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The round robin in the Legends Division got started with Iowa's win over Michigan State last weekend. Otherwise, none of the top five teams in that division have faced each other yet. That will all change this weekend as two huge puzzle pieces will fall into place in Evanston and Ann Arbor. Otherwise, a barometer game in Iowa City and a battle for a six-foot long wood chopper highlight the Week 8 slate in Big Ten country.

Big Ten's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 8:

1. Has The Wolverine State battle lost its luster?
Michigan State has owned this in-state battle of late. Try four straight wins for the Spartans, the last two coming in dominating fashion. After two debilitating losses at home to Ohio State and then Iowa, the Spartans are on the Big Ten title ropes. Meanwhile, the Wolverines have bounced back from losses to two top-five teams early in the year to crush its first two Big Ten opponents, Purdue and Illinois, by a total of 89-13. The ground game is back. The defense has played its best. Brady Hoke has his team poised to not only remove the Spartan monkey from their Maize and Blue backs, but place their name atop the Legends Division standings. And it all starts with one guy...

2. Denard Robinson is back — and will end his losing streak to Spartans
The explosive quarterback has yet to defeat the cross-state rivals from East Lansing but is poised to have his best shot. Shoelace has completed 15-of-27 passes for 264 yards, three touchdowns, and most importantly, no interceptions. He has been up to his old tricks on the ground, rushing for 363 yards and two touchdowns in the Wolverines' 2-0 start in the Big Ten. Against Michigan State, Robinson has been less than electric, however, completing only 9-of-24 passes a year ago and throwing four interceptions in his last two meetings with Sparty. Additionally, he rushed for just 119 yards in three games against MSU and has been contained by Mark Dantonio's powerful front line. Look for Robinson and Michigan to make a big statement this weekend at home against one of its top rivals. 

3. Cornhuskers looking for revenge in Evanston
Northwestern do-everything athlete Kain Colter burst onto the national scene last season in Lincoln when the Wildcats defeated the Cornhuskers 28-25. Colter was unstoppable, throwing for 115 yards and one score to go with 57 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the ground. Both programs are poised to compete for the Big Ten Legends Division crown and their respective title pushes start with this game. After a crushing final two quarters in Columbus, Bo Pelini had a week off to prepare his maligned defense for the versatile Northwestern offense. The importance of this game cannot be overstated for both teams and Nebraska will bring an intense memory of Colter into this game up in Chicago. Nebraska feels like the top challenger to Michigan in the Legends Division race, but a loss to Northwestern would flip the entire championship race on its head.

4. Will Northwestern's rushing attack take advantage of Black Shirts defense?
So where will the game be won? Nebraska's porous rushing defense that is ranked No. 10 in the Big Ten will have to stop one of the nation's top rushing attacks. Venric Mark is leading the Big Ten in all-purpose yards and Colter brings tremendous athleticism to the quarterback position. Mark has topped the 100-yard mark in four of his last six games and has been equally dynamic on special teams — and it has earned him some Heisman Trophy recognition. Meanwhile, the Black Shirts are coming off of a defensive performance in which they allowed 371 yards and six touchdowns on the ground to Ohio State. This is a huge test for both defenses — Nebraska is tops in the league in rushing, total and scoring offense — and the outcome will undoubtedly hinge on the Wildcats' ability to run the football.

5. Can Iowa's D maintain momentum against potential POY candidate Matt McGloin?
This is a sneaky good game between two teams that are unbeaten in Big Ten play. Iowa is trying to keep pace with their Legends Division brethren after two excellent defensive performances. The Hawkeyes have allowed 29 total points, less than 330 yards of total offense and picked off four passes in the last two games. And it has Kirk Ferentz back in the good graces of the fans and Iowa in the heart of the Big Ten race. Stopping potential Offensive Player of the Year Matt McGloin, however, will be a different beast than Max Shortell and Andrew Maxwell. McGloin has been exceptional and Bill O'Brien has this offense rolling along at levels unseen in Happy Valley since Michael Robinson was under center. The Nits signal caller has accounted for six touchdowns and no turnovers in two Big Ten wins, and should he play well, Penn State will win its fifth straight game.

6. Paul Bunyan's Axe up for grabs
The most-played rivalry in all of college football is the Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe between the Badgers and the Golden Gophers. Minnesota leads the all-time series 59-54-8 as these two prepare to meet for the 122nd time. The Badgers, however, have dominated their rivals from the Twin Cities with eight straight wins in the series, many of which have not even been competitive. The Gophers haven't had much luck in Madison either with their last win in Camp Randall Stadium coming way back in 1994. Wisconsin has gotten Montee Ball rolling of late — eight touchdowns in the last three games — and should have little trouble scoring on the Gophers. Look for Bret Bielema to continue to improve his team with another key win over its long-time rival.

7. Braxton Miller must to hold serve at home
Two weeks ago, Herbie was touting the Boilermakers as the team to beat in the Leaders Division on College Gameday. After two crushing and embarrassing losses to Michigan and Wisconsin, Purdue has become an afterthought in the race for the Big Ten title. With a trip to Ohio State this weekend, Danny Hope's team is in danger of becoming completely irrelevant. And that is precisely what Braxton Miller wants to do. The Buckeyes have a chance to become the only 8-0 team in the nation this weekend as Miller's Heisman candidacy continues to close on Geno Smith. Ohio State will lean on its running game and star quarterback to keep Purdue at arm's reach, stay unbeaten, exact some revenge and keep Miller on pace to land in New York at season's end.

8. Big Ten's final non-conference game provides opportunity
Indiana will play the league's final non-conference game on the road against Navy this weekend. The struggles of the Big Ten out of conference have been well documented and the Hoosiers have an opportunity to not only triple their win total from 2011 but end the league's difficult non-conference slate on a high note. The defense will have a tough time stopping Navy's triple-option attack but the Midshipmen won't be able to stop the league's No. 1 passing attack (313.0 ypg).

Week 8 Big Ten Predictions:

Week 8 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Purdue (+18) at Ohio St Ohio St, 42-28 Ohio St, 41-20 Ohio St, 38-17 Ohio St, 48-28
Minnesota (+18) at Wisconsin Wisconsin, 30-14 Wisconsin, 31-10 Wisconsin, 38-20 Wisconsin, 21-14
Nebraska (-6) at Northwestern Nebraska, 34-30 Nebraska, 27-21 Nebraska, 31-27 N'Western, 35-28
Michigan St (+10) at Michigan Michigan, 38-14 Michigan, 30-14 Michigan, 27-20 Michigan, 42-14
Indiana (+2.5) at Navy Indiana, 31-21 Indiana, 34-24 Indiana, 36-30 Indiana, 35-10
Penn St (+3) at Iowa Penn St, 20-17 Penn St, 21-20 Penn St, 24-20 Penn St, 24-14
Last Week: 4-1 3-2 4-1 3-2
Yearly Totals: 51-11 47-15 52-10 48-14

Bye Week: Illinois

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 06:06
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In a handful of ways, last week turned the Big 12 race on its head.

West Virginia’s defensive shortcomings finally burned the Mountaineers in their first loss of the season. That it happened in the first place wasn’t as much of a surprise as Texas Tech being the one to deliver the resounding upset. The 49-14 win further proved Texas Tech’s defensive turnaround is no fluke as the Red Raiders are the only Big 12 ranked in the top 10 nationally in both total offense and total defense.

West Virginia’s loss left Kansas State, who escaped a trap game scenario against Iowa State, as the only undefeated team in conference play, a perfect record that will be tested this week at West Virginia.

And then there was the Red River Rivalry. After a 63-21 beatdown to Oklahoma, Texas looks no better than second-tier in the league, if that. And the Sooners looked more like the team picked to win the Big 12 in the preseason. They’ll be rooting for West Virginia on Saturday.

Other Week 8 Previews and Predictions

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

Big 12’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 8:

Is Kansas State-West Virginia a Heisman eliminator?
A week ago, West Virginia’s Geno Smith was just about everyone’s Heisman frontrunner. His performance against Texas Tech (29 of 55, 275 yards, one touchdown) may have cut into his lead a bit with Kansas State’s Collin Klein among those who could benefit. For those following the Heisman race as closely as the Big 12 championship race, this will be a critical game where Smith can either boost his case or Klein can further close the gap with the remainder of the field.

How does West Virginia’s no-show defense handle Kansas State’s smash mouth offense?
West Virginia’s struggles on defense are well-established as the Mountaineers have allowed 593 yards per game against three Big 12 opponents. Kansas State’s grinding, physical style brings a different challenge than Baylor or Texas Tech or even Texas. The Wildcats are the rare Big 12 team that still uses a huddle and tries to shorten the game with the run. Moreover, Kansas State doesn’t make a whole lot of mistakes: The Wildcats are averaging a Big 12-low three penalties a game and have turned the ball over only four times all season. West Virginia is built for the Big 12, but Kansas State is not the typical Big 12 team.

Can Kansas State continue to stifle big plays?
Only Texas Tech has allowed fewer plays of 20 yards or more (eight) than Kansas State’s 16 -- and we saw how Texas Tech handled the West Virginia offense. Only one of those 20-yards or more plays, a 30-yard pass last week from Iowa State, resulted in a touchdown. West Virginia may have to tweak its receivers against Kansas State with Stedman Bailey hobbled since the second half against Texas Tech and at least one freshman entering the starting lineup (Coach Dana Holgorsen burned the redshirt for Travares Coleman, and considered playing another true freshman). With the way West Virginia started the season, it’s tough to imagine the Mountaineers struggling two weeks in a row on offense, but Kansas State may be able to give West Virginia fits.

How hot can it get for Mack Brown?
Losing 63-21 to Oklahoma is bad enough, but the scene down in Austin could get even worse this week if Texas loses for the third consecutive time to Baylor, a team that has never defeated the Longhorns three times in a row. On paper, this matchup does not bode well for Texas, despite Baylor’s 0-2 Big 12 record. Baylor is averaging 7.4 yards per play -- better than both Oklahoma and West Virginia -- and leads the nation in pass efficiency. Making matters worse for Texas, defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, one of the few players performing at a high level for the Longhorns defense, is out for the remainder of the season. The questions are now extending to the offensive side of the ball as well, as quarterback David Ash is trying to recover from a wrist injury.

How does Seth Doege fare in Round Three against a good defense?
Seth Doege passed for career-highs with 499 yards and six touchdowns against West Virginia. Doege’s a good quarterback, but it may be too much to expect that much out of him each week, especially when he faces another above-average defense. Already this season, Doege threw five total interceptions against Iowa State and Oklahoma. Now the senior will line up against the TCU defense, which has intercepted a pass in every game this season for a total of 14 picks in 2012.

Is Trevone Boykin ready to face the Texas Tech defense?
With a full week to prepare as TCU’s starting quarterback, Boykin rebounded from his three-interception performance against Iowa State with a win over Baylor. The redshirt freshman was 22 of 30 for 261 yards with four touchdowns to go with 56 rushing yards and a score against the Bears. That’s an encouraging sign for a TCU team that just lost its second-year starting quarterback. Then again, Boykin’s performance was against Baylor's struggling defense. This week's opponent, Texas Tech, ranks seventh in the nation in pass efficiency defense and just made Geno Smith look pedestrian a week ago. That’s a tall order for a freshman in his third career start.

Does Oklahoma State have real concerns on offense?
Oklahoma State leads the nation in total offense, but the Cowboys didn’t look that team against Kansas last week. The 20 points Oklahoma State scored were the fewest since the 21-7 Cotton Bowl loss to Ole Miss at the end of the 2010 season. Against the Jayhawks, Joseph Randle averaged only 2.8 yards per carry, and quarterback J.W. Walsh was 18 of 29 for 255 yards. Granted, the conditions last week were not great as both teams played in a driving rain. A bounce-back game against Iowa State, who defeated the Cowboys 34-31 last season, will be worth watching this week. Freshman quarterback Wes Lunt, who began the season as a starter, would have been available in an emergency against Kansas, but Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has been tight-lipped about his availability this week.

What does a two-quarterback plan mean for Kansas’ future?
The youth movement is already under way in Kansas with Charlie Weis spending more time on underclassmen than seniors in practice recently. Now, he’s starting to look at redshirt freshman Michael Cummings at quarterback. Weis said earlier this week Cummings will play this week along with Dayne Crist, the transfer who also signed with Weis at Notre Dame. Odds are, the move won’t make too much difference against Oklahoma, but it could be a glimpse into the future for the Jayhawks.

Week 8 Big 12 Predictions

Week 8 Big 12 Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Iowa St. at Oklahoma St. (-14) Okla. St. 35-21 Okla. St. 34-24 Okla St. 38-24 Okla. St. 31-27
Texas Tech (-2) at TCU TCU 28-21 TCU 30-24 TCU 31-27 Texas Tech 28-27
Kansas at Oklahoma (-35) Oklahoma 41-10 Oklahoma 42-14 Oklahoma 45-17 Oklahoma 37-7
Kansas St. at West Virginia (-2.5) Kansas State 35-28 West Virginia 31-30 West Virginia 38-34 West Virginia 34-30
Baylor at Texas (-11) Baylor 35-31 Texas 42-35 Texas 38-34 Texas 38-30
Last week 3-2 3-2 2-3 3-2
Overall 36-7 34-9 34-10 35-8

by David Fox

@davidfox615

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Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 06:05
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There's a full slate of games in the ACC this week, as all 12 teams are in action on Saturday afternoon. Although there are no marquee top-25 games, there are some crucial conference matchups, including Florida State-Miami and Virginia Tech-Clemson. Duke hopes to get bowl eligible against North Carolina, while Virginia looks to end a five-game losing streak with a win over Wake Forest.

Other Week 8 Previews and Predictions

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ACC's Top Storylines for Week 8

Is this the week Duke gets bowl eligible?
The Blue Devils need just one more win to get bowl eligible for the first time since 1994. However, the schedule is considerably tougher over the second half of the season, and the team is reeling just a bit from the 41-20 loss to Virginia Tech last Saturday. Injuries have plagued this team this year, but coach David Cutcliffe continues to find the right answers. If the Blue Devils want to their sixth win on Saturday night, the defense will have to have one of their best efforts of the season. North Carolina has defeated Duke eight consecutive times and brings to Durham an offense averaging 40.3 points a game. The Blue Devils appear to be a much-improved team on defense, but the Tar Heels will be the best offense they have faced in 2012. Duke should be able to move the ball on North Carolina’s defense, but if it cannot slow down the Tar Heels’ combination of quarterback Bryn Renner and running back Giovani Bernard, the Blue Devils will have to wait another week to get bowl eligible.

Is Maryland a trap game for NC State?
The bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for NC State coach Tom O’Brien. With a huge win over Florida State on Oct. 6, the Wolfpack could enjoy that upset a little longer and not have to worry about a letdown last Saturday. With that victory clearly in the rearview mirror, NC State has to refocus and prep for a much-improved Maryland team. The Terrapins have already doubled their win total from last season and are the only unbeaten team remaining in the ACC. Winning in College Park has been a challenge for NC State in recent years, as the Wolfpack have lost three in a row at Maryland. Although the Terrapins are an improved team, they are still limited offensively. If NC State quarterback Mike Glennon can get on track against a Maryland secondary ranked 18th nationally against the pass, the Wolfpack should snap their losing streak in College Park. However, if Maryland controls the tempo and keeps this a low-scoring game, the Terrapins will pull off the upset.

Does Miami have any shot to beat Florida State?
The Hurricanes dominated the series with Florida State in the early 2000s, but Florida State has won five out of the last seven matchups. The Seminoles are clearly the better team but with this being a huge rivalry game, Miami will have extra motivation. Any upset bid for the Hurricanes has to hinge on the health of quarterback Stephen Morris and a defense that has been among the nation’s worst. Morris suffered an ankle injury in last week’s loss against North Carolina and is questionable to play on Saturday night. If he cannot go, Memphis transfer Ryan Williams will make his first start at Miami. Even though the quarterback play is a huge concern, the Hurricanes’ porous defense is a bigger issue. Miami ranks 117th nationally in total defense and has allowed at least 30 points in three out of four ACC games. In Florida State’s loss to NC State, coach Jimbo Fisher took a lot criticism for being too conservative on offense. The Seminoles rebounded with 649 yards and 51 points against Boston College and need to be aggressive once again. If Miami doesn’t fix its defense issues, Florida State will score at will on Saturday night. Expect the Hurricanes to try to control the clock to keep their defense off the field, but the Seminoles rank fifth nationally against the run. Never rule out an upset in a rivalry game such as this one, but Miami’s path to a victory is very, very steep.

Can Virginia Tech’s defense slow down Clemson?
The Hokies’ defense was gashed in two meetings against Clemson last season, allowing 61 combined points and surrendering 451 yards in the 38-10 loss in the ACC Championship. Virginia Tech’s defense was touted as one of the nation’s best in the preseason but has failed to live up to the hype so far. The Hokies are allowing 381.3 yards and 22 points per game and are averaging just 1.9 sacks per contest. The Tigers have been strong on offense all year, scoring at least 37 points in each of their last five games, while leading the conference in passing yards per contest. Cornerbacks Antone Exum and Kyle Fuller figure to have their hands full, especially as they try to cover receivers Sammy Watkins and DeAndre Hopkins. It’s unlikely Virginia Tech will be able to completely shut down the Tigers, but they need to get pressure on quarterback Tajh Boyd to throw off the timing of this offense and not allow any big plays.

Is this the week Virginia Tech’s offense gets on track?
Statistically, the numbers for Virginia Tech’s offense aren’t awful. The Hokies rank 54th nationally in scoring and are averaging nearly 400 yards per game (398). However, a deeper look into the statistics shows Virginia Tech ranks just seventh in ACC in total offense in conference-only games. The Hokies have picked it up on offense the last two weeks, scoring 34 points against North Carolina and 41 versus Duke last Saturday. The rushing attack has sputtered this season, but freshman J.C. Coleman ignited the ground game last week, rushing for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Although Virginia Tech may have found its answer on the ground, the offensive line has been hit hard by injuries and will be without center Andrew Miller for the rest of the year. Clemson’s defense hasn’t slowed many teams this season and has allowed at least 31 points in each of its three ACC contests. Stopping quarterback Logan Thomas will be a challenge for the Tigers defense, but if the Hokies want to win in Death Valley, they need the offensive line to step up a notch this weekend.

Which defense will step up: Boston College or Georgia Tech?
There should be no shortage of points when Boston College and Georgia Tech meet this Saturday. These two teams rank near the bottom of the ACC in total, rushing and scoring defense. This will be the Yellow Jackets’ first game after the firing of defensive coordinator Al Groh, and coach Paul Johnson promoted assistant Charles Kelly to call the plays for the rest of the year. Boston College has allowed at least 40 or more points in three of its games this season, while ranking 117th nationally against the run. Considering Georgia Tech ranks third nationally against the run, and the Eagles struggled to stop another option team earlier this year (Army), Boston College will need their best effort of the season to contain the Yellow Jackets’ rushing attack. When Boston College has the ball, it should be able to exploit Georgia Tech’s secondary (267.7 ypg). This is a critical matchup for both team’s bowl hopes and whichever defense can turn things around will help score a key victory for their team.

Can Virginia find a spark on offense against Wake Forest?
Saturday’s Wake Forest-Virginia matchup is crucial for both team’s bowl hopes. The Cavaliers have a five-game losing streak entering Saturday’s game, while the Demon Deacons have a 3-3 record and still have to play Clemson, NC State and Notre Dame. Needless to say, the loser of this game probably won’t make a bowl. Virginia’s offensive production has been puzzling this season, as the Cavaliers are averaging 423.1 yards per game but rank 10th in the ACC in scoring offense. Turnovers have been a big problem for Mike London’s team, and the rushing attack has been stuck in neutral most of the year. Alabama transfer Phillip Sims has started the last two games but has just one touchdown pass, while tossing three picks and completing less than 50 percent of his throws. Considering how Sims has played over the last two games, Virginia will likely give former starter Michael Rocco a chance to play in a relief role this week. The Demon Deacons haven’t been the toughest defense in the ACC this year but have played some quality offensive teams, including Florida State, North Carolina and a difficult team to prepare for in Army. Wake Forest ranks 10th in the ACC against the run, which should be a good sign for Virginia’s struggling ground attack. The Demon Deacons don’t usually beat themselves, which adds even more pressure for the Cavaliers to win the turnover battle this week. 

ACC Week 8 Predictions

Week 8 ACC Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Virginia Tech at Clemson Clemson 38-28 Clemson 34-30 Clemson 34-24 Clemson 33-20
Wake Forest at Virginia Wake 21-14 Virginia 24-21 Virginia 28-24 Wake 27-23
Boston College at Ga. Tech Ga. Tech 28-10 Ga. Tech 30-20 Ga. Tech 38-27 Ga. Tech 34-20
NC State at Maryland Maryland 17-10 NC State 31-24 NC State 27-20 NC State 24-17
North Carolina at Duke UNC 35-28 UNC 48-31 UNC 34-24 UNC 24-20
Florida State at Miami FSU 41-21 FSU 30-17 FSU 38-17 FSU 41-24
Last Week: 3-1 3-1 3-1 4-0
Season Record: 48-11 47-12 45-14 49-10


by Steven Lassan

@athlonsteven


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The Week 8 shedule in the SEC his highlighted by South Carolina's trip to Gainesville to battle Florida, but the Texas A&M-LSU showdown in College Station will be fun to watch as well. Can the Tigers' defense slow down Johnny Manziel? Stay tuned.

Other Week 8 Previews and Predictions

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

SEC Top Storylines to Watch in Week 8

1. Can Johnny Manziel make plays against the LSU defense?
Texas A&M leads the league in both total offense (543.7 ypg) and scoring offense (47.0 ppg) and is led by redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, one of the most exciting players in college football. Consider this stat: Texas A&M has played in one less game than LSU, yet Manziel has almost twice at many total yards (2,356 to 1,220) as Tiger quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Manziel, however, has yet to see a defense as formidable as LSU. In the opener against Florida, the only other top-flight defense A&M has faced, the Aggies were held to 17 points, and Manziel had a season-low 233 total yards. This should be a fascinating battle between two vastly different styles of play.

2. Can the LSU offensive line hold up?
An LSU offensive front that was expected to be among the nation’s finest struggled early in the season. Sure, injuries played a part — left tackle Chris Faulk was lost for the season after one game — but there is no denying that this unit underperformed at key times. That, however, was not the case Saturday night. The line played arguably its best game of the season, especially when you factor in the quality of the competition. South Carolina entered the night ranked ninth in the nation in rushing defense and had not given up more than 120 yards on the ground in any game. Led by freshman Jeremy Hill, LSU powered its way to 258 yards and two scores on 53 attempts. And that was with Alex Hurst, a preseason All-American, and Josh Williford out with injuries, and center P.J. Longergan slowed by a back injury. Only one player, left guard, La’El Collins, has played in the same spot in every game this season. We often to point to depth as what separates programs like Alabama and LSU from the rest of the league — and country, at times. LSU needs its depth on the offensive line to shine in the second half of the season if it hopes to remain relevant in the national title chase.

3. Who will play quarterback for Auburn?
Auburn has yet to announce a starter for its game Saturday at Vanderbilt, and it’s possible that all three scholarship quarterbacks will see action. Clint Moseley, making his first start of the 2012 season, received the majority of the snaps in last week’s loss at Ole Miss. The junior started strong, completing 8-of-8 for 80 yards in the first half but he went 3-of-10 for 32 yards the rest of the way. True freshman Jonathan Wallace did not attempt a pass but had six carries for 14 yards out of the Wildcat formation. Sophomore Kiehl Frazier, the starter in the first five games, did not play — due in part to injury and in part to his early season struggles. As a team, Auburn was held to 213 total yards against an Ole Miss defense that had been allowing an average of 379.8 yards per game.

4. Can Vanderbilt handle the role of the favorite?
Vanderbilt finds itself as a 7-point favorite over Auburn this Saturday. It’s only the seventh time in the past 10-plus years the Commodores have been favored by at least a touchdown against an opponent from an AQ conference. They are 3¬–3 straight up in those previous six games, with wins vs. Kentucky (-13) in 2011, Duke (-8) in 2006 and Mississippi State (-12.5) in 2003 and losses to Mississippi State (-9) in 2009, Duke (-9.5) in 2008 and Kentucky (-8) in 2006. Overall, Vanderbilt is 6–11 straight up as the favorite vs. AQ conference opponents in the past 10-plus years, including a 2–2 record under James Franklin.

5. Can South Carolina win if it’s forced to pass?
Connor Shaw has proven himself to be one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC. But it’s clear that South Carolina is a better team when Shaw is asked to do less in the passing game. It’s no knock on him as a player — it’s just the way this team is constructed. I realize the sample size isn’t huge, but consider the Gamecocks’ last two games: Shaw attempted 10 passes in a 35–7 win over Georgia; he attempted 34 in a 23¬–21 loss at LSU. Against Georgia, South Carolina jumped out to an early lead and leaned on tailback Marcus Lattimore, who rushed for 110 yards on 24 carries. In the loss in Baton Rouge, Lattimore and Shaw both struggled to run the ball, which forced South Carolina to rely on its passing attack. The results weren’t favorable. Shaw completed a season-low 55.9 percent of his passes and was intercepted twice. Obviously, a lot of teams are going to struggle against LSU, but it will be interesting going forward — starting with this weekend against Florida — to see if South Carolina can beat an elite opponent by throwing the ball.

6. Can Florida hold Marcus Lattimore to under 100 yards (if he plays)?
Name the last player to top the 100-yard mark against Florida. If you said Jerodis Williams (133 yards in Week 11 last season) from Furman, you’d be correct. The Gators have now gone eight straight games without allowing a 100-yard rusher. That streak will be tested this weekend when Marcus Lattimore and South Carolina visit Gainesville, provided Lattimore overcomes a hip injury to play against the Gators. Lattimore is coming off his worst game of the season (35 yards on 13 carries against LSU), but he is still one of the elite backs in college football. He missed the Florida game last season with an injury, but had one of his finest moments of his career two years ago against the Gators when he ran for 212 yards and three touchdowns on 40 carries in a 36–14 Carolina victory. Florida currently ranks 20th in the nation in rush defense, allowing 107.5 yards per game. The Gators did a great job against LSU two weeks ago, but had some trouble at times stopping Vanderbilt’s power rushing attack last week in Nashville. The Commodores’ two primary tailbacks combined to run for 152 yards on 34 carries.

7. Is AJ McCarron hurt? If so, can Alabama still win at Neyland Stadium?
The short answers: Who knows, and yes. McCarron has been one of the more underrated quarterbacks nationally in the last year-and-a-half. He’s done a masterful job doing what needs to be done as the leader of the Alabama attack — complete a high percentage of his passes (66.5 for his career) and not make mistakes (five interceptions in 338 career attempts). There have been reports this week that McCarron is dealing with a knee injury. He is still expected to play against Tennessee, but Alabama is built as well as any team in the nation to succeed with a backup quarterback. Sure, it would be nice to have a completely healthy McCarron this Saturday night in Knoxville, but the Tide will be fine if they are forced to turn to Blake Sims.

8. Will Tennessee find new ways to get Cordarrelle Patterson the ball?
Justin Hunter might be the Tennessee’s most polished offensive player, but Patterson has emerged as the Volunteers’ most dynamic playmaker. Last week against Mississippi State, Patterson caught three passes for 57 yards and a touchdown, carried the ball three times for 57 yards and had a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. For the season, Patterson, a junior college transfer, is averaging 15.5 yards on his 34 offensive touches. The task for Tennessee offensive coordinator Jim Chaney is to get the ball in Patterson’s hands — either on direct snaps out of the Wildcat, conventional handoffs from the quarterback or quick-hitting passes. He is simply too good not to get at least 10 offensive touches per game.

9. Can Mississippi State avoid the letdown?
One of the biggest wins in the Dan Mullen era, a 41–31 victory over Tennessee, has set up one of the biggest games in the history of the program … if Mississippi State beats Middle Tennessee on Saturday. An MSU win over the Blue Raiders coupled with an Alabama win over Tennessee sets up a showdown of 7–0 teams in Tuscaloosa in two weeks. Before that dream matchup becomes a reality, the Bulldogs must focus on a Middle Tennessee team that has a 49–28 win at Georgia Tech on its 2012 résumé. The Blue Raiders, however, will make the trip to Starkville without running back Bennie Cunningham, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in last week’s 34–30 win at FIU. Cunningham had two 200-yard games this season, including 217 and five touchdowns in the win over Georgia Tech.

10. Can Kentucky hit the elusive 250-yard mark against Georgia?
Kentucky’s offense has been beyond bad over the last month. Forced to play with either a true freshman (Jalen Whitlow) or a senior who was buried on the depth chart at the beginning of the season (Morgan Newton) at quarterback, the Wildcats have failed to gain more than 250 yards in any of their four SEC games. In fact, UK ranks last in the nation in total offense in league games, averaging 215.0 yards in SEC play. This week, Whitlow will get the start against a Georgia team that is eager to get back on the field after having a bye last week. The Bulldogs have a ton of talent on defense but gave up a total of 79 points in their last two games — a win vs. Tennessee and a loss at South Carolina. Yards figure to be very difficult to come by for the Wildcats.

@AthlonMitch

Week 8 SEC Predictions

Week 8 SEC Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light

LSU (-3.5) at Texas A&M

Texas A&M 28-24 LSU 24-21

LSU 27-20

LSU 27-20
Auburn (+7) at Vanderbilt Vanderbilt 17-7 Vanderbilt 34-24

Vanderbilt 24-20

Vanderbilt 27-20

South Carolina (+3) at Florida

South Carolina 24-17 Florida 20-17

Florida 20-17

Florida 21-20

Alabama (-18) at Tennessee

Alabama 38-14 Alabama 38-14

Alabama 38-13

Alabama 33-17

Georgia (-27.5) at Kentucky

Georgia 41-10 Georgia 45-17

Georgia 45-10

Georgia 41-7

Middle Tennessee (+19) at Mississippi State

Miss. State 35-7 Miss. State 30-20

Miss. State 38-14

Miss. State 34-20
Last week 6-1 6-1 6-1 5-2
Season 52-12 54-10 54-10 52-12


Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 7
Post-Week 7 Bowl Projections

Top Heisman Trophy Contenders After Week 7

Teaser:
<p> The Week 8 shedule in the SEC his highlighted by South Carolina's trip to Gainesville to battle Florida, but the Texas A&amp;M-LSU showdown in College Station will be fun to watch as well. Can the Tigers' defense slow down Johnny Manzeil? Stay tuned.</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 06:03
Path: /college-football/big-east-week-8-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Here’s the good news for the Big East for the second half of the season: The league has three nationally ranked, undefeated teams in Louisville, Rutgers and Cincinnati who will all face each other in the final month. For a conference struggling for national relevance, this round robin will be a breath of fresh air.

Here’s the bad news: With apologies to Temple, those three are about all there is in this top-heavy league. Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Syracuse and USF all have losing records and are facing must-win situations in the coming weeks if any are going to reach the postseason.

Other Week 8 Previews and Predictions

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

Big East’s top Storylines to Watch in Week 8:

How will Cincinnati’s defense handle the Toledo passing game?

Butch Jones wasn’t completely pleased with his defense after the 49-17 win over Fordham. That’s probably because he knew of the test coming up against Toledo, which may have the best passing game Cincinnati has seen so far this season. Since a season-opening loss at Arizona, the Rockets have completed at least 60 percent of their passes in each game while totaling 1,802 yards in the last six games. Cincinnati gets veteran safety Drew Frey back from injury, so that should boost a unit looking to gain momentum before a critical matchup against Louisville and Teddy Bridgewater in two weeks.

Will Charlie Strong’s fire-and-brimstone pep talk last into another week?
The Louisville coach lit into his team at halftime last week against Pittsburgh, leading to a 21-0 explosion in the third quarter. The Cardinals still allowed Pittsburgh to tack on two fourth-quarter touchdowns for a 45-35 final score, but Strong knew his team needed a kick in the pants. Louisville hasn’t had a beginning-to-end consistent effort since a win over Missouri State in the second week of the season. With Rutgers and Cincinnati challenging for the Big East title, that needs to change in a hurry. Will the intensity level carry over against struggling USF?

Will Temple be the first team to crack the Rutgers run defense?
Rutgers is second only to Alabama in run defense, allowing 60.8 yards per game on the ground. Temple is as good a candidate as any to test the Scarlet Knights’ front seven. The Owls have rushed for 418 yards and five touchdowns in their 2-0 start in the Big East. Montel Harris ran for 142 yards and a touchdown against Connecticut, the league’s No. 2 run defense. Adding to the test for Rutgers’ defense could be the return of Temple’s 1B running back Matt Brown, who is day-to-day with an ankle injury.

Is it time to start considering Khaseem Greene for national awards?
Any Big East player is going to fight an uphill battle to pry national defensive awards away from Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o or a handful of players from the SEC, but Greene is making a case to be a finalist for the Nagurski, Bednarik and Lombardi awards. A week ago, Greene had a singular defensive performance last week with 14 tackles, 1.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and an interception against Syracuse. He’ll have another chance to shine against the Temple run game.

Who comes up with a victory in a must-win game in the Pasqualoni Bowl?
Paul Pasqualoni will coach his first game in the Carrier Dome since he was ushered out of the Syracuse job in 2004. Those were better days for both Syracuse and Pasqauloni, who won 107 games with the Orange from 1991-2004. Any nostalgia will need to be pushed aside of either Syracuse (2-4) or Connecticut (3-4) are going to save their seasons. The two teams have opposite problems -- Syracuse with its Big East-leading pass game but struggling run game and defense and UConn with its stifling run defense and and offense that’s as bad as it’s been since the Huskies moved up to FBS. Of the league’s bottom four teams, Pittsburgh’s second-half schedule is the most friendly to a bowl trip. If the Panthers defeat Buffalo this week, then Temple, Connecticut and USF, they’ll be at six wins without needing an upset over Notre Dame or Rutgers.

How will Paul Chryst juggle his running backs?
With a backfield of Ray Graham and Rushel Shell, it seems a crime for Pittsburgh to be 85th in the nation in rushing. But Pitt is finally getting the two of them healthy at the same time. Buffalo this week could give Pitt a chance to give both plenty of work. Chryst has worked with productive running back tandems over his time at Wisconsin, but it remains interesting how he’s going to rotate the veteran Graham with the freshman Shell over the second half of the season.

Does USF have anything in the tank for Louisville?
Things are looking bleak for USF after a four-game losing streak, which has included losses to Ball State and Temple. The Bulls rank no better than third in the Big East in any major category and rank last in scoring defense and rush defense. The struggles on both sides of the ball prompted Skip Holtz to shuffle his depth chart during the off week, but it remains to be seen if it will have ay major impact one the road against Louisville. After this week, USF has home games against Syracuse and Connecticut. Holtz may need to start picking up wins or see the coaching staff shuffled.

Week 8 Big East Predictions:

Week 8 Big East Games David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light
Connecticut at Syracuse (-4.5) Syracuse 21-14 Syracuse 17-14 Syracuse 24-20 Syracuse 23-20
Rutgers (-5.5) at Temple Rutgers 27-13 Rutgers 24-14 Rutgers 27-13 Rutgers 21-14
USF at Louisville (-6.5) Louisville 38-17 Louisville 31-20 Louisville 31-20 Louisville 30-20
Pittsburgh (-11) at Buffalo Pittsburgh 21-10 Pittsburgh 31-20 Pittsburgh 34-13 Pittsburgh 31-7
Cincinnati (-6.5) at Toledo Cincinnati 42-38 Cincinnati 34-27 Cincinnati 34-31 Cincinnati 41-20
Last week 3-1 3-1 3-1 3-1
Overall 28-11 27-12 25-14 26-13

by David Fox

@DavidFox615

Related College Football Content

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 7
Post-Week 7 Bowl Projections

Top Heisman Trophy Contenders After Week 7

Teaser:
<p> Big East Week 8 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 06:01
Path: /college-football/college-football-week-8-upset-predictions
Body:

Week 8 of the college football season features a handful of intriguing top 25 matchups, including South Carolina-Florida and West Virginia-Kansas State. While those games will grab the national headlines, Athlon's editors give a look at the top upset picks to watch this Saturday.

College Football's Week 8 Upset Picks

Dave Bartoo (@CFBMatrix), CFBMatrix.comMaryland +3.5 vs. NC State
In a week in which my March game picks matched all but 4 FBS Vegas favorites, it is slim pickings for any CFBMatrix upset alerts. This should be a very close game.  Coach O’Brien of NC State is strong after week 7 of each college football season and their talent is equal to that of Maryland. The Terps are struggling for consistency but the key will be the home field.  When you look at the numbers for both teams home and away the average score is 23-22 in 2012.  Maryland covers and wins by one.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Northwestern (+6) over Nebraska
I have no doubt Nebraska will be motivated to avenge last season’s loss at home to Northwestern. The question, though, is if motivation will matter against the Northwestern offense. The matchup of Kain Colter and Venric Mark against the Cornhuskers defense remains a mismatch, despite the Wildcats sputtering last week against Minnesota. Nebraska’s defense can’t seem to stop the run and Nebraska is still struggling in the turnover department (minus-7 since the Southern Miss opener). Seems to be a recipe for another Northwestern upset.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Penn State (+3) at Iowa
The Hawkeyes defense has played well of late. But that was against a back-up quarterback in Minnesota's Max Shortell and Michigan State's scuffling Andrew Maxwell. I can't believe I am saying this, but Matt McGloin is the best passer of the football in the Big Ten and Iowa's defense hasn't seen one like him all season. He is taking care of the football, getting his power running game involved and letting Michael Mauti and the defense do the rest. Penn State, under Bill O'Brien, has been reenergized and is the better team. I will take the Nittany Lions to win the battle of the Big Ten unbeatens on the road. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Penn State (+3) over Iowa
Even though the Hawkeyes are coming off a huge road victory against Michigan State, I am surprised to see them favored over Penn State. The Nittany Lions have lost four in a row in Iowa City but won last season’s meeting 13-3 in Happy Valley. Penn State’s defense ranks 15th nationally, allowing just 16 points a game. Iowa has struggled to find consistency on offense all year and surprisingly, quarterback James Vandenberg has thrown only two touchdowns and has failed to top 200 yards in back-to-back games. The Hawkeyes got a spark from walk-on Mark Weisman at running back, but the sophomore is questionable to play with an ankle injury. It’s a huge concern for Iowa if Weisman cannot go, especially with Damon Bullock out with a concussion. The Hawkeyes own one of the Big Ten’s stingiest defenses but will be tested by a Penn State passing offense averaging 251.8 yards per game. Both teams have a solid defense, but the Nittany Lions are better on offense, which will be the difference in a low-scoring game.  

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): Washington (+7.5) at Arizona
Washington has faced arguably the most difficult schedule in the nation to date. The Huskies have played teams ranked third (Oregon), sixth (LSU), 10th (USC) and 20th (Stanford) in the initial BCS standings. They are 1–3 in those games, with the one win coming vs. Stanford. This is not a bad team, despite its rather ordinary 3–3 overall record. Arizona got off to a 3–0 start under new coach Rich Rodriguez but has since lost three straight, all in league play. The Wildcats, too, have faced a tough slate, with Pac-12 games against Oregon (No. 3), Oregon State (No. 8) and Stanford (No. 20). One of those losses, vs. Oregon State, came by three points; another, vs. Stanford, went to overtime. Arizona is also 3–3, and like Washington, not a bad team. So which “not bad” 3–3 team is better? Well, the home-standing Wildcats are favored by more than a touchdown, and that seems a bit high. Washington 27-21  

Mark Ross: Eastern Michigan (+3.5) over Army
Yes, Eastern Michigan is still searching for its first win, but Army only has one, a three-point home victory over a Boston College team that will be under new leadership next season, if not sooner. So it's not exactly like the Eagles, who are playing at home, are going up against a Black Knight juggernaut here. Granted, Army is No. 1 in the nation in rushing (385.32 ypg), while Eastern Michigan is dead last when it comes to stopping the run (296.8 ypg), but the Knights are giving up close to 240 (114th) on the ground themselves. The Eagles also are coming off of their best performance yet, as they collected 624 yards of total offense in a 52-47 loss to Toledo last week. They piled up more than 300 yards both rushing and passing, by far their best offensive effort of the season, and the five points were their closest margin of defeat yet. It may not be pretty, but a win is a win, and that's exactly what Ron English and his team will finally get this Saturday.  

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): Washington (+7.5) at Arizona
This upset seems pretty unlikely at first glance, but the struggling Huskies have played one of the most difficult schedules in the nation at the halfway point of the season. Washington quarterback Keith Price has not been the same behind a banged-up offensive line, but playing the likes of LSU, Stanford, Oregon and USC can make many players struggle. I think Price and running back Bishop Sankey will be able to move the ball against a porous Arizona defense and stay in this road game. Arizona signal caller Matt Scott has flourished under Rich Rodriguez, but the Wildcats have dropped three in a row — albeit to a trio of quality opponents. The Wildcats had a bye week to fix their defense and prepare for a much-improved Huskies defensive unit, and both teams need this win badly to build momentum in the latter half of the Pac-12 campaign. I’ll take the better defense of Washington to shock Arizona in Tucson.

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 8 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 8 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 8 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 8 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 8 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 8 Preview and Predictions

Teaser:
<p> College Football Week 8 Upset Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-positional-rankings-week-7
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 7 Fantasy Football Rankings

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

Week 7 Start or Sit

Week 7 Waiver Wire

Note: Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia and San Diego 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 7</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-basketball/10-college-basketball-players-returning-injury
Body:

A season can be changed by an injury. In the same way, 10 teams are hoping a key player returning from injury will change their fortunes for 2012-13.

Among those players returning from injury include a forward with All-American potential at Minnesota, a key veteran at rebuilding North Carolina, and explosive guard at USC and former starters at three SEC schools.

Related content:
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

Impact Transfers for 2012-13
Coaches on the Hot Seat for 2012-13


10 PLAYERS BACK FROM INJURY
Laurence Bowers, F, Missouri

Bowers’ knee injury last October was thought to be a crippling blow to a Missouri team that lacked size in ’11-12. The Tigers, however, thrived playing small ball and went on to win 30 games in Frank Haith’s first season. Still, Mizzou will welcome back the 6-8, 227-pound senior, who averaged 11.6 points and 6.1 rebounds two years ago.

Michael Davenport, G, St. Bonaventure
Davenport started 31 games as a junior in 2010-11, averaging 11.1 points while shooting 37.1 percent from 3-point range. He missed all but the first eight games of the ’11-12 campaign with a shoulder injury. The 6-5 senior from Cincinnati will be one of the Bonnies’ primary offensive options this season.

Jio Fontan, G, USC
The Trojans’ hopes to be relevant in the Pac-12 took a hit last year when Fontan went down with a torn ACL during a summer tour through South America. The transfer from Fordham averaged 10.5 points and 3.9 assists in 2010-11, his first season at USC.

Trevor Mbakwe, F, Minnesota
The skilled power forward was on his way to a terrific senior season (14.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg) before tearing his ACL after seven games. Mbakwe was granted an extra season of eligibility by the NCAA and will return to anchor the Gophers’ frontcourt. His return, however, is a complete guarantee as Mbakwe could face jail time after a DUI conviction was a violation of his probation.

Leslie McDonald, G, North Carolina
The former McDonald’s All-American missed all of his junior season with a torn ACL. He has averaged 5.2 points in 13.1 minutes while shooting a disappointing 35.6 percent from the field. McDonald, however, will be expected to play a big role on the ’12-13 Tar Heels. Fellow guard Dexter Strickland also returns to the UNC lineup after missing the final 19 games with a torn ACL.

Marshawn Powell, F, Arkansas
Powell emerged as one of the best big men in the SEC as a freshman in ’09-10 but has had to battle injuries over the past two seasons. He played in 28 games as a sophomore in ’10-11 but his production was down due in part to a slow recovery from a broken foot. Last year, he missed all but two games after going down with a knee injury.

Scootie Randall, G, Temple
Randall averaged 10.7 points and 4.7 rebounds two years ago but was sidelined with a knee injury in ’11-12. He will play a major role in a Temple backcourt that must replace Juan Fernandez and Ramone Moore.

Kourtney Roberson, F, Texas A&M
An ankle injury limited Roberson to only nine games last season. The 6-9, 240-pound power forward averaged 5.6 points and 3.8 boards in only 12.7 minutes as a freshman two years ago. He could be a double-digit rebounder for the Aggies in 2012-12.

Terrance Shannon, F, Florida State
Shannon, a bullish power forward, was off to a solid last season (8.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg through seven games) before going down with a shoulder injury. With Bernard James and Xavier Gibson no longer around, Shannon will be asked to make significant contributions on a Florida State club that should be in the hunt for an ACC title.

Scott Suggs, G, Washington
Suggs, who missed last season with a broken foot, will give the Huskies a much-need 3-point threat on the perimeter. The 6-6 senior averaged 7.4 points and shot 45.0 percent from the beyond arc two years ago.

@AthlonSports

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky

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

Teaser:
<p> 10 College Basketball Players Returning from Injury</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 05:58
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-quarterback-rankings-week-7
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.

Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia and San Diego are all on bye this week.

2012 NFL Week 7 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Aaron Rodgers GB at STL Rodgers in MVP form (338-6-0) against Texans.
2 Drew Brees NO at TB Bucs are No. 31 against pass.
3 Eli Manning NYG vs. WAS No TDs, 4 INTs, 2 Ls last season vs. Skins.
4 Robert Griffin III WAS at NYG Concussion? What concussion?
5 Tom Brady NE vs. NYJ Brady went 329-3-0 last time he faced Jets.
6 Ben Roethlisberger PIT at CIN Big Ben has 10 TDs just two INTs so far.
7 Cam Newton CAR vs. DAL Cowboys have given up 31 rushing yards to QBs.
8 Andrew Luck IND vs. CLE At home: 6 TDs, 2 INTs vs. 1, 5 in road games.
9 Tony Romo DAL at CAR Has three TDs, six INTs in last two games.
10 Matthew Stafford DET at CHI (Mon.) Bears allowing fewest fantasy points to QBs.
11 Matt Schaub HOU vs. BAL Threw two picks, sacked 3x vs. Packers.
12 Joe Flacco BAL at HOU Texans gouged by Rodgers (338, 6) last week.
13 Andy Dalton CIN vs. PIT Had 305 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs vs. Steelers in '11.
14 Carson Palmer OAK vs. JAC Has thrown only 6 TD passes so far.
15 Jay Cutler CHI vs. DET (Mon.) Only one TD in two games vs. Lions last season.
16 Josh Freeman TB vs. NO Coming off of huge game (328-3-1) vs. Chiefs.
17 Ryan Fitzpatrick BUF vs. TEN Titans 29th against pass, last in scoring D.
18 Christian Ponder MIN vs. ARI Four INTs in last two games, after none in first four.
19 Alex Smith SF vs. SEA (Thurs.) Giants' D gave him all sorts of problems (0 TDs, 3 INTs).
20 Matt Hasselbeck TEN at BUF Gets third straight, possibly final, start.
21 Brandon Weeden CLE at IND Needs to improve upon 7:10 TD:INT ratio.
22 Mark Sanchez NYJ at NE Only 82 yards, but 2 TDs and 0 TOs vs. Colts.
23 Sam Bradford STL vs. GB Had season-high 315 yards passing last week.
24 John Skelton ARI at MIN Skelton's turn again w/ Kolb out several weeks (ribs).
25 Blaine Gabbert JAC at OAK Interesting to see how he looks coming off of bye.
26 Russell Wilson SEA at SF (Thurs.) Don't expect repeat of last week vs. angry 49ers D.

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 7 Positional Rankings

Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 7 Waiver Wire

Week 7 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings: Week 7</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 05:56
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-running-back-rankings-week-7
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.

Atlanta, Denver, Miami, Kansas City, Philadelphia and San Diego are all on bye.

2012 NFL Week 7 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Arian Foster HOU vs. BAL Two short TDs salvaged otherwise poor showing vs. Packers.
2 Ray Rice BAL at HOU Texans have yet to allow rushing TD to RB.
3 Maurice Jones-Drew JAC at OAK Looking to jumpstart Jags' offense coming off of bye.
4 Darren McFadden OAK vs. JAC Jaguars are ranked 30th in rush defense.
5 Adrian Peterson MIN vs. ARI AP held to just 79 yards last week against Redskins.
6 Trent Richardson CLE at IND Dealing with rib/cartilage issue, but expected to play.
7 Matt Forte CHI vs. DET (Mon.) Should be fresh and rested coming off of bye.
8 Ahmad Bradshaw NYG vs. WAS Followed up 200-yard game with 116-yard effort vs. 49ers.
9 Alfred Morris WAS at NYG Giants only gave up 62 yards rushing to SF RBs last week.
10 Doug Martin TB vs. NO Saints allowing most fantasy points to RBs.
11 Stevan Ridley NE vs. NYJ Couldn't get much going vs. Seahawks last week.
12 Marshawn Lynch SEA at SF (Thurs.) "Beast Mode" will be necessary vs. fired up 49ers.
13 Chris Johnson TEN at BUF Can't ask for better match-up, Bills are last in run defense.
14 Frank Gore SF vs. SEA (Thurs.) Had just 36 yards vs. Giants, 'Hawks will be another tough test.
15 C.J. Spiller BUF vs. TEN Made the most of his opportunities last week.
16 Felix Jones DAL at CAR Big opportunity with Murray sidelined (foot).
17 Darren Sproles NO at TB Always seems to do well against Bucs.
18 Steven Jackson STL vs. GB Keep an eye on workload split with Richardson.
19 Fred Jackson BUF vs. TEN Still getting most of the carries.
20 Shonn Greene NYJ at NE Broke out in a big way (161, 3) vs. Colts.
21 Mikel Leshoure DET at CHI (Mon.) In for tough test against Monsters of Midway.
22 Rashard Mendenhall PIT at CIN Dealing with Achilles issue, but expected to play.
23 BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN vs. PIT Could help himself and his team with big game vs. Steelers.
24 Alex Green GB at STL Fared pretty well in first career start.
25 William Powell ARI at MIN Took first step in establishing himself as lead back last week.
26 Jonathan Stewart CAR vs. DAL Cowboys have been somewhat susceptible to run.
27 DeAngelo Williams CAR vs. DAL Crowded backfield continues to limit touches, production.
28 Vick Ballard IND vs. CLE Had a total of 25 yards in first career start against Jets.
29 Pierre Thomas NO at TB Better option than Ingram because of receptions.
30 Daryl Richardson STL vs. GB Slowly moving towards equal split with SJax in Rams' backfield.
31 Montario Hardesty CLE at IND Workload will depend on Richardson's playing status.
32 Ben Tate HOU vs. BAL Could be flex option given Ravens' issues with run defense.
33 Isaac Redman PIT at CIN Dealing with ankle issue, keep eye on updates throughout week.
34 Michael Bush CHI vs. DET (Mon.) Has taken backseat since Forte's return.
35 LeGarrette Blount TB vs. NO Slowly developing into viable red zone back, possibly more.
36 Phillip Tanner DAL at CAR Should backup Jones, had 31 yards in 2nd half vs. Ravens.
37 Danny Woodhead NE vs. NYJ Has replaced Bolden as Pats' second option at RB.
38 Kendall Hunter SF vs. SEA (Thurs.)  
39 LaRod Stephens-Howling ARI at MIN Won't be long before Powell officially passes him on depth chart.
40 David Wilson NYG vs. WAS Has put together back-to-back strong showings.
41 Mark Ingram NO at TB Basically a one-trick pony and not get many carries at that.
42 Brandon Bolden NE vs. NYJ His touches continue to decline.
43 Mike Goodson OAK vs. JAC Has reasserted himself as McFadden's backup.
44 James Starks GB at STL Injuries and Green's emergence have made him almost irrelevant.
45 Jamie Harper TEN at BUF  
46 Cedric Peerman CIN vs. PIT Led team with 8 catches last week.
47 Robert Turbin SEA at SF (Thurs.)  
48 Baron Batch PIT at CIN Role will depend on Mendenhall's, Redman's status.

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 7 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 7 Waiver Wire

Week 7 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings: Week 7</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 05:51
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-wide-receiver-rankings-week-7
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.

Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia and San Diego are all on bye.

2012 NFL Week 7 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 A.J. Green CIN vs. PIT Leads NFL in yards, tied for 2nd in TD catches with 6.
2 Calvin Johnson DET at CHI (Mon.) Second in ypg, 4th in catches, but only one TD so far.
3 Percy Harvin MIN vs. ARI Leads league in receptions with 49.
4 Victor Cruz NYG vs. WAS Tied for second with Green in touchdown catches.
5 Brandon Marshall CHI vs. DET (Mon.) Put up 8-138-1 vs. Cowboys on MNF in Week 4.
6 Larry Fitzgerald ARI at MIN Hasn't made any big plays yet, longest catch is 37 yards.
7 Marques Colston NO at TB All four TDs have come in last two games.
8 Wes Welker NE vs. NYJ One of few bright spots for Pats' offense in Seattle.
9 Vincent Jackson TB vs. NO Has 10 catches, 166 yards and 3 TDs over last two games.
10 Reggie Wayne IND vs. CLE Jets held him to just 87 yards last week.
11 Mike Wallace PIT at CIN Just 21 catches so far, but 4 TDs.
12 Dez Bryant DAL at CAR Put up best numbers (13-95-2) in a while against Ravens.
13 Jordy Nelson GB at STL Posted second career 3-TD game vs. Houston.
14 Hakeem Nicks NYG vs. WAS Played for first time since Week 2, caught three passes.
15 Stevie Johnson BUF vs. TEN Has only 3 catches of 20+ yards.
16 Andre Johnson HOU vs. BAL His eight catches vs. Packers were most this season.
17 Steve Smith CAR vs. DAL Cowboys' secondary has been tough on WRs.
18 Miles Austin DAL at CAR Coming off just two catches for 31 yards vs. Ravens.
19 Antonio Brown PIT at CIN  
20 James Jones GB at STL Second in the NFL in touchdowns with 7.
21 Denarius Moore OAK vs. JAC Posted first 100-yard game since last season vs. Falcons.
22 Torrey Smith BAL at HOU Only four catches combined over past two weeks.
23 Anquan Boldin BAL at HOU Has been Ravens' main receiver past few weeks.
24 Kenny Britt TEN at BUF Scored first TD last week, may finally be over ankle issue.
25 Brandon Lloyd NE vs. NYJ Injured shoulder last week, probably want to monitor him.
26 Mike Williams TB vs. NO Caught 62-yard TD pass vs. Chiefs last week.
27 Michael Crabtree SF vs. SEA (Thurs.)  
28 Randall Cobb GB at STL Has carved out nice little niche in Packers' attack.
29 Lance Moore NO at TB  
30 Kendall Wright TEN at BUF Rookie becoming Hasselbeck's favorite target.
31 Jeremy Kerley NYJ at NE  
32 Brandon Gibson STL vs. GB Has replaced injured Amendola as Rams' top receiver.
33 Nate Washington TEN at BUF  
34 Domenik Hixon NYG vs. WAS  
35 Andre Roberts ARI at MIN  
36 Josh Gordon CLE at IND Three TDs last two weeks, doing it with big plays.
37 Andrew Hawkins CIN vs. PIT  
38 Nate Burleson DET at CHI (Mon.)  
39 Donnie Avery IND vs. CLE  
40 Sidney Rice SEA at SF (Thurs.) Connected with Wilson for game-winning TD vs. Pats.
41 Santana Moss WAS at NYG Has stepped up in Garcon's prolonged absence.
42 Darrius Heyward-Bey OAK vs. JAC Returned from concussion and contributed.
43 Brandon LaFell CAR vs. DAL  
44 Stephen Hill NYJ at NE Returned from hamstring injury and caught TD.
45 Devery Henderson NO at TB  
46 Mario Manningham SF vs. SEA (Thurs.)  
47 Chris Givens STL vs. GB Has shown he can make the big plays.
48 Justin Blackmon JAC at OAK Rookie slowly showing signs of progress, development.
49 Pierre Garcon WAS at NYG Foot injury just won't go away.
50 T.Y. Hilton IND vs. CLE  
51 Leonard Hankerson WAS at NYG  
52 Kevin Walter HOU vs. BAL  
53 Doug Baldwin SEA at SF (Thurs.) Hooked up with Wilson for TD last week vs. Patriots.
54 Titus Young DET at CHI (Mon.)  
55 Cecil Shorts JAC at OAK  
56 Devin Hester CHI vs. DET (Mon.)  
57 Kevin Ogletree DAL at CAR Hasn't done much of anything since huge Week 1 game.
58 Michael Jenknins MIN vs. ARI Stepped up in Jerome Simpson's absence last week.
59 Randy Moss SF vs. SEA (Thurs.)  
60 Donald Jones BUF vs. TEN  
61 Emmanuel Sanders PIT at CIN  
62 Greg Little CLE at IND  
63 Golden Tate SEA at SF (Thurs.)  
64 Greg Jennings GB at STL Groin injury will likely keep him out again 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

Additional Week 7 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Tight Ends
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 7 Waiver Wire

Week 7 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 7</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 05:50
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-tight-end-rankings-week-7
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.

Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia and San Diego all are on bye.

2012 NFL Week 7 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

Rk Player Team OPPONENT Notes
1 Vernon Davis SF vs. SEA (Thurs.) Davis No. 2 among TEs in fantasy scoring.
2 Rob Gronkowski NE vs. NYJ Gronk contributing, just not putting up huge numbers.
3 Jimmy Graham NO at TB Is Week 5 ankle injury still an issue?
4 Owen Daniels HOU vs. BAL Played a key role in Texans' passing game so far.
5 Kyle Rudolph MIN vs. ARI Rookie leads his position with 5 TDs.
6 Aaron Hernandez NE vs. NYJ Returned and caught TD pass last week.
7 Jason Witten DAL at CAR Back among top 15 after slow start.
8 Heath Miller PIT at CIN Remains one of Big Ben's favorite targets.
9 Scott Chandler BUF vs. TEN Titans giving up most fantasy points to TEs.
10 Brandon Pettigrew DET at CHI (Mon.) Bears have struggled some with defending TEs.
11 Jermaine Gresham CIN vs. PIT  
12 Jared Cook TEN at BUF  
13 Greg Olsen CAR vs. DAL  
14 Martellus Bennett NYG vs. WAS Played through knee issue last week.
15 Fred Davis WAS at NYG  
16 Jermichael Finley GB at STL Shoulder injury clearly affecting him.
17 Brandon Myers OAK vs. JAC Has 21 catches on season, but no TDs yet.
18 Dustin Keller NYJ at NE Should fare better in second game back from injury.
19 Dennis Pitta BAL at HOU Hasn't done that much since Week 3.
20 Coby Fleener IND vs. CLE Has more rec., yds. than teammate Allen, but no TDs.
21 Marcedes Lewis JAC at OAK  
22 Lance Kendricks STL vs. GB  
23 Dwayne Allen IND vs. CLE Tied for team lead with 2 TD catches.
24 Rob Housler ARI at MIN  
25 Benjamin Watson CLE at IND Teammate Jordan Cameron taking away targets.
26 Dallas Clark TB vs. NO

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 7 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Kickers
Defense/Special Teams

Week 7 Waiver Wire

Week 7 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings: Week 7</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 05:46
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-kicker-rankings-week-7
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.

Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia and San Diego are all on bye.

2012 NFL Week 7 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

Rk Player Team OPPONENT
1 Stephen Gostkowski NE vs. NYJ
2 Lawrence Tynes NYG vs. WAS
3 Blair Walsh MIN vs. ARI
4 David Akers SF vs. SEA (Thurs.)
5 Jason Hanson DET at CHI (Mon.)
6 Sebastian Janikowski OAK vs. JAC
7 Greg Zuerlein STL vs. GB
8 Phil Dawson CLE at IND
9 Robbie Gould CHI vs. DET (Mon.)
10 Mason Crosby GB at STL
11 Rob Bironas TEN at BUF
12 Garrett Hartley NO at TB
13 Justin Tucker BAL at HOU
14 Shayne Graham HOU vs. BAL
15 Dan Bailey DAL at CAR
16 Kai Forbath WAS 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 7 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Defense/Special Teams

Week 7 Waiver Wire

Week 7 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings: Week 7</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 05:45
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy football rankings, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-7
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.

Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Miami, Philadelphia and San Diego are all on bye.

2012 NFL Week 7 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

Rk Player OPPONENT Notes
1 Chicago Bears vs. DET (Mon.) In just 5 games, has scored 29 more points than No. 2 DST
2 San Francisco 49ers vs. SEA (Thurs.) Should be plenty motivated after last week's performance.
3 Minnesota Vikings vs. ARI Vikings glad they won't be seeing RGIII again this week.
4 Houston Texans vs. BAL Another defense looking to put Week 6 behind them.
5 Seattle Seahawks at SF (Thurs.) Hawks' D did job at home against NE, SF road test on tap.
6 Arizona Cardinals at MIN Cardinals are No. 4 in league in scoring defense.
7 Green Bay Packers at STL Packers held Texans' vaunted rushing attack to 90 yards.
8 Pittsburgh Steelers at CIN Even w/o Polamalu, Steelers D is healthier than O.
9 New England Patriots vs. NYJ Patriots No. 6 in rush defense so far, Jets had 252 last week.
10 Baltimore Ravens at HOU Ravens' D will certainly miss Lewis, Webb.
11 Dallas Cowboys at CAR Cowboys' D hoping to contain Cam.
12 New York Giants vs. WAS Giants dominated 49ers, looking for repeat performance vs. RGIII.
13 Cincinnati Bengals vs. PIT Steelers' o-line, RBs are hurting.
14 Cleveland Browns at IND Browns already have 10 interceptions, Luck has 7.
15 Buffalo Bills vs. TEN Bills' D finally showed signs of life last week in Arizona.
16 Oakland Raiders vs. JAC Raiders have a total of 4 sacks so far.

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 7 Positional Rankings

Quarterbacks
Running Backs
Wide Receivers
Tight Ends
Kickers

Week 7 Waiver Wire

Week 7 Start or Sit

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 7</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 05:44
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-8-emergency-starters
Body:

This list was originally designed to assist fantasy owners with injury-riddled rosters, bye-week dilemmas, and unfavorable matchups, but the Emergency Starters has evolved into our Waiver Wire 2.0.  Over the past six weeks, many players listed in our Emergency Starters earned spots in our Waiver Wire report the following week, so don’t underestimate their long-term value. 

 

Joe DiSalvo (@theCFFsite)

Quarterback

Cameron Coffman, Indiana vs Navy

Trent Steelman, Army at Eastern Michigan

Keenan Reynolds, Navy at Indiana

Ryan Katz, San Diego St at Nevada

Cody Vaz, Oregon St vs Utah

 

Running Backs

Zach Zwinak, Penn St at Iowa

Montel Harris, Temple vs Rutgers

Keith Marshall, Georgia at Kentucky

Rushel Shell, Pitt at Buffalo

Ray Holley, LA Tech vs Idaho

Johnathan Gray, Texas vs Baylor

                 

Receivers

JJ Worton, UCF at Memphis

Richy Turner, Nevada vs San Diego St

Ryan Grant, Tulane at UTEP

Antavian Wilson, Marshall at USM

Corey Fuller, Virginia Tech at Clemson

 

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

 

Steven Lassan(@AthlonSteven)
 

Quarterback

Shane Carden, ECU at UAB

Tyler Russell, Mississippi St vs MTSU

Tevin Washington, Georgia Tech vs Boston College

 

Running Backs

Larry Dixon, Army at Eastern Michigan

Rushel Shell, Pitt at Buffalo

George Winn, Cincinnati at Toledo
 

Receivers

Jamison Crowder, Duke vs North Carolina

Marcus Davis, VA Tech at Clemson

Mike Davis, Texas at Baylor

Richy Turner, Nevada vs San Diego St

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Week 8 Emergency Starters</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 04:53
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-week-8-sit-or-start-report
Body:

The first official BCS standings have been released and that means we are nearing the finish line.  However, there is still plenty of time remaining in the fantasy season, especially if you are one of those teams trying to separate from the middle of the pack and qualify for a playoff spot.  By now, the weekly top ten positional players look very similar from week-to-week, but it’s the guys with the favorable matchups that can be the difference at this stage of the game. 

Start

Cody Vaz, QB-Oregon St vs Utah

Vaz was an impressive 20-for-32 for 332 yards and three touchdowns on the road last week in Provo.  Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton are legitimate scoring threats every time they touch the ball.
 

Carlos Hyde, RB-Ohio St vs Purdue

Hyde has taken his game to another level over the past two weeks, rushing for 296 yards and five touchdowns.  This week, Hyde and the Buckeyes face a Purdue defense giving up 198.7 rushing yards per game.
 

Andre Williams, RB-Boston College at Georgia Tech

Williams has gotten 20-plus carries for three consecutive games and topped the 100-yard mark last week against Florida State.  He should have an easier time running the ball against a Georgia Tech defense giving up 163.3 rushing yards per game.  
 

Stephen Houston, RB-Indiana at Navy

Houston averages a touchdown every ten touches from scrimmage.  The problem is that he hasn’t had more than 16 touches in any one game this season.  We’re projecting that he tops his season-high of 102 rushing yards back in week three.
 

Raymond Maples, RB-Army at Eastern Michigan

Eastern Michigan has the worst rushing defense in the nation by far, giving up 296.8 yards per game.  Odds are very good that Maples reaches 100 yards and he could finish the week as a top ten back if he can find the end zone against the Eagles.
 

Silas Redd, RB-USC vs Colorado

Redd has scored a touchdown in four straight games and has averaged 21 carries over the past three games.  Plus, Colorado is giving up 181.5 rushing yards per game this season.
 

Marcus Davis, WR-Virginia Tech at Clemson

Clemson is giving up over 240 yards per game through the air and Davis is quarterback Logan Thomas’ favorite target.  The Hokies will have to put the ball in the air often if they are to keep pace with the Tigers’ high-scoring offense.
 

Devin Street, WR-Pitt at Buffalo

Street has caught at least ten passes and gone over 100 yards receiving in the Panthers’ last two games.  He leads the team with 39 receptions and has scored a touchdown in three of his last four games.

 

Bench

Tyler Bray, QB-Tennessee vs Alabama

In three SEC games this year, Bray has thrown six touchdown passes and six interceptions.  The absence of running back Rajion Neal this week puts a bigger target on Bray’s back against a ferocious Alabama defense.
 

Tim Cornett, RB-UNLV at Boise St

Boise State is giving up over 160 yards per game on the ground, but Cornett has only found the end zone twice in the past five games and UNLV doesn’t figure to score many points this weekend on the blue turf.
 

Fitzgerald Toussaint at Michigan St

The Spartans will try to contain quarterback Denard Robinson and his big-play ability, which should create some opportunities for Toussaint.  However, the junior running back is only averaging 46 rushing yards per game and faces a defense ranked 8th nationally against the run.
 

John White, RB-Utah at Oregon St

In three PAC-12 games this season, White is averaging 43 yards per game and has not scored a touchdown.  In fact, the senior tailback has not topped the 100-yard mark or scored a touchdown since the opening game of the season against Northern Colorado. 
 

Jamaal Williams, RB-BYU at Notre Dame

Williams has certainly proved himself as a freshman and has been a fantasy factor up until this point, but don’t expect too much this week when the Cougars travel to South Bend to take on the undefeated Irish.
 

Justin Hunter, WR-Tennessee vs Alabama

How different is the competition in the SEC?  In three non-conference games this season, Hunter has caught 25 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns, compared to 10-157-0 in three conference games.
 

Marcus Lattimore, RB-South Carolina vs Mike Gillislee, RB-Florida

The defenses of South Carolina and Florida are both giving up slightly over 105 yards on the ground and 12 points per game.  If both of those numbers hold true, fantasy owners with quality depth may want to turn elsewhere at the running back position.
 

Cody Fajardo, QB-Nevada vs San Diego St AND Brett Smith, QB-Wyoming at Air Force

Both players are listed high in our weekly rankings, but the rankings were published with the assumption health would not be a concern by the end of the week.  Both head coaches have stated that their starting quarterback should be ready to play this weekend, but if either is listed as a game-time decision, owners must put them on the bench.  Keep in mind that both players are participating in the weekend’s two latest scheduled games, which means if either quarterback becomes a last-minute scratch, fantasy owners will get burned.  Check back later in the week for a status update regarding both players, but prepare for the worst until we know for sure.
 

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

Follow Joe on twitter (@theCFFsite)

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football Week 8 Sit or Start Report</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 04:22
Path: /nfl/5-most-badass-defensive-players-now-ray-lewis-gone
Body:

When the news hit that Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis was lost for the rest of the season with a torn triceps muscle, it hit hard – as hard as any hit Lewis has delivered during his remarkable 17-year NFL career. It wasn’t just potentially catastrophic news for the Ravens. It felt more like the end of an era.

That’s because for most of the last 17 seasons, Lewis has been the NFL’s dominant defensive presence. He may not have always been the best defensive player – though the 13-time Pro Bowler was named the AFC Defensive Player of the Year three times – but he was always in the conversation. He was the player offensive coordinators and opposing coordinators seemed to worry about more than, and sometimes all their game-planning didn’t help.

Lewis, for all his years, was a 6-1, 250-pound, tightly wound bundle of energy and power with a unique ability to explode through anything. He was fiery, intense and seemingly limitless in his ability hit fearlessly at high speed. He defined an era of Ravens football, including the 2000 team that was one of the best defensive teams in NFL history.

Lewis, in many ways, redefined the word ‘Bad’.

He may still continue his NFL career, even though he’s 37 with more mileage on his body than most, and maybe he’ll even be close to the same incredible force. But sometime on the horizon, either soon or sooner, he’ll be forever ceding the title of Baddest Man in the NFL.

What defender will follow him and claim that title? Who are the defensive players that keep quarterbacks up at night most? Finding the next Ray Lewis may be an impossible task, but here are five ‘bad’ defenders you might want to watch …

 

49ers LB Patrick Willis The 49ers appear to be the latest holders of the title of “NFL’s best defense” and Willis has emerged as their leader. He may not be as scary as Lewis was in his prime, but that has more to do with aura than ability. Willis has incredible side-to-side speed, seemingly covering the whole field for what likely is the NFL’s quickest linebacking corps. Already a five-time Pro Bowler, he doesn’t talk and act as wildly as Lewis often did. He’s not as big a hitter. And with the 49ers not needing to turn him loose in the pass rush, he’s not racking up high numbers of sacks. But he quietly has become the player on that defense that offensive coordinators try to avoid.

 

Packers LB Clay Matthews – The eight sacks he has through six games this season re-established Matthews as one of the NFL’s premier pass rushers, if not the premier pass rushing linebacker. He has the “bad” reputation, thanks to his 23 ½ sacks during his first two seasons, and he looks the part with his long blond hair and wild-looking eyes. His explosion to the pass rusher, though, is what makes him dangerous. As a stalker, standing behind the line of scrimmage, he can come at the quarterback from anywhere and once he gets going he’s coming quick. Defensive ends have become the pass rushing stars over the last decade, but Matthews could be the start of a rush-linebacker revival.

 

Broncos LB Von Miller  If Patrick Willis is the closest thing to Ray Lewis in the league right now, Miller might be the closest thing to Lawrence Taylor. No, he’s not in that class yet, but with 11 ½ sacks last season and six already this season he’s demonstrated a remarkable quickness and explosion through offensive lines. When he comes at quarterbacks, he comes fast and when he’s on it feels like his pass rush is relentless. He’s “only” 6-3, 237, but size doesn’t matter as much as speed does in this new era of explosive passing attacks. Miller has what it takes to disrupt passing games, either by rushing forward or dropping back.

 

Texans DE J.J. Watt – There may not be a defensive lineman anywhere in the league that quarterbacks want to see less right now than the lengthy Watt who is turning pass deflections at the line of scrimmage into an art form. He’s 6-5, 295, but he looks like a 7-footer at the line, especially when he stretches his massive arms upward. He also seems to have a knack for where the pass is going, too. And oh, by the way, he’s become impossible to block. The athletic lineman already has 9 ½ sacks through six games to go with his eight deflections. And to think, he’s only in his second NFL season.

 

Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul – He is not off to the best start, but there’s no doubt he’s the most dangerous component of the Giants’ still-dangerous pass rush. It’s not just the fact that he can get to the quarterback, sometimes seemingly with ease (16 ½ sacks last season), it’s the many ways he can get there. He can bull-rush bigger tackles one on one and he’s too quick with moves for most of them to handle him alone. He’s also ridiculously athletic, enabling him to shed blockers and play the run or to leap and bat passes. The most frightening part? He’s in his third NFL season, but he’s still only 23 years old, and since he barely had a high school and college career he’s still really just beginning to learn the game. If the arrow continues to point up for “JPP”, his ceiling could turn out to be unnaturally high.

 

—By RALPH VACCHIANO

Teaser:
<p> Who's going to fill his very angry shoes?</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 02:53
Path: /college-basketball/2012-13-college-basketball-preview-10-coaches-hot-seat
Body:

After a year in which the Pac-12 regular season champion failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, none of the programs in the league made a coaching change.

That’s partly a testament to some of the new coaches in the league or the built up credibility for some of the others. But it was a mild surprise after the entire league struggled en masse for another season.

It’s no surprise, then, that a handful of Pac-12 coaches are under pressure in 2012-13. The coaches at Arizona State, Oregon State and Stanford all made our  list of top coaches on the hot seat, but they aren’t alone who must win now.

Related content:
Top 10 Freshmen for 2012-13

Impact Transfers for 2012-13


10 COACHES ON THE HOT SEAT
Ben Braun, Rice
The expectations for the basketball program at Rice aren’t particularly high, but the Owls made news for reasons that aren’t great for the basketball program. Braun has endured a rash of player transfers, not least of which Arsalan Kazemi to Oregon. Kazemi was one of Conference USA’s top players, but he joined David Chadwick (Valparaiso), Dylan Ennis (Villanova), Omar Oraby (USC) and Jarelle Reischel (Rhode Island) in leaving Houston. The former Cal coach Braun is coming off his first winning season and postseason appearance at Rice, but the departures are troubling.

Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest
Bzdelik has only been on the job for two seasons, but Wake Forest is a combined 21–42 overall and 5–27 in the ACC during that span. The five league wins are the fewest in a two-year period for Wake since ’86-87 and ’87-88, when Bob Staak guided the Deacs to a 5–23 record. The talent level is on the upswing — Wake’s incoming recruiting class is ranked No. 25 nationally by Scout.com — but Bzdelik must show significant progress to ensure that he will be around to coach this group as it matures.

Bill Carmody, Northwestern
Northwestern clearly has raised its level of competitiveness in the Big Ten under Carmody’s watch, but the bottom line is that he has failed to reach the NCAA Tournament in 12 seasons at the school. The Cats have won 30 league games over the past four years — the most in a four-year stretch since ’58-61 — but each season has ended in the NIT. John Shurna, one of the best players in school history, graduated in the spring, but there is enough talent on the returning roster to keep Northwestern relevant. At some point, Carmody will have to get his program over the hump.

Johnny Dawkins, Stanford
Stanford hasn’t been bad in Dawkins’ four years on the The Farm, but the program has clearly dropped a few notches down the food chain out West. Consider the following: The Cardinal had 15 straight winning Pac-10 seasons prior to Dawkins’ arrival. They’ve only had one in his four years (last season). Also, Stanford made the NCAA Tournament 13 times in the 14 years before he was hired. It’s made none since.

Travis Ford, Oklahoma State
Ford’s seat is best described as warm. He did well early, guiding the Cowboys to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments in ’09 and ’10 but is a combined 13–21 in the league over the last two seasons. Expectations are high this season, which is a good thing. But if those lofty expectations aren’t met, Ford will be in must-win mode in ’13-14.   

Andy Kennedy, Ole Miss
Give Kennedy credit: He’s remarkably consistent. In each of his seven seasons as a head coach (six at Ole Miss and one at Cincinnati), his teams have gone either 7–9, 8–8 or 9–7 in league games. Another word for consistent (in this case) — average. Kennedy’s teams are never bad — he’s had a winning record in all seven season — but none has been good enough to crash the NCAA Tournament.

Oliver Purnell, DePaul
It might be a bit premature to put Purnell — who inherited a brutal situation at DePaul — on the hot seat after two seasons, but it’s tough to overlook that he has won a total of four Big East games and has finished all alone in 16th place in two straight seasons. Purnell is a proven winner who appears to be a good fit at DePaul, but he will be expected to show significant progress in his third season at the school.

Craig Robinson, Oregon State
It’s kind of cool that Oregon State’s coach is the brother-in-law of the President of the United States. You know what would be cooler? If he started winning more games. The Beavers are 61–70 overall and 27–45 in the Pac-12 with three trips to the College Basketball Invitational postseason tournament under Robinson. There is no doubt OSU has improved — the school won a total of 16 league games in the four years prior to Robinson’s arrival — but he will expected to make the NCAA Tournament some time in the next few seasons.

Herb Sendek, Arizona State
Sendek had seemingly turned the corner at Arizona State, with three straight 20-win seasons (including two straight winning Pac-10 seasons) from ’07-08 through ’09-10, but the Sun Devils are a combined 22–40 overall and 10–26 in the Pac-12 over the last two years. And things don’t appear to getting better any time soon. Sendek will have a tough time surviving another bad season in Tempe.

Tubby Smith, Minnesota
Smith is one of the most respected coaches in the nation, but his tenure at Minnesota has been a disappointment. The Gophers have a 38–49 record in the Big Ten in his five seasons, highlighted by back-to-back 9–9 records in ’08-09 and ’09-10. Smith has had to deal with some significant personnel issues (Royce White got into legal trouble and ended up starring at Iowa State) and injuries (Trevor Mbakwe tore his ACL last season), but he wasn’t hired to be a .500 (at best) coach in the Big Ten.

@AthlonSports

 

More previews for the 2012-13 season can be found in the Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store.

Athlon College Basketball Countdown:
1. Indiana
2. Louisville

3. Kentucky

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

Teaser:
<p> 2012-13 College Basketball Preview: 10 Coaches on the Hot Seat</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 07:09
Path: /college-football/should-derek-dooley-return-tennessee-2013
Body:

Coaching in the SEC is no easy task. Even though Derek Dooley is entering the halfway point of his third season in Knoxville, he is squarely on the hot seat and needs a strong finish to 2012 to save his job. The Volunteers weren't in great shape when Dooley came to Knoxville but has the team improved under his watch?

Should Derek Dooley Return to Tennessee in 2013?

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
I’ll be the first to say that Derek Dooley inherited a mess of a situation at Tennessee, one that requires time to clean up. But by Year Three, Tennessee should be looking for signs of real progress. One SEC win -- in overtime over Vanderbilt, no less -- in the last 11 games is not it. This team is better under Dooley than it was a year ago, and it would be fair to give him one more season and one class of his seniors to see it through. But the wins are what counts, and Dooley is running out of time to pick up those wins. Unless the Volunteers can defeat Alabama or South Carolina, what is his chance for a tenure-defining win? Missouri? Vanderbilt? Kentucky? That said, all Tennessee has to do is to win two of those games (plus Troy) to reach a bowl. That won’t make Tennessee fans happy, but we’re looking at a team that could reasonably finish with seven or eight wins. I still think that’s the threshold for Dooley sticking around.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
Derek Dooley's tenure in Knoxville is quickly becoming one of the most bizarre and complex to evaluate in the history of college football. He took over a complete dumpster fire and has obviously improved the program as a whole. He also is 0-13 against ranked opponents and is 1-10 in his last 11 SEC games. Even over the last month and a half of the season, fans will be on a rollar coaster of emotion. If things fall the way they should, Tennessee will lose to Alabama and South Carolina over the next two weeks bringing the Vols record to 3-5. And the fans will burn down talk show phone lines. Then the Vols will win four straight to end the year 7-5 on a roll with a bid to a solid bowl game. And the fans will want to give their coach an extension. Is Dooley the long-term answer in Knoxville? That remains to be seen, but a upset win in the next two — or bad losses in the last four — could seal his fate either way. For now, I think he finished 7-5 (two games better than last year) and keeps his job.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
This will be an interesting debate for Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart. The Volunteers will likely be 3-5 at the end of October but play Troy, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky in November. Barring an unlikely loss, Tennessee should finish 7-5, which would be the best mark of Dooley’s career with the Volunteers. While 7-5 isn’t awful, the standards are higher in Knoxville. Dooley didn’t inherit a full cupboard when he took over for Lane Kiffin, but Tennessee is just 1-10 in its last 11 SEC games. Even if coaching in Knoxville isn’t as good of a job as some may believe, that record simply won’t get it done. Even if Dooley returns for 2013, Tennessee could have a rebuilding project on its hands, as quarterback Tyler Bray and receivers Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson could all leave for the NFL. If Hart decides to make a change, this is a hire he needs to get right and one that can add some much-needed long-term stability to the program. Even though the Volunteers may not finish the season ranked in the top 25, going through a coaching change is not what this program needs right now. I think Dooley survives at least one more season in Knoxville. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
My guess is that Derek Dooley will not be back at Tennessee for a fourth season. The numbers simply don’t add up: Heading into this week’s game vs. Alabama, Dooley is 14–17 overall and 4–15 in the SEC in his two-plus seasons as the boss in Knoxville. The Vols have lost 10 of their last 11 league games, with the only win coming in overtime at home vs. Vanderbilt. Barring a significant upset this week vs. Alabama or the following week at South Carolina, Dooley will be a combined 0–12 vs. Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Florida. Not good.

Mark Ross: 
Barring a complete and total collapse, I think Dooley will be back for at least one more season in Knoxville. An upset win over either Alabama or South Carolina, Tennessee's next two opponents, certainly wouldn't hurt his case, but I think Dooley's focus needs to be on the Volunteers' final four games - home against Troy, Missouri and Kentucky and on the road against Vanderbilt. At 3-3 right now, going 4-0 to close the season will give the Vols seven wins, which would be the most in three seasons under Dooley, and more importantly, guarantee a bowl bid. If Dooley doesn't get this team bowl eligible this season, I think it will be very hard for him to convince athletic director Dave Hart, who didn't hire Dooley in the first place, to give him another one on Rocky Top.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
This is a very difficult call, and it is a more complex decision for athletic director Dave Hart than many football fans believe. Constant change and attrition can kill a program once it’s down, and a new boss in Knoxville would equal four Tennessee head coaches in six seasons. Derek Dooley inherited a severely damaged roster and culture, and the likeable head coach has improved the talent level of the Vols. The on-field evaluation in Dooley’s third season is tough, because his club has competed fairly well against three ranked SEC opponents but has lost all three. That trend should continue against Alabama and South Carolina the next two weeks, but close defeats will still leave Tennessee at 0-5 in conference play. While the rushing game has improved greatly, the defense under new coordinator Sal Sunseri has been awful. The Vols can score points but still seem to make too many critical errors at exactly the wrong times when trying to rally in big games.

I believe Hart wants to give Dooley another season to fix the program, along with saving millions of dollars in buyouts and coaching-search costs for a budget that has been squeezed in recent years. If November becomes a disaster (like losing multiple games or too many empty seats), Hart may have no choice but to make a change. Vols fans have every right to demand a better win-loss record, but I think Dooley may survive unless the Vols finish .500 or worse.

 

Related College Football Content

College Football 2012 Midseason Recap and First Half Awards
College Football's Post-Week 7 Bowl Projections

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 7

Teaser:
<p> Should Derek Dooley Return to Tennessee in 2013?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 06:58
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-midseason-bcs-championship-predictions
Body:

With the first half of the season in the books, it's time to evaluate the preseason picks and make a few changes. Athlon's predicted a LSU-USC showdown in August but things have changed over the last seven weeks. 

2012 Midseason Predictions: Who Plays for the National Title?

Coach Gene Stallings, former head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
I would say it would be Alabama and Oregon to play in the Championship game.  I think Alabama is the best team in the country.  They can run the football. Alabama has three or four good running backs. The quarterback is getting better and better. Defensively, they play very sound and don't miss tackles. Their kicking game all around is good.  They've got lots of depth. I don't see any weaknesses.

Coach Dick MacPherson, former head coach of the Syracuse Orange, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
Alabama and who ... that is my answer.  Who is that other team going to be ... probably Oregon. Oregon has a great scheme and do a really good coaching but I would give the edge to Alabama because of Coach Saban.  He can solve problems other teams can't.  Plus, I think talent-wise Alabama has more than Oregon. 

David Fox (@DavidFox615): Oregon vs. Alabama
I started with Oregon and South Carolina in the beginning of the season, and, boy, did that look good after the Gamecocks’ win over Georgia. I still think South Carolina’s going to win the SEC East, but I’m going to switch out South Carolina for Alabama in the title game. The Tide have more than answered questions about the new starters on defense. This program is on a similar run of invincibility we saw out of USC this decade. Oregon will benefit this season from not playing a challenging nonconference game and will have plenty of time to make up ground in the BCS standings. The Pac-12 is deeper than we thought at the start of the season -- Arizona State, Oregon State and Stanford will be tougher outs than perhaps we thought -- but the top challenger, USC, doesn’t look like a title contender at this point.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Oregon vs. Alabama
I had Alabama over Oregon in the preseason and I have seen nothing over the first seven weeks to change my mind. In fact, those are the best two teams I have seen thus far, only upping my confidence in the Crimson Tide-Ducks championship bout in Miami Gardens. The Ducks offense is well-known but the defense is the best Chip Kelly has had in Eugene and it has been making big plays of its own. Meanwhile, Alabama has abused any and all takers in demoralizing fashion. I don't give Oregon too much of a chance to beat Alabama in a national title setting but it would be fun to see the high-flying Ducks attack go up against a spread-loathing Nick Saban with a chance at immortality.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): Oregon vs. Alabama
My preseason pick was Alabama-USC, but I’m going to make a slight change at the midpoint of the season. I still like Alabama to finish unbeaten and play for the national championship, but I will switch USC for Oregon. I think the Ducks could lose their Nov. 3 matchup to the Trojans but still play for the BCS title, especially if these two teams rematch in the Pac-12 title game. Even though Oregon had to replace its starting quarterback, the offense continues to fire on all cylinders, especially with Kenjon Barner and De’Anthony Thomas headlining one of the nation’s top running back corps. Although the defense doesn’t statistically rank near Alabama, the Ducks are registering 2.8 sacks per game and have forced 17 turnovers. Also, Oregon is allowing only 4.6 yards per play, which would place it fifth in the SEC. If these two teams met in Miami for the national title, I’d pick the Crimson Tide to win, but I’d like to see what Oregon’s offense can do against Nick Saban’s defense.

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): Oregon vs. Alabama
I’m not really going on a limb here, but I’ll take Alabama and Oregon to meet in the BCS Championship Game. The Crimson Tide have been dominant on defense and more than good enough on offense through the first half of the season. Assuming AJ McCarron’s knee doesn’t become an issue, I just don’t see this team losing a game. The trip to LSU will be difficult, and the opponent in the SEC title game will be formidable, but Bama will be the better team in each contest. Oregon has more hurdles to climb — including road trips to Arizona State, USC, Cal and Oregon State — but I believe the Ducks are the most complete team in the Pac-12. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Oregon stub its toe once in the regular season and still reach the BCS title game (assuming Notre Dame doesn’t get in the way.

Mark Ross: Oregon vs. Oklahoma
I am sure this is probably going to surprise some people, including my own colleagues, since Oklahoma came in at No. 9 in the initial BCS standings and has already lost a game. But hear me out. In my opinion, Oregon has the clearest path to the BCS Championship Game as the Ducks are undefeated, No. 3 in the BCS standings and in control of their own destiny. Provided they take care of business against USC, most likely twice, and can defeat a surprising Oregon State team in The Civil War, Oregon will be in Miami Gardens, Fla., on Jan. 7. I would even go so far to say that even if the Trojans were to beat the Ducks in the regular season, as long as Chip Kelly's team returned the favor in the Pac-12 title game, they will still get their chance at a national title. As far as Oregon's opponent goes, I'm leaning towards Oklahoma because I think, at least for this season, not having a conference championship game will help the Sooners. They still have several tough games remaining on their schedule, most notably an Oct. 27 visit from Notre Dame and a trip to Morgantown to play West Virginia on Nov. 17, but I think Bob Stoops has his team peaking at the right time and they will navigate the rest of their schedule undefeated. I also think the SEC is going to continue to beat itself up, leaving you with a situation where the eventual conference champion will have at least one loss, if not more. Under this scenario, I think there will be enough changes in the polls, computer rankings, etc. that in the end the BCS standings will have Oregon at No. 1 and Oklahoma at No. 2. Once these two get to south Florida and play each other in January, I like Kelly and the Ducks to do what they weren't able to two years ago - take the crystal football back to Eugene. BCS Champion: Oregon 31, Oklahoma 24

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): Oregon vs. Alabama
I think you have to project Alabama and Oregon at this point, although USC and LSU still have a good shot to get to the title game. It is difficult for me to project anyone from the Big 12, even though Kansas State would be a popular choice for many voters. Notre Dame still has tough road contests against Oklahoma and USC, and unbeaten SEC clubs will knock each other off as the season progresses. Mark it down fans: November 3. That’s when the Crimson Tide travels to Baton Rouge, and when the Ducks head south to face USC. Alabama has been so dominant in 2012, but some forget that Les Miles’ bunch did win the SEC last year. Chip Kelly’s crew was derailed by the Trojans last season but appears to be the better team with its usual high-octane offense and an underrated defense. While the Tide and Ducks could slip, they are definitely the top two candidates at the midseason point to play in Miami in January.

 

Related College Football Content

College Football 2012 Midseason Recap and First Half Awards
College Football's Post-Week 7 Bowl Projections

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 7

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Midseason BCS Championship Predictions</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 06:08
Path: /college-football/will-notre-dame-play-national-title-2012
Body:

Thanks to a goal-line stand in overtime against Stanford, Notre Dame is 6-0 and off to its best start since opening 8-0 in 2002. The Irish have a favorable schedule the rest of the way, which features winnable games against BYU, Pittsburgh, Boston College and Wake Forest. However, matchups against USC and Oklahoma will decide how high this team can climb in the BCS standings.

Will Notre Dame Play for the National Title in 2012?

David Fox (@DavidFox615):
I do love that Notre Dame defense. Allowing one touchdown since playing Purdue is remarkable, considering that includes Michigan, Miami and Stanford. I’m confident Notre Dame can give Oklahoma and USC trouble later this season, which are the only real tests remaining for the Irish. Although it’s worked so far, I’m having trouble putting my faith in starter Everett Golson and closer Tommy Rees at quarterback. I’m a little leery of a football coach needing to go to the bullpen for his quarterback. That’s going to bite Notre Dame, and I think we’ve seen enough out of Oklahoma, if not USC, to make the Irish vulnerable. 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): 
Notre Dame will not play for the national championship in 2012 because of quarterback play and a pair of nasty games with top ten national powers. Two late-season road trips to Norman to face Oklahoma and out West to play USC will be brutal road tests that Everett Golson— and/or Tommy Rees — will be forced to score points likely means at least one loss for the Irish. This is a truly great defense and with a 10 or 11 win season, Notre Dame can be deemed officially "back" on the national landscape. But to play for the BCS national championship, Brian Kelly's bunch will likely have to go unbeaten. And the odds don't appear to be in the Golden Domers favor.

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
There’s no doubt Brian Kelly has Notre Dame going in the right direction. However, I think it’s too early to predict the Irish will make the BCS Championship in 2012. The biggest obstacle Notre Dame has to overcome is a schedule that features road games at Oklahoma and USC. The Irish are just 1-9 in their last 10 matchups against the Trojans, and the Sooners have not lost a non-conference home game since 2005. Although Notre Dame’s defense is one of the nation’s best, the offense has struggled at times, and redshirt freshman quarterback Everett Golson is going through a few growing pains. Even though the Irish will fall short of reaching the national championship, a 10-2 season with an appearance in a BCS bowl is nothing to be ashamed of. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch):
Notre Dame has been one of the nation’s biggest surprises in 2012. The defense has been amazing, holding four straight AQ conference teams (Michigan State, Michigan, Miami and Stanford) without an offensive touchdown. But I don’t believe the Irish will be in position to play for the BCS National Championship this season. Notre Dame has two very difficult games remaining — at Oklahoma in two weeks and at USC to end the season. It’s unlikely that the Irish will win both of those games; if they win one, which is possible, they could end the season with an 11–1 record. That would put them in the discussion, but my best guess is that Alabama and Oregon will both be undefeated and leave Notre Dame on the outside looking in. 

Mark Ross: 
Notre Dame is undefeated and came in at No. 5 in the initial release of this season's BCS standings. In some ways, the Fighting Irish control their own destiny because if they can win out and finish their slate without a defeat, they will have to be in the conversation for a spot in the national title game. That said, Notre Dame still has two tough hurdles remaining towards that goal and both of these games are on the road. Notre Dame travels to Norman on Oct. 27 to play a rejuvenated Oklahoma team and ends its regular season with a trip to Los Angeles to play long-time rival USC in the Rose Bowl. As good as Notre Dame has been this season, I just don't think they have enough offense to win both of these games and will end its regular season with at least one loss. Without the benefit of a conference championship game to help their resume, I think Brian Kelly will get the Irish back to a BCS bowl, it just won't be the national title game.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman):
It is difficult for me to project Notre Dame in the title game with tough road contests left against Oklahoma and USC, but Brian Kelly’s bunch has the defense to beat anyone on its schedule. The Fighting Irish have been absolutely stingy on defense, led by All-America linebacker Manti Te’o and emerging star end Stephon Tuitt. ND has only given up 25 total points in its last four wins (Michigan State, Michigan, Miami and Stanford) and is the only team in the nation to not allow a rushing touchdown this season. Another huge reason for the Irish perfect start is a plus-8 turnover margin. In last year’s opening losses to South Florida and Michigan, ND turned the ball over 10 times. This season, the offense has only seven giveaways in six games. Quarterbacks Tommy Rees and Everett Golson will struggle if it becomes a high-scoring contest with the Sooners or Trojans, so I’ll say that the Irish will lose once and not play for it all. However, ND has the defense to run the table and will be a tough out in the BCS. 



Related College Football Content

College Football 2012 Midseason Recap and First Half Awards
College Football's Post-Week 7 Bowl Projections

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 7

Teaser:
<p> Will Notre Dame Play for the National Title in 2012?&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, Big East
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-25-games-watch-second-half
Body:

The first half of the college football season is over. Athlon Sports awarded midseason honors to those players and teams who surprised, disappointed and achieved the remarkable. But the heart of the college football season still lies ahead. Here are 25 games you won't want to miss in the second half.

1. Alabama at LSU (Nov. 3)
The top game in the preseason hasn’t lost any luster as these two SEC West powers continue their collision course. Alabama has been the No. 1 team in the nation since Week 1 and has a pair of Heisman candidates on offense to go with the nation's No. 1-rated defense. LSU has slipped up only once — at No. 2 Florida two weeks ago — but got back on track with a dominating defensive showing against South Carolina. It will be the third time these two will get together in the past 367 days. Buckle your chinstrap and get the ice packs ready for this SEC war.

2. Oregon at USC (Nov. 3)
The other Game of the Century this season is right on schedule as well. Much like LSU, USC has slipped up once already on the road against a quality opponent, but gets the No. 3-ranked Ducks at home. Unlike the SEC bout, however, these two will likely meet again in the Pac-12 title game as they are clearly the best two teams in the Pac-12. The offensive firepower on both sides is remarkable and this final score should be much like the 38-35 nail-bitter that took place in Eugene a year ago.

3. South Carolina at Florida (Oct. 20)
The Gamecocks offense looked rather average against LSU in Week 7 and will get just as tough a test in Week 8. Except this time, the SEC East championship could be on the line. Quarterback Jeff Driskel didn’t play in the five-point South Carolina win last season that featured a combined total of 203 passing yards. For Carolina, Marcus Lattimore didn’t suit up either. Both will be the focal points of their respective offenses in this SEC showdown.

4. Notre Dame at USC (Nov. 24)
Could a trip to the national championship game be on the line when these two historic rivals meet up in Los Angeles? It’s not that far-fetched if the Trojans can win the aforementioned showdown with Oregon. Southern Cal has won nine out of ten in this storied rivalry but that lone win for Notre Dame came under Brian Kelly the last time the Irish visited the Coliseum. Rich history, elite offense versus elite defense and a potential trip to the BCS title game on the line? Yes, please.

5. Notre Dame at Oklahoma (Oct. 27)
Believe it not, but these two college football powers have met a total of nine times, and only one of those games (1999) has taken place since since 1968. Notre Dame has won eight of the nine meetings, and the Fighting Irish are a perfect 4-0 in Norman, Okla. The Irish have their eyes on a national title for the first time in 25 years, but will have to clear two major hurdles to have any hopes of getting there. The first of which is this visit to play Bob Stoops on his own turf. Consider this: the OU head coach lost his first-ever home game to a ranked opponent back in Week 4.

6. Florida vs. Georgia (Oct. 27)
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party was a back and forth affair that ended with a Richard Samuel game-winning touchdown run with just over two minutes left last year. Mark Richt used fourth down gambles and a rushing defense that held Florida to minus-19 yards on the ground to earn only his third win over the Gators. Florida is 18-4 since 1990 in this game and should the Gators defeat South Carolina, it too could be a de facto SEC East championship game.

7. Michigan at Ohio State (Nov. 24)
The top rivalry in college football is back to being nationally relevant. Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer will make this battle one of the nation’s best every year. Ohio State could be 11-0 entering this game and Michigan could need a win to clinch the Legends Division. Denard Robinson got the Wolverines off the schneid last season with Michigan’s first win over that team from Ohio since 2003. Braxton Miller got baptized into this ongoing war last fall and he nearly pulled off the road upset. Fans can again expect greatness from two of the most electric quarterbacks in the nation.

8. Florida at Florida State (Nov. 24)
Florida-Tennessee had a 1990s feel to it back in Week 3 and this rivalry could feel the same way at season’s end. These two Sunshine powers could have a combined record of 21-1 when they get together, and a bid to the national title game could be on the line too. As far as the series itself, the Noles have dominated the last two meetings, winning by a combined score of 52-14, which put an end to the Gators' six-game winning streak from 2004-09. Will Muschamp hasn’t forgotten what took place the last time these two got together.

9. Oregon at Oregon State (Nov. 24)
This could be the best edition of The Civil War in the 118-year history of the Beaver State rivalry. Both teams have major tests before the final week of the regular season, but the Ducks might need a win on the road over Mike Riley’s much-improved defense to stay in the national title hunt. The Ducks have won four straight with relative ease in the series, but the Beavers are 5-2 in the last seven in Corvallis. Should the Beavers keep winning, however, more than just bragging rights could be hanging in the balance — like a Pac-12 North Division championship.

10. Kansas State at West Virginia (Oct. 20)
The luster has been dimmed slightly after the Mountaineers lost in Lubbock in Week 7. But make no mistake, the winner of the Big 12 championship will likely emerge from this contest with a victory. These two have only met twice, splitting a home-and-home series back in 1930 and 1931 — both of which took place in Morgantown. The Big 12 Coach of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year award are likely to be decided in this game as two of the top three current Heisman Trophy finalists will be on the field together.

11. Oklahoma at West Virginia (No. 17)
Sooners' first-ever trip to Morgantown could be a de facto Big 12 title game. 

12. Louisville at Rutgers (Nov. 29)
Both could enter final week of the season unbeaten with a BCS bowl hanging in the balance.

13. LSU at Texas A&M (Oct. 20)
Johnny Football will face nasty Bayou Bengal defensive front after record-setting first half.

14. Michigan at Nebraska (Oct. 27)
Classic showdown could determine who heads to Pasadena this New Year's.

15. Ohio State at Penn State (Oct. 27)
The Ineligible Bowl could feature the best two teams in the league.

16. Florida State at Virginia Tech (Nov. 8)
Likely the biggest game left in the ACC features nearly 13 feet and 500 pounds of quarterback.

17. West Virginia at Oklahoma State (Nov. 10)
Dana Holgorsen returns to his former employer with a big offense leading the way.

18. South Carolina at Clemson (Nov. 24)
Bitter rivalry has seen Gamecocks take control with three straight blowouts.

19. Florida State at Miami (Oct. 20)
This could be the best edition of this rivalry in three years.

20. Boise State at Nevada (Dec. 1)
Will likely determine the Mountain West Conference championship.

21. Ohio State at Wisconsin (Nov. 17)
A win gives Badgers' division crown much more weight. OSU is shooting for 12-0.

22. Virginia Tech at Miami (Nov. 1)
Does the winner of this game win the Coastal Division and play in the ACC title game?

23. Texas at Kansas State (Dec. 1)
The 'Cats have owned the 'Horns of late and Mack Brown could be fighting for his job.

24. Rutgers at Cincinnati (Nov. 17)
Rutgers' toughest road test in the Big East title round robin (with Louisville).

25. Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (Nov. 24)
Bedlam Series has revenge factor as game heads back to Norman.

Best of the Rest:

Oregon at Arizona State (Oct. 18)
Virginia Tech at Clemson (Oct. 20)
Cincinnati at Louisville (Oct. 26)
Mississippi State at Alabama (Oct. 27)
Arizona State at USC (Nov. 10)
Texas A&M at Alabama (Nov. 10)
Mississippi State at LSU (Nov. 10)
Oregon State at Stanford (Nov. 10)
Utah State at Louisiana Tech (Nov. 17)
Stanford at Oregon (Nov. 17)
NC State at Clemson (Nov. 17)
Ohio at Kent State (Nov. 23)

Rivalries with Extra Juice this Year:

Stanford at Cal (Oct. 20)
Alabama at Tennessee (Oct. 20)
NC State at North Carolina (Oct. 27)
USC at UCLA (Nov. 17)
Iowa at Michigan (Nov. 17)
Tennessee at Vanderbilt (Nov. 17)
Arizona State at Arizona (Nov. 23)
Mississippi State at Ole Miss (Nov. 24)
Auburn at Alabama (Nov. 24) 

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Big Ten 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review

Big East 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review

Big 12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review

Pac-12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review

SEC 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 25 Games to Watch of the Second Half</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/urban-meyer-or-bill-obrien-who-big-tens-midseason-coach-year
Body:

Ohio State's Urban Meyer and Penn State's Bill O'Brien are two of the top candidates for college football's midseason coach of the year award. Meyer has the Buckeyes off to a 7-0 start, while O'Brien has guided Penn State through a difficult offseason to a 4-2 record so far.

Is Bill O'Brien or Urban Meyer the Big Ten's Midseason Coach of the Year?

Kevin McGuire, No2MinuteWarning.com, (@KevinonCFB)
One of the key factors I like to look at when determining who should be coach of the year is what do they have to work with. At Ohio State Urban Meyer inherited a pretty solid program form top to bottom with a Braxton Miller sitting there waiting to be groomed. At Penn State Bill O'Brien took over a program ripped of its heart and soul and destined for some of the heaviest sanctions the college sports world has seen in a long time, which would lead the team's star running back, leading receiver and best kicker create their own exit plans in addition to a handful of others to hurt some depth. Both coaches have dealt with some adversity on the football field as well, with Meyer's defense being shredded by Indiana most recently and with O'Brien's team dropping the first two games of the season. Credit to Meyer for coming away with wins each week so far but also credit to O'Brien for not losing his team when they started off 0-2. The season could have been lost right out of the gate for O'Brien but he and his team have rattled off four straight wins heading in to their bye week. If you take a closer look at both teams, you will also see that Penn State has shown signs of improvement on a weekly basis overall despite depth and injury issues at times. Both coaches are doing fine jobs, but after half a season, O'Brien is the clear leader for coach of the year in the Big Ten, and perhaps the nation.

Coach Dick MacPherson, former head coach of the Syracuse Orange, and current voting member of the Legends Poll:
Urban Meyer would be my pick at this point.  He has come to a team loaded with talent.  Coach Meyer has done a nice job with the team but he definitely has an advantage because Coach Tressel did not leave the cupboard bare.

David Fox (@DavidFox615): 
This is certainly Bill O’Brien, by every measure. No college football team since SMU returned from the death penalty had this much adversity. To think Penn State is three wins away from a winning record is shocking. After the Ohio loss, I was skeptical if Penn State would be Temple or Indiana. Now, seven wins or more seems like a given. Let’s forget about the transfers, the probation and the stain left on the program. Let’s just talk about improvement. A year ago, this paltry offense was nothing more than Silas Redd, who bolted for USC. Now, we’re looking at a team that is third in the league in scoring offense in conference games and fifth in total offense in conference games. Matt McGloin has long since eclipsed his touchdown total from last season and will pass his yardage mark in his next game. And Allen Robinson, who caught three passes last season, is the Big Ten’s best receiver. The coach who landed at Ohio State with Braxton Miller waiting for him has nothing on what O’Brien has done.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall):
My answer at the end of the year will likely be different than it is today. If Ohio State finishes unbeaten with a Heisman finalist in Braxton Miller, Urban Meyer would easily be my vote for Big Ten Coach of the Year. But right now, Bill O'Brien is the pick with what he has accomplished in the face of the ugliest NCAA scandal in history and a mass exodus of players in the preseason. He is a few plays away from being unbeaten at 6-0 after rattling off four straight wins. He has turned Matt McGloin into a conference player of the year contender and the Nittany Lion offense is more innovative and a creative than it has been in years. Coach BoB's team leads the Big Ten in turnover margin, is No. 2 in the Big Ten in passing offense and is No. 2 in scoring defense at just 16.0 points allowed per game. 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven): 
Urban Meyer deserves a lot of credit for leading Ohio State to a 7-0 record, but I have to give the edge to Bill O’Brien at the midpoint of the season. I was skeptical of how well this hire would work out, but the Nittany Lions are 4-2 and enter Week 8 riding a four-game wining streak. Under O’Brien’s leadership, Penn State’s offense is a much-improved group, averaging 27 points and 390.2 yards per game. Quarterback Matt McGloin has thrived under O’Brien’s playcalling, and a team that was lacking proven playmakers at the start of the year has scored at least 30 points in three straight games. As usual, the defense is solid, and linebacker Michael Mauti is one of the frontrunners for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors. The schedule gets considerably tougher in the second half for the Nittany Lions, as they have games against Ohio State, Nebraska and Wisconsin. Even though the strength of schedule will increase, O’Brien should be able to guide this team to at eight wins, which would exceed nearly everyone’s preseason expectations. With the scholarship reductions and bowl ban, O’Brien has his work cut out for him in the next five seasons. However, after the first six games of the year, he should be the Big Ten’s Coach of the Year. 

Mitch Light (@AthlonMitch): 
I’d go with Bill O’Brien as the midseason Big Ten Coach of the Year. Not only did O’Brien walk into the worst scandal in the history of collegiate athletics, he also inherited a mediocre roster that was stripped of its two best skill position players (tailback Silas Redd and wide receiver Justin Brown). Yet, the Nittany Lions are a vastly improved offensive team in 2012. They are averaging 390.1 yards and 27.0 points per game, up from 342.4 and 19.3 last season. Penn State has won four straight after losing its first two games, and each of its four wins have come by 11 points or more. O’Brien has done a tremendous job in a very difficult spot.

Mark Ross: 
Not to take anything away from Meyer, who is doing a fantastic job in his first season at Ohio State, but how can you not give this one to O'Brien? Granted the Buckeyes are undefeated and will more than likely finish with a better record and higher in the polls than Penn State, but the situation Meyer was inheriting in Columbus was leaps and bounds better than the mess O'Brien took over in State College. Both schools are dealing with NCAA sanctions and penalties that include postseason bans this year, but that's where the similarities begin and end. Simply put, no school or football program has ever experienced what Penn State has had to go through, and that includes SMU, the only school to ever receive the death penalty from the NCAA. Besides having to deal with everything associated with the Jerry Sandusky scandal, which is far from being completely over, O'Brien had to focus on keeping his recruiting class together and then dealt with a mass exodus of current players. Once the focus finally returned to the field, O'Brien had to keep this team united and positive while enduring two emotionally draining losses to open the season. Since starting 0-2, Penn State has reeled off four straight victories, and now has a legitimate shot at finishing the season with eight or more wins. That is quite a remarkable accomplishment for O'Brien, his staff and the players that stuck around after all they have had to deal with.

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): 
While Bill O'Brien has done a quality job in getting Penn State to a 4-2 after two opening losses, I would have to go with Urban Meyer at this point. It has not always been pretty for Ohio State this season, but 7-0 is 7-0. Meyer does have solid talent on the Buckeyes roster, but this is an OSU team that went 6-7 a year ago. Whether it was a 17-16 defensive battle with Michigan State or a 52-49 shootout with Indiana, Meyer's squad has found a way to prevail every week. The Nittany Lions could lose four or five more games, while I believe Ohio State will go 11-1 with a solid shot at an undefeated season. As controversial as he may be, Meyer projects as the hyphenated Big Ten Coach of the Year.

Related College Football Content

College Football 2012 Midseason Recap and First Half Awards
College Football's Post-Week 7 Bowl Projections

College Football's Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat After Week 7

Teaser:
<p> Urban Meyer or Bill O'Brien: Who Is The Big Ten's Midseason Coach of the Year?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 05:59
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-contenders-post-week-7
Body:

Each week, the Athlon editors and others who closely follow college football vote on the most prestigious award in the sport. A 13-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports and other publications cast their votes this week for their top Heisman Trophy candidates. The votes will be tallied and the results will be posted as the Athlon Sports Heisman Watch List every week of the regular season.

Voting: Each first-place vote receives 10 points. A second-place vote receives nine points. So on and so forth with a 10th-place vote receiving one point. Here are Athlon's guest voters:

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

1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia (7 first-place votes)
Season Stats: 
195-259, 2,271 yards, 25 TD, 0 INT, 28 att., 71 yards, TD
His strangle hold on the Heisman Trophy took a major hit this weekend in the blowout loss to Texas Tech. Did he need to go unbeaten to win the award? No. But he opened the Heisman door for other names to close the gap after 275 yards and one touchdown against the Red Raiders. He still has yet to throw an interception and is leading the nation in passing efficiency (180.8) Next game: Kansas State

  Last Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. (1) Geno Smith QB W. Virginia 120/130 7 4 1 - 1 13/13
2. (2) Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 115/130 5 3 4 - 1 13/13
3. (3) Collin Klein QB Kansas St 103/130 - 5 5 2 - 13/13
4. (4) Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame 83/130 1 1 1 4 3 12/13
5. (16) Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M 60/130 - - - 1 5 13/13
6. (7) Matt Barkley QB USC 35/130 - - - 1 1 7/13
7. (6) De'Anthony Thomas AP Oregon 34/130 - - 1 3 - 6/13
8. (9) Kenjon Barner RB Oregon 26/130 - - - - 1 7/13
9. (8) A.J. McCarron QB Alabama 24/130 - - - - 1 6/13
10. (18) Barrett Jones OL Alabama 23/130 - - 1 1 - 4/13
11. (5) Marcus Lattimore RB S. Carolina 17/130 - - - - - 5/13
12. (10) Mike Gillislee RB Florida 15/130 - - - - - 5/13
13. (17) DeAndre Hopkins WR Clemson 13/130 - - - 1 - 3/13
14. (11) E.J. Manuel QB Florida St 10/130 - - - - - 4/13
15. (23) Denard Robinson QB Michigan 8/130 - - - - - 2/13
16. (12) Stedman Bailey WR W. Virginia 6/130 - - - - - 2/13
17. (ur) Giovanni Bernard RB N. Carolina 3/130 - - - - - 2/13
18. (13) Marqise Lee WR USC 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
19. (ur) Montee Ball RB Wisconsin 3/130 - - - - - 2/13
20. (24) Venric Mark RB N'Western 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
21. (16) Jadeveon Clowney DE S. Carolina 2/130 - - - - - 2/13
22. (ur) Nick Florence QB Baylor 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
23. (14) Tavon Austin WR W. Virginia 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
24. (ur) Seth Doege QB Texas Tech 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
25. (ur) Johnathan Franklin RB UCLA 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
26. (21) Aaron Murray QB Georgia 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
27. (22) Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 1/130 - - - - - 1/13

2. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State (5 first place votes)
Season Stats: 
96-159, 1,271 yards, 11 TD, 4 INT, 129 att., 912 yards, 9 TD
Miller continues to will his team to victory on a weekly basis. The sophomore rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown to go with 212 yards passing and two more scores in the air. He has accounted for 20 total touchdowns, is third in the Big Ten in rushing, second in total offense, third in passing efficiency and is the leader of one of two 7-0 teams in the nation (Ohio). Next Game: Purdue

3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Season Stats:
 79-118, 1,074 yards, 7 TD, 2 INT, 98 att., 510 yards, 10 TD
Klein led his team to another clutch hard-fought road conference win by rushing for 105 yards and three touchdowns in the 27-21 victory over Iowa State. He is fourth in the Big Ten in rushing and has 37 rushing touchdowns in the last season and a half. He is the epitome of toughness, heart and leadership. Next Game: at West Virginia

4. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Season Stats: 59 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 3 INT, FR, 3 PBU
The Fighting Irish defense has not allowed a touchdown since Week 2 against Purdue and is No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense (8.7 ppg). Te'o posted 11 total tackles in the physical showdown win over Stanford and was an integral part of the four-down goal-line stand to win the game. He leads the Irish in tackles at 9.83 per game. Next Game: BYU

5. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Season Stats: 128-190, 1,680 yards, 14 TD, 3 INT, 91 att., 676 yards, 10 TD
Johnny Football set an SEC single-game total offense record against Louisiana Tech with 577 total yards (395 passing, 181 rushing) and six total touchdowns in the wild win. He is now leading the SEC in rushing (112.7 ypg) and total offense (392.7 ypg) and has accounted for 24 touchdowns. He is the most exciting player in the league, but he has another big test coming this weekend against the Bayou Bengals. Next Week: LSU

6. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Season Stats: 121-193, 1,475 yards, 16 TD, 6 INT, 15 att., minus-65 yards
Next game: Colorado

7. De’Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon
Season Stats: 41 att., 377 yds, 6 TD, 20 rec., 205 yds, 3 TD, 10 PR, 150 PR yds, 6 KR, 88 yds
Next Game: at Arizona State

8. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Season Stats: 116 att., 727 yards, 9 TD, 11 rec., 111 yards, TD
Next Game: at Arizona State

9. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Season Stats: 89-132, 1,170 yards, 12 TD, 0 INT, 23 att., minus- yards
Next Game: at Tennessee

10. Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama
Season Stats: 217.2 rush yards per game, 423.0 total yards per game, 40.5 points per game
Next Game: at Tennessee

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 7 Recap
ACC 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big East 
2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big Ten 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big 12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Pac-12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
SEC 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review 

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Contenders: Post-Week 7</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 05:58
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Fantasy, News
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-using-vegas-odds-determine-best-week-8-plays
Body:

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

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

Week 8

Best Fantasy Matchups(Games with the most fantasy potential)

Ball St at Central Michigan

Line:  Ball St -3(O/U-64.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Ball St 34-31

Best plays:

Ball St (QB-Keith Wenning, RB-Jahwan Edwards, WRs-Willie Snead, Jamill Smith

Central Michigan (RB-Zurlon Tipton, WR-Titas Davis)

Also consider:

Ball St (K-Steven Schott)

Central Michigan (QB-Ryan Radcliff, WR-Cody Wilson)

theCFFsite projects:  Ball St 38-28

 

San Diego St at Nevada

Line:  Nevada -7(O/U-66.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Nevada 37-30

Best plays:

San Diego St (QB-Ryan Katz, RB-Adam Muema)

Nevada (QB-Cody Fajardo, RB-Stefphon Jefferson, TE-Zach Sudfield)

Also consider:

San Diego St (RB-Walter Kazee, TE-Gavin Escobar)

Nevada (WRs-Brandon Wimberly, Richy Turner)

theCFFsite projects:  Nevada 38-35

 

Baylor at Texas

Line:  Texas -10(O/U-80.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Texas 45-35

Best plays:

Baylor (QB-Nick Florence, WR-Terrance Williams)

Texas (QB-David Ash, RB-Joe Bergeron)

Also consider:

Baylor(RB-Jared Salubi, WRs-Tevin Reese, Lanear Sampson)

Texas (RB-Johnathan Gray, WRs-Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis)

theCFFsite projects:  Baylor 38-31

 

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

New Mexico St at Utah St

Line:  Utah St -30(O/U-56)

Projected score based on point spread:  Utah St 43-13

Stay away from:

New Mexico St (QB-Andrew Manley)

theCFFsite projects:  Utah St 42-14

 

UNLV at Boise State

Line:  Boise St -28(O/U-53.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Boise St 41-13

Stay away from:

UNLV (RB-Tim Cornett)

theCFFsite projects:  Boise St 31-10

 

Kansas at Oklahoma

Line:  Oklahoma -35(O/U-57.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oklahoma 46-11

Stay away from:

Kansas (RB-James Sims)

theCFFsite projects:  Oklahoma 45-17

 

Colorado at USC

Line:  USC – 41(O/U-57.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  USC 49-8

Stay away from:

Colorado (RB-Tony Jones)

theCFFsite projects:  USC 45-14

 

Must Watch Games(The games with the biggest headlines)

Oregon at Arizona St

Line:  Oregon -9(O/U-68.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Oregon 39-30

Outlook:  Since Arizona State’s 24-20 loss at Missouri four weeks ago, the Sun Devils have gone 3-0 in PAC-12 games and have outscored their opponents 115-41.  Interestingly enough, the Ducks have not been held to less than 42 points in any game this season and they should continue their scoring ways in Sun Devil Stadium this Thursday night.

theCFFsite projects:  Oregon 41-30

 

Kansas St at West Virginia

Line:  West Virginia -3(O/U-71.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  West Virginia 37-34

Outlook:  Two weeks ago, we thought the Mountaineers gained their first signature win since joining the Big 12 when they defeated Texas on the road.  However, Oklahoma’s dismantling of the Longhorns last week made the West Virginia victory over Texas seem rather ordinary.  We’re expecting the Mountaineers to regroup and take down the nation’s No. 4 ranked team in a prime-time showdown.

theCFFsite projects:  West Virginia 38-34

 

South Carolina at Florida

Line:  Florida -3(O/U-42.5)

Projected score based on point spread:  Florida 23-20

Outlook:  Last week, we underestimated the atmosphere in Tiger Stadium on a Saturday night and picked the Gamecocks over the Tigers.  While it is extremely difficult to pick against the Gators in The Swamp, the Gamecocks will be playing out of desperation to stay alive in the SEC East race.

theCFFsite projects:  South Carolina 21-20

 

theCFFsite in Must Watch games:

2012 Season:  Straight Up (14-9)  ATS: (11-12)

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


by Joe DiSalvo

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Email us:   [email protected]

Teaser:
<p> College Fantasy Football: Using Vegas Odds to Determine Best Week 8 Plays</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 04:05

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