and the European Tour, where he won the 1992 British PGA Championship.

"Choosing my three captain's assistants was really very easy for me," said Price. "I grew up playing golf back home with Tony Johnstone and Mark McNulty. Maruyama-san was an inspiration to all of us in every Presidents Cup team he played on. His enthusiasm, dogged competiveness and incredible team spirit are things I will never forget."

Haas, a 9-time PGA Tour winner and 16-time victor on the Champions Tour, represented the U.S. in the Presidents Cup in 1994 and 2003, where he posted a combined 5-3-1 record. He also served as Couples' captain's assistant in both 2009 and 2011.

"Jay has really been my right-hand man these past two Presidents Cups, and I know I couldn't do my job as captain without him," said Couples. "Jay has been one of my closest friends for many years. I rely on his leadership qualities, organizational skills and ability to help bring the team together to play their best, but also have a great time in the process."

The President Cup returns to the United States at Muirfield Village Golf Club from Oct. 3-6, 2013.

Teaser:
<p> International captain Nick Price named Shigeki Maruyama, Mark McNulty and Tony Johnstone as his assistants for the Presidents Cup on Tuesday, while U.S. captain Fred Couples selected Jay Haas.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 13:58
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /mlb/mlb-announces-new-tv-deals-fox-turner
Body:

New York, NY (Sports Network) - Major League Baseball has announced new television agreements with broadcast partners FOX and Turner through the 2021 season.

Financial terms of the new deals, which will take effect in 2014, were not disclosed.

FOX will remain the home of the World Series and All-Star Game, while also continuing to air one League Championship Series. The network will also add two Division Series in 2014 and will double its number of regular-season national windows on Saturdays from 26 to 52.

TBS will retain one League Championship Series, two Division Series and one wild card game, while continuing to air Sunday games for the final 13 weeks of the season.

"I have often said in recent years that we are living in the golden age of baseball and that the game has never been more popular," said baseball commissioner Bud Selig in a statement Tuesday. "But to see the unprecedented and historic commitment these networks have made to televising Major League Baseball for years to come is truly amazing. On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am thrilled that we will continue our relationships with both FOX and Turner. Both networks are passionate about baseball and are committed to covering, promoting and growing the sport, and I want to thank them for their continued support."

MLB and ESPN announced an eight-year agreement, starting in 2014, in August.

Teaser:
<p> Major League Baseball has announced new television agreements with broadcast partners FOX and Turner through the 2021 season.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 12:14
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /nfl/answering-key-nfl-questions-after-week-4
Body:

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Most NFL teams have completed the first quarter of their regular season. So, despite the general unpredictability of the league, some trends are starting to develop.

Let's attempt to answer key questions on fans' minds:

WHICH 2011 PLAYOFF TEAMS ARE MOST IN JEOPARDY OF MISSING THE 2012 POSTSEASON?

Well, duh, the 0-4 New Orleans Saints have to top the list. Importantly, they're already four games behind unbeaten Atlanta in the NFC South Division standings. The wild-card route would likely be the necessary playoff path, but it's probably going to take a 10-6 record to nab one of the two spots.

So, can the Saints go 10-2 the rest of the way? With head coach Sean Payton suspended for the whole season, and with New Orleans' defense as porous as it's been, that would be wishful thinking. Yes, the Saints have plenty of talent, but they still have road games left against Denver, Atlanta, the New York Giants and Dallas, and they still have home games left against San Diego, Philadelphia, Atlanta and San Francisco.

At 1-3, the Detroit Lions will have a difficult time returning to the playoffs, too. Following their Week 5 bye, they have back-to-back road games at Philadelphia and Chicago. They could be staring at 1-5 after that, which would all but eliminate them from contention.

Even if they survive that tough stretch, they also have a Thanksgiving Day date with Houston and a Week 16 visit from Atlanta ahead. The home loss to Minnesota on Sunday really damaged the Lions' hopes. If not for a rally against St. Louis on opening day, the Lions would be 0-4.

Don't look now, but the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants are 0-2 in NFC East games. Sure, they're 2-2 overall, and they didn't play particularly badly in either loss, but when you're in what figures to be the toughest division race in the NFL, starting 0-2 in divisional games is cause for concern.

The Giants, of course, are a championship-caliber team, but they still have road games against the likes of San Francisco, Dallas, Atlanta and Baltimore, and their remaining home schedule includes Pittsburgh, Green Bay and Philadelphia.

Last year, a 9-7 regular season was enough to get the Giants a championship. They might be looking at a similar record this year, but with the expected improved records of teams like Arizona, Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle and Washington in the NFC, it's likely that 9-7 won't be enough to get to the postseason this time around. New York will need to win at least 10 games this regular season.

Pittsburgh is the other 2011 playoff team that probably needs to be concerned. At 1-2, the Steelers still have plenty of time to right the ship. It's just that there's a disturbing trend developing (although perhaps the expected return of Rashard Mendenhall on Sunday will solve it): The Steelers can't run the ball anymore.

No Pittsburgh player has rushed for more than 43 yards in a game this season. Imagine that. Sure, they had been a pass-first team the last few years with Ben Roethlisberger under center, but the Steelers had always been able to count on their rushing attack to close games out in the past.

If the Steelers continue to become more predictable on offense, it's going to be tougher to handle the elite teams. Pittsburgh looks like it's going to win between nine and 11 games. It's possible that nine wouldn't be enough for an AFC playoff berth.

WHICH TEAMS ARE MOST LIKELY TO WIN THEIR DIVISION TITLE, IN ORDER?

With a three-game lead already in the NFC South (as well as having a roster loaded with talent), Atlanta is certainly one of the most likely division winners this year. Top threat New Orleans is 0-4.

With an equally good chance of winning its division is 4-0 Houston, which has a 1 1/2-game lead over Indianapolis in the AFC South. Top threat Tennessee is 1-3.

New England has the third-best chance at a division crown, despite a mediocre 2-2 record. Currently, the Patriots are tied for first in the AFC East with Buffalo and the New York Jets.

Still, can anyone take Buffalo as a serious threat, now that New England rallied from a 21-7 deficit to crush the Bills, 52-28? Does anyone think that the Jets, minus all-world cornerback Darrelle Revis (and possibly top wide receiver Santonio Holmes for a lengthy time, too), can overtake New England?

Those are the only three teams that appear to be essentially a lock to win their respective divisions. Let's go with San Francisco as having the fourth- best chance. Yes, Arizona is undefeated and in first place right now, but the 49ers are just one game behind in the standings and they have the NFL's best defense.

Baltimore, in the AFC North, probably has the fifth-best chance to be a division winner. The Ravens are tied at 3-1 with Cincinnati, and perennial power Pittsburgh could still be a factor, but Baltimore just looks like the most complete team of the bunch.

The other three divisions are too close to call. The best guesses? Look for Peyton Manning-led Denver to edge perennially underachieving San Diego in the AFC West. Chicago and Green Bay will probably fight to the finish in the NFC North, and the NFC East race could involve all four teams. At the very least, Philadelphia, Dallas and the New York Giants ought to remain in the hunt until the end.

WHICH TEAM IS MOST LIKELY TO 'EARN' THE TOP PICK IN THE 2013 DRAFT?

The obvious pick would seem to be Cleveland, since the Browns and New Orleans Saints are the league's only winless teams. The Tennessee Titans have been outscored by a league-worst 70 points, but that could primarily be attributed to their extremely difficult schedule (New England, San Diego, Detroit and Houston).

Let's not pick either of those teams. Let's go with Jacksonville. It should be said, however, that there is about as much parity as ever in the NFL. Any one of six or so teams can challenge for the worst overall record.

If Jacksonville gets the top pick, the most interesting question centers around whether it would choose a quarterback (Matt Barkley or fast-rising Geno Smith) or be content with Blaine Gabbert and ship the No. 1 selection for a king's ransom, like St. Louis did with the No. 2 selection this past offseason.

WHO WILL WIN THE NFL COACH OF THE YEAR AWARD?

Quite a few teams are overachieving, so the Vikings' Leslie Frazier and the Cardinals' Ken Whisenhunt are among the top early contenders for this award. However, since St. Louis, with a 2-2 record, has already equaled its 2011 win total, here's a vote for Jeff Fisher.

The Rams led in the final minute against Detroit before losing a close one. This is possibly the most-improved team in the NFL, and that's what usually wins coaching awards. The Rams have been down for a while, but they've been quietly building a strong defense. They'd need to get to 8-8 for Fisher to win the award, and it says here that they will.

WHEN WILL THE 1972 MIAMI DOLPHINS BE ABLE TO CELEBRATE?

There's an urban legend that as the only team in the Super Bowl era to complete a season as undefeated champion, Miami's 1972 alumni annually get together for a champagne toast to celebrate the final unbeaten NFL team's initial loss of a given season.

Three teams sit at 4-0: Arizona, Atlanta and Houston. History shows that each of them will probably lose a regular-season game (or three or four) before it's over. Let's figure the '72 Dolphins will celebrate no later than Week 8.

Arizona's upcoming schedule is: Week 5 at St. Louis, Week 6 at home versus Buffalo, Week 7 at Minnesota, and Week 8 at home versus San Francisco.

Atlanta's upcoming schedule is: Week 5 at Washington, Week 6 at home versus Oakland, Week 7 bye, and Week 8 at Philadelphia.

Houston's upcoming schedule is: Week 5 at the New York Jets, Week 6 at home versus Green Bay, Week 7 at home versus Baltimore, and a Week 8 bye.

It seems like there's a potential loss during the next four weeks for each of those teams. Arizona will probably drop one of its next two road games. Houston will probably split those tough back-to-back home games against Green Bay and Baltimore. Atlanta will probably be an underdog at Philadelphia.

So, if there's any truth to the urban legend, get ready to drink up relatively soon, 1972 Dolphins.

Teaser:
<p> Most NFL teams have completed the first quarter of their regular season. So, despite the general unpredictability of the league, some trends are starting to develop.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-waiver-wire-week-5
Body:

Chances are more fantasy teams will feel the impact of the bye week in Week 5 with four teams off compared to last week when just two were taking a break. While some owners will welcome Ben Roethilsberger, Andrew Luck, Mike Wallace and others back; there are those who will have to do without the services of players like Matthew Stafford, Tony Romo, Darren McFadden, Calvin Johnson, to name a few.

Have no fear; the NFL’s current leader in receiving yards, an undefeated starting quarterback and a top-five fantasy tight end are just some of the options that may be available on your waiver wire. Here are those names and some others worth considering for this week and beyond.

Week 5 Positional Rankings

Week 5 Start or Sit

Bye week teams: Dallas, Detroit, Oakland Tampa Bay

Quarterbacks
Week 4 Recap: Ryan Fitzpatrick is currently leading the league in touchdown passes (12), but he’s also tied for second in interceptions (7) and faces a tough match-up in San Francisco this week. Christian Ponder has yet to throw an interception, but he’s averaging a little more than 200 yards per game through the air and has just four touchdown passes in four games. Shaun Hill didn’t see the field for Detroit as Matthew Staffordmade the start, while Jake Locker wasn’t on the field that long after suffering a shoulder injury on a sack against Houston.

Matt Hasselbeck, Tennessee Titans
Jake Locker left Sunday’s game in Houston in the first quarter after injuring his left shoulder on a sack. The good news is that it’s his non-throwing shoulder. The bad news is he previously injured the same shoulder in the opener against New England and he watched the rest of the Titans’ 38-14 loss to the Texans on the sidelines in street clothes with his left arm in a sling. It’s still early, but there’s certainly a chance that Locker will not play this Sunday in Minnesota, which means Hasselbeck will take his place. Hasselbeck was not at his best in relief of Locker on Sunday as he threw as many pick-sixes as touchdown passes (two apiece), but this is an accomplished, 14-year veteran who threw for 3,571 yards and 18 touchdowns as the Titans’ starter last season. If Locker doesn’t play against the Vikings, you could do a lot worse than Hasselbeck, especially if you are a Locker owner or in need of a bye-week fill in.

Kevin Kolb, Arizona Cardinals
Don’t look now; but Arizona is one of three remaining undefeated teams left, joining Atlanta and Houston in that distinction. The defense has certainly done its part (see below), but Kolb deserves some of the credit too. Since taking over for John Skelton in the fourth quarter of the Cardinals’ opening game, Kolb has completed better than 62 percent of his passes for 752 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s added a rushing touchdown and has only turned the ball over three times (2 INT, 1 fumble). The Cardinals’ next three opponents are St. Louis, Buffalo and Minnesota, so the schedule appears manageable. He’s also coming off of his best statistical performance (324 yards passing, 3 TD, 2 INT) against Miami, so Kolb is at the least someone worth monitoring.  

Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Tannehill threw for 431 yards against Arizona, showing what he can do with his arm. He still has a long ways to go as he has tossed three times as many picks (six) as touchdowns (two), but his favorite target right now is the league’s leading receiver (see below), and it looks as if the coaching staff is starting to trust him to air it out a little more. If this trend continues and Tannehill can continue to show progress in his accuracy (55.9 percent completion rate) and decision making, he could develop into a viable fantasy option, especially in deeper leagues.

Running Backs
Week 4 Recap: Both Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller returned for Buffalo in the loss to New England, rendering Tashard Choice (2 att., 14 yds.) an afterthought. Ryan Williams disappointed greatly in his first career start, gaining a total of 26 yards on 14 offensive touches, but he will get another chance to impress Thursday night in St. Louis. Shaun Draughn had 46 yards on eight total touches (4 carries, 4 receptions) and could continue to have value in deeper leagues, especially as long as Peyton Hillis is sidelined with an ankle injury. Bilal Powell didn’t get many opportunities (4 carries, compared to 11 for Shonn Greene) against San Francisco, not that it mattered much as the Jets rushed for a grand total of 45 yards against the 49ers. Lamar Miller out-rushed Daniel Thomas (13 yards to 4), but each only got four carries as Reggie Bush got the bulk of the carries despite dealing with a knee injury.

Jackie Battle, San Diego Chargers
Battle is the Chargers’ leading rusher, although Ryan Mathews’ broken collarbone has a lot to do with that. Still, the former Chief is averaging more than five yards per carry and has all three of the team’s rushing touchdowns so far. If anything it appears that Battle is the Chargers’ goal-line back for the time being, which certainly helps his value. Remember, Mike Tolbert scored 19 rushing touchdowns in 2010 and ’11 combined as the Chargers’ second back. I’m not saying the Chargers will use Battle like they did Tolbert, but he clearly has a role in their running game and he’s also produced as a receiver (4 rec., 42 yds., TD Sunday against the Chiefs).

Brandon Bolden, New England Patriots
I’ll go out on a limb and say that pretty much no one had Bolden, an undrafted free agent out of Ole Miss, on their roster, let alone in their starting lineup last week. After his performance (16 att., 137 yds., TD) against Buffalo, that seems all but certain to change. Unfortunately, Bolden’s breakout could come at Stevan Ridley’s expense; although Ridley did have more carries (22) and went for 106 yards with two scores himself. It remains to be seen what Bolden’s roll is going forwards, but he, and not Danny Woodhead or Shane Vereen, appears to be the other Patriots’ back to own.

Ronnie Hillman, Denver Broncos
Willis McGahee played, rib cartilage issue and all, but it was Hillman and not Lance Ball, who got the second-most carries in the win over Oakland. Hillman, the Broncos’ third-round pick, had 31 yards rushing on 10 carries and also caught two passes for 32 yards. Hillman offers more upside than Ball or any of the other backup running backs on Denver’s roster and he may finally have shown the coaching stuff enough to merit consistent playing time.

Kendall Hunter, San Francisco 49ers
Nine different 49ers had at least one rushing attempt as the team racked up 245 yards on the ground on 44 carries (5.6 ypc) in their shutout win over the Jets. That said, only two 49ers have more than 15 carries to this point and they are starting running back Frank Gore and Hunter. Gore has 40 more carries (66 to 26) than Hunter, but Hunter is averaging 4.6 yards per attempt and seems entrenched as the 49ers’ second back right now. The coaching staff has had it wants to limit Gore’s workload over the course of the season to save wear and tear on the veteran, so Hunter should still get a fair amount of opportunities. He’s also just one injury away from being the starter, and last season was the first in the past five in which Gore played all 16 games.

Rashard Mendenhall, Pittsburgh Steelers
Guess who’s back? Mendenhall, who averaged more than 1,100 yards rushing and 10 total touchdowns from 2009-11, is expected to make his season debut this Sunday against Philadelphia. Mendenhall tore his ACL in the final week of the ‘11 regular season, but he has been practicing in full and is expected to step right back into his starting role. The team will limit his workload early to help ease him back into things, but as the Steelers’ starting running back he should receive plenty of opportunities to have an impact. Now is the time to act if Mendenhall is still on your league’s waiver wire.

Wide Receivers
Week 4 Recap: Hakeem Nicks missed his second straight game for the Giants, but it wasn’t Ramses Barden (2 rec., 36 yds. on 4 targets), who took advantage of his absence this time. Nate Washington, like the rest of the Titan wide receivers, had a quiet game against Houston, but could benefit if Matt Hasselbeck ends up filling in for an injured Jake Locker. Washington put together a career year (74-1,023-7) last season with Hasselbeck under center. Jacoby Jones (2 rec., 17 yds., 7 targets) had problems connecting with Joe Flacco against Cleveland, while Jeremy Kerley (2, 12) and Cecil Shorts (1,8) were both stymied by their respective team’s ineffective passing attacks.

Brian Hartline, Miami Dolphins
Hartline leads the NFL in receiving yards with 455 and he’s tied for eighth in receptions with 25. He had another huge game (12 rec., 253 yds., TD) against Arizona and is the No. 4 wide receiver in fantasy football. He has just the one touchdown catch, so unless he finds the end zone a little more frequently, his scoring will be driven by receptions and yards. He’s clearly Ryan Tannehill’s favorite target right now, so as long as you can tolerate the rookie quarterback’s growing pains, Hartline is worth adding to your roster.

Domenik Hixon, New York Giants
Hakeem Nicks missed a second straight game, but it was Hixon and not Ramses Barden, the Giants’ leading receiver in Week 3, who benefitted. Hixon is the Giants’ regular no. 3 wide receiver, but he also missed the Week 3 game in Carolina because of a concussion. He was back in the lineup Sunday night against Philadelphia and started in Nicks’ place opposite Victor Cruz. Hixon finished with a game-high 114 yards receiving on six catches (19.0 ypc, 11 targets) and the early reports on Nicks’ availability for this week’s game in Cleveland are not promising. As long as Nicks remains out, Hixon is the other Giants wideout to own, although Barden still has value in deeper leagues.

Donald Jones, Buffalo Bills
Jones became the Bills’ other starting wide receiver following the season-ending injury to David Nelson. After not doing that much the past two weeks, Jones finally broke through courtesy of a 68-yard touchdown catch against New England. He only had one other catch (for 22 yards) against the Patriots, but he’s still the Bills’ second-leading receiver and should have his share of chances moving forward.

James Jones, Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers does a good job of spreading the ball around, as evidenced by the fact five different Packers have 20 or more targets after four games. Jones is not only in that group, but he’s currently third on the team behind only fellow receiver Jordy Nelson and tight end Jermichael Finley. What’s more Jones leads the team with three touchdown catches and he could be in line for even more playing time as Greg Jennings had to leave Sunday’s game against New Orleans after re-aggravating his groin injury.

Andre Roberts, Arizona Cardinals
Roberts has stayed step-for-step with Larry Fitzgerald, his All-Pro teammate, through the first four games. Fitzgerald leads the team in receptions and yards, but Roberts has four touchdown catches and is averaging more yards (15.3 to 11.1) per catch than the perennial Pro Bowler. Roberts scored two of those touchdowns on Sunday against Miami and as long as Kevin Kolb plays as well as he has, it looks like there’s room for two viable fantasy options at wide receiver out in the desert.

Tight Ends
Week 4 Recap: Kyle Rudolph had a quiet day (2 rec., 8 yds.) in the Vikings’ win over Detroit, but Christian Ponder had only 26 pass attempts all game. Rudolph tied for the second-most targets on the team this past Sunday with five and there’s no reason to think he won’t remain one of Ponder’s primary pass-catchers moving forward. Craig Stevens also caught two passes against Houston, but one of them was a 19-yard touchdown pass. Still, Stevens’ value is tied directly to Jared Cook’s health. Cook, who played after leaving last week’s game with a shoulder injury, had three catches for 36 yards against the Texans.

Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills
Chandler is the No. 5 tight end in fantasy football thanks in large part to his four touchdown catches, which also ties him for first in the league overall. Chandler got two of those in Sunday’s loss to New England, and right now he is Ryan Fitzpatrick’s favorite target in the red zone. Chandler’s overall numbers (12 rec., 175 yds.) aren’t bad, but his upside is tied directly to his red zone production.

Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers
After a slow start, Olsen has established himself in the Panthers’ passing attack. The team’s leader in receptions, Olsen has 13 catches for 187 yards and a touchdown in the last two games combined. Steve Smith is and should remain as Cam Newton’s favorite target, but Olsen appears to be his second option. A few more scores would certainly help, but Olsen should get enough looks every game to be a viable weekly starting option, especially in PPR leagues.

Defense/Special Teams

Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are a surprising 4-0 thanks in large part to its defense. The unit is second in the league in sacks with 16, has forced 10 turnovers and blocked two kicks. They also are dangerous on special teams with Patrick Peterson and LaRod Stephens-Howling returning punts and kickoffs. Besides the early production, the upcoming schedule is also appealing as the Cardinals go to St. Louis, host Buffalo and are at Minnesota the next three weeks.

St. Louis Rams
The Rams are 2-2 as the defense has done a much better job of slowing down the opposition, especially when it comes to the pass. The Rams are allowing a respectable 213.5 passing yards per game and have a league-high eight interceptions. They need to do a better job of pressuring the quarterback (only 6 sacks), but they also aren’t taking on offensive juggernauts the next two weeks with a home date against Arizona and a trip to Miami on tap.

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. 2, 2012

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 5</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 06:03
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-5-bowl-projections
Body:

College football's bowl season is still a few months away, but it's never too early to take a look at what the matchups might look like. With only three weeks of results in the books, it's hard to make long-term projections about teams, especially with several teams still playing overmatched non-conference games. 

With little data to work with, the post-Week 5 bowl projections are a mixture between preseason projections, how things would look if the season ended today, and a small 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 5 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. South Florida
New Orleans Dec. 22 Sun Belt vs. C-USA UL Lafayette vs. Marshall
Las Vegas Dec. 22 MWC vs. Pac-12 Washington 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. Connecticut*
Belk Dec. 27 ACC vs. Big East NC State vs. Cincinnati
Holiday Dec. 27 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 UCLA vs. Texas Tech
Independence Dec. 28 ACC vs. SEC Wake Forest vs. Missouri
Russell Athletic Dec. 28 ACC vs. Big East Miami vs. Rutgers
Meineke Car Care Dec. 28 Big Ten vs. Big 12 TCU vs. Purdue
Armed Forces Dec. 29 C-USA vs. MWC Houston vs. Air Force
Kraft Fight Hunger Dec. 29 Pac-12 vs. Navy Navy vs. Stanford
Pinstripe Dec. 29 Big East vs. Big 12 Baylor vs. Pittsburgh
Alamo Dec. 29 Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Oregon State vs. Oklahoma
Buffalo Wild Wings Dec. 29 Big Ten vs. Big 12 Okla. State vs. Mich. State 
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 Auburn vs. UCF**
Chick-fil-A Dec. 31 ACC vs. SEC Clemson vs. Texas A&M
TicketCity Jan. 1 Big Ten vs. C-USA Tulsa vs. Iowa
TaxSlayer.com Gator Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Miss. State vs. Northwestern
Capital One Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Georgia vs. Michigan
Outback Jan. 1 SEC vs. Big Ten Wisconsin vs. Florida
Cotton Jan. 4 Big 12 vs. SEC West Virginia vs. So. Carolina
BBVA Compass Jan. 5 SEC vs. Big East Vanderbilt vs. Louisiana Tech*
GoDaddy.com Jan. 6 MAC vs. Sun Belt W. Kentucky vs. Ohio
       
BCS Bowls      
Rose Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Nebraska vs. USC
Orange Jan. 1 BCS vs. BCS Florida State vs. Louisville
Sugar Jan. 2 BCS vs. BCS LSU vs. Kansas State
Fiesta Jan. 3 BCS vs. BCS Texas 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

@athlonsteven

(published Oct. 2, 2012)

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 5 Ranks
ACC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Big East Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Pac-12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
College Football Week 5 Recap

Teaser:
<p> College Football Post-Week 5 Bowl Projections</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-20-coaches-hot-seat-post-week-5-rankings
Body:

Week 5 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. One new coach makes an appearance in this week's top 20 (Ellis Johnson), while Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville drops out after beating Iowa State to move to 4-0 this season.

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 5 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank:
1
Record at Kentucky: 12-18 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-4
The Wildcats showed some signs of life in Saturday’s loss to South Carolina. Despite an injury to quarterback Maxwell Smith in the first quarter, Kentucky held a 17-7 lead at halftime. However, the Gamecocks were simply a better team in the second half and pulled away for a 38-17 victory. With Smith sidelined, true freshman Jalen Whitlow stepped in at quarterback and played relatively well considering the circumstances. However, Kentucky had an opportunity to score points at the end of the first half, but a disastrous sequence cost the team of at least a shot at a field goal. Although the Wildcats still would have lost the game with those points, it’s a coaching blunder that Phillips has to avoid.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank: 2
Record at Boston College: 21-22 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
The Eagles put up a fight against Clemson, but the Tigers simply had too much firepower on offense and pulled away in the second half for a 45-31 victory. While the offense has made progress since last season, the defense ranks ninth in the ACC in yards allowed, pass defense and points allowed. Spaziani is still searching for his first win over a FBS team this season, and Boston College has a tricky road date at Army this Saturday.

3. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank:
6
Record at California: 80-52 (11th season)
2012 Record: 1-4
The Golden Bears’ disappointing start to 2012 continued with a 27-17 loss to Arizona State. For a coach that is known for his offensive background, it has been a surprise to see California struggle the last two seasons. The Golden Bears rank ninth in the Pac-12 in passing offense, while they are averaging 25.6 points a game (seventh in the conference). California’s only win of 2012 came against FCS opponent Southern Utah, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier with UCLA, Washington State, Stanford and Utah coming up in October.

4. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank:
4
Record at Rice: 24-42 (6th season)
2012 Record: 1-4
It’s hard to penalize Bailiff much for Saturday’s 35-14 loss to rival Houston. The Owls were without quarterback Taylor McHargue, who is averaging 321.5 yards of total offense per game. Without McHargue, the offense struggled to move the ball, while the defense allowed over 600 yards for the third time this year. The good news for Bailiff is the next two games are very winnable, with a road date at Memphis and a home game against future C-USA foe UTSA.

5. Robb Akey, Idaho
Last Week’s Rank:
3
Record at Idaho: 19-48 (6th season)
2012 Record: 0-5
As expected, Idaho’s trip to Chapel Hill was ugly. North Carolina blanked Idaho 66-0, and the Vandals managed only 189 yards of offense and committed five turnovers. Idaho is one of only eight teams without a win this season, but the schedule lightens over the next two months, as the Vandals host New Mexico State this Saturday and play at Texas State on Oct. 13. Considering Idaho’s uncertain conference future, it’s important for this team to finish the second half of the season on a high note.

6. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank:
8
Record at Buffalo: 6-22 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-3
The Bulls gave Connecticut all it could handle but were stopped around midfield late in the fourth quarter for a potential game-tying touchdown. Buffalo has had an interesting 2012 season, as it played well against Georgia and Connecticut but lost to Kent State and gave up 34 points to Morgan State. The Bulls have back-to-back road games the next two weeks, as they travel to Ohio and Northern Illinois – two of the MAC’s best teams. Running back Branden Oliver could return for this Saturday’s game against the Bobcats, which would be a huge boost to a team averaging 199.5 rushing yards per game.

7. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
14
Record at Central Michigan: 8-20 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-2
After a huge win against Iowa, the Chippewas came back to Earth with a 55-24 defeat at Northern Illinois. There’s no doubt Central Michigan would struggle to match last week’s intensity, but the loss to the Huskies drops Enos to 8-20 in his third season in Mount Pleasant. Although the win over the Hawkeyes was huge, Enos is still in a lot of trouble, especially with a trip to Toledo this Saturday, followed by games against Navy and Ball State. The Chippewas could still get to six wins, which might be the mark needed to save Enos’ job.

8. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank:
13
Record at UNLV: 5-25 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-4
A week after picking up their first win of 2012, the Rebels were soundly defeated 35-13 at Utah State. UNLV has showed progress this season but Saturday’s loss was the biggest margin of defeat for the Rebels in 2012. Although Hauck seems to have the program on the right track, wins could be difficult to come by in the next few weeks, as Louisiana Tech, Nevada and Boise State are UNLV’s next three opponents. The Rebels finish the year with New Mexico, Colorado State, Wyoming and Hawaii, which are all winnable games. Hauck didn’t inherit a full cupboard but needs to show a little more progress before guaranteeing himself a fourth season.

9. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
10
Record at Tennessee: 14-16 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-2
In some ways, Saturday’s 51-44 loss to Georgia was a good sign for Tennessee. The Volunteers rallied from a 27-10 deficit in the first half and eventually held a 30-27 late in the second quarter. The Bulldogs pulled away in the second half, but Tennessee hung tough and had a chance to tie late in the game. While close losses are good for morale, it’s still another defeat for the Volunteers. At 0-2 in the SEC, Tennessee’s East title hopes are probably over. A challenging schedule awaits this team in October, as the Volunteers play at Mississippi State and South Carolina, while hosting Alabama on Oct. 20. It’s clear Tennessee is a better team in 2012. However, Dooley has to show more progress to guarantee his return in Knoxville for 2013.

10. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
16
Record at New Mexico State: 10-33 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-4
Although New Mexico State is a difficult place to win and Walker is in a tough position with an uncertain conference future, there’s really no excuse for the performance against UTSA on Saturday night. The Aggies were blown out 35-7 by a team playing only its second season of football. Ouch. The Roadrunners are a promising program, but that’s a game New Mexico State has to have. The Aggies are running out of chances for wins, with a date at Idaho on Oct. 6 as their best shot the rest of the way.

11. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Last Week’s Rank:
5
Record at Iowa: 99-68 (14th season)
2012 Record: 3-2
A disappointing season in Iowa City got a little better with a 31-13 win over Minnesota. The victory over the Golden Gophers returned the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy to Iowa after a two-year absence. Ferentz is under a lot of pressure to win, but a schedule that features games against Michigan State, Penn State and Northwestern in October will be difficult to navigate unbeaten. Considering he is closing in on his 100th win in his Iowa tenure, Ferentz has built up some goodwill, but the Hawkeyes are just 4-4 in their last eight games. Still, barring a complete disaster, Ferentz will be back in Iowa City in 2013.

12. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Last Week’s Rank:
9
Record at Syracuse: 18-23 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
The Orange had their only bye week of 2012 in Week 5 and return to action against Pittsburgh this Saturday. Syracuse has lost seven consecutive games to Pittsburgh and has been defeated by 10 points or more in the last four matchups against the Panthers. Unless the Orange suffers a major collapse over the next eight games, Marrone is probably safe to return to Syracuse in 2013. However, the Orange need to avoid another one-win season in Big East play.

13. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Last Week’s Rank: 12
Record at Maryland: 4-12 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 2-2
Some coaches may not like an early bye week, but this setup might work out best for Maryland. With true freshman quarterback Perry Hills starting, the off date should allow Edsall and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley some time to work out a few kinks before ACC play begins this Saturday. The Terrapins have matched their win total from last season but still need to show a lot of improvement to make a bowl game in 2012.

14. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Last Week’s Rank:
Not ranked
Record at Southern Miss: 0-4
2012 Record: 0-4
Johnson makes his first appearance in the hot seat rankings. The first-year coach is off to a horrible start, as Southern Miss is 0-4 with losses to Nebraska, East Carolina, Western Kentucky and Louisville. While the competition hasn’t been bad, it’s never a good sign when your athletic director has to release a video asking for people to show support for a team just four games into a coach’s tenure. With Boise State coming to Hattiesburg this Saturday and a trip to UCF on Oct. 13, the Golden Eagles are staring at an 0-6 start.

15. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank:
15
Record at Colorado: 4-14 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-4
A week after picking up a win against Washington State, the Buffaloes lost 42-14 against UCLA. The loss to the Bruins continued to highlight how much work Colorado needs on defense, as UCLA recorded 281 yards through the air and 211 on the ground. The Buffaloes have a bye this Saturday, which is a much-needed break considering Arizona State, USC and Oregon are the next three opponents.

16. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
19
Record at Western Michigan: 49-42 (8th season)
2012 Record: 2-3
Last week was one to forget for Cubit and Western Michigan. Although the Broncos pulled off an upset over Connecticut in Week 4, they lost quarterback Alex Carder to hand surgery, and his absence was clearly felt in the loss to Toledo on Saturday night. Backup Tyler VanTubbergen threw for 232 yards but tossed three picks. With Carder sidelined, Western Michigan needs to regroup this week, but it catches a favorable match-up against UMass this Saturday.

17. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank:
17
Record at Auburn: 31-13 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
While you never want to enter a bye week off of a loss, Auburn had to be feeling better about itself after a 12-10 defeat to LSU on Sept. 22. While the offense is still a work in progress, the defense held LSU’s rushing attack to 182 yards and forced two turnovers. The next few weeks will be critical for this team, as Arkansas, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M are the next four opponents. All of those games are winnable but if the offense doesn't show any improvement, the Tigers could easily be staring at a 6-6 or 5-7 finish to the 2012 season.

18. Tony Levine, Houston
Last Week’s Rank:
11
Record at Houston: 2-3 (1st full season)
2012 Record: 1-3
There’s no question Levine is breathing a little easier this week. Houston snapped a three-game losing streak on Saturday, beating Rice 35-14 for its first win of the season. The Cougars have struggled at times on both sides of the ball, but Saturday’s performance was a step in the right direction. Houston has a good chance to be 3-3 after its next two games, as North Texas and UAB visit Robertson Stadium in the next two weeks.

19. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
Last Week’s Rank:
7
Record at MTSU: 38-41 (7th season)
2012 Record: 3-1
It’s still early in the 2012 season, but Stockstill probably assured himself of another season at MTSU with a huge 49-28 win over Georgia Tech in Week 5. After losing to McNeese State in the season opener, the Blue Raiders have won three consecutive games and have already surpassed their win total from last season. MTSU looks to go 2-0 in Sun Belt play this week, as Louisiana-Monroe visits Murfreesboro this Saturday.

20. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Last Week’s Rank:
18
Record at South Florida: 15-15 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-3
Holtz drops two spots in this week’s hot seat watch, but he’s still feeling plenty of heat after five games. The Bulls have a three-game losing streak and have back-to-back upcoming road contests against Temple and Louisville. Although South Florida lost to Florida State, the Bulls hung around and trailed one of the best teams in college football 13-10 early in the third quarter. Holtz is in no real danger of getting fired, but the Bulls need to avoid a repeat of last season’s 5-7 record and just one win in Big East play.
 

Honorable Mention

John L. Smith, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas:
1-4
2012 Record: 1-4
As we mention each week in the hot seat watch, Smith is essentially on a one-year contract, so he was never expected to return for 2013. Since he’s not going to be fired, we’ll keep Smith in his own space each week. Arkansas’ miserable 2012 season continued in Week 5, as the Razorbacks lost 58-10 to Texas A&M.


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

Related College Football Content

Post-Week 5 Bowl Projections
College Football Week 5 Recap

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Big 12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Big East Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Big Ten Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Pac-12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

SEC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 5 Rankings</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-countdown-no-10-michigan-state-preview
Body:
Visit the online store for Michigan State 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 are starting to arrive 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. 10 Michigan State.

Michigan State is ramping up its depth, quickness and versatility for life after Draymond Green. When Tom Izzo is equipped in these areas, his Spartans usually make a run at the Final Four. Michigan State has the horsepower to make that type of run in 2013, but this year’s go-to scorers are unproven.

Izzo believes leadership is the biggest question mark, in the wake of Green’s graduation.

“We’ve been talking about leadership and working on it every single day in the offseason,” Izzo says. “It’s critical. I think we’ll have guys come around in that area.”

The Spartans were expected to be hard-pressed to earn a 15th straight NCAA Tournament bid in 2012. Michigan State surprised by making the NCAAs as a No. 1 seed and advancing to Izzo’s 10th Sweet 16 as Big Ten tri-champion. Some said it was one of Izzo’s best coaching jobs ever.

“But they said it was one of my worst, the year before,” Izzo says. “So we’ll see where that takes us this year. I think we’ll be faster, and be able to go with big lineups, or play small.”

FRONTCOURT
Branden Dawson will be back at or near 100 percent health after missing the end of last season with a torn ACL. He is a strong presence as a thick wing. A terrific rebounder with breakneck speed and power in transition, Dawson is hoping to shoot better after reworking his mechanics. Dawson will expand his role and get occasional work as a quick 4 in order to complement a good group of bigs. Look for him to develop into a defensive stopper at the 2 through 4 positions.

Wide-bodied center Derrick Nix is the team’s only senior. In the best shape of his career, Nix will be the strongest player in the Big Ten. He and tag-team partner Adreian Payne split time last year yet never played simultaneously. They will have to play together this year, and for long stints, although both have had conditioning questions in the past — Nix due to weight, and Payne due to a lung condition.

Nix and Payne are efficient low-post scorers on offense, and will get more touches and shots this year. Izzo wants more range rebounds from them. Payne will stretch his role to include face-up shooting at the 4. A good athlete at 6-10, he has untapped shooting ability, out to 18 feet.

Freshman Matt Costello and sophomore Alex Gauna have the size and skill to round out a nice four-man rotation inside. Gauna has quality post moves and shooting ability.

Related: Izzo tops Athlon national coach rankings

BACKCOURT
Keith Appling is back to shooting like he did as a freshman when he led the team with 41 percent accuracy from 3-point range. He slumped last season but corrected things with more arch and tireless work in the offseason. He will vie for All-Big Ten honors.

The stock-on-the-rise tandem of Appling and sophomore Travis Trice will continue to trade off at the point and the 2. Either can run the show, or score from deep off the catch-and-shoot. Trice, a pleasant surprise last year, missed time and lost weight in the offseason due to a mysterious virus, but he will be back near top form this fall.

Gary Harris will be one of the best freshmen in the Big Ten. The McDonald’s All-American brings jet fuel to the transition game, on the push or as a lane-runner. His shooting range and ability to score through contact were a surprise in summer workouts. His bench press numbers are among the best ever for a Spartan freshman.

Brandan Kearney and Russell Byrd are work-in-progress talents. Kearney is a well-rounded contributor whose slash-to-pass game will benefit from improved bulk. Izzo is hoping Byrd will become a shooting threat as a wing and perhaps a stretch 4, if a chronic foot injury doesn’t recur. Byrd’s defense is a question.

Freshman Denzel Valentine is quickly becoming an Izzo favorite with his tremendous passing ability and hungry rebounding ethic, on a strong 6-5 frame.

FINAL ANALYSIS
Michigan State is low on household names, other than Izzo. But team chemistry is good, and Izzo has a penchant for forming blue-collar battlers into over-achieving winners. The Spartans will go 11 deep with guys who will buy in on defense and thrive in Izzo’s transition system. Michigan State will contend for Izzo’s eighth Big Ten title and become increasingly dangerous while developing leadership, rebounding and go-to scorers.

@AthlonSports

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

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball Countdown: No. 10 Michigan State Preview</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 - 05:50
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/reports-colts-pagano-has-leukemia
Body:

Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) - Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has reportedly been diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia.

According to the Indianapolis Star, Pagano underwent blood tests last week after feeling fatigued in recent weeks. The paper did not initially speculate on the nature of the illness, but added that the Colts are optimistic about his recovery and will have a press conference on Monday to discuss details.

ESPN then reported that Pagano has leukemia and will miss the next six weeks.

Colts owner Jim Irsay, on his Twitter feed, did not reveal specifics about Pagano's illness, but acknowledged the coach's upcoming battle.

"Colts n all NFL Fans..keep Coach Chuck n his family in your prayers..He is fighting with courageous energy n faith and WILL win this battle!" Irsay tweeted.

The Colts had their bye this past week and will face Green Bay next Sunday.

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is expected to take over the head coaching duties in Pagano's absence.

Pagano, who will turn 52 years old on Tuesday, is in his first season as Colts head coach.

Teaser:
Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano has reportedly been diagnosed with a treatable form of leukemia.
Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 23:00

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