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Path: /nfl/2012-nfl-picks-every-game-week-7
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NFL Week 7 previews and predictions for every game on the schedule:

Seahawks (4-2) at 49ers (4-2)
Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh are old Pac-12 rivals from their days at USC and Stanford, respectively. Carroll famously asked Harbaugh, “What’s your deal?” in a postgame handshake that could be viewed as foreshadowing to the Harbaugh and Jim Schwartz debacle. Now NFC West rivals, Harbaugh owns a 2–0 edge over Carroll, with the 49ers defeating the Seahawks twice last season — a 33–17 win in Week 1 and a 19–17 nailbiter in Week 16.
49ers by 5

Cardinals (4-2) at Vikings (4-2)
The Arizona quarterback conundrum continues. Kevin Kolb is expected to miss several weeks after suffering a serious rib and chest injury.
Vikings by 4

Cowboys (2-3) at Panthers (1-4)
Both the Boys and the Cats enter this contest in full blown panic mode. Tony Romo and Cam Newton are under the gun following slow starts to seasons with high expectations. The loser will have a press conference to remember.
Cowboys by 3

Saints (1-4) at Buccaneers (2-3)
Flip a coin with this NFC South matchup. The Saints and Bucs have split the season series since 2008, with each team going 4–4.
Saints by 1

Packers (3-3) at Rams (3-3)
These teams share a .500 record, but that’s where the similarities end. Green Bay still has Super Bowl aspirations, while St. Louis wants its first winning season since 2003.
Packers by 6

Redskins (3-3) at Giants (4-2)
One week after suffering a concussion, RG3 had the fifth-highest rushing total for a quarterback in history. His 138 yards on the ground were more than any signal-caller not named Mike Vick or Tobin Rote. RG3’s 76-yard TD sprint was the longest since Kordell “Slash” Stewart scored from 80 yards out in 1996. This week, however, the hotshot rookie runs into the defending Super Bowl champion Giants, who are fresh off dismantling the 49ers by the Bay. There will be no awe inspired by RG3, whom Osi Umenyiora has given the nickname “Bob.”
Giants by 7

Ravens (5-1) at Texans (5-1)
The tone of this contest changed considerably following the season-ending injuries suffered by middle linebacker Ray Lewis (right triceps) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (left knee ACL). But this is still a rematch of the Divisional Round of last year’s playoffs, when the Ravens beat the Texans, 20–13, in Baltimore. In that game, however, Houston third-string rookie quarterback T.J. Yates threw three INTs in defeat. Starter Matt Schaub has only thrown four INTs through six games this season.
Texans by 4

Titans (2-4) at Bills (3-3)
There is still plenty of bad blood between Tennessee and Buffalo, which is understandable considering the way the Bills lost to the Titans on the “Music City Miracle” in the playoffs after the 1999 season. The fact that Tennessee fell one yard short to St. Louis in Super Bowl XXXIV was no consolation to the bitter Buffalo fans.
Titans by 1

Browns (1-5) at Colts (2-3)
This is a Fiesta Bowl rematch between former Oklahoma State signal-caller Brandon Weeden and Stanford alum Andrew Luck. Although the No. 1 overall pick of the Colts was beaten by the recently turned 29-year-old Browns QB when the two played back in January, Luck has a better kicker on his side this time around. Freshman kicker Jordan Williamson missed three clutch FGs in a 41–38 Cardinal loss. Now, four-time Super Bowl champion pressure kicker Adam Vinatieri is on Luck’s side in Indy.
Colts by 3

Jets (3-3) at Patriots (3-3)
Remember when this was a potential preview of the AFC title game? Now Rex Ryan just sounds delusional if he talks too much trash.
Patriots by 9

Jaguars (1-4) at Raiders (1-4)
It’s early, but this contest looks like it will have more impact on the NFL Draft standings than the AFC Playoff seedings.
Raiders by 6

Steelers (2-3) at Bengals (3-3)
Pittsburgh will have had 10 days to regroup after losing on a last-second FG at Tennessee last Thursday night. Cincinnati is still eager to prove itself as an AFC North contender. Even though the Bengals made the playoffs last year, they still were 0–2 against the Steelers — losing 24–17 at home in Week 10 and getting blown out 35–7 at Pittsburgh in Week 13.
Steelers by 4

Lions (2-3) at Bears (4-1)
This Monday night party pits two NFC North rivals against one another. Last season, home turf was defended in both meetings — with the Lions winning 24–13 in Detroit in Week 5 and the Bears taking a 37–13 contest in Chicago in Week 10. In 2010, the Bears swept the series, winning a controversial 19–14 decision in Week 1 and taking a 24–20 win in Week 13.
Bears by 3
 

Teaser:
<p> NFL Week 7 previews and predictions for every game on the schedule, including Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins at New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans, New York Jets at New England Patriots, Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 19:35
All taxonomy terms: Baltimore Ravens, Ray Lewis, NFL
Path: /nfl/ray-lewis-out-season-will-he-retire
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Not with a bang but a whimper. Is this the way Ray Lewis’ Hall of Fame career will end?

“Ray has a triceps tear,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh, during his Monday press conference. “A complete tear. So he’ll be out for the season.”

The 37-year-old Lewis tore his right triceps during an injury-riddled 31–29 victory over the Cowboys — a game that also saw the Ravens lose star cornerback Lardarius Webb to a season-ending torn ACL and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata leave the contest with minor MCL damage.

Prior to the injury, there had been speculation that Lewis’ 17th season would be his last. In fact, many believed he might walk away from the game after last year’s painful 23–20 loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game — which ended in a dropped touchdown pass and shanked potential game-tying field goal. But the fiery Lewis quickly shot down those notions after falling just short of his second Super Bowl appearance.

“For us to be here now, I’m hungry again and I’m thirsty again,” Lewis said in late January. “Every time you go through something like this, it has to drive you. I truly believe that’s the only thing that makes people great.”

No one doubts Lewis’ greatness. But this latest obstacle comes at a point in his professional career and a time in his personal life that may result in No. 52 retiring from the NFL earlier than he may have planned.

“I’m not going to make any comment on that,” said Harbaugh. “That’s for Ray to speak on. I admire Ray Lewis. I’ve said that many times. … I look forward to seeing what he says about that.”

The ultimate face of the franchise, Lewis was the No. 26 overall pick of the Ravens in the team’s first draft after relocating from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996. The Miami (Fla.) product was the second Raven picked — behind left tackle Jonathan Ogden — and the fourth linebacker selected, behind Kevin Hardy, John Mobley and Reggie Brown. Lewis, however, went on to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of his draft class and arguably the greatest middle linebacker in history.

With a Super Bowl XXXV MVP, two Defensive Player of the Year awards and 13 Pro Bowls to his credit, there is little left for Lewis to accomplish in the NFL. And with his son, Ray Lewis III, heading off to his alma mater in Coral Gables to play for the Hurricanes next season, Lewis’ motivational speeches may be better served elsewhere. Only time will tell.

“He said some things that I’ll never forget,” said Harbaugh, of Lewis. “When you look at his situation and what he’s accomplished and what he was hoping to accomplish this year, he’s going to have to accomplish those things in different ways because that’s the way it’s gone.”
 

Teaser:
<p> After suffering a torn right triceps, Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis is out for the season. Now the question is, will the future Hall of Famer retire after 17 seasons, 13 Pro Bowls, two Defensive Player of the Year awards and Super Bowl XXXV MVP honors.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 19:12
Path: /nfl/2012-nfl-power-rankings-going-week-7
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Athlon Sports weekly rankings of the best and worst teams in the NFL starts at the top with the lone remaining undefeated team, the Atlanta Falcons, and goes all the way to the bottom with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Here are our NFL Power Rankings following Week 6 of the season:



1. Falcons (6-0) Bryant’s late 55-yard FG preserves unbeaten record.

2. Giants (4-2) Stomp 49ers in 23-point blowout in NFC title rematch.

3. Packers (3-3) Rodgers ties Matt Flynn’s team record with six TDs.

4. Texans (5-1) Watt mocks Rodgers’ dance, Packers get last laugh.

5. 49ers (4-2) Harbaugh suffers worst loss as coach in San Fran.

6. Ravens (5-1) Own best current home win streak, with 14 straight.

7. Bears (4-1) Return from bye week to face rival Lions on MNF.

8. Seahawks (4-2) Sherman tweets to Brady, “U Mad Bro?” after win.

9. Patriots (3-3) Top-ranked offense beaten by Hawks’ No. 1 defense.

10. Broncos (3-3) Manning leads 24-point comeback to beat Bolts.

11. Eagles (3-3) Fire DC Juan Castillo, promote DB coach Todd Bowles.

12. Chargers (3-3) Rivers’ four INTs, two fumbles lead to epic meltdown.

13. Bengals (3-3) A.J. Green leading league with 628 receiving yards.

14. Steelers (2-3) Lose at Titans for fifth loss in last six road games.



15. Cowboys (2-3) Recover onside kick, but miss 51-yard FG in defeat.

16. Redskins (3-3) RG3 shows off QB-record 4.41 time in 40-yard dash.

17. Vikings (4-2) Defense allows RG3 to run for fifth-most yards by QB.

18. Cardinals (4-2) Eight-game home win streak ends in OT vs. Buffalo.

19. Jets (3-3) Green rushes for career-high 161 yards in victory.

20. Saints (1-4) Vilma cleared to play, prepares to come off PUP list.

21. Titans (2-4) Win in prime time day after Nashville debuts on ABC.

22. Lions (2-3) Score 17 points in last 10 minutes to force OT in win.

23. Bills (3-3) Byrd INT sets up game-winning FG by Lindell in OT.

24. Dolphins (3-3) Beat Rams despite being outgained 461-to-209.

25. Rams (3-3) Zuerlein misses desperation 66-yard FG in defeat.

26. Buccaneers (2-3) Barber records 45th career INT, scores 14th TD.

27. Colts (2-3) Unable to recreate second-half comeback magic.

28. Browns (1-5) End 11-game losing streak on Weeden’s 29th B-day.

29. Panthers (1-4) All eyes on Newton following much-needed bye.

30. Raiders (1-4) Leave Falcons too much time after late touchdown.

31. Chiefs (1-5) Quinn now 3–10 as a starter after loss at Tampa.

32. Jaguars (1-4) Headed from blackout city to Black Hole after bye.

 

Teaser:
<p> 2012 NFL Power Rankings going into Week 7, including the Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 18:55
Path: /nascar/nascar-news-notes-week-8
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Don’t be fooled by the court jester routine Clint Bowyer seems to play in press conferences. For all the joking he does, he’s serious about winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.

With five races left in the Chase, Bowyer is fourth in the standings for car owner Michael Waltrip’s team, 28 points behind series leader Brad Keselowski.

“Who would have thought in a million years after making this switch and coming over to a new family and everything that was new that we would be in Victory Lane three times and (there are) still—how many races, five races left?” said Bowyer, who joined Michael Waltrip Racing after having spent the previous six seasons at Richard Childress Racing.

“Five races left, and we're still in contention for a championship. Our first year together, just to be able to do that with a brand-new sponsor, a brand-new manufacturer, I'm telling you the truth: I was almost uncomfortable going to the shop at the beginning of the year because I didn't know one face there. I knew Ty Norris (executive vice president) and (crew chief) Brian Pattie and Michael ... and if I could catch him when he was there I could talk, but other than that I didn't know anybody there.”

Bowyer’s press conference with Waltirp and Pattie after winning Saturday night’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway mirrored a comedy routine with references to the pre-race show that featured a tight-rope walker, “Days of Thunder” and other such moments.

For all the fun Bowyer has had this year, he’s played a role with teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Mark Martin in raising Michael Waltrip Racing’s profile. Bowyer already has topped his career bests with three wins, eight top-five and 19 top-10 finishes.

He’s looking for more this weekend at Kansas Speedway, his home track.

“That's probably the biggest thing is to come off this win, going into your hometown, the family and friends, everybody that goes there, it's just so important to be able to roll in on a positive note,” Bowyer said. “And to be able to win there some day, we've gotten close, if we could possibly pull this off again in Kansas, it would be … that's my … do you dare say Daytona 500, but it truly is. That's the biggest race you can possibly win is in front of your hometown.”


2013 CHANGES  NASCAR announced several competition changes for next season, including the end of the top 35 rule in the Sprint Cup Series.

Among the rule changes is that the Nationwide fields will be reduced from 43 to 40 cars next year. The Cup Series will continue to have 43-car fields and the Camping World Truck Series will again have 36-truck fields.

The top 35 rule—which guaranteed a starting spot to the top 35 in car owner points regardless of their speed in qualifying—ends after this season. NASCAR will return to the format it had before the top 35 rule was enacted in 2005.

Starting next year, the fastest 36 in Cup qualifying make the race with the final seven spots based on provisionals—one of those seven available to a former champion if they are entered, if not then it becomes a seventh provisional. The provisionals are based on car owner points, thus the six (or seven if there isn’t a former champion needing a provisional) highest cars in the car owner points that aren’t among the 36 fastest will make the race. Provisionals are unlimited.

Another change is that the qualifying order for Cup will be determined by a blind draw instead of based on speeds in the first practice session. If qualifying is canceled due to rain, the starting lineup will be determined by practice speeds.

Provisionals in the Cup, Nationwide and Truck series will be based upon the previous year’s car owner points for only the first three races of a season. Previously, it was for the first five races in Cup and Nationwide and the first four races in the Truck Series.

For the first time since 2008, teams will be able to test at tracks that host NASCAR events. NASCAR issued the ban in 2009 to help teams save money but with so many teams testing at tracks that didn’t host a NASCAR event, it made sense to allow teams to test on tracks they’ll race.

Cup organizations will be allowed four tests at tracks that host a NASCAR race. Thus, Hendrick Motorsports can have all four of its teams at a test and that counts as one test. Even if only one driver shows up for Hendrick to test at a track that hosts a NASCAR race, it will count as one of the four tests allowed per organization.

Organizations in the Nationwide and Truck series will be allowed two tests at tracks that host a NASCAR race. Nationwide and Truck organizations can receive an additional test if they have a driver who is an official Rookie of the Year candidate.


NEW STREAK  With Dale Earnhardt Jr. sitting out because of his concussion and Scott Riggs failing to qualify, last weekend’s Charlotte race marked the first Cup event since 1961 without a driver from the state of North Carolina. With Earnhardt still out and Riggs’ team withdrawing from Kansas, there won’t be a North Carolina driver in Sunday’s race, either.


BACK AT IT  AJ Allmendinger is entered for Phoenix Racing for this weekend’s race at Kansas. Allmendinger finished 24th last weekend at Charlotte for the team in his first race since returning from a suspension for failing a drug test in late June. Allmendinger won the pole at Kansas in April when he was with Penske Racing.


TESTING  Cup teams are scheduled to test Wednesday at Thursday at Kansas Speedway since the track has been repaved. Teams will be allowed to test their 2013 car if they choose.

The test is one of the reasons Stewart-Haas Racing chose this race as one of the 10 Cup events Danica Patrick will drive this season. This allows her to gain additional experience in the car and with the track.


PIT STOPS  The last three winners at Kansas (Denny Hamlin in April, Jimmie Johnson in Oct. 2011 and Brad Keselowski in June 2011) rank in the top three in points. ... Jimmie Johnson has seven consecutive top-10 finishes at Kansas. ... Kyle Busch has led more laps than any other driver during the first five races of the Chase at 356 with 302 of those coming at Dover. ... Richard Childress Racing is winless in its last 35 races, dating back to Clint Bowyer’s win at Talladega in October 2011.


by Dustin Long
Follow Dustin on Twitter:
@DustinLong
 

Teaser:
<p> Athlon Sports contributor Dustin Long has a lot of NASCAR ground to cover this week. From Clint Bowyer's big win and Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s absence to AJ Allmendinger's return and new rules procedures, it's all in Athlon's NASCAR News &amp; Notes of the Week.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 14:55
Path: /nfl/top-10-highest-paid-nfl-players-2012
Body:

The top 10 highest paid NFL players in 2012 prove just how valuable the quarterback position is in today’s pass-happy league. The entire top 10 has some direct contection to the quarterback position. Four actually take snaps at quarterback, four are paid to apply pass rush on the quarterback, one protects his quarterback’s blindside and one catches passes from whoever happens to be playing quarterback that day.

The following list uses salary information from Forbes.com and is representative of the 2012 season — not long-term contracts, endorsement deals, career earnings, etc.

(Player, Pos., Team – 2012 Salary)

1. Dwight Freeney, OLB, Colts – $19 million
Indy’s top speed rusher since 2002, Freeney has posted 10 or more sacks in seven of his 10 NFL seasons heading into 2012. In his 11th (and highest paid) year in the league, the undersized 6’1”, 268-pound sack artist ranks No. 24 on the all-time sacks list but No. 1 in 2012 NFL player paychecks.


2. Elvis Dumervil, OLB, Broncos – $18.9 million
Although Elvis broke Dwight Freeney’s Big East sack record, he still fell to the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. Since then, Dumervil has been an example of production over projection, recording 55.5 sacks in his first 80 NFL games — and earning the second-highest payday in the league this season.


3. Peyton Manning, QB, Broncos – $18 million
Despite undergoing as many neck surgeries as he has MVP awards, Manning was able to ink a five-year, $96 million deal with the Broncos this past offseason. The 36-year-old played 14 seasons before missing the entire 2011 campaign due to injury. But he bounced back in a big way in 2012 — at least financially.


4. Sam Bradford, QB, Rams – $15.6 million
The last No. 1 overall pick before the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, Bradford slid in under the wire and signed with the Rams to the tune of six years and $78 million — compared to the four years and $22 million the Panthers gave Cam Newton the following year. It pays to have good timing.


5. Philip Rivers, QB, Chargers – $15.3 million
Say what you will about Rivers’ on-field demeanor, but he is one of the most reliable players in the game today. Since Rivers took over for Drew Brees as the starter in San Diego in 2006, he has never missed a start, is 30 games over .500 and has nearly 90 more TDs than INTs. That type of dependability is expensive.


6. Jared Allen, DE, Vikings – $15.2 million
The tone setter for the Vikes, Allen is a wild man and live wire off the edge. The No. 2 active sack leader (and No. 18 all-time) is nearly unblockable when he’s on top of his game. In 131 career contests, Allen has 109 sacks, 43 passes defended and 27 forced fumbles, making him easily one of the most valuable players in the league.


7. Tamba Hali, OLB, Chiefs – $14.5 million
The pass rushing heir to Jared Allen in Kansas City, Hali signed a five-year, $60 million contract following a 14.5-sack season in 2010. The high motor hybrid end-linebacker has the versatility to thrive in either a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme and has proven to be worth the money invested by the Chiefs.


8. Michael Vick, QB, Eagles – $13.9 million
Capping his redemption story, Vick inked a $100 million deal in 2011. But the roller coaster ride that is the Mike Vick Experience has hit a low point, with 13 turnovers and just nine scores through the first six games of 2012. Due to make $16 million in 2013, Vick may be cut loose if he can’t lead Philly to the playoffs this year.


9. Trent Williams, LT, Redskins – $13.4 million
The young dancing bear has failed multiple drug tests and missed time due to a variety of injuries, so this contract reeks of being a bad deal. But as Robert Griffin III’s blindside bodyguard, Williams is charged with protecting the face of the franchise inside the pocket and whoever is doing that will make plenty of coin.


10. Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals – $13.25 million
While it has been argued that Fitzgerald’s career is suffering from a lack of quality QB play — from anyone other than Kurt Warner, that is — the numbers don’t back that up. Fitzgerald joined Randy Moss as only the second receiver in history to top 10,000 yards before turning 30. And he’s a top-10 paid player in 2012. Who needs a QB?

Teaser:
<p> The top 10 highest paid players in the NFL in 2012, including Dwight Freeney, Elvis Dumervil, Peyton Manning, Sam Bradford, Philip Rivers, Jared Allen, Tamba Hali, Michael Vick, Trent Williams and Larry Fitzgerald.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-waiver-wire-week-7
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With a total of six teams on bye in Week 7, this figures to be a busy week on the waiver wire. Besides owners who may be looking for a fill-in quarterback with no Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, Michael Vick or Philip Rivers available, as well as other position players, there are also those who may be looking to replace an injured or nonproductive player.

Even though Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia and San Diego all get this week off, your fantasy team doesn’t. Here are some names worth considering as you look to fill out your roster for this week and beyond.

Bye week teams: Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia, San Diego

Quarterbacks
Week 6 Recap: Robert Griffin III not only played, but he showed no ill effects from last week’s concussion and instead he gave Minnesota’s defense headaches on Sunday. Griffin’s production and ability to stay on the field rendered Kirk Cousins a mere spectator, albeit one with perhaps the best view of his teammate's spectacular performance. Josh Freeman also starred on Sunday, passing for 328 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Kansas City. Freeman remains a viable options in the weeks ahead thanks to a schedule that includes New Orleans, Oakland and Carolina in the next five weeks. The Jets got back on track with a convincing win over Indianapolis and although his statistics weren’t all that great, Mark Sanchez (more on him below) did more than enough to reassert his hold on the starting job over backup Tim Tebow. Brady Quinn may find himself holding the clipboard once more when the Chiefs return to the field in Week 8. Quinn (22-of-38, 180 yds., 0 TDs, 2 INTs) and the entire Chiefs’ offense struggled against the Buccaneers, and the team could go back to initial starter Matt Cassel, who missed the game because of a concussion, after the bye, provided he’s cleared to play.

Carson Palmer, Oakland Raiders
Palmer’s numbers (1,434 yds., 6 TDs, 3 INTs) may not jump out, but he’s 10th in the league in passing yards per game at 287. The Raiders have not been shy to throw the ball this season, as Palmer is averaging 39 attempts per game. The touchdowns are low, but the Raiders’ wide receiving corps has been banged up all season long. Still with match-ups against Jacksonville, Tampa Bay and Kansas City on tap the next three weeks, Palmer is definitely worth a look if you’re in need of a temporary signal caller.

Mark Sanchez, New York Jets
Look who’s back? OK, “back” may be a little too strong considering the Sanchize threw for a grand total of 82 yards against Indianapolis, but don’t lose sight of his two touchdown passes, and, more importantly, no turnovers. As bad as the Jets’ offense may have looked the past few weeks, it was certainly clicking on all cylinders, especially the running game, this past Sunday. Next up for Sanchez and the revived ground-and-pound rushing attack is New England, who just gave up 368 yards of offense (283 through the air) in a disappointing loss at Seattle.

John Skelton, Arizona Cardinals
Skelton beat out Kevin Kolb for the starting job in the preseason, only to leave Arizona’s opening game with an ankle injury and watch Kolb lead the team to a come-from-behind victory. Kolb then proceeded to win the next three games as the starter before the Cardinals lost in Week 5 in St. Louis. On Sunday against Buffalo, it was Skelton’s turn, as he took over in the fourth quarter after Kolb suffered a rib and chest injury. Trailing the Bills by three late, Skelton first moved the team into position for the game-tying field goal (a franchise-record 61-yarder by Jay Feely with 1:09 left), and then did it again to set up a game-winning attempt. Unfortunately, Kolb and the Cardinals were unable to finish the deal, as the attempted game-winner was partially deflected and Skelton’s interception in overtime set up the Bills’ own game-winning field goal. X-rays on Kolb's ribs and sternum came back negative, but he underwent an MRI on Monday to make sure there are no fractures or serious damage. Kolb's health will undoubtedly play a huge role in determining who starts this Sunday at Minnesota, but remember Skelton was No. 1 before he got hurt.

Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
Wilson was at his best on Sunday against New England, as his 293 yards passing and three touchdowns were both career highs. Wilson also is a threat to make plays with his legs, although he’s really yet to post huge rushing numbers. That said, Wilson is just a rookie who is six games into his NFL career. So while there will more than likely be other games this season that look like what he did against the Patriots, there also will be a number that will finish with a stat line of something along these lines: 17-of-25, 160 yards, no touchdowns, three inteceptions, which is what he did in a Week 4 loss to St. Louis. If you’re thinking about starting Wilson this week, keep in mind the Seahawks play San Francisco on the road. It’s probably best to place your expectations somewhere between how he fared against the Patriots at home and the Rams on the road.

Running Backs
Week 6 Recap: Both Rashard Mendenhall and Isaac Redman got hurt in Thursday’s loss to Tennessee, which brings a new name (see below) into the picture for the Steelers, while the Titans were content to let Chris Johnson handle the load, making Darius Reynaud a special teams player only. Alex Green and LaRod Stephens-Howling both got the starts for their respective teams, but Green was the only one who produced as Stephens-Howling was upstaged by his teammate (see below). Meanwhile, David Wilson put together a second straight solid performance, contributing to the Giants’ convincing win in San Francisco as both a returner and rusher.

Baron Batch, Pittsburgh Steelers
With both Rashard Mendenhall (Achilles) and Isaac Redman (ankle) suffering injuries against Tennessee, the Steelers turned to Batch to carry the load. He finished with just 22 yards rushing against the Titans, but that led the team and he also had a one-yard touchdown run. Batch was the Steelers’ seventh-round pick in 2011, but missed all of last season after tearing his ACL in training camp. Mendenhall and Redman are clearly ahead of him on the depth chart, but if one or both can’t go this week in Cincinnati, Batch appears to be the most likely candidate to fill in.

LeGarrette Blount, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Perhaps the rumors of Blount’s fantasy demise were greatly exaggerated, no? Doug Martin is the clear-cut starter in Tampa Bay, but Blount ‘s workload has increased in each of the past three games. Sunday against Kansas City, he had 58 yards on seven carries and scored his second touchdown in as many weeks. If Blount can continue to produce with the opportunities he’s given, the Buccaneers may have to find ways to give him even more touches.

Montario Hardesty, Cleveland Browns
Trent Richardson left Sunday’s game against Cincinnati with a rib issue and Hardesty stepped in, helping to lead the Browns’ fourth-quarter charge and earn their first win of the season. Hardesty finished with 56 yards on 15 carries (3.7 ypc) and it was his touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter that put the Browns ahead of the Bengals to stay. Richardson said after the game he would definitely play against Indianapolis this Sunday, and on Monday head coach Pat Shurmur said the rookie is considered day-to-day. If Richardson is unable to play this Sunday, it appears Hardesty would get the start in his place. Don’t forget the Colts gave up 252 yards rushing to the Jets this past Sunday.

Felix Jones, Dallas Cowboys
Dallas ran wild on Sunday, gashing Baltimore for 227 yards rushing, the most ever given up by the Ravens franchise. DeMarco Murray got things started with 93 yards on 14 carries (6.6 ypc), but he suffered a foot injury before halftime, setting the stage for Jones. The former first-round pick made the most of his first significant playing time this season, scoring on a 22-yard run in the first quarter and finishing the game with 92 yards on 15 carries (5.1 ypc). Murray said he wanted to go back in and it was the coaching staff that held him out, but an MRI on Monday revealed he sustained some ligament damage and it appears that Murray will miss at least one week, if not more. Jones would more than likely get the start in Murray’s stead, beginning this week as Dallas travels to Carolina.

William Powell, Arizona Cardinals
LaRod Stephens-Howling got the start, but it was Powell who did the most damage for the Cardinals. The second-year pro, who was a pleasant surprise during the preseason, led the team in carries (13) and rushing yards (70) in the overtime loss to Buffalo. Powell out-gained Stephens-Howling, who has 22 yards on the ground, and also enjoyed more success (5.4 ypc) when he got the handoff. The Cardinals' offensive line still has its share of issues, but any starting running back in the NFL has some value when it comes to fantasy, even if it’s only as a flex option. When it comes to the Cardinals, it looks like Powell is the one to own/target moving forward and not Stephens-Howling.

Wide Receivers
Week 6 Recap: Mike Williams was the only one to score, courtesy of a 62-yard hookup with Josh Freeman, but Brandon Gibson, Kendall Wright and Mario Manningham each finished with more catches than the Buccaneer on Sunday. Gibson stepped up in Danny Amendola’s absence, leading the Rams in targets, receptions and yards in the loss to Miami. Gibson’s production also appears to be helping another teammate (see below) emerge. Manningham enjoyed a strong game (5 rec., 72 yds.) against his former Giant teammates, albeit in a loss, while Wright once again led the Titans in receiving.

Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks
After leading Seattle in all receiving categories as a rookie last season, Baldwin has been virtually invisible this season. Whether he was dealing with injuries or trying to acclimate himself to rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, the second-year pro from Stanford entered Sunday’s game with just seven catches for 70 yards. Against New England he doubled his season yardage total on just two catches, as he finished with 74 and his first touchdown of the campaign against the Patriots. The targets are still an issue, as he had a total of three against the Patriots, but perhaps this past Sunday is the first step to Baldwin and Wilson establishing better chemistry.

Chris Givens, St. Louis Rams
Second-round pick Brian Quick was expected to be the Rams’ rookie deep threat this season, but instead it’s fourth-rounder Givens who has made the impact on the field. Givens has averaged nearly 63 yards receiving over the past three games, and for the season is averaging 28.1 yards per catch. Consistency is still an issue for the first-year wideout (22 targets, but only seven receptions), but so is his big-play potential. His lone touchdown of the season came on a 51-yard catch and he has two other receptions longer than that.

Josh Gordon, Cleveland Browns
Gordon also is another wide receiver who has recently shown a knack for making the big play. The Browns’ supplemental draft pick is averaging 22.8 yards per reception and has three touchdowns in his past two games. He has led the team in receiving these past two games and with a wide receiving corps that’s been hampered by injuries, inconsistency and drops, the opportunity is clearly there for Gordon to establish himself as quarterback Brandon Weeden’s favorite target.

Denarius Moore, Oakland Raiders
To be honest, I’m surprised Moore is owned in only 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues. He may not be a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver, but in my book he’s a bona fide No. 2 and at worst an indisputable WR3. Moore missed the first game because of injury, but has posted a total of nine receptions for 175 yards (19.4 ypc) and a score in the past two games alone. Carson Palmer is averaging nearly 40 pass attempts per game and despite mssing one game already, Moore is still leading the team in targets with 14 more than any other Raiders wideout. Run, don’t walk, to your waiver wire to grab this steal of a deal if he’s still available.

Tight Ends
Week 6 Recap: Jermaine Gresham posted another solid game (7 rec., 68 yds., TD) for the Bengals, while Rob Housler managed a total of two catches for 12 yards. In Housler’s defense, no Cardinal not named Larry Fitzgerald did much offensively against Buffalo.

Jared Cook, Tennessee Titans
Even though he’s the No. 11 tight end in fantasy, Cook is owned in only half of Yahoo! leagues. I’m not sure what’s not to like, considering he’s ninth in receiving yards (291) at his position, second on the Titans in receptions and has already caught two touchdowns. The team also has said that it plans on getting the ball to him even more moving forward, which only increases his potential value. It’s not often you can acquire a top-10 fantasy producer at his position in Week 7.

Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins
Very quietly, Fasano is putting together another solid season and becoming one of rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s favorite targets in the process. Fasano is third on the Dolphins in targets and receptions, but leads in touchdown catches with two. Since missing the Dolphins’ opener, he has caught at least two passes in every game and is averaging better than four catches and 39 yards receiving over his past four contests.

Defense/Special Teams
Week 6 Recap: Miami picked up three sacks and recovered a fumble in its win over St. Louis, but the Dolphins also gave up a season-high 162 yards rushing. Minnesota was victimized by Robert Griffin III's arms and legs as Washington's rookie quarterback shook off any lingering effects from the concussion he suffered last week to put up 310 total yards of offense and three touchdowns (2 rush, 1 pass) in the Redskins' win over the Vikings. The Vikes gave up a season-worst 38 points and managed only a sack and an interception.

Cleveland Browns
With the Atlanta, Miami, Philadelphia and San Diego DSTs all on bye this week, Cleveland could be a sneaky pick this week. The Browns have fared pretty well fantasy-wise, with 15 sacks and 14 turnovers (10 INTs, 4 fumbles) fueling their scoring. This week the Browns will face Indianapolis, a team that’s dealing with injuries in their backfield and asking rookie quarterback Andrew Luck to throw the ball a lot. Luck has more than held his own in his first season, but he’s also thrown seven interceptions and has been sacked 13 times, two areas where the Browns’ D has thrived so far.

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

— By Mark Ross, published on Oct. 16, 2012

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire: Week 7</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-7-bowl-projections
Body:

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

The post-Week 7 bowl projections are a mixture between preseason projections, how things would look if the season ended today, and a dose of the results so far this year. Expect more changes over the next few weeks, especially as we see how teams perform in conference games. 

2012-2013 Post-Week 7 College Football Bowl Projections

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


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

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

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

(published Oct. 16, 2012)

Related College Football Content

ACC Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

Big East Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

Big Ten Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

Big 12 Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

Pac-12 Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

SEC Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

College Football Week 7 Recap

Teaser:
<p> College Football Post-Week 7 Bowl Projections</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 05:59
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-20-coaches-hot-seat-post-week-7-rankings
Body:

Week 7 of the 2012 college football season is in the books and plenty of coaches saw the temperature on their seat increase by a few degrees. Kentucky's Joker Phillips and Boston College's Frank Spaziani continue to hold down the top two spots in the rankings. SEC coaches own three of the top five spots, as Auburn's Gene Chizik and Tennessee's Derek Dooley both joined Phillips in the top tier of this list following their latest losses.

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 7 Rankings

1. Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Last Week’s Rank:
1
Record at Kentucky: 12-20 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-6
Another week, another big loss for Kentucky. The Wildcats were hammered 49-7 by Arkansas, falling to 1-6 on the season. Phillips’ overall record has slipped to 12-20, and Kentucky has lost eight out of its last 10 games. Although several young players are seeing significant snaps, it probably won’t be enough for Phillips to return in 2013. The Wildcats take on Georgia this Saturday, before hitting the road to play Missouri in Week 9.

2. Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Last Week’s Rank:
2
Record at Boston College: 21-24 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-5
With a new athletic director coming aboard for 2013, Spaziani is likely coaching out the final six games in his tenure at Boston College. The Eagles were thumped 51-7 against Florida State, dropping their fourth consecutive game of the season. Boston College’s only win of 2012 came against FCS opponent Maine and it lost a disappointing 34-31 game at Army last week. The Eagles need to win five out of their final six games to have a shot to play in a bowl, which seems unlikely with Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech and NC State on the schedule.

3. Gene Chizik, Auburn
Last Week’s Rank:
6
Record at Auburn: 31-15 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-5
A miserable season for Chizik only got worse on Saturday, as Auburn lost 41-20 to Ole Miss to drop to 1-5 this year. Although the Rebels are a much-improved team under new coach Hugh Freeze, this team went 2-10 and was winless in SEC play last season. The Tigers have shown little progress on both sides of the ball this season, and could be 1-7 after playing Vanderbilt and Texas A&M in the next two weeks. Considering how Auburn has played this year, a bowl game seems out of the question. Now the question becomes: Does Chizik deserve another year or should the Tigers move on?

4. Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Last Week’s Rank:
10
Record at Tennessee: 14-17 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 3-3
The orange pants that Dooley wears on the sidelines might as well include flames this week. Tennessee fell to 0-3 in the SEC with a 41-31 loss to Mississippi State on Saturday night. The Volunteers are now 1-10 in their last 11 SEC games, with the only victory coming in overtime against Vanderbilt. The road is only going to get more difficult for Tennessee, as Alabama and South Carolina are the next two opponents. The schedule is considerably more favorable in November, as the Volunteers could go 4-0. However, will that be enough to save Dooley’s job?

5. Dan Enos, Central Michigan
Last Week’s Rank:
5
Record at Central Michigan: 8-22 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-4
Instead of building momentum after a 32-31 win over Iowa on Sept. 22, the Chippewas are sliding in the wrong direction. Central Michigan has lost three games in a row, including a 31-13 defeat to Navy on national television last week. The only good news for Enos? The schedule is very manageable in the second half of the season, which includes home games against Ball State, Akron and Western Michigan, along with road dates against Eastern Michigan and UMass.

6. Jeff Quinn, Buffalo
Last Week’s Rank: 4
Record at Buffalo: 6-24 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-5
Quinn falls two spots in the rankings, which is more of a reflection of other coaches finding their seats getting hotter after Week 7, than Buffalo’s performance on Saturday. The Bulls were dominated 45-3 by Northern Illinois in Week 7 and the schedule isn’t getting any easier with Pittsburgh, Toledo, Miami (Ohio) and Western Michigan coming up. Needless to say, Quinn needs to find a couple of victories in the second half of the season to save his job.

7. DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State
Last Week’s Rank: 7
Record at New Mexico State: 10-34 (4th season)
2012 Record: 1-5
The Aggies had an off date in Week 7 and return to action against Utah State this Saturday. New Mexico State enters Week 8 riding a five-game losing streak and its next two match-ups are against the best teams in the WAC (Utah State, Louisiana Tech), while a visit to Auburn awaits on Nov. 3. With an uncertain conference future, New Mexico State is one of the toughest jobs in college football and finding a new coach (if Walker is fired) won’t be an easy task.

8. Robb Akey, Idaho
Last Week’s Rank: 8
Record at Idaho: 20-49 (6th season)
2012 Record: 1-6
A week after building some momentum with a 26-18 win over New Mexico State, the Vandals were pounded 38-7 by Texas State on Saturday. While the Bobcats beat Houston and gave Nevada a game earlier this year, this is still a program in its first year of playing on the FBS level. With Louisiana Tech, BYU, San Jose State and Utah State remaining on the schedule, a Nov. 17 date against UTSA might be Idaho’s only other shot at getting a victory this year.

9. David Bailiff, Rice
Last Week’s Rank: 3
Record at Rice: 25-43 (6th season)
2012 Record: 2-5
The Owls scored a solid victory over UTSA in Week 7, snapping a four-game losing streak with a 34-14 win over the Roadrunners. The victory over UTSA came one week after an inexplicable loss at Memphis. Bailiff’s future is still up in the air at Rice, but the schedule isn’t particularly difficult in the second half of the season. Rice hosts SMU and Southern Miss, while playing Tulane, Tulsa and UTEP on the road. Outside of the Tulsa game, the Owls have a shot to win the other four contests. 

10. Bobby Hauck, UNLV
Last Week’s Rank:
11
Record at UNLV: 5-27 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 1-6
As the hot seat watch has maintained throughout this season, the Rebels are getting better. However, the losses are starting to pile up for Hauck, as UNLV dropped a 42-37 game to in-state rival Nevada in Week 7. The Rebels’ only win of 2012 came against Air Force, and there are few chances for a victory the rest of the way, especially with New Mexico one of the most improved teams in the conference. Hauck has recruited several promising young players, so he should get another year to prove he can turn this program around.

11. Mike Price, UTEP
Last Week’s Rank:
15
Record at UTEP: 46-58 (8 years)
2012 Record: 1-6
After starting the season with close losses to Oklahoma and Ole Miss and a victory over New Mexico State, the Miners have been trending in the wrong direction. UTEP has lost four consecutive games and was handled 33-11 by Tulsa on Thursday night. If the Miners want to make a bowl game, they will need to win out, which includes dates against UCF and Houston. Price is 66 years old, so it’s not out of the question he retires at the end of the year.

12. Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Last Week’s Rank:
13
Record at Southern Miss: 0-6 (1st season)
2012 Record: 0-6
Johnson moves up a spot in the hot seat rankings, but let’s give a little credit to Southern Miss’ coaching staff for nearly pulling off a win at UCF in Week 7. The Golden Eagles have two promising freshmen on offense in quarterback Anthony Alford and running back Jalen Richard, but the defense is allowing 35.6 points a game and has struggled to stop the run. Southern Miss is still looking for its first win, and the schedule doesn’t get any easier with Marshall coming to Hattiesburg on Saturday.

13. Mack Brown, Texas
Last Week’s Rank:
Not Ranked
Record at Texas: 145-41 (15th season)
2012 Record: 4-2
Barring a complete collapse in the second half of the season, Brown’s job is safe for 2013. However, losses like the one the Longhorns endured in Week 7 won’t be tolerated for long in Austin. Texas was dominated 63-21 by Oklahoma and has lost the last two match-ups against the Sooners by a combined score of 118-38. The Longhorns could still finish 10-2 but games at Texas Tech and Kansas State aren’t guaranteed victories. Is the program headed in the right direction? That’s the question Brown will have to answer in the second half of the year.

14. Skip Holtz, South Florida
Last Week’s Rank:
14
Record at South Florida: 15-16 (3rd season)
2012 Record: 2-4
The Bulls had an off date in Week 7 and return to action at Louisville this Saturday. However, the news wasn’t all positive for Holtz, as one South Florida trustee John Ramil sent an angry e-mail to USF president Judy Genshaft, calling the football program “disgusting and unacceptable.” Considering Holtz’s success at East Carolina, the struggles at South Florida have been surprising. Holtz received a huge contract extension in the offseason but the last six games of the season could very well decide his fate.

15. Jeff Tedford, California
Last Week’s Rank: 9
Record at California: 82-52 (11th season)
2012 Record: 3-4
Thanks to back-to-back wins, Tedford has slid from the top five in the hot seat watch to No. 15 overall. However, the good vibes coming out of Berkeley may not last long, as California takes on Stanford this week and closes the year with a difficult three-game stretch: Washington, Oregon and at Oregon State. Beating the Cardinal this week would go a long ways to helping Tedford’s resume, along with bolstering California’s bowl hopes. However, a loss will raise even more questions about whether or not Tedford will be back for 2013.

16. Jon Embree, Colorado
Last Week’s Rank: 16
Record at Colorado: 4-15 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 1-5
The Buffaloes put up a fight in the first half of Thursday’s game against Arizona State but it wasn’t enough. Colorado was outscored 31-0 in the second half and lost 51-17 to a fast-improving Sun Devils’ team. Credit Embree and his staff for giving the Buffaloes a chance in the first half, but Colorado simply does not have the talent or depth to push the top teams in the Pac-12 right now. Barring a complete disaster the rest of the way, Embree should be back in Boulder in 2013. However, he has a lot of work to do if he wants to be Colorado’s coach for 2014 and beyond.

17. Doug Marrone, Syracuse
Last Week’s Rank:
19
Record at Syracuse: 19-24 (4th season)
2012 Record: 2-4
A week after building some positive momentum with a 14-13 win over Pittsburgh, Syracuse lost 23-15 at Rutgers to drop its record to 2-4. The Orange have a difficult stretch the rest of the year, playing four out of their final six games on the road and catching Big East frontrunner Louisville at home in mid-November. Although Marrone is a Syracuse alum, another losing season won’t sit well in upstate New York.

18. Bill Cubit, Western Michigan
Last Week’s Rank: 18
Record at Western Michigan: 50-43 (8th season)
2012 Record: 3-4
The Broncos came up short against one of the MAC West’s top teams on Saturday, losing 30-24 to Ball State in overtime. Western Michigan has been without starting quarterback Alex Carder for the last three games due to a hand injury, which has jeopardized this team’s bowl hopes. The Broncos face Kent State and Northern Illinois – a combined record of 11-2 – in the next two weeks and finish the year with Central Michigan, Buffalo and Eastern Michigan. Cubit’s teams have been criticized for underachieving in the past and barring an upset or two, it seems Western Michigan will finish with a disappointing 6-6 record.

19. Paul Pasqualoni, Connecticut
Last Week’s Rank: Not ranked
Record at Connecticut: 8-11 (2nd season)
2012 Record: 3-4
Pasqualoni could easily be higher in the rankings but this is only his second year at Connecticut. However, it’s hard to ignore a disappointing 17-14 loss to Temple on Saturday, as well as a 30-24 road defeat to Western Michigan in late September. Despite having one of the Big East’s top running backs in Lyle McCombs, the Huskies have been awful on offense the last two years and rank 109th nationally in scoring this season. Pasqualoni was a strange pick to succeed Randy Edsall, and a new athletic director has been hired at Connecticut since his arrival. If the Huskies miss out on a bowl game, Pasqualoni will be one of the top coaches on the hot seat in 2013.

20. June Jones, SMU
Last Week’s Rank:
Not ranked
Record at SMU: 26-32 (5th season)
2012 Record: 2-4
Although Jones has helped to lead SMU to three consecutive bowl games, it’s fair to wonder if the school should part ways with him after this year. Jones nearly had the Arizona State job, so it’s clear he isn’t interested in sticking around at SMU. The Mustangs have won just two games this season (UTEP, Stephen F. Austin) and are coming off of a disappointing loss to previously winless Tulane in Week 7. Even though Jones is a solid coach, both the coach and the school might be better off with a fresh start. 


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


Related College Football Content

ACC Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

Big East Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

Big Ten Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

Big 12 Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

Pac-12 Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

SEC Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

College Football Week 7 Recap

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat: Post-Week 7 Rankings</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 05:55
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-preview-impact-transfers-2012-13
Body:
The full list of the top 40 transfers can be found in the Athlon Sports 2012-13 College Basketball annual available in the online store.

College basketball transfers are flying through the sport at an unprecedented pace these days. Hundreds of players have changed schools in the last two seasons to become eligible in 2012-13.

The landscape could be a boon both for teams looking to fill a void on their rosters as well as players looking to find the best fit.

The group of players transferring from one program to another is indeed diverse -- McDonald's All-Americans, top-100 recruits, part-timers ready for bigger roles, small conference stars testing their mettle in major conferences.

Whittling down the pool of transfers eligible for the upcoming season to those that will make the most impact on 2012-13 is quite the undertaking.

From the players transferring from one power team to another, the teams depending on two or more transfers, and the rare players transferring form a low-major program to a power conference, here's our look at the transfer scene in college basketball.

Related content: Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

10 KEY TRANSFERS
Rotnei Clarke, G, Arkansas to Butler

One of the elite shooters in college basketball during his time at Arkansas, Clarke take on a leading role with the Bulldogs. He averaged 15.2 points while shooting 43.8 percent from the arc two years ago. Butler’s biggest deficiency last season was the outside shot as the Bulldogs shot only 28 percent from beyond the arc.

Larry Drew II, G, North Carolina to UCLA
Drew left North Carolina 21 games into his junior season when Kendall Marshall took over as the primary point guard. He was oft-criticized by Tar Heels fans, but Drew averaged 8.5 points and 5.9 assists in his last full season at North Carolina. Freshman Ryan Anderson may be the Bruins primary ball-handler, but he and Drew could share time on the court.

Luke Hancock, F, George Mason to Louisville
Hancock gives the talented Cardinals another weapon on the wing. The Virginia native averaged 10.9 points and 4.3 assists for George Mason in ’10-11 and scored 18 points in the Colonials win over Villanova in the Rounds of 68 of the NCAA Tournament.

Colton Iverson, C, Minnesota to Colorado State
Iverson didn’t score a lot during his three years at Minnesota — he averaged 5.4, 5.0 and 5.4 points per game — but he is a decent rebounder and has a high basketball IQ. Iverson joins core of four returning starters with hopes of returning to the NCAA Tournament in the first season under Larry Eustachy.

Sidiki Johnson, F, Arizona to Providence
A top-100 in the Class of 2011, Johnson left Arizona after one semester. He is a 6-9 power forward who will give Providence an active body on the frontline. Providence needs Johnson to contribute right away, but the Friars will have to wait until December for the sophomore to be eligible.

Wally Judge, F, Kansas State to Rutgers
The one-time McDonald’s All-American will start immediately, and his 6-9, 250-pound frame will help offset the loss of Gilvydas Biruta, who transferred to Rhode Island. Judge averaged 5.5 points and 3.8 rebounds as a sophomore at Kansas State.

Keala King, G, Arizona State to Long Beach State
King, a former top-50 national recruit, bolted Arizona State 13 games into his sophomore season. The 6-4 point guard as averaged 13.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists at the time. He will be eligible at the end of the first semester for a Long Beach State club expected to repeat in the Big West.

Trent Lockett, G, Arizona State to Marquette
Lockett is a graduate transfer who will be a big part of the Golden Eagles’ attack from Day One. He averaged 13.0 points and 5.8 rebounds per game last season at Arizona State while hitting 41.2 percent from 3-point range. The Golden Eagles have high hopes Lockett will fill some of the scoring void left by Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom.

Mark Lyons, G, Xavier to Arizona
Lyons, a senior, will step in and take over at the point for the talented but young Wildcats. He averaged 15.1 points and shot 39.2 percent as a running mate to Tu Holloway at Xavier last season. On a team expecting freshmen to be major contributors, Lyons’ experience on three Sweet 16 teams will be invaluable. Current Arizona coach Sean Miller recruited Lyons to Xavier.

Amath M’Baye, F, Wyoming to Oklahoma
The Sooners’ best player last season may have been on the practice squad. M’Baye, a native of France, averaged 12.0 points and 5.7 rebounds as a sophomore at Wyoming in 2010-11. He is expected to be a big part of the Sooners’ attack this season.

SIX TEAMS DEPENDING ON TRANSFERS
Some teams hope to benefit more from incoming transfers than others. For these six teams, two more transfers will play a major role in their bids for the NCAA Tournament or more.

IOWA STATE
G/F Will Clyburn (from Michigan State), G Korie Lucious (from Utah)

Clyburn, a former junior college transfer, averaged 17.1 points and 7.8 boards while shooting 40.3 percent from 3-point range in his only season at Utah. He will be asked to take on big role for an Iowa State team that must replace Royce White. Lucious never scored a lot while playing on some talented Michigan State teams, but he is a true point guard who will be expected to start in his only season in Iowa City.

MISSOURI
G Keion Bell (from Pepperdine), G Jabari Brown (from Oregon), F Alex Oriakhi (from Connecticut), G Earnest Ross (from Auburn)

A high-volume shooter, Bell averaged 18.9 points as a junior for Pepperdine two years ago. He is a shooting guard who could find a significant role as a sixth man for a Missouri team that should contend for an SEC title. A former 5-star recruit, Brown left Oregon after only two games last season. He is a 6-4 shooting guard who can shoot from 3-point range and take the ball to the basket. Oriakhi was key contributor (9.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg) on the Huskies’ 2011 national title team, but his role diminished last season as a junior. Oriakhi will team with Laurence Bowers (who is back from injury) to give the Tigers a solid presence in the paint. A shooting guard with good size (6-5, 222), Ross led Auburn in scoring (13.1 ppg) and rebounding (6.6 rpg) two years ago. He shot under 40 percent overall and 33.3 percent from 3 with the Tigers, but he can be more selective now playing on a more talented team.

NORTHWESTERN
F Nikola Cerina (from TCU), F Jared Swopshire (from Louisville)

Cerina and Swopshire will be asked to contribute on a Northwestern front line that must replace All-Big Ten performer John Shurna. Cerina, a 6-9, 245-pound forward, averaged 5.4 points and 4.1 rebounds for TCU in ’10-11. Swopshire averaged 3.3 points for Louisville last season while slowed by injuries. In his last healthy season, Swopshire averaged 7.5 points and 6.1 rebounds in 2009-10 while averaging 25 minutes per game.

SAN DIEGO STATE
F James Johnson (Virginia), F JJ O’Brien (from Utah), F Dwayne Polee II (from St. John’s)

O’Brien and Polee will bolster the Aztecs’ frontcourt. O’Brien started 21 games two years ago as a freshman at Utah and averaged 6.4 points and 5.5 rebounds. Polee averaged 4.4 points and 2.5 boards for the Red Storm. The addition of the 6-9, 248 pound James Johnson from Virginia will further bolster San Diego State’s size in the frontcourt.

SETON HALL
G/F Brian Oliver (from Georgia Tech), G Kyle Smith (from Iona), C Gene Teague (from Southern Illinois)

Oliver was billed as a top-level shooter, but he shot a disappointing 33.9 percent from 3 in two seasons at Georgia Tech. Two years ago, as a sophomore, he averaged 10.5 points per game. He likely will start for Seton Hall. The 6-9, 290-pound Teague is a space-eater in the paint who averaged 8.6 points and 5.3 rebounds while shooting 60.6 percent from the field as a sophomore at Southern Illinois. Smith is a 3-point is a 3-point shooting specialist from Iona.

UNLV
F Khem Birch (from Pittsburgh), G Bryce Dejean-Jones (from UCLA)

A top-10 national recruit, Birch lasted only one semester at Pittsburgh. He didn’t contribute much during his stay with the Panthers (4.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg), but he is an elite talent who will be a factor for the Runnin’ Rebels. A 6-5 shooting guard from Southern California, Dejean-Jones will have an opportunity to play a major role on a loaded UNLV team. Dejean-Jones averaged 7.6 points with the Trojans as a freshman in 2010-11. His arrival, however, will be delayed  by broken hand sustained earlier this month.

WEST VIRGINIA
G Matt Humphrey (from Boston College), C Aaric Murray (from La Salle), G Juwan Staten (from Dayton)

Both Murray and Staten were considered recruiting coups for the Atlantic 10 team that signed them. Alas, neither led their respective teams to the NCAA Tournament and instead transferred to West Virginia. Murray is a seasoned big man who averaged 15.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocks as a sophomore at La Salle. He has the size (6-10, 240) to be major factor in the paint but can also step out and knock down jump shots. Ranked among the top-40 recruits in the Class of 2011, Staten lasted only one season at Dayton, where he averaged 8.5 points and 5.4 assists. He will start at the point for West Virginia. Humphrey will conclude his career in the Big 12 after spending two seasons in the Pac-10 (Oregon) and one in the ACC (Boston College). He averaged 10.3 points per game last season for the Eagles.

SEVEN LOW-MAJOR TO HIGH-MAJOR TRANSFERS
Most transfers occur with players moving from a high-major to a mid-major or low-major. A handful of players are expected to make an impact despite moving from a lower level to a major conference.

Glen Dean, G, Eastern Washington to Utah
The Big Sky Freshman of the Year in 2009-10, Dean twice led Eastern Washington in scoring and assists and also shot over 40 percent from the 3-point arc in both seasons. He will start at the point and could team with another Seattle native — Aaron Dotson from LSU — in all-transfer backcourt.

R.J. Evans, G, Holy Cross to Connecticut
A graduate transfer who will have one season of eligibility, Evans will give a UConn team in transition some veteran leadership. He averaged 11.5 points as a junior for Holy Cross.

Evan Gordon, G, Liberty to Arizona State
The younger brother of standout NBA guard Eric Gordon will bring some much-needed offensive punch to an Arizona State team that is need of some scorers. Gordon averaged 14.4 points as a sophomore at Liberty but shot only 38.8 percent from the field.

Julius Mays, G, Wright State to Kentucky
The well-traveled Mays will end his career at Kentucky after stops at NC State and Wright State. He averaged 14.1 points last season while shooting over 40 percent from 3. He’s a combo guard who likely will see minutes both at the point and at shooting guard.  

Isaiah Philmore, F, Towson to Xavier
Philmore didn’t win a lot of games at Towson — the Tigers went 4–26 in ’10-11 — but the 6-8, 230-pound forward put up solid numbers (15.3 ppg, 7.0 rpg). He will battle for a starting spot on a front line that must replace Kenny Frease and Andre Walker.

Eric Wise, F, UC Irvine to USC
A small forward with good size (6-6, 240), Wise averaged 16.3 points and 8.1 rebounds in his final season at UC Irvine. He will contend for a starting spot on a much-improved Trojan team.

Trey Zeigler, G, Central Michigan to Pittsburgh
A former top-75 national recruit, Zeigler signed with Central Michigan to play for his father, Ernie Zeigler. Dad got fired, so the son bolted for the greener pastures of Pittsburgh, where he will be eligible immediately. The shooting guard averaged 15.6 points and 6.7 boards for the Chippewas last season.

@AthlonSports

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky

4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame
20. Florida

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball Preview: Impact transfers for 2012-13</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 05:53
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-safeties
Body:

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

Today, we rank college football's best safeties prospects:

1. Eric Reid, LSU (6-2, 208, Jr.)
Reid posted a huge sophomore year that included an unbeaten regular season as key member on a defense ranked second to only Alabama. Among his statisical contributions were 76 tackles and two interceptions, including the game-changer against the Tide in Tuscaloosa. Reid should finish his junior season as the top safety on NFL Draft boards. He has a rare blend of size and speed, physicality and finesse, leadership and toughness. He can play a deep-high point coverage scheme and can be used off the blitz to create havoc in the opposing backfield. He may not be as complete a safety as Mark Barron, but he’s close. There are no weaknesses in his game.

2. TJ McDonald, USC (6-3, 205, Sr.)
The NFL pedigree for the USC Trojans' defensive captain is well documented. His father, Tim, was an All-American at USC before playing 13 seasons in the NFL, six of which resulted in Pro Bowl invitations. The younger McDonald is a heady player who uses tremendous intangibles and physical play to make his presence felt on defense. After three great years in SoCal, he is leading the team in tackles and is poised for his best statistical season in 2012. He has a big frame and plays an NFL brand of football.

3. Matt Elam, Florida (5-10, 206, Jr.)*
There aren’t many players who perform on the field with more intensity and physicality than Elam. He is a huge hitter who could easily be the most talented player at his position nationally if his hot temper didn’t set his team back from time to time. He is fast, strong and a fiery leader for a Gators defense that ranks among the best in the land.

4. Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma (5-10, 198, Jr.)
There aren’t many players who are as versatile and athletic at the back end than Jefferson. He has previously played a hybrid safety-linebacker role, has lined up in the slot in man-to-man coverage, and is now leading his team in tackles playing a more traditional safety position this season. He also plays in a league that claims arguably the most complex and successful passing attacks, so his knowledge of coverage schemes should be advanced. He isn’t one of the bigger safety prospects, but he could be the most athletic and versatile of the bunch.

5. Shawn Williams, Georgia (6-1, 217, Sr.)*
His teammate got most of the headlines last fall — and this summer — but Williams is the most consistent performer in the Georgia Bulldogs' secondary. He has a big frame and has played against the most physical offensive lines in the game over the last few seasons in the SEC. He plays a physical brand of football after learning under former NFL coordinator Todd Grantham. He has shown the ability to excel against both the pass and the run.

6. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas (6-1, 218, Sr.)*
The Longhorns' defense has struggled mightily in 2012 and it will likely hurt Vaccaro’s draft stock as the leader of that unit. He is excellent in the box against the run using his physical style to make big plays. Against some of the pass-happy Big 12 offenses, however, his skills in open space have been exposed somewhat. He is still a tremendous prospect, but may be limited against the high-flying NFL attacks that populate the next level.

7. Robert Lester, Alabama (6-2, 210, Sr.)*
The Bama defense, ranked No. 1 again this fall in scoring and total defense, hasn’t needed big plays from its back end this fall. But Lester has been the clear leader of the totally reworked Crimson Tide secondary. He has great size, has posted big numbers in the past (8 INT in 2010), has been coached by DB guru Nick Saban, and has two national championship rings. He isn’t Mark Barron, but he should be a solid NFL player.

8. Hakeem Smith, Louisville (6-1, 185, Jr.)
There is a lot to like about the junior from Louisville. He has been coached at an elite level by defensive specialist Charlie Strong on a team that could win the Big East championship with an unblemished record. He has speed, versatility and a frame that can handle more weight. Smith is a guy who could fly up draft boards once the meat market begins in February.

9. Bacarri Rambo, Georgia (6-0, 210, Sr.)
Rambo’s track record is loaded with highlight-reel hits, 13 career interceptions entering his final season, an SEC East title and multiple off-the-field incidents. Some of his issues are blown out of proportion but a track record of poor decisions will negatively affect his draft stock. He isn’t as fluid and versatile in open space, but he has an NFL frame and delivers NFL hits.

10. Brian Blechen, Utah (6-2, 218, Jr.)
Blechen has been a leader for the Utes for four years. As a freshman All-American and four-year starter, Blechen has experience in essentially every situation — battling for a Pac-12 South Division title, playing on a 10-win team and overcoming the shortcomings of a struggling offense. He may not have the elite physical tools of another versatile Utah safety (Eric Weddle), but he has great size and the ability to be dropped into the box. He is an intriguing middle-round prospect.  

Other Names to Watch:

11. Duke Williams, Nevada (6-1, 200, Sr.)
12. Bradley McDougald, Kansas (6-1, 210, Sr.)
13. Jamoris Slaughter, Notre Dame (6-0, 200, Sr.)*
14. CJ Barnett, Ohio State (6-0, 202, Jr.)
15. Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse (5-10, 210, Sr.)
16. Jarred Holley, Pitt (5-10, 190, Sr.)
17. John Boyett, Oregon (5-10, 205, Sr.)
18. DJ Swearinger, South Carolina (6-0, 210, Sr.)
19. Daimion Stafford, Nebraska (6-1, 205, Sr.)
20. Zeke Motta, Notre Dame (6-2, 215, Sr.)*
21. Jawanza Starling, USC (6-1, 200, Sr.)*
22. Rashad Hall, Clemson (6-1, 210, Sr.)
23. Micah Hyde, Iowa (6-1, 190, Sr.)
24. Jordan Kovacs, Michigan (6-0, 202, Sr.)* 
25. Drew Frey, Cincinnati (6-3, 212, Sr.)*

* - strong safety

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

2013 NFL Draft: Running Backs

2013 NFL Draft: Tight Ends
2013 NFL Draft: Safeties

2013 NFL Draft: Defensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers

2013 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Inside Linebackers

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Safeties</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 05:50
Path: /nascar/clint-bowyer-wins-charlotte
Body:

After four races, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin had seemingly separated themselves in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Not so fast, says Clint Bowyer.

As the sport’s version of a playoff completed the “first half” in its 10-race run, Bowyer and his No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing team used strategy to outsmart the trio of favorites, winning the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway with superior fuel mileage.

Bowyer’s third win of the season moved his team to within 28 points of Keselowski in the championship standings.

“I looked at it last week and going into this week, I still thought if one of those guys (Keselowski, Johnson, Hamlin) were to stub a toe, it would really open the door for about eight of us to get right back into the championship hunt,” Bowyer said. “With a win here, it definitely gave us new life and new hope.”

Crew chief Brian Pattie echoed the sentiment, saying that, “Twenty-eight points is achievable over the next five weeks. It’s a lot better than 40, how we started the weekend.

“There’s three guys you’ve got to pass, not only the points. We’ll go to Kansas on Wednesday and test like hell and try to pick up our program even more than we have now because we weren’t the fastest car tonight, we just had (a winning) strategy. It would be nice to win one of these things and actually drive to Victory Lane.”

Keselowski, Johnson and Hamlin flexed their muscles throughout a tame event— leading a total of 228 of 334 laps—that witnessed five cautions, two of which were for debris.

But on lap 275, Keselowski’s No. 2 Penske Racing team did something it had largely avoided the previous four weeks: It made a mistake.

While attempting to stretch a tank of fuel, the championship leader—who led the most laps in the event (139)—ran out of gas while leading and coasted into the pits.

That opened the door for Bowyer, Johnson and Hamlin. With Keselowski mired in traffic, they went into fuel conservation mode, reasoning that, with one more full green-flag cycle left, everyone would be running on fumes as the race reached its conclusion.

And they were right. The twist, though, was that Bowyer was a forgotten soul, as the teams of Johnson and Hamlin calculated that they were the only two that would have enough in reserve to stretch one final cycle.

“We outfoxed him,” Bowyer said of Johnson’s crew chief, Chad Knaus. “Any time you outfox him you know you’ve done a good job, especially at this racetrack.”

The miscalculations were not especially harmful to Johnson and Hamlin, though, as the latter finished second and the former third.

Even Keselowski, who managed an 11th-place showing, did not appear to be distraught. He explained that aggressiveness was what got his team here, and one shouldn’t expect them to back off from that stance:

“We’re not going to put the prevent defense out there. We’re going to go at you and try to sack the quarterback every time. Sometimes you’re going to miss, and they’re going to get a big payoff.

“We have hit them a lot, that’s why we’re in the points lead, and we’re going to keep after it.”

Fair enough. And the next stop for NASCAR’s traveling circus is the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway, Bowyer’s home track. And a place that has seen Keselowski, Johnson and Hamlin each score a win in the series’ last three visits.

For those still alive with five races remaining, hope springs eternal.


by Matt Taliaferro
Follow Matt on Twitter: @MattTaliaferro

 

Teaser:
<p> Clint Bowyer worked his way back into title talk with his win in NASCAR's Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 14:04
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /news/college-footballs-top-25-rankings-week-8
Body:

College Football Top 25 Rankings, AlabamaEach week Athlon Sports ranks the Top 25 college football teams in the nation. Alabama and Oregon remain No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, with Notre Dame moving into the no. 3 slot. The biggest movers this week include the Texas Tech Red Raiders, up 27 spots, to No. 14; and Wisconsin coming in at No. 25 after shooting up 15 spots. 

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

 

ATHLON SPORTS' TOP 25 COLLEGE FOOTBALL POLL

Rank Team Last Week
#1 Alabama Crimson Tide #1 (-)
#2 Oregon Ducks #2 (-)
#3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish #4 (+1)
#4 Florida Gators #5 (+1)
#5 Kansas State Wildcats #7 (+2)
#6 Ohio State Buckeyes #9 (+3)
#7 LSU Tigers #8 (+1)
#8 Oklahoma Sooners #14 (+6)
#9 South Carolina Gamecocks #3 (-6)
#10 Georgia Bulldogs #10 (-)
#11 USC Trojans #11 (-)
#12 Florida State Seminoles #13 (+1)
#13 Clemson Tigers #15 (+2)
#14 Texas Tech Red Raiders #41 (+27)
#15 West Virginia Mountaineers #6 (-9)
#16 Oregon State Beavers #16 (-)
#17 Louisville Cardinals #17 (-)
#18 Rutgers Scarlet Knights #18 (-)
#19 Michigan Wolverines #20 (+1)
#20 Mississippi State Bulldogs #22 (+2)
#21 Stanford Cardinal #19 (-2)
#22 Cincinnati Bearcats #23 (+1)
#23 Texas A&M Aggies #24 (+1)
#24 Arizona State Sun Devils #25 (+1)
#25 Wisconsin Badgers #40 (+15)

Teaser:
<p> Each week Athlon Sports ranks the Top 25 college football teams&nbsp;in the nation.</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 11:55
Path: /college-football/college-football-2012-midseason-awards-and-recap
Body:

With the completion of Week 7, the first half of the 2012 college football season is officially in the books. As expected, there have been plenty of surprises from the first two months of action and no shortage of preseason picks gone awry. With West Virginia's loss on Saturday, the race to win the Heisman Trophy is wide open, with Ohio State's Braxton Miller taking a slight lead over Geno Smith. Alabama and Oregon are the favorites to play for the national championship, but both teams still have plenty of hurdles left to clear the rest of the way. While a lot will happen over the second half of the year, it's time to step back and take a look at some of the top performers and disappointments for 2012. 

College Football's Midseason Awards for 2012

Heisman frontrunner: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Geno Smith’s Heisman hopes didn’t completely disappear in Lubbock, but they certainly took a hit, especially considering West Virginia lost by 35 points to an unranked team. Due to Smith’s setback, Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller takes a slight edge as the new Heisman frontrunner. The sophomore has thrown for 1,271 yards and 11 scores, while adding 912 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. Miller ranks 17th nationally with 311.9 total yards per game and also places third nationally in rushing yards by a quarterback. Most importantly, the sophomore has delivered in the clutch this season. With Ohio State still searching for playmakers around him, Miller has produced big plays late in games against California, Michigan State and Nebraska to lead his team to victory. The Ohio State coaching staff would like to reduce Miller’s workload to keep him fresh for the final five games of the year, but the sophomore is simply too valuable and too much of a playmaker to take away his touches.

The Next Four Candidates:

2. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
4. Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
5. De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
 

Offensive Player of the Year – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Since Braxton Miller is listed as our Heisman favorite, we thought we would spread the wealth and give Smith the nod as our offensive player of the year for the first half of the season. Despite the disappointing showing at Texas Tech, the senior has thrown for 2,271 yards and 25 scores this year. Smith is completing 75.3 percent of his passes and has yet to toss an interception through the first six games. With match-ups against Kansas State and Oklahoma in the second half of the year, the senior will have a chance to climb back into the Heisman mix, along with pushing West Virginia into contention for a BCS bowl.

Honorable Mention:

Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
 

Defensive Player of the Year: Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame
Te’o has been simply outstanding this year, as he is the heart and soul for one of the nation’s best defenses through the first seven weeks of the season. The senior leads Notre Dame with 59 stops, has recorded two tackles for a loss, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Te’o’s impact goes beyond the box score, especially in terms of leadership and was a key cog in Notre Dame’s goal-line stand over Stanford in Week 7. It’s not often a defensive player is a serious Heisman contender, but if Te’o continues to perform at this level, he should be one of the five finalists for college football’s most prestigious award.

Honorable Mention:

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
 

Coach of the Year: Mike Riley, Oregon State
After finishing 2011 with a 3-9 record, the expectations were low in Corvallis. Even though Mike Riley had resurrected the program from one of the worst in the nation to respectability, some wondered if he should be on the hot seat if Oregon State got off to a slow start this season. Fast forward to October, and the Beavers are in the thick of the Pac-12 title hunt. Oregon State is one of 12 unbeaten teams and quietly has one of the best resumes in the nation with victories over Wisconsin, UCLA, Arizona, Washington State and BYU. The Beavers are a much-improved team in the stat box, ranking fourth nationally against the run and are averaging 83.9 yards more per game on offense. Oregon State has a shot to be unbeaten when it plays Oregon on Nov. 24, but the biggest takeaway through the first seven weeks is Riley remains one of the Pac-12’s best coaches.

Honorable Mention:

Brian Kelly, Notre Dame
Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Will Muschamp, Florida
Bill Snyder, Kansas State
 

Best Coaching Hire: Urban Meyer, Ohio State
As expected, Meyer and Ohio State have been a perfect combination. The Buckeyes had plenty of talent last season, but the uncertainty surrounding the coaching staff and inexperience of quarterback Braxton Miller contributed to a disappointing 6-7 record. Meyer’s spread attack has ignited an offense that was conservative under former coach Jim Tressel, while turning Miller into a Heisman frontrunner. Ohio State’s defense still needs some work but help is on the way from another impressive recruiting class. Even though the Buckeyes are banned from postseason play, Meyer has this team poised to claim a top-five finish at the end of the year.

Honorable Mention:

Bill O’Brien, Penn State
Kyle Flood, Rutgers
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
 

Biggest surprise: Notre Dame
It’s a tossup between Oregon State and Notre Dame for this honor, but since we gave Mike Riley the coach of the year spot, let’s give some credit to the Irish. Notre Dame is off to its best start since beginning 8-0 in 2012. High expectations surrounded the Irish last season, but Brian Kelly’s team didn’t quite meet those goals, finishing 8-5 with a loss to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl. However, the Irish are on track to finish with at least 10 victories and make a BCS bowl appearances. Kelly developed an impressive resume at Grand Valley State, Central Michigan and Cincinnati with high-scoring offenses, but it has been the defense leading the way for Notre Dame in 2012. The Irish rank second nationally in scoring defense and are allowing just 287 yards per game. The offense needs to show improvement if Notre Dame wants to challenge for a national title, but a 10-2 season and a BCS bowl would go a long way towards making the Irish a yearly top-10 team once again.

Honorable Mention:

Duke
Florida
Oregon State
Penn State
Rutgers
 

Biggest disappointment: Auburn
No one anticipated Auburn would compete for the national title in 2012, but the Tigers weren’t expected to be this bad either. Auburn is off to its worst start since 1998, opening the year 1-5 with a narrow 31-28 win over Louisiana-Monroe as its only bright spot of the season. Both sides of the ball are to blame, as the Tigers rank 115th nationally in scoring offense and 78th nationally in total defense. Auburn’s quarterback play has been a disaster, and there’s too much talent on this defense to be ranked 12th in the SEC in yards allowed after six games. The Tigers have recruited as well as anyone in the SEC but the results on the field aren’t matching up. With only two winnable games remaining on the schedule, Auburn will likely miss out on a bowl game for the first time since 2008. Even though Gene Chizik won a national title in 2010, he may not be back for 2013.

Honorable Mention:

Arkansas
Michigan State
South Florida
Virginia Tech
 

Breakout player: Mike Gillislee, RB, Florida
Although Florida’s defense has been stingy this year, the real reason for the Gators’ turnaround has been the offense. Gillislee had 920 career rushing yards coming into the season but has been a workhorse through the first six games. The senior has 615 yards and seven rushing scores on 120 attempts, while catching four passes for 26 yards. Gillislee’s best performance came in the win over LSU, rushing for 146 yards and two touchdowns on 34 attempts. The senior’s performance is a key reason why Florida is second in the BCS standings and is one of college football’s top national title contenders.

Honorable Mention:

Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State
Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern
 

Top Freshman: Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Life in the SEC was supposed to be tough for Texas A&M. However, the emergence of Johnny Manziel has quickly turned the Aggies from a likely .500 finish into a solid top-25 team. The redshirt freshman has thrown for 1,680 yards and 14 touchdowns, while adding 676 yards and 10 scores on the ground. Manziel has tossed only three picks and is completing 69.3 percent of his throws. In addition to his stats, Johnny Football has produced several highlight-reel plays and will be a handful for the rest of the SEC over the next three-plus seasons.

Honorable Mention:

Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia
Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Devonte Fields, DE, TCU
 

Coach on the Hot Seat: Joker Phillips, Kentucky
Phillips has experienced some bad luck this season, as the offense has lost two quarterbacks (Maxwell Smith and Patrick Towles), while several young players have been forced to step into significant playing time on both sides of the ball. However, the Wildcats haven’t been competitive in SEC competition and suffered a crushing 32-31 defeat to Western Kentucky in Week 3. Although Phillips led Kentucky to a bowl game in his first season, he is just 6-13 since 2010 and the program has fallen behind Vanderbilt in the new 14-team SEC.

Honorable Mention:

Gene Chizik, Auburn
Derek Dooley, Tennessee
Frank Spaziani, Boston College
Jeff Tedford, California
 

Worst Coaching Hire: Ellis Johnson, Southern Miss
Johnson seemed like a strange fit at Southern Miss when he was hired and so far, the results have matched those initial feelings. The Golden Eagles have played a difficult schedule but are off to a miserable 0-6 start. Southern Miss has struggled to be competitive most of the year, before taking UCF to two overtimes in Week 7. Johnson’s career record as a head coach is 17-34, with previous stints at Gardner-Webb and The Citadel resulting in four .500 or worse seasons. It’s unlikely Johnson will be fired after one year; however, he may not last past 2013 if Southern Miss has another losing season.

Honorable Mention:

Tim Beckman, Illinois
Norm Chow, Hawaii
Carl Pelini, FAU
Charlie Weis, Kansas
 

From Hot Seat to Low Pressure:  Randy Edsall, Maryland
Edsall had a disastrous start to his tenure at Maryland, as the Terrapins went 2-10 last season and 25 players have left the team since his arrival. However, Maryland appears to be one of the most-improved teams in the ACC, doubling its win total from last season with a 4-2 record through six games. With starting quarterback C.J. Brown sidelined for the year with a torn ACL, the Terrapins have been forced to start true freshman Perry Hills at quarterback, but the young passer has held his own and continues to get better with each snap. Even if Edsall doesn’t lead Maryland to a bowl game this season, it’s clear the program is headed back in the right direction.

Honorable Mention:

Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech
 

National Title frontrunners: Alabama vs. Oregon
There’s a lot of football left, but Alabama and Oregon hit the halfway point of the season as the favorites to meet in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Jan. 7. The Crimson Tide’s schedule is very favorable, with a road trip to LSU on Nov. 3 the toughest game the rest of the year. The Ducks have a few more landmines on their schedule, starting with a Thursday night game at Arizona State this week. Oregon also travels to USC, California and Oregon State in the regular season. If both teams manage to navigate the rest of the schedule unbeaten, each will have to survive a conference title game. Alabama has avoided the top teams from the East Division this year, but a match-up against Florida or South Carolina is no cupcake. If Oregon makes it to the Pac-12 title game, a rematch against USC appears likely. If this is the national title match-up, these two teams have never met and it will be Oregon’s second championship appearance against an SEC squad.
 

Newcomer (JUCO) – Morgan Breslin, DE, USC
The defensive line was one of USC’s top concerns in the preseason, but Breslin has emerged as a force in his first season out of the junior college ranks. The Diablo Valley (Calif.) transfer has 26 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss and seven sacks through the first six games. Breslin has been one of the Pac-12’s top defenders through the first half and his play will be especially critical down the stretch, as USC takes on Oregon, Arizona State, UCLA and Notre Dame in November.

Honorable Mention:

Bo Wallace, QB, Ole Miss
Cordarrelle Patterson, WR, Tennessee
Will Smith, LB, Texas Tech
Deion Belue, CB, Alabama
 

Coach on the Rise: Willie Taggart, Western Kentucky
When the coaching carousel begins later this year, expect Taggart’s name to be floated for many of the top vacancies. The Hilltoppers have won 12 out of their last 14 games, with the only losses coming to Alabama and LSU. In the two seasons prior to Taggart’s arrival, Western Kentucky was 2-22. The Hilltoppers are in good position to make their first bowl appearance since moving to the FBS level in 2008, but keeping Taggart will be a challenge with a couple of marquee jobs likely to be open at the end of the year. 

Honorable Mention:

Gary Andersen, Utah State
Sonny Dykes, Louisiana Tech
Darrell Hazell, Kent State
Mike MacIntyre, San Jose State


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


Related College Football Content

ACC Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

Big East Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

Big Ten Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

Big 12 Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

Pac-12 Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

SEC Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions

College Football Week 7 Recap

Teaser:
<p> College Football 2012 Midseason Awards and Recap</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 11:50
Path: /college-football/bcs-standings-2012-statistical-breakdown-championships
Body:

With the first release of the 2012 BCS Standings, Athlon Sports wants to make sure fans are aware of some stats, trends and rankings when sifting through the debut of the rankings that will eventually determine who will play for the national championship.

No. 1 has a 50% chance to play in the BCS National Championship Game
The No. 1 team in the initial BCS release has gone on to play in the national championship game seven of the 14 total releases. LSU was No. 1 in the first poll last season, but the Bayou Bengals were the first team since Ohio State in 2007 to debut at No. 1 and still play in the title game. But there is bad news coming for the Alabama Crimson Tide...

However, No. 1 doesn’t win the national title
Yes, seven of the 14 BCS title games featured a team ranked No. 1 in the debut release of the standings. But the last four — and five of seven — No. 1s have lost in the national championship game. LSU (2011), Ohio State (2007, '06) and USC (2005) all debuted in the BCS at No. 1, made it to the title game and lost. Florida State in 1999 and USC in 2004 are the only teams to win the national title after debuting at No. 1. Oklahoma in 2003 also began the BCS at No. 1 only to lose in the championship game to LSU.

You better be ranked in the top six
Of the 28 teams that have played in BCS title game, only two of those got there after being ranked outside of the top six in the initial release. In 2003, LSU debuted at No. 12 in the initial BCS standings and is by far the lowest ranked eventual national champion. Florida in 2008 was ranked No. 10 in the first poll and is the only other team to get to the title game after being ranked outside of the top six in the first BCS standings. Here is a breakdown of how the top 12 have fared in the title game:

Ranking in Initial Release Played in Title Game Won Championship
1st 7 2-5
2nd 7 4-3
3rd 4 1-3
4th 4 3-1
5th 1 0-1
6th 3 2-1
7th, 8th, 9th 0 0-0
10th 1 1-0
11th 0 0-0
12th 1 1-0

Projected Championship Game Match-up: Alabama (1) vs. Florida (2)
The odds of this happening are slim. Only twice in 14 years have the top two teams in the first BCS release go on to play in the championship game. In 2005, USC (1) and Texas (2) were clearly the best two teams in the nation and they eventually met in what many consider the greatest college football game ever played. Last year, LSU (1) and Alabama (2) become only the second such meeting. Both times No. 2 went on to win the title.

How should the Florida Gators feel?
Based on the 14-year history of the BCS, the Florida Gators should feel the best about their current title hopes. The No. 2 team in the first release has made it to the championship game about the same number of times as the No. 1 team (7). But while No. 1 is 2-5 in title game performances, No. 2 has won more titles than any other slot in the first release (4-3). This means the Gators have the best statistical chance of winning the national championship. 

Sneaky Pick: Kansas State Wildcats
While No. 1 and No. 2 make it to the title game the most, the No. 4 team in the first BCS standings has the best record in the national championship game. Fourth place is 3-1 in national title games as Miami (2001), LSU (2007) and Auburn (2010) went from fourth to national champ.

Some comfort for LSU
Being in the top six is huge as I previously pointed out, so LSU has to feel good about landing there. Additionally, the sixth place team in the first BCS standings is 2-1 in national title games. Ohio State (2002) and Florida (2006) both went from No. 6 to champions. So don’t count the Tigers out just yet.

Bad News for South Carolina, Oregon State and Oklahoma
No team ranked No. 7, 8 or 9 in the debut of the BCS standings has ever gone on to play in the national championship game. The No. 11 team has never made it either. This is also bad news for the Georgia Bulldogs. Alas, it also means we won't get the highly anticipated Beavers-Gamecocks match-up fans have been clamoring about for years.

New faces or traditional powers?
No team has ever played for the national title coming from outside of the top 12. But fans could expect to see a totally new look to the championship game this fall. Of the top 12, six have never made an appearance in the BCS championship game. However, of the other six teams, five have won the BCS national championship. Only Oregon has played in the title game and not claimed at least one crystal football.

How many Top 10 teams stay in contention?
On average, 6.4 teams per season ranked in the top 10 of the first release will stay in the top 10 for the final release. This means that 3-4 teams ranked in the top 10 right now will fade from relevance. Who are the most likely candidates? Oregon State? South Carolina? Oklahoma?

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 7 Recap

ACC 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big East 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big Ten 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big 12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Pac-12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
SEC 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review 

Teaser:
<p> BCS Standings 2012: A Statistical Breakdown of Championships</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 11:22
Path: /nfl/denver-broncos-vs-san-diego-chargers-preview-and-prediction
Body:

Two divisional foes coming off painful road losses will clash on Monday Night Football, when the San Diego Chargers host the Denver Broncos at 8:30 p.m. EST on ESPN. The Lightning Bolts appeared to be on their way to a 4-1 start with a 24-14 lead over the Saints late in the third quarter last week, but New Orleans would rally with 17 unanswered points to win 31-24 and send San Diego home with a 3-2 mark. The Denver defense was gashed in New England eight days ago, as the Patriots piled up 251 rushing yards in a 31-21 defeat of the Broncos.

When the San Diego Chargers have the ball:
The Chargers offense entered the weekend ranked 23rd in the NFL in yards per game (334.8) but 13th in scoring (24.8 ppg), so Philip Rivers and company have done a good job of capitalizing on their opportunities. The veteran quarterback has spread the ball around this season, as five San Diego pass catchers have double-digit receptions. And that does not include offseason signee Robert Meachem, who had two touchdowns versus New Orleans. The Chargers will look for a big game from running back Ryan Mathews, who had 139 total yards and a score last week and has torched the Broncos defense in the past.

The Denver defense has been very inconsistent under new coordinator Jack Del Rio, digging early holes against top opponents. In their three losses to Atlanta, Houston and New England, the Broncos have allowed a combined 58 first-half points. That must stop if Denver is going to compete with the Chargers in the AFC West. The Broncos must also start generating turnovers, as they have totaled only four takeaways in five games. Denver will look to limit Mathews while pressuring Rivers, who has been sacked 14 times this season.

When the Denver Broncos have the ball:
The Broncos have started to adjust to new quarterback Peyton Manning, but turnovers, offensive line injuries and an average running game have hurt the offense. The four-time MVP has thrown for 975 yards and eight touchdowns against no interceptions over the last three games, but Denver has lost two of those contests. The Broncos have a potential star in receiver Demaryius Thomas, but he has lost a fumble in three straight games. Denver needs to get more out of veteran runner Willis McGahee, but the early deficits have hurt his opportunities.

The Chargers defense has been solid against the run this season, ranking fifth in the NFL. McGahee has had past success versus San Diego, so he will be a focal point as the Chargers look to make the Broncos one-dimensional. Manning struggled against San Diego during his days with the Colts, and John Pagano’s unit will try to continue that trend by adding to its 10 takeaways on the season.

Key Factor:
The Broncos defense must simply solve its first-half issues and not keep putting the team into uphill battles in key games. The team that can establish a running attack will have a huge advantage in this Monday night battle. The early AFC West lead is at stake in San Diego, and we’ll take the home team to prevail with Rivers and Mathews leading the way.

Prediction:
Chargers 27 Broncos 23


---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 

Teaser:
<p> Denver Broncos vs. San Diego Chargers Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 07:19
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/eight-amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-6
Body:

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

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 6 of NFL play:

12-for-12: Redskins have scored in all 12 goal-to-go situations
After going a perfect 3-for-3 in the come-from-behind win over Minnesota, the Redskins are now a perfect 12-for-12 in goal-to-go situation in 2012. More importantly, Robert Griffin III has led his team to 11 touchdowns in those 12 first-and-goals and just one field goal. This indicates that the offensive line is finishing drives and RG3 is protecting the football deep in the opponent's red zone. The talented first-year QB finished with 138 yards rushing, including an electric game-clinching 76-yard touchdown run. The 138 yards are the most since Michael Vick rushed for 166 in 2006 and the TD run was the longest by an NFL quarterback since Kordell Stewart broke off an 80-yard scoring run back in 1996.

5-of-7: NFC teams with a winning record who lost on Sunday
Since the 4-1 Chicago Bears were on a bye this weekend, there were only seven NFC teams with winning records playing on Week 6. Five of those seven lost. Four of the five came against teams with a losing record and three of those five came at home. The NFC is clearly the dominant conference, claiming all three divisions with a winning record: NFC West (15-9), NFC North (12-9) and NFC East (12-11). Wins from teams like Detroit and Washington this weekend only further indicate just how deep and complicated the NFC is in 2012. Add to it a Green Bay win over Houston in impressive fashion and the NFC claims the last unbeaten in 6-0 Atlanta.

16-0: Packers record when Jordy Nelson has at least 75 receiving yards
The Green Bay Packers are unbeaten when star wideout Jordy Nelson catches at least 75 receiving yards, including a 2-0 postseason mark. Aaron Rodgers was downright ruthless Sunday night and No. 87 abused the Texans secondary to the tune of nine receptions, 122 yards and three touchdowns. The Pack also moves to 15-3 in the regular season when the Kansas State wide receiver catches at least one touchdown (29-20 when he does not). This was a statement win for the reeling Packers and Rodgers' aerial assault in Houston has Green Bay right back into the heart of the NFC race. And for good measure, after two touchdown receptions Sunday night against the Texans, James Jones now leads the NFL in receiving touchdowns with seven.

10:30: Time left in the fourth quarter and the Eagles leading 16-6
The Lions scored a touchdown with 10:30 left in the game trailing 16-6. The Matt Stafford one-yard touchdown run was the first of four different scoring drives, including the last three of the game, resulting in 20 points to cap the game for the Lions — a 26-23 road overtime win. This game was virtually dead even other than one major statistic. Detroit ran 73 plays and got 25 first downs while Philly ran 78 plays for 24 first downs. Stafford threw 45 passes while Michael Vick attempted 46. The Lions ran the ball 28 times while the Eagles ran it 29 times. Both teams had 14 total possessions and 15 passing first downs. And after 60 minutes, both teams had 23 points. But the only stat that matters? The big reason the Lions went on a 20-7 run while the City of not-so-Brotherly Love watched its team collapse? Michael Vick's 13th turnover (8 INT, 5 FL). After three more giveaways, he is on pace for 37 turnovers this year.

10-0: Giants record when Ahmad Bradshaw rushes for 100 yards
Ahmad Bradshaw carried the ball 27 times for 116 yards and a touchdown in the dominating road win over the 49ers. It took Bradshaw until his 43rd career game before he got at least 20 carries, but the Giants are now 7-1 when the former Marshall running back gets 20+ rushing attempts — 10-0 when he tops the century mark. His 27 carries were his second-most carries in a game, trailing only the 30 he got last week against Cleveland. The 49ers offense, on the other hand, were held to roughly half (314 yards) of its franchise record output set last week against the Bills (621 yards). Alex Smith has now been sacked nine times in the last two meetings with the Giants — including last year's NFC Championship game.

108 and 13: A.J. Green's NFL record catches and TDs in first 21 career games
No wide receiver has had a better start to a career than Cincinnati's second-year superstar. He has 108 receptions, 1,685 yards and 13 touchdown catches — two of which are the best in the history of the sport for anyone in their first 21 games. Green is leading the NFL in receiving yards (628), is second in receiving touchdowns (6) and is third behind only Percy Harvin (49) and Wes Welker (48) in receptions. His current rate of production would put him on pace for 115 receptions, 1,675 yards and 16 touchdowns, all three of which would have ranked No. 2 in the NFL last year. He has quickly become one of the most uncoverable players in the league and has obviously developed an excellent rapport with fellow youngster Andy Dalton.

67.8: Yards rushing per game for Dallas prior to Week 6
If the Cowboys are going to make a push for a playoff spot, improving their 30th ranked rushing attack at 67.8 yards per game was a must. Despite coming up just short on the road on Sunday to fall to 2-3, Jason Garrett can take comfort in how his ground game performed. The Boys rushed 42 times for 227 yards — a franchise record for rushing yards allowed by a Baltimore Ravens defense — at a hearty 5.4 yards per carry clip. The injury-prone DeMarco Murray rushed for 93 yards before leaving with a foot injury in the second half, but Felix Jones picked up the slack with 92 yards and a touchdown of his own. With many of the NFC contenders losing in Week 6, Dallas is clearly right in the thick of the playoff hunt. And if Garrett's bunch can run the rock like it did against Baltimore, they will be in the mix until all season long. It also makes Tony Romo's job dramatically easier.

252: Jets total rushing yards
The Jets' 252 yards rushing on Sunday was the most productive game for the New York franchise since Week 17 of 2010. It was more than the three previous games combined (207 yards) and was 169 yards more than the season average of 83.0 yards per game. Shonn Greene was a monster in the easy win over the Colts, rushing for a career-high 161 yards, or 38 more than his previous four games combined, and three touchdowns. It was his fifth career 100-yard effort. As a side note, Tim Tebow had seven yards on four carries.

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> 8 Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 6</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 06:55
Path: /college-football/sec-midseason-report
Body:

At the midpoint of the 2012 season, it’s time to take a look at the first half and predict how the second half will turn out in the SEC.

First-Half Awards

Coach of the Year — Will Muschamp, Florida
After struggling through a difficult first season — the Gators’ 3–5 record in the SEC in 2011 was the school’s worst since 1986 — Muschamp has the Gators in the thick of the SEC East race in Year 2. Florida improved to 6–0 overall and 5–0 in the league with a 31–17 win at Vanderbilt on Saturday. The Gators are winning with defense and power-running game — a formula that has served Muschamp’s former boss, Nick Saban, quite well over the years. Senior tailback Mike Gillislee ranks second in the SEC in rushing with 102.5 yards per game and is on pace to be Florida’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2004. The defense has been dominant, ranking 13th in the nation in total yards and sixth in points allowed.

Freshman of the Year — Todd Gurley, Georgia
Johnny Manziel is the midseason Offense Player of the Year, so we will tab Gurley as the SEC’s top freshman. The 6-1, 218-pound native of North Carolina ranks fourth in the SEC in rushing with 95.8 yards per game on a healthy 7.1-yard average. He has topped the 100-yard mark in four of six games and had back-to-back 130-yard efforts in wins over Vanderbilt and Tennessee. Fellow freshman tailback Keith Marshall is averaging 77.5 yards per game and 7.3 yards per carry.

Newcomer of the Year — Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee
Patterson has lived up to the hype in his first season out of junior college. The 6-3, 205-pound wide receiver is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Through six games, Patterson has 23 catches for 315 yards and three touchdowns and has carried the ball 11 times for 214 yards (19.5 per rush) and two scores. He teams with junior Justin Hunter to form one of the nation’s most dangerous wide receiver tandems.

Offensive Player of the Year — Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M
Manziel, a one-time Oregon commitment, has been spectacular for Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies in their first season in the SEC. A true dual-threat quarterback, Manziel is one of three quarterbacks in the nation with over 1,500 yards passing and 500 yards rushing. He has been efficient throwing the ball, completing 67.4 percent of his passes with 14 touchdowns and only three interceptions. Most important, he’s winning: The Aggies are 5–1 overall and 2–1 in the SEC, with the only loss coming by three points to Florida in their season-opener. Manziel was at his best in A&M’s 59–57 win at Louisiana Tech on Saturday night. He broke is own SEC record for total yards in a game (576) by throwing for 395 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 181 and three scores.

Defensive Player of the Year — Jadaveon Clowney, South Carolina
Georgia’s Jarvis Jones received a lot of buzz early in the season, but Clowney has been the most dominant defender in the first half of 2012. A freakishly athletic 6-6, 256-pound defensive end, Clowney spearheads a defense that has limited all seven opponents — including five in conference play — to 17 points or fewer. Clowney, the likely No. 1 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, has recorded 31 tackles, including 12.0 for a loss (with 6.5 sacks).

Midseason Disappointment (Team) — Auburn
Just two years removed from winning the national championship, Auburn is now the worst the team in the SEC West. The Tigers secured that dubious honor by losing on Saturday at Ole Miss, which had not won an SEC game since October 2010. Auburn is 1–5 overall and 0–4 in the SEC and ranks last in the league in total offense and 12th in total defense. The Tigers head to Nashville this week to play Vanderbilt in a game Gene Chizik cannot afford to lose.

Midseason Disappointment (Player) — Knile Davis, Arkansas
Maybe he’s not 100 percent healthy after missing last season with an ankle injury, but Davis has yet to show the skills that made him one of the elite offensive players in the nation in the final two-thirds of the 2010 season. Through seven games, Davis has a total of 337 yards on 98 carries for an alarmingly low 3.4 yards-per-carry average — almost three yards less than his career average heading into the ’12 season.

Midseason Surprise (Team) — Florida
Mississippi State deserves a ton of credit for its 6–0 start, but Florida gets the nod thanks to its top-5 ranking and the quality of its wins. The Gators, a fringe-top-25 team in the preseason, already have three SEC road wins and have a victory over LSU at home. There are still more hurdles to climb — the Gators play South Carolina and Georgia in the next two weeks — but right now Florida looks like the best team in the much-improved SEC East.

Midseason Surprise (Player) — Jeff Driskel, Florida
The quarterback position was a huge concern for Florida heading into the 2012 season. Now it’s a strength. Driskel has emerged as a weapon in the Gators’ run-first offense and has also shown the ability to hurt defense’s in the passing game. He has completed 74-of-111 passes for 836 yards with four touchdowns and only one interception. He had moderate success running the ball in Florida’s first five games but then busted out with 181 yards (a record for a Gator quarterback) and three touchdowns in a 31–17 win at Vanderbilt Saturday night.

What Athlon Sports got right — We weren’t exactly going out on a limb, but Kentucky was the preseason pick to finish last in the SEC East. We also projected a three-way tie for fourth place in the East between Missouri, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, and it looks like all three teams will be jockeying for position in the middle of the division throughout the conference season.

What Athlon Sports got wrong — We undervalued South Carolina and Florida, projecting both to finish 5–3 and in a tie for second place in the East behind Georgia. We thought LSU would finish ahead of Alabama in the West, but it looks as though the Crimson Tide will represent the division in the SEC title game. And we also didn’t envision that Auburn would be quite so bad. We picked the Tigers to finish with a .500 mark in the SEC and in fourth place in the West.

Second-Half Predictions

Here’s how we think things will look at the conclusion of the 2012 season.

SEC East
1. Florida
2. South Carolina
3. Georgia
4. Tennessee
5. Vanderbilt
6. Missouri
7. Kentucky

SEC West
1. Alabama
2. LSU
3. Mississippi State
4. Texas A&M
5. Arkansas
6. Ole Miss
7. Auburn


Three Things to Watch

Coaches on the Hot Seat — Joker Phillips is almost assuredly gone at Kentucky, and the John L. Smith experiment will come to an end some time in December, but what about the other coaches on the hot seat? Can Derek Dooley do enough in the second half of the season to save his job? Conventional wisdom suggest that Dooley must win at least eight games, but would an 8–4 record that doesn’t include a quality win in SEC play be enough to give him another year? What about Gene Chizik? Would the Auburn administration pull the plug only two years after he won a national title. Here’s some advice for Chizik: Don’t lose to Vanderbilt next week in Nashville.

LSU’s offense — The Tigers, as usual, are fielding a championship defense. The offense, however, isn’t quite doing its part. Through six games, LSU ranks 73rd in the nation in total offense (395.7) and 49th in scoring offense (32.0 ppg). In three SEC games, wins over Auburn and South Carolina and a loss at Florida, the Tigers have scored a total of 41 points. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who was expected to upgrade the passing attack, ranks 10th in the SEC in passing efficiency and has only six touchdown passes in seven games. Despite the disappointing showing in Gainesville two weeks ago, LSU is still very much alive in the national title race. The offense, however, must improve significantly for this team to live up to its preseason expectations.

Auburn’s question to win a game — Take a look at Auburn’s schedule. If the Tigers don’t win this weekend at Vanderbilt — and they opened as an 8-point underdog — it’s quite possible they will end the 2012 SEC season with an 0–8 record. After Saturday’s trip to Nashville, Auburn hosts Texas A&M (Oct. 27) and Georgia (Nov. 10) and plays at Alabama (Nov. 24) — games that range from difficult to very difficult to sure death. The Tigers have gone winless in the SEC five times, most recently in 1980 when Doug Barfield’s final team went 0–6.


Three Games to Watch in the Second Half

1. South Carolina at Florida, Oct. 20 — The winner of next week’s showdown at the Swamp will emerge as a strong favorite to represent the East in the SEC Championship Game. Two years ago, South Carolina clinched its first-ever SEC East title with an impressive 36–14 win over the Gators in Gainesville. This Florida team, however, is much tougher — both physically and mentally. It should be a great game.

2. Alabama at LSU, Nov. 3 — The hype won’t be quite as outrageous as last year, but this is still the game of the year in the SEC. Alabama is the consensus No. 1 team in the country, and LSU proved last week in its win over South Carolina that it’s still very capable of beating any team in the nation.

3. Florida vs. Georgia, Oct. 27 — Georgia’s ego took a big hit with its humbling 35–7 loss at South Carolina a few weeks ago, but this still a very good team that can still have a special season. The Dawgs need some help, but don’t rule out a return to Atlanta for the SEC title game. Beating Florida in Jacksonville, however, is a must.

Post-Week 7 Power Rankings

1. Alabama — Crimson Tide overpower Missouri to remain unbeaten.

2. Florida — It wasn't easy, but Gators survive in Nashville thanks to Jeff Driskel.

3. LSU — Tigers' defense shuts down Gamecocks attack.

4. South Carolina — Did Carolina's title hope die in Death Valley?

5. Georgia — Dawgs still very much alive in SEC East race.

6. Mississippi State — Russell was the better Tyler as State stays perfect.

7. Texas A&M — Johnny Manziel runs and throws Aggies past Louisiana Tech.

8. Tennessee — Vols doomed by slow start in Starkville.

9. Arkansas — Hogs dominate Kentucky with ease.

10. Vanderbilt — Special teams was the difference in loss vs. Florida.

11. Ole Miss — Rebels pick up first SEC win in two years.

12. Missouri — Shorthanded Tigers no match for powerful Alabama.

13. Auburn — Tigers show signs of life on offense but lose in Oxford.

14. Kentucky — Wildcats whipped in every phase in Fayetteville. 

@AthlonMitch

Related College Football Content

Week 7 College Football Recap

ACC Midseason Review and Second Half Predictions

Big East Midseason Review and Second Half Predictions

Big Ten Midseason Review and Second Half Predictions

Pac-12 Midseason Review and Second Half Predictions

Big 12 Midseason Review and Second Half Predictions

Teaser:
<p> At the midpoint of the 2012 season, it’s time to take a look at the first half and predict how the second half will turn out in the SEC.</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 06:45
Path: /college-football/big-12-2012-second-half-predictions-and-midseason-review
Body:

The first half of the Big 12 season is in the books. It’s been a strong first seven weeks for the conference, as four teams are ranked in the Associated Press poll and only one team is out of bowl contention (Kansas). The Big 12 still has a legitimate national title contender, along with two players who could get into the Heisman mix (Geno Smith and Collin Klein). It’s still a wide-open battle to win the conference, but Kansas State, West Virginia and Oklahoma appear to be the frontrunners. However, Texas Tech cannot be ignored after last week’s win over the Mountaineers.

Coach of the Year – Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Underrate the Wildcats at your own risk. Kansas State was picked by most to finish outside of the top four in the preseason, yet hit the midpoint of the year as the No. 1 team in the conference. Once again, Snyder’s team isn’t overwhelming or overly impressive on paper but always finds ways to win games. Kansas State simply isn’t beating itself, as the Wildcats are averaging just three penalties per game and rank seventh nationally in turnover margin. Quarterback Collin Klein has carried this offense, averaging 264 yards per game, but running back John Hubert is quietly averaging 101 yards per contest. Kansas State is 3-0 in Big 12 play after seven weeks and has a huge test at West Virginia next Saturday. Snyder isn’t flashy and will never have the nation’s most prolific offense. However, the Wildcats are a national title contender and can take a commanding lead in the Big 12 standings with a win in Morgantown.

Freshman of the Year – Devonte Fields, DE, TCU
Fields was one of TCU’s top recruits and has lived up to the hype through the first six weeks of the season. The true freshman leads the Big 12 with 6.5 sacks and 11.5 tackles for a loss. In the 42-21 win over Baylor, Fields recorded five tackles, one sack and one forced fumble. With Stansly Maponga on the other side, TCU has one of the nation’s most dangerous end combinations.

Newcomer of the Year – Damien Williams, RB, Oklahoma
Williams came to Oklahoma via the junior college ranks and has helped to spark a rushing attack that ranked seventh in the Big 12 last year. The junior had back-to-back 100-yard efforts to open the season and gashed Texas for 167 yards and one score on 22 attempts last Saturday. The Sooners have one of the Big 12’s top passing attacks but needed to establish more balance this year. If Williams continues to average 7.7 yards per carry, he should be a lock for first-team All-Big 12 honors, and Oklahoma’s rushing offense should be in great shape the rest of the year.

Offensive Player of the Year – Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Even though Smith didn’t have a standout performance against Texas Tech, he still gets the edge for the top spot in this category. Smith has thrown 25 touchdowns and 2,291 yards, while tossing no interceptions through the first six games. Although the win over Texas looks worse with its loss to Oklahoma, Smith threw for 268 yards and four touchdowns in a key road victory against the Longhorns. Although West Virginia is out of the national title picture, there’s still plenty (Big 12 title and BCS bowl) for Smith and his team to play for in the second half of the year.

Defensive Player of the Year – Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State
This is a tough award to hand out after the first half of the season. The Big 12 has produced a handful of solid defensive performances so far but none that standout as the clear No. 1 pick. However, let’s give a slight nod to Brown, who has 47 stops, four tackles for a loss, one sack and three passes broken up this year. While Brown’s stats aren’t eye-popping, his presence has been a big reason why Kansas State ranks 15th nationally against the run and no opponent has scored more than 21 points this year. In addition to Brown, Iowa State linebackers Jake Knott and A.J. Klein, Texas defensive ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor, Oklahoma cornerback Aaron Colvin, and TCU end Devonte Fields all deserve consideration for this spot.

Midseason Disappointment (Team) – Texas
With 12 returning starters and a three-win improvement from 2010 to 2011, most expected the Longhorns would return to a spot among the top 10 teams in college football. That’s still possible but would seem like a longshot for Texas at this point of the year. The Longhorns have allowed 111 points in the last two games, which is a shock considering this unit was hailed as one of the nation’s best in the preseason. Although quarterback David Ash has played better this year, he was off against Oklahoma and the rushing attack has been average the last two weeks. If Texas continues to struggle the rest of the year, it’s fair to wonder if coach Mack Brown will be back on the sidelines next season.

Midseason Disappointment (Player) – Dayne Crist, QB, Kansas
No one expected Crist to lead Kansas to the Big 12 title but most expected he would be an upgrade over last year’s quarterbacks. However, Crist has been awful so far, throwing for 1,088 yards and three touchdowns, while tossing seven interceptions. Redshirt freshman Michael Cummings replaced Crist against Oklahoma State and may see more playing time the rest of the year. 

Midseason Surprise (Team) – Texas Tech
After the disastrous finish to last season, Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville was on the hot seat and the Red Raiders were picked by many to finish in the bottom three spots in the Big 12. A soft non-conference schedule allowed Texas Tech to build some early confidence, but it’s clear this team is no fluke. The Red Raiders owned one of the nation’s worst defenses last year but held West Virginia to 14 points and have allowed only one opponent to manage more than 20 points this season. New defensive coordinator Art Kaufman has been one of the best assistant hires in college football and has finally brought some stability to that side of the ball. As usual, the offense is deadly, but the defense has been a key point of the turnaround. Texas Tech still has games remaining against TCU, Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma State, but getting to eight wins and a solid bowl game is a good sign for Tuberville and his staff.

Midseason Surprise (Player) – David Ash, QB, Texas
Anytime a true freshman plays the way Fields has through the first six weeks, it’s certainly notable and worth a mention in this space. However, since Fields earned the freshman of the year award, let’s spread the wealth a little bit and give Ash a mention. Sure, his performance against Oklahoma was forgettable and he may be out with an injured wrist this week, but Ash has thrown for 1,389 yards and 11 touchdowns through the first six games. The sophomore’s emergence gave Texas’ offense more balance than it had last year, but Ash still needs to play better than he did against the Sooners (113 yards, two picks) if the Longhorns want to get back to a BCS bowl.

What Athlon Sports got right: With so much uncertainty still surrounding the Big 12 standings, it’s hard to call much right or wrong at this point of the year. However, Athlon predicted Oklahoma would finish as the conference champ, which is still possible after its win over Texas. And it should be no surprise Kansas was picked to finish last in the conference and is clearly on its way to end up in 10th this year.

What Athlon Sports got wrong: As we mentioned with the other section, the Big 12 still has a lot to sort out in the second half of the year. However, it’s clear we missed on Kansas State, who we picked to finish sixth in the final standings. The Wildcats are the only Big 12 team without a loss in conference play and appear to be the favorite to win the conference crown in 2012. Also, picking Texas Tech to finish eighth seems low after the Red Raiders knocked off West Virginia in Week 7.

Second Half Predictions

Here's how Athlon predicts the standings will look at the end of the regular season.

1. Kansas State
2. West Virginia
3. Oklahoma
4. Texas
5. Oklahoma State
6. Texas Tech
7. TCU
8. Baylor
9. Iowa State
10. Kansas


Three Things to Watch in the Second Half

Who Wins the Big 12? – Through seven weeks, there isn’t a ton of clarity in the battle to win the Big 12. Kansas State is the conference’s only unbeaten team, but it has a showdown against West Virginia next Saturday. Thanks to a blowout win over Texas, Oklahoma cannot be counted out of the title picture. Don’t be surprised if the top contenders in this league each has at least one conference loss, which could make it difficult for the Big 12 to have a representative in the national title game.

Heisman Winner? – Even though West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith had an off day against Texas Tech, the senior still has to be considered one of the frontrunners to win the Heisman. Smith has 25 touchdown passes and has yet to throw an interception through the first six games. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein continues to inch his way into the Heisman discussion, recording 292 overall yards and three scores against Iowa State. If Smith and Klein continue to perform like they have, it’s possible the Big 12 has two players in New York City for the trophy presentation.

Where does Texas go? – After a 4-0 start, it looked like Texas was back on track. However, after the last two weeks, there’s plenty of unrest starting to creep back into Austin. The Longhorns have allowed 111 points in their last two games and there’s simply no excuse for losing to Oklahoma 63-21. If Mack Brown and his staff can’t find some answers in the second half of the year, is it possible a coaching change could be coming?
 

Five Games to Watch in the Second Half

Kansas State at West Virginia (Oct. 20) – This matchup has lost some of its appeal after the Mountaineers’ loss in Week 7. However, with a win, West Virginia can climb back into Big 12 title contention.

Notre Dame at Oklahoma (Oct. 27) – Barring an unexpected loss, the Irish should be 7-0 when they visit Norman.

West Virginia at Oklahoma State (Nov. 10) – Dana Holgorsen returns to Stillwater, which comes one week before West Virginia’s matchup against Oklahoma.

Oklahoma at West Virginia (Nov. 17) – If the Mountaineers beat Kansas State this Saturday, this game figures to be an elimination game in the Big 12 standings.

Texas at Kansas State (Dec. 1) – The Wildcats have won the last four matchups against Texas.
 

Post-Week 7 Power Rankings

1. Kansas State (6-0, 2-0 Big 12) – It’s not pretty, but the Wildcats always find a way to win. Kansas State’s victory over Iowa State sets up a huge showdown against West Virginia next Saturday.

2. Oklahoma (4-1, 2-1) – The Sooners have thrashed Texas by a combined score of 118-38 in their last two meetings. Not only was it a huge victory to beat their rival, Oklahoma stays alive for the Big 12 title.

3. West Virginia (5-1, 2-1) – The Mountaineers were due for a letdown after beating Texas last Saturday and having to make back-to-back long road trips. However, losing 49-14 is certainly worse than most expected and knocks West Virginia out of the national title picture.

4. Texas Tech (5-1, 2-1) – New coordinator Art Kaufman has made a huge difference in Lubbock, as Texas Tech’s defense shut down West Virginia and propelled the Red Raiders to an upset 49-14 victory.

5. TCU (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) – After losing to Iowa State, the Horned Frogs appeared to be in a lot of trouble, especially with quarterback Casey Pachall sidelined for the rest of the year. Not so fast. TCU rebounded with an impressive 49-21 victory over Baylor to move to 5-1 on the year.

6. Texas (4-2, 1-2 Big 12) – There’s still a long way to go in the 2012 season, but it’s fair to wonder if this program is any better than it was from last year. The Longhorns are out of the Big 12 title mix and now have to set their sights on getting to 10 wins and a BCS bowl.

7. Oklahoma State (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) – A weather delay certainly didn’t help, but Saturday’s victory over Kansas was an overall sluggish performance for the Cowboys.

8. Iowa State (4-2, 1-2 Big 12) – The Cyclones had a chance to knock off Kansas State, but the offense just couldn’t make enough plays late in the fourth quarter to get into scoring position.

9. Baylor (3-2, 0-2 Big 12) – After winning their first three games to start the year, the Bears have lost two in a row, including a surprise defeat to TCU in Week 7.

10. Kansas (1-5, 0-3 Big 12) – The Jayhawks gave Oklahoma State all it could handle but are winless in Big 12 play since beating Colorado on Nov. 6, 2010. 
 

by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

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SEC Midseason Review and Second Half Predictions

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At the midpoint of the 2012 season, it's time to take a look at the first half and predict how the second half will turn out in the Big East.

First-Half Awards

Coach of the Year – Kyle Flood, Rutgers
Hired after Greg Schiano unexpectedly left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers job and after FIU coach Mario Cristobal turned down the job, Kyle Flood has defied expectations since Day One. The long-time assistant added to the Big East’s best signing class in the days after his Jan. 30 hire and topped that with the Scarlet Knights’ best start since 2006. The quarterback situation and the offensive line are as stable as they’ve been in three seasons, and the defense hasn’t missed Schiano’s touch at all. Now, Flood has Rutgers in contention to do what Schiano couldn’t in 11 seasons — win a Big East title.

Freshman of the Year – Nate D. Smith, LB, Temple
It’s tempting to pick Pittsburgh running back Rushel Shell, but nearly half of his production occurred in a single game (157 yards against Virginia Tech). The brother of Philadelphia Eagles tight end L.J. Smith, Nate D. Smith is making his own mark at Lincoln Financial Field. The Owls starting middle linebacker is third in the Big East in tackles and has come up big in Temple’s 2-0 start in Big East play with 22 tackles and 2.5 tackles for a loss against USF and Connecticut.

Newcomer of the Year - R.J. Dill, OT, Rutgers
Again, it’s tempting to opt for a running back. In this case, the nod goes to Dill over Temple’s Montel Harris. A two-year project to repair the Rutgers offensive line has culminated at the halfway point thanks in part to Dill, a transfer from Maryland, locking down the right tackle spot. Rutgers has allowed only three sacks this season after allowing 30 all of last year. The line has also paved the way to Jawan Jamison topping 100 yards in all but one game this season.

Offensive Player of the Year – Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
The sophomore started the season on a tear by completing 75 of 94 passes for 870 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions in his first three games. After a couple of challenging games, including one in a downpour in Southern Miss, Bridgewater bounced back with a 17-of-27 performance for 304 yards and a TD against Pittsburgh. Rutgers’ Gary Nova and Cincinnati’s Munchie Legaux are off to good starts, but no Big East coach is a confident in his quarterback situation as Charlie Strong is with Bridgewater.

Defensive Player of the Year – Khaseem Greene, LB, Rutgers
The best defensive player in the Big East the last two seasons had the best game of his career against Syracuse with 14 tackles, 1.5 sacks, an interception and three forced fumbles last week. The game added to his tally of 63 tackles (second in the Big East), 5.1 tackles for a loss, two picks, four pass breakups and four forced fumbles.

Midseason Disappointment (Team) – USF
  The Bulls’ fourth quarter misfortune from last season carried over into 2012 with the exception of a comeback win over Nevada, the Bulls’ only win over an FBS foe this season. USF is riding a four-game losing streak, including losses to Ball State and Temple. If the losing streak increases to five in a row, USF will have its longest losing streak in program history. And with a road trip against Louisville coming up, it would be a major upset for the streak to end. The Bulls have a fourth-year starting quarterback and some of the best talent on defense in the league, making the 2-4 start that much more baffling. A 1-8 record in the Big East since last season has put Skip Holtz’s job security in question.

Midseason Disappointment (Player) – USF defense
Quarterback B.J. Daniels hasn’t progressed as much as USF would have liked, but the criticism shouldn’t be all on his shoulders. The title for biggest disappointment has to go to an entire side of the ball. The Bulls defense gave up 28 points in the second half against Temple and 21 in the second half against Ball State, both thanks to long sustained drives. USF is last in the Big East in rush defense and scoring defense and seventh in total defense. Moreover, USF is the only team in the country that hasn’t intercepted a pass. For a team with talented veterans like DeDe Lattimore, Sam Barrington and Kayvon Webster, those numbers are unacceptable.

Midseason Surprise (Team) – Cincinnati
Picked fifth in the Athlon preseason rankings, Cincinnati has ended up among the league’s top three contenders with Louisville and Rutgers. The Bearcats set the tone early with a 34-10 win over PIttsburgh in the season opener and then followed it with a 27-24 win over Virginia Tech three weeks later. The offense has been explosive at times, and the defense has held its own. The next step will be to get into a routine over the final half of the season after an odd first-half schedule that included two off weeks and two FCS opponents.

Midseason Surprise (Player) – Gary Nova, Rutgers
Rutgers’ revolving door at quarterback has been one of the most pressing questions in Piscataway the last four seasons. After splitting starts with Chas Dodd last season, Nova took hold of the job in the preseason and hasn’t let go. He was shaky in the first two games of the season, but since then, he’s completed 63 percent of his passes for 938 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions in the last four games. The defense and the run game remain the backbone for Rutgers, but quarterback is no longer a liability thanks to Nova.

What Athlon Sports got right – Louisville atop the conference, for now.
Picking the Cardinals No. 1 in the Big East was near-unanimous among the Athlon staff, though there was a strong contingent for Rutgers as well. The Cardinals are 6-0 and passed their lone Big East test against Pittsburgh last week. They also remain the highest ranked team in the league at No. 16, though that may be more a factor the Cardinals starting higher than Rutgers or Cincinnati. Whether Louisville lives up to its status as preseason favorite remains to be seen, but either way the Cardinals have more company atop the league than Athlon envisioned.

What Athlon Sports got wrong – Temple finishing in last place
The Athlon staff thought USF’s fourth-quarter struggles were a result of bad luck, and that Paul Chryst would bring instant stability to PIttsburgh. Both turned out to be wrong, but Athlon’s pick for Temple in last place may be the biggest misstep. Despite returning only two offensive starters and five on defense, Temple is 2-0 in the Big East in its first season back in the league since 2004. The back-to-back wins over USF and Connecticut are the first consecutive Big East wins in program history.

Second-Half Projections

1. Louisville
2. Rutgers
3. Cincinnati
4. Pittsburgh
5. Syracuse
6. Temple
7. Connecticut
8. USF

Three Things to Watch

Are Louisville and Rutgers aiming for another undefeated matchup? Rutgers’ 28-24 upset of Louisville on a Thursday night in November 2006 remains one of the signature moments in Big East history as both entered the game undefeated. Six seasons later, the two programs could be on a similar collision course, this time in the regular season finale -- again on a Thursday night in November. It would be a spotlight moment for a conference in need of a nationally relevant football game between two ranked teams late in the season. That said, Cincinnati will look to upset that goal for both teams.

Is Munchie Legaux ready to lead Cincinnati to a Big East title? We love the name. We love the hair. We love the talent. But Legaux’s consistency may be they key to Cincinnati’s ability to contend for a conference championship. Legaux is completing fewer than half his pass attempts against FBS competition, though he’s accounted for seven touchdowns and one interception.

Will anyone escape the mess at the bottom of the Big East? Connecticut, USF and Pittsburgh are a combined 0-7 in the Big East. Those three plus Syracuse already have four losses. If the trend continues, the Big East will fail to fill its six bowl slots, not including its agreement with the Liberty Bowl. UConn, USF and Syracuse all have to play two of the Big East’s top three (Cincinnati, Louisville and Rutgers) in the second half of the season. Pitt has only of the top three remaining (Rutgers), but faces Notre Dame on the road.

Three Games to Watch in the Second Half

1. Rutgers at Cincinnati, Nov. 17 - The first in a three-team round robin that may decide the league pits Munchie Legaux and George Winn against the salty Rutgers defense.

2. Cincinnati at Louisville, Nov. 26 - Cincinnati has claimed the last four games for The Keg of Nails.

3. Louisville at Rutgers, Nov. 29 - The stakes could be two 11-0 teams playing the Big East title.

Post-Week 7 Power Rankings

1. Louisville (6-0, 1-0) - The Cardinals started to put Pittsburgh away in the second half, but the Panthers tacked on two fourth-quarter touchdowns. Should Charlie Strong be worried?

2. Rutgers (6-0, 3-0) - Rutgers and Alabama are the only teams in the country that have not allowed an opponent to run for 100 yards in a game this season.

3. Cincinnati (5-0, 1-0) - The Bearcats visit Toledo this week before playing their first Big East game since the opener. The return to Big East play will be interesting: At Louisville on a Friday night.

4. Temple (3-2, 2-0) - The Owls spotted Connecticut a 14-0 lead in the first quarter but crawled back to win 17-14 in overtime.

5. Syracuse (2-4, 1-1) - The Orange have managed four offensive touchdowns in its last three games against Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Rutgers.

6. Pittsburgh (2-4, 0-3) - Pitt is making progress on offense, but the Panthers probably couldn’t afford losses to Youngstown State and Syracuse if it wanted to reach a bowl game.

7. Connecticut (2-4, 0-2) - An inept offense is spoiling the effort of a top-flight defense. The Huskies rank sixth nationally in total defense, 107th in total offense.

8. USF (2-4, 0-2) - Will any soul searching over the off week help the Bulls pull out of their two-year funk? Louisville will be tough next week, but following two games against Syracuse and Connecticut in Tampa are winnable, right?

By David Fox

@DavidFox615

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At the midpoint of the 2012 season, it's time to take a look at the first half and predict how the second half will turn out in the Big Ten.

First-Half Awards

Coach of the Year: Bill O'Brien, Penn State
Urban Meyer would likely win Coach of the Year should Ohio State finish the season undefeated, especially considering the Bucks lost seven games last fall, and his resume would include a win over Bill O'Brien, Michigan and defending league champ Wisconsin. For now, however, O'Brien has done more with less and has done so in the face of the worst football scandal in NCAA history. Matt McGloin looks like a real quarterback and the Nittany Lion offense looks more creative and innovative than it has since Kerry Collins was under center. Coach O'Brien, whose team leads the Big Ten in turnover margin (+1.17/game), has done a remarkable job in Happy Valley.

Freshman of the Year: Joel Stave, QB, Wisconsin
Danny O'Brien was supposed to be a savior for a Badgers offense that watched architect Paul Chryst, leader Russell Wilson and three-fifths of its all-world offensive line move on from Madison. That didn't work. But Stave has been a godsend in place of O'Brien. The redshirt walk-on has energized the Wisconsin passing attack, throwing for 214 yards per game, completing 55.8% of his passes with five touchdowns earning a 3-1 starting record. He has shown the ability to push the ball down the field with his big frame and arm, something O'Brien simply couldn't do.

Newcomer of the Year: Mark Weisman, RB, Iowa
Kirk Ferentz sat back and watched his running back position get thinner and thinner by the week in summer and fall camp. Then his team struggled out of the gate against Northern Illinois and Iowa State. So what is an old school, black and blue type of head coach to do to fix his offense? How about hand the ball to a 230-pound walk-on fullback and tell him to punish defenses. And Weisman has done just that, carrying 98 times for 623 yards and seven rushing touchdowns in four games — including a 2-0 start in league play. If you love the game of football and you don't enjoy watching Weisman pound the rock, there is something wrong with you.

Offensive Player of the Year: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
While there is literally a dozen quality candidates for Pac-12 Player of the Year, Big Ten POY is one man's to lose. Ohio State clearly has warts on defense, so no player has been more valuable, more productive and more electric than the Buckeyes sophomore signal caller. Miller has accounted for 20 touchdowns, is No. 3 in the league in rushing (162.7 ypg), No. 2 in total offense (311.9 ypg), No. 3 in passing efficiency (145.32) and is the unquestioned leader of the only unbeaten team in the league — one of only two 7-0 teams in the nation (Ohio). This is Miller's honor to lose.

Defensive Player of the Year: Michael Mauti, LB, Penn State
Penn State's senior linebacker deserves much of the credit for holding together an entire program in the face of tremendous adversity. Through six games, Mauti has 57 total tackles, a pair of interceptions, two forced fumbles, 1.5 sacks and is leading a defense allowing a Big Ten second-best 16.0 points per game. His heart and toughness is a huge reason the Nittany Lions could challenge for the best record in the league.

Midseason Disappointment (Team): Michigan State
This award could go to a number of teams as this league struggled so mightily outside of conference play. Illinois, one could argue, has been much more of a disappointment, however, the Illini weren't considered a title contender in 2012. A 1-2 start to Big Ten action isn't what fans where expecting in East Lansing. Quarterback play — and the pass-catchers too for that matter — have been atrocious as the offense continues to be completely one-dimensional. It ranks 11th in the league in scoring offense, 10th in rushing and 11th in passing efficiency. The defense is solid, despite claiming the league's worst pass rush, and there are big wins left to had should Mark Dantonio's bunch turn it around. But for now, this team lacks the killer instinct that made it Legends Division champions a year ago. 

Midseason Disappointment (Player): Danny O’Brien, QB, Wisconsin
O'Brien had some huge shoes to fill when Russell Wilson departed for the NFL. And as a fellow ACC transfer who posted a productive season as a freshman at Maryland two seasons ago, expectations were sky high in Madison. Unfortunately, O'Brien looked completely lost in Matt Canada's new offense system and was pulled in the Utah State game. Wisconsin was dead last in the Big Ten in scoring (16.3 ppg) and total offense (276.0) after three starts by the former Terrapin. Luckily, backup Joel Stave has stepped in and saved the Badgers season. Big Red has averaged 33.3 points per game since Stave entered the picture.

Midseason Surprise (Team): Penn State
This team has dealt with a coaching change of the most tumultuous variety. It dealt with a mass exodus of current players transferring away — most of whom were starters on offense. And it began the year 0-2 after two heart-breaking losses. But after four straight wins, and marked improvement from the offense, Penn State has a chance to make a big statement in the first year under Bill O'Brien. 

Midseason Surprise (Player): Venric Mark, RB, Northwestern
The junior from Tomball, Texas has emerged as one of the most productive players in the league. Mark has rushed for 797 yards on 134 attempts and has scored 11 total touchdowns in three different ways (eight rush, one receiving, two return). He has become Northwestern's all-time kick return leaders in yards and attempts, while also scoring twice on punt returns. His versatility and dependability has opened up the offense and has given Pat Fitzgerald a traditional rushing threat he has been craving for years. He leads the league in all-purpose yards with 184.6 yards per game.

What Athlon Sports got right: Wisconsin's convincing win over Purdue indicates they are clearly the best bowl eligible team in the Leaders Division. Ohio State was ranked No. 6 in the Athlon Sports preseason Top 25 and was picked No. 1 in the league. Nothing has happened this season to indicate that the Buckeyes aren't the best team in the league. It also appears Michigan and Nebraska will play for the Legends Division crown on October 27 as expected. Should the Wolverines win that game, a Michigan win over Wisconsin in the title game would likely come true as believed in the preseason.

What Athlon Sports got wrong: Actually, most teams at this stage are slotted to finish exactly where Athlon Sports projected with a small tweak. Penn State has outperformed all preseason expectation and are only a few plays from being 6-0. Michigan State, on the other hand, could easily finish worst than third (where they were projected). Iowa has struggled mightily, as predicted, but is somehow 2-0 in the league. Iowa and Northwestern could still finish where Athlon predicted, but are much closer to the top of the division than anticipated. 

Second-Half Predictions

Here's how we think the final standings will look before the Big Ten Championship.

Legends Division

1. Michigan
2. Nebraska
3. Michigan State
4. Northwestern
5. Iowa
6. Minnesota

Leaders Division

1. Ohio State
2. Penn State
3. Wisconsin
4. Purdue 
5. Illinois
6. Indiana

Big Ten Championship: Michigan over Wisconsin

Three Things to Watch

How does the Legends round robin play out?
Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska all still have yet to face each other while Iowa and Northwestern have also crept into the picture. All five still have yet to face each other with the only exception of Iowa's road win over Michigan State this weekend. Michigan gets the Spartans, Wildcats and Hawkeyes at home, while having to visit Nebraska. The Cornhuskers' schedule is flipped as it has to face Michigan State, Iowa and Northwestern all on the road while also getting Penn State at home. Michigan State gets Nebraska and Northwestern at home with two nasty road trips to Michigan and Wisconsin looming. Hold on for dear life in this division because the next two months of action should be extremely entertaining. 

Ohio State's unbeaten record and Braxton Miller's Heisman campaign
There are two teams in the nation with 7-0 records and both reside in the state of Ohio. The Bobcats and Buckeyes have, by definition, the best records in the nation. Additionally, Ohio State's quarterback would be sitting in New York if the Heisman voting was taken today. The defense, which is ranked 10th in the Big Ten at 400 yards allowed per game, is a major question mark. But if Urban Meyer can finish the year unbeaten and Miller can stay healthy, there is little doubt that this team would be the heavy favorite to win the 2013 National Championship. 

The Penn State Nittany Lions
The Jerry Sandusky scandal transcended not only Big Ten football but all of college football, bringing Penn State University into living rooms of non-football fans everywhere. And after many players left the program, a coaching change and two tough losses to start the year, the story in the Big Ten in 2012 could be the performance of the Nittany Lions. Crippling NCAA punishments may be easier to overcome than originally believed if Bill O'Brien is as good as his first half coaching job indicates. With games left against Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Iowa, the Nits will most definitely play a huge role in the Big Ten championship — whether they are eligible to win the crown or not.

Three Games to Watch in the Second Half

1. Michigan at Ohio State (Nov. 24)
It's arguably the best rivalry game in college football, and this season, it could feature an undefeated top-10 Ohio State team and a Big Ten favorite Michigan squad. Consider this Brady Hoke-Urban Meyer Chapter 1 in what could be a long storybook feud between two "new" coaching regimes.

2. Michigan at Nebraska (Oct. 27)
The Legends Division race is completely wide open but these two programs look like the odds-on favorites to win the division. The Cornhuskers will be looking for revenge after a 45-17 beatdown in Ann Arbor last fall.

3. Ohio State at Penn State (Oct. 27)
The Ineligible Bowl could feature the best two teams in the league. It also could feature the top two Offensive Players of the Year in quarterbacks Braxton Miller and Matt McGloin. Look for a huge crowd in Beaver Stadium should the Buckeyes show up undefeated.

Post-Week 7 Power Rankings

1. Ohio State (7-0, 3-0)
Still some weaknesses, but this team refuses to lose behind leadership of Braxton Miller. 

2. Michigan (4-2, 2-0)
Denard Robinson is back on track and the schedule sets up nicely for UM after two top-10 losses.

3. Nebraska (4-2, 1-1)
Nothing wrong with the offense in Lincoln, but something needs to be done to the Blackshirts' defense.

4. Penn State (4-2, 2-0)
Matt McGloin has been spectacular, and the defense has been great. Nits could spoil more than one season in the second half.

5. Wisconsin (5-2, 2-1)
Two straight impressive division wins puts Badgers in driver's seat for a trip to Indianapolis.

6. Northwestern (6-1, 2-1)
Pat Fitzgerald got back to the ground game and it led to big road division win over Minnesota.

7. Iowa (4-2, 2-0)
Key road win at Michigan State puts the Hawkeyes squarely in the Legends Division race.

8. Michigan State (4-3, 1-2)
Devastating loss at home in double overtime to Iowa puts Sparty behind the eight ball in the division.

9. Purdue (3-3, 0-2)
Terrible start to conference play and has four of the next five on the road. Things could get ugly for the Boilers.

10. Minnesota (4-2, 0-2)
Great to hear Jerry Kill has been safely released from care after suffering a seizure. Return of MarQueis Gray is also a positive. 

11. Illinois (2-5, 0-3)
The wheels have official come off the Illini train after third straight blowout Big Ten loss.

12. Indiana (2-4, 0-3)
Same old story for the Hoosiers: Pretty solid offense can score. Defense of any kind? Not so much.

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

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ACC 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big East 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big Ten 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big 12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Pac-12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
SEC 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review 

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Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 06:10
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The first half of the season has been an up and down affair for the ACC. After watching Florida State climb into the top five of the polls, the Seminoles suffered a disappointing loss to NC State, effectively ending any national title hopes. While the ACC is without a national championship contender, this conference still has a lot of intrigue to follow in the second half of the year. The Coastal Division is wide open, while the Seminoles, Clemson and NC State figure to be locked in a tight battle for the Atlantic crown.

Coach of the Year – David Cutcliffe, Duke
Despite the 41-20 loss to Virginia Tech in Week 7, Cutcliffe takes this award at the midpoint of the season. The Blue Devils are in the thick of the Coastal title race with a 2-1 record and need just one victory to get bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. Duke doesn’t have a marquee win, but it also doesn’t have a bad loss. With upcoming games against North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Miami, the Blue Devils won’t have an easy time getting to six victories. However, this is clearly Cutcliffe’s best team at Duke and should be able to find one more win to get bowl eligible.

Freshman of the Year – Duke Johnson, RB, Miami/Stefon Diggs, WR, Maryland
There’s not really much separating Johnson and Diggs, so we’ll give them each a share of the award. Johnson leads Miami with 428 rushing yards and five touchdowns, while adding 447 yards on kick returns. He ranks second in the ACC with 151 all-purpose yards per game. Diggs seems to be getting stronger as the year progresses, and he leads the conference with an average of 168.8 all-purpose yards per game.

Newcomer of the Year – Eddie Johnson, LB, Miami
The Hurricanes have struggled all season on defense, but this unit is playing a lot of young players, which will pay dividends for future seasons. Johnson has been a bright spot for this team, ranking second on the team with 39 tackles, along with recording 5.5 tackles for a loss, one sack and three forced fumbles.

Offensive Player of the Year – Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
There’s really not a clear standout for this award through the first seven weeks of the season. Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel and North Carolina running back Giovani Bernard each could stake a claim for the top spot, but Boyd gets a slight nod over his teammates (Andre Ellington and DeAndre Hopkins). The junior quarterback has thrown for 1,748 yards and 14 touchdowns, while adding 224 yards and two scores on the ground. Boyd is an improved runner and is completing an impressive 68.2 percent of his throws.   

Defensive Player of the Year – Bjoern Werner, DE, Florida State
With Brandon Jenkins sidelined for the year, the Seminoles needed a big season from Werner and fellow end Tank Carradine. Both players have responded with huge seasons, as Florida State’s defense ranks fifth nationally against the run and fourth in scoring defense. Werner ranks second in the ACC with 6.5 sacks and 10 tackles for a loss.

Midseason Disappointment (Team) – Virginia Tech
Even with Saturday’s win over Duke, the Hokies are still 4-3 – a far cry from what most expected in the preseason. With eight starters returning, Virginia Tech expected to have one of the nation’s best defenses. However, the Hokies allowed at least 20 points in each of their last three games and rank 73rd nationally in stopping the run. Quarterback Logan Thomas has accounted for 16 touchdowns but hasn’t had much help from the running backs or offensive line. J.C. Coleman appeared to give the offense a spark against Duke, but the rushing attack has to be more of a factor the rest of the season. Despite the early struggles, Virginia Tech still has a chance to win the Coastal, especially with North Carolina ineligible to win the division title. With a schedule that features games against Clemson, Miami and Florida State, it’s important the Hokies find some answers for the second half of the season.

Midseason Disappointment (Player) – David Amerson, CB, NC State
The overall numbers for Amerson aren’t bad, as he has recorded 24 tackles, three interceptions and three pass breakups. However, the junior cornerback struggled in the opener against Tennessee and gave up a few big plays in the loss to Miami. For a player that had All-American potential in the preseason, Amerson has not lived up to the hype so far.

Midseason Surprise (Team) – Maryland
After a disastrous 2-10 campaign last year, no one could have predicted the Terrapins would be the only unbeaten team in ACC play after the first seven weeks of the season. True freshman quarterback Perry Hills has done just enough to keep the offense moving, while the defense ranks ninth in the nation in yards allowed. Maryland may not eclipse the seven-win mark, but it’s clear Randy Edsall has this team moving in the right direction.  

Midseason Surprise (Player) – Ross Cockrell, CB, Duke
A big reason for Duke’s five victories this season has been the play of its defense. While the Blue Devils don’t have a lockdown defense, this unit has made significant progress over the last couple of years. Cockrell had 23 starts coming into this season but is having his best year. The junior ranks second on the team with 38 tackles but leads all defenders with four picks and 13 passes defended. Cockrell is a strong candidate to earn first-team All-ACC honors at the end of the year.

What Athlon Sports got right: It’s still too early to declare how the Coastal Division will shape out, but we had a pretty good feel for the Atlantic in the preseason. While Maryland is currently at the top of the division, Athlon’s top three teams – Florida State, Clemson and NC State – are still in the mix for the Atlantic crown. As expected, Boston College is ticketed for a sixth-place finish in the division. 

What Athlon Sports got wrong: As mentioned above, the Coastal Division is difficult to sort out after seven weeks. If Miami and Duke continue on its path, we would have clearly missed on both teams in the preseason. We also thought Virginia would build on its promising 2011 season and threaten seven or eight victories in 2012. However, the Cavaliers will struggle just to get bowl eligible in 2012.


Second Half Predictions

Here's how Athlon sees the standings looking at the end of the regular season:

Atlantic

1. Florida State
2. Clemson
3. NC State
4. Maryland
5. Wake Forest
6. Boston College

Coastal

1. North Carolina
2. Virginia Tech
3. Miami
4. Georgia Tech
5. Duke
6. Virginia

ACC Championship Game: Florida State over Virginia Tech
 

Three Things to Watch in the Second Half

The Coastal Division – With North Carolina ineligible to play for the ACC title, can either Virginia Tech or Miami wrestle control of the division? Since the Tar Heels have wins over the Hokies and Hurricanes, they will likely finish with the best record in the division. However, someone has to represent the Coastal in the championship game, which leaves Miami and Virginia Tech as the most likely candidates.

A crucial moment in the Paul Johnson era at Georgia Tech? – Despite recording 19 wins in his first two years at Georgia Tech, Paul Johnson could be sitting on the hot seat at the end of 2012. The Yellow Jackets are just 16-16 in their last 32 games and are no lock to get bowl eligible with BYU, North Carolina, Duke and Georgia remaining on the schedule. Johnson canned defensive coordinator Al Groh and shuffled his defensive staff to find some answers for one of the ACC’s worst units. If Johnson finishes with a 5-7 or 6-6 record, he could be one of the top coaches on the hot seat entering 2013.

Will Florida State win the ACC title? – Even though the Seminoles lost to NC State last week, most still believe this is the best team in the ACC. The schedule isn’t too difficult, but Florida State plays three of its next four games on the road. Although the Seminoles missed out on a chance to remain in the national title hunt, winning the ACC Championship and finishing in the top five of the BCS would be a good season. While Florida State may not be ready to be “back” as a national championship team, there’s still a lot of talent on this team and a subpar finish to the season won’t sit well in Tallahassee.
 

Five Games to Watch in the Second Half

Virginia Tech at Clemson (Oct. 20) – The Tigers smacked the Hokies twice last season. Can Virginia Tech return the favor this year?

NC State at North Carolina (Oct. 27) – Can the Tar Heels snap a five-game losing streak to the Wolfpack?

Virginia Tech at Miami (Nov. 1) – Could this game decide who represents the Coastal Division in the ACC Championship?

Florida State at Virginia Tech (Nov. 8) – The Hokies are struggling, but a Thursday night matchup in Blacksburg won’t be an easy victory for Florida State.

NC State at Clemson (Nov. 17) – If the Wolfpack avoid a loss until Nov. 17, a victory over Clemson could put them in the ACC Championship.
 

Post-Week 7 Power Rankings

1. Florida State (5-1, 2-1 ACC) – The Seminoles bounced back after a disappointing loss to NC State, crushing Boston College 51-17 to move to 5-1 on the season.

2. Clemson (5-1, 2-1 ACC) – The Tigers had a bye week on Saturday and return to action next Saturday against Virginia Tech.

3. NC State (4-2, 1-1 ACC) – The bye week came at a good time for the Wolfpack, as Tom O’Brien’s team had plenty of time to forget about the win over Florida State. NC State takes on Maryland in Week 8.

4. North Carolina (5-2, 2-1 ACC) – With Saturday’s 18-14 win over Miami, the Tar Heels control their destiny to win the Coastal Division. However, there’s just one problem – North Carolina is ineligible to win the division title.

5. Miami (4-3, 3-1 ACC) – The Hurricanes’ defense held North Carolina to just 18 points, but an injury to quarterback Stephen Morris prevented any shot at a comeback victory late in the fourth quarter.

6. Virginia Tech (4-3, 2-1 ACC) – It wasn’t a particularly impressive first half, but the Hokies rallied to get a key 41-20 victory over Duke. The win over the Blue Devils snapped a two-game losing streak.

7. Georgia Tech (2-4, 1-3 ACC) – The Yellow Jackets’ defense is in desperate need of a turnaround, which coach Paul Johnson hopes a change in coordinator will provide a spark.

8. Duke (5-2, 2-1 ACC) – The Blue Devils need one more win to get bowl eligible, which won’t be easy with a schedule that features North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Miami.

9. Maryland (4-2, 2-0 ACC) – With the 27-20 win over Virginia, the Terrapins have doubled their win total from last season (two).

10. Virginia (2-5, 0-3) – The Cavaliers look to snap a five-game losing streak with a home date against Wake Forest this Saturday.

11. Wake Forest (3-3, 1-3 ACC) – The Demon Deacons had a bye in Week 7 and return to action against Virginia this Saturday.

12. Boston College (1-5, 0-3 ACC) – The Eagles’ miserable season continued with a 51-7 loss at Florida State.


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

Related College Football Content

Week 7 College Football Recap

Big 12 Midseason Review and Second Half Predictions
Big East Midseason Review and Second Half Predictions

Big Ten Midseason Review and Second Half Predictions

Pac-12 Midseason Review and Second Half Predictions

SEC Midseason Review and Second Half Predictions

Teaser:
<p> At the midpoint of the 2012 season, it's time to take a look at the first half and predict how the second half will turn out in the ACC.</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-tight-ends
Body:

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

Today, we rank college football's best tight end prospects:

1. Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame (6-6, 250, Jr.)
The big Fighting Irish tight end is easily the top prospect at his position for this upcoming draft. But poor quarterback play has limited his statistical production in 2012. He entered his final season as more of a pass-catcher but has gotten stronger at the point of attack as ND looked to pound the football more this fall. He projects as an excellent receiver on the next level and, should he continue to develop as an in-line blocker, he could creep into the first round next spring.

2. Joseph Fauria, UCLA (6-7, 255, Sr.)
From a pure athletic stand point, few players in the nation will match the size and speed combination Fauria brings to the table. He has more upside as a receiver than a blocker but is adequate at both. He needs to polish his overall game and prove his dedication and commitment to being a great player. Developing a killer instinct might be his only weakness.

3. Jordan Reed, Florida (6-3, 245, Jr.)
He will likely function more as an H-Back due to his overall lack of speed, but there are no weaknesses to his overall game. He is strong, physical and solid in a blocking role. He has speed and quickness on the outside in the passing game. And he showed loads of versatility as a runner and quarterback prior to the pro-style switch in 2012. He has dealt with three different coordinators in three seasons in Gainesville, so he is only scratching the surface of his overall potential.

4. Michael Williams, Alabama (6-6, 269, Sr.)
The pros for Williams: A huge frame. A nasty, powerful run-blocker. He played in a pro-style system coached by football czar Nick Saban. His pass-catching skills are limited, particularly down the field, but there is plenty of room in the NFL for a guy with his in-line blocking talents.

5. Zach Ertz, Stanford (6-6, 252, Jr.)
Ertz is a slightly less talented version of Coby Fleener. He isn’t quite as fast, isn’t quite as a powerful and hasn’t been quite as productive. Otherwise, he is a very similar player with similar skills. He has played in a pro-style attack that focuses on NFL skills at the tight end position. Few programs have prepared this position for the next level like Stanford.

6. Dion Sims, Michigan State (6-5, 285, Jr.)
Sims entered his final season with no help at quarterback or wide receiver and will likely finish as the top Sparty pass-catcher. He is a powerful blocker with a big frame and solid athleticism. He won’t wow scouts with his overall speed or quickness, but he has enough talent to stay on an NFL field due to his physicality and overall size. He should be a solid first and second down option with red zone potential.

7. Levine Toilolo, Stanford (6-8, 265, Jr.)
No player at this position will bring a bigger, better frame to the next level than Toilolo. His is massive. He can be used equally as a pass-catcher and in-line blocker, but needs to refine his talents at both. He is a more of a long-term project than some of his peers, but few can match his raw upside. When it comes to working vertically down the seam or in the red zone, few have the potential to be as dangerous as the 6-8 monster from out west.

8. Philip Lutzenkirchen, Auburn (6-5, 255, Sr.)
Without being elite at any one thing, Lutz is the complete package at tight end. He has suffered through horrendous quarterback play, multiple offensive systems and complete coaching turmoil. Yet, back in 2010 with Cam Newton as his quarterback, he produced in key situations and was a big part of the championship run as only a sophomore. He has middle-round steal written all over him — once he can get out of Auburn.

9. CJ Fiedorowicz, Iowa (6-6, 265, Jr.)
This big fella’s production will never match his overall upside. Iowa will never be a pass-centric offense so his production in the passing game will never give an accurate picture of his talents. He has a huge frame and the ability to contribute equally in both the running and passing games. This is a player who should be a much better pro player than college.

10. Jake Stoneburner, Ohio State (6-5, 245, Sr.)
This Buckeye is a slightly smaller version of Fauria. Electric athletic ability with the ability to stretch the field vertically with ease. Yet, an overall lack of production and in-line blocking potential stand out on the resume as well. His offensive scheme limited his usage and overall numbers at times, so he could blossom on the next level if he lands in the right system.

Other Names to Watch:

Chris Gragg, Arkansas (6-3, 236, Sr.)
DC Jefferson, Rutgers (6-6, 250, Sr.)
Ryan Griffin, UConn (6-6, 245, Sr.)
Ben Cotton, Nebraska (6-6, 255, Sr.)
Mychal Rivera, Tennessee (6-3, 245, Sr.)
Matt Furstenburg, Maryland (6-4, 245, Sr.)
Ryan Otten, San Jose State (6-6, 245, Sr.)
Kyler Reed, Nebraska (6-3, 230, Sr.)
Nick Kasa, Colorado (6-6, 260, Sr.)
Chris Pantale, Boston College (6-6, 255, Sr.) 

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

2013 NFL Draft: Running Backs

2013 NFL Draft: Tight Ends
2013 NFL Draft: Safeties

2013 NFL Draft: Defensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers

2013 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Inside Linebackers

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Tight Ends</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2012-second-half-predictions-and-midseason-review
Body:

At the midpoint of the 2012 season, it's time to take a look at the first half and predict how the second half will turn out in the Pac-12.

First-Half Awards

Coach of the Year: Mike Riley, Oregon State
Todd Graham has quickly turned around Arizona State. Chip Kelly has the best team in the league. And Lane Kiffin will certainly have a chance to join the fray. But for the time being, no one has done a better job than Mike Riley. His defense has gone from one of the worst in the conference to one of the best in one offseason. Now, he is winning tough road games without his starting quarterback. With one of the best resumes in the nation, Riley isn't just Pac-12 Coach of the Year material, he is squarely in the National COY race as well.

Freshman of the Year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
UCLA's Brett Hundley deserves a lot of credit for stabilizing the quarterback position in Westwood for the first time in over a decade. But Mariota is leading the league's top team, scoring the most points (52.3 ppg) and is the Pac-12's No. 2 most efficient passer (156.42). He is poised beyond his years and has proven in short order to be a leader on and off the field. He is completing 67.9 percent of his passes for 1,301 yards, 15 touchdowns, five interceptions, 221 yards rushing and another score on the ground. Honorable mention falls to Oregon State stud freshman blocker Isaac Seumalo.

Newcomer of the Year: Xavier Su'a Filo, OL, UCLA
The team's top offensive lineman has been a huge part of the improvement on offense for the Bruins. The big Utah native was a top-100 prospect coming out of high school before taking his two-year LDS mission. He returned this fall and stepped directly into the starting lineup. The Bruins rank No. 2 in the Pac-12 in rushing, No. 3 in total offense and are top 10 nationally in sacks allowed, due in large part to improved offensive line play. Of which, Su'a Filo is the best player. USC's Silas Redd gets a big honorable mention here for the work he has done in the Trojans' backfield.

Offensive Player of the Year: Pick a quarterback, any quarterback!
Matt Barkley is the best player in the league and leads the Pac-12 with 16 touchdown passes. Taylor Kelly is the most efficient passer on a surprise team but has played a weak schedule. Sean Mannion's team is unbeaten against a nasty schedule, but he will miss at least two more games with a knee injury. Marcus Mariota is No. 2 in passing efficiency and leads the league's top offense on the Pac-12's best team. Matt Scott is lapping the field from a statistical standpoint, leading the league in total offense. Brett Hundley has been extremely productive at a position UCLA hasn't been good at in over a decade. The argument is likely between Barkley vs. Kelly with beauty falling to the eye of the beholder. For right or wrong, I lean towards the best player on what could be the best team over slightly better stats on a surprise team against a weak schedule. Don't even get me started on Lee vs. Woods vs. Allen vs. Hill vs. Crooks vs. Wilson. Or Taylor vs. Barner vs. Thomas vs. Franklin vs. Carey. This has to be one of the deepest collections of elite offensive skill talent ever assembled in any league.

Defensive Player of the Year: Jordan Poyer, DB, Oregon State
After his league leading fifth interception of the season — this one he returned for a touchdown to clinch the road win over BYU — the talented Oregon State cover man became the frontrunner for Defensive Player of the Year honors. This defense could be considered the best in the league and his team is undefeated because of it. He has 15 total tackles, one sack, five interceptions, a forced fumble, and also returns punts for the unbeaten Beavers.

Midseason Disappointment (Team): Utah
The Utes were one win away from playing in the Pac-12 championship game last season when it lost to lowly Colorado in the season finale. Kyle Whittingham's squad is 2-5 in regular season action and hasn't won a conference game since. John White set a school record for rushing yards last season and has only one 100-yard effort on his resume this fall and that came against Northern Colorado. Quarterback play has been downright atrocious after the injury to starter Jordan Wynn. All three of this team's league losses have come within the division.

Midseason Disappointment (Player): Keith Price, QB, Washington
Certainly, Price hasn't gotten much help from his decimated offensive line, but Price has been a shell of his 2011 self. At the halfway point of the season, the Huskies passer has completed 61.3 percent of his passes for 1,080 yards, almost as many interceptions (6) as touchdowns (7) and wasn't able to keep his team very competitive against Oregon or USC. This from a guy who threw for 3,063 yards and accounted for 36 total touchdowns on 66.9 percent passing a year ago.

Midseason Surprise (Team): Oregon State
Arizona State has been the South's version of Oregon State, except the Beavers have played a dramatically tougher schedule. In fact, with wins over Wisconsin, UCLA, Arizona and BYU, it might be the best resume in the country. Mike Riley's defense is arguably the most improved unit in the entire nation and it has led to an undefeated first half of the season — the latest win coming on the road against BYU without starting quarterback Sean Mannion. 

Midseason Surprise (Player): Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State
The sophomore signal caller battled with Michael Eubanks all summer long for the right to run Todd Graham's new offense in Tempe — a unit that had to replace its quarterback and top two pass catchers. Kelly, the league's top-rated passer, has made it look easy. He is completing 68.3 percent of his passes for 1,600 yards, 14 touchdowns, only two interceptions with 210 yards rushing on 57 attempts. Most importantly, his team is unbeaten in conference play.

What Athlon Sports got right: Predicting the division champions is the most important part of Athlon's preseason prognostication and both USC and Oregon are the class of the Pac-12. Colorado and Washington State also appear to be right on as the worst two teams in the league. UCLA and Arizona will battle for third in the South as expected while Cal wallows in fifth up North. Stanford could also finish as the North's top challenger to Oregon if it can defeat Oregon State.

What Athlon Sports got wrong: The Utah-Arizona State flip-flop is one of the biggest misses by our staff. Utah, picked second, will likely finish fifth in the South while the Sun Devils, picked to finish fifth, have a good shot at finishing second. Up North, the Oregon State Beavers are the only miss as they are dramatically outperforming preseason expectations. Otherwise, the other nine slots could finish exactly as predicted in the summer.

Second-Half Predictions

Here's how we think the final standings will look before the Pac-12 Championship.

North Division

1. Oregon
2. Stanford
3. Oregon State
4. Washington
5. Cal
6. Washington State

South Division

1. USC
2. Arizona State
3. UCLA
4. Arizona 
5. Utah
6. Colorado

Pac-12 Championship: Oregon over USC

Three Things to Watch

Oregon's four second-half road games 
The Ducks, behind the best defense of Chip Kelly's tenure in Eugene, have made it to the halfway point unbeaten without really breaking a sweat. But things get a lot tougher from here on out. Four road trips dot the perilous second-half slate beginning with a Thursday night primetime showdown with much-improved Arizona State in Week 8 and wrapping up with an in-state Civil War battle in Corvallis. In between are trips to national power USC and Cal — a team that nearly derailed the Ducks' 2010 national title hopes in Berkeley — as well as a home test against Stanford. There is a lot of work left for the high-flying Ducks if they expect to win their fourth straight Pac-12 championship and possibly, the program's first-ever national championship.

The 2012 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year race
This is going to be a crazy race to watch the rest of the season. Matt Barkley looks like he is in the best position to win the award, while power names like Kenjon Barner, Stepfan Taylor, De'Anthony Thomas, Johnathan Franklin, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee have all lived up to the preseason hype. But new faces like Taylor Kelly, Matt Scott, Ka'Deem Carey, Brett Hundley, Sean Mannion and Marcus Mariota have all produced in a fashion that warrants consideration. And I haven't even mentioned Keenan Allen, Marquess Wilson, Markus Wheaton or Austin Hill (or anyone from Washington, for that matter). This league is loaded with elite offensive weapons and should make the second half out West extremely entertaining. 

Who has staying power out West?
Arizona State and Oregon State are two of the biggest surprises in the nation at the midway point of the season. UCLA has also shown that it is much improved. Washington and Stanford have flashed major potential as well. In a league that could be second only to the mighty SEC, can any of these conference upstarts that are looking up at favorites USC and Oregon stay in the race deep into the winter months? Many believe the Sun Devils will come back to earth as the schedule gets tougher, while the Beavers should take some sort of a hit without Mannion under center. And the Bruins' schedule is a nasty five-game stretch following next week's bye. Are these teams simply nice stories worth noting in the grand scheme of the USC-Oregon dominated 2012 Pac-12? Or does one of these unexpected contenders pull off a huge upset, totally shaking up the league and sending ripples throughout the national title picture?

Three Games to Watch in the Second Half

1. Oregon at USC (Nov. 3)
The Ducks and Trojans have been on a collision course since the 2011 season ended last January. It will likely be the first of two meetings between the two, and fans can only hope it is as entertaining as the 38-35 USC win a year ago in Eugene.

2. Oregon at Oregon State (Nov. 24)
The only two teams left unbeaten out West hail from the Beaver State. It is highly unlikely both make it to The Civil War unbeaten, but if by chance it does happen, it could be the single biggest in-state bout between these two adversaries in the 118-year history of the rivalry. The Beavers will likely be the underdog regardless of what happens from here on out, but getting the Ducks at home gives the Beavers as good a chance as anyone to upset Oregon.

3. Notre Dame at USC (Nov. 24)
The Arizona State Sun Devils have the unfortunate luck of facing both Oregon and USC, so their round-robin with the Ducks and Trojans is more important within the Pac-12. But when it comes to national importance, interest and history, there are few games that would be able to match a Notre Dame-USC top 5 match-up. Even if one or both lose a game along the way, a BCS bowl bid and potential top 10 bragging rights should be on the line.

Post-Week 7 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (6-0, 3-0)
Perfect first half gives way to tough second half road slate with visits to USC, Arizona State, Oregon State and Cal. 

2. USC (5-1, 3-1)
It hasn't been pretty at times, but Lane Kiffin still has his team poised for a Pac-12 title. 

3. Stanford (4-2, 2-1)
The most physical team in the league played valiant football in South Bend. An upcoming tilt against Oregon State looms large.

4. Oregon State (5-0, 3-0)
No Sean Mannion, no problem. Even without their star quarterback, the Beavers won on the road to stay unbeaten.

5. Arizona State (5-1, 3-0)
Todd Graham has found himself a quarterback in Taylor Kelly, but ASU faces tough second half.

6. UCLA (5-2, 2-2)
The Bruins bounced back from an ugly loss to Cal to get back to even in the league. This team goes as Brett Hundley goes.

7. Arizona (3-3, 0-3)
A much better team than the 0-3 mark indicates but the defense needs to show up at some point to win games.

8. Washington (3-3, 1-2)
The Huskies' defense is dramatically improved. But can Justin Wilcox and Tosh Lupoi coach the O-Line?

9. Cal (3-4, 2-2)
Got two clutch wins when Jeff Tedford needed them most. But Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford and Washington still left.

10. Utah (2-4, 0-3)
Shocking turn of events in Salt Lake City have led to horrific start to 2012 — with little light at the end of the tunnel. 

11. Washington State (2-5, 0-4)
Home games against Colorado and Cal were best two chances at league wins and Cougs lost both.

12. Colorado (1-5, 1-2)
The Buffaloes have shown little fight all season and might not win another game the rest of the way. 

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 7 Recap

ACC 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big East 
2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big Ten 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big 12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Pac-12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
SEC 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review 

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-basketball/2012-13-college-basketball-preview-top-freshmen
Body:
Visit the online store for UCLA and other editions of the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual.

Led by Anthony Davis, Marcus Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague,  Kentucky ended the notion that freshman-laden teams couldn’t win a national championship.

Granted, the group in Kentucky was one of the best rookie classes in college basketball history with David and Kidd-Gilchrist being selected Nos. 1 and 2 in the NBA Draft. There likely won’t be a class that strong in the country this season, but plenty of prominent programs are counting on freshmen to rebuild or reload.

Of course, John Calipari has another star-studded class coming to Kentucky, led by Nerlens Noel. On the other side of the country, UCLA is counting on Shabazz Muhammad and Ryan Anderson to 1.) pass NCAA eligibility standards and 2.) lead the Bruins back to national prominence.

And at Indiana, the addition of Cody Zeller as a freshman last season was only the start. The Athlon preseason No. 1 team added Yogi Ferrell, listed below, to a veteran mix ready to contend for a national title.

Here’s a look at the top 10 freshmen who could shape the national and conference landscapes:

TOP 10 IMPACT FRESHMEN FOR 2012-13
Steven Adams, C, Pittsburgh
The highest-rated recruit ever to sign with Pittsburgh, Adams will be asked to be a factor on both ends of the court for the Panthers. The native of New Zealand is still relatively new to the game, so there might be some growing pains early in the season, but he has the size (7-0, 210) and athleticism to be a dominant big man in the Big East.

Kyle Anderson, F, UCLA
Anderson will team with guard Shabazz Muhammad to give Ben Howland two of the elite freshmen in the nation. Anderson, who played for legendary prep coach Bob Hurley at St. Anthony (N.J.) High School, is a swingman who boasts a true inside-outside game. Anderson can knock down the perimeter jump shot but is at his best when taking the ball to the basket.

Related: Arrival of Muhammad, Anderson leads makeover at UCLA

Brandon Ashley, F, Arizona
Fellow Arizona freshman big man Kaleb Tarczewski received more hype through the recruiting process, but don’t be surprised if Ashley makes a bigger impact this season for the Wildcats. At 6-8, 230 pounds, Ashley can play both forward spots, though he likely will see most of his minutes at the 3. He should be one of the most productive players in the Pac-12.

Isaiah Austin, C, Baylor
The 7-footer from Arlington, Texas, will be one of the best big men in the Big 12 in ’12-13. His game has few weaknesses, if any. He has the skills to play on the wing but has the size to be a dominant player around the basket — both offensively and defensively. It will be a surprise if he doesn’t average a double-double for a Baylor team that had three frontcourt players taken in the first 38 picks of the 2012 NBA Draft.

Yogi Ferrell, G, Indiana
Ferrell is a true point guard who will be a great facilitator on an Indiana team loaded with weapons. The Indiana native has range out to 3-point line, but don’t expect him to be a high-volume shooter. His job will be to penetrate the defense and find the open man. Big man Cody Zeller will be the biggest beneficiary of Ferrell’s arrival in Bloomington.

Gary Harris, G, Michigan State
Harris is a shooting guard from Indiana who does just about everything well on the court. He isn’t an elite outside shooter, but he is a threat from behind the arc. Harris will thrive on the defensive end for Tom Izzo’s club right away.

Shabazz Muhammad, G, UCLA
UCLA managed to keep Muhammad, the No. 1 player in the class according to some, away from the likes of Kentucky and Duke. The left-handed swingman is adept at getting to the rim and scoring in traffic, and he shines on the defensive end. This was a huge get for Ben Howland, who is trying to return UCLA to elite status on the national scene.

Nerlens Noel, C, Kentucky
Noel will replace Anthony Davis as the shot-blocking machine on the back end of the Kentucky defense. His offensive game is still a work in progress, but he will get his share of points on dunks and put-backs. His decision to sign with UK over Georgetown instantly made the Wildcats a threat to repeat as national champs.

Marcus Paige, G, North Carolina
Paige will have an opportunity to slide into the starting point guard spot vacated by Kendall Marshall. A 6-1 lefthander, Paige averaged 28.4 points per game as a senior at Linn-Mar (Iowa) High School and played in the McDonald’s All-American Game. He suffered a stress fracture in his left foot in the spring but is expected to be 100 percent by the time practice starts.

Marcus Smart, G, Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford signed an elite talent from Texas for the second straight season. Smart will join forward LeBryan Nash, a rising sophomore, to give the Pokes two of the top players in the Big 12. Smart is a combo guard who is regarded as a tremendous leader. Opposing coaches have raved about Smart.

@AthlonSports

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky
4. Kansas
5. Syracuse
6. Michigan
7. Arizona
8. Ohio State
9. Duke
10. Michigan State
11. NC State
12. UCLA
13. UNLV
14. North Carolina
15. San Diego State
16. Missouri
17. Baylor
18. Memphis
19. Notre Dame
20. Florida

Teaser:
<p> 2012-13 College Basketball Preview: Top Transfers</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 05:59
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Legends Poll, News
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-7
Body:

In the seven-year history of the Legends Poll, fifth-ranked Notre Dame had never been ranked in the top 5.

That streak ended this week as the Fighting Irish and Kansas State made their first ever top 5 appearances in the Legends Poll rankings. Both teams improved to 6-0 and benefited from a second straight week of upsets.

“I think Notre Dame’s offense is definitely getting better,” former Indiana coach Bill Mallory said. “But I think their defense is the thing that’s really improved. From what I’ve seen last year to this year, they’ve definitely improved on the defensive side of the ball. Their defensive front is really strong and that linebacker (Manti Teo) is really outstanding.”

Alabama continued its dominance with a commanding victory at Missouri and remained the unanimous No. 1 team. Idle Oregon maintained its spot at No. 2.

No. 3 Florida also moved up two spots this week after a win over Vanderbilt, but the Gators face another tough test next week when their former coach pays a visit to Gainesville with his South Carolina Gamecocks.

The SEC gauntlet caught up with Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, and they failed to stay unbeaten, falling 26-23 at LSU. The Gamecocks fell six spots to No. 9.

With the victory, LSU moved up four spots to No. 6, and jumped seventh-ranked Florida State as the highest ranked one-loss team.

No. 8 Oklahoma moved back into the top 10 after a resounding 63-21 victory over archrival Texas. The lopsided loss catapulted Texas out of the top 25.

No. 11 Oregon State was the biggest mover in the poll this week, jumping five spots following a 42-24 win at BYU.

West Virginia slid 11 spots all the way to No. 15 after it was embarrassed at Texas Tech, 49-14. The loss was a huge blow to quarterback Geno Smith’s Heisman hopes.

Texas Tech moved into the rankings for the first time following their surprise upset, debuting at No. 21. No. 24 Michigan and No. 25 Arizona State joined the Red Raiders as newcomers to the rankings.

Iowa State and Louisiana Tech along with Texas dropped out of the top 25 this week.

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

THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25

RK TEAM RECORD POINTS PV RK
1 AlabamaAlabama (17) 6-0 425 1
2 OregonOregon 6-0 408 2
3 FloridaFlorida 6-0 384 5
4 Kansas StateKansas State 6-0 361 6
5 Notre DameNotre Dame 6-0 352 7
6 LSULSU 6-1 344 10
7 Florida StateFlorida State 6-1 307 8
8 OklahomaOklahoma 4-1 302 11
9 South CarolinaSouth Carolina 6-1 287 3
10 USCUSC 5-1 266 9
11 Oregon StateOregon State 5-0 250 16
12 ClemsonClemson 5-1 230 12
13 GeorgiaGeorgia 5-1 218 14
14 Mississippi StateMississippi State 6-0 193 17
15 West VirginiaWest Virginia 5-1 180 4
16 LouisvilleLouisville 6-0 170 18
17 Texas A&MTexas A&M 5-1 150 19
18 StanfordStanford 4-2 144 13
19 RutgersRutgers 6-0 117 21
20 CincinnatiCincinnati 5-0 108 20
21 Texas TechTexas Tech 5-1 82 -
22 TCUTCU 5-1 74 22
23 Boise StateBoise State 5-1 60 23
24 MichiganMichigan 4-2 53 -
25 Arizona StateArizona State 5-1 18 -
 

Others Receiving Votes: Louisiana Tech 13, Wisconsin 5, Ohio 4, Nebraska 4, Iowa State 4, Northwestern 4, Oklahoma State 4, UCLA 3, Iowa 1

Teams Dropped Out From Last Week's Poll: Texas, Iowa State, Louisiana Tech

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

Teaser:
<p> As voted on by 17 coaching legends</p>
Post date: Monday, October 15, 2012 - 05:55

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