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Boston, MA (Sports Network) - The Boston Red Sox have fired manager Bobby Valentine after just one season.

Boston finished the 2012 season last in the American League East with a record of 69-93, the worst for the storied franchise since a 62-100 mark in 1965. He had one year remaining on the contract he signed last winter.

"Our 2012 season was disappointing for many reasons," said Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington in a statement Thursday. "No single issue is the reason, and no single individual is to blame."

The disastrous record wasn't the only problem for Valentine, who was back in a big league dugout for the first time since 2002. He had issues with some of his coaching staff and a few players during the trying campaign.

After the team's meltdown last September, in which a 7-20 record denied the team a playoff berth, the Red Sox parted ways with Terry Francona and hoped the change to Valentine would help restore the luster of two World Series championships.

It didn't. The Red Sox started with three straight losses, never really contended after a 4-10 start and went on to miss the playoffs for the third straight season.

"This season was by far the worst we have experienced in over 10 years here," Red Sox chairman Tom Werner. "Ultimately, we are all collectively responsible for the team's performance. We are going to be working tirelessly to reconstruct the ballclub for 2013. We'll be back."

Valentine kept three members of Francona's coaching staff, and in a radio interview on Wednesday before the season finale against the Yankees said he didn't feel full loyalty from all of his coaches during the season. He didn't mention any names.

It was, likely, the last straw in what had long been rumored -- Valentine's ouster.

"Bobby leaves the Red Sox's manager's office with our respect, gratitude, and affection," said Red Sox president and CEO Larry Lucchino. "I have no doubt that he will continue to contribute to the game he loves so much and knows so well."

Player issues evolved early in the season when Valentine, on April 15, questioned whether Kevin Youkilis had been playing with the same passion as in the past. He quickly apologized, particularly after Dustin Pedroia came to Youkilis' defense. Youkilis was eventually traded to the Chicago White Sox in June.

In mid-August, reports surfaced about a meeting players had with ownership regarding Valentine. It had been speculated that the players asked management for a managerial change in the late July meeting.

Reports had indicated that players were upset when Valentine left pitcher Jon Lester in a blowout game on July 22, a game in which the left-hander gave up 11 runs. Owner John Henry and Pedroia acknowledged that meetings took place, but both denied that players asked for Valentine's removal.

The Red Sox also had plenty of key injuries during the season. Andrew Bailey, acquired from Oakland to be the club's closer, underwent thumb surgery just before the start of the season and didn't return until August, while outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury missed most of the first three months because of a dislocated shoulder. Pedroia also battled a thumb injury and David Ortiz missed the last 2 1/2 months because of an Achilles problem.

With the club quickly fading from contention in late August, the Red Sox then orchestrated one of the biggest post-waiver trades in baseball history by dealing first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, outfielder Carl Crawford, pitcher Josh Beckett and infielder Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

"We've been making personnel changes since August, and we will continue to do so as we build a contending club," Cherington added. "With an historic number of injuries, Bobby was dealt a difficult hand. He did the best he could under seriously adverse circumstances, and I am thankful to him."

Valentine spent six-plus seasons as manager of the New York Mets and parts of eight seasons as skipper of the Texas Rangers. He has an overall big league record of 1,186-1,165 and guided the Mets to the 2000 World Series.

"I understand this decision," said Valentine in the club's release. "This year in Boston has been an incredible experience for me, but I am as disappointed in the results as are ownership and the great fans of Red Sox Nation.

"It was a privilege to be part of the 100 year anniversary of Fenway Park and an honor to be in uniform with such great players and coaches. My best to the organization. I'm sure next year will be a turnaround year."

The Connecticut native also spent time as a manger in Japan, winning the Japan Series title in 2005.

Teaser:
<p> The Boston Red Sox have fired manager Bobby Valentine after just one season.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 14:00
Path: /college-football/5-great-moments-lsu-florida-rivalry
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The attention of college football fans will be on the Swamp Saturday afternoon, when LSU and Florida put their undefeated records on the line. Over the last twenty years, the annual meeting between the Tigers and Gators has developed into one of the better rivalries in the SEC. And over the last decade, this physical clash has probably been the league’s best and most competitive matchup. There has been some interesting history between LSU and Florida: from stolen plays to controversial Sugar Bowl bids to weather concerns, from the Tigers breaking a nine-game Gators losing streak in 1997 to this game producing three straight national champions from 2006-08. Here are five great LSU-Florida moments from the last decade.
 
1) The Fake Field Goal — 2010
LSU kicker Josh Jasper’s run in the Swamp is one of the more famous plays in recent college football history, and the fourth quarter of this game was incredible. After a Jordan Jefferson run put LSU up 26-14 early in the final frame, Florida’s Andre Debose would take the kickoff back for a touchdown. With just over three minutes to go, a Mike Gillislee run and two-point conversion would put the Gators ahead 29-26. LSU lined up for a game-tying 53-yard field goal with 35 seconds to go, but then holder Derek Helton flipped the ball over his shoulder to Jasper. The pigskin hit the ground, but the LSU kicker took the bounce and ran for the first down. Jarrett Lee then completed two passes to Terrence Toliver, including the game-winning score with six seconds to go, to cap off a wild 33-29 Tigers victory in the Swamp.

 

2) Fourth-Down Dominance — 2007
This game at Death Valley was an absolute SEC classic. Florida led 24-14 to start the fourth quarter, but LSU would roar back with 14 unanswered points to win 28-24. Les Miles’ bunch converted five 4th-down conversions (9:16 mark of the video), and Jacob Hester’s touchdown with just over a minute to go would put the Tigers up for good. Tim Tebow’s Hail Mary pass was batted down on the game’s last play LSU, of course, went on to win the BCS Championship.

 

3) Gators Second-Half Slaughter — 2008
In this clash of the last two BCS champions, the Gators would start well and close better in a surprising 51-21 rout of the Tigers. Florida scored first on a Tim Tebow to Percy Harvin 70-yard touchdown pass on a tipped ball, and the Gators jumped out to a 20-0 lead. LSU would battle back to a 20-14 deficit in the third quarter, but then Tebow and company scored at will down the stretch. Urban Meyer’s Gators would go on to win their second BCS title in three seasons.

 

4) Tebow Jump Pass — 2006
Many fans outside of the SEC seem to forget that Chris Leak was the starting quarterback for Florida’s national title squad this year, and it was the LSU game where the nation first really noticed Tim Tebow. The heralded freshman quarterback would account for all three of the Gators touchdowns in a 23-10 win. Tebow was 2-for-2 passing for two scores, plus he ran in a touchdown. And of course there was the famous “jump pass”, which we witness from the crowd in the Swamp.

 

5) First-Year Head Coaches — 2005
This game of momentum swings was the first contest between a Les Miles’ LSU team and an Urban Meyer Florida crew, and their aforementioned matchups were as good as it gets in college football. The Tigers jumped out to a 14-0 advantage early, but the Gators would rally to a 17-14 lead after three quarters. LSU would answer back on the strength of a JaMarcus Russell to Dwayne Bowe 31-yard pass play, and then Joseph Addai ran in the game-winning score (7:04 mark of the video). The Tigers defense would hold the line in the fourth quarter for a 21-17 win, one where LSU overcame five turnovers.

Teaser:
<p> 5 Great Moments from the LSU-Florida Rivalry</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 12:43
Path: /nfl/arizona-cardinals-vs-st-louis-rams-preview-and-prediction
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NFC West rivals will clash tonight when the St. Louis Rams host the Arizona Cardinals at 8:20 pm EST on the NFL Network. The Cardinals have been one of the better stories in the NFL after one month, as Ken Whisenhunt’s club is one of only three undefeated teams in the league. Arizona has won 10 of the last 11 meetings against the Rams, but St. Louis has won both of its home games under new coach Jeff Fisher.

When the Arizona Cardinals have the ball:
The Arizona offense began the season with John Skelton at quarterback, but Kevin Kolb replaced the injured starter in Week 1 and has been very effective. Kolb has totaled seven touchdowns against only two interceptions, and his efficient play has been a key in the Cardinals 4-0 start. Larry Fitzgerald is still the top outside threat for Arizona, but the contribution of Andre Roberts (229 yards and four touchdowns) was huge in September. The Cards still need to get the running game on track, as Arizona has only rushed for 2.7 yards per carry on the season.

The Rams defense has played fairly well under Fisher and staff, ranking 15th in the league after four games. St. Louis held Seattle to 13 points last week, and the defense will need a similar performance tonight versus another division rival in Arizona. The Rams have only six sacks on the year, but they do rank second in the NFL with eight interceptions. The defensive unit has struggled some against the run, but the Cardinals have yet to establish success in that area.

When the St. Louis Rams have the ball:
Quarterback Sam Bradford played well (310 yards and three touchdowns) in the Week 2 home win against the Redskins, but has been pretty pedestrian otherwise. His favorite target by far has been fourth-year receiver Danny Amendola, who already has 31 receptions on the season. The next highest total on the club is Brandon Gibson with 10 catches. The Rams will be looking for more from veteran running back Steven Jackson, who has been battling a groin injury while averaging only 3.3 yards a carry so far.

The Arizona defense has been all about pressuring opposing quarterbacks, and getting after the youthful Bradford will be a top priority. The Cardinals lead the NFC with 16 sacks, and they have totaled 10 takeaways on the season. Despite giving up over 250 passing yards per game, the aggressive Arizona defense ranks third in the NFL in points allowed at only 15.3 per contest.

Key Factor:
Both teams have given up 14 sacks (tied for second-worst in the NFL), so protecting the passer will be the critical element in this divisional battle. Red zone success and special teams will also be key, and Rams rookie Greg Zuerlein and Arizona veteran Jay Feely have both been perfect on field goals this season. It should be a tight, low-scoring affair, and we’ll take the Rams (hosting their first primetime game in five years) to spoil the Cardinals perfect record.

Prediction:
Rams 23 Cardinals 20


---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

Teaser:
<p> Arizona Cardinals vs. St. Louis Rams Preview and Prediction</p> <br />
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/sec-week-6-preview-and-predictions
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The SEC takes center stage in college football this weekend with two huge matchups. Florida, experiences a resurgence under second-year coach Will Muschamp hosts LSU at the Swamp, and Georgia and South Carolina meet in Columbia in a game that could decide the SEC East champ.

Other Week 6 Previews and Predictions

1. Is the Florida offense ready for an elite defense?
Florida is 4–0 and showing signs of life on offense. The Gators are averaging 407.5 yards per game and 6.2 yards per play, up from 328.7 and 5.4 from a year ago. The competition has been relatively strong — they’ve already played three SEC games — but this new-look attack will face its stiffest challenge of the season (by far) on Saturday afternoon. For all its (relative) troubles, LSU is still a dominant defensive team that has been equally stingy against the run and the pass. The Tigers rank in the top 10 nationally in both passing yards (10th) and rushing yards (fourth) allowed. This could be the week we realize that the Gators’ attack hasn’t quite progressed as much as we thought.

2. Can LSU continue its offensive prowess vs. Florida?
Here’s a stat that might surprise you: LSU has scored a total of 74 points in its last two games against Florida, and the Gators ended both seasons ranked in the top 10 nationally in total defense. In those two games, the Tigers averaged a healthy 6.2 yards per play thanks in large part to an efficient passing attack. LSU’s two quarterbacks, Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson, combined to complete 26-of-38 for 439 yards with four touchdowns and one interception in those two wins. Now, it’s Zach Mettenberger’s turn. The strong-armed junior has been decent, but far from a difference-maker, through his first five games as the starting quarterback. This Saturday, he will have an opportunity to shine on one of the biggest stages in college football.

3. Can Georgia run on South Carolina?
Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is getting some Heisman Trophy buzz — and deservedly so — but the most important offensive development in 2012 has been the emergence of freshman tailbacks Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. This dynamic duo is averaging a combined 192.8 yards rushing per game and rank first (Marshall, 8.2) and second (Gurley, 7.9) in the SEC in yards per carry. The each have three rushing plays of 30 yards or more; no one else in the SEC has more than two. This week, however, Gurley and Marshall will run into (literally) a South Carolina defense that ranks second in the SEC in stopping the run, allowing an average of 77.6 yards per game and 2.2 yards per attempt. The Gamecocks have given up only two rushes of 20 yards or longer and none of 30 yards or longer.

4. Can South Carolina seize the moment?
Steve Spurrier summed it up perfectly on Sunday afternoon: “This is a huge game. We all know it.” The coach is right. They don’t get any bigger at South Carolina, a school that is ranked in the top six in the national polls for the third time ever. The Gamecocks have won big games under Spurrier — most notably the 35–21 win over then-No. 1 Alabama in 2010 — but there is seemingly more at stake this time around. South Carolina was not undefeated at the time of the Alabama win and climbed no higher than No. 10 at any point in the ’10 season. Now, however, the Gamecocks are 5–0 and ranked No. 6 in both the AP and coaches poll. A win over Georgia would vault them into the top five for the first time since 1984 and keep them in the hunt for the school’s first-ever national title.

5. Who wins on third down: the Ole Miss offense or the Texas A&M defense?
Ole Miss has made tremendous progress on offense under first-year coach Hugh Freeze. One reason: The Rebels are having success on third down, leading the SEC by converting 51.5 percent of their attempts. And Ole Miss isn’t just padding its stats against inferior competition. In their two games vs. AQ conference teams — Alabama and Texas — the Rebels have a 41.4 percent success rate. This week, Ole Miss faces a Texas A&M defense that has been the stingiest in the SEC on third down, allowing a 26.5 percent rate of success. If the Rebels, an 11-point underdog, hope to keep pace with the potent Texas A&M offense, they need to have success on third down.

6. What can we expect from Patrick Towles?
Barring a major surprise, quarterback Patrick Towles will make his collegiate debut for Kentucky when the Cats host Mississippi State on Saturday. Joker Phillips had planned on redshirting Towles — a 4-star recruit from Ft. Thomas, Ky. — but those plans changed when starter Maxwell Smith went down with an ankle injury early in last week’s loss to South Carolina. Jalen Whitlow, another true freshman, is expected to get the start, but Towles will see significant playing time. Towles, who had been working with the scout team, received extensive on-the-job training during practice this week. “He had not been working with the one or the twos, but he’s been in the meetings every day,” Phillips said. “He’s a guy that pays attention in the meetings, and we’ll have to see how much he knows. But again, it’s difficult when you haven’t gotten any reps.” If Towles plays well, Phillips, who is on the hottest of seats in the SEC, will have no choice but to start the Kentucky native for the last six games. Stay tuned.

7. Kiehl Frazier vs. the Arkansas defense: Who wins?
Arkansas’ pass defense has been horrendous in 2012 — and that is being kind. The Razorbacks, who are still searching for a win over an FBS opponent, have allowed 349.4 passing yards per game to rank 121st in the nation. They have given up 14 touchdowns through the air and have intercepted only one pass. In five games, they have given up 72 pass plays of 10 yards or more (most in the nation), 21 of 20 yards or more and nine of 30 yards or more. That brings us to Kiehl Frazier, the former prized recruit who is struggling in his first season as Auburn’s starting quarterback. The numbers aren’t pretty: Frazier ranks 14th in the SEC with a 96.03 passer rating (for a reference point, James Franklin is No. 13 with a 127.38 rating); he has completed only 52.8 percent of his attempts (last in the league); and his 6.1 yards-per-attempt average ranks last as well. This week, however, Frazier has the luxury of facing the SEC’s worst pass defense. If he struggles once again, will Auburn consider a change at the most important position on the field?

8. Can Vanderbilt score a red zone touchdown?
The first part of the season has been a struggle for the Vanderbilt offense. The Commodores averaged 30.6 points in their final eight games in ’11, but are scoring at a much lower clip this fall. They are averaging 21.8 points in four games, but that number dips down to 9.7 when you remove the 58–0 win over Presbyterian in Week 3. One issue has been production (or lack thereof) in the red zone. Vanderbilt has scored a touchdown on only 26.7 percent (4 of 15) of its trips inside the 20-yard line — and all four of those TDs occurred in the Presbyterian game. In fact, the Dores are the only team in the nation that has not scored a red zone touchdown vs. an FBS opponent.

9. Can Mississippi State take care of business?
The Bulldog faithful are anxiously awaiting the visit from Tennessee in two weeks, but Mississippi State must first handle the task at hand: Beat Kentucky in Lexington. And while the Bulldogs are a heavy favorite — the line has settled at 10 points after opening at 14 — this is not a program that can expect to win a road game by simply showing up. Two weeks ago, in their only road game of the season, Mississippi State gave up 572 total yards in a 30–24 win at Troy. Kentucky is struggling on both sides of the ball, but there is certain to be some extra energy at Commonwealth Stadium due to the debut of true freshman quarterback Patrick Towles. Mississippi State is the better team, but the Bulldogs will have to play well to win and preserve their undefeated record.

10. Is DGB ready to break out?
It took longer than most Missouri fans had hoped, but wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham — the nation’s consensus No. 1 recruit in the class of 2012 — finally impacted a game. In the first quarter of Mizzou’s 21–16 win at UCF, Green-Beckham turned a 25-yard toss from James Franklin into an 80-yard touchdown — the first of his career. Missouri fans are hoping that was the first of many big plays for the freshman, who had caught only six passes for a total of 48 yards in his first four games.

@AthlonMitch

  David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Florida (+2.5) at LSU

Florida 17-10

LSU 21-17 LSU 24-20 LSU 24-17
Georgia (+1) at South Carolina

South Carolina 28-21

Georgia 34-31 Georgia 31-27 Georgia 30-24
Texas A&M (-12.5) at Ole Miss

Texas A&M 35-17

Texas A&M 40-20 Texas A&M 34-24 Texas A&M 38-28
Arkansas (+9.5) at Auburn

Auburn 37-19

Auburn 27-21 Auburn 27-20 Auburn 27-20
Mississippi State (-10) at Kentucky

Mississippi State 31-10

Mississippi State 27-14 Mississippi State 38-23 Mississippi State 30-20
Vanderbilt (+6.5) at Missouri Missouri 24-10 Missouri 31-21 Missouri 27-24 Missouri 23-20
Last Week 6-0 6-0 6-0 6-0
Season Record 43-8 46-5 46-5 45-6

Teaser:
<p>  </p> <p> The SEC takes center stage in college football this weekend with two huge matchups. Florida, experiences a resurgence under second-year coach Will Muschamp hosts LSU at the Swamp, and Georgia and South Carolina meet in Columbia in a game that could decide the SEC East champ.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 06:12
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-6-upset-predictions
Body:

Another week is in the books and the midpoint of the 2012 college football season is approaching. The arrival of October means more conference play, which often creates plenty of upset picks each week. Athlon's editors like Virginia, Georgia, Purdue, West Virginia and Utah State as solid upset predictions for Week 6.

College Football's Week 6 Upset Picks

Dave Bartoo (@CFBMatrix), CFBMatrix.com, Virginia (+1.5) over Duke
In very odd fashion, all but two of the AQ favorites this week match the CFBMatrix picks done back in March for week 6.  The strongest of the two dogs is Virginia.  After allow 30 unanswered at home last week to Louisiana Tech, the Cavaliers find themselves underdogs on the road at Duke.  The numbers show talent and coaching in favor of UVA, so they are the pick to pull a week 6 upset.  Too bad an SEC or Big Ten teams isn’t a good dog as the March picks are 95-10 year to date. 

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Utah State at BYU (-7)
Confession: I’m all in on the Utah State bandwagon. The Aggies have already defeated Utah in overtime and gave Wisconsin a scare in Madison, and that was before playmaking running back Kerwynn Williams started to heat up as he has the last two games. BYU is a solid team with the home-field advantage, but this is a special year for Utah State. Aggies quarterback Chuckie Keeton has proven he’s plenty comfortable on the road, and he should be comfortable in Provo.  

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): West Virginia (+7) over Texas
Georgia is technically an underdog and I like them to win over South Carolina, but the spread is 1-2 points and that doesn't really count as an upset. So I will go big and take the West Virginia Mountaineers to go into Texas and shock the college football world. Their offense is clicking on an unprecedented number of cylinders, but it's the Texas defense I have been surprised by this fall. And not in a good way. The Horns were supposed to dominate on that side of the ball this year but the rushing defense is 9th in the Big 12, the passing defense is 4th, the total defense is 7th and the scoring defense is 6th. This will be a high-flying affair with loads of points (no, not quite 133) as both quarterbacks will keep it rolling. But Geno Smith could take a stranglehold of the Heisman Trophy with a win this weekend. Give me the Mounties to stun Bevo in Austin.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Georgia (+2.5) over South Carolina
Nothing in Saturday’s Georgia-South Carolina game would surprise me. These two teams have played some crazy games in recent years, so it’s only fair the spread is right around three points. The Bulldogs have lost their last two matchups to the Gamecocks but have won seven out of the last 10. Although both defenses aren’t bad, this game could be a shootout. Georgia is averaging 48.2 points a game, but the offensive line will be tested by South Carolina’s defensive line, which is one of the best in the nation. If Aaron Murray has time to throw, the Bulldogs should be able to take shots at the Gamecocks’ cornerbacks. Neither team is particularly impressive in turnover margin, but a few mistakes could decide this game. Expect Saturday’s matchup to be close, but I think Georgia finds a way to earn a close win. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): Michigan at Purdue (+3)
Purdue might be the most undervalued team in the nation through the first one-third of the season. The Boilermakers are 3–1 with their only loss coming by three points at Notre Dame. They did have some trouble with Marshall last weekend, but the final score (51–41) was a bit deceiving. Purdue led 42–14 at the half and 51–35 midway through the fourth quarter. We still don’t know too much about Michigan; the Wolverines are 2–2 with wins over Air Force and UMass and losses to Alabama and Notre Dame. Denard Robinson is doing his thing — he’s averaging over 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing — but the rest of the offense is lacking playmakers. In its two losses, Michigan  averaged only 284 yards and scored a total of two touchdowns. Purdue 34, Michigan 20 

Mark Ross: Virginia (+1.5) over Duke
Duke is 4-1, off to its best start since 1994 and needs just two more wins to be bowl eligible for the first time in nearly two decades. The Blue Devils can move that magic number to one by beating Virginia in Durham, N.C., on Saturday, for what would be the third straight time. Last season, Duke was devastated by injuries to key players as it simply didn't have the depth to overcome those losses. This year's team appears to be deeper, but I think the injury issue will raise its ugly head again as senior starting quarterback Sean Renfree's status is unknown after suffering an elbow injury in last week's win over Wake Forest. Even though the Blue Devils have done a better job of running the ball this season, this is still primarily a passing-oriented offense and Renfree is the one who makes it hum. Without him, I don't see Duke's offense being as efficient or productive. On the other side, Virginia may turn its offense completely over to sophomore Phillip Sims, who has out-played junior Michael Rocco and served as a spark for the Cavaliers whenever he's been on the field. I think the switch happens Saturday and helps jump start a Cavaliers offense that's been inconsistent, but did pile up 38 points and 625 yards in their loss to Louisiana Tech last week. Virginia also has played tougher competition than Duke to this point, as its non-conference schedule featured games against Penn State, TCU and the aforementioned Bulldogs. Duke's non-conference slate saw the Blue Devils lose 50-13 to Stanford, and defeat FIU and Memphis, who are a combined 1-8. Duke has a better record and has performed better statistically to this point, but I think Virginia is more battle tested and will leave Durham on Saturday victorious.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): Vanderbilt (+6.5) at Missouri
In the much-anticipated James Franklin vs. James Franklin battle, I believe the Commodores may surprise the Tigers. Vanderbilt has limped out of the gate to a 1-3 start, but those three losses were to teams who are 15-0. The much-needed VU bye week should help quarterback Jordan Rodgers and the offense get into a better rhythm, especially in the red zone where the Dores have struggled mightily. The Missouri attack has been limited as well, battling injuries to quarterback James Franklin and the offensive line. Both teams are very similar in offensive and defensive rankings, and this one should come down to a few plays in the fourth quarter. I’ll take Vanderbilt to make the difference with an improved passing game and surprise Missouri in Columbia, 23-20. 

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 6 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 6 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 6 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 6 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 6 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 6 Preview and Predictions

Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 6 Upset Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 06:11
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-10-key-games-week-6-0
Body:

College football's Week 6 action is highlighted by two huge games in the SEC. Georgia and South Carolina meet in Columbia in a game that could decide the SEC East, and LSU travels to Florida in a key game for both programs.

10 Biggest Games of Week 6

Georgia (+1.5) at South Carolina
Steve Spurrier summed it up perfectly on Sunday afternoon: “This is a huge game. We all know it.” The coach is right. They don’t get any bigger at South Carolina, a school that is ranked in the top six in the national polls for the third time ever. The Gamecocks have been playing well on both sides of the ball in recent weeks. They have won their two SEC games by a combined score of 69–27 and rank among the nation’s leaders in rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense. Georgia has been remarkably efficient on offense of late — the Dawgs averaged 8.8 yards per snap against Tennessee — but the defense is a bit of a concern after allowing 478 yards against UT. South Carolina isn’t the most explosive offensive team around, but the Gamecocks have a quarterback (Connor Shaw) who has completed 35 of his last 39 attempts and a running back (Marcus Lattimore) who is averaging more than 100 yards in three SEC games this season. South Carolina is playing very well, but Georgia is the better team.
Georgia 30, South Carolina 24

West Virginia (+6.5) at Texas
First the bad news: These two Big 12 powers gave up a combined 99 points last week. Now the good news: Both teams won, thanks to offenses that scored 70 points (West Virginia) and 41 points (Texas). Geno Smith’s prowess throwing the football has been well-documented. Meanwhile, his counterpart at Texas, sophomore David Ash, is emerging as a legitimate big-time quarterback. In Saturday’s win at Oklahoma State, Ash completed 30-of-37 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns. For the first time since Colt McCoy was hanging out in Austin, Texas has a quarterback capable of taking over a game. The key on Saturday will be red zone defense. Both teams will move the ball up and down the field; the team that has to settle for field goals will have a difficult time winning.
Texas 44, West Virginia 34

LSU (-3) at Florida
LSU is undefeated. LSU is ranked in the top 5 in the nation. LSU fans, however, aren’t happy. The Tigers have looked rather ordinary in recent weeks, beating Auburn 12–10 on the road and Towson 38–22 in Baton Rouge. This has not looked like a team that can win a national championship. Florida, on the other hand, has exceeded its fans’ expectations. The Gators are 4–0 and are showing signs of once again having an offense capable of scoring points with regularity. This new-look attack will face its stiffest challenge of the season (by far) on Saturday afternoon. For all its (relative) troubles, LSU is still a dominant defensive team that has been equally stingy against the run and the pass. This could be the week we realize that the Gators’ attack hasn’t quite progressed as much as we thought.
LSU 24, Florida 17

Miami (Fla.) (+13) at Notre Dame (at Chicago)
For the first time since 1990, Miami and Notre Dame meet in the regular season. The Fighting Irish are 4–0 with wins over three quality Big Ten teams — and yes, there are some quality Big Ten teams. The Notre Dame defense has been dominant, allowing an averaging of 291.3 yards and 9.0 points per game. The Irish will be challenged by a Miami team that has scored more than 40 points in each of its three ACC games (all wins). The Hurricanes were humbled in a 52–13 loss to Kansas State in Week 2 but have shown tremendous resolve in recent wins over Georgia Tech and NC State. This is far from the most talented Miami team, but the Canes do have some weapons on offense. Quarterback Stephen Morris has thrown for 1,002 yards and seven touchdowns the past two weeks, and true freshman tailback Duke Johnson has rushed for 359 yards despite averaging only 10 carries per game.
Notre Dame 24, Miami (Fla.) 21

Nebraska (+3.5) at Ohio State
Nebraska’s first road trip didn’t go well. Back in early September, the Cornhuskers were torched for 653 total yards in a 36–30 loss at UCLA. Ohio State isn’t likely to roll up 600-plus yards this weekend, but the Buckeyes do have one of the game’s elite offensive talents. Quarterback Braxton Miller accounted for 315 of Ohio State’s 387 yards from scrimmage in the Buckeyes’ 17–16 win at Michigan State last weekend. Nebraska rallied from a 27–10 deficit in the third quarter to beat Wisconsin 30–27 in Lincoln in its Big Ten opener. Taylor Martinez rushed for 100-plus yards for only the second time this season. When he is a threat both through the air and on the ground, this offense can be difficult to stop. Ohio State is only allowing 17.0 points per game, but the Buckeyes have yet to face an offense that can run the ball as well as Nebraska’s.
Nebraska 24, Ohio State 21

Michigan (-3) at Purdue
Purdue might be the most undervalued team in the nation through the first one-third of the season. The Boilermakers are 3–1 with their only loss coming by three points at Notre Dame. They did have some trouble with Marshall last weekend, but the final score (51–41) was a bit deceiving. Purdue led 42–14 at the half and 51–35 midway through the fourth quarter. We still don’t know too much about Michigan; the Wolverines are 2–2 with wins over Air Force and UMass and losses to Alabama and Notre Dame. Denard Robinson is doing his thing — he’s averaging over 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing — but the rest of the offense is lacking playmakers. In its two losses, Michigan averaged only 284 yards and scored a total of two touchdowns.
Purdue 34, Michigan 20

Georgia Tech (-10) at Clemson
Georgia Tech has dominated this series of late, with a 7–2 record vs. Clemson over the last eight years (the teams met twice in 2009). But things aren’t going so well for the Yellow Jackets in 2012. They dropped to 2–3 overall with a shocking 49–28 loss at home to Middle Tennessee — a team that lost to McNeese State in Week 1. The Blue Raiders rolled up over 500 yards of offense, averaging 7.6 yards per snap. Clemson, too, has had some issues on defense in recent weeks, but the Tigers are better equipped to win high-scoring games. When everyone is healthy (Sammy Watkins missed the win vs. Boston College due to a stomach virus), Clemson features a cast of skill-position players that rivals any team in the nation. The same cannot be said about Georgia Tech.
Clemson 37, Georgia Tech 24

Arizona (+10) at Stanford
Two weeks after mauling USC at the line of scrimmage with 202 yards rushing in a 21–14 win over the Trojans, Stanford managed only 65 yards on the ground in a troublesome 17–13 loss at Washington. The rushing numbers looked bad — and they are — but the biggest problem with the Stanford offense is at quarterback. Josh Nunes, Andrew Luck’s replacement, completed only 18-of-37 for 170 yards vs. UW and currently ranks 12th in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency. Meanwhile, the good times at Arizona didn’t last long. The Wildcats, once 3–0 under new coach Rich Rodriguez, are now 3–2 after losing at Oregon 49–0 and at home to Oregon State 38–35. Quarterback Matt Scott has thrown five interceptions in the two losses after throwing only one in the first three games. He also hasn’t been as much of a threat with his legs; he averaged 63.3 yards rushing in his first three games but only 19.0 in the last two. This is a huge swing game for both programs.
Stanford 30, Arizona 27

Oklahoma (-5) at Texas Tech
Texas Tech quietly picked up a really nice road win last week, beating Iowa State 24–13 in Ames. The Red Raiders had feasted on inferior opponents in their first three games, but made a statement that things might be different in Year 3 of the Tommy Tuberville era. Iowa State isn’t the most gifted offensive team, but it’s impressive any time you can hold a conference opponent to 189 total yards — especially on the road. This is an important game for Oklahoma in so many ways. After losing two weeks ago at home to Kansas State, the Sooners simply to need to win a game. But they also need to play well, something they have yet to do in two games vs. FBS opponents. Landry Jones’ numbers look okay on the surface — he’s completing 63.6 percent and averaging 257.3 yards per game — but he ranks 10th in the Big 12 in passing efficiency in large part because he’s only averaging 7.2 yards per attempt. Maybe I have too much (blind) faith in Oklahoma, but I can’t envision this team going 0–2 in the league.
Oklahoma 28, Texas Tech 21

Texas A&M (-11) at Ole Miss
It’s safe to say that Kevin Sumlin made the right call when he tabbed Johnny Manziel as the starting quarterback at Texas A&M prior to the season. The redshirt freshman, who was once committed to play at Oregon, threw for a school-record 453 yards and added 104 yards rushing in the Aggies’ 58–10 win over Arkansas. In the last three games — wins over SMU, South Carolina State and Arkansas by a combined 176–27 — Manziel has accounted for 15 touchdowns. Ole Miss took a step in the right direction last weekend — even in a 19-point defeat. The Rebels, who were torched by Texas for 676 yards and 66 points in Oxford in Week 3, held No. 1 Alabama to season lows in both yards (304) and points (33). Ole Miss only gained 215 yards, though the Rebels did have two touchdown drives that went for 75 yards or longer. Hugh Freeze is clearly doing a solid job in his first season in Oxford.
Texas A&M 37, Ole Miss 23

Last week: 8–2 overall (9–1 against the spread)
Season: 35–15 overall (30–20 against the spread)
 

@AthlonMitch

Teaser:
<p> College football's Week 6 action is highlighted by two huge games in the SEC. Georgia and South Carolina meet in Columbia in a game that could decide the SEC East, and LSU travels to Florida in a key game for both programs.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 06:10
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-6-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Michigan State and Ohio State transported Big Ten fans back last Saturday to an era of physical play the league has been missing this season. Trash talk, big hits, recruiting storylines and even some gamesmanship concerning pre-game film created a truly great football atmosphere that lived up to the hype. 

This week there are loads of storylines across the league. Ohio State-Nebraska could feature the league's top two teams. Northwestern tries to stay unbeaten. Michigan looks to get back on track with a tough road test. And something will happen at Camp Randall this weekend, right?

Big Ten's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 6:

1. Which QB plays better: Braxton Miller or Taylor Martinez?
These have been the best two players in the league on what could be the best two teams in the Big Ten. And since Ohio State can't play in the title game, this could be the de facto Big Ten championship game for all intents and purposes. Martinez is leading the league in passing efficiency and passing touchdowns for the league's top offense. Miller is the MVP of the league, willing his team to victory last week against Michigan State. However, Miller turned the ball over and has been frequently banged up while T-Mart has a two-year resume that is loaded with poor throws and inefficient play. Whoever protects the football, makes smart decisions and converts on key third downs will emerge victorious Saturday night.

2. Who steps up around Miller on the Buckeyes' offense?
Ohio State has the edge for a variety of reasons in this game. The Bucks have the home field edge, the head coach edge, a slight defensive edge and the revenge edge. However, Nebraska has tons of support players on offense for Martinez while Urban Meyer is still looking for consistent play-makers with which to surround Miller. So who steps up and makes the play this weekend for the Buckeyes? Jordan Hall is doubtful so Rod Smith or Carlos Hyde will have to play well in the running game. The roster of non-descript pass-catchers also needs to be there for Miller. The O-Line is playing much better for Ohio State, so if Miller can get solid production from his peers on offense, Ohio State should remain unbeaten.

3. Can Michigan overcome road woes in West Lafayette?
Reading MLive.com this week, it is obvious that the fans in Ann Arbor have major concerns about their road trip to Purdue this weekend. Michigan averages 40.1 points per game at home under the Brady Hoke coaching regime, but only 20.9 per game on the road. Denard Robinson has been dramatically less efficient and productive on the road, including five turnovers the last time he was out on the field against Notre Dame. Look for offensive coordinator Al Borges to reestablish the ground game early this weekend against a solid Boilermakers team in an effort to make Robinson's job easier. Because if...

3. The Boilermakers control the pocket, they will win
Danny Hope's defense, led by Kawaan Short, is allowing just over 100 yards rushing per game. This matters because if Robinson can be contained within the pocket, Purdue should be in this one. When Shoelace has been held to less than 100 yards rushing this season, Michigan has lost. When he has topped the century mark, the Wolverines have won. Additionally, despite two relatively easy wins (36-14 and 27-16) previously over Purdue, Robinson has struggled to pass the ball against the Steamers (1 TD, 3 INT, 173 ypg). This should be a high-scoring game, but Purdue has the horses on the D-Line to keep No. 16 between the tackles. If the defense can do its job, the Boilers will pull off the upset and begin Big Ten play 1-0.

4. Northwestern's bid for 6-0 hinges on defense
After five weeks of play, the Wildcats are leading the league in rushing defense at 90.0 yards allowed per game. But this will be its toughest test yet. Penn State's rushing attack has totaled 173 yards in each of its last two games and has accounted for six touchdowns in victories over Temple and Illinois. The turnaround can be attributed to the emergence of burly power backs Zach Zwinak and Michael Zordich and the return of starter Bill Belton from injury. In front of Nittany Nation at Beaver Stadium, Pat Fitzgerald knows his defensive front has to be physical and disciplined this weekend if the Wildcats want to stay unbeaten. 

5. Bill O'Brien's offense continues to improve
If you would have said that after five weeks Matt McGloin would be leading the Big Ten in passing yards, would be second in passing touchdowns, second in attempts and second in completions, I would have called you a liar this summer. But O'Brien's offense has continued to improve each week, showing innovation and creativity not seen in a Happy Valley passing attack in years. McGloin should be productive once again against Northwestern's secondary, so it's the PSU defense that must deliver this weekend. Northwestern quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian create unique match-up issues for most teams and Michael Mauti and co. will have their hands full stopping the dynamic and versatile Wildcats offense.

6. Big Ten's worst two offenses battle in Madison
Illinois and Wisconsin are ranked 97th nationally in scoring offense as each team is generating 22.6 points per game. They are 11th and 12th respectively in the Big Ten in total offense. And both team's struggles can be attributed to major quarterback issues. Nathan Scheelhaase returned last week as the turnover-prone, inconsistent passer Illini fans have grown accustomed to. If he is fully healthy, he needs to prove to Tim Beckman that he belongs under center. Meanwhile, Joel Stave appears to be the answer for Wisconsin, but he took so many hits last week, he was unable to play during critical fourth quarter drives against Nebraska. The Badgers appear to be in better shape and look to be improving — especially if Stave can play this weekend — so it falls to Scheelhaase if Illinois wants to win in Madison for the first time since 2002.

7. Who starts at QB for Indiana? Does it matter...
Kevin Wilson has seen everything this season from his quarterbacks. Tre Roberson was off to an excellent start before a season-ending injury pushed Cameron Coffman and Nate Sudfeld into action. Both have had success and both have looked shaky at times. The head coach has stated he would like to settle on one guy, but both have shared reps this week evenly and both should see time against Michigan State. That said, will an angry 3-2 Spartans team allow either passer time to throw the ball effectively this weekend? It's highly unlikely.

Week 6 Big Ten Predictions:

Week 6 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Michigan St (-15.5) at Indiana Mich. St, 34-10 Mich. St, 30-13 Mich. St 34-13 Mich. St, 35-14
N'Western (+3) at Penn St Penn St, 27-17 Penn St, 17-13 Penn St 24-20 Penn St, 17-14
Illinois (+14) at Wisconsin Wisconsin, 30-21 Wisconsin, 28-21 Wisconsin 34-17 Wisconsin, 20-10
Michigan (-3) at Purdue Michigan, 27-24 Purdue, 24-20 Michigan 31-24 Purdue, 21-20
Nebraska (+3) at Ohio St Ohio St, 28-24 Nebraska, 24-21 Ohio St 27-24 Ohio St, 28-21
Last Week: 6-0 5-1 5-1 5-1
Yearly Totals: 52-12 50-14 54-10 52-12

Bye Week: Iowa, Minnesota

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Big East Week 6 Previews and Predictions

Big 12 Week 6 Previews and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 6 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 6 Previews and Predictions

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Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Week 6 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 06:08
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-6-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The Big 12 title race is going to be a track meet, so it seems. A week after two games involving West Virginia, Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma State combined for 210 total points, the league’s best offense (West Virginia) faces what most thought would be the league’s best defense (Texas).

The Longhorns will try to score a victory for defense this week, but that’s going to be a tall order against Geno Smith in his first Big 12 road game.

That’s the key game in the Big 12, but not the only one with importance in the league race. Oklahoma will try to avenge last season’s loss to Texas Tech with a rematch in Lubbock, a place where the Sooners have not won in their last three trips.

Other Week 6 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big 12’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 6:

Will West Virginia’s Geno Smith maintain perfection on the road?
The sheer numbers of Geno Smith’s season are well established: His 20 touchdowns to 28 incomplete passes, his 208.4 pass efficiency rating (16.6 points higher than Russell Wilson’s record set last season), and his 432 passing yards per game (the last to top 430 yards per game in a season was Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell in 2007). But here’s a question that has yet to be answered: Can he do it on the road? In the road trip to Austin, Smith will face the most intimidating crowd he’s seen since visiting LSU in Sept. 2010. Smith completed 66.3 percent of his passes in road games last season, and five of his seven interceptions were in opposing stadiums. That said, West Virginia went 4-1 on the road last season.

What happened to that great Texas defense?
Entering the season, Texas was the mirror image of most Big 12 teams -- a team featuring a dominant defense and a questionable offense. That’s not been the case four games into the season. Athlon ranked Texas’ secondary, led by Carrington Byndom, Quandre Diggs and Kenny Vacarro, as the top unit in the nation. Yet this same group allowed freshman second-string quarterback J.W. Walsh to pass for 301 yards and two touchdowns last week. Only 13 teams in the country -- including West Virginia -- are allowing more yards per pass attempt than Texas (8.3). Despite the prolific passing numbers, the Mountaineers are committed to the run, which could be a problem for the Longhorns. Texas ranks 86th nationally in run defense. The Longhorns were sixth in that category a year ago.

Can Oklahoma force a turnover?
So far, Mike Stoops’ return has yet to transform the Oklahoma defense in one critical category: The Sooners are one of two teams in the country to force only one turnover. The other is Buffalo (1-3). Moreover, the lone Oklahoma takeaway came against Florida A&M in the second week of the season. This is a veteran defense, so the lack of turnovers has been a surprise. That needs to change against a Texas Tech team that amassed 572 yards against the Sooners in Norman last season and has scored three consecutive wins over Oklahoma in Lubbock.

Texas Tech’s defense answered the call against Iowa State. What about the Sooners?
The hire of former North Carolina assistant Art Kaufman to lead the Texas Tech defense has turned out to be one of the best hires of the offseason. Against Iowa State, Texas Tech proved its defense had some substance to it by limiting the Cyclones to 189 total yards and intercepting Iowa State quarterback Steel Jantz three times. The Red Raiders have cut down on missed tackles and missed assignments, but Oklahoma presents the toughest test for the Texas Tech defense so far. Sooners quarterback Landry Jones, a preseason Heisman contender who has since faded from view, is seeking his breakout game of the season. Throw out the game against Florida A&M, and Jones would have the lowest pass efficiency rating of his career. Does Texas Tech have the defense to prevent Jones and Co. from returning to form?

What will TCU do with Casey Pachall?
UPDATED: TCU's offense already had been sputtering in the red zone even with Casey Pachall. Now Gary Patterson has a major dilemma ahead of him after Pachall was arrested Thursday under suspicion of driving while intoxicated, according to the NBC affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth. Hours after news of the arrest broke, Patterson suspended Pachall indefinitely. Pachall's backups are redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin and true freshman Tyler Matthews.

Steele Jantz remains Iowa State’s starting quarterback but for how long?
Jantz beat out Jared Barnett in a close quarterback competition during the preseason, but he’s struggled with turnovers all season. Jantz has thrown an interception in each game this season, culminating with three picks (plus a fumble) in the loss to Texas Tech last week. Coach Paul Rhoads reaffirmed Jantz will remain the starter, but Rhoads has replaced a struggling Jantz with Barnett in the past. After Iowa State benched Jantz last season, Barnett led the Cyclones to a win over Oklahoma State, but Barnett eventually lost the job back to Jantz during the bowl game.

Charlie Weis is trying to reignite the Kansas-Kansas State rivalry. Will it make a difference?
Ever since Weis was hired at Kansas, he’s played up the Kansas-Kansas State rivalry, especially now that Missouri is gone to the SEC. Weis noted Kansas State put more emphasis on the in-state rivalry, a tone he’d like to match in Lawrence. Kansas will be at a talent disadvantage in Weis’ first matchup with K-State. He’ll find out if a little dose of emotion will even the odds a bit in Manhattan.

Week 6 Big 12 Predictions

Week 6 Big 12 Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Kansas at Kansas State (-24) Kansas State 35-10 Kansas State 42-20 Kansas State 38-13 Kansas State 30-7
Iowa State at TCU (-11) Iowa State 14-10 TCU 27-17 TCU 27-17 TCU 34-24
Oklahoma (-5) at Texas Tech Oklahoma 35-28 Oklahoma 34-31 Oklahoma 34-31 Oklahoma 28-21
West Virginia at Texas (-7) Texas 38-31 West Virginia 35-30 Texas 34-31 Texas 44-34
Last week 3-1 3-1 4-0 3-1
Overall 30-4 29-5 29-5 30-4

by David Fox

@davidfox615

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Teaser:
<p> Big 12 Week 6 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 06:04
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-running-back-rankings-week-5
Body:

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

Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and Tampa Bay are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Arian Foster HOU at NYJ (Mon.) Jets gave up 254 rushing yards to 49ers last week.
2 Ray Rice BAL at KC Could have field day against Chiefs.
3 Marshawn Lynch SEA at CAR Panthers allowing most fantasy points to RBs.
4 Adrian Peterson MIN vs. TEN Almost back to being a Top 10 RB.
5 LeSean McCoy PHI at PIT Should get another heavy workload vs. Steelers.
6 Jamaal Charles KC vs. BAL Ravens D not as fearsome as past years.
7 Frank Gore SF vs. BUF Bills allowed two Patriots to rush for 100+ last week.
8 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC vs. CHI Bears D has been solid against rush.
9 Reggie Bush MIA at CIN Didn't do a lot against Cardinals, but key is knee is OK.
10 Ryan Mathews SD at NO May finally break through against Saints.
11 Trent Richardson CLE at NYG More than held his own against Ravens last week.
12 Matt Forte CHI at JAC Limited, but still had impact on MNF vs. Cowboys.
13 Alfred Morris WAS vs. ATL Had first 100-yard game against Tampa Bay.
14 Chris Johnson TEN at MIN CJ finally got loose (141 yards) against Texans.
15 Stevan Ridley NE vs. DEN Even with Bolden's big day, ran for 100+ and 2 TDs.
16 Michael Turner ATL at WAS Busted out in a big way last week, encore?
17 Cedric Benson GB at IND Has one rushing TD so far.
18 BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN vs. MIA Dolphins have been good against the rush so far.
19 Willis McGahee DEN at NE Rib issue didn't slow him down (112, TD) vs. Raiders.
20 Darren Sproles NO vs. SD  
21 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG vs. CLE Didn't do much but still got majority of work over Brown.
22 Steven Jackson STL vs. ARI (Thurs.) Questionable (groin) vs. Cardinals, game-time decision.
23 Fred Jackson BUF at SF Got more carries, targets than Spiller last week.
24 Ryan Williams ARI at STL (Thurs.)  
25 C.J. Spiller BUF at SF Shoulder seems OK, but now in timeshare with Jackson.
26 DeAngelo Williams CAR vs. SEA Had most carries of any Panther back against Atlanta.
27 Donald Brown IND vs. GB  
28 Michael Bush CHI at JAC Opportunities could decrease as Forte gets healthier.
29 Rashard Mendenhall PIT vs. PHI Expected to start, but will share carries.
30 Jonathan Stewart CAR vs. SEA Returned, but crowded backfield limits impact.
31 Shonn Greene NYJ vs. HOU (Mon.)  
32 Ben Tate HOU at NYJ (Mon.) Texans not really limiting Foster's workload so far.
33 Kendall Hunter SF vs. BUF  
34 Pierre Thomas NO vs. SD  
35 Jackie Battle SD at NO More touches than Mathews last week, will it continue?
36 Mark Ingram NO vs. SD  
37 Jacquizz Rodgers ATL at WAS  
38 Daniel Thomas MIA at CIN  
39 Brandon Bolden NE vs. DEN One-week wonder or is there a timeshare in NE?
40 Andre Brown NYG vs. CLE Didn't get a lot of chances with Bradshaw back.
41 Isaac Redman PIT vs. PHI Should get his chances even with Mendenhall back.
42 Shaun Draughn KC vs. BAL  
43 Ronnie Hillman DEN at NE Finally got some consistent playing time, more coming?
44 Robert Turbin SEA at CAR Had 45 yards on just six carries last week.
45 Bernard Pierce BAL at KC  
46 Daryl Richardson STL vs. ARI (Thurs.) Will start if S. Jackson (groin) can't go.
47 Bilal Powell NYJ vs. HOU (Mon.)  
48 Toby Gerhart MIN vs. TEN Not getting many chances with AP back.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 5 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 5 Start or Sit

Week 5 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings: Week 5</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 06:03
Path: /college-football/acc-week-6-preview-and-predictions
Body:

As the calendar turns to October, the focus shifts from non-conference games to winning a conference title. The ACC had one marquee game in Week 4, as Florida State beat Clemson to remain in the mix for the national title. Week 6 is the perfect balance for the ACC, as there are solid conference games between Clemson-Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech-North Carolina and Florida State-NC State, while Notre Dame-Miami is a non-conference game with plenty of national interest. 

Other Week 6 Previews and Predictions

Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

ACC's Top Storylines for Week 6

Clemson or Georgia Tech: Which defense steps up?
The Clemson-Georgia Tech series has produced several entertaining games in recent memory, including a 39-34 matchup in the 2009 ACC Championship. With both teams struggling on defense this year, Saturday’s game could be one of the ACC’s highest-scoring games of 2012. The Yellow Jackets enter this week’s game reeling from a 49-28 loss to MTSU, which came one week after blowing a 36-19 lead against Miami. The Tigers have scored at least 37 points in each of their last four games and posted 45 without receiver Sammy Watkins against Boston College last Saturday. Considering Georgia Tech’s secondary ranks 75th nationally in yards allowed and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd will be the best quarterback it has faced this season, the Yellow Jackets’ secondary is in real trouble. The bad news only gets worse for the Yellow Jackets, especially since all signs point to Watkins returning this Saturday. The Tigers rank 81st nationally against the rush, which is a concern with Georgia Tech’s option attack coming to Death Valley. Considering the Yellow Jackets have struggled to contain opposing passing games, expect to see Paul Johnson’s team try to control the clock and keep Boyd, Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins on the sideline. Neither defense needs to be spectacular, but a late turnover or stop on third down could be the difference in this game.

Will Virginia Tech slow down North Carolina’s offense?
Although neither team is ranked, the Virginia Tech-North Carolina matchup is an intriguing under-the-radar matchup this weekend. The Hokies were picked by nearly everyone as the Coastal champ and opened the year with a 20-17 win over Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech has played four consecutive non-conference games and lost two out of its last three games. North Carolina enters Saturday’s matchup with momentum, as it has outscored its last two opponents 93-6. Of course, the competition steps up with a visit from the Hokies, but the Tar Heels have been impressive on offense, averaging 43.2 points a game this year. Virginia Tech’s defense was expected to be one of the best in the ACC this season, but this unit ranks 53rd nationally in yards allowed and its last two opponents have scored at least 27 points. Quarterback Bryn Renner and running back Giovani Bernard are two of the ACC’s top playmakers and will be a handful for Bud Foster’s defense. While getting stops on defense against another spread offense is a concern, the Hokies also need help from an offense that is struggling to get off to a good start each week. North Carolina is ineligible to win the ACC title, but if it knocks off Virginia Tech, the race to win the Coastal will be wide open.

Will Mike Glennon have success against Florida State’s defense?
The 2012 season has been an up and down affair for quarterback Mike Glennon, as he threw four picks in the opener against Tennessee and gashed Miami for 440 yards and four touchdowns last Saturday. The senior will have his hands full on Saturday night, as Florida State leads the ACC in total and scoring defense. An even bigger concern for Glennon has to be his offensive line, which is giving up 3.2 sacks a game. The Seminoles’ defensive line is one of the deepest in college football and is generating three sacks a game. For NC State to have any shot at winning on Saturday, the offensive line has to keep Glennon upright and allow him time to take shots downfield. In last season’s matchup, the senior threw for only 130 yards and was picked off twice. If Glennon posts similar numbers on Saturday night, NC State won’t have a chance to win. However, if the Wolfpack give him some time to throw – which won’t be easy with an offensive line missing three starters – NC State will have a shot to pull off the upset. While getting Glennon on track is crucial, the Wolfpack need a lot of bounces to go their way to win on Saturday.

Who will step up at receiver for Wake Forest?
Not only was last week’s loss to Duke damaging for Wake Forest’s bowl hopes and a winning season, but receiver Michael Campanaro suffered a broken hand and will likely miss the next three games. Campanaro was one of the ACC’s top receivers through the first five weeks of the season, catching 38 passes for 429 yards and three touchdowns. With Campanaro sidelined, it’s up to redshirt freshman Sherman Ragland III, senior Terence Davis and sophomore Brandon Terry to step up for quarterback Tanner Price. Terry ranks behind Campanaro with 191 receiving yards, while Davis ranks second on the team with 11 catches. Although Maryland isn’t going to threaten Florida State for the best defense in the ACC, the Terrapins rank 18th nationally against the pass and are allowing just 22 points a game. Replacing Campanaro won’t be easy for Wake Forest, especially against a defense that is playing well and “held” West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith to 338 yards and three scores on Sept. 22.

Will a quarterback change spark Virginia’s offense?
With a three-game losing streak and an offense that is ranked 10th in the ACC in scoring, Virginia coach Mike London is ready to give Phillip Sims a chance to start against Duke this Saturday. The Alabama transfer is the most talented quarterback on the roster but lacks Michael Rocco’s experience. Sims has played well in limited action, completing 28 of 46 throws for 340 yards and five touchdowns. The sophomore sparked Virginia’s offense against Louisiana Tech last week but is also dealing with a leg injury. If Sims can start, it will be a much-needed boost to an offense that needs something positive. In addition to generating more big plays in the passing game, the Cavaliers are still searching for the right mix on the offensive line, and the rushing attack is averaging nearly 40 yards fewer than it did last season. Although adding Sims to the lineup would be a start in the right direction, quarterback play isn’t the only thing holding Virginia’s offense back. The offensive line and rushing attack have struggled through the first five games, which is adding even more pressure to Sims or Rocco under center.

Is Saturday’s game at Army a must-win for Boston College?
The halfway point of the season isn’t until after Week 7, but Boston College faces a must-win situation against Army this Saturday. With a 1-3 record and games remaining against Florida State, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech, if the Eagles want to have any shot at a winning record, beating the Black Knights is a must. However, Army is a difficult opponent to prepare for and a rushing attack that is averaging 367.5 yards per game will test a Boston College rush defense that ranks 94th nationally. The Eagles brought in coordinator Doug Martin to spark the offense and the results have been positive so far, as they rank 13th nationally in passing offense and are averaging 27.5 points a game. Boston College coach Frank Spaziani is sitting on one of the hottest seats in college football, so a loss to Army would only increase the pressure on this team for the second half of the season.

Can Miami move the ball on Notre Dame?
The Hurricanes’ passing attack has been on fire the last two weeks. Quarterback Stephen Morris combined to throw for 1,002 yards and seven touchdowns against Georgia Tech and NC State and ranks 13th nationally in total offense. Although Morris shined over the last two weeks, Saturday night’s matchup against Notre Dame will be the toughest defense he has played this season. The Irish rank third nationally in scoring defense and are averaging 3.5 sacks a game. However, Notre Dame’s secondary has yet to be tested, and would appear to be vulnerable with freshman Kei’Varae Russell starting on one side, along with the season-ending injury of safety Jamoris Slaughter. If Miami can protect Morris and give him time to throw, the Hurricanes should be able to take some shots down the field and allow running back Duke Johnson to get the ball in open space. If the Irish defense wins the battle at the line of scrimmage, Miami will have its hands full trying to get its offense on track.

Can Duke beat Virginia without Sean Renfree?
The Blue Devils are off to their best start since 1994 and are in position to make a run at a winning record and a bowl appearance. This team has been hit hard by injuries this season, including quarterback Sean Renfree in Saturday’s 34-27 win over Wake Forest. Renfree’s status (elbow injury) is uncertain for Saturday’s game against Virginia, and the Blue Devils desperately need him available to play. Backup Anthony Boone has played relatively well in limited action in his career, completing 13 of 21 passes for 147 yards in a loss against Stanford earlier this season. If Renfree can’t go, jack-of-all-trades quarterback Brandon Connette will likely see his role expand as well. The rushing attack will also need to step up, but true freshman Jela Duncan has provided a spark with three consecutive games of at least 50 rushing yards. Not having Renfree in the lineup would be a huge loss for the Blue Devils, but there’s enough experience and talent in place for the offense to score over 30 points for the fourth consecutive game.

Week 6 ACC Predictions

Week 6 ACC Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Boston College at Army BC 28-3 BC 31-14 BC 34-24 BC 37-10
Va. Tech at UNC Va. Tech 35-28 Va. Tech 27-24 Va. Tech 27-24 Va. Tech 27-20
Virginia at Duke Duke 27-21 Duke 24-21 Virginia 24-20 Duke 21-20
Ga. Tech at Clemson Clemson 42-21 Clemson 42-21 Clemson 41-31 Clemson 37-24
Wake Forest at Maryland MD 17-13 MD 30-27 MD 20-17 MD 13-10
Miami vs. Notre Dame (Chicago) ND 31-21 ND 24-10 ND 31-24 ND 24-21
Florida State at NC State FSU 35-14 FSU 42-28 FSU 41-20 FSU 30-20
Last Week: 6-2 4-4 4-4 6-2
Season Record 41-7 40-8 39-9 41-7


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven

 

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 5
Post-Week 5 Bowl Projections

College Football's Top 15 Freshmen After Week 5

Top Heisman Trophy Contenders After Week 5

Teaser:
<p> ACC Week 6 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 06:02
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Tom Osborne, Big Ten, News
Path: /college-football/nebraska-search-who-will-replace-tom-osborne
Body:

Tom Osborne recently announced his retirement as Nebraska’s athletic director after nearly five years on the job. One of the true giants in college football, Osborne won 13 conference championships and three national titles during his 25-year stint as the head coach at Nebraska.

Here are some candidates to replace Osborne as the AD at Nebraska:

Trev Alberts, Athletic Director, Nebraska-Omaha
A former All-America linebacker at Nebraska, Alberts has been the A.D. at Nebraska-Omaha since 2009. Previously, Alberts served as a college football analyst at ESPN and CSTV.

Brad Bates, Athletic Director, Miami (Ohio)
Bates, a former linebacker at Michigan, was named the Athletic Director at Miami (Ohio) in 2002 after a 13-year stint as an administrator at Vanderbilt. He also worked as a strength coach at Vanderbilt and Colorado.

Joe Castiglione, Athletic Director, Oklahoma
Castiglione has been the Athletic Director at Oklahoma since 1998. One of his first moves was to hire Bob Stoops, then the defensive coordinator at Florida, to take over as the Sooners’ football coach. Prior to his tenure at OU, Castiglione served as an administrator at Missouri for 17 years, including the final five as the Athletic Director.

Shawn Eichorst, Athletic Director, Miami (Fla.)
Eichorst was named the Athletic Director at Miami in April 2011 after serving as the Deputy Athletic Director at Wisconsin from 2009-11. Prior to his stint at Wisconsin, he was at the University of South Carolina, where he was the Senior Associate Athletic Director for Administration. Eichorst also has served as the AD at Wisconsin-Whitewater, his alma mater.

Paul Meyers, Associate AD, Nebraska
Meyers, a former All-America baseball player at NU, has been the Associate Athletic Director for the Huskers Athletic Fund since 2005. He has worked at Nebraska, as a coach and administrator, for his entire professional career.

Jamie Pollard, Athletic Director, Iowa State
Pollard is currently in his seventh year as the Athletic Director at Iowa State. Previously he served in athletic administration at Wisconsin, Maryland and Saint Louis.

Dave Rimington, President, Boomer Esiason Foundation
Regarded as one of the best centers ever to play college football, Rimington was a two-time Outland Trophy winner at NU in the early 1980s. He was a first-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in 1983 and played seven seasons in the NFL. He joined the Boomer Esiason Foundation (an organization that heightens awareness, education and the quality of life for those affected by cystic fibrosis) in 1993. Rimington has no experience as a collegiate administrator.

Ed Stewart, Associate Commissioner, Big 12 Conference
Stewart, a captain on Nebraska’s 1994 national championship team, is the Associate Commissioner for Football and Student Services at the Big 12 Conference. Prior to joining the Big 12, Stewart served as an Associate AD at Missouri.

Dr. Jamie Williams, Associate AD, Nebraska
A tight end at Nebraska from 1979-82 and a 12-year veteran of the NFL, Williams currently serves as the school’s Associate Director of Diversity and Leadership Initiatives. He came to Nebraska in 2012 after serving as the Director of Athletics at Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

Teaser:
<p> Tom Osborne recently announced his retirement as Nebraska’s athletic director after nearly five years on the job. One of the true giants in college football, Osborne won 13 conference championships and three national titles during his 25-year stint as the head coach at Nebraska.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/big-east-week-6-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Oddly enough, Big East play begins in earnest Friday when the two outgoing teams, Pittsburgh and Syracuse, face off in the Carrier Dome.

Thanks to some key non-conference games and the two Big East games in the month of September, the league has a pretty good idea of its top contenders (Louisville, Cincinnati and Rutgers), but conference play gives other teams a chance to reboot their seasons, perhaps as soon as this week.

Other Week 6 Previews and Predictions

ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Big East’s top Storylines to Watch in Week 6:

What does the return of Justin Pugh mean to Syracuse?

Syracuse is 1-3 in part because of a tough schedule featuring Northwestern, USC and Minnesota, with only the game against the Wildcats occurring in the Carrier Dome. But the Orange hasn’t helped its cause in a few areas. In the Big East, only USF has more turnovers (12) than Syracuse (10). Only Rutgers has committed more penalties per game than the Orange (8.8). The return of All-Big East left tackle Justin Pugh, who hasn’t seen the field since a shoulder injury in the spring, could stabilize the offensive line. Even without Pugh, Syracuse allowed only six sacks in four games. But the line will be tweaked anyway with Sean Hickey moving back to right tackle after holding down Pugh’s spot on the left side. Syracuse also may make a change at right guard with Rob Trudo taking over on the first team.

Will Pittsburgh’s success defending on third down continue against Ryan Nassib?
Pitt has improved each game defending third down, from allowing 11 of 16 third down conversions against Youngstown State to 4 of 13 against Gardner-Webb. Pitt may have been at its best in the upset over Virginia Tech. The Hokies converted only 5 of 13 third downs as the Panthers defense produced two sacks and an interception on third down. Here comes Syracuse, which is second in the league in converting third downs, though the Orange were a mere  4 of 13 last week against Minnesota. With Ryan Nassib and Marcus Sales, Syracuse will present a tough test in the passing game for the Pittsburgh defense.

How does Jawan Jamison match up with Connecticut’s run defense?
Rutgers running back Jawan Jamison has topped 100 rushing yards in each game this season, but this week’s opponent Connecticut will be the top defense  Jamison has seen this season. Jamison has faced Tulane (118th in rush defense), USF (71st) and Arkansas (67th) in addition to Howard (48th in rush defense in the FCS). Connecticut’s run defense is among the best in the Big East, second only to Rutgers. Two weeks removed from 74 carries in two games, Jamison will be matched up against a linebacker corps led by conference defensive player of the year contender Yawin Smallwood. A year ago, Smallwood and the Huskies dominated the Rutgers run game. The Scarlet Knights rushed for minus-9 yards, and Jamison had only 19 yards in UConn’s 40-22 win in 2011.

Will Connecticut continue to reap the rewards of improved offensive line play?
UConn is last in the Big East in rushing and sacks allowed, but the Huskies enjoyed improved offensive line play last week against Buffalo. Whether that was the product of playing Buffalo or true improvement, UConn will find out this week. UConn will have the benefit of facing a wounded Rutgers defensive line with starting nose tackle Ike Holmes out for the season with a wrist injury.

Can Munchie Legaux improve consistency to become a Big East star?
Legaux appears to have a bright future as a playmaker in the Big East. He passed for 376 yards and led a game-winning drive last week against Virginia Tech, and he broke off a 77-yard run in the opener against Pittsburgh. But there remain some clear areas to refine. Take out the win over Delaware State, and Legaux is completing fewer than half of his passes this season (33 of 70). He’s also thrown three interceptions in three games this season. This week’s rivalry game against Miami (Ohio) should give him a chance to build on his early successes this season.

Where has Andre Davis gone?
USF receiver Andre Davis appeared to be one of the Big East’s breakout players after catching 12 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns in the comeback win over Nevada and then eight catches for 84 yards despite a loss to Rutgers. Since then, he’s all but disappeared. Davis had one catch for three yards against Florida State, though the Seminoles’ defense is better than anything the Bulls will see for the rest of the season. USF needs players like Davis to contribute more consistently if it’s going to end a 1-9 slide against major conference teams dating back to the win over Notre Dame to open 2011.

Temple’s back in the Big East. Has anything changed?
Temple’s first Big East game since 2004 is against a team (USF) that wasn’t even in the league during the Owls’ last run-through. That’s fitting, since Temple’s last three Big East games in ’04 were against teams that have left (Boston College and West Virginia) or will leave (Syracuse). The Owls went 10-37 in the Big East in their final seven seasons in the league before rebuilding under Al Golden in the MAC. Temple will find out quickly if its standing in the league has improved among the new membership. The Owls open their Big East schedule against two of the league’s weaker teams -- USF and Connecticut.

Week 6 Big East Predictions:

Week 6 Big East Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Pittsburgh (-2) at Syracuse Pitt 35-28 Pitt 24-21 Pitt 31-27 Pitt 24-20
Connecticut at Rutgers (-7.5) Rutgers 28-10 Rutgers 24-17 Rutgers 27-17 Rutgers 27-20
USF (-5) at Temple Temple 14-10 USF 24-14 USF 31-20 USF 21-10
Miami (Ohio) at Cincinnati (-20.5) Cincinnati 42-21 Cincinnati 34-14 Cincinnati 38-24 Cincinnati 41-10
Last week 3-1 3-1 3-1 3-1
Overall 22-9 22-9 20-11 21-10

by David Fox

@davidfox615

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 5
Post-Week 5 Bowl Projections

College Football's Top 15 Freshmen After Week 5

Top Heisman Trophy Contenders After Week 5

Teaser:
<p> Big East Week 6 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-6-preview-and-predictions
Body:

USC and Oregon are still on a collision course for Nov. 3. Yet, both divisions appear to be much improved. And what's more interesting is the hierarchy shift in both the North and South that took place last week. Oregon State and Washington could be the top challengers in the North while Arizona State and UCLA look like the best bets to topple USC in the South. UCLA and Oregon State have must-win games this weekend, while Washington's season could be on the line in Eugene. And the wild and crazy Player of the Year race out West will undoubtedly take another big turn this weekend as well.

Pac-12's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 6:

1. Can the Washington offensive line protect Keith Price?
Three injuries to the Huskies offensive line had Keith Price running for his life last week against Stanford. Luckily, it didn't impact the outcome of the game. But if Washington cannot give its quarterback time to throw this weekend, U of W will be in for a long night. The Ducks posted seven sacks a week ago against Washington State and has returned three interceptions for touchdowns in the last two games. The only score UW allowed last weekend was on a Price INT returned for six points — and it nearly gave Stanford the win. The Dawgs can't afford such mistakes in a game they need to play perfectly to win. 

2. Huskies defense must step up for a second straight week
Trying to stop Chip Kelly's offense is an exercise in futility. Pick your poison: Stop one running back and the other goes for 200 yards. Gear up to stop the ground attack and Marcus Mariota will stretch the field with his arm and athleticism. The Washington defense showed massive improvement last week, holding Stanford to 65 yards rushing. But that was at home on a Thursday night against Josh Nunes. This is the three-time defending conference champ. The Ducks have won eight straight over Washington and have scored 45.8 points in the last five meetings. Steve Sarkisian needs another magical performance from his defense to end Oregon's recent dominance in this series. Nothing would be sweeter for Huskies defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox, who grew up 15 minutes from Eugene and played at Oregon.

3. Great teams win these types of games
Looking at you UCLA (and maybe Oregon State too). If Jim Mora and the Bruins want to be taken seriously on a national level as a Pac-12 contender, this is a game they have to win. Cal is better than its 1-4 mark indicates, but great teams don't lose to teams on the verge of collapse. If Johnathan Franklin and Brett Hundley can't take advantage of the league's worst rushing defense then they likely don't deserve to compete with USC and Arizona State for the South Division title. The Trojans and Sun Devils have defeated the Bears with relative ease over the last two weeks and a loss for UCLA would drop them to 1-2 in the league with four division games still left on the schedule. Great teams simply don't lose these games.

4. Can Josh Nunes bounce back after the loss?
The Stanford quarterback struggled mightily in his first road start. While coach David Shaw called talks of a quarterback switch "asinine," Nunes knows he cannot afford too many more performances like last Thursday night in Seattle. He completed only 48.4 percent of his 37 passes, giving him two straight games in which he failed to complete at least half of his attempts. Arizona's improved offense will be able to score points and Nunes cannot allow the Wildcats to stack the box like Washington did last week. He has to be more accurate if the Cardinal are going to hold serve at home. 

5. How does the Arizona line of scrimmage perform?
Stanford might feature the most physical lines, on both side of the ball, in the league. The Cardinal's defensive front seven is downright nasty and will get after Matt Scott and Ka'Deem Carey while the o-line will look to push around the 'Zona defensive line. The match-up is a bad one for the more finesse Wildcats. They don't pressure the quarterback (last in the Pac-12 in sacks) and they don't stop the power running game (11th in rushing defense). If Stanford can get Stepfan Taylor rolling like he was against USC and give Josh Nunes time to throw, it could be a long day for the 'Cats defense. And it will likely put too much pressure on the offense to convert on third down. 

6. How many interceptions will Matt Barkley throw?
The struggles of Utah have taken a lot of the luster off of this Thursday night game. But USC is still a national contender playing on the road in primetime against a program accustomed to winning. So while I would love to say 'anything can happen,' the likely storyline coming out of Salt Lake City on Friday morning will be the performance of Matt Barkley. He has four interceptions in his last two games and his pursuit of the Heisman Trophy has slowed to a crawl the last few weeks. Look for Lane Kiffin to get his star quarterback on track against a defense that was torched the last time out — try 326 yards and three touchdowns from first-year Arizona State starter Taylor Kelly. I wouldn't be surprised to see USC roll up a big number on the Utes.

7. Sean Mannion must take care of business at home
Washington State is struggling. Oregon State is unbeaten. This game was a blowout in favor of the Beavers a year ago. All signs point to Mannion and company taking care of business against an over-matched opponent. However, Mike Leach's bunch will likely pull off one upset this season at some point. Mike Riley knows this is the weakest opponent his team has faced all year, so guarding against a major letdown is paramount. Fans can expect big numbers in the passing game from both teams. This match-up features the No. 1 (Oregon St) and No. 3 (Wazzu) passing games in the league as both average more than 333 yards per game. And these are the worst two passing defenses in the Pac-12 (112th and 113th in the nation respectively). 

Week 6 Pac-12 Predictions:

Week 6 Pac-12 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
USC (-14) at Utah USC, 31-14 USC, 34-13 USC 34-13 USC, 35-13
Arizona (+9) at Stanford Stanford, 24-21 Stanford, 30-27 Stanford 27-24 Arizona, 28-24
Washington St (+15.5) at Oregon St Ore. St, 35-21 Ore. St, 37-20 Ore. St, 34-20 Ore. St, 31-13
UCLA (-2.5) at Cal UCLA, 31-24 UCLA, 27-21 UCLA 34-24 UCLA, 28-10
Washington (+24) at Oregon Oregon, 41-21 Oregon, 38-17 Oregon 45-24 Oregon, 42-21
Last Week: 2-3 3-2 3-2 4-1
Yearly Totals: 30-14 31-13 31-13 30-14

Bye: Arizona St., Colorado

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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ACC Week 6 Previews and Predictions
Big East Week 6 Previews and Predictions

Big Ten Week 6 Previews and Predictions

Big 12 Week 6 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 6 Previews and Predictions

College Football Week 6 Upset Predictions

Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections

Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Week 6 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-basketball/college-basketball-countdown-no-8-ohio-state-preview
Body:
Visit the online store for Ohio State and other editions of the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual.

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

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

We continue our countdown with a preview of No. 8 Ohio State.

A reporter asked Thad Matta a simple question about the health of Aaron Craft after the point guard underwent a minor surgery on his ankle — and Matta decided to have a little fun.

“We’re not going to talk redshirting until we know for sure,” the coach said while trying to look solemn. “No, he’s fine, he’s fine. He’ll be good to go.”

It’s the kind of joke that can halt the heartbeats of Buckeye fans. Craft wasn’t projected to be such a key performer, but the feisty junior is now the catalyst of Matta’s ninth Ohio State team, especially with the departure of All-America post player Jared Sullinger and wing William Buford.

Sullinger’s inside force helped the Buckeyes to a share of another Big Ten title and trip to the Final Four, while Buford left campus with as many points (1,990) as the great Jerry Lucas, good for third all-time at Ohio State.

Craft can’t replace their production, but he’s proved himself to be perhaps the best on-ball defender in the country and knows how to get the ball to the right spots on offense. The Buckeyes once again are young but believe in their heady on-court leader.

That’s important, because Matta will have to reshape his team after not employing a particularly deep rotation last season.

FRONTCOURT
Sullinger’s reliability in the paint will be greatly missed, as the Buckeyes no longer have a go-to player in the post or a top-notch defensive rebounder. However, power forward Deshaun Thomas is a matchup headache who is ready to explode this season. A uniquely talented 6-7 lefty, Thomas was a point-producing machine as an Indiana prepster and still has a knack for scoring the ball. But he’s beginning to flourish in all areas of his game.

“I think the biggest thing with Deshaun is just continuing to make him a well-rounded basketball player,” Matta says. “Deshaun knows there are things he has to do to help our basketball team and things he has to get better at to help us win.”

Thomas displayed his takeover ability sporadically last season and during the Buckeyes’ NCAA Tournament run. It’s not out of the question for him to average 20 points per game this season.

Amir Williams was too raw to provide regular help last season, but he’s made enough strides for the coaches to believe he can take over at center. That would be ideal and allow functional big man Evan Ravenel to sub in at the 4 and 5 spots as needed.

The top small forward could be LaQuinton Ross, a smooth outside shooter with good length (6-8) and notable ball skills — although he has to display defensive improvement.

Whether Ross is a starter or not, the highly athletic Sam Thompson should see lots of playing time on the wing. Meanwhile, classmate Trey McDonald still searches for a niche.

BACKCOURT
It all begins with Craft, who sets the tone at both ends of the floor. He’ll battle Penn State’s Tim Frazier once again for Big Ten supremacy in assists and steals. Craft will receive help from Shannon Scott, who struggled mightily with his shooting as a freshman last season.

Lenzelle Smith Jr., who was heroic in Ohio State’s Final Four-clinching win over Syracuse, continues to show impressive development. He beat out Jordan Sibert (who has since transferred) for the 2-guard spot last year on his hustle and board work, and he eventually turned into a reliable outside threat.

The coaching staff also hopes to benefit from firepower off the bench from freshman Amedeo Della Valle, an Italian sharpshooter. The Buckeyes need to be better from 3-point range without a proven scorer in the paint.

FINAL ANALYSIS
Matta wasn’t able to secure an immediate replacement for Sullinger while on the recruiting trail and is back to operating with a limited roster and just one senior.

However, Ohio State has a horse to ride in Thomas, and one of the best leaders and defenders in the nation in Craft. The Buckeyes are a high-effort, athletic outfit, which means they should defend well yet again.

But how far they go will depend upon the willingness of young players to properly fill in the cracks.

“Anytime you lose great players you’ve got to redefine roles and you’ve got to get guys to have an appreciation for their role,” Matta says.

@AthlonSports

Athlon College Basketball Countdown So Far:
20. Florida

19. Notre Dame

18. Memphis
17. Baylor
16. Missouri

15. San Diego State

14. North Carolina

13. UNLV

12. UCLA
11. NC State

10. Michigan State
9. Duke

Teaser:
<p> College Basketball Countdown: No. 8 Ohio State Preview</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 05:37
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-positional-rankings-week-5
Body:

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

2012 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings

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

Week 5 Start or Sit

Week 5 Waiver Wire

Note: Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and Tampa Bay are all on bye this week.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

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

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

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings: Week 5</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 05:16
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-quarterback-rankings-week-5
Body:

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

Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and Tampa Bay are on bye this week.

2012 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Aaron Rodgers GB at IND Had best game yet (319-4-1) vs. Saints last week.
2 Drew Brees NO vs. SD Leading league in yards (1,350), 24th in accuracy (57.6).
3 Matt Ryan ATL at WAS No. 1 fantasy QB gets No. 31 passing defense.
4 Tom Brady NE vs. DEN Put up 340 yards passing vs. Bills, 4 TDs (3 pass/1 rush).
5 Eli Manning NYG at CLE Second to Brees in yards, Browns gave up 356 last week.
6 Robert Griffin III WAS vs. ATL Rookie has same number of passing and rushing TDs (4).
7 Peyton Manning DEN at NE No. 18 is 6-10 in regular season vs. Patriots, 36 TDs, 23 INTs.
8 Joe Flacco BAL at KC Ravens throwing more than running, will it continue?
9 Cam Newton CAR vs. SEA Rebounded vs. Falcons, but 'Hawks another tough test.
10 Philip Rivers SD at NO Averaging less than 225 yards per game, breakout vs. NO?
11 Ben Roethlisberger PIT vs. PHI Career vs. Eagles: 1-1, 314 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT total.
12 Matt Schaub HOU at NYJ (Mon.) Revis-less Jets D not nearly as fearsome.
13 Andy Dalton CIN vs. MIA Has 9 total TDs, only 3 INTs in last three games.
14 Michael Vick PHI at PIT Steelers have had extra week to get healthy, ready for Eagles.
15 Jay Cutler CHI at JAC Can he do it two games in a row?
16 Andrew Luck IND vs. GB Had extra week to prepare for Packers.
17 Alex Smith SF vs. BUF 49ers should feast on second straight AFC East opponent.
18 Christian Ponder MIN vs. TEN Will Vikes let Ponder air it out against Titans (27th vs. pass)?
19 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF at SF First in league in passing TDs (12), tied for second in INTs (7).
20 Kevin Kolb ARI at STL (Thurs.) Had first 300-3 game since Oct. 2010 last week.
21 Matt Hasselbeck TEN at MIN Veteran gets start in place of Locker (shoulder).
22 Sam Bradford STL vs. ARI Shaky O-line holding Rams' passing attack back.
23 Russell Wilson SEA at CAR Rams bring rookie back to earth: 160 yards, 3 INT, 0 TDs.
24 Matt Cassel KC vs. BAL Ravens not what Cassel needs to maintain hold on job.
25 Brandon Weeden CLE vs. NYG Has 3:3 TD:INT ratio since tossing 4 picks in Week 1.
26 Ryan Tannehill MIA at CIN Coming off of 432-yard effort (1 TD 2, INTs) at Arizona.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 5 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 5 Start or Sit

Week 5 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings: Week 5</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 05:15
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-wide-receiver-rankings-week-5
Body:

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

Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and Tampa Bay are all on bye.

2012 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 A.J. Green CIN vs. MIA No. 1 fantasy WR right now.
2 Victor Cruz NYG vs. CLE Capable of carrying load if Nicks is out again.
3 Roddy White ATL at WAS Had most yards (169) since Week 7 of 2010 last week.
4 Larry Fitzgerald ARI at STL (Thurs.) Finally finding chemistry with Kolb.
5 Andre Johnson HOU at NYJ (Mon.) Jets won't have Revis to slow down big Texan.
6 Brandon Marshall CHI at JAC Looks to be back on same page with Cutler.
7 Percy Harvin MIN vs. TEN Should have bigger impact on offense vs. Titans.
8 Jordy Nelson GB at IND Finally found end zone last week.
9 Mike Wallace PIT vs. PHI  
10 Julio Jones ATL at WAS Hand issue holding him back.
11 Brandon Lloyd NE vs. DEN Looking for big game against former team.
12 Demaryius Thomas DEN at NE Big target could cause Pats' DBs problems.
13 Steve Smith CAR vs. SEA Smith vs. SEA secondary will be fun to watch.
14 Reggie Wayne IND vs. GB  
15 Marques Colston NO vs. SD Big game against Packers, foot issue behind him?
16 Wes Welker NE vs. DEN Been big part of offense since Hernandez went down.
17 Torrey Smith BAL at KC One of top vertical threats in NFL.
18 Dwayne Bowe KC vs. BAL  
19 DeSean Jackson PHI at PIT  
20 Stevie Johnson BUF at SF  
21 Malcom Floyd SD at NO Saints allowing fourth-most fantasy points to WRs.
22 Eric Decker DEN at NE  
23 Antonio Brown PIT vs. PHI  
24 Domenik Hixon NYG vs. CLE Big opportunity with Hakeem Nicks out again.
25 James Jones GB at IND No Jennings, means more snaps for Jones.
26 Danny Amendola STL vs. ARI (Thurs.) TD last week came on fake field goal.
27 Lance Moore NO vs. SD  
28 Brian Hartline MIA at CIN Leading league in receiving yards, but relies on rookie QB.
29 Jeremy Maclin PHI at PIT  
30 Michael Crabtree SF vs. BUF Will 49ers throw enough to take advantage of Bills?
31 Anquan Boldin BAL at KC After slow start, had 9 rec., 131 yds. vs. Cleveland
32 Pierre Garcon WAS vs. ATL Had only one catch last week, but foot appears OK.
33 Nate Washington TEN at MIN  
34 Kenny Britt TEN at MIN Hoping to at least practice (ankle), monitor status.
35 Andre Roberts ARI at STL (Thurs.) Top fantasy WR (No. 12) on Cardinals.
36 Andrew Hawkins CIN vs. MIA Big-play or bust option right now.
37 Donnie Avery IND vs. GB  
38 Randall Cobb GB at IND  
39 Greg Little CLE at NYG If only he could hold onto ball better.
40 Jerome Simpson MIN vs. TEN Led team in catches, yards in first game back.
41 Brandon LaFell CAR vs. SEA  
42 Davone Bess MIA at CIN Had strong game (7, 123) in support of Hartline last week.
43 Sidney Rice SEA at CAR  
44 Leonard Hankerson WAS vs. ATL Used Garcon's absence to carve out role in passing game.
45 Kendall Wright TEN at MIN Rookie could see more opportunities if Britt's out.
46 Justin Blackmon JAC vs. CHI Six catches, 48 yards a start for rookie.
47 Jeremy Kerley NYJ vs. HOU (Mon.) Holmes done for year, so could Jets' passing attack.
48 Donald Jones BUF at SF  
49 Alshon Jeffery CHI at JAC  
50 T.Y. Hilton IND vs. GB  
51 Brandon Stokely DEN at NE  
52 Mario Manningham SF vs. BUF  
53 Jon Baldwin KC at KC Starting to show more consistency, TD next?
54 Randy Moss SF vs. BUF  
55 Travis Benjamin CLE at NYG Injuries have given him a chance to produce.
56 Devin Hester CHI at JAC Caught TD vs. Dallas, more looks coming?
57 Kevin Walter HOU at NYJ (Mon.)  
58 Golden Tate SEA at CAR  
59 Eddie Royal SD at NO  
60 Chaz Schilens NYJ vs. HOU (Mon.)  
61 Santana Moss WAS vs. ATL  
62 Brandon Gibson STL vs. ARI (Thurs.) Second on team in receptions, targets.
63 Robert Meachem SD at NO Will facing former team finally get him going?
64 Harry Douglas ATL at WAS  

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 5 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 5 Start or Sit

Week 5 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 5</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 05:13
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-tight-end-rankings-week-5
Body:

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

Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and Tampa Bay all are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Jimmy Graham NO vs. SD  
2 Rob Gronkowski NE vs. DEN  
3 Tony Gonzalez ATL at WAS  
4 Vernon Davis SF vs. BUF  
5 Jermichael Finley GB at IND  
6 Kyle Rudolph MIN vs. TEN Titans have been awful against TEs.
7 Martellus Bennett NYG vs. CLE Just one catch vs. Eagles, but don't worry.
8 Antonio Gates SD at NO Still in search of first TD.
9 Dennis Pitta BAL at KC Not needed (0 rec.) against Browns.
10 Brent Celek PHI at PIT Clearly one of Vick's favorite targets right now.
11 Owen Daniels HOU at NYJ (Mon.)  
12 Greg Olsen CAR vs. SEA Leads Panthers in receptions.
13 Scott Chandler BUF at SF Two TDs vs. Patriots, No. 5 fantasy TE right now.
14 Fred Davis WAS vs. ATL Has had back-to-back solid games, still no TDs.
15 Heath Miller PIT vs. PHI Caught two TD passes in Week 3.
16 Coby Fleener IND vs. GB  
17 Jared Cook TEN at MIN First shoulder, now dealing with hand issue too.
18 Jermaine Gresham CIN vs. MIA  
19 Jacob Tamme DEN at NE More targets and catches than Dreessen, but no TDs either.
20 Joel Dreessen DEN at NE Tamme had more catches, but he had TD vs. Raiders.
21 Marcedes Lewis JAC vs. CHI Best game (3, 32, 1) since Week 1 against Bengals.
22 Dustin Keller NYJ vs. HOU (Mon.) May finally return since injuring hamstring in Week 1.
23 Anthony Fasano MIA at CIN  
24 Ed Dickson BAL at KC  
25 Rob Housler ARI at STL (Thurs.)  
26 Craig Stevens TEN at MIN Made most of opportunities while Cook's been limited.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 5 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 5 Start or Sit

Week 5 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings: Week 5</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 05:11
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-5
Body:

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

Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and Tampa Bay are all on bye.

2012 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

Rk Player OPPONENT Notes
1 Houston Texans at NYJ (Mon.) Just like 49ers, Texans should feast on Jets' O in disarray.
2 Chicago Bears at JAC Bears abused Romo (5 INTs) on MNF, greener Gabbert next.
3 Arizona Cardinals at STL (Thurs.) No. 2 DEF in fantasy, second in league in sacks (16).
4 Seattle Seahawks at CAR Hawks D vs. Cam Newton will be fun to watch.
5 Baltimore Ravens at KC Chiefs have turned ball over NFL-worst 15 times.
6 San Francisco 49ers vs. BUF Looking to feast on AFC East for second week in a row.
7 St. Louis Rams vs. ARI (Thurs.) Rams been strong against pass (8 INTs) so far.
8 Minnesota Vikings vs. TEN Vikings can get to QB, make big special teams plays.
9 New York Giants vs. CLE Will T-Rich run on G-Men like McCoy (123 yds.)?
10 Atlanta Falcons at WAS Last week it was Cam, this week it's RGIII.
11 Pittsburgh Steelers vs. PHI Should get Polamalu, Harrison back.
12 Green Bay Packers at IND Packers looking to pressure rookie Luck into mistakes.
13 Philadelphia Eagles at PIT Will need to get pressure on Big Ben to slow down passing attack.
14 Miami Dolphins at CIN Fins better against run than pass, could be issue with Green.
15 Cincinnati Bengals vs. MIA Leading league in sacks with 17.
16 New England Patriots vs. DEN Pats rely on turnovers, Manning has just 3 INTs so far.
17 New York Jets vs. HOU (Mon.) Offensive issues starting to bring down D.

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

 

Additional Week 5 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers

Week 5 Start or Sit

Week 5 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 5</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 05:10
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-kicker-rankings-week-5
Body:

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

Dallas, Detroit, Oakland and Tampa Bay are all on bye.

2012 NFL Week 5 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 David Akers SF vs. BUF
2 Stephen Gostkowski NE vs. DEN
3 Mason Crosby GB at IND
4 Greg Zuerlein STL vs. ARI (Thurs.)
5 Matt Bryant ATL at WAS
6 Justin Tucker BAL at KC
7 Garrett Hartley NO vs. SD
8 Blair Walsh MIN vs. TEN
9 Robbie Gould CHI at JAC
10 Nick Novak SD at NO
11 Alex Henery PHI at PIT
12 Lawrence Tynes NYG vs. CLE
13 Shayne Graham HOU at NYJ (Mon.)
14 Matt Prater DEN at NE
15 Mike Nugent CIN vs. MIA
16 Phil Dawson CLE at NYG

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Additional Week 5 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Week 5 Start or Sit

Week 5 Waiver Wire

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings: Week 5</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 - 05:05
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-6-sit-or-start
Body:

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

Start

Chase Rettig, QB-Boston College vs Army

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

Tyler Van Tubbergen, QB-Western Michigan vs Massachusetts

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

Tevin Washington, QB-Georgia Tech at Clemson

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

Cody Green, QB-Tulsa at Marshall

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

Terrance Broadway, QB-Louisiana vs Tulane

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

Zac Stacy, RB-Vanderbilt at Missouri

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

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

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

John White, RB-Utah vs USC

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

Todd Gurley, RB-Georgia at South Carolina

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

Jared Abbrederis, WR vs Illinois

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

Keyarris Garrett, WR-Tulsa at Marshall

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

Bench

Shane Carden, QB-East Carolina at Central Florida

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

James Franklin, QB-Missouri vs Vanderbilt

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

James Sims, RB-Kansas at Kansas St

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

Lyle McCombs, RB-UConn at Rutgers

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

Mike Gillislee, RB-Florida vs LSU

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

Dominique Whaley, RB-Oklahoma at Texas Tech

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

Orleans Darkwa, RB-Tulane at Louisiana

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

Phillip Dorsett, WR-Miami at Notre Dame

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

 

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

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

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

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

Who is the best crew chief in the Chase?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


How long should the Chase be?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Grade Sunday’s race at Dover

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

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

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

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

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

• Boring race till the last 50 laps.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Last week: 11–4 // Season: 37–26

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teaser:
<p> New York Jets wide receiver Santonio Holmes will miss the remainder of the season with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot, according to a report in the New York Daily News.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 - 07:26

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