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All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-running-back-rankings-week-4

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.

Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Arian Foster HOU vs. TEN Titans 29th in rushing defense.
2 Ray Rice BAL vs. CLE (Thurs.)  
3 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC vs. CIN MJD already back in top 5 among RBs.
4 LeSean McCoy PHI vs. NYG Hoping to back up trash talk against G-Men.
5 Marshawn Lynch SEA at STL Beast mode could be in full effect vs. Rams.
6 Adrian Peterson MIN at DET  
7 Jamaal Charles KC vs. SD Back in charge after 233-yard effort.
8 Darren McFadden OAK at DEN  
9 Ryan Mathews SD at KC Should see even more touches against Chiefs.
10 Frank Gore SF at NYJ Jets allowing 150 yards rushing per game.
11 Doug Martin TB vs. WAS  
12 BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN at JAC BJGE should have success vs. Jags.
13 DeMarco Murray DAL vs. CHI (Mon.) Bears will be tough test.
14 Trent Richardson CLE at BAL (Thurs.) Rookie could be in for long night.
15 Michael Bush CHI at DAL (Mon.) Forte's status for this week uknown.
16 Stevan Ridley NE at BUF Hope Week 3 (13 att) is exception, not rule.
17 Reggie Bush MIA at ARI Knee checked out OK, but watch status closely.
18 Michael Turner ATL vs. CAR  
19 Darren Sproles NO at GB  
20 Cedric Benson GB vs. NO Saints giving up most fantasy points to RBs.
21 Alfred Morris WAS at TB Looks to be entrenched as No. 1 back.
22 Mikel Leshoure DET vs. MIN Can he top 100-yard debut?
23 Steven Jackson STL vs. SEA  
24 Andre Brown NYG at PHI No longer the starter, but has earned a role.
25 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG at PHI Named the starter, but will share with Brown.
26 Chris Johnson TEN vs. HOU Texans not what struggling CJ needs.
27 Ryan Williams ARI vs. MIA Now the starter with Beanie Wells on IR.
28 Tashard Choice BUF vs. NE Less appealing if injured Bills return.
29 Jonathan Stewart CAR at ATL Hoping toe/ankle issues are over with.
30 DeAngelo Williams CAR at ATL  
31 Ben Tate HOU vs. TEN Solid flex option vs. Titans.
32 Shonn Greene NYJ vs. SF Powell breathing down his neck.
33 Willis McGahee DEN vs. OAK Rib injury could limit/sideline him.
34 Daniel Thomas MIA at ARI If Reggie sits, Thomas gets the start.
35 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL vs. CAR  
36 Pierre Thomas NO at GB  
37 Mark Ingram NO at GB  
38 Fred Jackson BUF vs. NE Even if he plays, expect limited impact.
39 Lance Ball DEN vs. OAK Should start if McGahee doesn't play.
40 Bilal Powell NYJ vs. SF Time to shine with Greene struggling.
41 Shaun Draughn KC vs. SD Peyton Hillis (ankle) questionable.
42 Danny Woodhead NE at BUF  
43 Daryl Richardson STL vs. SEA  
44 Lamar Miller MIA at ARI  
45 Kendall Hunter SF at NYJ  
46 Toby Gerhart MIN at DET  
47 Jackie Battle SD at KC Chargers' goal-line back?
48 Kevin Smith DET vs. MIN  

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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 4 Positional Rankings

Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Week 4 Start or Sit

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings: Week 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:15
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-4

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.

Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

Rk Player OPPONENT Notes
1 Houston Texans vs. TEN  
2 Seattle Seahawks at STL Had 8 sacks on MNF, Rams have allowed second-most (12).
3 Baltimore Ravens vs. CLE (Thurs.) Short turnaround, but facing rookie QB/RB in their house.
4 Arizona Cardinals vs. MIA Cards 2nd in points allowed at 13.3 per game.
5 San Francisco 49ers at NYJ Don't look for Jets to get Ground N Pound going this week.
6 Chicago Bears at DAL (Mon.) Ranked 6th in both rushing and passing yards allowed.
7 Dallas Cowboys vs. CHI (Mon.) Giving up league-low 250 yards per game.
8 Green Bay Packers vs. NO Winless Saints get Pack at worst time possible.
9 Atlanta Falcons vs. CAR Dirty Birds hoping to continue Cam's frustrations.
10 Philadelphia Eagles vs. NYG Eagles' secondary looks to slow down G-Men's aerial attack.
11 New York Jets vs. SF  
12 New York Giants at PHI Giants planning to force more mistakes from Vick, Eagles.
13 Denver Broncos vs. OAK  
14 New England Patriots at BUF  
15 Miami Dolphins at ARI  
16 Detroit Lions vs. MIN

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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


Additional Week 4 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends

Week 4 Start or Sit

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:14
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-kicker-rankings-week-4

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.

Indianapolis and Pittsburgh are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 4 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 David Akers SF at NYJ
2 Justin Tucker BAL vs. CLE (Thurs.)
3 Mason Crosby GB vs. NO
4 Stephen Gostkowski NE at BUF
5 Matt Bryant ATL vs. CAR
6 Jason Hanson DET vs. MIN
7 Sebastian Janikowski OAK at DEN
8 Nate Kaeding SD at KC
9 Garrett Hartley NO at GB
10 Blair Walsh MIN at DET
11 Shayne Graham HOU vs. TEN
12 Matt Prater DEN vs. OAK
13 Greg Zuerlein STL vs. SEA
14 Lawrence Tynes NYG at PHI
15 Robbie Gould CHI at DAL (Mon.)
16 Dan Bailey DAL vs. CHI (Mon.)

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 4 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Week 4 Start or Sit

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings: Week 4</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:09
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-5-upset-predictions

College football's Week 5 schedule is relatively quiet in terms of top 25 matchups. Although there are few marquee games to watch this Saturday, it's weekends like this one that can spring a few upsets. Athlon's panel of editors is back, along with a guest contributor to give you the top upset predictions for Week 5. 

College Football's Week 5 Upset Picks

Dave Bartoo (@CFBMatrix),, Missouri (+3) over Central Florida
This was the pick in my pre-season selections in March and there is no reason to change it (not that I ever do).  I about fell out of my chair when I saw Mizzou getting +3 to open the week.  In the last 6 years, the Tiger, when the Matrix picks them to win in on the road have just 2 losses.  Conversely, UCF under O’Leary is an underachieving train wreck.  Everything I see points to Mizzou.  They have a coaching advantage and a huge talent gap advantage.  Don’t let the last 2 weeks set a Gambler Fallacy into your mind.  Missouri was supposed to lose those two games against elite teams.  In essence, those are two losses they cashed in exchange for the SEC payday.  While I prefer the home dog, the Tigers roll into UCF and roll over the Knights.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Iowa State (+2.5) over Texas Tech 
So we’re really making Iowa State and Paul Rhoads underdogs at home against Texas Tech. OK. If you insist. Texas Tech is second in the nation in total offense and first in total defense. No doubt, the Red Raiders are improved, but they’ve played Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico. Iowa State will be much tougher. The Cyclones’ most impressive win might not even be the 95 victory at Iowa. Maybe it’s 38-23 over Tulsa, which is a much closer gauge of what Iowa State will see against Texas Tech. In that game, Iowa State held Tulsa quarterback to 23-of-49 passing with two interceptions. Seth Doege is a veteran quarterback with better receivers, but I’ll put my trust in the Iowa State defense.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Ohio State (+3) at Michigan State
These two teams are very well coached, are very physical along the line of scrimmage and have arguably the top two defenses ni the Big Ten. But the Buckeyes have one major advantage and you can bet Urban Meyer will take advantage of it. Braxton Miller will be the best player on the field and when the play breaks down, he has been brilliant. Meanwhile, Andrew Maxwell has yet to prove he can win a game with his arm. Expect Meyer to stack the box against Le'Veon Bell in an effort to force Maxwell into key third-down situations. Give me the Bucks to win a close one on the road.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): NC State (+3) at Miami
Is it time to buy into Miami? Only time will tell but last week’s win over Georgia Tech was impressive. The Hurricanes’ defense struggled to get stops, but the offense scored a season-high 42 points and recorded 609 yards. NC State has flown under the radar since losing to Tennessee in the season opener. The Wolfpack have picked up wins over Connecticut, South Alabama and Citadel the last three weeks, and cornerback David Amerson seems to have his confidence back after a disappointing performance in the opener. Although the Hurricanes have scored 38 or more points three times this season, the Wolfpack will present a tougher challenge on defense, especially in the trenches where they are averaging 3 sacks per game. Miami’s secondary has yet to face a quarterback of Mike Glennon’s caliber, which should test a unit that is allowing 226.3 yards per game. Expect a close matchup, but NC State’s edge on defense should be the difference.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): Rice (+5) over Houston
Houston has arguably been the most disappointing team in the nation. Yes, record-setting quarterback Case Keenum is gone, but the Cougars welcomed back 12 starters (including seven on defense) from a team that won 13 games last season. But the 2012 season, under the direction of first-year coach Tony Levine, has been a disaster. Houston has lost all three games, most notably a 30–13 decision at home in Week 1 to FBS upstart Texas State. Rice, meanwhile, has played relatively well. The Owls are 1–4 with a win at Kansas and losses to UCLA, Louisiana Tech and Marshall (in double-overtime). As expected, Rice has been horrible on defense, but the offense has been solid; the Owls have scored at least 24 points in all four games and are averaging over 220 yards rushing and passing. Houston has the more talented roster, but Rice might be the better team. Rice 41, Houston 37

Mark Ross: Rice (+5) over Houston
This Conference USA battle of in-state rivals features two of the worst defenses in the nation, statistically anyways, so expect lots of offense. Rice is second-to-last among the 120 FBS teams in total defense (546.8 ypg), while Houston is just one spot ahead of them at No. 118 (536.3 ypg). The Owls are dead last in scoring defense with the Cougars coming in at No. 117, as both teams are giving up more than 40 points per game. The difference here is with the offenses, which is surprising since Houston has more of a reputation on that side of the ball. Make no mistake, however, this is not the same Cougars' offense that we've seen in recent years, as they and the Owls are basically even when it comes to total offense numbers. The Owls' offense, which is scoring nearly 12 more points per game than the Cougars, is led by dual-threat quarterback Taylor McHargue, who is currently 13th in the nation in total offense (321 ypg). Cougars quarterback David Piland is fourth in the nation in this category, as he's averaging nearly 350 yards passing per game, but the offense has had all sorts of issues with ball security (No. 105 in turnover margin). In the end, Rice's more-balanced offense, led by McHargue, will out-gain and out-score Piland and the Cougars in what figures to be a high-scoring affair. In other words, I wouldn't hesitate to start any Owls or Cougars I have on my fantasy roster and may even have to check to see if any are available to pick up.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): Ohio State (+3) at Michigan State
This will be the Buckeyes first road contest under Urban Meyer, but I believe OSU’s quarterback advantage will be able to overcome the raucous atmosphere in East Lansing. Obviously these are two physical teams built around running the ball and solid defense, so expect a tight, low-scoring affair. The Ohio State defense has had some issues against the pass (104th in the nation) this season, but I do not see Spartans signal caller Andrew Maxwell being able to consistently move the ball through the air. The difference in this one will be Buckeyes dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller, who is electric in the open field and can make big plays at any time. Special teams will also play a critical role in a close game, and I’ll take Ohio State to prevail on the road and go to 5-0 on the season.

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 5 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 5 Preview and Predictions


<p> College Football Week 5 Upset Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:07
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-5-start-or-sit

Many readers have asked if we can expand our weekly rankings.  We could, but what we strive to do is use our Start/Bench and Emergency Starters lists to expand our ranking in a creative way.  What makes theCFFsite unique is that in articles such as the one you are about to read, we will never include the obvious selections.  Simply put, you will rarely see players ranked in our top ten listed on a Start/Bench or Emergency Starters list.  We want to help you make the tough decisions of deciding on a RB#2, WR#3, or FLEX.  You guys, the readers, have helped make pieces like this one and the Emergency Starters list extremely well received.  Your feedback has been tremendously helpful in growing theCFFsite.  Our goal is to be the most interactive college fantasy football resource.  Please, keep the emails and twitter interactions coming.                 


Colby Cameron, QB-Louisiana Tech at Virginia

Cameron leads a Bulldogs attack that is third in the nation in scoring at 54.7 points per game.  In three games this season, the senior quarterback has thrown eleven touchdowns without an interception.

Charles Sims, RB-Houston at Rice

Now that Sims is back and participating at full speed, he should find plenty of running room against a Rice defense giving up over 300 yards rushing per game.

Todd Gurley, RB-Georgia vsTennessee

Gurley may not be getting more than 20 touches per game, but the freshman has topped the century mark three times and has scored in every game.

Mark Weisman, RB-Iowa vs Minnesota

Fellow running back Damon Bullock will most likely miss this week’s game against the Gophers, so expect the bruising sophomore to carry the ball another 20-25 times.

Alex Amidon, WR-Boston College vs Clemson

Amidon has at least six catches and 99 yards receiving in every game this season and should get a lot of opportunities this week, as the Eagles will try to keep pace with the Clemson offense.

Mike Evans, WR-Texas A&M vs Arkansas

We’re expecting the 6-5 freshman to have one of his biggest games of the season against an Arkansas defense giving up over 312 passing yards per game.

Josh Stewart, WR-Oklahoma St vs Texas

After back-to-back nine-catch games, Stewart is starting to become the most consistent receiving threat the Cowboys have.

Michael Edwards, WR-UTEP at East Carolina

Running back Nathan Jeffery received a lot of attention after his big game against Oklahoma to open the season, but receiver Michael Edwards is starting to become a legitimate fantasy factor.  This week, the Miners face an East Carolina defense giving up 312 yards passing per game.


Kain Colter, QB-Northwestern vs Indiana

Colter injured his wrist last game, but is expected to start this week against Indiana.  However, he has not thrown a touchdown pass since the first week of the season and the Wildcats’ offense goes through running back Venric Mark.

Taylor Martinez, QB-Nebraska vs Wisconsin

Even though Martinez has thrown for nine touchdowns and has improved his accuracy as a passer, we expect the Huskers to give Wisconsin a heavy dose of Rex Burkhead and Ameer Abdullah.

Knile Davis, RB-Arkansas at Texas A&M

Davis’ best rushing performance this season was in Week One when he ran for 70 yards against Jacksonville State.  This week, Davis and the Razorbacks hit the road to face the nation’s 18th ranked rushing defense.

Jordan Hall, RB-Ohio St at Michigan St

We expect Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller to do most of his damage outside of the pocket, but the Spartans’ 11th ranked rushing defense should keep Hall bottled up between the tackles.

Cameron Marshall, RB-Arizona St at Cal

If Marshall wasn’t scoring touchdowns, he’d be dropped in almost every league format.  Expect freshman running back D.J. Foster to lead the Sun Devils in rushing at the end of the season.

Bishop Sankey, RB-Washington vs Stanford

Sankey had an impressive showing two weeks ago against Portland State when he ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns, but this week he faces the nation’s No. 1 rushing defense.

Michael Holmes, RB-Virginia Tech vs Cincinnati

Holmes has been named the starter for this week’s game against the Bearcats, but Tony Gregory led the Hokies in rushing last weekend and may be on the field more than any other back this Saturday.

Devin Smith, WR-Ohio St at Michigan St

If quarterback Braxton Miller can create some opportunities outside the pocket, Smith could be in line for some big plays.  However, we expect those opportunities to be limited in East Lansing against the nation’s 13th ranked pass defense.

Alex Neutz, WR-Buffalo at Connecticut

Last week, Neutz only caught two passes against Kent State and one reception was a Hail Mary pass that went for a touchdown in the closing seconds of the first half.  This Saturday, the Bulls will be without running back Branden Oliver, which means the nation’s 11th ranked pass defense will zero in on the Bulls’ next-best playmaker. 


by Joe DiSalvo,

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

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 5 Start or Sit</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 03:56
All taxonomy terms: Nebraska Cornhuskers, Big Ten, News
Path: /college-football/tom-osbourne-his-5-greatest-moments-nebraska

When he succeeded Bob Devaney, Tom Osborne didn’t imagine he would spend 25 years as Nebraska’s head coach. He figured the best-case scenario was maybe five years.

“Bob always had a built-in grace factor because he turned the program around,” Osborne has said. “I wasn’t going to have that opportunity because I was more of a caretaker.” 

Osborne was a native son, a Nebraskan who had been a multi-sport athlete at both Hastings (Neb.) High and Hastings College. He hadn’t planned to pursue coaching. Rather, it was going to be a means to an end. After a brief professional football career, he sought a job on Devaney’s first staff at Nebraska while working on a post-graduate degree. Devaney offered room and board, and he accepted.

After earning a doctorate in educational psychology, however, Osborne chose coaching over the classroom, a choice that produced remarkable results. Every one of his teams won at least nine games and played in bowl games. The 25 consecutive bowl trips made by his teams are an NCAA record for a coach; Bear Bryant is second with 24. And Osborne coached the Cornhuskers to three national championships in his final four seasons, compiling a record of 60–3 in his final five seasons, all with 11 or more victories.

His teams won or shared 13 conference titles, and his winning percentage of .836 (255–49–3) was the nation’s best among active coaches before he retired. His percentage ranked fifth all-time in Division I.

Osborne emphasized the journey rather than the destination, and his philosophy was expressed in the title of an autobiographical book he wrote, More Than Winning. He stepped aside after the third national championship — becoming the first coach ever to retire after winning a national title — for health and personal reasons. The field at Memorial Stadium is named in his honor. And he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998, after the Hall’s three-year waiting period was waived.

Five years ago he was named the school's athletic director, and yesterday the 75-year-old Osborne announced he would be retiring on Jan. 1, 2013. 

In recognition of his career at Nebraska, we look back at five great moments that helped define Osborne's legacy.

Osborne Finally Beats OU
Nebraska 17, Oklahoma 14
Nov. 11, 1978

Senior monster back Jim Pillen recovered a Billy Sims fumble at the Nebraska 3-yard line with 3:27 remaining to preserve Osborne’s first victory against Oklahoma. The Sooners, undefeated, untied and ranked No. 1, fumbled nine times, losing six. Sims, the Heisman Trophy winner that season, lost two of the fumbles in the fourth quarter, as top-ranked Oklahoma tried in vain to overcome a 24-yard Billy Todd field goal with 11:51 remaining. Sims, who had rushed for 200 or more yards in three consecutive games, scored both of the Sooner touchdowns, on runs of 44 and 30 yards. Nebraska countered with touchdown runs by Rick Berns and I.M. Hipp, in the second and third quarters. The victory put the Cornhuskers in position to play Penn State in the Orange Bowl for the national championship. But a week later, Missouri upset Nebraska, also in Lincoln, leading to an Orange Bowl rematch with Oklahoma.

No Guts, No Glory
Miami 31, Nebraska 30
Jan. 2, 1984

Osborne almost certainly could have had his first national championship had he been willing to settle for a tie. That was the consensus, anyway. The Cornhuskers, ranked No. 1 throughout the season, would have remained undefeated with a Scott Livingston extra-point kick. But Osborne opted for a 2-point conversion attempt that would have meant victory. Miami’s Ken Calhoun deflected Turner Gill’s pass enough that it glanced off I-back Jeff Smith incomplete. Nebraska rallied from a 31–17 fourth-quarter deficit, with Smith, who was playing for an injured Mike Rozier, scoring two touchdowns in the final 6:55, the second with 48 seconds remaining. Miami had built a 17–0 first-quarter lead, but the Cornhuskers battled back to tie less than two minutes into the second half. Their first touchdown came when guard Dean Steinkuhler picked up an intentional fumble and ran 19 yards. Nebraska didn’t leave the Orange Bowl with a national title, but Osborne and his team left with national respect for playing to win. Said Miami coach Howard Schnellenberger: “This was a championship game, and (Osborne) went after it like a champion.”

Osborne Gets His National Title
Nebraska 24, Miami 17
Jan. 1, 1995

At halftime of the Orange Bowl game, Osborne reminded the Cornhuskers that if they kept “hammering” away, Miami’s defense would wear down. And so it did, though there were some anxious moments among Nebraska fans when the Hurricanes increased their lead to 17–7 less than two minutes into the second half. They wouldn’t score again, however. The Cornhuskers got two of the points back quickly, when rush end Dwayne Harris tackled Miami quarterback Frank Costa for a safety. But the offensive persistence didn’t begin to pay off until midway through the fourth quarter, when fullback Cory Schlesinger scored two touchdowns in a span of 4 minutes and 52 seconds to give Osborne his first national championship. Tommie Frazier, who had been sidelined by blood clots throughout Big Eight play, returned to start at quarterback. But Brook Berringer got Nebraska on the scoreboard with 19-yard pass to tight end Mark Gilman in the second quarter, after Miami had jumped out to a 10–0 lead on their home field.

Frazier Frustrates Florida
Nebraska 62, Florida 24
Jan. 2, 1996

The play didn’t appear all that special at first. On second-and-5 from his own 25-yard line late in the third quarter of the Fiesta Bowl game against No. 2-ranked Florida, quarterback Tommie Frazier faked a handoff to fullback Brian Schuster and for a split-second appeared to consider a pitch to I-back Clinton Childs. He kept the ball, however, and ran 75 yards for the touchdown that defined his Cornhusker career. He broke seven or eight tackles during the first 20 yards, after which he was untouched by a Gator defender. “They kept contacting me, but I kept my legs going,” Frazier explained following the 62–24 victory that gave Nebraska a second consecutive national championship and established the 1995 Huskers as perhaps the greatest team in college football history.

Missouri Miracle
Nebraska 45, Missouri 38 (OT)
Nov. 8, 1997

Everyone remembers the final play in regulation, Matt Davison’s touchdown catch of a ball thrown by Scott Frost that deflected off the foot of Shevin Wiggins. But what preceded the catch at Missouri’s Faurot Field was dramatic as well. With 1:02 remaining, Nebraska took over at its own 33-yard line. Nine plays later, without benefit of timeouts, Frost had directed the Cornhuskers to the Missouri 12-yard line. Only seven seconds remained. The tying touchdown came on third down.
Nebraska lost the coin toss and had the ball first in overtime, scoring in three plays, the third a 12-yard run by Frost for his fourth touchdown. He finished with a career-high 141 rushing yards, and I-back Ahman Green rushed for 189 as the Cornhuskers rolled up 528 total yards. Missouri gained 386 yards, with quarterback Corby Jones accounting for 293 passing and rushing. The Tigers went ahead 38–31 with 4:39 remaining.
Spurred by the Missouri Miracle, the Huskers sent Osborne out with a share of a third national title, completing an unbeaten season with a 42-17 Orange Bowl win over Tennessee.

<p> Tom Osborne: His 5 Greatest Moments at Nebraska</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 18:02
Path: /nfl/2012-nfl-picks-every-game-week-4

NFL Week 4 previews and predictions for every game on the schedule:

Browns (0-3) at Ravens (2-1)
The expansion Courtney Browns take on the original Jim Browns in the Art Modell Bowl on Thursday night. This one could get ugly.
Ravens by 11

Patriots (1-2) at Bills (2-1)
Tom Brady has an 18–2 record against the Bills. But one of those losses came last season — in a 34–31 Week 3 defeat on the road in Buffalo.
Patriots by 8

49ers (2-1) at Jets (2-1)
Rather than flying back to the Bay, the Niners will spend the week in Ohio before going to Jersey.
49ers by 4

Seahawks (2-1) at Rams (1-2)
Seattle’s “Beast Mode” back Marshawn Lynch rushed for a combined 203 yards and two TDs in two wins over St. Louis last season.
Seahawks by 1

Panthers (1-2) at Falcons (3-0)
Cam Newton returns to his hometown of Atlanta, where he will look to earn his first win over the Falcons — after losing 31–17 on the road in Week 6 and 31–23 in Week 14 last season.
Falcons by 8

Vikings (2-1) at Lions (1-2)
All eyes will be on oft-injured franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was replaced by Shaun Hill late in last week’s loss at Tennessee.
Lions by 6

Chargers (2-1) at Chiefs (1-2)
Philip Rivers needs 27 passing yards to become the 63rd quarterback in NFL history to throw for 25,000 career yards.
Chargers by 3

Titans (1-2) at Texans (3-0)
The Titans became the first team in history to score five TDs of longer than 60 yards during their wild overtime win against the Lions.
Texans by 10

Bengals (2-1) at Jaguars (1-2)
Andy Dalton and Blaine Gabbert duel in a battle of second-year signal-callers.
Bengals by 4

Raiders (1-2) at Broncos (2-1)
Denver will be without linebacker Joe Mays, who was suspended one game and fined $50,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on Matt Schaub.
Broncos by 4

Dolphins (1-2) at Cardinals (3-0)
Arizona has allowed just two TDs and leads the NFL with 13.3 points against per game.
Cardinals by 6

Redskins (1-2) at Buccaneers (1-2)
The “Victory Formation” has been banned in Tampa but “Griffining” is legal — for now.
Buccaneers by 1

Saints (0-3) at Packers (2-1)
Two of the last three Super Bowl champions are also arguably the two most emotionally drained teams in the NFL heading into Week 4 — with New Orleans still winless and Green Bay fresh off one of the most painful losses in history.
Packers by 7

Giants (2-1) at Eagles (2-1)
Michael Vick is under the heat lamp just in time for a Sunday night fight against the defending Super Bowl champs and NFC East rival Giants.
Giants by 2

Bears (2-1) at Cowboys (2-1)
Two of the most popular teams in America — led by two of the least popular QBs in the NFL — clash at Jerry’s House on Monday night.
Bears by 1

<p> Previews and predictions for every game on the schedule, including Philadelphia Eagles at New York Giants.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 15:05
All taxonomy terms: NFL, NBA, MLB, Overtime
Path: /nfl/30-greatest-athletes-movies-0

While most athletes are content to enjoy the limelight on the field of competitive sports, many have tried to bask in the bright lights of Hollywood. Here are 30 athletes who made their mark in the movies; some as classic characters in blockbusters and others in forgettable box office disasters.

1. Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Terminator (1984)
The four-time Mr. Universe and International Powerlifting Champion from Austria went on to become the greatest action hero of his — or any — generation. Schwarzenegger’s signature role was the Terminator sent back in time to assassinate Sarah Connor, the mother of unborn revolutionary leader John Connor. Although he speaks only 18 lines in the James Cameron classic, Arnold utters his most memorable quote — “I’ll be back.”
Other notable films: Conan the Barbarian (1982), Predator (1987), Total Recall (1990), Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), True Lies (1994)

2. Johnny Weissmuller, Tarzan the Ape Man (1932)
A five-time gold medalist swimmer and bronze medalist water polo player, Weissmuller starred in 12 Tarzan films from 1932-48. Although he was the sixth actor to portray the Edgar Rice Burrough character, Weissmuller added arguably the most important element to Tarzan — the ape-man’s ululating yell.

3. Jim Brown, 100 Rifles (1969)
Arguably the greatest running back (and lacrosse player) in history, Brown retired from the NFL during the prime of his career to become a movie star.

“To leave at 29 years old, MVP, having won the championship in ’64 and played for it in ’65,” Brown told Esquire in 2008. “To go into the movies and break the color barrier and be in a sex scene with Raquel Welch. To get to be in The Dirty Dozen with some great actors. To make more money in one year than you damn near made in nine years of football. Everything about it was ingenious.”
Other notable films: The Dirty Dozen (1967), The Running Man (1987), Mars Attacks! (1996), Any Given Sunday (1999)

4. O.J. Simpson, The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991)
The Juice was a Heisman Trophy winner at USC and the only running back in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in only 14 games. But he was also the bumbling klutz Detective Nordberg in The Naked Gun franchise.

Nordberg: “All right, listen up everyone! I want you to calmly file towards the exits. That’s it, that’s it! Nobody runs, just walk. Single file. That’s it. Now if we just stay calm, no one’s gonna be harmed by the huge bomb that’s gonna explode any minute.”

But O.J.’s best acting scene came during his 1994-95 trial for double-homicide — when he was given black gloves and the stage in one of the greatest legal dramas ever.
Other notable films: The Towering Inferno (1974), The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! (1988), The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult (1994)

5. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Airplane! (1980)
From sky hook to fly boy, Kareem was co-pilot Roger Murdock — flying alongside a very Jerry Sandusky pilot played by Peter Graves — in the comedy classic Airplane! He also fought Bruce Lee during his film debut in Game of Death.

Roger Murdock: “Listen Kid! I’ve been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA. I’m out there busting my buns every night. Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes.”
Other notable films: Game of Death (1972), Fletch (1985)

6. Carl Weathers, Rocky (1976)
Before he was iconic heavyweight champion Apollo Creed in the Best Picture Academy Award-winning Rocky, Weathers played football at San Diego State, then four seasons with the NFL’s Oakland Raiders and the CFL’s B.C. Lions.

Apollo Creed: “Southpaw nothing. I’ll drop him in three. Apollo Creed meets the Italian Stallion. Now that sounds like a damn monster movie.”
Other notable films: Rocky II (1979), Rocky III (1982), Rocky IV (1985), Predator (1987), Happy Gilmore (1996)


7. Mike Tyson, The Hangover (2009)
The youngest fighter (20 years, 4 months, 22 days) to unify the heavyweight title belt (WBC, WBA and IBF), Iron Mike was a terror in the ring — going 37–0 before losing to Buster Douglas in Tokyo, in one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

A surreal caricature of a man, Tyson infamously did hard time, bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear, got a face tattoo and speaks with an effeminate voice that contradicts his baddest man alive persona. Already bordering on a fictional existence, Tyson took his act to the big screen, singing Phil Collins’ classic “In the Air Tonight” in the bachelor party flick Hangover.

Tyson: “By the way man, where you get that cop car from?”
Stu Price: “We, uh, stole it from these dumbass cops.”
Tyson: “Nice! High five there! That’s nice!”

Other notable films: Rocky Balboa (2006), The Hangover Part II (2011)


8. Bob Uecker, Major League (1989)
One of Uecker’s 14 career home runs in MLB was off of the legendary lefty Sandy Koufax. But the backup catcher was known more for his play-by-play commentary — both in real life as the five-time Wisconsin Sportscaster of the Year with the Milwaukee Brewers and in film as the hard-drinking Harry Doyle with the Cleveland Indians in the Major League trilogy.

Harry Doyle: “So, here is Rick Vaughn, the one they call the ‘Wild Thing.’ So, he sets and deals. (Vaughn throws a wild pitch) Just a bit outside, he tried for the corner and missed. (Vaughn throws another wild pitch) Ball 4. (Vaughn throws another wild pitch) Ball 8. (Vaughn throws another wild pitch) Low, and he walks the bases loaded on 12 straight pitches. How can these guys lay off pitches that close?”
Other notable films: Major League II (1994), Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco (1996), Major League: Back to the Minors (1998)

9. Alex Karras, Blazing Saddles (1974)

An Outland Award winning defensive tackle at Iowa and a four-time Pro Bowl selection in the NFL, Karras was the perfect fit for the horse-punching Mongo in the Mel Brooks wild Western satire Blazing Saddles.

Mongo: “Mongo only pawn … in game of life.”
Other notable films: Porky’s (1982), Victor Victoria (1982), Against All Odds (1984)

10. Andre the Giant, The Princess Bride (1987)
The 7’4”, 530-pound Frenchman was one of the greatest acts in WWF history before playing the lovable strongman running mate of Inigo Montoya in the rom-com fairy tale The Princess Bride.

Fezzik: “It’s not my fault being the biggest and the strongest. I don’t even exercise.”
Other notable films: Conan the Destroyer (1984), Micki + Maude (1984)

11. Bubba Smith, Police Academy (1984)
“Kill, Bubba, Kill” was chanted by fans at Michigan State before Smith became the No. 1 overall pick of the 1967 NFL Draft. The 6’7” Smith was a two-time Pro Bowl defensive end with the Baltimore Colts and a member of the Super Bowl V champions and Super Bowl III runners-up. But to many, he was Lt. Moses Hightower of the Police Academy series.

Hightower: “I was a florist.”
Mahoney: “A florist?”
Hightower: “Yeah, you know, flowers and shit.”
Other notable films: Police Academy 2-6 (1985-89)

12. Vinnie Jones, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998)

A real deal hooligan, Jones was a footballer who captained the Welsh national team before becoming a typecast movie tough guy.
Other notable films: Snatch (2000), Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000), Swordfish (2001), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)

13. John Matuszak, The Goonies (1985)
“Tooz” was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1973 NFL Draft and a two-time Super Bowl champion (Super Bowls XI and XV) before playing the deformed “Sloth” in The Goonies.
Other notable films: North Dallas Forty (1979), Caveman (1981)

14. Jason Lee, Almost Famous (2000)

The former professional skateboarder has carved his way to becoming one of the top goofy-foot grinders in the acting game, turning a wicked 360 flip into mainstream big (and small) screen success.
Other notable films: Mallrats (1995), Chasing Amy (1997), Vanilla Sky (2001), Alvin and the Chipmunks (2007)


15. Cam Neely, Dumb and Dumber (1994)
“Kick his ass, Sea Bass!” has made its way into the vernacular thanks to the Hockey Hall of Famer who hockey-ed a loogie on Jim Carey’s hamburger in the cult classic.

Sea Bass: “What the hell? Who’s the dead man that hit me with the salt shaker?”
Other notable films: D2: The Mighty Ducks (1994), Me, Myself & Irene (2000), What’s the Worst That Could Happen (2001)

16. Roger Clemens, Kingpin (1996)

Clemens, like Neely, is an athlete-actor in Farrelly Brothers comedies. Another intimidator, Clemens plays the role of Skidmark, who doesn’t like it when he finds Amish bowler Ishmael dancing with his girl.

Ishmael: “Hi Mr. Skidmark.”
Other notable films: Cobb (1994), Anger Management (2003)

17. Ray Allen, He Got Game (1998)
Ray plays Jesus Shuttlesworth — Denzel Washington’s son, based loosely on the life of Stephon Marbury — in the Spike Lee joint He Got Game. The perky perks of college basketball recruiting, as well as its financially and politically charged shady side, are in the spotlight.
Other notable film: Harvard Man (2001)

18. Ray Nitschke, The Longest Yard (1974)
The iconic two-time Super Bowl (I and II) champion Green Bay Packers middle linebacker makes this Burt Reynolds original where the prison inmates play against the guards.
Other notable film: Head (1968)

19. Lawrence Taylor, Any Given Sunday (1999)

Another of the NFL’s all-time great linebackers stretches his acting chops by playing football in a film. Coached by Al Pacino, L.T. is a veteran risking his life to play another Sunday for the Miami Sharks.

Other notable films: The Waterboy (1998), The Comebacks (2007), When in Rome (2010)

20. Mike Ditka, Kicking and Screaming (2005)
One of two men to win Super Bowls as a player, assistant coach and head coach, Ditka may have been able to beat a Hurricane — according to Bill Swerski’s Superfans on Saturday Night Live — but he was no match for Will Ferrell.

21. Wilt Chamberlain, Conan the Destroyer (1984)

After scoring a record 100 points in a single NBA game, Wilt the Stilt teamed up with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Look out, ladies.

22. Jesse Ventura, Predator (1987)

Another Arnold Schwarzenegger castmate, “The Body” was hunting and hunted by a Predator monster in the jungles of Central America. The duo would go on to become governors, with Ventura taking over Minnesota and Arnold becoming the “Governator” of Call-ee-forn-ee-a.
Other notable films: The Running Man (1987), Demolition Man (1993), Batman & Robin (1997)

23. Terry Bradshaw, Failure to Launch (2006)

The four-time Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback plays the husband of Kathy Bates and father of Matthew McConaughey, a 35-year-old still living with his parents. Spoiler alert: Bradshaw bares all.

24. Brett Favre, There's Something About Mary (1998)
Cameron Diaz is a Niners fan, but Brett and Warren are friends.

Favre: “Hi, Mary!”
Mary: “Brett?”
Pat Healy: “What the hell is Brett Favre doing here?”
Favre: “I’m in town to play the Dolphins, you dumb ass.”

25. Dan Marino, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1994)

Ray Finkle blames Marino — “Laces out!” — for losing Super Bowl XVII and ruining his career. The Jim Carey vehicle is funnier than Isotoner commercials, which is saying something.

26. Lance Armstrong, Dodgeball (2004)
After convincing Ben Still to Live Strong, Lance has since taken his ball and gone home.

Armstrong: “I’ve been watching the dodgeball tournament on the Ocho, ESPN 8. I just can’t get enough of it. But, good luck in the tournament. I’m really pulling for you against those jerks from Globo Gym. I think you better hurry up or you’re gonna be late.”
Peter La Fleur: “Uh, actually I decided to quit, Lance.”
Armstrong: “Quit? You know, once I was thinking about quitting when I was diagnosed with brain, lung and testicular cancer, all at the same time. But with the love and support of my friends and family, I got back on the bike and I won the Tour de France five times in a row. But I’m sure you have a good reason to quit. So what are you dying from that’s keeping you from the finals?”

27. Derek Jeter, The Other Guys (2010)
He’s a biracial angel.

28. Gheorghe Muresan, My Giant (1998)
The 7’7” Romanian sensation wasn’t just Billy Crystal’s giant, he was everyone’s giant.

29. Michael Jordan, Space Jam (1996)

Bugs Bunny owes us all an apology. You too, Michael.

30. Shaquille O'Neal, Kazaam (1996)
Shaq would probably spend all three of his wishes to wipe out this boombox genie flop.

<p> These are 30 athletes who also starred in movies, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, O.J. Simpson and Mike Tyson.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 12:53
Path: /nascar/backseat-drivers-fan-council-28

Even with replacement referees, the NFL is drawing large TV audiences. With NASCAR’s title Chase under way, members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council were asked what they’re watching more of — NASCAR or NFL. The answer, from a group of NASCAR fans, might surprise you. That’s just among the questions Fan Council members debated this week.

Which did you watch more of Sunday — NASCAR or NFL?

61.5 percent said NASCAR
16.9 percent said NFL
15.8 percent said both about the same
5.8 percent said neither

What Fan Council members said:
• I dislike football. I only watch NASCAR. My husband used to force me to watch football so I divorced him. ;)

• Usually NASCAR would NEVER get changed to watch football in our house, but the race was so boring on Sunday we wanted to watch some kind of action.

• I actually watched the race more than the NFL game, but since the race was VERY boring again, I'm thinking of recording the race and watching the games next week.

• I don't watch the NFL.

• I watched the NASCAR race. Why? Because no matter how bad a race might be, I stay loyal to the sport and remember that the racing can only get BETTER with time.

• Normally I watch NASCAR, and football during commercial, but if the next few races are like Chicagoland and Loudon, I may just watch all of the football game and monitor the race during commercials and on Twitter.

• Watched more HGTV than the race.

• The easiest choice I make every week is what to watch on Sunday afternoon. NASCAR is king in my house!

• DirecTV offered “The Sunday Ticket” at a reduced price this year, so I bought it and have been watching more football instead of boring races at NHMS.

• I'm a NASCAR fan first and my first choice every Sunday will be the race until the season is over, then I'll start watching football.

After scoring his fifth win of the season Sunday, how many wins will Denny Hamlin finish with this year?

36.3 percent said six wins
30.1 percent said five wins
30.1 percent said seven wins
3.5 percent said eight or more wins

What Fan Council members said:
• I think Denny is done. The team’s inconsistency will kick in, but kudos to Darian Grubb for an excellent season. Darian can certainly thumb his nose at Tony.

• I am shocked that he has won this many. Usually by now he has choked himself into a hole too deep to come out. Who knows!? Maybe this could be the year!

• I think he’s going to get his championship. I think they are building great cars. I think Denny is a good driver. And Darian Grubb has the experience.

• Think he gets Martinsville, Charlotte and Phoenix. Possibly Homestead.

• He'll win at Martinsville. I guarantee it ... but not really. But if he does, I'll say I guaranteed it.

• He's a legitimate threat at all the rest of the tracks except for Dover.

• He's on his way to fulfilling his promise to Joe Gibbs! Like they say, you got to lose a championship before you can win one, so he's ready.

• For some reason my gut doesn't take Denny seriously as a contender this season. I know he's the hot tamale right now, but my gut says Matt Kenseth is going to come back and come back strong. I was surprised Denny won Sunday's race. For some reason he just doesn't strike me as the best driver from the best team of 2012.

Grade Sunday’s Cup race at New Hampshire:

46.9 percent called it Fair
34.1 percent called it Good
15.9 percent called it Poor
3.1 percent called it Great

What Fan Council members said:
• Didn't really like the race much. One person dominating the race combined with three cautions for what seemed to be fake debris didn't please me much. Never have rated any race “Poor” all season, but this one gets the honor.

• I’m putting good, because I was there. And a bad day of racing is better than a good day of work. Or something like that. It was kind of boring watching someone run away with it. In person, there was some passing and some bumping. Thank God they threw some cautions.

• Completely un-entertaining. Why this is a “Chase” race that is supposed to attract viewers away from the NFL is completely beyond my comprehension.

• I did not think the race was boring. I was entertained. NHMS is one of my favorite tracks.

• Denny’s run from the back to the front before the race reached 100 laps was exhilarating. After that, I didn't see a whole lot of excitement.

• From the stands it was awful. First time I have left early. Left at lap 240. Denny dominated. No passing. No close racing. I damn near dozed off in the stands.

• Wow, it was downright painful to watch. The most boring race of this year.

• Just one of those races that, through no fault of its own, is extremely boring. No real challenges to win it, no excitement.

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

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

<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long's Backseat Drivers Fan Council discusses NASCAR vs. NFL, Denny Hamlin's winning ways and the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 11:44
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/2012-nfl-power-rankings-going-week-4

Each week during the season Athlon Sports looks at the best and worst football teams in the NFL. Here's our NFL Power Rankings following Week 3 of the season.

1. Falcons (3-0) Mike Smith now carries 6–0 record on West Coast.

2. Texans (3-0) Defeat Peyton Manning; 3–16 all-time vs. No. 18.

3. Ravens (2-1) Torrey Smith scores two TDs in emotional win.

4. Giants (2-1) No comeback needed for G-Men on Thursday night.

5. 49ers (2-1) Alex Smith’s no-INT streak ends at 249 passes.

6. Cardinals (3-0) One of only three undefeated teams still standing.

7. Patriots (1-2) Bill Belichick outraged, grabs referee leaving field.

8. Packers (1-2) Aaron Rodgers sacked eight times in strange loss.

9. Broncos (1-2) Bloody Matt Schaub but can’t take down Texans.

10. Steelers (1-2) Defense struggling without injured Troy Polamalu.

11. Seahawks (2-1) Hail Mary answered by simultaneous possession.

12. Eagles (2-1) Lose to Philly’s Week 1 starter in 2010, Kevin Kolb.

13. Cowboys (2-1) Commit 13 penalties for 105 lost yards in victory.

14. Bears (2-1) Major Wright pick-six highlights defensive effort.

15. Bengals (2-1) A.J. Green explodes for career-high 183 yards.

16. Chargers (2-1) Held to lowest point total (3) since Nov. 24, 2002.

17. Jets (2-1) Darrelle Revis heads to IR island after ACL injury.

18. Bills (2-1) C.J. Spiller likely out, but Fred Jackson may return.

19. Vikings (2-1) Christian Ponder good as gold in upset of 49ers.

20. Titans (1-2) Revive ìMusic City Miracleî in thriller vs. Lions.

21. Lions (1-2) Shaun Hill leads two TD drives in just 18 seconds.

22. Raiders (1-2) Dennis Allen earns first career win over Steelers.

23. Buccaneers (1-2) Gain only 166 total yards in ugly loss to Cowboys.

24. Panthers (1-2) Cam Newton crushed by Big Blue Wrecking Crew.

25. Redskins (1-2) Defense confused by creative Cincy play-calling.

26. Chiefs (1-2) Ryan Succop hits six FGs, including game-winner.

27. Saints (0-3) Drew Brees goes 0-for-6 in fourth quarter and OT.

28. Dolphins (1-2) No "structural damage" to Reggie Bush’s knee.

29. Rams (1-2) Sam Bradford beat up by physical Bears defense.

30. Jaguars (1-2) Beat Colts on 80-yard TD with 45 seconds to play.

31. Colts (1-2) Heading into bye week with bitter taste of defeat.

32. Browns (0-3) Have lost nine consecutive games since last year.

<p> 2012 NFL Power Rankings Going Into Week 4</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 11:09
All taxonomy terms: Golf
Path: /golf/2012-ryder-cup-medinah-hole-hole

Medinah Country Club is no stranger to big-time golf. It hosted the PGA Championship won by Tiger Woods in 1999 in a final-round duel with Sergio Garcia, and it was the site for U.S. Opens in 1949 (won by Cary Middlecoff), 1975 (Lou Graham) and 1990 (Hale Irwin).

Michael J. Scully, PGA Director of Golf, takes us on a hole by hole tour of Medinah, site of the 2012 Ryder Cup matches. For more on the Cup, visit

No. 1
433 yards, Par 4

In 2012, the first change the players of the 39th Ryder Cup Matches will notice on Course No. 3 at Medinah Country Club will be on the first tee. The addition of a new back tee has lengthened the hole, and hitting a hybrid or 3-wood off the tee will mean a flatter lie in the landing area. The attempt to hit a driver may result in a hanging lie in the fairway. It might be wiser the leave the "big dog" in the bag. The green has a slight pitch, from back-to-front, with a Rees Jones collection area, back-left that needs to be avoided. The toughest hole placement is back-right, with only 18 feet of green behind the front-right bunker. It's an easy opening hole, compared to the rest of the course, and can give a player a false sense of security.

No. 2
192 yards, Par 3

Many players say that the difficulty of Course No. 3 begins on the second tee box. This very challenging par-3 has a forced carry, with no bailout on the left side. A missed shot left leads to a walk of shame to the drop area. The traditional winds from the southwest will blow in and across the face of the players and makes this hole a difficult par-3.

No. 3
412 yards, Par 4

From the tee, the players will see the Rees Jones bunkers down the right side that should be the target to work the ball right-to-left. They will have to try to stay to the right side to avoid the overhanging Medinah trees. Leveling of the fairway took away what used to be a blind second shot, and made this a viable birdie hole. The green slopes from back-to-front and is guarded by bunkers on both sides.

No. 4
463 yards, Par 4

Favor the right side of this pitched fairway, as any balls hit down the left side will likely find the rough. Approach shots to the green always play a club longer because of the severe elevation change from fairway-to-green. The green is slightly sloped from back-to-front, but has a way of disguising one of the fastest putts at Medinah. The key here is to keep the ball below the hole.

No. 5
536 yards, Par 5

The shortest par-5 on the course makes this is the perfect risk/reward par-5. The premium location with a driver is right-center, leaving most players with a 3- or 4-iron to an elevated green. The green isn't easy to hit in two, because it is elevated. However, the hole makes most players want to gamble. We may see a hybrid/hybrid club combination as the two-shot plan, with a putt at eagle that could swing a match!

No. 6
509 yards, Par 4

One of Medinah's truly great par-4's! With the addition of a new back tee, the length requires a driver shaping from left-to-right off the three fairway bunkers. Do not make the mistake of missing the fairway to the right, or you are staring bogey right in the face. Left side of the fairway will still leave most a mid- to long-iron into a sloped and well-bunkered green. This is a hole where the tee shot will definitely dictate the score.

No. 7
617 yards, Par 5

Another Medinah Classic, the seventh is the longest par-5 on the course, as well as the member's No. 1 handicap hole. Rees Jones added another tee box that calls for the ideal tee shot down the left side, which will set up a lay-up shot focused on being 120 yards out. Anything closer brings a left side fairway bunker into play. Do not miss the green or fall into the steep greenside bunkers. The green is elevated and has a several subtle breaks that make it difficult to read and putt.

No. 8
201 yards, Par 3

A couple of major championships ago, this was a blind tee shot. However, the leveling of the fairway has given the players a great view of a heavily guarded green that breaks hard from left to right. The key here is to locate the halfway house, as most putts will break to the building.

No. 9
432 yards, Par 4

A great dogleg left that presents somewhat of a blind shot off the tee, and in today's game will require a 3-wood, or hybrid. Hugging the right side here will leave you an uphill look at a well-bunkered green that breaks fast from right-to-left. Take your par here, and run to the 10th tee.

No. 10
578 yards, Par 5

A thinking man's par-5 that can be reached in two, but demands that both be great shots! The drive should be played toward the right bunkers, shaping from right-to-left. Club choice might include 3-wood to take the bunkers out of play, and then hitting a hybrid or long iron to a conservative lay-up will make the third shot a little easier. The tenth green has the greatest slope from back-to-front as any on the golf course. The dilemma here is whether to be aggressive or conservative.

No. 11
440 yards, Par 4

The eleventh hole has the smallest green on the golf course, and the addition of the Rees Jones fairway bunker has put a premium on driving accuracy and club choice. The play is 3-wood or hybrid that will leave the player with short iron into a small, newly undulated green. The hole looks easy, but it could swing the momentum in a match!

No. 12
476 yards, Par 4

This gem just may be the best par-4 on the property. A generous driving area benefits the player staying to the right side for a better angle to approach the green. A big oak guards the green on the left side that the membership has hit 95,345 times over the years. The second shot should be mid-iron into a green that slopes hard from left-to-right, but doesn't look as severe because of the sharp drop-off on the right side of the green to the pond. Four will go a long way here in any match!

No. 13
245 yards, Par 3

Known over the years as Medinah's signature hole, the green on thirteen is now guarded by three bunkers, and slopes from right-to-left. The club choice will be the challenge as players contend with the winds off Lake Kadijah. Being the longest par-3 on the course, and with the challenge of the wind, this may be where the matches turn on Sunday.

No. 14
609 yards, Par 5

The longer players have the advantage here if they can get the ball to the top of the hill. From there they will have a long iron or fairway metal into a green that is well guarded by bunkers and slopes significantly from back-to-front. It is hard to get the ball close on the third shot because of the slope in the green. The challenge here will be to contend with the overhanging Medinah trees.

No. 15
391 yards, Par 4

This was the most significant change that Rees Jones made during his last update to Course #3. What was the easiest par-4 on the course has been turned into a short and potentially exciting par-4 with water adjoining the landing area and green. This hole could lead to more fireworks during the 39th Ryder Cup. If the tees are moved forward, then for many players, it will be it will be driver, 3-wood or hybrid for the long hitters! The green complex is where the challenge will begin as it is well bunkered in the front and has the Rees Jones collection area back-right. This small shallow green should produce a lot of memorable shots in Ryder Cup history!

No. 16
482 yards, Par 4

The sixteenth hole is where all the fireworks began in '99, with Sergio Garcia's miraculous shot from behind an oak tree on the right side of the fairway. The new Rees Jones tee box has brought driver back in to the hands of many players to leave approximately 200 yards into an elevated green that may require an extra club. Once greenside, there is no bargain dealing with a sloped green from right-to-left that is heavily guarded with bunkers. Par may be the premium here during the matches.

No. 17
193 yards, Par 3

The key here will be the wind off Lake Kadijah, and the nerves of trying to win a match to win the 39th Ryder Cup. Hitting this relatively flat green will be the key with being long or left, making up and down quite difficult.

No. 18
449 yards, Par 4

This finishing hole was no easy bargain during the 2006 PGA Championship. Off the tee, Rees Jones added a group of bunkers to work the ball from right-to-left. On the approach, the green has been raised in the air almost one story high, and is flanked by some steep bunkers. The green, itself, is pitched from back-to-front, with a collection area in the back-right, with up and down to a back-right hole location almost impossible. The 18th could produce a dramatic finish to another storied event at Medinah.

<br />
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/west-virginia-gears-first-big-12-game
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen

West Virginia’s backyard no longer includes rival Pittsburgh, but rather a vast expanse of the Central Time Zone.

When West Virginia plays Baylor as its first Big 12 opponent of the season Saturday, the conference change might be the third- or fourth-most exciting thing happening in Morgantown in 2012.

The Mountaineers’ transition from the Big East to Big 12 coincides with one of the most interesting seasons in school history. This year features a Heisman-contending senior quarterback, the best receiving corps East of Los Angeles, and a coach who runs one of the most dynamic offenses in the country.

“This is kind of our year,” former West Virginia coach Don Nehlen said in a phone interview last week.

Although the move to a stable Big 12 from the crumbling and less nationally competitive Big East adds energy to the program, the conference change also brings its share of questions for West Virginia this season and beyond.

For the time being, the question is Baylor, a 3-0 team that still ranks in the top five in scoring and passing without Heisman-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III.

After defeating Marshall, James Madison and Maryland, West Virginia will face its toughest opponent of the season Saturday. Combined with a top-10 ranking and all the fanfare around the Big 12, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen expects the intensity to be turned up a notch.

“I thought the energy and excitement level of last week (against Maryland) was very average, not only from a player standpoint, but from a coaches standpoint and a from an atmosphere standpoint,” Holgorsen said. “That’s something I expect to be totally different this week.”

Different is a key word in West Virginia’s first season in a new conference, both in what’s different and what is not.

All of West Virginia’s players will see new faces on the other side of the ball. No one was on the roster the last time the Mountaineers faced a Big 12 team in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma. West Virginia hasn’t even played in a stadium belonging to a current Big 12 team since 1982.

On the other hand, West Virginia at least fits in the Big 12 in terms of scheme and coaching staff. West Virginia’s no-huddle, pass-oriented spread offense was one-of-a-kind in the Big East last season, but it’s one of a handful in the Big 12.

That’s not a surprise, though. West Virginia imported its coach from Big 12 country. Holgorsen spent nine seasons in the Big 12 as an assistant at Texas Tech from 2000-07 and offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State in 2010.

Former West Virginia coach Don Nehlen

On Holgorsen’ staff, defensive coordinator Joe DeForest and running backs coach Robert Gillespie were assistants in Stillwater. Offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh was on Mike Leach’s staff at Texas Tech with Holgorsen. And quarterback coach Jake Spavital was a graduate assistant with the Oklahoma State as well.

Altogether, the West Virginia staff has a combined 29 seasons of Big 12 coaching experience in the Big 12 since 2000. That experience shouldn’t be overlooked in a league where the top teams -- Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, for example -- have enjoyed coaching continuity.

“It certainly can’t hurt,” Holgorsen said. “We know (Baylor) very well. There’s a lot of guys on our staff that’s coached against them or coached with them. All that stuff can’t hurt. With that said, they’ll know about the schemes we do on all three sides of the ball.”

Coaching familiarity might ease the transition, but getting used to the road trips will be a different story.

Nehlen, who coached West Virginia when the program joined the Big East in 1991. Road trips to Miami, Nehlen said, were often difficult, not just because of the distance but also the heat and humidity.

In the Big 12, most of the road trips will be longer than the trip from Morgantown to Coral Gables. West Virginia’s closes conference opponent is Iowa State, 870 miles away. Six Big 12 opponent are 1,200 miles away.

Most taxing this season could be back-to-back road trips to Texas on Oct. 6 and Texas Tech on Oct. 13.

“After the game, you get on plane and go all the way back to Morgantown and turn around Friday and go back again,” said Nehlen,
who won 149 games as West Virginia’s coach from 1980-2000. “That has a tendency to wear on you.”

Being this geographically isolated from the rest of the conference could have other drawbacks.

West Virginia’s traditional recruiting footprint has been in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland and more recently Florida. With Pittsburgh off the schedule at least temporarily, West Virginia’s series with Maryland and East Carolina will fill the void of road or neutral site games within the Mountaineers’ recruiting territory.

Moreover, recruiting the rich talent base in Texas may be a tough sell for similar reasons, even with the staff’s Big 12 connections. A recruit’s family from Dallas or Houston, for example, would have quick drives to most of the Big 12 schools other than West Virginia.

WVU vs. the Big 12    
Baylor 0-0 N/A
Iowa State 0-0 N/A
Kansas 1-0 1994
Kansas State 1-1 1931
Oklahoma 2-2 2007*
Oklahoma State 2-1 1987*
TCU 1-0 1984*
Texas 1-0 1956
Texas Tech 1-0 1937*
OVERALL 9-4 *denotes bowl game

“I’d say that’s one of the disadvantages,” Nehlen said. “In the Big East, if you’re recruiting a kid from Ohio or Pennsylvania, we’d play Pitt and Syracuse and Rutgers and Cincinnati and their family could drive to those games.”

Never mind the fans. A quick road trip between former Big East rivals Virginia Tech and West Virginia has been gone for several years. And for the time being, the Backyard Brawl is on hold, too.

“That makes me sad,” Nehlen said. “Of all the things with expansion, that’s the one thing that’s hurt college football. When I grew up, there were a few football games that I couldn’t wait to see. One was Nebraska-Oklahoma, and now that’s gone. West Virginia is 70 miles from Pitt’s campus, our players know their players, vice versa. (The end of the series is) crime in my opinion.”

But as has been demonstrated through conference expansion, the traditional rivalries aren’t at the forefront of the mind’s of decision-makers.

It’s the ability to compete for national championships and big bowl games.

And the lucrative television contracts. If West Virginia fans and families of players can’t drive to a road game, at least there’s little worry the game will be on television or online.

That first Big 12 road trip is still a week away, but for now the crowd in Morgantown will get their first look at the Big 12 -- up close.

“There will be a lot of eyes on us, but we’ve had that situation before,” Holgorsen said. “We have a lot of experienced kids. We’ve got a program that’s used to winning and used to being in the national spotlight, so I don’t think it will take away from any of our preparation.”

By David Fox


<p> West Virginia gears up for first Big 12 game</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 06:21
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-countdown-no-14-north-carolina-preview
Visit the online store for North Carolina and other editions of the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual.

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

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

We continue our countdown with a preview of No. 14 North Caroilna.

Through the course of the offseason, North Carolina had more on its mind than building or rebuilding, national championships and NITs. In the end, coach Roy Williams received some good news when a tumor removed from his right kidney in September was found to be non-cancerous. Further tests need to be done, but the Tar Heels coach may feel a little more at ease.

When Williams receives a clean bill of health, he’ll get back to the task of working with his new-look basketball team. A year after losing four of the top six vote-getters for the All-ACC team, the Tar Heels head into 2012-13 short on proven talent. It’s an unusual — although not unprecedented — scenario for one of the nation’s most consistently successful programs.

Gone are stalwarts Harrison Barnes, John Henson, Kendall Marshall and Tyler Zeller, who were selected in the first 17 picks of the NBA Draft. The Tar Heels faced a similar situation after their 2005 NCAA championship, when they produced four of the first 14 NBA draft picks, and finished the next season ranked in the top 10.

The rebuilding effort after North Carolina’s NCAA title in 2009 didn’t go so well, with the Tar Heels landing in the NIT after losing three first-round selections. That failure is fresh in the minds of guards Dexter Strickland and Leslie McDonald, the lone remaining members of the last North Carolina team to miss the NCAA Tournament.

“I feel like we’re going to be an underdog just a little bit,” Strickland says. “I think we have something to prove.”

The Tar Heels will face the challenge with an inexperienced roster. Only three players on the entire team — Strickland, swingman Reggie Bullock and forward James Michael McAdoo — have started a game at North Carolina. Strickland has 59 of those 80 starts.

“You only get experience by experiencing it,” Williams says. “I’m sure Mark Twain probably said that at one time.”

The Tar Heels must replace their three leading scorers from each of the last two years in Barnes, Henson and Zeller. Much of the burden will fall on McAdoo, who has first-round potential himself. McAdoo blossomed late during his freshman year after a tentative start, showing promise that could make him a consistent double-double threat in 2012-13.

“James Michael really played well the last 10 games of the season,” Williams says. “If you take his number off and do some things to hide who it was and watch him those last 10 games, there’s nobody in the world who would say it’s the same kid.”

McAdoo will get help up front from freshmen Joel James and Brice Johnson. James is a big, bulky post player with physicality, while Johnson has the lean, athletic frame associated with North Carolina’s fast-paced style. The Tar Heels are hoping for development from Desmond Hubert, who is limited offensively but can contribute rebounding and shot blocking.

The Tar Heels have experience on the perimeter, but they face two key questions. Can they adequately replace Marshall, who set an ACC record with 351 assists a year ago, at the point? And can McDonald and Strickland regain their form after ACL surgeries sidelined them last season?

Strickland, a defensive stopper who has served as North Carolina’s starting shooting guard the last two years, will get more time at point guard than in the past. He could open the season as the starter at the point, but the job figures to go to freshman Marcus Paige eventually. Paige is left-handed and wears No. 5 — just like Marshall — but he has more of a scoring mentality than his predecessor.

The Tar Heels are loaded with shooters on the wing, but they need those shot-takers to become shot-makers. Bullock, McDonald and P.J. Hairston love to hoist 3-pointers; as a group, 60 percent of their career field goal attempts have come from 3-point range. Freshman J.P. Tokoto, a superior athlete who is working on adding range to his jumper, also will be in the mix on the wing.

The ACC isn’t as strong at the top — or from top to bottom — as it used to be. So this North Carolina team, even with the talent it lost, can contend for the conference championship. A trip to the Final Four, where no player on the current roster has been before, seems less likely.

But if the Tar Heels get strong play at point guard, improve their outside shooting and avoid the serious injuries that have short-circuited recent seasons, they’ll find themselves in the mix just as the 2005-06 North Carolina team did. If they come up short in those areas, they could produce a result closer to what the 2009-10 team did.

“Everybody is thinking that we won’t be as talented and we won’t be able to accomplish the same goals that we accomplished last season,” Strickland says. “I think that just gives everybody more motivation to do even better.”


Athlon College Basketball Countdown So Far:
20. Florida

19. Notre Dame

18. Memphis
17. Baylor
16. Missouri
15. San Diego State

<p> College Basketball Countdown: No. 14 North Carolina Preview</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 06:18
Path: /college-football/louisville-or-rutgers-which-team-best-big-east

Through the first four weeks of the season, it seems clear Louisville and Rutgers are the top two teams in the Big East. The Cardinals were picked by many to win the league in the preseason, but have opinions changed after watching Rutgers this year?

Louisville or Rutgers: Which team is the best in the Big East?

Coach Dick MacPherson, former head coach of the Syracuse Orange, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
Rutgers is a big surprise. They had their coach leave for the NFL and brought in a new coaching staff there this year. They are playing really well and had a big win at Arkansas this past weekend. This is the best looking Rutgers team in a long time. That being said, I would still pick Louisville to be the team to win the Big East. I have the Cardinals ranked No. 16 in our Legends Poll. I really like Coach Strong and the staff he has put together.  They have a young kid at quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater, who is playing outstanding football for them. They are the most complete football team in the Big East.

Mark Ennis, Manager of Big East Coast Bias (@Mengus22)
It's funny that this has even become a question after a month of the season, but it has, and for good reason. Louisville looked sharp in blowing out rival Kentucky, Missouri State, and in the first half against North Carolina. After that, six quarters of pretty unenthusiastic football (though they keep winning). Rutgers looked thoroughly bored in its opener at Tulane and home against Howard before going on the road to beat South Florida and Arkansas. At this point I still think Louisville is the better team because it has had its fair share of at least halves of football where it looked absolutely dominant. Louisville owned Kentucky from the opening kickoff and the 32-14 score could've been much worse had they not taken Teddy Bridgewater out midway through the third quarter. And yes, the team that nearly blew a 36-7 second half lead is still the team that also ran up a 36-7 halftime lead as well. Rutgers, is closing the gap, but, like some of Louisville's early wins, we still don't know how meaningful Rutgers' wins over USF and Arkansas are considering Arkansas already lost to Louisiana-Monroe and South Florida followed its loss to Rutgers up by losing at Ball State. Rutgers is improving weekly, Louisville is inconsistent, but has shown more of its upside through four games and for that reason is still the best team in the Big East.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
Rutgers had two major questions coming into the season, at least for its on-the-field personnel: quarterback play and its offensive line. After four games, the Scarlet Knights have proven those two positions are no longer glaring weakness. Gary Nova has been a third-down whiz and he’s proven he can win on the road. Sophomore Kaleb Johnson has locked down the left tackle spot, and sophomore Betim Bujari has secured the problematic center spot. That’s led to four 100-yard games for Jawan Jamison and only two sacks allowed in four games. Even without Greg Schiano, the defense remains solid. I’m a little suspicious of Louisville as well. Teddy Bridgewater is the best offensive player in the league, but I’m concerned about the Cardinals’ defense. It’s been un-Charlie Strong like in the last two games. Ranking 91st in pass efficiency defense? Four sacks all season? That’s might be tough to overcome for a Big East title.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
I have been talking up the Scarlet Knights all summer long as the top Big East contender to Louisville. Rutgers had the best defense in the league last year and has shown vast improvement at quarterback and on offense as a whole. A balanced offense offense, stellar group of talented freshman (possibly the best in school history) and an easy early schedule makes the Knights a dangerous team. This squad could easily begin the season 9-0 before a nasty final three games will determine the Big East's BCS bowl bid: at Cincinnati, at Pitt and Louisville at home. It appears the league will crown a champ when the Cardinals visit Piscataway on the final Thursday night of the season. It this is how the league plays out, I will take the Knights to win on November 29 and clinch the program's first BCS bowl appearance.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
The biggest question mark surrounding Rutgers going into this year was how well it would handle the coaching transition from Greg Schiano to Kyle Flood. So far, the results have been positive, as the Scarlet Knights are 4-0 and have solid road victories against South Florida and Arkansas. Considering the upcoming schedule, it’s not crazy to think Rutgers could be 9-0 going into a Nov. 17 road date at Cincinnati. Despite how well the Scarlet Knights have performed, I have to stick with my preseason favorite: Louisville. The Cardinals had a sluggish performance against FIU in Week 4 but have the Big East’s best quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater), and the defense is capable of playing much better than it has performed so far this year. Louisville’s schedule is just as favorable as Rutgers, so it’s not crazy to think both teams could be unbeaten for their Nov. 29 meeting.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
Tough call. Right now, I’d still give the slight edge to Louisville. Rutgers, the only team in the nation with three road wins, is more battle-tested, but that doesn’t mean the Scarlet Knights are the better team. Through the first two-plus games of the season, Louisville looked like a top-10 team. The Cards, at that time, had convincing wins over Kentucky and Missouri State and led North Carolina 36–7 at the half. Since, however, the Cards haven’t been the same team. They almost blew that 29-point halftime lead vs. UNC and struggled to beat a disappointing FIU team this past Saturday night. Teddy Bridgewater, who was nearly flawless through three games, was not as sharp vs. FIU, completing 19-of-36 for 194 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. The Cards need him to be the best quarterback in the Big East. Rutgers was surprisingly offensive in its big win at Arkansas last weekend, with Gary Nova leading the way with nearly 400 yards passing and five touchdowns. If Nova continues to play well, Rutgers will remain in the Big East race all season long. And the Big East race might not be decided until Nov. 29, when Louisville visits Rutgers in the season-finale. We might need to wait until that Thursday night to answer this question.

Mark Ross: 
For now, I'll take Louisville mainly because of the emergence of Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The sophomore signal caller has to be considered the early frontrunner for Big East Offensive Player of the Year as he's entered himself into the Heisman Trophy discussion in some circles. Bridgewater has been efficient (23rd in the nation in passing efficiency) and productive (43rd in total offense) in leading the Cardinals to a 4-0 start and Top 20 national ranking. Both teams have been impressive on defense so far, but I give Louisville the edge over Rutgers on offense because of Bridgewater. The good news is, the Cardinals and Scarlet Knights will get the chance to size one another up on the field. The bad news is that everyone has to wait until the final game of the regular season as that's when Louisville makes the trip to Piscataway, N.J., for a game that could likely decide both the Big East conference race and a BCS bid.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
I’ll stick with preseason favorite Louisville for now, although Rutgers has the more impressive September resume with wins at USF and Arkansas. We knew that Khaseem Greene and the Scarlet Knights would play solid defense, but new coach Kyle Flood has also found an answer at quarterback in Gary Nova. The sophomore signal caller had a stellar 397-yard, five-touchdown performance versus the Razorbacks last week, and his play combined with runner Jawan Jamison (four 100-yard games) has Rutgers fans thinking about a league title. Meanwhile, Louisville is also undefeated but has looked sluggish in doing it. I’ll give the Cards a pass on almost blowing a 36-7 halftime lead against North Carolina, but the close decision at FIU last week was too close for Cardinal comfort. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and a solid backfield tandem should give the UL offense enough punch, but Charlie Strong and staff must repair a talented but inconsistent defense to win the conference. The Cardinals have too much talent on the defensive unit to be giving up so many yards and third-down conversions. I see Louisville getting by Southern Miss this week, and then getting the defense repaired during the bye before league play begins. The good news for the Big East is that it has two ranked schools that could both win double-digit games this season.

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<p> Louisville or Rutgers: Which team is the best in the Big East?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-big-ten-facing-worst-season-bcs-era

The Big Ten has two non-conference games remaining on the schedule: Marshall will visit Purdue this weekend, and Indiana will visit Navy on Oct. 20. Otherwise, Big Ten may breathe a sigh of relief with conference play beginning this weekend.

The non-conference performance by the great Midwestern football league has been nightmarish so far and the case could be made this is the worst edition of Big Ten football during the BCS era.

Here's why:

Big Ten vs. the big boys

The Big Ten went 0-3 against Notre Dame as the Irish steamrolled through conference and divisional contenders Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue by a combined score of 53-26. This includes nine total points allowed to the pair of Big Ten title hopefuls from the state of Michigan. To add insult to injury, the Irish opted out of its rivalry game with Michigan beginning in 2014. It is the end of an era as Notre Dame begins its football agreement with the ACC, with the series with Michigan as an apparent casualty.

Against other BCS automatic-qualifying conferences, the resume is just as bad. The league went 6-9 against AQ programs (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Pac-12, SEC and Notre Dame) with a 1-3 mark against Rose Bowl rival Pac-12. The best win of the bunch is Ohio State’s home victory over 1-3 Cal. And that one went down to the wire.

The Big Ten’s non-conference BCS wins include Temple, Boston College, Vanderbilt and Syracuse twice. Those six AQ wins for the Big Ten have come against teams with a combined record of 6-16.

Additionally, the league lost three home games to the MAC — Ohio over Penn State, Central Michigan over Iowa, Ball State over Indiana — and Illinois got crushed at home by Louisiana Tech.

Yes, the mighty SEC only has four AQ wins in 2012, however, those victories came over Michigan, Washington, Arizona State and NC State. The Big 12 is 5-1 against AQ leagues with wins over Iowa, Miami, Maryland, Virginia and Ole Miss. Even the Big East has marquee AQ wins over Arkansas (Rutgers), Virginia Tech (Pitt), Maryland (UConn), North Carolina and Kentucky (Louisville).

In short, the Big Ten has failed miserably against the nation’s top competition.

Big Ten in the Associated Press rankings

No. 14 Ohio State, No. 20 Michigan State and No. 22 Nebraska are the only ranked Big Ten teams after four weeks of play. If Boise State, which will join the Big East next year, counts as a Big East team, only the ACC’s two (Florida State and Clemson) are worse than the Big Ten’s trio. And the Seminoles are poised to make a run at a national championship with their No. 4 ranking. With Ohio State facing a postseason ban (and thus ineligible for the coaches' poll and BCS rankings), technically only two eligible top 25 teams reside in the Big Ten.

By comparison, the SEC has four of the top six, five of the top 11 and six overall in the AP top 25. The Big 12 claims five of the top 16 and six overall, which does not include defending conference champion Oklahoma State. The Pac-12 has three of the top 13 and four teams overall with UCLA and Arizona falling out of the poll last weekend.

Michigan State’s season-opening 17-13 home win over Boise State is the league’s best win to date — and its only win over an AP top 25 team.

Already eliminated from the national title hunt?

Only four weeks into the season, the Big Ten appears to be eliminated from the national championship race. Ohio State, Minnesota and Northwestern are the only teams left unbeaten as conference contenders Nebraska, Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin have a combined five losses already.

The Buckeyes could finish 12-0 and it wouldn’t matter as far as the BCS is concerned. And with all due respect to great coaching jobs by Pat Fitzgerald and Jerry Kill thus far, the Gophers or Wildcats going undefeated appears to be a long shot. Northwestern at Minnesota on Oct. 13 for a trip to Miami Gardens? Not likely.

Could Nebraska or Michigan State work their ways back into national title contention with unblemished Big Ten conference records? Possibly. But to jump one-loss teams like USC, the loser of Alabama-LSU or any conference champ from the Big 12 appears virtually impossible. The winner of the Louisville-Rutgers season finale may be higher in the polls than a one-loss Big Ten champ. And Notre Dame already has proven it might be the best team in Big Ten country already.

On the Heisman front, Montee Ball and Denard Robinson have been unofficially eliminated from contention as well. Ball lost his first fumble of the season this weekend and has been a shell of his 2011 self. Robinson has two terrible performances in losses to national contenders, including a five-turnover loss to Notre Dame in what was his worst game as a starter last weekend.

The numbers rarely lie

Last year, the Big Ten’s potent rushing attacks featured three of the top-15 ground games nationally. This year, only one Big Ten team (Nebraska) is ranked in the top 23. In 2011, three of the top 19 individual rushers hailed from the Big Ten. In 2012, only one running back, Le’Veon Bell, is ranked in the top 25 in rushing.

Last year, Wisconsin led the league in scoring (No. 6 nationally) and Michigan State was No. 3. Both averaged more than 31 points per game, and the duo matched-up in the Big Ten title game. Both could show up in Indianapolis again this fall, but the game could be a considerably lower scoring game. Both are  ranked outside of the top 100 in scoring. Additionally, Iowa and Penn State are ranked 97th or worse in scoring offense as well.

Nebraska and Indiana are the only two teams ranked in the top 25 nationally in total offense while only the Hoosiers claim a passing attack ranked in the top 45 nationally. Penn State wideout Allen Robinson is the only receiver in the Big Ten ranked in the top 60 nationally in receiving yards per game.

Defensively, six Big Ten teams finished in the top 20 nationally in total defense last season. This year, only three Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 25 (Michigan State, Purdue and Minnesota) with only the Spartans, at No. 6, residing in the top 15 nationally. Last fall, seven of the top 18 pass defenses played football in the Big Ten. This year, only two of the top 20 passing defenses are from the Big Ten.

History isn’t on the Big Ten’s side

The Big Ten won its first four BCS bowl appearances from 1998 to 1999 and then claimed the national championship in 2002. However, since that win, the big bowl games have been a blood bath for the Big Ten.

The league is 7-11 in BCS bowls since the league’s last national title in 2002 with a 1-7 mark in the Rose Bowl and 0-2 record in the BCS National Championship Game. Two of those seven wins have since been vacated — Penn State in 2006 and Ohio State in 2010 — and the Buckeyes are the only Big Ten team with a winning record in BCS bowl games all-time (6-3).

Can the Big Ten work its way back into national relevance with a stellar conference slate? Of course. But with two major powers ineligible to complete for bowl games or conference titles and traditionally strong programs like Wisconsin and Michigan State having major quarterback issues, the Big Ten could be facing its worst year of play since the advent of the BCS.

Bring on the playoff.

- by Braden Gall


<p> College Football: Big Ten Facing Worst Season of BCS Era</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-contenders-post-week-4

Each week, the Athlon editors vote on the most prestigious award in all of college football. A nine-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports voted this week for their top Heisman Trophy candidates. The votes will be tallied and the result will be posted as the Athlon Sports Heisman Watch List every week of the regular season.

Voting: Each first-place vote receives 10 points. A second-place vote receives nine points. So on and so forth with a 10th-place vote receiving one point.

At the quarter pole of the 2012 season, the haves and have-nots are beginning to separate themselves. Last week, 22 different players received Heisman votes from Athlon Sports. Following Week 4, only 18 got votes this time around. Unofficially, Denard Robinson and Montee Ball are out of the running. Quarterbacks Tyler Wilson, Tajh Boyd and Landry Jones likely joined them this weekend as well.

Meanwhile, Collin Klein and EJ Manuel won the two biggest games of the weekend and are leading their respective teams into national contention. Defensive dynamos Jarvis Jones and Manti Te'o are leading two of the nation's best units with big plays and leadership. Electric playmakers Braxton Miller and De'Anthony Thomas are wowing fans at every step.

And Geno Smith continues to torch defenses.

1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia (eight first-place votes)
Season Stats: 
96-118, 1,072 yards, 12 TD, 0 INT, 16 att., 67 yards, TD
Just another day in the life of a Dana Holgorsen quarterback. Smith was 30-of-43 for 338 yards — his fourth straight 300-yard effort — and three touchdowns in the win over Maryland. He has yet to turn the ball over and is No. 2 nationally in total offense (379.7 ypg) and passer efficiency (191.23). Things will start to get interesting this weekend as Big 12 play opens up for the first time in Mountaineer history. Next game: Baylor

  Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. Geno Smith QB W. Virginia 89/90 8 1 - - - 9/9
2. De'Anthony Thomas AP Oregon 64/90 1 2 1 - 3 9/9
3. Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 62/90 - 2 2 2 1 9/9
4. Collin Klein QB Kansas St 51/90 - 2 - 1 2 8/9
5. EJ Manuel QB Florida St 49/90 - - 2 2 1 9/9
6. Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame 29/90 - - 2 - - 6/9
7. Matt Barkley QB USC 26/90 - 1 - 1 1 4/9
8. Stepfan Taylor RB Stanford 22/90 - - - 1 1 6/9
9. Marcus Lattimore RB S. Carolina 21/90 - - 1 - - 4/9
10. Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 15/90 - - - 1 - 5/9
11. Aaron Murray QB Georgia 13/90 - 1 - - - 3/9
12. AJ McCarron QB Alabama 12/90 - - 1 - - 3/9
13. Le'Veon Bell RB Michigan St 11/90 - - - 1 - 2/9
14. Johnathan Franklin RB UCLA 11/90 - - - - - 5/9
15. Marqise Lee WR USC 9/90 - - - - - 4/9
16. Barrett Jones OL Alabama 5/90 - - - - - 2/9
17. Kolton Browning QB UL Monroe 5/90 - - - - - 1/9
18. Tajh Boyd QB Clemson 1/90 - - - - - 1/9

2. De’Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon
Season Stats: 25 att., 276 yards, 4 TD, 13 rec., 165 yards, 3 TD, 8 PR, 131 PR yards
Thomas was given a career-high 12 rushing attempts this weekend to go with a pair of receptions. And for the most part, DAT was kept under wraps with 59 total yards from scrimmage and (gasp!) no trips to paydirt. That said, Thomas still might have made the biggest play of the game. It was 13-0 halfway through the third quarter when his 38-yard punt return into Arizona territory set up the first score of the second half three plays later. His big play signaled the beginning of the end for the Wildcats. Next Game: at Washington State

3. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Season Stats: 
60-98, 754 yards, 7 TD, 2 INT, 67 att., 441 yards, 7 TD
The story is getting awfully familiar. Ohio State struggles in the first half, turns to its star quarterback to carry the team to victory and No. 5 delivers in a big way in the second half to keep the Buckeyes undefeated. Miller, behind clutch passes and gritty runs, scored his sixth and seventh rushing touchdowns while not turning the ball over in the closer-than-expected win against UAB. The OSU quarterback is No. 2 in the Big Ten in rushing (110.3 ypg), No. 2 in total offense (298.8 ypg), and he is leading the league in scoring (11.5 ppg). Next Game: at Michigan State

4. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Season Stats:
 56-80, 758 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT, 63 att., 289 yards, 5 TD
He didn't stuff the stat sheet with gaudy passing or rushing numbers — he finished with 149 yards passing and one overall touchdown — but his team pulled-off the biggest win of the Week 4 slate in Norman, Okla., over the Sooners on Saturday night. Klein didn't turn the ball over and rushed 17 times for 79 yards while his offense executed to perfection in the first home loss to a ranked opponent for Bob Stoops. CK7 is a truly great young person that does things the right way. Now, his team is in the driver's seat for a Big 12 title. Next Game: Bye Week

5. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State
Season Stats: 69-94, 905 yards, 8 TD, 1 INT, 24 att., 188 yards, TD
Manuel's come-from-behind win over Clemson was on par with Kansas State as the biggest win of the weekend and it has dropped the Seminoles signal caller right into the middle of the Heisman race. Manuel posted career highs in passing (380) and rushing yards (102) and led Florida State to 28 straight points as the game moved into the fourth quarter. Overcoming multiple double-digit deficits in the second half? Check. Beating the reigning ACC champs in an Atlantic Division de facto title game? Check. Posting the single best statistical performance of your career in the process? Check. Next Game: at South Florida

6. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Season Stats: 17 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, INT, 3 FF, 2 PBU
The Notre Dame tackler should be the leader for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. The Irish allowed 26 total points and went 3-0 against the B1G on the back of 30 tackles, two INTs and a fumble recovery in those three games by their senior stalwart. Next Game: Bye Week

7. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Season Stats: 88-143, 1,005 yards, 12 TD, 5 INT, 11 att., minus-61 yards
For the second week in a row, it wasn't a vintage performance by Barkley. He threw for 192 yards and two scores in the win over Cal, but also threw two interceptions. So after posting one multi-interception performance in 14 games, the USC quarterback now has had back-to-back such games. Next game: at Utah

8. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
Season Stats: 67 att., 338 yards, 3 TD, 10 rec., 89 yards, TD
Stanford was on bye but Taylor maintains a presence in the top 10 in the continuing afterglow of the Cardinal's huge win over USC. He has another national primetime slot this week in a key Pac-12 North showdown on Thursday night against the Huskies. Next Game: at Washington

9. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Season Stats: 
48 att., 235 yards, 4 TD, 6 rec., 33 yards
The most underrated Heisman contender (third on my ballot) posted 145 yards from scrimmage and two more touchdowns in the easy win over Mizzou. He had 28 touches, including seven receptions, and has scored four times in two SEC East wins. Next game: at Kentucky

10. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
Season Stats: 24 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, INT, 3 FF, 2 PBU
Few players had as big of an impact in last week's games than the junior linebacker from Georgia. After sitting out last weekend against FAU, Jones posted seven total tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss and a sack in the destruction of SEC East rival Vanderbilt. Next Game: Tennessee

11. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Season Stats: 69-104, 1,092 yards, 10 TD, 2 INT, 19 att., 1 yards, 3 TD
Next Game: Tennessee

12. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Season Stats: 
51-81, 819 yards, 10 TD, 0 INT, 15 att., minus-39 yards
Next Game: Ole Miss

13. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State
Season Stats: 117 att., 610 yards, 5 TD, 12 rec., 67 yards
Next Game: Ohio State

14. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
Season Stats: 78 att., 586 yards, 3 TD, 9 rec., 132 yards, TD
Next Game: at Colorado

15. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Season Stats: 29 rec., 391 yards, 3 TD, 6 KR, 200 kickoff return yards, TD
Next Game: at Utah

by Braden Gall


Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 4 Recap

ACC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Pac-12 East Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings 

<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Contenders: Post-Week 4</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 05:59
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/are-late-kickoffs-ruining-college-football

An interesting trend is starting to develop each Saturday during the college football season. The schedule has been stacked with quality late games, while the slate of matchups early in the day is rather ordinary. And this isn't going unnoticed, as college football fans are beginning to complain a little louder each week.

Are Late Kickoffs Ruining College Football?

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
A college football Saturday should overload us. But the experience is at its best with a slow and consistent overload from noon Eastern to midnight or later. The Saturday viewing experience should be more like a Crock Pot than a microwave. That’s not what we got last week. Every nationally important game was crammed into the time slot from 7 p.m. Eastern and 10:30 p.m.: Florida State-Clemson, LSU-Auburn, Kansas State-Oklahoma, and Cal-USC, not to mention the upset watch games of Rutgers-Arkansas and Akron-Tennessee.  We’re not at a breaking point yet -- I believe last week’s late night-heavy schedule was the extreme -- but more weeks like that will damage the sport. Watching college football is at its best when it almost mirrors the first day of the NCAA Tournament. A day that has top games all day from beginning to end, but with enough space to allow a Louisiana-Monroe or other upset bid to take center stage for a few minutes. The networks, especially now that Fox is in the mix, all want a piece of the late-night pie. But if we have more weekends like we did last week, it’s going to hurt the sport as a whole. If all the games kickoff after 7 p.m., why should fans without a rooting interest bother to watch noon and 3:30 kickoffs? At least the SEC generally keeps its top game in the afternoon -- something for the other leagues to consider.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
It is unfortunate that the three biggest games of Week 4 all took place at the same time last weekend. Kansas State, Notre Dame, and Florida State likely stretched the viewing audience rather thin, but that feels more coincidental and unlucky than worrisome long-term trend. Otherwise, call me crazy, but I love having one or two late night Pac-12 showdowns to check out on Saturday night. And in the case of this past weekend, we were, again, more unlucky than anything as Arizona State hammered Utah while Oregon shutout Arizona. My biggest issue with scheduling? November 3 when Alabama-LSU and Oregon-USC will take place at exactly the same time. Boo on you greedy TV executives.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
The late kickoffs have been my biggest complaint about the college football season. It’s ridiculous there are so few games on during the early slots and 20-30 games on at night. Trying to watch Notre Dame-Michigan, Florida State-Clemson, Georgia-Vanderbilt, LSU-Auburn and Kansas State-Oklahoma at one time is simply impossible. I don’t understand the logic behind the scheduling of so many night games, but I hope it changes next year. With every conference having a big television contract, having top-notch primetime games are great exposure. However, I think conferences/teams/television networks are scheduling too many games at night and turning the college football Saturday’s into a four-hour block in the evening. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
I wouldn’t say the abundance of late games is ruining college football, but it sure makes it difficult to watch all of the best games on any given Saturday. I don’t care how many TVs you have set up in your living room or Man Cave, it’s difficult to really pay close attention to more than two games at a time. This past Saturday night, there were simply too many good games on at the same time. It would have been much better had a couple of them — maybe Rutgers at Arkansas and Kansas State at Oklahoma — been played during the 3:30 EST window. I really hope this is something that is addressed next year.

Mark Ross: 
The late kickoffs are certainly ruining the amount of sleep I get on Saturday nights, but I don't think they are ruining college football. Let's face it college football has followed the path that the four major sports have in that the schedule is littered with prime-time match ups. Even more so than any of the professional sports, however, the west coast is full of teams whose home games, when played at night, are really only "late" if you live in the Eastern or Central time zones. That said, although I haven't checked the ratings, my guess is NBC's primetime game between Michigan and Notre Dame this past Saturday, which was played in South Bend, Ind., did fairly well, and it didn't kickoff until 8:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. CT. In the end, the key factor here is the product itself. Just as it is with sporting events like the MLB playoffs, Monday Night Football, the NBA Finals or the Stanley Cup, as long as it's something worth watching, people will tune in, no matter how late it gets started.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
Primetime kickoffs are quite fun for many fans, but the television networks and conferences do need to make an effort to spread quality games throughout the day. I believe last week’s “overloaded with great matchups” night schedule was a little bit of an aberration and not a huge problem. Thankfully for college football, it’s good to have a product where there are “too many good options.” The powerful SEC usually has its best game in the 3:30pm EST slot, and big-brand schools like Notre Dame and Michigan have not traditionally played many night games like they did the last two seasons. As conference TV contracts get larger, there may be a desire to press too many games up against each other on the primetime schedule. However over time, it would be good to see the networks stagger start times a little more so that the best games are not directly competing.

Related College Football Content

Louisville or Rutgers: Which team is the best in the Big East?
College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 4

Post-Week 4 Bowl Projections

Post-Week 4 Heisman Voting

<p> Are Late Kickoffs Ruining College Football?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 05:44
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-using-vegas-odds-determine-best-week-5-plays

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

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

Week 5

Best Fantasy Matchups (Games with the most fantasy potential)

Baylor at West Virginia

Line:  West Virginia – 12.5(O/U-79.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  West Virginia 46-34

Best plays:

Baylor (QB-Nick Florence, WR-Terrence Williams, Tevin Reese, K-Aaron Jones)

West Virginia (QB-Geno Smith, WRs-Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, K-Tyler Bitancurt)

Also consider:

Baylor (RB-Glasco Martin, WR-Lanear Sampson)

West Virginia (RBs-Shawne Alston, Andrew Buie)

theCFFsite projects:  West Virginia 38-28


Houston at Rice

Line:  Houston -5 (O/U-74)

Best plays:

Houston (QB-David Piland, RB-Charles Sims, WRs-Dewayne Peace, Daniel Spencer)

Rice (QB-Taylor McHargue-inj, K-Chris Boswell)

Also consider:

Houston (K-Matt Hogan)

Rice (RB-Turner Petersen, WR-Jordan Taylor)

theCFFsite projects:  Houston 41-30


Fresno St at Tulsa

Line:  Tulsa -5.5(O/U-69.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Tulsa 38-32

Best plays:

Fresno St (QB-Derek Carr, RB-Robbie Rouse, WRs-Davante Adams, Isaiah Burse)

Tulsa (QB-Cody Green, WR-Keyarris Garrett)

Also consider:

Fresno St (K-Quentin Breshears)

Tulsa (RBs-Trey Watts, JaTerian Douglas)

theCFFsite projects:  Fresno St 35-34


Oregon at Washington St

Line:  Oregon -28.5(O/U-70.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oregon 50-21

Best plays:

Washington St (QB-Connor Halliday, WRs-Marquess Wilson, Gabe Marks)

Oregon (QB-Marcus Mariota, RBs-Kenjon Barner, DeAnthony Thomas)

Also consider:

Washington St (WR-Isaiah Myers, K-Andrew Furney)

Oregon (TE-Colt Lyerla)

theCFFsite projects:  Oregon 56-14


Marshall at Purdue

Line:  Purdue -15.5(O/U-64.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Purdue 40-25

Best plays:

Marshall (QB-Rakeem Cato, WRs-Aaron Dobson, Tommy Shuler)

Purdue (QB-Caleb TerBush, RB-Akeem Shavers, RB-Antavian Edison)

Also consider:

Marshall (RB-Kevin Grooms, K-Justin Haig)

Purdue (RB-Akeem Hunt, WR-OJ Ross)

theCFFsite projects:  Marshall 31-28


Texas at Oklahoma St

Line:  Texas -2.5(O/U-66)

Projected score based on point spread:  Texas 34-32

Best plays:

Texas (RB-Malcolm Brown, WR-Mike Davis)

Oklahoma St (QB-JW Walsh, RB-Joseph Randle, WRs-Tracy Moore, Josh Cooper, TE-Blake Jackson, K-Quinn Sharp)

Also consider:

Texas (QB-David Ash, WR-Jaxon Shipley)

Oklahoma St (RB-Jeremy Smith)

theCFFsite projects:  Oklahoma St 24-20


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

Ole Miss at Alabama

Line:  Alabama -31(O/U-54.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Alabama 43-12

Stay away from:

Ole Miss (QB-Bo Wallace, RB-Jeff Scott)

theCFFsite projects:  Alabama 49-14


Boise St at New Mexico

Line:  Boise St -26.5(O/U-51.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Boise St 39-12

Stay away from:

New Mexico (All players)

theCFFsite projects:  Boise St 38-7


Hawaii at BYU

Line:  BYU -27.5(O/U-50.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  BYU 39-11

Stay away from:

Hawaii (QB-Sean Schroeder)

theCFFsite projects:  BYU 31-7


Buffalo at Connecticut

Line:  Connecticut -17.5(O/U-42.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Connecticut 30-12

Stay away from:

Buffalo (RB-Branden Oliver)

theCFFsite projects:  Connecticut 28-7


South Carolina at Kentucky

Line:  South Carolina -21(O/U-47.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  South Carolina 35-13

Stay away from:

Kentucky (WR-La’Rod King)

theCFFsite projects:  South Carolina 30-6


Must Watch Games (The games with the biggest headlines)

Ohio St at Michigan St

Line:  Michigan St -3(O/U-43.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Michigan St 23-20

Outlook:  Even though the Buckeyes are not eligible to win the conference and play in a bowl game, they may be the best team in the Big Ten.  However, Braxton Miller’s game-winning drive will come up as the Spartans’ defense will save the day in East Lansing.

theCFFsite projects:  Michigan St 21-17


Tennessee at Georgia

Line:  Georgia -13.5(O/U-61.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Georgia 38-24

Outlook:  Two teams headed in opposite directions, the Bulldogs will eventually impose their will and pull away late with their ground attack.

theCFFsite projects:  Georgia 34-21


Oregon St at Arizona

Line:  Arizona -3(O/U-56.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Arizona 30-27

Outlook:  The Wildcats are looking to rebound after an abysmal loss in Eugene last week, but the Beavers’ defense looks as if they are in mid-season form.

theCFFsite projects:  Oregon St 31-24


Wisconsin at Nebraska

Line:  Nebraska -13.5(O/U-50.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Nebraska 32-19

Outlook:  Week Five’s slate of games must be weak when we feature two Big Ten games on our ‘Must Watch’ list, but it should be interesting to watch Rex Burkhead and Montee Ball in the same game.

theCFFsite projects:  Nebraska 31-14


theCFFsite in Must Watch games:

2012 Season:  Straight Up (7-4)  ATS: (6-5)

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


By Joe DiSalvo,

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

<p> College Fantasy Football: Using Vegas Odds to Determine Best Week 5 Plays</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 04:49
Path: /nfl/aaron-rodgers-referees-it-was-awful

The NFL’s replacement referees hit a new low on Monday night, as the Seattle Seahawks were awarded a controversial 14–12 victory over the Green Bay Packers — despite a game-deciding final play that had even the on-field officials ruling in a split-decision.

On 4th-and-10 from the Packers’ 24-yard-line with eight seconds left in a 12–7 game, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson threw a Hail Mary into the crowded end zone. From there, all bets were off — or, if Vegas’ numbers are accurate, all wagers were impacted to the tune of $150 million.

Seattle’s Golden Tate pushed off Green Bay’s Sam Shields, leapt into the air and tangled for the ball with Green Bay’s M.D. Jennings — who appeared to have possession on his way to the turf.

“It was pinned to my chest the whole time we were on the pile,” said Jennings. “I feel like I had the ball.”

Meanwhile, the 5'10", 202-pound Tate fought for the ball in the scrum.

“I was just trying to get possession of the ball,” said Tate. “The guy who was fighting me was strong. So I was trying to hold on to it until our guys pulled him off of me.

“I don’t know if they called touchdown, interception or incomplete. I didn’t know what was going on. I couldn’t hear anything. I just tried to keep fighting for the ball.”

One official signaled touchback, indicating that Jennings had possession. The other ref ran in to overrule with the signal of touchdown, giving Tate the game-winning score with no time remaining.

After replay review, the call on the field was confirmed — causing pandemonium at CenturyLink Field in Seattle and sending shockwaves throughout the NFL’s fanbase across the country. There was so much commotion, the NFL issued an official statement in support of the call.

“When the players hit the ground in the end zone, the officials determined that both Tate and Jennings had possession of the ball. Under the rule for simultaneous catch, the ball belongs to Tate, the offensive player. The result of the play was a touchdown. …

“Referee Wayne Elliott determined that no indisputable visual evidence existed to overturn the call on the field, and as a result, the on-field ruling of touchdown stood. The NFL Officiating Department reviewed the video today and supports the decision not to overturn the on-field ruling following the instant replay review.

“The result of the game is final.”

Obviously, the Seahawks agreed.

“From what I understood from the officials, it was a simultaneous catch. Tie goes to the runner. Good call,” said Seattle coach Pete Carroll.

But the stunned Packers could not have disagreed more.

“It was awful,” said Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers. “It was awful. That’s all I’m going to say about it.”

<p> Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers doesn't need to double-check his opinion of the replacement referees or the final call of the Monday Night Football loss against the Seattle Seahawks.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 23:52
Path: /nascar/nascar-horsepower-rankings-15

1. Jimmie Johnson
Johnson, Chad Kanus and the boys have methodically clicked off consecutive second-place finishes to begin the Chase. Next up is Dover, where the 48 dominated in June. Last week: 2

2. Brad Keselowski
Much of the talk since Sunday’s New Hampshire event has centered on Denny Hamlin being Johnson’s biggest threat. Oh, how quickly we forget about Keselowski’s big win in Chicago. Last week: 1

3. Denny Hamlin
Hamlin has certainly earned a spot among the elite on this list. However, mistakes like running out of fuel in Chicago and the tire pressure issue during qualifying in Loudon raise red flags. Last week: 3

4. Clint Bowyer
Hasn’t shown the pop of the preceding three, but neither has anyone else. That said, Bowyer is rolling along with consecutive runs of first, 10th and fourth. Last week: 5

5. Kasey Kahne
Kahne has come out firing in the Chase with a pair of top-5 runs. Unfortunately for the 5 team, it hasn’t shown the speed to keep up with the team housed in the same complex. Last week: 6

6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Junior, who has enjoyed a top-5 ranking in the standings all season, suddenly finds himself stuck in seventh since the Chase reset — and 26 points in the hole to Johnson. Last week: 4

7. Jeff Gordon
Gordon’s last five races: Third, second, second, stuck throttle, third. The problem? That stuck throttle resulted in a 35th-place bomb and has the team wondering what could have been. Last week: 8

8. Tony Stewart
Stewart’s average finish in the four races preceding Richmond: 25.0. Since: 5.6. Funny how since the Chase came into play, he’s abandoned the summer for the fall. Last week: 7

9. Kevin Harvick
Harvick’s finishing position has improved from 12.3 to 9.5 since Gil Martin was brought back as the crew chief. That’s nice, but at this rate it’s not going to win a championship. Last week: 11

10. Matt Kenseth
A noticable drop in performance within the Ford camp finds Kenseth — who spent the majority of the regular season in the top 3 in the standings — reeling near the bottom of the Chase. Last week: 10

11. Martin Truex Jr.
Will have to do better than ninth- and 17th-place runs if he’s to keep the dream alive. Last week: 9

12. Ryan Newman
In hindsight, wrecks at Atlanta and Bristol may be what’s keeping the 39 team from contending. Last week: 13

13. Greg Biffle
See: Kenseth, Matt. Last week: 12

14. Kyle Busch
After leading 48 laps in Loudon the engine went sour. That was almost too easy to predict. Last week: 14

15. Paul Menard
Nothing flashy here, as Menard chugs along averaging a 14.9-place finish throughout the season. Last week: NR

Just off the lead pack: Carl Edwards, Sam Hornish Jr., Joey Logano, Mark Martin, Brian Vickers

by Matt Taliaferro
Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattTaliaferro

<p> Denny Hamlin is riding a wave of momentum in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup, but it's Jimmie Johnson that slips into the top spot in Athlon Sports' weekly Horsepower Rankings.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 19:05
Path: /nascar/earnhardt-jr-looks-pick-chase-performance

Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants to be more forceful with his Hendrick Motorsports team at times but he worries about upsetting his crew.

Earnhardt knows he must do something after two pedestrian finishes in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup have him seventh in the standings, 26 points behind series leader Jimmie Johnson heading into this weekend’s race at Dover.

The time is now for Earnhardt to exert his leadership.

“I'm afraid to come across as a bit of a prick,” Earnhardt said Tuesday about not taking charge as often with his team, particularly when things aren’t going as well. “I don't want to piss somebody off or step on anybody's toes. There's times in the car that I want to step up and go, ‘Hey man, this is really a problem, this is something we really need to fix.’”

Earnhardt used to be more expressive in the car when there was a problem but he often became frustrated and didn’t convey the proper information to help the crew chief fix the car. It’s something car owner Rick Hendrick talked to him about often.

Now that Earnhardt is calmer on the radio, he might need to have a bit more fire in his voice at certain times when he’s talking with crew chief Steve Letarte or wanting to convey a message to his team.

“That is something that me and Steve have yet to learn with each other is when someone needs to pick it up, how do you relay that to that person or if he needs to tell me I need to take something more seriously.

“That's something we have to be careful about. I don't want to piss him off, he doesn't want to piss me off. If I feel like there's something that's really important, that ‘Hey man, this car doesn’t have any forward bite,’ and I really feel that's a problem and we're running out of time and I get really nervous that practice is flying away and I'll miss the opportunity to fix something. And that's something we didn't do a very good job of this past weekend.’’

After finishing eighth at Chicagoland Speedway to open the Chase, Earnhardt placed 13th last weekend at New Hampshire. He was never in contention and had it not been for a two-tire stop late, when many others took four tires, he might not have finished as high.

Earnhardt’s problems last weekend, though, go beyond the race. They go back to practice on Friday. The team typically starts out in race trim for the first part of the opening practice of the weekend and switches over in the final 30 minutes to qualifying trim and makes two qualifying runs.

Because Earnhardt’s car wasn’t fast, the team spent more time in the race setup and when they switched to qualifying setup, they had only enough time to make one mock qualifying run in practice instead of two.

“That whole practice was a cluster and was not a good way of beginning the weekend,” Earnhardt said.

“I felt like we stubbed our toe trying to practice the way we did. That bled into Saturday. That (first practice) sets the tone and when I got out of the car Saturday and after we thought about it and thought about the car and ideas to change, and even after we came up with the plan, I really didn't feel we were in a good position. It was inevitable to me that the car was not going to be where we needed.”

It wasn’t. While a slow pit stop cost Earnhardt positions early in the race, he remained stuck just inside the top 20 for much of the race and never challenged for a top-10 spot.

“It wasn't one particular person's fault to orchestrate this perfect practice session but us as a group we stumbled and tripped all the way through that,” Earnhardt said. “Sometimes that'll happen. It was a bit frustrating.”

Earnhardt knows that even with eight races left in the Chase, he needs much stronger finishes to have a chance at the title.

“It ain't coming to us,” Earnhardt said. “I'm not going to sit here and paint it like it's roses when it's not. I know the situation and understand the reality of our position. We're 26 points behind. But again, (there’s) a lot of racing left. We have to work hard and go into Dover and try to start the weekend with good practices and utilize every minute that they give us to helping ourselves. We've got to try to do a better job there. If we can do that, I can go into Sunday confident we can give ourselves a shot.”

by Dustin Long
Follow Dustin on Twitter:

<p> Dale Earnhardt Jr. tells Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long that improved communication within his Hendrick Motorsports team is important if he is to battle for NASCAR's Sprint Cup championship.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 18:26
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/roger-goodell-time-end-nfls-replacement-referee-debacle

I don’t blame the replacement referees. I don’t blame the angry coaches who are getting fined by the day. I don’t blame the fans. And I don’t blame the actual NFL refs who are holding out for fair market compensation.

I blame Roger Goodell and the owners entirely for an NFL product that is bordering on unwatchable. As the old cliché goes, heavy is the head that wears the crown.

The Ravens-Patriots game Sunday evening should have been a tale of two AFC contenders and their star quarterbacks battling in a playoff atmosphere. It should have been about 900 yards of offense and six lead changes in a game steeped in postseason implications.

It should have been about Torrey Smith.

But instead, the replacement refs stole the spotlight with 24 combined penalties, 218 penalty yards and Bill Belichick’s illegal contact with an official following the loss.

Things only got worse Monday evening in Seattle as 24 more yellow flags for 245 more penalty yards stole the show once again.

Green Bay and Seattle battled in front of a frenzied crowd in a game that could carry heavy NFC playoff importance. And instead of a hard-fought road win for the Packers, Mike McCarthy watched as the refs inexplicably snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

There were many questionable calls that had Jon Gruden ready to jump out of the booth in the fourth quarter. How about a phantom pass interference call on 1st and 25 or a roughing the passer call that overturns a game-clinching turnover? But the game’s final play, a Hail Mary heave to the corner of the end zone, featured not only one but two horrendous calls.

In fact, the enduring image of Referee Lockout Gate will be two officials staring directly at each other standing two yards from the play signaling two totally different outcomes simultaneously. And it cost Green Bay the win.

Don't be angry at the replacement refs. They are simply doing the best they can. They are not prepared or qualified to take on this type of responsibility. They get no respect from coaches or players and have lost control of the game. And, on more than one occasion, I have seen with my own eyes coaches intentionally try to trick a replacement ref into making the wrong call (looking at you Mike Shanahan).

The inmates are running the asylum and enough is enough.

It’s time for Roger Goodell and the NFL owners to step up to the plate and end this nonsense. In a recent Forbes valuation, 20 of the 32 NFL franchises are worth more than $1 billion. The Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams were tied for last in the NFL with $231 million in revenue while the Cowboys led the way with $500 million. The NFL’s current TV contract is a combined $20.4 billion per the deal that run out in 2013.

The NFL isn’t big business, it’s huge business. And clearly, the real NFL refs were not given enough respect for the job they do each and every Sunday. The importance of quality officiating has been dramatically undervalued and its compensation needs to catch up with the rest of football’s wealthy moneymakers.

These NFL fat cats could reach into last night’s suit and use pocket change to close the $50 million gap that supposedly exists at the negotiating table.

What will it take? A severe injury to a marquee player? Another botched call at the end of a game that costs a team a postseason berth? Hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for coaches? Better yet, how about the fans simply just stop watching the garbage product the NFL is putting on the field.

So come on Roger, get it done.

-by Braden Gall


Related NFL Content:

The Most Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 3
Green Bay Packers Robbed by Refs
The 15 Worst Officiating Moments in Sports History

<p> Roger Goodell: Time to end NFL's replacement referee debacle</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 12:42
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL, MLB, Overtime, News
Path: /college-football/15-worst-officiating-moments-sports-history

Monday night's Green Bay-Seattle game featured one of the most controversial endings in sports history. However, the finish of the Packers-Seahawks game isn't the only moment in sports history that featured a questionable call. Here are 15 (and a few extra) moments that officials changed the course of the game.

15 Worst Officiating Moments in Sports History

2012: Green Bay vs. Seattle: Golden Tate’s Hail Mary "Catch"
Replacement officials made plenty of glaring errors through the first three weeks of the 2012 NFL season but none bigger than the one that occurred between the Seattle-Green Bay matchup on Monday night. With the Seahawks trailing 12-7 with seconds remaining, quarterback Russell Wilson heaved a pass to the corner of the endzone, which appeared to be intercepted by Green Bay defensive back M.D. Jennings. However, the officials ruled Seattle receiver Golden Tate wrestled away control and award the catch to the Seahawks. Making matters worse for Green Bay, Tate clearly pushed off on a defensive back, which allowed him to get into position for the catch. 

1972 Russia vs. United States Olympic Basketball Gold Medal Game
The United States Olympic basketball team entered the 1972 Games in Munich having never suffered a loss in the history of the Games, and it looked as if their streak would continue with a 50-49 win over the Soviets in the gold medal game. The officials had other ideas. In perhaps the most controversial sports ending ever, the Soviets got three attempts to score. After two questionable clock resettings, a length-of the floor pass was thrown to Alexander Belov, who made a layup at the buzzer for what remains in the record books a 51-50 win — even if the members of the U.S. team refuse to acknowledge it.

Tuck Rule – Oakland vs. New England in 2001 AFC Divisional Playoffs
It’s not unusual for the rules to be changed, tweaked or adjusted from season to season, depending upon the circumstances. For the most part, the changes go largely unnoticed unless something happens to bring them into the spotlight. That was certainly the case in the 2001 AFC Divisional Playoffs as the entire world was introduced to what would become known simply as the “Tuck Rule.” Playing in a driving snowstorm at home, New England trailed Oakland 13-10 in the fourth quarter with less than two minutes remaining. Still out of field goal range, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady dropped back to pass and dropped the football after being hit. The Raiders recovered and seemingly put an end to the Patriots’ hopes. However, upon further review, referee Walt Coleman reversed the call on the field of a fumble, according to the “Tuck Rule,” which was introduced in 1999. Coleman explained on national TV that Brady had started to throw a forward pass and then lost possession of the ball as he was trying to bring it back, tuck it, into his body. The overturned call made it an incomplete pass and Brady was able to put Adam Vinatieri into position to make a game-tying 45-yard field goal with 27 seconds left on the clock. The Patriots would go on to win in overtime and eventually capture the first of their three Super Bowl titles during the 2000s.


1999 Pittsburgh vs. Detroit: Thanksgiving Day Coin Toss
Normally, the refs’ eyesight is called into question, but on Thanksgiving Day 1999, an official’s hearing was the issue. As the Steelers-Lions game headed into overtime, Luckett conducted the coin toss. Steelers captain Jerome Bettis called “tails,” but somehow Luckett heard “heads,” awarding possession to the Lions, who took advantage and won the game. The blunder caused the league to change its coin toss procedure — too little, too late for the Steelers.


Jim Joyce and Armando Galarraga’s Near-Perfect Game
Detroit starter Armando Galarraga was one out away from a perfect game on June 2, 2010 in Comerica Park against Cleveland when the Indians Jason Donald stepped up to the plate. Donald hit an easy grounder to Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera who flipped the ball to Galaragga covering first, only to watch helplessly as first base umpire Jim Joyce incorrectly ruled Donald safe. Galaragga would retire the next batter for the one-hit shutout, but in the minds of the Tigers team and fans in attendance, the damage had already been done. After the game, Joyce willingly and profusely admitted his mistake and took it upon himself to personally apologize to Galaragga. Both men deserve credit for how each of them handled the situation, as they will be forever linked because of it.

Jerry Meals’ Bad Call at Home Ends 19-inning marathon between Braves and Pirates
No one wants to see any baseball game end on a bad call at home, let alone one that lasted 19 innings, but that’s what happened in Atlanta on July 26, 2011. Actually, the game didn’t officially end until July 27 as the Braves and Pirates started on Tuesday night and played into the early hours of Wednesday morning to settle this one. And in the end, the only reason it ended in the bottom of the 19th was because home plate umpire Jerry Meals egregiously called Julio Lugo safe at home although Pirates catcher Michael McKenry clearly applied the tag before Lugo’s foot crossed the plate. What exactly Meals saw only he can answer, but all you need to do is listen to the contrasting calls by the teams’ respective broadcasts and realize that there’s little doubt he missed this one.


The Fifth Down Game – 1990 – Colorado at Missouri
The Buffaloes claimed a share of the 1990 national championship with Georgia Tech, but the season was overshadowed by a controversial finish against Missouri. Colorado was awarded a fifth down late in the game, which allowed it to score the game-winning touchdown. Quarterback Charles Johnson spiked the ball on first down, while running back Eric Bieniemy was stopped at the one-yard line on second down. On third down, Bieniemy was stopped at the goal-line, which forced Johnson to spike the ball on “fourth down”. However, Johnson’s spike on first down apparently went unnoticed, as the Buffaloes scored on a touchdown run on "fifth down" to seal the victory. The Buffaloes went on to finish the year with an 11-1 record and a 10-9 victory over Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl.

Mike Renfro Ruled out of Bounds in 1979 AFC Championship Game
The Pittsburgh Steelers were the NFL’s team of the 1970s winning four Super Bowls in a span of six seasons (1974-79). The team they defeated to get to the last two during this run was the Houston Oilers. While the Oilers put up little resistance in the 1978 AFC Championship Game, losing 34-5, it’s the one that took place the following season that leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Oilers fans. Leading 17-10 in the third quarter, Houston wide receiver Mike Renfro appeared to put the Oilers in a position to tie the game, when he made an incredible catch in the back corner of the end zone. Television replays confirmed the catch, but the officials, who did not have the benefit of instant replay back then, ruled it an incompletion. The Oilers had to settle for a field goal and the Steelers would go on to a 27-13 victory.


Kent Hrbek’s “Hard Tag” on Ron Gant in 1991 World Series
Who says baseball is not a contact sport? In Game 2 of the 1991 World Series Minnesota first baseman Kent Hrbek and Atlanta outfielder Ron Gant were involved in a play that not only would have made a wreslter proud, but turned out to a be a pivotal play when all was said and done. Trailing by one run in the top of the third, Gant singled to left off of Twins starter Kevin Tapani to seemingly put runners on first and third with two outs and David Justice on deck. The throw from the outfield rolled away from the fielder briefly, however, resulting in Gant taking a fairly wide turn around first. After retrieving the ball, Tapani threw to Hrbek at first in hopes of catching Gant off base. Even though Gant made it safely back to the bag before Hrbek could apply the tag; the burly first baseman lifted Gant off of the first all the while keeping his glove on Gant. Umpire Drew Coble called Gant out, ending the Braves’ threat, and the Twins would go on to win Game 2 by one run, 3-2, and the World Series in seven. Tapani made the out possible by throwing back to first, with Hrbek receiving two points for a textbook takedown.


1998 – Seahawks vs. Jets – Vinny Testaverde’s "touchdown"
Although the Seahawks benefitted from a blown call on Monday night, they were the victim of poor officiating in 1998. In an early December matchup in New York, Seattle lost 32-31 on a phantom touchdown run by Jets quarterback Vinny Testaverde. With no instant reply, the Seahawks were unable to challenge the call, even though it was clear Testaverde never crossed the goal-line.


1986 World Cup: Argentina vs. England
The 1986 World Cup Finals between Argentina and England was one of the most incredible soccer matches in the history of the sport, due in no small part to Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal. Maradona punched the ball with his left hand past the English keeper and into the goal during Argentina’s 2-1 win, and referee Ali Bin Nasser failed to see the infraction. Afterward, Maradona famously commented that his goal came “a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God,” and the phrase entered the sports lexicon. 


Cardinals-Royals: 1985 World Series
The Cardinals were three outs away from winning the 1985 World Series, when umpire Don Denkinger infamously intervened. The Cardinals led the Royals three games to two and took a 1-0 lead into the ninth inning of Game 6. The inning's leadoff batter, Jorge Orta, sent a chopper to first baseman Jack Clark, who tossed the ball to pitcher Todd Worrell at first base, clearly beating Orta by a half-step. Clearly, that is, to everyone but Denkinger, who called Orta safe, leading to a two-run rally. The Royals went on to win Game 7 over the deflated Cards 11-0.


2006 Oregon vs. Oklahoma: Onside Kick Error
The Sooners suffered a huge blow to their national title hopes in 2006, as bad officiating cost Oklahoma a win in Eugene. The Sooners led 33-20 with three minutes to go in the fourth quarter, but Oregon scored on a 16-yard touchdown run by Dennis Dixon with just over a minute to go. The Ducks recovered the onside kick, but replay clearly showed the kick hit one of their players before going 10 yards. Although instant replay was used, Oregon kept the ball, and Dennis Dixon hit Brian Paysinger for a 23-yard touchdown pass to win the game. The officials from the Oklahoma-Oregon matchup were suspended one game due to the missed calls late in the fourth quarter.


1979 Rose Bowl – USC vs. Michigan: Charles White’s "touchdown"
The 1979 Rose Bowl matchup was a much-anticipated game between two top-five teams. USC entered the 1979 Rose Bowl at 11-1, while Michigan was 10-1. In the second quarter, Charles White appeared to score, which would give USC a 14-3 lead. However, a closer look revealed White fumbled before he reached the endzone and was incorrectly ruled a touchdown by the officiating crew. Considering the final score was 17-10, the “touchdown” proved to be the difference and propelled USC to a finish of No. 1 in the UPI poll.


Dallas vs. Buffalo Stanley Cup: Goal or No Goal?
Brett Hull of the Dallas Stars scored the Stanley Cup series-clinching goal in triple overtime of game six against the Buffalo Sabres. Too bad it was apparently illegal, even if the officials allowed it to stand. When Hull scored, his foot was in the crease, but the puck was not — a no-no, even though the NHL tried a semantics tap-dance around the issue by claiming they had issued a memo allowing goals when the scorer had control of the puck prior to his skate entering the crease. The Sabres' reply? "No goal," which became the franchise rallying cry. 


Honorable Mention

2005 – Florida vs. Vanderbilt – Earl Bennett’s “celebration penalty”
Winning at Florida is never easy for any team in the SEC, but Vanderbilt’s last win in Gainesville occurred in 1945. The Commodores were on the verge of an upset victory in 2005, as Jay Cutler hit receiver Earl Bennett on a six-yard touchdown pass with less than one minute to go to bring Vanderbilt within one point. The Commodores were prepared to go for two, however, the officials flagged Bennett for excessive celebration, which forced the Commodores to kick the extra point and play for overtime. Bennett’s penalty is one of the most egregious celebration flags in recent memory and prevented Vanderbilt from a two-point conversion that could have won and allowed the Commodores to get bowl eligible. 


Chuck Knoblauch’s Phantom Tag in 1999 ALCS
The Red Sox were trailing the Yankees by one when they batted in the bottom of the eighth in Game 4 of the 1999 ALCS. With one out, Jose Offerman singled off of Andy Pettitte to seemingly start a rally. It was quickly snuffed out, however, when John Valentin grounded into an inning-ending double play, one that was made possible by Knoblauch’s now-infamous “Phantom Tag” of Offerman at second, with an assist from second base umpire Tim Tschida. The Yankees would go on to score six more runs in the top of the ninth to put the game away and then put the Red Sox away in with a series-clinching win the next night in Fenway Park. The hated Yankees would break the hearts or Red Sox nation yet again in the 2003 ALCS, this time in seven games, before exacting some revenge the next year in a season that would finally put an end to the “Curse of the Bambino” after 86 years.

<p> 15 Worst Officiating Moments in Sports History</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 11:00
Path: /nfl/green-bay-packers-robbed-replacement-referees

It finally happened. Much of the early-season NFL conversation has centered around the lacking performance of its replacement officials, and they finally cost a team a victory. Most NFL observers and pundits believe that the end of the Seattle Seahawks-Green Bay Packers clash on Monday Night Football set a new low for the league and commissioner Roger Goodell in 2012. The Seahawks ended the night with a 14-12 victory after the refs botched the call on a ‘Hail Mary’ pass from Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson to Golden Tate on the final play. Packers defensive back M.D. Jennings intercepted the ball, but then two different officials had conflicting calls on who had possession. After a botched review, Tate and the Seahawks were awarded a controversial touchdown.

The critical mistake was the latest and most egregious of many blown calls by the replacement referees this season, and the Packers-Seahawks controversy set off a massive reaction on Twitter and other social platforms centered on the desire from fans and players to see the NFL end the labor dispute immediately with the regular league officials. Everyone from Packers players to celebrities to media and fans were incensed at the incompetence of the replacement crew, and the league’s credibility is definitely being ruined by missed calls like the one on Monday night.

The Seahawks fortunate victory sends them to 2-1 on the season, and Seattle heads to St. Louis next Sunday. The Packers were dropped to an alarming 1-2 on the year, making their upcoming battle with the 0-3 Saints a must-win for both teams. Unfortunately for NFL fans, the talk around the league after the Monday night debacle is not about the football on the field. Instead, most of the current NFL dialogue is focused on the league’s stubbornness and its damaged product as a result of more mistakes by replacement officials.


--By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> Green Bay Packers Robbed by Replacement Referees</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-20-coaches-hot-seat-post-week-4-rankings

Week 4 of the 2012 college football season is in the books and plenty of coaches saw the temperature on their seat increase by a few degrees. Thanks to a lackluster showing at Florida, Kentucky's Joker Phillips holds down the No. 1 spot once again. With a surprising loss to Central Michigan, Iowa's Kirk Ferentz makes a big jump in the rankings. While UNLV's Bobby Hauck, Colorado's Jon Embree and Central Michigan's Dan Enos fall after important victories in Week 4.

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 4 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank: 1
Record at Kentucky: 12-17 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-3
Considering Florida is one of college football’s top 10-15 teams, there is no shame in losing in Gainesville. However, it’s a problem when a team looks disorganized and looks as bad as Kentucky played on Saturday. With quarterback Maxwell Smith sidelined with a shoulder injury, the Wildcats managed only 60 passing yards and tossed three interceptions. Kentucky’s offense was shut out for the first time since 2006 in SEC play, and the defense had no answer for Florida’s ground or passing attack. As each game passes, it becomes less and less likely Phillips will back in Lexington in 2012.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Boston College: 21-21 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-2
The Eagles had an off date in Week 4 and return to action this Saturday against Clemson. Boston College’s schedule isn’t going to get any easier, especially with road dates against Army, Florida State and Georgia Tech coming up after this week’s matchup against the Tigers. Spaziani needs to get this team into a bowl to save his job. Considering the upcoming schedule, that’s no sure thing.

3. Robb Akey, Idaho
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Idaho: 19-47 (6th season)
2012 Record: 0-4
With victories by Dan Enos, Bobby Hauck and Jon Embree, Akey moves up to the No. 3 spot in the hot seat rankings. In fairness to Akey, the Vandals have played better in the last two games against non-BCS competition, including taking Wyoming to overtime in Week 4. Idaho has another tough road game at North Carolina this Saturday, before returning home for a winnable game against New Mexico State.

4. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Rice: 24-41 (6th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
An early season victory over Kansas was supposed to give Rice some momentum going into Conference USA play. However, the Owls have lost back-to-back games, including their C-USA opener against Marshall. Although the defense continues to be an issue, Rice is averaging 34.3 points a contest, and quarterback Taylor McHargue ranks 13th nationally in total offense per game. While the Owls would prefer to have a 4-0 record, they have been competitive in every game so far this year. Rice takes on rival Houston this Saturday, which is another opportunity for Bailiff to show the program is headed in the right direction.

5. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Iowa: 98-68 (14th season)
2012 Record: 2-2
There were plenty of grumblings about Ferentz among the Iowa fanbase before Saturday’s 32-31 defeat to Central Michigan. After losing to the Chippewas in Week 4, it’s fair to wonder if the program is in a slide and if Ferentz can pull out a winning season. Despite the return of quarterback James Vandenberg, Iowa ranks 91st nationally in passing offense and is averaging a pedestrian 20.5 points a game. The Hawkeyes are 3-5 in their last eight games, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier with matchups against Minnesota, Michigan State, Penn State and Northwestern. Ferentz has been a solid coach during his time in Iowa State, but it’s time to wonder whether the program has gone too stale.

6. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at California: 80-51 (11th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
Considering California has played one of the best non-BCS teams (Nevada) and two top 10-15 teams in Ohio State and USC, a 1-3 record isn’t a complete shock. However, the Golden Bears have not looked good at times and struggled to beat FCS opponent Southern Utah in Week 2. Since posting a 17-9 record from 2008-09, California is just 13-16 and has a tough back-to-back homestand against Arizona State and UCLA the next two weeks. Tedford is the winningest coach in school history. Will that be enough to buy him another year if the Golden Bears miss out on the postseason?

7. Rick Stockstill, MTSU
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at MTSU: 37-41 (7th season)
2012 Record: 2-1
The Blue Raiders had an off date in Week 4 and return to action at Georgia Tech this Saturday. MTSU’s loss to McNeese State in the season opener was a huge disappointment, but the team has rebounded to win back-to-back games. The Blue Raiders are overmatched against the Yellow Jackets but saving Stockstill’s job will likely rest on how well this team performs in Sun Belt play.

8. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Buffalo: 6-21 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-2
Quinn had a primetime opportunity in Week 4 to showcase this program is on the right track, but the Bulls were easily handled 23-7 by Kent State. Running back Branden Oliver was sidelined in the second half due to a leg injury, and Buffalo’s offense finished with just 265 yards against the Golden Flashes. The Bulls are just 3-10 in their last 13 games, which includes victories over a bad Akron team last season and Morgan State in Week 2 this year. With games coming up against Connecticut, Ohio, Northern Illinois, Pittsburgh and Toledo, Buffalo could be 1-7 heading into the final month of the season.

9. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Syracuse: 18-23 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
Although Syracuse is 1-3, its schedule hasn’t been the easiest in college football, as evidenced by an 11-1 record by its BCS opponents. However, Saturday’s loss to Minnesota was discouraging for Marrone and the fanbase, especially after watching the team commit 10 penalties, and the offense give away four turnovers. The Orange has not beat a BCS opponent since a surprising 49-23 victory over West Virginia on Oct. 21, 2011. Considering Marrone is a Syracuse alum, he may have a little more job security than most coaches with an 18-23 record. However, the reality is the Orange have two losing seasons under Marrone and are on their way to No. 3.

10. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Tennessee: 14-15 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-1
Despite improving to 3-1, Dooley climbs a few spots in the hot seat watch. The Volunteers trailed Akron – one of the worst FBS teams last season – 23-20 late in the second quarter. Although Tennessee earned the victory, it was an uninspiring performance and there were plenty of empty seats in Neyland Stadium at kickoff. The Volunteers begin a tough stretch of SEC play this Saturday at Georgia, followed up by a road date at Mississippi State on Oct. 13. Dooley has Tennessee positioned to return to a bowl game but a 6-6 finish would raise plenty of doubts on whether or not he should return for 2013. 

11. Tony Levine, Houston
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Houston: 1-3 (1st full season)
2012 Record: 0-3
Considering how the first three weeks of the season played out for Houston, the bye week came at a good time for Levine. The Cougars have two losses by at least 17 points and rank 118th nationally in total defense. The offense ranks sixth nationally with 346.7 passing yards per game but has 10 turnovers through three games. Levine’s first season has been a disappointment, and he could use a win over inter-city rival Rice this Saturday.

12. Randy Edsall, Maryland
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Maryland: 4-12 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 2-2
As the hot seat watch has indicated throughout this year, there has been noticeable improvement for Edsall’s team through the first four games. The Terrapins played well against West Virginia, losing by only 10 points, while freshman quarterback Perry Hills threw for 305 yards and three touchdowns. Despite the fact Maryland has already matched its win total from last year, its record is still 2-2 and the schedule won’t get any easier the rest of the way. A bowl game seems out of reach, but the Terrapins should be able to finish with four wins.

13. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at UNLV: 5-24 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-3
A week after giving Washington State all it could handle, the Rebels cracked the win column with a 38-35 victory over Air Force. The upset over the Falcons was UNLV’s first win since Oct. 29, 2011. Oddly enough, the Rebels have won all five games under Hauck at home, with their last road victory coming on Oct. 24, 2009. Hauck has a dismal record, but all three of the Rebels’ losses this season have been by eight points or less.

14. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Central Michigan: 8-19 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-1
Could Saturday’s win over Iowa be enough to save Enos’ job? The Chippewas pulled off a huge upset in Iowa City, beating the Hawkeyes 32-31 and giving Enos his best win in his three-year tenure. While Central Michigan has to be riding high after the upset, it needs to quickly refocus with key MAC games against Northern Illinois and Toledo upcoming. Enos has the Chippewas positioned to make a run at a winning season after a 2-1 start but another losing record could spell the end of his tenure at Central Michigan. 

15. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Colorado: 4-13 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-3
Even though Embree climbed to No. 3 in the hot seat rankings last week, he had enough job security to survive another season. And Saturday’s win over Colorado certainly gives Embree and the coaching staff enough of a boost to show the program is making some (albeit small) progress. The Buffaloes were big underdogs against Washington State but scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to claim a 35-34 victory. Oddly enough, three of Embree’s four career wins in Boulder have come in the Pac-12, including two on the road. Colorado still has a long way to go to be competitive every week in the conference, but Saturday’s win should give this team some confidence going into Week 5 against UCLA.

16. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at New Mexico State: 10-32 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
The Aggies had their three-game winning streak against rival New Mexico snapped on Saturday, losing 27-14 in Las Cruces. Walker has one of college football’s most difficult jobs, so it’s hard to expect 7-5 or 8-4 seasons. Progress has been slow under Walker’s tenure, but the Aggies won four games last season and seem to be on the right track heading into 2012. Considering New Mexico State’s uncertain conference affiliation, it’s hard to see Walker getting fired, unless this team completely bombs in the second half of 2012.

17. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Auburn: 31-13 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-3
Despite the loss to LSU, Auburn showed some signs of life in Week 4. The defense limited LSU to 182 yards on the ground and never allowed Zach Mettenberger to get comfortable in the pocket. While the offense continued to struggle, Auburn’s defense showed it can keep this team in plenty of games this year. The Tigers have a bye week this Saturday and continue SEC play with a home game against Arkansas on Oct. 6.

18. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Last Week’s Rank:
Not ranked
Record at South Florida: 15-14 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-2
Barring a complete collapse, Holtz is probably in no real danger of losing his job. However, South Florida was expected to be one of the frontrunners for the Big East title in 2012 and is off to a disappointing 2-2 start. The Bulls have a road loss at Ball State, a 10-point defeat to Rutgers and a narrow one-point win over Nevada. After losing seven out of its final eight games last year, combined with the slow start in 2012, the pressure is beginning to build on Holtz in South Florida.

19. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Western Michigan: 49-41 (8th season)
2012 Record: 2-2
After falling just short of beating their first two BCS opponents of 2012 (Illinois and Minnesota), the Broncos picked up a 30-24 victory over Connecticut in Week 4. Quarterback Alex Carder suffered a hand injury but still finished with 237 yards and one touchdown. The defense delivered late, as Desmond Bozeman returned a fumble 53 yards for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Western Michigan was expected to be the frontrunner for the MAC West title in 2012. So far, the Broncos have done nothing to lower those expectations.

20. Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech
Last Week’s Rank:
Record at Texas Tech: 16-12 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-0
The Red Raiders are off to a solid 3-0 start and had an off date in Week 4 to prepare for their Big 12 opener against Iowa State. Texas Tech is riding a five-game losing streak in Big 12 games entering Saturday’s date against the Cyclones, with its last conference victory coming against Oklahoma on Oct. 22. After a dismal showing on defense last year, the Red Raiders’ coaching staff has to be pleased to be ranked No. 1 in the nation after four weeks. However, the real test for this unit begins on Saturday in Ames.

Honorable Mention

John L. Smith, Arkansas
Record at Arkansas:
2012 Record: 1-3
As we mention each week in the hot seat watch, Smith is essentially on a one-year contract, so he was never expected to return for 2013. However, he is worthy of a mention in this space, especially as Arkansas is off to a disappointing 1-3 start. Of course, not having quarterback Tyler Wilson for the second half against UL Monroe and for any snaps against Alabama hurts, but the Razorbacks were expected to challenge for the SEC title. 

by Steven Lassan


(published Sept. 25, 2012)

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<p> College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 4 Rankings</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 06:00