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Path: /fantasy/week-13-injury-updates-lesean-mccoy-bryce-brown-demarco-murray-ben-roethlisberger
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Depending upon your fantasy league setup, this is likely the last week of the regular season for you. If not, then you have a two-week push left to get into the postseason. Here are some updates on injured players, their status for the Week 13 games or the outlook for their replacements.

LeSean McCoy, Bryce BrownLeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, RBs, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys (Sunday night)
That's how you step into a key fantasy position as a rookie, Nick Foles. Bryce Brown did not disappoint in the least as he replaced LeSean McCoy (concussion) in the lineup and ripped of 178 yards and two scores on 19 carries. He added four catches for 11 yards. Brown will get another crack at it this week when as McCoy is still out with his concussion. Brown draws a Cowboys defense that is ranked eighth against RBs in PPR scoring. However, rookie Alfred Morris just went for 113 and a score on 24 carries against Dallas last week. It is the seventh time a back has scored double digits against the Cowboys this season and the fourth straight game it has happened. Brown is a high RB2 this week.

 

DeMarco Murray, RB, Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Sunday night)
Is the tease over? Remember two weeks ago when DeMarco Murray was so close to returning and the next week? Here we are in Week 13 and it looks like we will finally see Murray for the first time since the foot injury he suffered in Week 6. Felix Jones did an admirable job in Murray's sted, scoring in double digits in PPR in five of the six games Murray has missed. Jones has done it with catches and four scores but little yardage. There might be some fear in a time share, but Jones is questionable himself with his sore knees. Beware, however, as the Eagles are 11th against fantasy RBs in PPR and only Alfred Morris (18.3) has scored over 13 points against them since Week 5. 

UPDATE: ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning Murray could be relegated to a limite role upon his return.

FANTASY UPDATE: You'd be hard pressed to use a guy coming off such a long lay off and said to be in a limited role when he does return. If you have been playing Felix Jones as a flex, keep it that way and don't expect much more than flex points from either back.

Ben RoethlisbergerBen Roethlisberger, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Ben Roethlisberger was ruled out of today's game against Baltimore on Friday due to rib and shoulder injuries. This will be the third straight game he will miss, but all signs point to Big Ben making his return in Week 14 against San Diego. As fantasy players depending upon Roethlisberger to help lead us to a title, him missing Week 13 is good news so he hopefully does not miss Weeks 14-16. Roethlisberger has scored no less than 16 points in any game (outside of Week 10 Kansas City game he was injured in) and has scored 20 or more in five of eight full games.


— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, DeMarco Murray, Ben Roethlisberger Updates</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 06:20
Path: /fantasy/week-13-injury-updates-greg-jennings-michael-vick-nick-foles-andre-brown-david-wilson
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Depending upon your fantasy league setup, this is likely the last week of the regular season for you. If not, then you have a two-week push left to get into the postseason. Here are some updates on injured players, their status for the Week 13 games or the outlook for their replacements.

Greg JenningsGreg Jennings, WR, Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings
Greg Jennings (sports hernia) has been practicing this week and is expected to play for the first time since Week 4. Whether he will start or not then becomes the question. And that worries a fantasy owner that he can be counted on for four quarters. As we found out last week, Jordy Nelson made his bones in just one play (a 61-yard TD on one of two catches). Coach Mike McCarthy said Jennings will be used as dictated by "flow of the game." Last we heard that from a stud fantasy receiver's coach was last week when Mike Smith said it about Julio Jones on his bum ankle. Jones's flow was a 6-for-145 with one-TD day. Play Jennings with caution but a stud is a stud, and much needed in a NFC North where the top three teams are separated by two games.

 

Michael Vick, Nick Foles, QBs, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys (Sunday night)
Michael Vick will miss his second full game after he failed to pass concussion tests this week. Rookie Nick Foles will step under center again and try to generate an offense once again without LeSean McCoy (concussion) and now without DeSean Jackson (broken ribs, now on IR). Jason Avant, Jackson's replacement, is probable with a hamstring injury. The Cowboys are ranked ninth against fantasy QBs despite allowing six TDs to one interception and 521 yards from the position the last two weeks against rookies. Foles stepped in against Dallas in Week 10 and threw for 219 yards with a score and two turnovers. It's hard to trust Foles when he's thrown for 204 and 119 with no TDs and two interceptions in his last two starts (Carolina and Washington).

 

Andre Brown, David Wilson, RBs, New York Giants vs. Washington Redskins (Monday night)
Andre Brown's fantasy usage is over as he was placed on IR (designated for return) after suffering a broken fibula last week. In steps David Wilson to see if he can revitalize what has been a disappointing rookie season to this point. It began with a fumble on his second carry in Week 1 and as Week 13 arrives, Wilson has 24 carries for 102 yards with one score and two catches for eight yards. So Wilson's role will increase by attrition with Brown out and Ahmad Bradshaw seemingly always iffy. The Redskins are ranked 12th against fantasy RBs in PPR scoring only because they are ranked 31st against receivers and quarterbacks. Wilson will likely have some success, but that's a big risk to take on a bench player on the final game of Week 13.

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Greg Jennings, Michael Vick, Nick Foles, Andre Brown, David Wilson Updates</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 06:16
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy
Path: /fantasy/week-13-injury-updates-rashad-jennings-maurice-jones-drew-jalen-parmele-desean-jackson-jason
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Depending upon your fantasy league setup, this is likely the last week of the regular season for you. If not, then you have a two-week push left to get into the postseason. Here are some updates on injured players, their status for the Week 13 games or the outlook for their replacements.

Rashad Jennings, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jalen Parmele, RBs, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Buffalo Bills
Jalen Parmele's one week of mediocre fantasy relevance lasted just that long as the Jaguars' third-string running back suffered a groin injury last week. The injury, the fourth to a Jacksonville starting running back this season, landed Parmele on injured reserve. There is still no sign of Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) returning. Fullback Greg Jones has missed the last four games (hip). So Rashad Jennings gets another crack at this starting running back thing. Jennings, who dealt with a knee injury himself this year, has only reached double digits three times this season. He is only considered flex worthy this week because Chad Henne has sparked the offense stepping in at quarterback for Blaine Gabbert. The Jags draw a Bills team that is 31st against fantasy RBs, so Jennings is worth a shot, but the expectations just cannot be that high.

 

DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant, WRs, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys (Sunday night)
With DeSean Jackson now on injured reserve with broken ribs, is there anyone in the Eagles' receiving corps that is worth replacing him with in your fantasy lineup? In a word, no. Jason Avant is listed as his back up on the depth chart and now slides to the top of the receiving corps with Jeremy Maclin on the other side. Jackson had 45 catches for 700 yards and two scores this season; Avant has 27 catches for 283 yards and no scores on 38 targets. However, he has not played since a Week 11 loss to Dallas due to a hamstring injury. Avant is expected back this week, but you would have to be pretty desperate to insert him into your lineup for a Sunday night game. Nick Foles has been unimpressive in stepping in for an injured Michael Vick. Outside of Bryce Brown and when LeSean McCoy returns, there are really no other viable Eagle options for the remainder of the fantasy season.

 

Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman, RBs, Denver Broncos vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This is exactly how we thought the Broncos would replace Willis McGahee, right? Knowshon Moreno goes from inactive for eight games to starting running back in a week, while third-round draft pick Ronnie Hillman goes from 14 touches in the game McGahee goes down to three touches and seven snaps the next week against the Chiefs and their bottom-10 fantasy defense against RBs. Moreno will remain the team's starter "right now," coach John Fox said this week. So consider Hillman irrelevant. But can we trust that Moreno will get the bulk of the snaps against Tampa Bay today? The Buccaneers are 18th against fantasy RBs in PPR scoring and have surrendered double-digit days to the position in nine games. Moreno has the potential to be an RB1 with what the Bucs are allowing, but is at least an RB2 as long as the Broncos continue to relegate Hillman to being just a situational player.

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Week 13 Injury Updates: Rashad Jennings, Maurice Jones-Drew, Jalen Parmele, DeSean Jackson, Jason Avant, Knowshon Moreno, Ronnie Hillman</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 06:10
Path: /fantasy/week-13-injury-updates-percy-harvin-jarius-wright-danny-amendola-mikel-leshoure
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Depending upon your fantasy league setup, this is likely the last week of the regular season for you. If not, then you have a two-week push left to get into the postseason. Here are some updates on injured players, their status for the Week 13 games or the outlook for their replacements.

Percy HarvinPercy Harvin, Jarius Wright, WRs, Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers
No Percy Harvin again as he will miss his third straight game with an ankle injury. Rookie Jarius Wright will get the start. He has led the Vikings' receivers in targets each of the last two weeks, including a season-high 10 in last week's 28-10 loss at Chicago. Wright caught seven of them for 49 yards. A week earlier, he caught three of five targets for 65 yards, including a 54-yard catch on the team's fifth play to set up his 3-yard TD. The Packers are allowing the seventh-most points to fantasy receivers in PPR scoring this season and are banged up all across the defense. Adrian Peterson should be able to have a solid day and open up opportunities for Wright. He might not be as much of a desperation start as you think. I would play him as a WR3.

 

Mikel Leshoure, RB, Detroit Lions vs. Indianapolis Colts
An ankle injury kept Mikel Leshoure out of practice on Wednesday and limited him on Thursday and Friday. He is listed as probable and the Lions have been idle since Thanksgiving. If he's active, he's in your lineup. The Colts are ranked 17th against fantasy RBs in PPR scoring but are tied for third in most TDs allowed (11) to the position. The Lions are ranked ninth in points scored from the RB position thanks in part to six TDs from Leshoure and seven double-digit fantasy days. He's a high-end RB2 if he's playing in their early-game matchup against visiting Indianapolis.

 

Danny AmendolaDanny Amendola, WR, St. Louis Rams vs. San Francisco 49ers
Danny Amendola exited the Week 12 game early with a foot/heel injury after catching his only target for 38 yards in 12 snaps played. He missed three days of practice this week and is doubtful for today's game against the 49ers. A clavicle injury, followed by an ankle injury and now the foot/heel injury has hindered a receiver already coming back from a missed 2011 with an elbow injury. The last time he faced San Francisco was upon his return from the clavicle injury in Week 10, and he finished with 11 catches for 102 yards on 12 targets. But two more injuries have occurred since, he only made it 12 snaps last week and did not practice this week. The guy that seemingly gets it done with the deck stacked against him might see that stack a little too high this week.

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Percy Harvin, Jarius Wright, Danny Amendola, Mikel Leshoure Updates</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 06:08
Path: /fantasy/week-13-injury-updates-antonio-brown-matt-forte-brandon-jacobs
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Depending upon your fantasy league setup, this is likely the last week of the regular season for you. If not, then you have a two-week push left to get into the postseason. Here are some updates on injured players, their status for the Week 13 games or the outlook for their replacements.

Matt Forte

Matt Forte, RB, Chicago Bears vs. Seattle Seahawks
The ankle injury that knocked Matt Forte out of last week's game in the third quarter has limited the Bears' running back this week in practice. He is listed as questionable and has practiced on a limited basis this week. He practiced on Friday, which is a good sign, and he told reporters on Thursday, "I'm feeling pretty good." The Seahawks allowed three Miami backs to have double-digit days last week; Adrian Peterson was 17-for-182 with two scores and three catches in Week 9 and Frank Gore was 16-for-131 with five catches for 51 yards against Seattle in Week 7. Today's game is in Chicago and it's an early start so you should have ample time to make your decision. If Forte is active, you play him.

 

Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens
Antonio Brown, listed as probable with his high ankle sprain, appears ready to return to action for the first time since Week 9. However, the Steelers are still without Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback as they will roll out third stringer Charlie Batch for the second straight week. Batch threw for 199 yards on 34 attempts last week with three interceptions against Cleveland. The Steelers, sans Roethlisberger in Week 11 with Byron Leftwich at QB, lost 13-10 to the Ravens. It is hard to start any Steeler until Roethlisberger returns. Emmanuel Sanders' 12.5 and Chris Rainey's 13.2 points are the most any Pittsburgh non-QB skill player has had since Big Ben's injury.

 

Brandon JacobsBrandon Jacobs, RB, San Francisco 49ers vs. St. Louis Rams
A Brandon Jacobs mention only occurs because the same game that sent Kendall Hunter to injured reserve with an ankle injury is the same game Jacobs finally made his 49er debut. Jacobs finished with one carries for one yard. Outside of Hunter's 11.6- and 10-point days in Weeks 4 and 11, only Frank Gore has had double-digit days in the 49ers' backfield. Jacobs has the potential to be a goal line vulture, but could also share carries with LaMichael James, who is set to make his NFL debut this week. If they are not named Gore, it is way too risky to insert another San Francisco RB into your lineup.

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> Antonio Brown, Matt Forte, Brandon Jacobs Updates</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 05:50
Path: /nfl/philadelphia-eagles-vs-dallas-cowboys-preview-and-prediction
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The Philadelphia Eagles will try to get their first win since late September when they square off against the Dallas Cowboys tonight at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC. The Eagles (3-8) have lost seven games in a row, including a 38-23 loss to the Cowboys on Nov. 11. Meanwhile the Cowboys (5-6) would like nothing more than to get back to .500 by handing their NFC East rivals a second defeat in less than a month. As bad as things have been going for the Eagles this season, they have won the past two meetings played on the Cowboys’ home turf, including last season’s 20-7 victory in Week 16.

When the Philadelphia Eagles have the ball:
Philadelphia’s offense will be without three key playmakers tonight, as Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy (concussions) are both inactive and DeSean Jackson landed on injured reserve after suffering fractured ribs in last week’s loss to Carolina. The Eagles have been respectable on offense, averaging 357.1 yards per game (14th in the NFL), but have struggled to put points on the board. They are averaging less than 17 per contest, which ranks them two from the bottom (30th) of the league in that category. Without their leading passer, running back and wide receiver, yards and points both could be hard to come by against Dallas’ eighth-ranked defense. Rookie quarterback Nick Foles has struggled in his first two career starts under center, while fellow first-year pro Bryce Brown made a lasting initial impression this past Monday. In his first career start, Brown rushed for an Eagles’ rookie record 178 yards and two touchdowns in the 30-22 loss to the Panthers on “Monday Night Football.” Brown also fumbled twice, which somewhat sums up how the Eagles’ season has gone. Philadelphia has turned the ball over 27 times, the second-highest total in the NFL, and also has allowed 34 sacks. These mistakes combined with the injuries are big reasons why the Eagles have lost seven in a row, and have been out-scored 199-118 in the process.

For the most part, the Dallas defense has done its job all season. The Cowboys are eighth in the league in total defense (328.8 ypg), eighth in pass defense (218.4 ypg) and 13th against the run (110.5 ypg). They have allowed 23.8 points per game, but are coming off of last week’s Thanksgiving Day performance in which they gave up 38 points to Robert Griffin III and the Redskins. An inconsistent pass rush (23 sacks, tied for 20th) and inability to generate many turnovers (12 total, only five INTs), have not helped, especially considering the offense’s problems holding onto the ball (23 turnovers, second only to Eagles in NFC).

When the Dallas Cowboys have the ball:
On offense, Dallas’ problem hasn’t been gaining yards, it’s been finishing drives with points. The Cowboys are ninth in the league in total offense, generating 376 yards per game, but only 18th in scoring at 18 points per game. The last four games they have lost have been by seven points or fewer. Quarterback Tony Romo is third in the league in passing yards (3,357), but is 18th in passer rating because of his league-leading 15 interceptions. Romo has attempted the second-most passes in the NFL due to the Cowboys’ inability to run the ball. They rank last in the league in rushing offense at 78.7 yards per game, but that could change once DeMarco Murray returns from his foot injury. Murray has missed the last six games with the ailment, but there’s a decent chance he may be back on the field tonight against the Eagles. If not, the offensive burden will fall yet again to Romo and wide receivers Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and tight end Jason Witten. In particular Bryant has been on a roll of late, with 23 catches, 377 yards and four touchdowns in his last three games combined. Regardless of who is making plays on offense for the Cowboys, one thing is clear — they must do a better job of protecting the football. In addition to Romo’s 15 picks, the Cowboys have fumbled it away eight times, mistakes which have short-circuited many a drive for a team that is a game below .500.

Similar to Dallas, Philadelphia’s defense hasn’t gotten a lot of help from its turnover-prone offense. The Eagles are 15th in yards allowed (345.5 ypg), but only 24th in points allowed (25.6 ppg). They also rank in the middle of the pack when it comes to passing (228.1 ypg, 15th) and rushing (117.5 ypg) defense. Unlike last season, the Eagles have not been able to put consistent pressure on the quarterback. The team’s 18 sacks (28th in NFL) this season are the same number that Jason Babin, who was released by the team earlier this week, alone had in 2011. The Eagles also have just 10 takeaways so far, the fewest in the NFL.

Key Factor:
The Eagles won't have Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy tonight against the Cowboys and DeSean Jackson won't see the field again this season. The coaching staff has turned the offense over to rookies Nick Foles at quarterback and Bryce Brown at running back. Foles has yet to look real comfortable in the pocket and that’s likely not to change against Dallas’ defense. And even though Brown gashed Carolina for 178 yards rushing in his NFL debut, the Cowboys figure to be a tougher test. Both teams are under .500 and have had their share of issues, especially when it comes to turnovers. But this is an Eagles team that has lost seven in a row and, for all intents and purposes, has basically packed it in. After all, they have given up an average of 31.4 points per game over their last five defeats. Just two games behind the Giants, the Cowboys are still alive in the NFC East hunt, while all the Eagles’ fans have left to look forward to is what additional personnel changes will take place in the offseason (if not sooner) and how high will they be picking in the first round of next year’s draft.

Prediction:
Cowboys 34, Eagles 17

Teaser:
<p> Philadelphia Eagles vs. Dallas Cowboys Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Sunday, December 2, 2012 - 05:40
All taxonomy terms: Kansas City Chiefs, NFL
Path: /nfl/kc-police-chiefs-player-commits-suicide
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Javon Belcher

Kansas City, MO (Sports Network) - Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed himself Saturday morning at the team's facility, moments after allegedly killing his girlfriend.

Belcher was 25 years old.

According to Kansas City police, Belcher shot his girlfriend multiple times after the two had been engaged in an argument at home. She was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead.

Minutes after the first shooting, police said Belcher drove to the Chiefs' training facility at Arrowhead Stadium and spoke with team personnel, including head coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Scott Pioli, before taking his own life with a gunshot.

"When officers arrived (at Arrowhead Stadium), they observed a black male who had a gun to his head and he was talking to a couple of coaches out in the parking lot," police spokesman Darrin Snapp told reporters outside Arrowhead Stadium. "As officers pulled up and began to park, that's when they heard the gunshot and it appears the individual took his own life."

A report from the Kansas City Star said Belcher and his girlfriend had a daughter, who was only a few months old.

"The entire Chiefs family is deeply saddened by today's events, and our collective hearts are heavy with sympathy, thoughts and prayers for the families and friends affected by this unthinkable tragedy," said Chiefs owner Clark Hunt in a statement. "We sincerely appreciate the expressions of sympathy and support we have received from so many in the Kansas City and NFL communities, and ask for continued prayers for the loved ones of those impacted."

Belcher was in his fourth year with the Chiefs after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Maine. He started 10 of the 11 games he had played this season, registered 38 tackles.

The Chiefs will play Carolina on Sunday at Arrowhead and the game will go on as scheduled.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Chiefs and the families and friends of those who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy," the NFL said in a statement. "We have connected the Chiefs with our national team of professional counselors to support both the team and the families of those affected. We will continue to provide assistance in any way that we can."

Teaser:
<p> Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed himself Saturday morning at the team's facility, moments after allegedly killing his girlfriend.</p>
Post date: Saturday, December 1, 2012 - 20:00
Path: /fantasy/week-13-injury-updates-deangelo-williams-jonathan-stewart-darren-mcfadden-marcel-reece
Body:

Depending upon your fantasy league setup, this is likely the last week of the regular season for you. If not, then you have a two-week push left to get into the postseason. Here are some updates on injured players, their status for the Week 13 games or the outlook for their replacements.

DeAngelo WilliamsDeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, RBs, Carolina Panthers vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Jonathan Stewart did not make the trip to Kansas City and is out for today's game with an ankle injury he suffered last week. This gives DeAngelo Williams a bigger load. Keep in mind that the Panthers are ranked 28th as a team in PPR points scored by the running back position. DeAgelo Williams had 11 carries  a number he has maxed out at four times since Week 3  and collected 21 yards last week against the Eagles. The Chiefs have allowed 11 double-digit days to fantasy RBs this season, including 111 total yards on 24 touches to Knowshon Moreno last week  the same Knowshon Moreno who was inactive for eight weeks prior to last week's game. Give Williams a look as a low-end RB2 designation, that should be a worst-case scenario.

 

Darren McFadden, Marcel Reece, RBs, Oakland Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns
Darren McFadden (ankle) is set to be back today and Marcel Reece is expected to remain in the running back role, instead of resuming fullback duties, as the Raiders work McFadden back into game shape. There are so many downsides to the Oakland RB situation this week. One: McFadden is coming back for the first time since Week 9 but is not expected to take over the workhorse role. Two: Reece has been a great, late-season, waiver wire pickup, and what is he going to be now? Three: It's a late start, and you have to make your call on both McFadden and Reece in the next couple of hours. It takes Reece from a clear upper RB2, to a questionable flex and furthers the frustration for McFadden owners this season. And all of this comes when the Raiders are playing host to a Browns team that is ranked 25th against fantasy RBs in PPR. I am taking my chances with Reece as a flex and keeping McFadden on the bench.

UPDATE: ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting on Sunday morning that McFadden is unlikely to play today, tweeting: "After optimism he would play this week, Raiders RB Darren McFadden unlikely to play today vs Cleveland."

FANTASY UPDATE: Reece returns to a clear RB2 role if McFadden is out. The Browns have allowed 14 double-digit outings to RBs, 

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

Teaser:
<p> DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Darren McFadden, Marcel Reece updates</p>
Post date: Saturday, December 1, 2012 - 18:34
Path: /nfl/nfl-picks-against-spread-week-13
Body:

A betting preview of every game (against the spread) on Sunday and Monday in Week 13.


Locks of the Week
Three quarterbacks with chips on their shoulders take on two of the most inconsistent teams in the league and the worst squad.

Panthers (-3) at Chiefs
Eight of Kansas City’s 10 losses have come by four or more points; Cam and Co. are riding a wave of momentum into Arrowhead.


Texans (-6.5) at Titans
Despite a 141-yard effort from Chris Johnson, Tennessee lost at Houston, 38–14, in Week 4. Now, it’s coming off a loss at Jacksonville.


Broncos (-7) vs. Buccaneers
Three of Denver’s four wins at Mile High have been by 10 or more points; the other win was by exactly seven points. The one loss was to 10–1 Houston in Week 3.



Straight Up Upsets
Measuring stick games for two teams with pride to play for against a pair of playoff squads that have been up-and-down this year.

Chargers (+2) vs. Bengals
It will be obvious this week whether the Bolts have already turned off the lights on 2012 or if there is still juice flowing through the powder blue roster.


Redskins (+3) vs. Giants
If RG3’s Thanksgiving debut is any foreshadowing of his Monday Night Football debut, there may not be much Big Blue can do about Bob.  



Blowout Bargains
Big numbers have not been kind this season, but there’s a good chance these three division contests get ugly.

Patriots (-9) at Dolphins
In the old days, Tom Brady had trouble in Miami. But that’s back when Jason Taylor was a sack champ and Ricky Williams was taking rushing crowns.


Packers (-9) vs. Vikings
Green Bay discount-double-checker Aaron Rodgers is 4–0 against Minnesota since his good buddy Brett Favre beat him twice back in 2009.


Cowboys (-10.5) vs. Eagles
Betting against Philly rookie Nick Foles is always a good bet; the Eagles lost 38–23 at home to the Cowboys in Week 10, Foles’ first NFL game action.



Sucker Bets
Stay away from these games completely unless you are a hometown homer or a degenerate who has to have action at all times.

Bears (-3.5) vs. Seahawks
Over the past two years, Chi-town is 15–5 with Smokin’ Jay Cutler starting and 0–6 without him.


Jets (-4.5) vs. Cardinals
These two flightless clubs both have 4–7 records and their coaches’ jobs to play for. Now that’s motivation.


Bills (-6) vs. Jaguars
Chad Henne has taken the Texans to overtime and taken down the Titans since taking over for Blaine Gabbert.


49ers (-7.5) at Rams
This is a rematch of the 18th overtime tie in NFL history, Week 10’s entertaining 24–24 NFC West stalemate.



Off the Board
The big board in Las Vegas doesn’t want to touch these games until later on, so we’ll wager on what the final line will be.

Steelers at Ravens (n/a)
Seven of the last nine games in this series have been decided by exactly three points, but not this time. Take the Ravens (-4.5)?


Browns at Raiders (n/a)
The race to the bottom — or top of the NFL Draft order, as it were — starts with this brown-or-blackout. Take the Raiders (-2.5)?
 

Teaser:
<p> NFL Picks Against the Spread: Week 13, including New York Giants at Washington Redskins, Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers at Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints at Atlanta Falcons, Houston Texans at Tennessee Titans, New England Patriots at Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 15:32
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, Golf
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-eleven-links-day-6
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for November 30.

• Yesterday, we featured a slideshow of Bama cheerleaders. Awaiting the Tide should they win tomorrow: the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. In the interests of equal time, here's a look at the Irish cheerleaders.

• One of the Powerball winners apparently picked his numbers based on jersey numbers of his favorite Royals. This is the first time since 1985 that being a Royals fan has actually paid off.

• One of those former Royals was Bo Jackson. It's his 50th birthday, which officially makes both him and me old. To celebrate, here's a gallery of 50 vintage Bo photos.

• Time Magazine is soliciting votes for its Person of the Year. Candidates include sports figures Gabrielle Douglas, Michael Phelps and Roger Goodell. Wait, what? Roger Goodell? Might as well vote for Kim Jong Un, who, hilariously, is currently leading the voting. I guess they do have Internet in North Korea.

• Speaking of power-mad commissioners, David Stern plans to punish the star-sitting Spurs after their loss to the Heat last night.

• My favorite headline of the day sits atop this Deadspin story.

The most painful loss in the painful history of Rutgers football happened last night.

• We have a Big Blue crisis on our hands: Last night the Wildcats were held to the lowest point total of the Calipari era, but even more shocking, a senior led Kentucky in scoring. That is not John Calipari basketball, folks.

Rory McIlroy supports the anchored putter ban, based on his admittedly limited experience with the club.

• God bless the Internet: A column on Colin Kaepernick's tattoos unleashed apparently baseless charges of racism over the interwebs.

• Looks like Jon Gruden has turned down Tennessee. Again. Will the Vols finally drop their embarrassing pursuit of Gruden and accept that they're in the Friend Zone? They're starting to look like Duckie from "Pretty in Pink."

• Forty-one years ago today, "Brian's Song" aired for the first time, and grown men wept openly. Here's Billy Dee Williams delivering Gale Sayers' moving soliloquy from that classic film.

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


November 29

• As Alabama makes final preparations for its SEC title game showdown with Georgia, enjoy this gallery of Bama cheerleaders through the years.

• Speaking of the SEC, Georgia has a shot at totally remaking its image this Saturday. No pressure or anything.

• Last night in Boston: just your Garden-variety melee. Judging from Kris Humphries' scratches, Rajon Rondo fights like an eight-year-old girl.

Brandon Marshall says that some players use Viagra to get that extra edge. Comes in handy on fourth-and-inches (h/t Conan O'Brien).

• Michael Jordan was recently banned from a swanky country club for wearing cargo shorts. That brings to mind this amusing Tumblr.

Missy the Missile will soon be humiliating her fellow high school swimmers. I'm expecting Secretariat-at-the-Belmont type results.

• Shortly after making an honest woman out of soccer star Hope Solo, Jerramy Stevens went and got himself busted for possible parole violation. Early indications are that Hope will be flying solo for much of her married life.

• It's early, but so far, Duke has been college basketball's best team, and Mason Plumlee its best player.

Check out this bodybuilder's insane biceps. Somebody's bringing howitzers to this year's gun show.

• I somehow missed this story of the drunk-driving Teletubby yesterday. Boy, is hockey desperate to stay in the headlines.

• Fresh off her triumph in "Liz and Dick," Lindsay Lohan celebrated by punching a woman in the meatpacking district. Yes, I know that's a poorly constructed sentence, but it reads funnier, doesn't it?

• Today's video features a disturbing yet strangely hypnotic musical tribute to the Heisman front-runner. As the top commenter says, it's like watching an episode of "Twin Peaks."

 

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


November 28

• College football is winding down, meaning that there are some long, cold, lonely months ahead. Enjoy some of our favorite college cheerleader photos to soften the blow.

• It's anchors away in the golf world as of 2016. Golf's ruling bodies are outlawing anchored putting strokes, although players have some time to adjust, which is a good thing, considering that three of the last four major champions use the long stick. Steve Eubanks offers up a dissenting view on the ruling.

• Athlon's Braden Gall goes deep in comparing the Heisman candidacies of Johnny Manziel and Collin Klein.

• The intrigue mounts in the Jon Gruden-to-Tennessee chatter.

• If you hate it when officials think they're part of the show, then you have to hate the NBA's Joey Crawford. It's the law. Check out his audition for Dancing With the Stars.

• This isn't sports, but it caught our attention. Angus T. Jones, the half-man of TV's "Two and a Half Men," ripped his show for being "filth." He might be right, but that's called biting the hand that feeds you. Naturally, he's started backtracking.

• They've made a 30 for 30 short film on the Arnold Palmer — the drink, not the man. It actually looks pretty good. This link explains, and also features one of my favorite "This Is SportsCenter" spots.

• Ever wonder why athletic departments are so concerned with money? Just ask Maryland.

• When you air 514 episodes, it's tough to remember what you did say, 320 episodes ago. Continuity errors in the Simpsons.

• If, for some reason, you need an excuse not to run, here you go. Good enough for me.

• It hasn't been a very good year for Danica Patrick, whose losses included every race as well as her marriage, but that doesn't mean we don't still care. In today's video, Danica discusses her divorce and other matters.

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


November 27

• Athlon recently conducted an anonymous survey with college basketball players at top programs. Among the nuggets we uncovered: Players like 'em some Kim Kardashian. Shocking, I know.

• Few people can be said to have transformed sport as we know it. Marvin Miller, who died today at 95, was one of those people. RIP.

• Three years ago today, Tiger Woods hit a tree with his car, and life was never the same. He surely doesn't want to relive that night, but you might. Here's what Deadspin was saying at the time.

• It's the fifth anniversary of another shocking event, this one far more tragic — the death of Sean Taylor. Some thoughts here from a writer who knew him.

• In case you missed it, Colorado football coach Jon Embree was fired yesterday. He didn't take it well. Fans of awkward press conferences should click here.

• No fan base expresses its anger quite as entertainingly as the folks in Philly. Here's a gallery of some ticked-off Philly fanatics.

There's compelling evidence that Texas coach Mack Brown can identify talent; he just doesn't know what to do with it.

• Jets fans won't have Fireman Ed to heckle any more. He's hanging up the funny hat and Sanchez jersey and slinking off into the sunset.

• I think this is a fair question. Maybe it's time to drop the charade of the student-athlete.

• I know, Twitter is where news is broken these days. But it's also where you go to get gems like these.

• Even with shaved heads, these Colts cheerleaders are strangely hot. And it's for a good cause. Everyone wins.

• Today's video is a couple months old, but it's new to me, so here it is: A Lingerie Football League player goes all Earl Campbell on a hapless defender. I'll leave jokes about her team's name to others.

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


November 26

• I know it's old, in Internet terms. I know you've probably seen it by now. But I just can't get enough of this GIF of Mark Sanchez's forced fumble at the hands, or rather, the cheeks, of his teammate. It's the Jets' 2012 season, captured in one two-second sequence.

• Today's Girl Gallery of the Day features the ever-fabulous 49ers cheerleaders.

This FSU fan needs a quick tutorial on how mirrors function. I think the puzzled lady to her left can help. 

This day in unfortunate headline placements. Today's victim, the South Carolina Gamecocks.

• A Thanksgiving leftover: Ndamukong Suh kicking Matt Schaub right in the giblets.

• Speaking of NFL players behaving badly, Brodrick Bunkley delivered a foot to the head of Alex Boone. Matt Schaub called to say Boone got off easy.

• The most aggressive play all season by a Tennessee defender came courtesy of Smokey the mascot.

Our nominee for the catch of the year in college football, and nominations are closed.

• Okay, fine: One more nomination for catch of the year.

• College football's pecking order in one sentence: Tickets for the SEC Championship game start around $400, while tickets for the ACC Championship game start around $4.00.

• Did Bill O'Brien say what I think he said? You be the judge.

• In today's featured video, superstar ref Ed Hochuli unleashes a debate: Is buttocks a singular or plural word?

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

Teaser:
<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-worst-bcs-teams
Body:

At the end of college football’s regular season, the focus always shifts to the BCS title and debating the best teams in the nation. However, there’s also the other side of the coin, as the end of the year is a chance to reflect on the worst teams. And when examining the BCS era (1998-2012), there's no shortage of "quality" candidates for this ranking. 

Unfortunately for Colorado fans, the Buffaloes have to rank among the top 10 worst BCS teams since 1998. Although Colorado managed to steal a road win at Washington State, it lost to FCS opponent Sacramento State and only one loss in Pac-12 play was by a touchdown. The Buffaloes’ dismal season cost coach Jon Embree his job and adds even more uncertainty to a program that is just 25-61 over the last seven years.  

Top 10 Worst BCS Teams Since 1998

1. 2008 Washington State
Final Record: 
2-11
Don’t be fooled by the two wins on the resume: Washington State was awful in 2008. The Cougars were outscored by an average of 48-14 each game and its only victories came against a bad FCS team (Portland State) and a Washington team that was without quarterback Jake Locker and finished with a 0-12 record. The Cougars were shutout in three Pac-10 games and scored only a field goal against California and UCLA. 

2. 2006 Duke
Final Record: 
0-12
One year after posting a 1-10 record, Duke’s struggles on the gridiron continued with an 0-12 season. The Blue Devils lost 13-0 in the opener against Richmond and were outscored 73-0 by Virginia and Virginia Tech. There were signs of progress from 2005, as Ted Roof’s team lost by one to North Carolina and Wake Forest and was defeated by five points to Miami in mid-October.

3. 2003 Temple
Final Record:
 1-11
Temple was largely uncompetitive from the moment it joined the Big East in 1991. The Owls won just 15 overall games from 1991-99 and went winless in conference play in 1996. The 2003 season included a loss to FCS opponent Villanova, with the only victory coming on the road at MTSU. Temple did have a close call in Big East play, losing 24-23 to Virginia Tech in mid-November. The Owls were booted from the Big East due to their struggles on the field and low attendance after the 2004 season but returned to the conference in 2012. 

4. 2000 Duke
Final Record:
 0-11
Finding success on the gridiron hasn’t been easy for Duke. However, the 2000-01 seasons were possibly the worst in school history. The Blue Devils were not only winless but largely uncompetitive. Duke was shutout in the opener against East Carolina and lost by at least 30 points five times. The Blue Devils also managed only 155 points, their lowest offensive output in the BCS era. 

5. 2008 Washington
Final Record:
 0-12
Tyrone Willingham failed to record a winning record during his four-year tenure at Washington, and 2008 was a rock-bottom point for this program. The Huskies went 0-12, which included a 16-13 loss to rival Washington State in Pullman. Washington was largely uncompetitive in Pac-10 play, with only two games decided by a touchdown or less. Losing quarterback Jake Locker certainly didn’t help Washington’s chances, but the Huskies’ leading rusher had just 338 yards, and the defense allowed 38.6 points a game. 

6. 1999 Baylor
Final Record: 
1-10
Kevin Steele was brought in to replace Dave Roberts after back-to-back two-win seasons, but his tenure was a major disappointment. The Bears went 1-11 in 1999 and was defeated by an average score of 38-13. Baylor’s only win that season came against North Texas, but the lowlight of the year came in a loss against UNLV. Baylor led 24-21 with less than 20 seconds left and just had to take a knee to seal the victory. Instead of lining up in the victory formation, the Bears ran the ball and fumbled, which was returned 99 yards for a touchdown. Although Steele was trying to set an attitude or mindset for the team, it was a huge error on his part. Baylor won only one Big 12 game during Steele’s four years in Waco.

7. 2001 Duke
Final Record:
 0-11
After a disastrous 2000 season, the Carl Franks tenure at Duke didn’t get much better in 2001. The Blue Devils failed to record a win for the second season in a row and suffered blowout losses at the hands of Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Franks’ 2001 team was a little better but still one of the worst in BCS history. 

8. 1999 Rutgers
Final Record: 
1-10
After going 0-11 in 1997, Rutgers showed some signs of life with a 5-6 record in 1998. However, the Scarlet Knights regressed to a dismal 1-10 record in 1999. The only win of the season was a surprise 24-21 upset over Syracuse, but Rutgers lost 56-28 to a 2-9 Temple in late October. Outside of the victory against the Orangemen, the Scarlet Knights had only two losses decided by 14 points or less and was defeated by an average score of 39-14.

9. 2012 Colorado
Final Record: 1-11
After closing out 2011 with victories in two out of their final three games, even though Colorado had a young team coming back in 2012, there was some hope Colorado could at least match its win total. However, the Buffaloes took a step in the wrong direction, opening the year with bad losses to Colorado State and FCS opponent Sacramento State. Colorado also had a point differential of -338 and scored 17 or fewer points in six Pac-12 games. 

10. 2005 Duke
Final Record:
 1-10
After four miserable seasons under Carl Franks, Duke turned to Ted Roof to help turn the program back in the right direction. Roof had some initial momentum, but things quickly went downhill. The Blue Devils went 1-10 in 2005, with the one win coming over a VMI team that finished 3-8. Duke had a point differential of -231 and had only one ACC loss was decided by less than 25 points. 

Honorable Mention:

1999 South Carolina (0-11)
2000 Baylor (2-9)
2002 Rutgers (1-11)
2002 Kansas (2-10)
2003 Iowa State (2-10)
2005 Syracuse (1-10)
2006 Stanford (1-11)
2007 Syracuse (2-10)
2007 Baylor (3-9)
2007 Minnesota (1-11)
2009 Washington State (1-11)
2011 Indiana (1-11)
2011 Kansas (2-10)


Related College Football Content

Tracking College Football's Realignment
What Gene Chizik's New Book Should Be Titled

SEC 2012 Season Recap and Awards

Pac-12 2012 Season Recap and Awards

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 10 Worst BCS Teams</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-14-0
Body:

Six conference championship games highlight the Week 14 slate, most notably the Georgia vs. Alabama clash in the SEC. There will also BCS bids on the line in the Big Ten (Nebraska vs. Wisconsin), ACC (Florida State vs. Georgia Tech) and Pac-12 (UCLA at Stanford), and possibly even in the MAC, where the winner of the Kent State vs. Northern Illinois battle could possibly end up in the Orange Bowl.

Georgia (+7) vs. Alabama
We won’t have an official playoff until 2014, but the SEC Championship Game is basically a national semifinal. The winner will punch its ticket to the BCS title game, while the loser is likely out of the mix for a BCS bowl. Alabama is clearly the popular pick, but Georgia is good enough on offense to make the Crimson Tide sweat. Remember, Alabama gave up 435 yards and 418 yards to LSU and Texas A&M, respectively, in consecutive games earlier this month. This is still a great defensive team, but unlike last season, it’s a defense that will give up an occasional first down or two. The concern for Georgia is its defense, specifically against the run. The Bulldogs rank 67th nationally in rushing defense (164.4 ypg) and have given up 190 yards or more in six of their 12 games. Expect to see heavy doses of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon.
Alabama 27–21

Nebraska (-3) vs. Wisconsin
Wisconsin is back in the Big Ten title game despite finishing in third place in the Leaders Division. The two top teams in the division, Ohio State and Penn State, combined for a 14–2 record but are both ineligible for the postseason due to NCAA sanctions. So we are left with a .500 Wisconsin club that has lost three of its last four games (though all three defeats were in overtime) rather than Ohio State, which is undefeated and ranked in the top five in the AP poll. There is no denying that Nebraska belongs in this game. The Cornhuskers won the Legends with a 7–1 record and have won six straight games. Nebraska is known for its rushing attack — and rightfully so — but Taylor Martinez has improved as a passer in his third season as a starter.
Nebraska 24–14

UCLA (+8.5) at Stanford (Fri)
UCLA and Stanford get together for the second time in a week. This time the stakes are quite a bit higher — a trip to the Rose Bowl is on the line. Last Saturday, the Cardinal manhandled UCLA at the line of scrimmage en route to a 35–17 victory in Los Angeles. Stanford rushed for 221 yards on 59 carries, led by 142 yards and two touchdowns from Stepfan Taylor. UCLA, on the other hand, only netted 73 yards on the ground, with All-Pac-12 candidate Johnathan Franklin rushing for 65 yards, his second-lowest total of the season. Some have suggested that Stanford didn’t get UCLA’s best effort — the Bruins had already wrapped up the Pac-12 South title — but it’s hard to believe a team would be lacking motivation in its home-finale, especially with a chance to pick up its 10th win of the season. Take the Cardinal to complete the sweep.
Stanford 34–27

Florida State (-14) vs. Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech finished in a three-way tie with North Carolina and Miami in the Coastal Division with a 5–3 league record (and 6–6 overall). The Yellow Jackets, however, are the only team of the three eligible for postseason play, so they will be making the trip to Charlotte to play Florida State. Georgia Tech has had some decent wins, but this is not a team with an impressive résumé. The Jackets have four losses by 16 points or more, including a 21-point loss to Middle Tennessee and a 24-point loss to BYU — both at home. Florida State features a roster good enough to win a national title, but the Seminoles simply didn’t get it done on the field, losing at NC State, 17–16, and at home to Florida, 37–26. The Noles are likely headed to a BCS bowl for the first time since 2006, but this season has been a disappointment.
Florida State 30–20

Northern Illinois (-6) vs. Kent State (Fri)
It’s arguably the most attractive matchup in the 16-year history of the MAC Championship Game, with both Kent State and Northern Illinois ranked in the top 25 in the BCS standings with identical 11–1 records. Kent State, ranked No. 17, can play in a BCS bowl by finishing in the top 16 of the BCS standings. For that to happen, the Golden Flashes need to win and either for UCLA (No. 16) to lose to Stanford or Florida State (No. 13) to lose to Georgia Tech. Northern Illinois, ranked No. 21, has more hurdles to climb to reach BCS riches.
Northern Illinois 34–27

UCF (+2) at Tulsa
This is one of two rematches on championship weekend. Two weeks ago in Tulsa, the Golden Hurricane edged UCF 23–21 in a game that ultimately decided which team would host the C-USA title game. Tulsa outgained UCF 461–to-235 but had trouble punching the ball into the end zone. Last week, after clinching the West title (as well as home field advantage in the championship game), Tulsa lost at SMU 35–27. Bill Blankenship will have his team refocused and ready to play this weekend.
Tulsa 28–20

Louisville (+3) at Rutgers (Thu)
Neither team is playing its best ball of late. Louisville has lost two straight after a 9–0 start, while Rutgers missed an opportunity to clinch the outright Big East title by losing at Pittsburgh 27–6 last weekend. After muscling their way to 234 yards rushing in a key win at Cincinnati two weeks ago, the Scarlet Knights managed only 50 yards on 24 carries against the Panthers. They should get back on track against a Louisville team that has had trouble stopping the run of late. Over the past five games, the Cards have given up an average of 215.0 yards rushing, including 278 to Syracuse two weeks ago and 255 to Temple three weeks ago. That doesn’t bode well for their trip to Jersey on Thursday night. Rutgers should clinch its first-ever Big East title.
Rutgers 27–20

Texas (+11.5) at Kansas State
Kansas State can lock up the Big 12 title and a spot in a BCS bowl with a win over Texas or an Oklahoma loss to TCU. The Wildcats have not played since losing at Baylor two weeks ago when they gave up 580 total yards, including a staggering 342 on the ground. K-State dropped from ninth in the nation in rushing defense to 18th after the Baylor game. Speaking of trouble stopping the run, Texas is allowing 201.5 yards rushing per game — an alarmingly high figure for a team with so much talent. The Horns have also struggled on offense of late, but this team has had its moments this season, scoring 66 at Ole Miss, 41 at Oklahoma State, 45 vs. West Virginia and 56 vs. Baylor. Quarterback Case McCoy will make his first start of the season. David Ash, the starter in the first 11 games, is questionable with a rib injury.
Kansas State 27–20

Oklahoma State (-4) at Baylor
Baylor has bounced back from a four-game losing streak by winning three of its last four games. The Bears are now bowl-eligible for the third straight season for the first time since the early 1990s. As usual, Art Briles’ team is getting it done on offense. Baylor has scored 104 points in its last two games and has topped the 40-point mark in eight of its 11 games. It might take 60 points to win this game, however, when you factor in that Oklahoma State boasts an offense that is averaging 45.6 points per game and Baylor is giving up 38.5 per game. The Pokes scored 48 in an overtime loss to Oklahoma last week with a quarterback (Clint Chelf) who began the season third on the depth chart. Chelf, a junior, will get the start again this weekend. Expect him to put up gaudy numbers.
Oklahoma State 60–49

Oklahoma (-6.5) at TCU
TCU has had better teams and bigger wins, but the Horned Frogs’ 20–13 victory on Thanksgiving night at Texas has to rank among the most gratifying in Gary Patterson’s 12 years as the school’s head coach. Now, the Horned Frogs return home and host the mighty Sooners from Oklahoma. OU has won four straight, though the last three have been by eight points over Baylor, one point over West Virginia and three points, in overtime, over Oklahoma State. The Sooners haven’t exactly been dominant during this winning streak. The offense has been great, most notably quarterback Landry Jones (three games of 400-plus yards), but the defense has allowed an average of 564 yards in its last three games. However, don’t expect TCU to put up a big number on OU this weekend. The Frogs are averaging only 26.7 points in regulation (they’ve had two games go to overtime) this season against FBS opponents. To win this game, TCU will have to keep the score in the 20s or low 30s.
Oklahoma 30–17

Last week: 5–5 overall (4–6 against the spread)
Season: 85–45 overall (70–60 against the spread)

Other games

Middle Tennessee at Arkansas State
The Sun Belt title is on the line in Jonesboro this weekend, but the winner of this game will not be going to the New Orleans Bowl. Louisiana-Lafayette, which can finish no higher than a tie for second place, has already accepted an invite.
Arkansas State 30–24
Cincinnati at Connecticut

UL-Lafayette at FAU
As mentioned above, the Ragin’ Cajuns already know their postseason fate — a return trip to the New Orleans Bowl.
UL-Lafayette 37–17

South Alabama at Hawaii
Norm Chow’s first season at Hawaii hasn’t gone well, but the Warriors do have an opportunity to close on a two-game winning streak.
Hawaii 37–20

Boise State at Nevada
Boise State’s last trip to Reno ended in a shocking overtime loss that cost the Broncos a spot in a BCS bowl. There’s not nearly as much at stake this time around.
Boise State 34–23

Nicholls State at Oregon State
This game was originally scheduled for Week 1 but had to be pushed back due to Hurricane Isaac. Nicholls State is 1–9 with its lone win over Evangel.
Oregon State 51–0

Pittsburgh at South Florida
Pittsburgh has an opportunity to become bowl-eligible with a win this weekend, which could mean a third-straight trip to the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham.
Pittsburgh 23–17

New Mexico State at Texas State
New Mexico State has lost 10 straight and does not have a win over an FBS opponent. This is arguably the worst team in the country.
Texas State 38–20

Kansas at West Virginia
Charlie Weis’ first season at Kansas will end with only one win — over South Dakota State in Week 1 — but the Jayhawks were competitive in many of their losses.
West Virginia 49–30

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> Six conference championship games highlight the Week 14 slate, most notably the Georgia vs. Alabama clash in the SEC. There will also BCS bids on the line in the Big Ten (Nebraska vs. Wisconsin), ACC (Florida State vs. Georgia Tech) and Pac-12 (UCLA at Stanford), and possibly even in the MAC, where the winner of the Kent State vs. Northern Illinois battle could possibly end up in the Orange Bowl.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 05:30
Path: /college-football/sec-championship-preview-and-prediction-alabama-vs-georgia
Body:

These two traditional powers—Alabama and Georgia—will play for the first time in the SEC Championship Game and for only the fifth time overall since 1995. The stakes couldn’t be higher: The winner will play Notre Dame for the BCS National Championship and the loser likely will be squeezed out of the BCS mix.

Much has been made about Georgia’s relatively soft SEC schedule, but it’s important to note that both Georgia and Alabama only played two of the other four SEC teams ranked in the top 10 of the latest BCS standings. Georgia beat No. 4 Florida and lost to No. 10 South Carolina, while Alabama beat No. 7 LSU and lost to No. 9 Texas A&M. Alabama did play Michigan out of conference, but the strength of these two teams’ schedules is about the same.

It’s dangerous to compare results, but just for fun: Alabama and Georgia had four common opponents (Missouri, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Auburn); Alabama won all four games by a total score of 168–37, while Georgia won all four by a total score of 167–74.

So who wins on Saturday? Good question.

Other Championship Game Previews
ACC
| Big Ten | Pac-12

Conference Previews
Big 12
| Big East

When the Alabama Crimson Tide have the ball:
Alabama has built a reputation under Nick Saban as a smashmouth team that relies on its defense and running game. While that is true to a large degree, this team is still adept at throwing the ball down the field. In fact, Alabama as a team ranks No. 1 in the nation in passing efficiency thanks to the work of quarterback A.J. McCarron. The junior averages 9.46 yards per attempt (second-best in the nation) and has thrown 25 touchdowns and only two interceptions.

The Tide, however, will be without one of their primary targets for the remainder of the season. Junior Kenny Bell, second on the team with 431 receiving yards, was sidelined with a broken leg in the win over Auburn on Saturday. McCarron still has quality targets at his disposal, most notably Amari Cooper and Kevin Norwood, but Bell, who averaged 25.4 yards per reception, was Alabama’s top deep threat.

The running game is powered by true freshman T.J. Yeldon and junior Eddie Lacy, who both rank among the top five in the league (min. 100 carries) in yards per attempt. Lacy leads the team with 1,001 yards and 14 touchdowns; Yeldon is second with 847 yards and 10 TDs. And it’s on the ground where Alabama figures to have the most success attacking the Georgia defense. The Bulldogs rank 67th nationally in rushing defense (164.4 ypg) and have given up 190 yards or more in six of their 12 games.

Alabama is versatile enough to beat Georgia on the ground or through the air, but it would be a surprise if Lacy and Yeldon each don’t get at least 12-to-15 carries.

When the Georgia Bulldogs have the ball:
The Bulldogs are one of the most balanced offensive teams in college football, ranking 39th nationally (and fourth in the SEC) in rushing and 35th (and fourth) in passing. The Dawgs feature one of the top quarterbacks in the country in junior Aaron Murray, who has thrown for 3,201 yards and hasn’t thrown an interception in the past four games. Georgia, like Alabama, is dealing with some injuries at wide receiver. Michael Bennett was off to a strong start to his sophomore season (24 catches for 345 yards in five games) before tearing the ACL in right knee against Tennessee. And senior Marlon Brown, who has 27 receptions for 469 yards, was lost with an ACL tear in his left knee against Ole Miss. With Bennett and Brown out of the lineup, Tavarres King and Malcolm Mitchell, who began the year playing cornerback, have been the primary weapons down the field. The Dawgs also have two tight ends (Arthur Lynch and Jay Rome) with at least 10 catches.

Georgia’s running game appeared to take a hit when Isaiah Crowell, who rushed for 850 yards as a freshman in 2011, was kicked off the team over the summer. No worries. Georgia plugged in two highly touted true freshmen, Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, who combined to rush for 1,858 yards and 222 touchdowns. Both had their moments, but Gurley emerged as the primary ball-carrier and finished the regular season as the SEC’s leading rusher in league play by averaging 95.3 yards per game. Gurley averaged 5.8 yards per carry vs. SEC competition, second only to Alabama’s Lacy for players with over 100 carries.

Statistically, Alabama features the nation’s No. 1 defense, but Georgia is good enough on offense to make the Crimson Tide sweat. Remember, Alabama gave up 435 yards and 418 yards to LSU and Texas A&M, respectively, in consecutive games earlier this month. This is still a great defensive team, but unlike last season, it’s a defense that will give up an occasional first down or two.

Final Analysis
These teams are quite similar. Georgia’s a bit more explosive on offense, but Alabama’s more formidable on defense and has the edge on special teams. You also have to give the advantage to Alabama in coaching. The bottom line: Georgia is very good. Alabama is great.
Alabama 27–21

  David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Alabama vs. Georgia Alabama 35-21 Alabama 24-23 Alabama 27-20 Alabama 27-21
Last week 7-2 7-2 6-3 7-2
Season 90-22 95-17 95-17 94-18

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> These teams are quite similar. Georgia’s a bit more explosive on offense, but Alabama’s more formidable on defense and has the edge on special teams. You also have to give the advantage to Alabama in coaching. The bottom line: Georgia is very good. Alabama is great.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 05:30
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-13-award-watch
Body:

This week will mark the final chance for award contenders to make their final pitches to voters across the country.

Heisman contenders Johnny Manziel, Manti Te’o and Braxton Miller have finished their seasons, so Collin Klein will have the opportunity to make the final statement. And he’s not just vying for the Heisman.

Related:
Athlon Heisman poll | Analysis: Klein v. Manziel | Historic Heisman field

PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Maxwell Award
Finalists: Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o
Biggest snub: Ohio State’s Braxton Miller
Our leader: Klein
Though the Maxwell and Heisman essentially honor a player of a similar description -- the player or the year or the most outstanding player -- they’ve rarely been in lockstep over the last decade. Auburn’s Cam Newton in 2010 and Florida’s Tim Tebow in 2007 are the only players since 2000 to win the Maxwell and the Heisman in the same year. Maxwell winners include Andrew Luck (2011), Colt McCoy (2009), Brady Quinn (2006), Vince Young (2005) and Eli Manning (2003). Since we have Manziel as our Heisman frontrunner and each of the last nine winners were quarterbacks, we select Klein as our Maxwell frontrunner.

OFFENSIVE AWARDS
Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Finalists: Kansas State’s Collin Klein, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller
Biggest snub: Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch
Our leader: Klein
Klein has one more game to stake his claim on national awards compared to Manziel, but it’s tough to ignore a redshirt freshman playing for a first-year coach setting SEC records in his program’s year in the league. Manziel led the SEC in rushing and set conference records in total offense for a single game and single season.

Doak Walker (Top running back)
Finalists: Wisconsin’s Montee Ball, Oregon’s Kenjon Barner, UCLA’s Johnathan Franklin
Biggest snub: Arizona’s Ka’Deem Carey
Our leader: Carey
Voters can't, but we can still vote for Carey even if he’s not a finalist. The Wildcats running back leads the nation in rushing at 146.4 yards per game. Carey rushed for 742 yards and seven touchdowns in his final three games.

Biletnikoff Award (Top wide receiver)
Finalists: West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey, USC’s Marqise Lee, Baylor’s Terrance Williams
Biggest snub: West Virginia’s Tavon Austin
Our leader: Lee
In a disappointing year for USC, Lee was the bright spot. He caught 112 passes for 1,680 yards with 14 touchdowns. Though he and Robert Woods entered the season as one of the best tandems in the country, Lee finished with twice as many yards.

Mackey Award (Top tight end)
Finalists: Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, Stanford’s Zach Ertz, Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Biggest snub: Arizona State’s Chris Coyle
Our leader: Ertz
Ertz led the nation’s tight ends with 818 receiving yards, a total on which he can build in the Pac-12 title game against UCLA.

Outland Trophy (Top interior lineman)
Finalists: North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper, Alabama’s Barrett Jones, Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel
Biggest snub: Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt
Our leader: Jones
Jones has been the frontrunner for offensive line awards all season and has done little to change that perception. Can that continue against Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones?

Rimington Trophy (Top center)
Finalists: To be named Dec. 1
Our leader: Jones, Alabama
Others: Kansas State’s B.J. Finney, Clemson’s Dalton Freeman


DEFENSIVE AWARDS
Nagurski Trophy (Defensive Player of the Year)
Finalists: South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Alabama Dee Milliner, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, Florida State’s Bjoern Werner
Biggest snub: Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene
Our leader: Te’o
Te’o’s case for national defensive player of the year is nearly ironclad. He’s the anchor of the nation’s No. 6 defense and No. 5 run defense. His seven interceptions is second in the nation. The next most picks for a linebacker is four.

Bednarik Trophy (Defensive Player of the Year)
Finalists: South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o
Biggest snub: Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene
Our leader: Te’o

Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)
Finalists: South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, Alabama’s Barrett Jones, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones
Biggest snub: Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore
Our leader: Clowney
Both Joneses will have a chance to build their cases in the SEC Championship Game, but Clowney is our leader for now after recording 4.5 sacks in the upset at Clemson last week. He had 9.5 tackles for a loss in his final four games played (he missed the game against Wofford).

Butkus Award (Top linebacker)
Finalists: Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Oregon’s Dion Jordan, LSU’s Kevin Minter, Alabama’s C.J. Mosley, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o
Biggest snub: Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene
Our leader: Te’o

Thorpe Award (Top defensive back)
Finalists: Mississippi State’s Johnthan Banks, Alabama’s Dee Milliner, Fresno State’s Phillip Thomas
Biggest snub: Florida’s Matt Elam
Our leader: Thomas
Milliner may walk away with the award, especially if he shines in a in a matchup against Aaron Murray in Atlanta, but Thomas shouldn’t fly under the radar. He’s leading the nation with eight interceptions, including two touchdowns. He also was tied for second in the Mountain West with 12 tackles for a loss.


SPECIAL TEAMS AWARDS
Groza Award (Top kicker)

Finalists: Florida State’s Dustin Hopkins, Tulane’s Cairo Santos, Florida’s Caleb Sturgis
Biggest snub: Ball State’s Steven Schott
Our leader: Santos
Santos in the only kicker with more than 15 attempts who is perfect on field goals. The Green Wave junior is 21 of 21 including 12 made field goals from longer than 40 yards.

Ray Guy Award (Top punter)
Finalists: Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Allen, Florida’s Kyle Christy, Ball State’s Scott Kovanda
Biggest snub: Texas A&M’s Ryan Epperson
Our leader: Allen
The defending Ray Guy winner led the nation with 48 yards per kick as Louisiana Tech led the country in net punting (43.5).


OTHER NATIONAL AWARDS
Freshman of the Year
Our leader: Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Breaking SEC records held by Cam Newton and Tim Couch is a good way to start a career. Not to mention defeating then-No. 1 Alabama on the road. Even in a year with standout redshirt freshman quarterbacks, Manziel leads the pack.
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Dixon, TCU’s Devonte Fields, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota

Coach of the Year
Our leader: Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly
O’Brien and Meyer overcame more adversity, and Snyder deserves a lifetime achievement awards. But from a standpoint of exceeding expectations and overcoming limitations, Kelly is the leader. The Notre Dame offense is average -- something that has to stick in Kelly’s craw -- but the defense carried the Irish to an unexpected undefeated season and title game appearance.
Others: Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, Kansas State’s Bill Snyder

Broyles Award (top assistant)
Finalists: Georgia’s Mike Bobo, Notre Dame’s Bob Diaco, Texas A&M’s Kliff Kingsbury, Stanford’s Derek Mason, Florida’s Dan Quinn
Biggest snub: Oregon State’s Mark Banker
Our leader: Kliff Kingsbury, Texas A&M
Kingsbury helped set records as Mike Leach’s first quarterback at Texas Tech and did the same as the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M. The Aggies set an SEC record with 552.3 yards per game.

Teaser:
<p> As the season winds down, players like Collin Klein, Jarvis Jones and Barrett Jones can challenge for Maxwell, Davey O'Brien, Lombardi Awards</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 05:20
Path: /college-football/big-ten-championship-preview-and-prediction-nebraska-cornhuskers-vs-wisconsin-badge
Body:

The second annual Big Ten Championship game features two of the Midwest’s football powers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The corn-fed Big Red from Lincoln will battle with the dairy-fed Big Red from Madison, but only one team actually won their division.

These two met back in October in the Big Ten opener at Memorial Stadium — remember those polarizing adidas uniforms? — and Nebraska came away with its first big comeback win of the year. The 30-27 win propelled the Huskers to a 7-1 mark in league play and a Legends Division crown. Dating back to 2009, this is Bo Pelini’s third conference championship game in four seasons, but a win would be the Cornhuskers' first league title since 1999. It would also send Nebraska to Pasadena for the first time since 2002 when it lost to Miami in the BCS National Championship Game.

The Badgers, after losing six assistant coaches, started slowly on offense this fall before finding their stride in mid-season. However, Wisconsin’s schedule toughened up in the final month of play and it lost three of its last four. Bret Bielema’s squad finished 4-4 in the league with losses in the division to Ohio State and Penn State — the two teams that actually finished ahead of the Badgers in the Leaders Division standings. That said, all five of Wisconsin’s losses were by seven points or less this fall, including three overtime defeats. A win for the Badgers would give UW its third consecutive Big Ten championship and third straight trip to the Rose Bowl — the first Big Ten school to do so since Michigan from 1977-79.

Either way this one goes, a historic Big Red program will invade Pasadena. And the best broadcast team in the business, FOX’ Gus Johnson and Charles Davis, will bring fans the call at 8:17 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. 

Other Championship Game Previews
ACC
| Pac-12 | SEC

Conference Previews
Big 12
| Big East

When Wisconsin has the ball

The Badgers' offense lost their renowned offensive coordinator, the best QB in the history of the program and three first-team All-Big Ten lineman from 2011. It showed early on with major struggles coming against Northern Iowa, Oregon State and Utah State. After an offensive line coaching move and quarterback switch, the UW offense flourished. Redshirt freshman quarterback Joel Stave and Heisman finalist Montee Ball finally gave the Badgers a two-dimensional offense. However, late in the Michigan State game, Stave was lost for the year to a broken collarbone and eventually fifth-year senior Curt Phillips got the nod under center.

Phillips has limitations throwing the football, but has proven to be clutch, throwing game-tying touchdown strikes with seconds left on the clock against both Ohio State and Penn State in his last two games. He is obviously at his best when Ball and the Badgers’ traditional power running game are effective. This team has averaged over 240 yards rushing per game three seasons in a row and Ball has scored seven times in two games against Nebraska. The star tailback is one rushing touchdown from setting the all-time NCAA record (73) and he’s already the all-time total touchdown leader in NCAA history (79).

The Huskers' defense has had its deficiencies over the past few seasons, but first-year coordinator John Papuchis — who is the youngest solo defensive coordinator in the nation — has fostered marked improvement this season. His team leads the nation in passing defense and has been able to pressure the quarterback with more regularity. Linebacker Will Compton and defensive end Eric Martin headline a defense that is much stronger at the point of attack than it was a year ago and coverman Ciante Evans is developing quickly into a star on the back end. Phillips will be tested mightily by the nation’s top passing defense, so the offense will once again run through its deep stable of running backs that features not only Ball but also James White (693 yards, 8 TD) and Melvin Gordon (354 yards, 2 TD).

When Nebraska has the ball

The Nebraska offense starts and ends with Taylor Martinez. The redshirt junior quarterback led the Big Ten in passing efficiency and total offense while steering the league’s No. 1 offense. He has been masterful in the second half, leading his team from behind against Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan State and Penn State with big plays on the ground and efficient passing. T-Mart completed 17-of-29 passes for 181 yards, rushed for 107 yards on 13 attempts and scored three times in the 17-point second-half comeback against Wisconsin in October.

The league’s top rushing attack isn’t just Martinez, however. Rex Burkhead returned to the lineup in the season finale after dealing with major knee issues all season to lead his team to victory over Iowa. His valiant performance in the second half pushed the Huskers into the title game and provides the offense with another ball carrier. Ameer Abdullah (1,071 yards, 8 TD) and Imani Cross (289 yards, 6 TD) have filled in admirably throughout the year and now Pelini finds himself with a glut of talent in the backfield.

He might need as many bodies as he can find against the Badgers' No. 12-rated rushing defense (111.3 ypg). Linebackers Mike Taylor, who is the nation’s leading tackler over the last two seasons, and Chris Borland, who missed the last two games with injury, are expected to be at full strength for this title bout. The rest of the non-descript Wisconsin defense is fundamentally sound and well coached but not overtly talented. Look for Martinez’ ability to break contain with his legs to be the deciding factor once again. 

Final Analysis

One team has better players, has a better record and won the first meeting of the year. The other is missing its starting quarterback and has lost three of its last four. Pelini has won 10 games and played in a conference championship game in three of the last four years. However, his team has also lost four games in each of his four seasons in Lincoln. This weekend’s showdown would end all of those streaks and send the Huskers to Pasadena for only the third time in school history and would give Pelini his first championship. There are no excuses for Nebraska this time around.

Predictions

Athlon Editor Championship Prediction YTD Big Ten Record
Braden Gall Nebraska 30, Wisconsin 20 80-16
Mitch Light Nebraska 24, Wisconsin 14 76-20
Steven Lassan Nebraska 27, Wisconsin 24 79-17
David Fox Nebraska 28, Wisconsin 14 77-19

Related Championship Weekend Content:

Heisman Comparison: Johnny Manziel vs. Collin Klein
Athlon Sports Post-Week 13 Heisman Voting

Big East Week 14 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 14 Preview and Predictions

ACC Championship Game Preview: Florida State vs. Georgia Tech
Pac-12 Championship Game Preview: UCLA vs. Stanford

SEC Championship Game Preview: Alabama vs. Georgia

Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Championship Preview and Prediction: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Wisconsin Badgers</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-basketball/kentuckys-first-road-test-highlights-sec-big-east-challenge
Body:

If the unofficial start of the SEC-Big East Challenge began in the Bahamas on Friday, the Big East is in good shape.

Louisville defeated SEC newcomer Missouri 84-61 in a Battle 4 Atlantis semifinal, but, of course, the game was not part of the official Challenge, which begins Thursday and continues through Saturday. Neither Louisville nor Missouri are taking part in the 12-game event.

The field, though, is filled with interesting matchups, including Kentucky’s first road game of the season, a pairing of two surprise teams in Tennessee and Georgetown, and a meeting of two teams who saw their aircraft carrier-openers canceled in Florida and Marquette.

Some games are must-see events. Others are duds. We hope this helps you sort them out.

SEC-BIG EAST CHALLENGE PREVIEW
Best game: Kentucky at Notre Dame
The Wildcats play their first true road game of the season against a team that’s tough to beat on its home court -- Notre Dame is 34-1 in South Bend the last two-plus seasons. The Irish are a veteran team, starting two seniors, two juniors and a sophomore, so this will also be a key test for the Wildcats’ freshmen. Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress and Archie Goodwin have the talent advantage, but Notre Dame’s experience and defensive pressure could cause problems for the Wildcats.

Don’t overlook: Tennessee at Georgetown
The Hoyas seem to perform better when they’re out of the preseason spotlight. Despite playing with a roster of 10 freshmen and sophomores, this season has been no exception. Georgetown defeated UCLA 78-70 in the Legends Classic -- a final that doesn’t look as impressive after the Bruins lost to Cal Poly on Sunday. But Georgetown also took Indiana to overtime thanks to a comeback in the final four minutes. Tennessee has aspirations of making noise in the SEC this season but lost its toughest game thus far to Oklahoma State 62-45. Jarnell Stokes has delivered for the Volunteers with 13.8 points and eight rebounds per game, but he could use help in the frontcourt once Jeronne Maymon is healthy.

Mismatch: Syracuse at Arkansas
Syracuse is doing just fine with assist machine Michael Carter-Williams running the point. Despite sophomore point guard B.J. Young and junior forward Marshawn Powell returning, Arkansas has been one of the biggest disappointments early this season with losses to Pac-12 bottom feeder Arizona State and Wisconsin in the Las Vegas Invitational.

Snoozer: Villanova at Vanderbilt
Viewers may already know Rutgers-Ole Miss and DePaul-Auburn won’t be great games. That’s true. But don’t be fooled by name recognition in Villanova-Vanderbilt. The two teams are a combined 5-6. On Friday, Vanderbilt lost 50-33 to Marist -- yes, that’s a final score -- and Villanova previously lost by 18 to Columbia.

Most to gain: Marquette
The Golden Eagles’ lone loss this season was on a desperation heave at the buzzer against Butler in Maui. After missing out on the winners’ bracket in the Maui Invitational and a season opener against Ohio State due to court conditions on the USS Yorktown, Marquette will have another opportunity for a resume-building game at Florida. Two of the cornerstones for Marquette have been up and down so far -- Jamil Wilson was shut out against Butler but scored 30 total points against Mississippi State and USC while Vander Blue is nursing a knee injury.

Most to lose: Cincinnati
The Bearcats have played well this season, though they won’t be tested by a ranked opponent until Dec. 27 against New Mexico, and after that, not until Big East play. Led by veterans Cashmere Wright and Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati could contend in the Big East, but a loss at home to a mid-level SEC team might change that perception.

Players to watch:
Ryan Harrow, Kentucky. The Wildcats weren’t hurt by Harrow’s absence due to an illness and a family matter. Without Harrow, freshman Archie Goodwin has drawn comparisons to Tyreke Evans and Dwyane Wade since taking over the point, and Jarrod Polson was a pleasant surprise off the bench. Big men Nerlens Noel and Kyle Wiltjer also contributed in the assist column. How John Calipari works Harrow, the projected starter at point guard to open the season, back into the lineup will be worth watching.

Scottie Wilbekin, Florida. The Gators point guard had his best game since missing the first three games, including the Georgetown game canceled at halftime, against UCF last week. Against the Knights, Wilbekin came off the bench to score 17 points with eight assists and five rebounds. Florida coach Billy Donovan has been frustrated with starter Mike Rosario’s turnovers, so the Marquette game could be a chance for Wilbekin to claim the starter’s role.

Otto Porter, Georgetown. Prior to the season, Porter was projected as one of the Big East’s breakout players after a late burst last season. The 6-8 forward has delivered. He doesn’t lead the Hoyas in any major category except blocked shots, but he’s been a contributor across the board. He’ll be matched up against another player, Jarnell Stokes for Tennessee, who transformed his own team late last season.

SEC-Big East Challenge Roundtable picks

THURSDAY (All times Eastern) David Fox Braden Gall Mitch Light Mark Ross Nathan Rush
Kentucky at Notre Dame, 7 p.m., ESPN2 Kentucky Kentucky Kentucky Kentucky Kentucky
S. Carolina at St. John’s, 7:30 p.m., ESPNU St. John's St. John's St. John's St. John's St. John's
Marquette at Florida, 9 p.m., ESPN2 Florida Florida Florida Florida Florida
Seton Hall at LSU, 9:30 p.m., ESPNU LSU LSU LSU LSU LSU
FRIDAY          
Tennessee at Georgetown, 6:30 p.m., ESPN G'town G'town G'town G'town G'town
Georgia at USF, 7 p.m., ESPNU USF USF USF USF Georgia
Syracuse at Arkansas, 8:30 p.m., ESPN Cuse Cuse Arkansas Cuse Cuse
DePaul at Auburn, 9 p.m., ESPNU DePaul Auburn Auburn DePaul DePaul
SATURDAY          
Mississippi State at Providence, noon, ESPNU Prov. Prov. Prov. Prov. Prov.
Rutgers at Ole Miss, 2 p.m., ESPNU Ole Miss Ole Miss Ole Miss Ole Miss Ole Miss
Alabama at Cincinnati, 3 p.m., ESPN2 Cincy Cincy Cincy Cincy Cincy
Villanova at Vanderbilt, 5 p.m., ESPN2 Nova Nova Nova Vandy Vandy

Teaser:
<p> Kentucky faces Notre Dame in South Bend in SEC-Big East Challenge, but emerging Tennessee and Georgetown teams also meet in a key game.</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 09:00
Path: /nfl/10-potential-replacements-jets-fan-fireman-ed
Body:


New York Jets superfan Fireman Ed penned a guest column in the Metro declaring his intentions to quit his unofficial post as the team’s mascot, following the 49–19 Thanksgiving Day massacre loss to the rival New England Patriots.

The man known to some as Ed Anzalone, former firefighter at Ladder 28 in Harlem, but to many as Fireman Ed, a crazed Jets fanatic and season-ticket holder since 1976, will no longer lead the “greatest chant in all of sports,” as he calls it. Fireman Ed will not lead the famed, “J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!” cheer ever again because of more frequent “confrontations with other Jets fans.”

“I love the guy’s passion and energy he would bring,” said Jets coach Rex Ryan. “He’s a great fan. I really admire him. He was great. If we do our job on the field, that ‘Jets’ chant will continue.”

After losing Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes, the Jets must now fill the void left by their recently retired superfan, who “will attend games as usual, just not as Fireman Ed.”

So who's going to fill Fireman Ed's shoes? Here are 10 candidates who would be perfect to take over as New York’s No. 1 Jets fan:

1.Tim Tebow
Mark Sanchez’s backup might be better utilized as the Jets’ top cheerleader in the stands at MetLife Stadium rather than the highest profile bench player on the planet. Any role would have to be more productive than Tebow’s current purgatory — which has been low-lighted by seven pass attempts and 29 carries for a combined 126 total yards.

In fact, Tebow is indirectly responsible for Fireman Ed’s evacuation. “The stadium has become divided because of the quarterback controversy,” Ed said. “The fact that I chose to wear a Mark Sanchez jersey this year and that fans think I am on the payroll — which is an outright lie — have made these confrontations more frequent.”

Tebow is on the Jets’ payroll and would bring over-the-top positive energy all game long. As the J-E-T-S cheerleader, Tebow would probably be more mixed up in the quarterback controversy than he already is — whether he wore his own No. 15 jersey or supported Sanchez by wearing a green No. 6 just like Fireman Ed.


2. PSY
Maybe “J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!” has run its course. Imagine “Gangnam Style” remixed as “Gang Green Style.” Maybe it’s time to get the New York crowd back on their high horses and dancing with a remix from the South Korean K-pop star PSY. Jets bowties would spread like wild fire.
 

 


3. The Village People
Fireman Ed likes to dress up, so do these guys. There’s a cop, chief, cowboy, biker and who knows what else. Plus, as an added bonus, these guys have plenty of practice leading large crowds in four-letter songs. Instead of Y-M-C-A, the new Village voice would lead the chant of J-E-T-S. 

 


4. Jenn Sterger
The former Jets sideline reporter has been a superfan before — becoming internet famous as an FSU Cowgirl, thanks to Brent Musburger commenting that “1,500 red-blooded Americans just decided to apply to Florida State” after seeing her on national television during the 2005 FSU-Miami game.

But the model, actress and hostess really hit the big time when she was involved in a Jets quarterback controversy of a different kind, as the object of Brett Favre’s obsession late in 2010. It’s about time the Jets brought her back into the mix; they should send her a text or leave a voicemail to see if she’s interested.


5. Minka Kelly
Derek Jeter’s former fiancé played a football cheerleader on “Friday Night Lights,” giving her New York sports cred and gridiron cheering chops. She’s also the daughter of one-time Aerosmith guitarist Rick Dufay, so there’s no doubt she would have thousands of rabid fans waving their lighters in the air. Oh, and she's really, really hot. So there's that.



6. Fire Marshal Bill
The Jim Carrey character from “In Living Color” isn’t a fireman but he is a fire marshal who can “show ya something” about surviving the type of dumpster fires these Jets have been battling all season. Fire Marshal Bill Burns would bring electricity to the crowd and dump Gatorade on himself after every win.



7. Mark Gastineau
The chairman of the 1980’s New York Sack Exchange is the father of Kim Kardashian’s BFF Brittny. A former ‘roid rager who would not be intimidated by any confrontations, Gastineau would be the perfect green Hulk to lead Jets cheers. In fact, he already made his mark on the 2012 season during the team’s Ring of Honor ceremony with a drunken acceptance speech that SI.com’s Jimmy Traina called “Joe Namath Part II.”



8. Brett Favre
When you’re a Jet, you’re a Jet all the way, right? Well, Favre was kind of a Jet back in 2008, when he threw for 3,472 yards, 22 TDs and 22 INTs for the 9–7 Jets. Sure, he missed the playoffs, sent some infamous pictures of his watch and Crocs to a team employee and was fined $50,000 for not cooperating with an NFL investigation. But is that really worse than the season Sanchez is having?

Plus, it would never get so bad where Favre would have to walk away Fireman Ed-style. Just the opposite, a few “F-A-V-R-E! Favre! Favre! Favre!” chants and No. 4 would be back out there as a 43-year-old gunslinger showing Sanchez and Tebow how to play a little throw-and-catch and a lot of show-and-text.


9. Cast of MTV's Jersey Shore
Jets Guidettes like Snooki and J-Woww would be all about the drama that Fireman Ed is trying to get away from. And The Situation, Pauly D, Ronnie and Vinny would be fist-pumping all game and ready to J-E-T-S after G-T-L and t-shirt time. Plus, East Rutherford, N.J., is near their old neighborhood on the Jersey Shore.


10. Rex Ryan
No one is New York or New Jersey talks as big or bold as Rex Ryan, who back-to-backed it up with consecutive trips to the AFC title game early in his reign. But now, Ryan can’t keep his locker room or fan base from splintering. He might as well put on a Sanchez jersey like Fireman Ed — of whom Ryan said, “If he could play linebacker, I’d use him.” And the way the season is going compared to his own unrealistic expectations, Ryan might have some time on his hands next season.

 

Teaser:
<p> New York Jets fan Fireman Ed penned a guest column in the Metro declaring his intentions to quit his unofficial post as the team’s mascot, following the 49–19 Thanksgiving Day massacre loss to the rival New England Patriots. Fireman Ed will no longer lead the "J-E-T-S! Jets! Jets! Jets!" cheer. Here's a list of 10 potential replacements for Fireman Ed.</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 05:55
Path: /college-football/pac-12-championship-preview-and-prediction-ucla-bruins-vs-stanford-cardinal
Body:

The second annual Pac-12 Championship game isn't exactly what fans were expecting to see entering this season. Oregon and USC were overwhelming favorites to win their respective divisions and potentially battle on Nov. 30 for more than just West Coast supremacy. Best laid plans, right?

Jim Mora instantly instilled toughness at UCLA and his squad finished the regular season 9-3 overall and 6-3 in the league. Most importantly, the Bruins posted a perfect 5-0 mark in the South Division, including a revenge home win over USC to clinch the division crown. 

Stanford, meanwhile, keeps on chugging under Pac-12 Coach of the Year David Shaw. Even though Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin all departed for the NFL and had to be replaced on offense, he led the Cardinal to an identical 8-1 mark in league play this fall. This time with a division-clinching win over Oregon.

The old saying goes familiarity breeds contempt and these two might be the most familiar opponents in the history of the sport. For the second time in six days, the Cardinal and Bruins will battle, but this time, it's for a trip to the Rose Bowl. It marks the first time in college football history two teams have ever played in a season finale and then again in the conference title game.

And Gus Johnson and Charles Davis will be there to call the game at 8 p.m. ET on FOX on Friday night.

Other Championship Game Previews
ACC
| Big Ten | SEC

Conference Previews
Big 12
| Big East

When Stanford has the ball

Not too many championship teams make quarterback switches two-thirds of the way through the season. But that is exactly what David Shaw did when, five passes into the game against Colorado, he put Kevin Hogan under center in place of Josh Nunes. All Hogan did in his first three career starts was topple three consecutive ranked opponents to clinch the North Division championship. He completed 72.8 percent of his passes (80-110) for 809 yards and eight touchdowns in the four games in which he led the Cardinal offense. He also rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown on the ground as well. Hogan’s emergence has given this offense a second dimension.

Hogan will face a Bruins' pass rush that has improved infinitely from a year ago under their new head coach. This defensive front finished 110th in the nation in sacks and 81st in rushing defense a year ago, but behind improved play from Anthony Barr and Datone Jones, UCLA ranked 5th in the country in sacks (3.33 spg) and 53rd in rushing defense this fall. If the Bruins expect to close the 35-17 gap from last weekend, it will have to pressure Hogan (15-of-22 last week, 0 INT) and stop the running game (49 att., 221 yards, 3 TD).

While Hogan has stabilized one dimension of the offense, Shaw hasn’t had to worry about his other dimension. Stepfan Taylor is one of the most complete backs in the nation after his second straight 1,300-yard, 10-TD season (1,364 and 11). He ended the season with three consectuive 100-yard efforts against ranked teams, scoring four times in those contests. Taylor has touched the ball 828 times on offense the last three years (38 games, 21.8/game), so expect Shaw to wear out his workhorse tailback in the last regular season game of his career. Especially, considering Taylor needs just 35 yards to break Stanford’s all-time rushing record held by Darrin Nelson (4,169).

When UCLA has the ball

Seven sacks, 7-of-19 on third downs, two turnovers and 334 total yards of offense is what the Stanford defense held UCLA’s high-flying offense to a week ago. Much like the defense, the Bruins have shown marked improvement under the new coaching regime, totaling 475.7 yards per game of offense and 36.0 points per contest. Yet, redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley and star tailback Johnathan Franklin will have to play better this weekend if UCLA expects to win its first conference crown since 1998.

The dynamic backfield duo has been outstanding this fall but the offensive line will have to play its best game of the year if it expects to beat Stanford. The O-Line ranks 118th nationally in sacks allowed per game (3.6/game) and is facing the No. 1 pass rush (4.4/game), the No. 1 rushing defense (71.3 ypg) and the No. 11 scoring defense (16.9 ppg) in the nation. Stanford has four players with at least 5.5 sacks, so trying to stop the versatile front should prove difficult once again.

Hundley and Franklin are closing in on more than one UCLA record. Hundley (3,516 yards total offense, 3,234 yards passing) should easily break Cade McNown’s 1998 single-season record for total offense (3,652) and passing yards (3,470) even with just an average outing Friday night. Franklin needs just 18 all-purpose yards to take over as UCLA’s all-time leader (Maurice Jones-Drew) and just 66 yards rushing to top Karim Abdul-Jabbar’s single-season school record. Additionally, one more win for Mora would give him the most wins by a Bruins first-year coach in program history.

Final Analysis

Stanford’s senior class has won at least 10 games for the third consecutive season but have yet to claim a league championship or play in the Rose Bowl. With a 24-2 home record, this group has added motivation to close out this season with a resounding victory. Look for the Cardinal defensive front to dominate the Bruins up front and give Shaw’s Cardinal their first outright Pac-12 crown since 1999. 

Predictions

Athlon Editor Championship Prediction YTD Pac-12 Record
Braden Gall Stanford 34, UCLA 17 64-20
Mitch Light Stanford 34, UCLA 27 64-20
Steven Lassan Stanford 24, UCLA 20 63-21
David Fox Stanford 35, UCLA 21 60-24

Related Championship Weekend Content:

Heisman Comparison: Johnny Manziel vs. Collin Klein
Athlon Sports Post-Week 13 Heisman Voting

Big East Week 14 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 14 Preview and Predictions

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Championship Preview and Prediction: UCLA Bruins vs. Stanford Cardinal</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 05:10
Path: /college-football/acc-championship-preview-and-prediction-florida-state-seminoles-vs-georgia-tech-yel
Body:

For the first time in the history of the ACC Championship, Florida State and Georgia Tech will meet for the conference title. Despite being separated by less than 300 miles, these two teams are in opposite divisions in the ACC and have not played since a 49-44 shootout in 2009.

These two teams arrived in Charlotte by taking completely different paths. Georgia Tech closed out the year by winning its last four ACC games to get to 5-3 in conference play, which placed it in a three-way tie with North Carolina and Miami at the top of the Coastal. However, with the Tar Heels and Hurricanes ineligible to play in the postseason, the Yellow Jackets get the nod to represent the Coastal in Charlotte.

On the other side, Florida State went 7-1 in ACC play and finished with a 10-2 overall mark. The Seminoles’ only conference loss was a last-minute 17-16 defeat to NC State. Florida State dominated most of its ACC opponents this season, with only one victory decided by 10 points or less.

Florida State holds a 12-9-1 edge in the overall series, but Georgia Tech has claimed the last two in this series. Yellow Jackets’ coach Paul Johnson is 2-0 in his career against the Seminoles. And this will be the first matchup for Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher against Georgia Tech.

Other Championship Game Previews
Big Ten
| Pac-12 | SEC

Conference Previews
Big 12
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When the Florida State Seminoles have the ball:

Perhaps the biggest mismatch in this game is the Seminoles’ offense against the Georgia Tech defense. The Yellow Jackets have been struggling to get stops all season and fired coordinator Al Groh after a 47-31 loss to Clemson. Removing Groh didn’t help the defense much, as Georgia Tech has allowed at least 40 points in three out of its last six games. The Yellow Jackets rank sixth or worse in the ACC in total, scoring, sacks per game and pass defense.

Although Florida State’s offense struggled in last week’s loss to Florida, it should be able to have its way against Georgia Tech. The Seminoles are relatively balanced on offense, ranking 26th nationally in rushing (203.8 ypg) and 34th in passing offense (273.7 ypg). If there’s a concern for Florida State’s offense, it has to be turnovers (23 so far this year).

Quarterback EJ Manuel was banged up in last week’s loss to Florida but is not expected to be limited in the ACC Championship. Manuel ranks eighth nationally in pass efficiency and tossed only five interceptions in conference games this season. The senior has no shortage of playmakers around him, headlined by receiver Rashad Greene. The sophomore leads Florida State with 43 receptions for 614 yards and five scores. Kelvin Benjamin ranks second on the team in receiving yards, while Rodney Smith and Kenny Shaw each have 471 yards this season.

Despite losing Chris Thompson to an ACL injury against Miami earlier this year, Florida State still ranks second in the ACC in rushing offense. Sophomores Devonta Freeman and James Wilder have picked up the slack, combining for 1,085 yards and 16 scores this year. Freeman provides the speed, while Wilder adds some power and leads the team with nine rushing scores.

Considering Florida State is averaging 39.8 points per game in conference play, Georgia Tech will have its hands full trying to slow down the Seminoles’ offense. Although the Yellow Jackets can rely on their offense to chew up the clock, the defense could help swing some early momentum by generating a few turnovers. If Georgia Tech fails to get pressure on EJ Manuel and doesn’t win the turnover battle, it’s hard to see the defense being able to slow down the Florida State attack.

When the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have the ball:

Not only are the Yellow Jackets a difficult opponent to prepare for in one week, the Seminoles’ defense must also deal with the news of coordinator Mark Stoops being named as the head coach at Kentucky. Stoops will coach in this game, but it’s fair to wonder if that has distracted from the gameplanning from Florida State.

With a defense that has struggled to get stops this year, Georgia Tech’s offense has had to win plenty of shootouts. The Yellow Jackets have scored at least 30 points in seven out of their eight conference games, including 68 in a win over North Carolina on Nov. 10.

Vad Lee and Tevin Washington have shared the quarterback duties over the second half of the season and that should continue into Saturday’s game. Lee is a better playmaker on the ground (6.0 ypc), but Washington has more experience as a passer and has more experience within the offense.

There’s really no secret or much disguise for what Georgia Tech wants to do on offense. Coach Paul Johnson is committed to an option attack, which is averaging 323.3 rushing yards per game this season. The Yellow Jackets rank near the bottom of the nation in passing and has struggled to develop any go-to receivers. 

Orwin Smith leads the team with 673 yards and five touchdowns, but an ankle injury has clouded his status for Saturday’s game. In addition to leading the team in rushing yards, Smith is also the team’s top big-play threats (9.0 ypc) and ranks first on the team with 17 receptions. Even if Smith can play, he’s likely to be limited.

Outside of Smith, the Yellow Jackets can lean on Zach Laskey, David Sims and Robert Godhigh as key contributors in the backfield. Laskey is a hard-nosed runner and averages a solid 5.2 yards per carry this season. Sims has been limited due to injuries this year but has 351 yards and three scores on 85 attempts.

Considering Florida State has not played a team that runs the option this season, it may take a quarter for Stoops’ defense to settle into the matchup. However, another problem that is developing for the Seminoles is depth on the defensive line. Starter Cornellius Carradine suffered a torn ACL in the loss against Florida, which leaves redshirt freshman Giorgio Newberry or true freshman Mario Edwards, Jr. as the starter.

Final Analysis:

Everything on the stat sheet for this matchup suggests it should be an easy win for Florida State. However, six out of the last seven matchups in this series have been decided by eight points or less, so even though the Yellow Jackets are 6-6, history indicates this matchup will be close on Saturday night. Despite the close matchups in recent years, unless Georgia Tech’s defense plays its best game of the season, Florida State will pull away in the second half for a double-digit victory. The Seminoles simply have too many weapons on offense and despite the loss of Carradine on the defensive line, will prevent any big plays to the Yellow Jackets.

Predictions

Athlon Editor Championship Prediction YTD ACC Record
David Fox Florida State 42-14 76-20
Braden Gall Florida State 30-17 74-22
Steven Lassan Florida State 34-24 71-25
Mitch Light Florida State 30-20 79-17


Related College Football Content

Big East Week 14 Preview and Predictions
Big 12 Week 14 Preview and Predictions
Pac-12 Championship Game Preview

Post-Week 13 Heisman Contenders

ACC 2012 Season Recap and Awards

Teaser:
<p> ACC Championship Preview and Prediction: Florida State Seminoles vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 05:09
Path: /college-football/big-east-week-14-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Stumbling and limping isn’t the best way to enter a season-defining game.

At least for Louisville and Rutgers, though, both teams will look across the sideline at a team in a similar spot.

This de facto Big East championship game has been set for several weeks, but both teams made the challenge a little more difficult with injury-riddled losses Saturday. Louisville lost 23-20 in overtime to Connecticut, a game that saw quarterback Teddy Bridgewater leave twice with injuries. And Rutgers saw starters Gary Nova, Jawan Jamison and Khaseem Greene head to the bench with injuries in a 27-6 loss to Pittsburgh. All are expected to play this week.

While Louisville and Rutgers play for a BCS bid -- and Rutgers plays for its first outright conference title -- the events of last week put new stakes on the other two games in the Big East this week. After their wins over the Big East leaders last week, Connecticut (at home against Cincinnati) and Pittsburgh (at USF) are playing for bowl bids.

Other Championship Game Previews
ACC
| Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Conference Previews
Big 12

Big East’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 14:

How will Teddy Bridgewater’s injury situation impact Louisville?

Bridgewater suffered a broken left (non-throwing) wrist against Connecticut last week but returned to finish the game -- and sustain an ankle injury. Bridgewater returned from that, too, but is expected to play against Rutgers. Louisville coach Charlie Strong expects the wrist to impact his sophomore quarterback more on handoffs, so Strong says the Cardinals will play from the shotgun and pistol formations. Bridgewater is a concern for the Cards, but so is a run game that has fallen apart in the last two weeks after the injury to Senorise Perry. Louisville has run for 65 total yards the last two weeks after running a balanced offense through most of the 9-0 start.

Whoever runs the ball for Rutgers, can Louisville stop him?
Limited by an ankle injury, Scarlet Knights running back Jawan Jamison has carried the ball 13 times for 51 yards the last two weeks -- though it didn’t stop him from going over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Sophomore Savon Huggins ran for 179 yards in Jamison’s absence against Cincinnati, but Rutgers rushed for only 50 yards against Pittsburgh as the Panthers built an 21-point first half lead. Jamison expects to be ready to take over his workhorse duties against Louisville. Either way, the Cardinals haven’t been able to stop much of anyone against the run in the last few weeks. Louisville is allowing a Big East-worst 194.7 rushing yards per game in conference games. Of course, that doesn’t include Syracuse passing for 246 yards and three touchdowns in Louisville’s first loss of the season two weeks ago.

Better late than never for Lyle McCombs?
McCombs has had his two best rushing days of the season in the last two weeks with 120 yards and a touchdown against Pittsburgh and 133 yards against Louisville. Not all of the problems in UConn’s run game can be traced to McCombs, who rushed for 1,151 yards last season. The line has been ineffective for most of the season, and the unit is just now regrouping after the loss of veteran Adam Masters at midseason. McCombs, though, said he had his best day of the season as a runner against the Cardinals. Another 100-yard game from McCombs could be critical if UConn is going to defeat Cincinnati and become bowl eligible, especially if quarterback Chandler Whitmer is limited. Whitmer left the Louisville win after a head injury, but UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni is optimistic Whitmer will play.

Can the new-look Cincinnati offense crack the UConn defense?
George Winn returned to form last week by rushing for 119 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-10 win over USF. Meanwhile, Brendon Kay was turnover-free after throwing two interceptions against Rutgers. Cincinnati also took advantage of good field position for most of the game. Was this a sign of progress or a symptom of the USF defense? The Bearcats will find out this week. The UConn defensive pressure starts up front where the Huskies lead the Big East in run defense and sacks.

What does Ray Graham have in store for his finale?
Only in the last month has Pittsburgh running back been fully confident in the knee he injured last season. The results have shown that much as the senior topped 100 yards in three of the last four games. As he finishes his career, Graham has a chance to put Pittsburgh in a bowl game. Considering the season began with a loss to Youngstown State, Pittsburgh in a bowl would be a notable turnaround.

Is this the end of Skip Holtz at USF?
A rash of coaching firings started this week, but the Big East still has regular season games to play. If there’s a move on Skip Holtz, who has overseen the worst season is USF’s short history, it’s not going to come until after the Pittsburgh finale. The season has been full of dubious firsts -- the first season with eight losses and the longest losing streak in program history with six in a row. A costly buyout may prevent USF from firing Holtz, but we won’t know until after this weekend.

Week 14 Big East Predictions:

Week 14 Big East Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Louisville at Rutgers (Thu.) Rutgers 28-21 Rutgers 30-27 Louisville 24-20 Rutgers 27-20
Cincinnati at Connecticut UConn 21-14 Cincinnati 24-20 Cincinnati 24-17 UConn 23-18
Pittsburgh at USF Pitt 35-10 Pitt 17-13 Pitt 27-17 Pitt 27-10
Last week 2-2 2-2 3-1 2-2
Overall 42-22 44-20 44-20 42-22

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 13
Post-Week 13 Bowl Projections

Top Heisman Trophy Contenders After Week 13

Teaser:
<p> Louisville-Rutgers will determine the Big East's BCS representative and the title race, but Pittsburgh and Connecticut are battling for bowl eligibility.</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 05:08
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-14-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The Big 12 is two years removed from hosting a championship game, but the league’s BCS bid and title will still come down to two teams in the final week.

Kansas State remains in control of its own destiny for the Fiesta Bowl if it defeats Texas, an opponent the Wildcats have handled in each of their last four meetings. After losing to the Wildcats in September, Oklahoma must hope for a Kansas State loss in addition to a Sooners win over TCU.

Although Baylor’s win over Kansas State two weeks ago will shut the Big 12 out of the BCS title game, the league’s postseason picture is rosy. All but Kansas is bowl eligible. West Virginia (against the Jayhawks) and Baylor (against Oklahoma State) will attempt to clinch winning seasons this week. Six Big 12 have already crossed the seven-win barrier.

Other Championship Game Previews
ACC
| Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Conference Preview
Big East

Big 12’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 14:

Can Collin Klein reclaim his Heisman mojo?

The Kansas State quarterback hasn’t been as sharp since leaving the Oklahoma State win with a possible concussion on Nov. 11. Klein had completed 71.1 percent of his passes through the Oklahoma State game and has completed 54.9 percent thereafter. His four interceptions in the last two games (including three in a loss to Baylor) doubled the interceptions he had thrown in the first nine games. The Kansas State offensive line has struggled in the last two games. The normally stout Wildcats defense has as well, allowing 342 rushing yards to Baylor. But as the Heisman race narrows, not to mention the Big 12 title race, all eyes will be on Klein.

Case McCoy is starting for Texas, but will the supporting cast show up?
Texas starting quarterback David Ash is questionable this week, meaning backup Case McCoy will start for the Longhorns in Manhattan. McCoy didn’t fare much better than Ash in relief against TCU on Thanksgiving, but Colt’s brother helped salvage a win over Kansas on Oct. 27. McCoy may work without much of a safety net against Kansas State -- punter Alex King is the third string quarterback and will be the backup if Ash is unable to play. McCoy will be a focal point, but so will the supporting cast. Texas’ momentum in the run game came to a halt against TCU as the Longhorns rushed for 38 yards. Texas also surrendered a 57-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, which could be problematic against the Wildcats. Kansas State leads the nation in both kickoff and punt returns.

How will the Oklahoma defense adjust to the TCU changeup?
In the last three weeks, Oklahoma has faced Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State. All are among the top 10 passing offenses in the country. All also are among the top four in the Big 12 in offensive plays per game -- Oklahoma itself is third in that category. TCU offers a changeup. The Horned Frogs’ 72.1 plays per game are the third fewest in the Big 12. TCU was able to rely on its run game against Texas with 217 yards and two touchdowns against the Longhorns. After surrendering 231 points against Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State, perhaps the Sooners defense is ready for a change of pace, but Oklahoma’s two losses have come against teams running fewer than 70 plays per game (Notre Dame and Kansas State).

Will this be the final game for Gary Patterson at TCU?
It’s another offseason with high-profile jobs open and another year of TCU coach Gary Patterson showing up on wish lists. He’s resisted so far with good reason. The TCU job is better than the one he took over with the Horned Frogs proving they can hold their own in the Big 12. Keep in mind Patterson took the job when the Frogs were in Conference USA. He also makes nearly $3.5 million in Fort Worth. But there’s always the question if Patterson would want to try his hand at a different job -- maybe even one in the SEC.

Meet the Big 12’s newest breakout player: Lache Seastrunk
Baylor’s offense didn’t need to be any more dangerous, yet the breakout player for the second half of the season for the Big 12 is Lache Seastrunk. It’s been a long, uncertain journey for Seastrunk: He was one of the nation’s most decorated recruits out of Temple (Texas), but he signed with Oregon. In Eugene, he was more involved with the Willie Lyles controversy than he was in the offense. He transferred back to his home state and was a bit player until the last month. In the last four games, Seastrunk has rushed for 515 yards, four touchdowns and 7.4 yards per carry. In the finale against Oklahoma State, he’ll give Baylor a chance at a seven-win season for the third consecutive year. Baylor has not won seven games or more in three consecutive seasons since 1949-51.

Does Kansas have any chance to save face to end the season?
Kansas has lost 10 in a row for the second consecutive season. To avoid loss No. 11, the Jayhawks will need to defeat West Virginia, which ended its own losing streak last week. If Kansas is going to have a chance, it will have top hope its productive run game matches up favorably with West Virginia’s defense. Behind the play of running backs James Sims and Tony Pierson, Kansas has crossed the 20-point mark in each of the last two games, something that didn’t happen at all in the five previous games. And no matter the Kansas quarterback, Dayne Crist or Michael Cummings, it’s conceivable the West Virginia defense could give up plays in the passing game. The Kansas defense stopping Tavon Austin is another matter, though.

Week 14 Big 12 Predictions:

Week 14 Big 12 Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Oklahoma St. at Baylor Baylor 42-37 Oklahoma St. 41-35 Oklahoma St. 45-38 Oklahoma St. 60-49
Oklahoma at TCU TCU 27-24 Oklahoma 31-20 Oklahoma 34-27 Oklahoma 30-17
Kansas at West Virginia West Virginia 32-28 West Virginia 38-17 West Virginia 48-20 West Virginia 49-21
Texas at Kansas State Kansas State 35-17 Kansas State 38-24 Kansas State 38-27 Kansas State 27-20
Last week 2-2 3-1 3-1 0-4
Overall 53-18 57-15 54-17 53-17

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 13
Post-Week 12 Bowl Projections

Top Heisman Trophy Contenders After Week 13

Teaser:
<p> Much is at stake for Kansas State with a BCS bid and Heisman Trophy still on the line against Texas. Oklahoma remains in the Big 12 title mix.</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 05:07
Path: /nfl/new-orleans-saints-vs-atlanta-falcons-preview-and-prediction
Body:

The New Orleans Saints will get together with the Atlanta Falcons for the second time in less than a month when the two NFC South foes square off at 8:20 p.m. ET on the NFL Network. The Falcons (10-1) will not only be looking to avenge a Week 10 loss to these Saints, their only defeat so far this season, they also could sew up the division crown with a win and a loss by Tampa Bay in Denver on Sunday. Meanwhile the Saints (5-6) saw their three-game winning streak come to an end with a 31-21 home loss to San Francisco last week, and really need a second win over the Falcons to keep their postseason hopes alive.

When the New Orleans Saints have the ball:
New Orleans is eighth in the NFL in total offense (381.9 ypg) and fifth in scoring offense at 28 points per game. The offense begins and ends with quarterback Drew Brees, who leads the league with 31 touchdown passes and is fourth in passing yards (3,333). The Saints are 27th in rushing offense but have had more success recently, including the 148 yards they gained in their Week 10 win over the Falcons. Brees’ favorite targets in the passing game are wide receivers Marques Colston and Lance Moore, along with tight end Jimmy Graham and running back Darren Sproles. Sproles didn’t play in the first game against Atlanta because of a hand injury, but Colston, Moore and Graham combined for 17 catches for 263 yards and three touchdowns. Graham (7-146-2) did the majority of the damage and has caught at least one touchdown in each of his last four games against the Falcons. The Saints also have done a good job of protecting the ball as they have turned it over a total of 14 times, including only three lost fumbles.

Atlanta’s defense is 14th overall (344.9 ypg) and has been more effective, statistically speaking, against the pass compared to stopping the run. The Falcons are 13th in the league against the pass and they held Drew Brees to 298 yards through the air back in Week 10. However, they are 22nd against the run, as evidenced by the 148 yards the Saints’ 27th-ranked rushing offense gained on them the first time they played. That said, the Falcons are coming off of last week’s performance in which they limited Tampa Bay rookie running back Doug Martin to just 50 yards rushing on 21 carries. The Falcons have registered 26 sacks and 19 turnovers this season, including an interception of Brees in their first meeting.

When the Atlanta Falcons have the ball:
Atlanta is sixth in the league in total offense at 385.9 yards per game with the majority of this coming via the pass. The Falcons’ offense, led by Matt Ryan, is second in passing (297.6 ypg), while Ryan himself is second in yards (3,425) and completion percentage (68.5). The Falcons are only 28th in the league in rushing offense, something painfully evident when they gained just 46 yards against the Saints’ rushing defense, which ranks dead last in that category. A big reason why the Falcons have been so productive through the air is they have three pass-catchers who rank among the top 25 in both receptions and yards. Wide receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones, along with tight end Tony Gonzalez have combined for 189 receptions, 2,598 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. Jones was hampered by an ankle injury in the Week 10 loss, and his big-play ability (16.7 ypc, 274 yards after catch) could be a key factor this time around. The Falcons are eighth in scoring at 26.7 points per game and have turned the ball over 16 times, 13 of them being interceptions thrown by Ryan. Seven of these picks have come in the last three games, including one against the Saints in Week 10.

New Orleans has had plenty of issues on defense, as the Saints rank last in the league in total yards (454.8 ypg) and rushing yards (156.5 ypg) allowed. They did hold the Falcons to only 46 yards on the ground the first time around, but Ryan and company still gained 411 yards through the air and scored 27 points, albeit in a loss. The Saints are giving up nearly 300 yards passing per game and haven’t been able to generate or capitalize on turnovers (8 INTs, 8 fumbles) as much this season as in years past. The Saints have 24 quarterback sacks so far, while the Falcons have done a decent job keeping Ryan (21 sacks allowed) upright. The Saints had just one sack and one interception in their Week 10 win over the Falcons.

Key Factor:
Even though Ryan is just 2-6 against the Saints in his career, he is 31-4 overall in the Georgia Dome. Atlanta is no stranger to playing close games, as eight have been decided by seven or fewer points. The Falcons’ only loss among these contests and only defeat so far came courtesy of the Saints, 31-27, on Nov. 11. Not only was this game played in New Orleans, Atlanta’s offense was without Jones, who suffered a leg injury, for a good part of the game. Jones is coming off of a season-high 147 yards last week and the Falcons are much more dangerous when he is on the field with White and Gonzalez. Also look for the Falcons to run the ball more effectively than they did in the first meeting by utilizing both Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers in the backfield. The Falcons’ secondary is pretty banged up, but I think they have enough firepower to protect their home turf and get one step closer to wresting the division crown away from the Saints.

Prediction:
Falcons 34, Saints 28

Teaser:
<p> New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 05:05
Path: /nfl/5-terrible-nfl-teams-most-likely-get-no-1-draft-pick
Body:

A year ago at this time being the worst team in the NFL didn’t seem like such a horrible thing. Waiting for the ultimate loser (and the runner up) were two potential franchise quarterbacks for the ages.

In other words, how could you cry about a terrible season if the net result was a decade or more with Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck?
 
There is not the same excitement over West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith or even USC quarterback Matt Barkley, the two franchise-types sitting at the top of—or near the top of—most projections for the 2013 draft. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t help transform a downtrodden franchise, or that there aren’t other prizes awaiting the top losers in the NFL.
 
So there are reasons for hope for these five terrible NFL teams who are jockeying for that No. 1 position. Here’s a look at their chances to land the top spot, and an extremely early look at who they might take.
 
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (1-10)
They have to be the odds-on favorite, especially since they haven’t topped 20 points in a game since Week 4 and they’ve scored 10 points or fewer in four of their last seven games. Their remaining schedule isn’t that bad (vs. Carolina, at Cleveland, at Oakland, vs. Indianapolis and at Denver in a game that might not mean much to the Broncos). But at this point, the Chiefs look like everyone’s bye week. It’s hard to see how they’ll get more than one win.
 
They are averaging 14.6 points per game and have the NFL’s 29th-ranked passing attack despite a strong rushing game (145.6 yards per game) and the presence of receiver Dwayne Bowe. If that doesn’t signal a strong need for a quarterback, I don’t know what does. So if they get the No. 1 pick, you can lock in Geno Smith or Matt Barkley to replace the much-maligned Matt Cassel in 2013.
 
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS (2-9)
The switch to Chad Henne at quarterback won’t be enough to save the Jags’ season, but it should be enough to drop them farther than they deserve in the NFL draft. Two weeks ago he threw for 354 yards and four touchdowns in a near upset of the mighty Houston Texans, and last week he guided them passed the Tennessee Titans for their first win.
 
Oddly they next play four straight games against AFC East opponents, but the only seemingly unwinnable one is the one at home against the Patriots on Dec. 23. It’s not unreasonable, behind Henne, to see the Jags picking up another two to three wins.
 
That’s too bad, because unless you’re a believer in Blaine Gabbert, it seems clear they need a quarterback like Barkley or Smith. Instead, they might be forced to go defense with a player like Georgia LB/DE Jarvis Jones or something more local, like Florida State DE Bjoern Werner.
 
CLEVELAND BROWNS (3-8)
The Browns have actually shown some spunk this season. They’ve won two of their last four and been in every game this season, including a 41-27 loss to the Giants that wasn’t nearly as lopsided as it looked. Brandon Weeden has been decent at quarterback and running back Trent Richardson looks like a future star.
 
While they are facing an offseason overhaul, including possibly a coaching change, the future looks somewhat bright and it’s hard to imagine them losing enough to get the No. 1 pick. If it wasn’t for the fact that they finish with three teams in contention – the Redskins, Broncos and Steelers – they might even get out of the Top 5.
 
If they’re in it, though, they may get pressure to take Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o. But a dominant pass rusher, like Jones or Werner, would make more sense for a team that has no one with more than three sacks.
 
OAKLAND RAIDERS (3-8)
So much for the Raiders’ latest big breakthrough season. They seem to have at least a short-term quarterback in Carson Palmer, but they can’t run anymore, their offensive line is struggling and they definitely can’t stop anybody on defense. They catch a break with three straight home games coming up, including one each against the Browns and Chiefs, but they still seem headed for a Top 5 pick in yet another draft.
 
Thanks to their schedule they won’t have to make the decision on drafting yet another franchise quarterback. They would be wise, instead, to look to the trenches. They can draft an anchor tackle in Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel or they could draft Utah NT Star Lotulelei to be an anchor in the middle of their defensive line.
 
PHILADELPHIA EAGLES (3-8)
It is intriguing for many, many reasons that the Eagles are sitting within striking distance of one of the top picks in the NFL draft. For one thing, they are not without talent. It’s just that their “Dream Team” never meshed and Michael Vick quickly went from a near-MVP to a turnover machine.
 
Now they are an injury plagued mess that can’t score, can’t hold onto the ball, and are starting to feel like a Dead Team Walking with Andy Reid making cuts (see Jason Babin) before he possibly eventually takes the ultimate cut himself. Add in a remaining schedule that includes the Bengals, Bucs and all three NFC East opponents and it’s possible the Eagles could go from 3-8 to 3-13 pretty fast.
 
If so, a new regime might be making their pick for them in the Top 5, but they’d have to strongly consider Barkley if his shoulder is OK and if he’s there when the Eagles select. The NFC East is loaded with marquee quarterbacks – Eli Manning, Robert Griffin III, Tony Romo – and as of right now Nick Foles doesn’t look like a candidate to ever join that group.
 
Scouts are split on how good Barkley can be, but the Eagles might have to roll the dice and hope he really is a franchise quarterback. They have a lot of needs, but in their division if you don’t have a quarterback, you don’t have a chance.
 
—By RALPH VACCHIANO
Teaser:
<p> Sometimes good things happen to bad teams</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 05:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-positional-rankings-week-13
Body:

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any website can give you.

2012 NFL Week 13 Fantasy Football Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 13 Waiver Wire

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

DEFENSIVE SCORING
0 points allowed = 12 points
1-6 points allowed = 10 points
7-13 points allowed = 8 pts
14-20 points allowed = 6 points
21-27 points allowed = 2 pts
28+ points allowed = 0 points
Safeties = 2 points
Fumbles recovered = 2 points
Interceptions = 2 points
Sacks = 1 point
Defensive/Special Teams TDs = 6 points

KICKER SCORING
PATs = 1 point
39 yards and under = 3 points
40-49 yards = 4 points
50-59 yards = 5 points
60+ yards = 6 points

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings: Week 13</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 04:59
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-quarterback-rankings-week-13
Body:

Each week during the NFL season, we will rank enough players at each position to appease everyone from those in 8-team leagues to 16-team leagues, those that can start two QBs, two TEs, three RBs and four WRs. We cut out the rest, because if you're looking at who the 50th-best running back or the 17th-best kicker is for that week, you need more help than any Web site can give you.

2012 NFL Week 13 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Aaron Rodgers GB vs. MIN Has 19:3 TD:INT ratio in 9 games vs. Vikings.
2 Tom Brady NE at MIA Has 8 TDs, only 1 INT in last 4 games vs. Dolphins.
3 Peyton Manning DEN vs. TB Has thrown 13 TDs, 1 INT in 5 home games.
4 Drew Brees NO at ATL (Thurs.) Put up 298-3-1 in Week 10 win vs. Falcons.
5 Robert Griffin III WAS vs. NYG (Mon.) Has four TD passes in two straight games.
6 Matt Ryan ATL vs. NO (Thurs.) Season-high 411 yds. in Week 10 vs. Saints.
7 Matthew Stafford DET vs. IND Season-high 61 att., 441 yds. last week vs. Texans.
8 Cam Newton CAR at KC Can Superman do it two weeks in a row?
9 Tony Romo DAL vs. PHI Eagles: 13 TD passes allowed, 0 INTs over last 5.
10 Eli Manning NYG at WAS (Mon.) Three TDs vs. Packers, first since Week 7.
11 Andrew Luck IND at DET Has at least one INT in each of last three games.
12 Colin Kaepernick SF at STL Harbaugh sticking with "hot hand" vs. Rams.
13 Andy Dalton CIN at SD Has already eclipsed last season's 20 TD passes (23).
14 Matt Schaub HOU at TEN Titans allowing sixth-most fantasy points to QBs.
15 Carson Palmer OAK vs. CLE Season-low 146 yards passing against Bengals.
16 Josh Freeman TB at DEN First game w/o a TD pass last week vs. Falcons.
17 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF vs. JAC Threw 12 TD passes in Weeks 1-4, 6 since.
18 Joe Flacco BAL vs. PIT Posted 164-0-0 in Week 11 win vs. Steelers.
19 Chad Henne JAC at BUF Has thrown for 651 yards, 6 TDs, 1 INT in last 2 G.
20 Philip Rivers SD vs. CIN Bengals: 1 TD pass allowed in past 3 games.
21 Jay Cutler CHI vs. SEA Returned from concussion, put up 188-1-1 in win.
22 Jake Locker TEN vs. HOU Injured shoulder in Week 4 loss to Texans.
23 Ryan Tannehill MIA vs. NE Patriots allowing fifth-most fantasy points to QBs.
24 Sam Bradford STL vs. SF Put up 275-2-0 in Week 10 tie with 49ers.
25 Christian Ponder MIN at GB Has just 5 TD passes in his last 5 games.
26 Russell Wilson SEA at CHI Bears' defense boasts 10:20 TD:INT ratio.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

OFFENSIVE SCORING
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

Additional Week 13 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 13 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings: Week 13</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 04:59

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