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Path: /fantasy/week-9-injury-updates-calvin-johnson-hakeem-nicks-jimmy-graham

The fantasy season is nearing its postseason. The weeks are winding down; the injuries are piling up. You need to stay ahead of everything in order to make that playoff push. Here’s some information on those that are on the Week 9 injury report or those stepping in for the injured.

Calvin JohnsonCalvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
This sore knee has become a pain in the ... But it is one of the lingering issues dogging Calvin Johnson currently. He did not practice on Friday to conclude a week without practice. No, he has not played like the No. 1 receiver taken off the board, but he has played like the 20th, which is where he is currently ranked in PPR formats at the position. And that means he's still a must-start in leagues that start two WRs (all of them, I would assume, well, except my dynasty league but that's for another day). It's the lack of TDs that are obviously the killer as he is seventh in yards (638) and 11th in catches (41) as the eighth-most targeted receiver (75). What are you going to do? The red-zone targets are down, but perhaps other receivers stepping up will open things up for Megatron.


Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
"One of these days I'll emerge and be back." That was the quote attributed to Hakeem Nicks this week. And that is the scary thing about the talented Giants receiver. He has certainly not been back this season, save for the 10-for-199 performance against Tampa Bay in Week 2. Dealing with foot issues entering the season and adding knee issues on top of it has made Nicks a sit suggestion each week, in hindsight. He says he's now "pushing 90, 95" percent in regards of his health, but we hear all sorts of lip service from players. You would like to sit him until he proves he's back but you don't want to be the one with Nicks on the bench when he does emerge. Since Week 2, with Weeks 3-5 missed, Nicks has 12 catches for 147 yards and no scores on 22 targets (three games). You likely don't have better options, but until I see it he's on my bench. And going against a Steelers team that has allowed just eight of the 28 receivers they've faced this year to reach double digits in PPR is not encouraging, either.


Jimmy GrahamJimmy Graham, TE, New Orleans Saints vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Monday night)
This is more of a celebration part of the fantasy forecast just to let you know that Jimmy Graham is not on the injury report this week. After battling an ankle injury that shortened his day in Week 5 and did not allow him to return coming out of the Week 6 bye into the Week 7 game, Graham returned in a big way. He drew 10 targets, caught five of them for 63 yards and a late score. With Darren Sproles (hand) out indefinitely, there should be more targets to go around. Graham is still ranked seventh amongst tight ends despite missing basically two games and already having his bye. The Eagles are fifth-best against fantasy tight ends, allowing just one score and only one TE over 65 yards, but if Graham is healthy then Graham is in the fantasy lineup.

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Calvin Johnson, Hakeem Nicks, Jimmy Graham: Injury Updates Week 9&nbsp;</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 4, 2012 - 05:30
Path: /fantasy/week-9-injury-updates-jacob-tamme-dez-bryant-coby-fleener

The fantasy season is nearing its postseason. The weeks are winding down; the injuries are piling up. You need to stay ahead of everything in order to make that playoff push. Here’s some information on those that are on the Week 9 injury report or those stepping in for the injured.

Jacob Tamme, TE, Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Jacob Tamme is listed on the injury report as probable with a hip but practiced Friday and is expected to play against the Bengals today. The Bengals are the sixth-best team against the tight end position in fantasy, but they have allowed one touchdown to the position in three of the last four games. Unfortunately, for Tamme he has just one TD this season and it came in Week 1. The week-in, week-out between Tamme and Joel Dreessen makes it impossible to trust either. There Dustin Keller or Jermaine Gresham, who are at least guaranteed all of the targets at the position.


Dez BryantDez Bryant, WR, Dallas Cowboys vs. Atlanta Falcons (Sunday night) 
A hip injury has Dez Bryant listed as questionable for tonight's game against Atlanta. He suffered the injury making the touchdown catch called back against the Giants last week. Atlanta is ranked seventh against fantasy receivers this season, having allowed just four scores to the position this season. Jeremy Maclin's six catches for 33 yards was the highest catch total against the Falcons since Demaryius Thomas's eight in Week 2. It looks like it will be a total crapshoot, outside of Jason Witten, for all of the Cowboys you could start tonight — Bryant, Miles Austin or the foursome of lackluster running backs.


Coby Fleener, TE, Indianapolis Colts vs. Miami Dolphins
The Stanford Connection has just not happened this season between QB Andrew Luck and Fleener as we hoped it would. One reason is because Luck has been able to incorporate receivers into the game and the other is Dwayne Allen. Fleener has 21 catches for 222 yards and no scores on 36 targets this year and is now out for today's game against Miami with a shoulder injury. It would be nice to say take a flier on Allen, but chances are he stays in and blocks against a run defense that is ranked seventh against fantasy running backs. Fleener was a nice flier to take late in your draft, but like Tamme and Dreessen in Denver, it is likely time to cut bait on Colts TEs for 2012.
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Injury Updates Week 9: Jacob Tamme, Dez Bryant, Coby Fleener &nbsp;</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 4, 2012 - 05:20
Path: /fantasy/week-9-injury-updates-peyton-manning-brandon-weeden-andrew-luck

The fantasy season is nearing its postseason. The weeks are winding down; the injuries are piling up. You need to stay ahead of everything in order to make that playoff push. Here’s some information on those that are on the Week 9 injury report—Andrew Luck, Brandon Weeden, Peyton Manning— or those stepping in for the injured.

Peyton Manning

Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Oh, that thumb. We certainly didn't like seeing the best value draft QB in fantasy banging that against a Saints helmet in Week 8. But Peyton Manning practiced and fantasy's sixth-ranked quarterback should be good to go. He gets a defense in the Bengals that is 16th against fantasy QBs but sixth-best against receivers. Only Ryan Tannehill (Week 5) has not thrown a touchdown against Cincinnati and only Blaine Gabbert (Week 4) has not eclipsed 200 yards. Also, the Bengals don't turn QBs over that often, collecting just three interceptions this year to nine TDs allowed.


Brandon Weeden, QB, Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens
Groin and thigh problems have Brandon Weeden on this week's injury report, but he has practiced and is listed as probable for today's early game against visiting Baltimore. Weeden could be a decent spot start if you're battling injuries, byes or elected not to start Philip Rivers on Thursday night. Weeden's is fantasy's 21st-ranked QB and gets a Ravens team ranked eighth against the position in fantasy. Opposing QBs have averaged 308.6 yards and 1.2 TDs thrown in the last five games (not counting the awful Chiefs in Week 5). Weeden was part of that mix in Week 4 when he threw for 320 yards, no scores and one interception.

Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts vs. Miami Dolphins
If Peyton Manning was not one of your league's best draft values at the QB spot, then his replacement, Andrew Luck, certainly was. The No. 1 overall pick in April's NFL Draft, is fantasy's ninth-best QB thanks to three scores on the ground to counter the 1:1 TD-interception ratio. He is listed on the injury report as probably with a right knee but practiced this week. And today, Luck and the Colts get a Dolphins defense that is ranked 21st against fantasy QBs, allowing all seven starters they've faced to throw for at least 234 and all but one to throw for a TD.  
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Peyton Manning, Brandon Weeden, Andrew Luck: Injury Updates Week 9</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 4, 2012 - 05:05
Path: /fantasy/week-9-injury-updates-trent-richardson-titus-young-brandon-pettigrew

The fantasy season is nearing its postseason. The weeks are winding down; the injuries are piling up. You need to stay ahead of everything in order to make that playoff push. Here’s some information on those that are on the Week 9 injury report or those stepping in for the injured.

Trent Richardson, Cleveland BrownsTrent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Ravens
Well, the banged up ribs and ineffectiveness did not seem to linger with Trent Richardson in Week 8’s game against San Diego. The rookie, coming off an 8-for-8 performance a week earlier, ran 24 times for 122 yards and one score last week. The ribs/chest injury has limited Richardson in practice but that is to be expected and he will start today against the Ravens. Baltimore is ranked 25th against fantasy RBs and has allowed at least one TD to opposing RBs in six of seven games this season. In his first game against the Ravens (Week 4), Richardson ran for 47 yards and a score and added four catches for 57 yards on six targets — the most a back has been targeted against the Ravens since Cleveland’s Chris Ogbonnaya had six against them in Week 13 last season.


Titus Young, WR, Detroit Lions vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
A knee injury has limited Titus Young this week, but is it not expected to keep him out of today’s game against Jacksonville and its 15th ranked fantasy defense in a PPR against receivers. Young is coming off a nine-catch, 100-yard, two-TD game on nine targets last week against a stingy Seattle defense. Now he gets a Jaguars defense likely down their top two cornerbacks in Rashean Mathis (groin) and Derek Cox (back). The Jags have allowed a receiver to go for at least 84 yards in six of seven games and have allowed a TD to the position in five of seven games.


Brandon PettigrewBrandon Pettigrew, WR, Detroit Lions vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
A knee injury has Brandon Pettigrew listed as probable, but he practiced Friday and is expected to play. However, the inconsistent tight end draws a Jacksonville team that is ranked fourth against fantasy tight ends as one of just two teams in the NFL (Miami) not to surrender a touchdown to the position this season. No tight end has eclipsed Kyle Rudolph’s 67 yards in Week 1 — 47 yards twice has been the closest — and Brandon Myers’ seven catches on 10 targets in Week 7 are season highs allowed in both categories against the position. Pettigrew has not had double-digit targets since Week 3. He is coming off his best fantasy game of the season (7-for-74 on nine targets) against Seattle, but outside of perhaps more targets coming his way with Calvin Johnson limited (knee), there’s little to suggest he gets going today.
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Injury Updates Week 9: Trent Richardson, Titus Young, Brandon Pettigrew &nbsp;</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 4, 2012 - 05:01
Path: /fantasy/week-9-injury-updates-donald-brown-blaine-gabbert-brian-hartline

The fantasy season is nearing its postseason. The weeks are winding down; the injuries are piling up. You need to stay ahead of everything in order to make that playoff push. Here’s some information on those that are on the Week 9 injury report—Donald Brown, Blaine Gabbert, Brian Hartline—or those stepping in for the injured.

Donald Brown, RB, Indianapolis ColtsDonald Brown, RB, Indianapolis Colts vs. Miami Dolphins
A return to practice on Friday gave us optimism that Donald Brown would be good to go for today’s game against the Dolphins. A downgrade to questionable on Saturday after swelling was found in the knee now left Brown owners pessimistic as Sunday’s Week 9 games soon kick off. However, he is active for today's game, in a situation that was already likely to be a time-share with Vick Ballard, much like last week’s 14-12-carry advantage for Brown over Ballard. Brown did more with his carries (14-or-80 to 12-for-55) but Ballard got the TD on his lone catch, leaping into the end zone for a 16-yard score. That was against a Titans team now ranked 30th against fantasy backs; today the Colts draw the seventh-ranked defense against fantasy RBs. They haven’t allowed a TD on the ground to a RB since Week 1 and haven’t allowed a TD through the air since Week 2.  Along the way, yardage totals of 79, 76 and 77 are the most allowed. Look elsewhere if you’re counting on a Colts RB as anything more than a deep flex.


Blaine Gabbert, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Detroit Lions
The shoulder injury will likely keep Blaine Gabbert on the injury report for the remainder of the season, but it didn’t seem to bother him last week as he throw for a career-high 303 yards, one TD and no interceptions.  He practiced in full this week in preparation for the Lions and gets a secondary, much like his own, which has been maligned with injuries. Detroit has allowed at least two TD passes in four of seven games, has allowed at least 225 yards in four of seven games and has just three interceptions in seven games. Last week, I said it was crazy to start Gabbert but viable in at least two QB leagues.  This week, I still say viable considering Alex Smith and Russell Wilson each threw for at least 226 and two scores against the Lions this season.


Brian HartlineBrian Hartline, WR, Miami Dolphins vs. Indianapolis Colts
Both starting QB Ryan Tannehill (knee) and starting WR Brian Hartline (groin/hamstring) are active today against the Colts. Both were limited in Friday’s practice, and the hamstring injury joined the groin injury for Hartline after Friday’s practice. The Colts allow 1.5 TDs per game to the wide receiver position but have not been gashed on catches or yards as of late. Nate Washington’s five catches in Week 8 and Greg Little’s 6 in Week 7 are the most surrendered since Week 2. Only one receiver has gone over 80 yards since Week 2. Hartline has produced just two double-digit fantasy days this season — PPR or standard — and cannot be counted on as a consistent enough producer to have in your lineup. The injuries to himself and his QB and a Colts team that just doesn’t give up much in the way of WR fantasy production make Hartline too risky a start today.

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Injury Updates Week 9: Donald Brown, Blaine Gabbert, Brian Hartline</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 4, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /fantasy/week-9-injury-updates-brandon-lafell-kenny-britt-percy-harvin

The fantasy season is nearing its postseason. The weeks are winding down; the injuries are piling up. You need to stay ahead of everything in order to make that playoff push. Here’s some information on those that are on the Week 9 injury report or those stepping in for the injured.

Brandon LaFellBrandon LaFell, WR, Carolina Panthers vs. Washington Redskins
Just as Brandon LaFell resurfaced on the fantasy map with seven catches for 141 yards and a score the last two weeks, a concussion will keep him sidelined this week. And of all the weeks to miss, it is the Washington Redskins on the other side of the ball. They are the 31st-ranked team against fantasy receivers. Until last week against the Steelers, Washington had allowed at least one receiver to reach at least 94 yards each of the first seven weeks. It's bad news for LaFell owners, but may be good news for Steve Smith and Greg Olsen owners as the receiving pool is thinned out. Louis Murphy would step in for LaFell, but that trade with the Raiders has netted nine catches for 131 yards on 24 targets this season.


Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans vs. Chicago Bears
Kenny Britt is listed on the injury report with a knee, which is certainly not something you want to see for a receiver already coming off season-ending knee surgery a year ago. Teammate Nate Washington is also listed as probable with a knee injury. This is not good news for a Titans receiving corps that has to take on fantasy's 12th-best team against receivers and sixth-best against QBs. Steve Smith had seven catches for 118 yards on 16 targets last week against the Bears. Smith is more along the lines of a Washington than he is a Britt. Outside of Smith last week, Dez Bryant in Week 4 (8-for-105 on 13 targets) and Reggie Wayne in Week 1 (9-for-135 on 18 targets), only Miles Austin has eclipsed 15 points in a PPR against the Bears (4-57-1 on six targets). Britt has only received double-digit targets (11) once this season and then it took him the next two weeks to combine for 11. Washington received 10 targets the same week Britt had 11 (Week 6 vs. Pittsburgh) and has combined for 14 the last two weeks. These two are just too inconsistent to rely on and add in the Bears' pass defense and it's going to be a rough day for all Titans.


Percy Harvin, WR, Minnesota Vikings vs. Seattle Seahawks
Percy Harvin was back at practice on Friday after an off-the-field matter and his hamstring does not appear that it will limit his ability to play. Will the Seahawks? That's a different story. Seattle has been gashed by two moveable receivers two of the last three weeks in Wes Welker (10-for-138 and a TD on 14 targets) and Titus Young (9-for-100 and two TDs on nine targets). No receiver had eclipsed 63 yards prior to Welker. On that day Brandon Lloyd added 80 yards on six catches and Ryan Broyles added a TD. That's four TDs in three weeks to receivers. If Harvin is playing then you are starting him and hoping he can emulate Welker and Young.
— By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter

<p> Injury Updates Week 9: Brandon LaFell, Kenny Britt, Percy Harvin</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 4, 2012 - 04:47
Path: /nfl/dallas-cowboys-vs-atlanta-falcons-preview-and-prediction

Two NFC teams with drastically different 2012 results will clash on Sunday Night Football, when the Atlanta Falcons host the Dallas Cowboys at 8:20 p.m. EST on NBC. Mike Smith’s club is the only undefeated team left in the NFL, especially impressive since four of the Falcons’ seven victories have come on the road. Meanwhile, the Cowboys have limped to an inconsistent 3-4 start that has frustrated the rabid Dallas fan base.

When the Atlanta Falcons have the ball:
Quarterback Matt Ryan and his elite targets in the passing game have been excellent this season, leading Atlanta to an average of 28.7 points per game. The Falcons trio of wideouts Roddy White and Julio Jones plus tight end Tony Gonzalez may be the best receiving group in the league. All three have at least 450 yards and four touchdowns through just seven games. Atlanta will look for more from veteran runner Michael Turner as the season progresses, as he has averaged just 3.8 yards per carry this year.

The Dallas defense has some very talented players but has performed inconsistently this year. The Cowboys rank fourth in the NFL in total defense (giving up only 292.4 yards per game), but they are 18th in the league in scoring (allowing 23.1 points per contest). The Falcons obviously present a huge challenge in the passing game, but Dallas has the third-best pass defense in the NFL. That’s especially impressive since the Cowboys have totaled just 13 sacks on the season.

When the Dallas Cowboys have the ball:
Perhaps nothing more defines the Dallas frustrations this year than quarterback Tony Romo’s game last week against the Giants. He threw four interceptions that dug an early 23-0 hole, but Romo ended the game with a career-high 437 passing yards and almost led the team back to an improbable win. However Dallas fell short and dropped to 3-4. The Cowboys are also battling injuries right now, and they will still be without leading rusher DeMarco Murray for a third straight game. Additionally, receivers Dez Bryant (hip) and Kevin Ogletree (hamstring) are listed as questionable for this game.

The Atlanta defense has played a bend-but-don’t-break style so far this year, benefiting greatly from an electric offense that provides many leads. The Falcons rank 20th in the league in total defense (353.3 yards per game) but seventh in scoring (18.6 points per contest). Atlanta has struggled against the run, but Dallas does not provide much of a threat in that area without Murray. The Falcons allowed a season-best 270 yards against Philadelphia last week, and they will try to carry that momentum into tonight’s game. However Atlanta will be without second-leading tackler Sean Weatherspoon, who injured an ankle in last week’s victory.

Key Factor:
The Cowboys are desperate for a victory, and their pass defense will be critical tonight. Dallas must limit Atlanta’s big plays by White and Jones and not allow the Georgia Dome crowd to get loud with a Falcons lead. It’s difficult to keep winning every week, but Ryan and company play especially well at home. Look for that to continue tonight and for the Falcons to stay unbeaten in a close one.
Falcons 27 Cowboys 23

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> Dallas Cowboys vs. Atlanta Falcons Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Sunday, November 4, 2012 - 04:38
Path: /college-football/top-5-reasons-lsu-will-beat-alabama

The Top 5 reasons why Les Miles and the LSU Tigers will beat Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide:

1. Tiger Stadium on Saturday Night

LSU refuses to lose at Tiger Stadium on Saturday night under coach Les Miles. The Tigers are 36–1 after nightfall at Tiger Stadium with the Mad Hatter eating grass and rocking his white hat on the sidelines. The only loss came against Tim Tebow and No. 1-ranked Florida in a 13–3 defeat in 2009. The Tigers have reeled off 22 straight wins at home since then, with a rowdy crowd of 90,000-plus cheering them to routine victory.

Bama coach Nick Saban — who coached at LSU from 2000-04 — knows how hard it is to win under the lights at LSU, even if the Vegas oddsmakers (Alabama –8.5) don’t show the same level of respect to Baton Rouge.

2. Bayou Bengals’ Defensive Line

The Tigers’ defensive front four rotation is loaded with future NFL first-round picks. Defensive ends Sam Montgomery (6’5”, 260), Barkevious Mingo (6’5”, 240) and Lavar Edwards (6’5”, 258) are devastating with their edge rush, while big nasty defensive tackles Anthony Johnson (6’3”, 304), Bennie Logan (6’3”, 295), Josh Downs (6’1”, 287) and Ego Ferguson (6’3”, 308) collapse the pocket and clog running lanes.

Granted, Alabama has the best O-line in the country. But Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron has been spoiled to this point, playing with a clean jersey all season. LSU will need to slam McCarron to the turf a few times, while also maintaining gap responsibilities against the run. The Bayou Bengals’ defensive line is good enough to carry LSU to an upset victory.

3. Les Miles in Mad Hatter Mode

More with Les. Fake field goals, fake punts, fourth-down conversions, end-arounds, halfback passes, two-point conversions… Les Miles is a big game hunter who is unafraid of making outside the box decisions and bold moves other coaches cringe at the thought of. Miles likes to howl at the moon, with a 57–5 record at night — including a 9–6 overtime victory over Alabama under the cover of darkness in Tuscaloosa last season — compared to a 25–14 mark during day.

4. Punter Brad Wing Does It Again

Australian punter Brad Wing was arguably the MVP of last year’s defensive 9–6 LSU overtime win at Alabama. Wing single-handedly controlled field position for the Tigers, allowing the defense to pin its ears back and the offense to play conservative. Wing’s punting exhibition included the following gems:

37-yard punt, out of bounds at Alabama 5-yard-line
35-yard punt, downed at Alabama 4
27-yard punt, fair catch at Alabama 11
73-yard punt, downed at Alabama 18
35-yard punt, fair catch at Alabama 20

If Wing has another night with five punts placed inside the 20, two inside the five and a momentum-changing 73-yard bomb, LSU can beat Alabama.

5. Clock Killing Running Attack

LSU has a fleet of running backs in Kenny Hilliard (420 yards, 6 TDs), Michael Ford (357 yards, 3 TDs), Jeremy Hill (322 yards, 5 TDs) and Spencer Ware (255 yards). The Tigers also have a versatile ex-quarterback slash option in Russell Shepard (106 yards, 78-yard TD) and a sledgehammer fullback in J.C. Copeland (3 TDs). Alabama’s backs are flashier, but LSU’s runners have combined to rush for 1,667 yards, on 4.9 yards per carry, and 20 TDs this season.

If the lathered up Tiger Stadium crowd is Geaux-ing insane all night, the Bayou Bengals’ defensive line is eating like big dogs, Les Miles is pulling rabbits out of his hat and Brad Wing is flipping the field like an Australian toilet swirl, it will be the LSU running game that seals the deal — moving the chains, draining the clock and upsetting No. 1-ranked Alabama.

<p> The Top 5 reasons why Les Miles and the LSU Tigers will beat Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide, including the home field advantage of Tiger Stadium at night, the LSU defensive line, the Mad Hatter, punter Brad Wing and the Tigers running game.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 15:54
Path: /nfl/nfl-picks-against-spread-week-9

A betting preview of every game (against the spread) on Sunday and Monday in Week 9.

Lock of the Week
It’s put up or shut up time for Detroit. Last year will officially be a fluke if Motor City can’t run over J-Ville.

Lions (-4) at Jaguars
Four of Jacksonville’s six defeats have been by nine or more points, including margins of 38 and 20 points in home losses.

Blowout Bargain
The biggest numbers are not always the biggest risks on the board.

Texans (-10.5) vs. Bills
Four of Houston’s six wins have come by 20 or more points, while three of Buffalo’s four losses have been by 20 or more points.

Straight Up Upsets
Redemption song games for Cam Newton and Mike Vick, who will face two of the worst defenses this week.

Panthers (+3.5) at Redskins
Rather than Cam Newton, RG3 wants to “be compared to Aaron Rodgers, or a guy like that. Someone who’s won Super Bowls.”

Eagles (+3.5) at Saints
New Orleans’ hapless defense is ranked dead last 32nd in the league, allowing 474.7 yards and 30.9 points per game.

Backdoor Covers
These two may or may not be straight up upsets, but they should be close calls decided by a field goal.

Bengals (+4) vs. Broncos
Peyton Manning is 7–0 all-time vs. Cincy, with 1,827 yards, 17 TDs and three INTs. But he can win without covering…

Cowboys (+4.5) at Falcons
The Boys have been losing and the Birds have been winning, but both teams have been doing so by slight margins.

Sucker Bets
Steer clear of these unless you’re a hometown homer with something to prove or a degenerate with an itch to scratch.

Dolphins (-1) at Colts
It’s hard to bet against Andrew Luck, but probably not smart to bet on the Colts.

Raiders (-1) vs. Buccaneers
The Jon Gruden Bowl in the Black Hole could come down to a Sea Bass field goal.

Giants (-3.5) vs. Steelers
Pittsburgh is flying in on Sunday morning before running this New York marathon.

Bears (-4) at Titans
Vanderbilt alum Jay Cutler’s homecoming game in Nashville could be INT party.

Seahawks (-4.5) vs. Vikings
Pete Carroll thinks there’s no way Bama could beat an NFL team. How bout LSU?

Packers (-11) vs. Cardinals
When given respect, Green Bay has failed to cover against supposedly inferior teams.

<p> A betting preview of every game (against the spread) on Sunday and Monday in Week 9, including the Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles at New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos at Cincinnati Bengals, Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins and Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 14:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Links, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlons-essential-eleven-links-day-3

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for November 2.

• Rob Moseley of The Register Guard looks at the pressure for Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota on the eve of the huge Oregon-USC matchup.

• Sam Mellinger of The Kansas City Star writes the Chiefs possess “the kind of relentless, tenacious, opening-kickoff-to-final-whistle, never-take-a-snap-off stink against which all future generations of terrible teams will be judged.” Well done.

• A 12-chambered Taco Cannon?! This could be the greatest invention since the DVR.

• The normal logistics of an NFL week were changed greatly in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy for both the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers, who will play on Sunday afternoon in New Jersey.

• LSU’s Les Miles and Alabama’s Nick Saban will face each other once again in a game with championship implications.

•’s Richard Justice has an interesting piece on the National League’s recent success, especially on the art of building a roster.

• Three Pittsburgh, including top runner Ray Graham, have been charged in an assault and conspiracy case. The Panthers play at Notre Dame tomorrow.

• Kobe Bryant decided to speak for his coach in telling everyone to “shut up” about the Lakers 0-2 start.

• How will controversial but talented cornerback Aqib Talib fare with the Patriots?

• Arizona edged UCLA for the preseason favorite at Pac-12 men's basketball media day.

• Interviews with coaches in the middle of games have never been a good idea, but networks insist on them. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is definitely not a fan of these interviews (or really any others), and he makes it very uncomfortable for TNT’s David Aldridge and the audience.

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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

November 1

• SB Nation’s Andrew Sharp looks at the 0-2 Lakers, who have more questions than answers as well as a hobbled Steve Nash.

• Alabama and LSU are old-school SEC foes, but ESPN blogger Edward Aschoff pens that their rivalry has reached national status.

• Hall of Fame defensive end Richard Dent blames Mike Ditka for the 1985 Bears not repeating as the Super Bowl champion.

• Check out these behind-the-scenes pics from famous films.

• Who knew there was a website dedicated to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ photobombs?

• These Dooley, Holgorsen and Snyder costumes are funny, but I think we have a Halloween winner in Baby Mangino.

• Former Marlins catcher Mike Redmond has been hired by Miami as its new manager.

• Mississippi State will have the hashtag #SNOWBOWL12 painted in the end zone for this weekend’s game against Texas A&M. The move is to commemorate the 2000 Independence Bowl, where the Bulldogs topped the Aggies 43-41 in overtime in a rare Louisiana snowstorm.

• Baseball trades are already happening, with the Royals acquiring right-handed starter Ervin Santana from the Angels.

• Former Penn State president Graham Spanier has been charged for his role in the Jerry Sandusky coverup.

• He’s back. Uncle Drew returns to the court, and he brings Bill Russell and Kevin Love along as guest stars.

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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 31

• Well, it’s Halloween. And the most redeeming quality of this day for men is that many women will wear some very revealing costumes — enjoy.

• The new-look Lakers had a Halloween-like performance in a season-opening loss to the Mavericks. Los Angeles shot a scary 12-for-31 from the free throw line, with big man Dwight Howard going 3-for-14.

• Demaryius Thomas of the Broncos scares us all with his Halloween costume.

• The World Series of Poker started with 6,598 players, but Greg Merson of Maryland won the main event title along with $8.53 million last night.

• brings us the inevitable Bobby Petrino-Jessica Dorrell Halloween costume.

• Did Mike Trout deserve the American League center fielder Gold Glove?

• The internet was abuzz yesterday over Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm and the “Star Wars” franchise. Ideas for synergy between the two famous brands were rampant.

• Predictably, USC coach Lane Kiffin says Oregon is the best team in the country.

• The Falcons will get more attention as each undefeated week passes.

• Is that Nick Saban with a “Mike the Tiger” tail?

• Elevators can be pretty scary for many people. Check out what the guys at LG did to these very surprised workers.

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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 30

• Jon Cooper of Saturday Down South previews this weekend’s mammoth Alabama-LSU matchup.

• With the NBA season beginning tonight, many fans are eager to see how the Lakers will blend the talents of Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol.

• The NFL moved its trade deadline back to Thursday due to the destruction done by Hurricane Sandy.

• The next Packers wideout? Nope, just LeBron James as a high school receiver.

• CBS’ Bruce Feldman ranks college football’s biggest-impact freshmen.

• If 49ers quarterback Alex Smith plays like his 18-for-19 performance last night in a 24-3 romp of the Cardinals, look out NFL.

• It looks like Oregon will go with the “stormtrooper” look for this weekend’s huge game at USC.

• Many Eagles fans want to see a change at quarterback, but former Philadelphia signal caller Donovan McNabb is standing by Michael Vick.

• Check out this Halloween idea: Linus and his “blanket.”

• How will the Knicks fare without Amar’e Stoudemire for the first six weeks of the NBA season?

• We usually stick to sports here, but yesterday was obviously very unique with Hurricane Sandy hitting the East Coast. Check out these reporters out in the rain and wind.

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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

October 29

• Mark Purdy of the Mercury News looks at the amazing postseason run of the San Francisco Giants, who battled constant elimination before sweeping the Tigers in the World Series.

• While the East Coast braces for Hurricane Sandy, several NFL teams are looking at contingency plans for this unusual week.

• The gruesome knee injury to South Carolina’s Marcus Lattimore saddened football fans from all over the country, and SBNation’s Jason Kirk details the heartfelt reaction.

• The Jets dropped to last place in the AFC East with a shocking 30-9 home loss to the Dolphins.

• Wonder how this guy did at his Halloween party?

• Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson had a breakthrough game at Oklahoma, as the Irish moved to 8-0 on the year with a 30-13 win over the Sooners.

• Many Eagles fans are ready to see rookie quarterback Nick Foles on the field instead of the controversial Michael Vick.

• USC’s Marqise Lee had a record-breaking day against Arizona, but the Trojans’ national title hopes died with the 39-36 loss.

• Did the Oklahoma City Thunder get better by trading James Harden to the Rockets?

• Wisconsin basketball suffered a big loss over the weekend with point guard Josh Gasser tearing his ACL in practice.

Colts rookie Vick Ballard had a spectacular game-winning touchdown in overtime to beat the Titans yesterday. That’s a long way from the NFL Combine earlier this year, where this happened.

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

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 11:58
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-vs-lsu-tigers-preview-and-prediction

Although the annual meeting between Alabama and LSU has lost a little bit of appeal, this is still one of 2012’s most-anticipated games. The Tigers’ loss to Florida in early October prevented these two teams from meeting as No. 1 versus No. 2 once again. However, there’s no question this game will have a significant impact on the national title race and should decide the champion of the SEC West. With LSU already having one loss, another defeat would knock it out of the national title chase. If Alabama loses, the Crimson Tide’s championship hopes would take a huge hit but are unlikely to fall outside of the top five in the BCS standings.

These two teams met twice last season, with LSU claiming a 9-6 victory in Tuscaloosa, and Alabama won the rematch 21-0 in the national title game. The Crimson Tide have won three out of the last five in this series, but the Tigers claimed back-to-back victories in 2010 and 2011. LSU holds an edge against Alabama in Baton Rouge recently, winning four of the last six matchups at Tiger Stadium.

In addition to the national title picture, there are plenty of other factors in play on Saturday night. Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron could significantly improve his Heisman hopes with a strong performance against LSU, while the Tigers have revenge on their mind after a disappointing showing in the national title game last season.

Storylines to watch in Alabama vs. LSU

Which team can establish the run?
It’s a simple statement, yet will have a large impact on this game. LSU won the ground attack in last year’s first matchup, outgaining Alabama 148 to 96. And there’s not much separating these two teams in the stat column this year, as the Crimson Tide rank 22nd nationally in rushing offense (214.4 ypg) and the Tigers rank 25th (208.4 ypg). While both squads have been imposing their will with the ground attack, neither has allowed opposing teams to establish any rushing game. Alabama has not allowed an opponent to gain more than 100 yards on the ground this season, while LSU has allowed three – Towson, Florida and Texas A&M. Considering Alabama’s run defense ranks No. 1 nationally, and the Tigers have had to shuffle some personnel around their offensive line, the Crimson Tide should have an edge in the trenches. And the matchup between Alabama’s offensive line versus LSU’s defensive line is a must-see battle in terms of NFL talent. Expect a lot of three or four-yard gains early on, but both teams have to continue to run the ball to help set up the passing attacks.

AJ McCarron versus LSU’s secondary
The biggest advantage for Alabama in Saturday’s game is the play of quarterback AJ McCarron. The junior leads the nation in passing efficiency and has yet to throw an interception this season. McCarron threw for 199 yards and one interception in the first meeting between these two teams but exploited LSU’s secondary for 234 yards and 23 completions in the rematch. The Tigers don’t have Morris Claiborne or Tyrann Mathieu roaming in the secondary anymore but are allowing just 148.5 passing yards per game. Slowing McCarron and emerging star Amari Cooper at receiver isn’t just on LSU’s secondary, as the defensive line needs to get pressure to disrupt the passing attack. The Crimson Tide are allowing two sacks per game, while the Tigers are generating nearly three each contest (2.9). If McCarron has time to throw, he will have opportunities to take advantage of LSU’s youth at cornerback (freshmen Jalen Mills and Jalen Collins). The Tigers hope to counter with pressure to keep the junior quarterback from establishing a comfortable rhythm.

Can Zach Mettenberger get on track?
The biggest disappointment in LSU’s season has to be the play of quarterback Zach Mettenberger. The junior was expected to give the offense a much-needed boost, but the Tigers rank 12th in the SEC in passing offense. Mettenberger has been very average in SEC games, throwing for only 97 yards against Texas A&M and 158 in a loss to Florida. He hasn’t made many mistakes (four interceptions), however, Alabama will be his toughest test of the season. Mettenberger doesn’t need to throw for 300 yards every week, but he needs to step up and deliver strikes to the LSU receivers. Considering the Crimson Tide will load up the box to stop the run, the Tigers may need Mettenberger to connect on a few throws early on to loosen up the defense.

Special Teams
Special teams hurt Alabama in the first matchup last year. The Crimson Tide missed four field goals, while LSU kicker Drew Alleman connected on all three of his attempts. Punter Brad Wing also placed four punts inside of the 20 and hit a 73-yard bomb for the Tigers. Considering how much this area cost the Crimson Tide a shot at winning last November, it could play a huge role in deciding the outcome of this game. As they were last season, Alleman and Wing are performing at an All-SEC level for LSU. Alabama’s special teams are also having a strong season, as kicker Jeremy Shelley has connected on all nine of his attempts, and punter Cody Mandell is averaging 41.7 yards per punt. The Crimson Tide own a slight edge on kickoff returns, as Christion Jones has returned one touchdown for a score and is averaging 30.3 yards per return. Odell Beckham has a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown for LSU and is averaging 8.3 yards on 21 attempts. There’s not a huge advantage for either team in this department, but one error could prove very costly.

Turnover battle
As with any matchup between top-five teams, any mistake will play a huge factor in determining the outcome of this game. Both teams have been opportunistic in the turnover battle, with Alabama ranking second in turnover margin and LSU checking in ninth. The Crimson Tide has lost just six turnovers and has forced 23. Considering how difficult it will be move the ball against both defenses, a turnover and a short field for a score would be a huge opportunity.

Final Analysis

The Tigers should have some extra momentum with this game in Baton Rouge, but can they generate enough offense to win this game? Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has yet to prove he can hit key throws with the game on the line, and LSU won’t have an easy time establishing its rushing attack against the Crimson Tide defense. Alabama certainly won’t match its scoring average (40.6), but this offense has more balance than it did last season, especially as quarterback AJ McCarron continues to get more starts under his belt. Both defenses will play well and a low-scoring first half should be expected. However, thanks to McCarron’s steady play and the tough running of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon, the Crimson Tide will pull away in the final two quarters to keep Alabama ranked No. 1 heading into next week.

Final Prediction: Alabama 27-13

by Steven Lassan


Related College Football Content

ACC Week 10 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 10 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 10 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 10 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 10 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 10 Preview and Predictions

<p> Alabama Crimson Tide vs. LSU Tigers Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 07:18
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-every-game-week-10-0

College football’s weekend slate is highlighted by key games in the SEC (Alabama at LSU) and Pac-12 (Oregon at USC). Here’s a look a every game.


No. 33 Washington at No. 67 California
Washington has defeated two ranked teams at home (Stanford and Oregon State) but has lost its three road games (LSU, Oregon and Arizona) by an average of 34.7 points.
California 30–27


No. 1 Alabama at No. 5 LSU
LSU is 7–1 overall and 3–1 in the SEC, but the three league wins have come by a total of nine points. The Tigers rely heavily on their rushing attack, which could be a problem on Saturday night. Alabama leads the nation in total defense and has been especially stout against the run, allowing an average of 57.3 yards per game and 1.9 yards per carry. The Crimson Tide will make it very difficult for LSU’s one-dimensional offense to put points on the board.
Alabama 20–7

No. 2 Oregon at No. 18 USC
This game isn’t quite as big in November as it was back in August. Oregon has done its part, winning its first eight games by an average of 34 points. USC, however, has lost two games, at Stanford in Week 3 and at Arizona last Saturday.
Oregon 44–30

No. 31 Oklahoma State at No. 3 Kansas State
Kansas State climbed to No. 2 in the BCS standings after Florida lost to Georgia and the Wildcats disposed of Texas Tech 55–24. The Wildcats don’t quite control their own destiny, but they are obviously on the short list of teams that are in position to play in the BCS national title game.
Kansas State 34–30

No. 64 Pittsburgh at No. 4 Notre Dame
The Notre Dame defense continues to amaze. The Fighting Irish held Oklahoma to a season-low 13 points last week in Norman and have now given up a total of six touchdowns in eight games. Pittsburgh is playing better than it was earlier this season, but Notre Dame is the far superior team.
Notre Dame 27–10

No. 97 Illinois at No. 6 Ohio State
Illinois has scored a total of five touchdowns in its four Big Ten games. Ohio State is averaging 5.4 touchdowns per game in league play. Advantage Ohio State.
Ohio State 44–7

No. 38 Ole Miss at No. 7 Georgia
Georgia seized control of the SEC East with a surprising 17–9 win over Florida in Jacksonville. The Bulldogs now must beat Ole Miss at home this weekend and Auburn on the road on Nov. 10 to make their second straight trip to the SEC title game.
Georgia 30–20

No. 58 Missouri at No. 8 Florida
Florida’s passing attack has been among the least productive in the SEC all season. When the Gators were winning — which they did in their first seven games — it wasn’t too much of an issue. But now, after they were held to 266 yards in a 17–9 loss to Georgia, it’s fair to ask: Why is Florida’s passing game so anemic?
Florida 24–13

No. 11 Clemson at No. 48 Duke
Duke has given up an average of 39.7 points and 500 total yards over the last three weeks. Not good — especially with Clemson on deck. The Tigers rank second in the league in both total offense and scoring offense.
Clemson 34–21

No. 12 Oklahoma at No. 34 Iowa State
Iowa State is one win away from becoming bowl-eligible for the third time in four seasons under Paul Rhoads. If the Clones fail to pick up their sixth win this week, they should be able to win at least one of the final three games — at Texas, at Kansas, West Virginia.
Oklahoma 30–20

No. 37 Arizona State at No. 13 Oregon State
Oregon State hit its first speed bump last week, losing at Washington 20–17. This week, the Beavers return to Corvallis, where they have given up a total of 20 points in three games.
Oregon State 27–21

No. 14 Texas A&M at No. 16 Mississippi State
This will be a great barometer for both teams. Mississippi State is no longer undefeated, but the Bulldogs are eager to prove they should be considered among the top teams in the SEC. Texas A&M is 6–2 overall and has already won four road games.
Texas A&M 30–24

No. 76 Temple at No. 15 Louisville
Louisville is 8–0 overall and ranked No. 10 in the BCS standings. That’s too high when you consider that the schedule has been soft and each of the Cards’ last six wins has come by 10 points or fewer.
Louisville 34–17

No. 17 Stanford at No. 102 Colorado
Colorado is one of three teams nationally that is giving up more than 500 yards per game and 7.0 yards per play. The other two are Idaho and Army.
Stanford 38–10

No. 30 Texas at No. 18 Texas Tech
Here’s something that we didn’t expect to see back in the summer: Texas is a seven-point underdog to Texas Tech. Texas Tech has no doubt exceeded expectations, but the betting line is a strong statement on the state of Texas football.
Texas Tech 30–27

No. 23 Arizona at No. 20 UCLA
UCLA is 3–2 in the league after its upset at Arizona State. The Bruins have been one of the most entertaining teams in the Pac-12, ranking third in the league in total offense (502.9 ypg) and fifth in scoring offense (33.4 ppg). Redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley has made some mistakes — four picks in the loss at Cal — but there is no doubt that he has energized a fan base that needed something to get excited about.
UCLA 41–37

No. 21 Nebraska at No. 36 Michigan State
Nebraska took a huge step toward winning the Legends Division title by beating Michigan in Lincoln last week. The Huskers got it done on the defensive end, holding Michigan to 188 total yards and no touchdowns. That’s not good news for Michigan State, which continues to struggle on offense.
Nebraska 20–13

No. 114 Texas-San Antonio at No. 22 Louisiana Tech
Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron has yet to throw an interception in 319 attempts. Two years ago, as a sophomore, he threw five picks in only 91 attempts.
Louisiana Tech 47–10

No. 70 San Diego State at No. 24 Boise State
San Diego State had two running backs top the 100-yard mark — Adam Muema (143) and Walter Kazee (105) — in its 24–13 win over UNLV. The Aztecs will need to control the line of scrimmage once again to give themselves a chance to win in Boise.
Boise State 30–17

No. 35 TCU at No. 25 West Virginia
TCU’s first season in the Big 12 has been a bit of a disappointment, but the Horned Frogs have had significant personnel issues. They lost starting linebacker Tanner Brock over the summer (drugs) and have dealt with other injury issues at linebacker. Offensively, they have been without tailbacks Ed Wesley (all season), Waymon James (all but two games) and quarterback Casey Pachall (all but four games). It would have been interesting to see this team with all of its pieces.
West Virginia 37–33

No. 26 Michigan at No. 61 Minnesota
Michigan’s offense stagnated after Denard Robinson went down with an elbow injury in Saturday’s loss at Nebraska. Backup Russell Bellomy completed only 3-of-16 for 38 yards after replacing Robinson in the first half. Robinson is expected to start this week.
Michigan 31–20

No. 28 Penn State at No. 69 Purdue
At the end of September, Purdue was 3¬–1 with its only loss by three points at Notre Dame. Now, at the end of October, the Boilermakers are 3–5 and there are rumors that Danny Hope’s job is in jeopardy.
Penn State 31–24

No. 96 Troy at No. 41 Tennessee
Troy, which is 4–4 overall and 3–3 in the Sun Belt, has had its moments this season — the Trojans rolled up 572 yards in a 30–24 defeat at home to Mississippi State in September — but Larry Blakeney’s club is coming off a horrible loss to FAU last weekend.
Tennessee 41–17

No. 85 Virginia at No. 42 NC State
Could Virginia be headed toward its first winless ACC season since 1981? It’s possible. The Cavs are 0¬–4 and figure to be an underdog in their final four games — at NC State, Miami, North Carolina, at Virginia Tech.
NC State 35–14

No. 43 Tulsa at No. 56 Arkansas
Tulsa has won seven straight games, but it hasn’t necessarily been easy. Four of the Golden Hurricane’s last five wins have come by seven points or fewer, and the schedule has been far from difficult.
Arkansas 31–30

No. 63 Syracuse at No. 44 Cincinnati
After scoring a total of 39 points in a three-game stretch in early October, the Orange have scored 40 and 37 points in their last two games — wins over UConn (40–10) and at South Florida (37–36). Cincinnati returns home, where it is unbeaten, after losing two straight on the road.
Cincinnati 37–27

No. 89 Kansas at No. 45 Baylor
Baylor has yet to win a Big 12 game in the post-RG3 era. The Bears are 0–4 in the league and are giving up an average of 52.5 points per game. Kansas, too, is winless, though the Jayhawks are coming off their best game of the season, a 21–17 loss at home to Texas.
Baylor 44–16

No. 92 UL-Lafayette at No. 46 ULM
ULM has yet to lose to a non-AQ conference team in 2012. The Warhawks have wins over Tulane and four Sun Belt opponents. UL Lafayette opened its conference slate with wins over Troy and FIU but has lost two straight, at North Texas and vs. Arkansas State by a combined score of 80–50.
ULM 37–27

No. 49 Vanderbilt at No. 82 Kentucky
Last year, in a 38–8 win over Kentucky in Nashville, the Commodores threw for 207 yards and rushed for 203. The Wildcats, as a team, had 211 total yards. Kentucky is looking to avoid its first two-game losing streak to Vanderbilt since the mid-1990s.
Vanderbilt 21–17

No. 107 Texas State at No. 52 Utah State
Utah State ranks sixth nationally in scoring defense, and that includes two games vs. AQ conference opponents (Utah, Wisconsin) and a game with BYU. This team is legitimately good.
Utah State 37–14

No. 124 UMass at No. 53 Northern Illinois
After making Ohio sweat in a 37–34 loss in Foxboro, UMass has lost its last three games — to Western Michigan, Bowling Green and Vanderbilt — by a combined score of 125–21. This will get ugly early.
Northern Illinois 48–10

No. 111 Akron at No. 53 Kent State
Kent State is rolling. The Golden Flashes picked up their sixth straight win last weekend — and did so in impressive fashion, beating previously unbeaten Rutgers 35–23 on the road. Kent State leads the nation in turnover margin at plus-2.38 per game.
Kent State 41–7

No. 87 SMU at No. 59 UCF
UCF is a bit undervalued nationally. The Knights are 6–2 overall, with losses at Ohio State by 15 points and at home to Missouri by five points. They are 4–0 in Conference USA and have already defeated four of the other five teams in the East.
UCF 34–30

No. 60 Iowa at No. 74 Indiana
After flirting with victory in recent weeks — the Hoosiers lost three straight by a total of eight points — Indiana broke through and beat Illinois 31–17 on the road last Saturday. IU is 1–3 in the Big Ten but is still in the hunt to represent the Leaders Division in the league title game.
Indiana 27–24

No. 103 Washington State at No. 62 Utah
Utah scored a season-high 49 points in a surprisingly easy 22-point win over Cal last week. Four of the touchdowns came on offense, two on special teams and one on defense.
Utah 24–17

No. 119 Hawaii at No. 65 Fresno State
Hawaii has lost all of its games vs. FBS opponents — and it hasn’t been close. The Warriors’ “best” loss was by 15 points last week to Colorado State, which is 2–6.
Fresno State 48–13

No. 121 FAU at No. 66 Navy
FAU hasn’t won a road game since beating Western Kentucky 17–16 in Bowling Green in November 2010. Won’t happen this week. Navy has won four straight.
Navy 37–13

No. 68 Georgia Tech at No. 71 Maryland
It’s tough enough to win games when you have an actual quarterback playing quarterback. It’s really hard when you are forced to play a linebacker at the game’s most important position. Maryland will send out Shawn Petty, an option quarterback in high school, against Georgia Tech.
Georgia Tech 20–10

No. 73 San Jose State at No. 122 Idaho
San Jose State is very quietly having a really nice season. The Spartans are 6–2 overall and 2–1 in the WAC thanks to a passing attack that averages 328.6 yards per game.
San Jose State 48–0

No. 123 New Mexico State at No. 75 Auburn
Auburn’s struggles have been well-documented, but the Tigers should have little trouble with New Mexico State. The Aggies are 1–7 and have not won since defeating Sacramento State in Week 1. For Auburn, true freshman Jonathan Wallace will be making his first start at quarterback.
Auburn 38–10

No. 84 Connecticut at No. 77 South Florida
Over the last two years, South Florida has been involved in six Big East games that have been decided by three points or less. The Bulls are 0–6 in those games. This won’t be decided by three points or less, and that’s good news for USF.
South Florida 27–14

No. 94 Boston College at No. 78 Wake Forest
Wake Forest is somehow 4–4 despite ranking 112th in the nation in total offense and 82nd in total defense. The Demon Deacons are really struggling to score in ACC games of late, with 14, 16 and 13 in their last three.
Wake Forest 21–20

No. 88 Houston at No. 79 East Carolina
One week after giving up 512 yards rushing in a 56–28 loss at home to Navy, East Carolina must solve a Houston offense that is averaging 340.1 yards passing. The Cougars got off to a rough start but have won four of their last five games.
Houston 44–30

No. 117 Memphis at No. 80 Marshall
Marshall ranks 119th nationally in scoring defense and has allowed 45 points or more in five of its eight games. Memphis, however, isn’t good enough to take advantage of the Herd’s porous defense. The Tigers have scored 17 points or fewer in five straight games.
Marshall 40–17

No. 81 Arkansas State at No. 99 North Texas
Arkansas State has played its way into the Sun Belt race by winning three straight. The Red Wolves, one of three teams with a 3–1 record in the league, trail ULM by one full game. A-State hosts ULM next Thursday night. Big game.
Arkansas State 37–20

No. 83 Western Michigan at No. 108 Central Michigan
We picked Western Michigan to win the MAC West Division in our preseason magazine. Bad move on our part. The Broncos are 1–4 in the league, with the lone win coming against winless UMass.
Western Michigan 30–20

No. 90 Air Force at No. 115 Army
Air Force is probably ranked a bit too low. The Falcons are 5–3, including a loss in overtime to Navy and a six-point loss at Michigan. The other loss was bad — at UNLV — but that was in mid-September. AFA is 4–1 since that game, highlighted by last week’s 48–31 victory over Nevada.
Air Force 34–21

No. 95 Miami (Ohio) at No. 116 Buffalo
Miami picked up the biggest win of the Don Treadwell era last week, handing previously unbeaten Ohio its first loss of the season. A win this week at Buffalo would set up a huge game on Nov. 10 vs. surging Kent State.
Miami 27–21

No. 98 New Mexico at No. 106 UNLV
Since beating Air Force 38–35 on Sept. 22, UNLV is 0–5. There have been some close losses — by five to Nevada, by 11 a San Diego State — but Bobby Hauck is going to have to win some games to save his job.
New Mexico 34–30

No. 100 Rice at No. 104 Tulane
Tulane was one of the nation’s worst teams through the first half of the 2012 season, but Curtis Johnson’s club has won two of its last three games and is now 2–2 in C-USA. The Green Wave’s surge has coincided with the return of starting quarterback Ryan Griffin, who has 10 touchdowns and one interception in the last three games.
Tulane 30–24

No. 105 UAB at No. 110 Southern Miss
This is Southern Miss’ best chance to avoid the unthinkable, an 0–12 record. The Golden Eagles have given up 38 points or more in all but two games — not what the school had in mind when it hired Ellis Johnson, a defensive guru, away from South Carolina.
UAB 41–30

No. 109 FIU at No. 120 South Alabama
FIU’s miserable 2012 season concludes with road games at South Alabama and FAU and a home date with ULM. The Golden Panthers have one win — over Akron in overtime in Week 2 — and are 0–5 in the Sun Belt. They are playing better of late, with three straight losses by eight points or less, but this season has been a colossal disappointment.
FIU 21-17

No. 118 Colorado State at No. 112 Wyoming
Wyoming coach Dave Christensen is back after serving a one-game suspension for his post-game tirade against Air Force’s Troy Calhoun. “Not being able to coach this football team was probably the most-difficult pill I have ever had to swallow,” Christensen said earlier this week.
Wyoming 30–21

Last week: 38–18
Season: 399–119


<p> College football’s weekend slate is highlighted by key games in the SEC (Alabama at LSU) and Pac-12 (Oregon at USC). Here’s a look a every game.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 06:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL, NBA, MLB, NASCAR, Golf
Path: /college-football/25-greatest-animal-nicknames-sports

Animal nicknames are nothing new in sports. San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval — a.k.a. the “Kung Fu Panda” — was recently named World Series MVP after an unbelievable October. Fans at AT&T Park wore panda hats to support their rotund slugger playing the hot corner. But Sandoval is not the only high profile player or coach who is better known by a name from the great outdoors.

Here’s a look at the 25 best animal nicknames in sports history:

1. Tiger
Eldrick Woods, PGA prodigy
The 14-time major champion was nicknamed in honor of his father’s friend Col. Vuong Dang “Tiger” Phong, with whom Earl Woods served during the Vietnam War. Never has a nickname been so appropriate. Until recently, Tiger had an invincible aura when in red on Sunday, with the death stare of a big cat about to pounce. Would Tiger have been Tiger — the socioeconomic golf pioneer, Nike heir to Michael Jordan and personification of killer instinct in the clutch — had he gone by Eldrick?

2. Bear
Paul Bryant, Alabama icon
As the tall tale goes, a 13-year-old Bryant wrestled a bear at the Lyric Theatre in Fordyce, Arkansas. Although Bryant didn’t get the money he was promised, he earned the nickname “Bear.” With a name befitting a mythical character and a signature fedora-style houndstooth hat to match, Bear won six national championships and 14 SEC titles en route to becoming the most legendary coach in college football history.

3. Black Widow
Jeanette Lee, Billiards babe
A Korean-American killer on the pool table, Lee wears all-black and devours her opponents. The former No. 1 ranked female pool player in the world is also not afraid to sex it up with low cut shirts, tight skirts and/or high heels at the table, and skimpy bikinis in photo shoots.

4. Big Dog
Glenn Robinson, NBA ball hog
Although Antoine Carr was already known as the “Big Dog,” Robinson made it his own as the national player of the year at Purdue, the No. 1 overall pick of the Milwaukee Bucks (ahead of both Jason Kidd and Grant Hill) in 1994 and two-time All-Star.

5. Kung Fu Panda
Pablo Sandoval, World Series MVP
Inspired by the Disney movie, fans in San Francisco rock their panda hats with pride, supporting their lovable Venezuelan third baseman who looks amazingly similar to his cartoon character namesake. The World Series MVP Panda can’t stop smiling these days, after bamboo-sticking for a .364 average, six HRs and 13 RBIs in this year’s playoffs.

6. Snake
Kenny Stabler, NFL party animal
The Oakland Raiders’ lefty leader was a sidewinding scrambler on and off the field. The Super Bowl XI champion and 1974 NFL MVP was in charge of the controlled chaos of Al Davis’ Silver-and-Black franchise during the team’s heyday. And the Snake enjoyed every minute of his time on top. Stabler still carries the Snake mantle — sorry Jake Plummer, WWF wrestler Jake the Snake, and every other guy named Jake ever.

7. Black Mamba
Kobe Bryant, Lakers legend
Oregon track star running back De’Anthony Thomas was also given the Black Mamba moniker, by Snoop Dogg no less. But the five-time NBA champion, 14-time All-Star and two-time Olympic gold medalist is the O.G. Black Mamba.

8. Spider
Anderson Silva, Brazilian badass
UFC president Dana White called Silva, the UFC Middleweight Champion, the “greatest mixed martial artist ever.” Spider is a superhero in the ring, nearly on par with his hero Spider-Man.

9. Moose
Daryl Johnston, Cowboys fullback
The bull-headed Johnston bulldozed a path for the NFL’s all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith. With Cowboys fans screaming “Moooose!” at the top of their lungs, Johnston became a cult hero while winning three Super Bowls.

10. Raging Bull
Jake LaMotta, Boxer by De Niro
The Bronx Bull was immortalized by director Martin Scorcese and actor Robert De Niro in the 1980 film based on LaMotta’s 1970 memoir, Raging Bull: My Story.

“And though I’m no Olivier
If he fought Sugar Ray
He would say
That the thing ain’t the ring, it’s the play
So give me a stage
Where this bull here can rage”

11. Golden Bear
Jack Nicklaus, PGA gold standard
The blond-haired Nicklaus was an Upper Arlington (Ohio) High School Golden Bear through and through. And 18 major championships later, his achievements remain the measuring sticks for golfers now and yet to come.

12. Great White Shark
Greg Norman, Aussie entrepreneur
Jeff Samardzija was the Shark as a wide receiver at Notre Dame and pitcher with the Chicago Cubs. But there is no aquatic hunter greater than the Great White Shark of Norman. The Australian may have “only” won two major championships, but he did make millions off his clothing line, winemaking and golf course design with Great White Shark Enterprises.

13. Pink Panther
Paula Creamer, LPGA girlie girl
Not since Molly Ringwald has a girl looked as pretty in pink as Creamer, the 26-year-old U.S. Women’s Open champion.

14. Worm
Dennis Rodman, NBA cross-dresser
Dennis the Menace could squirm his way to any loose ball during his days as a seven-time rebounding champion, five-time NBA champion and two-time Defensive Player of the Year. He was also bad as he wanted to be with Madonna and ex-wife Carmen Electra.

15. The G.O.A.T.
Jerry Rice, NFL record book
Not to be confused with New York City playground basketball legend Earl “The Goat” Manigault. Rice was a 13-time Pro Bowl selection, three-time Super Bowl champ, two-time Offensive Player of the Year, Super Bowl XXIII MVP and the holder of just about every receiving record in the book; thus the acronym G.O.A.T. — Greatest of All-Time.

16. The Beast
Yohan Blake, Second-fastest Jamaican
Usain Bolt’s training partner is the second-fastest man alive and a Beast of a track star. But the weird claw thing he does with his hand when the camera is on is just creepy. Please stop doing that, Yohan.

17. Sea Bass
Sebastian Janikowski, NFL kicking ass
Although he may be less famous than Cam Neely’s character in Dumb and Dumber (“Kick his ass, Sea Bass!”), Sebastian is one of three kickers ever to be drafted in the first round and arguably the MVP of this year’s Oakland Raiders.

18. Big Tuna
Bill Parcells, NFL coaching tree
Who do you think Parcells is, Charlie the Tuna? The two-time Super Bowl champ may not be the StarKist Tuna mascot, but he’s probably the most famous tuna in the sea.

19. Walrus
Craig Stadler, PGA doughboy
The 1982 Masters Champion is well known for his Walrus mustache and physique. But he’s also the father of PGA pro Kevin Stadler and the brother of New Age Celtic composer Gary Stadler.

20. Flying Squirrel
Gabby Douglas, Olympic golden girl
She’s just a girl but she’s on fire. The first black women’s all-around Olympic gold medalist in history also won the team gold medal with the “Fierce Five” at the 2012 London Olympics.

21. The Turtle
Misty May-Treanor, Beach baller
The husband of three-time Olympic gold medal winning teammate Kerri Walsh Jennings called May-Treanor a Turtle and then everybody started doing it.

22. Big Cat
Andres Galarraga, MLB slugger
The Venezuelan “El Gato” was as quick as a cat with his glove at first base and with his bat at the plate during his 20-year big league career.

23. Silver Fox
David Pearson, Racing all-timer
Fox became a Silver Fox as he aged, but he was always as sly as any driver in the game during his Hall of Fame career in NASCAR.

24. Bald Eagle
Y.A. Tittle, NFL high lifer
The chrome-domed Tittle may be best known for his bloodied, kneeling disappointment in the photo taken by Morris Berman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1964.

25. Mr. Ed
John Elway, Broncos centaur
The two-time Super Bowl winner looks like a horse, of course. And no one can talk to a horse, of course. That is, of course, unless the horse is the famous Mr. Elway.

<p> 25 Greatest Animal Nicknames in Sports</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 06:30
Path: /nfl/2012-fantasy-football-start-or-sit-week-9

The calendar has turned to November as we enter Week 9 of the NFL season. Following this week, eight weeks remain in the regular season, meaning in essence, we are halfway home. However, there are still three more bye weeks to manage, including this week as any Patriots, 49ers, Jets or Rams you have on your roster won’t get you any points in Week 9.

Athlon Sports is here to help you make all of those important lineup decisions for your Yahoo!, or ESPN fantasy football league with our weekly Start and Sit suggestions. Keep in mind these are merely our suggestions as the ultimate decision comes down to you, the owner.

Week 9 Positional Rankings

Week 9 Waiver Wire

Bye week teams: New England, New York Jets, St. Louis, San Francisco

Sneaky Start of the Week
Dwayne Allen, TE, Indianapolis vs. Miami
Allen may have been drafted a round later than teammate Coby Fleener, and has fewer receptions and targets than the former Stanford Cardinal, but he definitely has one advantage this week. Allen is playing and Fleener is not.

Fleener injured his shoulder in last week’s overtime win in Tennessee and is expected to miss the next two games. This means Allen will replace Fleener as the Colts’ starting tight end and likewise he won’t be competing with him for targets during this time.

Fleener and quarterback Andrew Luck may have been teammates at Stanford, but that hasn’t affected Allen and Luck’s chemistry one bit. While Fleener does have more targets and receptions, Allen has just four fewer catches (17 to 21) and he has two touchdowns, compared to zero for Fleener.

Between Fleener and Allen, Luck has targeted these two a total of 59 times in seven games. That’s an average of more than eight per contest. While Allen won’t get every single TE target this week against Miami (Weslye Saunders is also on the roster), I think he will get more than enough additional opportunities to make him a legitimate starting option in a week that has Rob Gronkowski, Vernon Davis, Aaron Hernandez and Dustin Keller on bye.

Surprise Sit of the Week
Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay at Oakland
Wait a minute. Sit the guy who led all running backs in fantasy scoring last week by piling up 205 total yards (135 rush, 69 receiving) and two touchdowns against, by all appearances, what seemed to be a pretty good Minnesota defense? More on the Vikings' D later (see below), but as it relates to Martin, feel free to call me crazy, but I just don’t think he will have near as much success this Sunday against Oakland.

The Raiders are ranked 11th in the league against the run, allowing 102.1 yards per game. Of the 715 total yards rushing the Silver and Black have surrendered, 583 have been gained by running backs. Of that total, 284, or a little less than half, belong to Reggie Bush (172) and Willis McGahee (112). They also have scored three of the five rushing touchdowns the Raiders have allowed to backs.

Outside of these two, the other running backs have accumulated 299 yards rushing on 113 carries, which works out to 2.6 yards per carry, and two touchdowns. I’m not saying Martin has not performed on the same level or better than a Bush or McGahee to this point. I just don’t think the Raiders’ run defense has been that bad if you look at the whole picture.

My other hesitation with Martin for this week revolves around the loss of All-Pro left guard Carl Nicks. Nicks, who was one of the Bucs’ big free agent signees this offseason, has been placed on injured reserve with a toe injury. Regardless of how deep Tampa Bay’s offensive line is, the loss of Nicks will have an impact that's almost certain to show up on the field.

Someone will have to move over and take Nicks’ left guard spot, which results in a domino effect across the line, or a reserve will be asked to fill some pretty big shoes. Either way, I would not be surprised to see the Bucs’ running game, and perhaps even pass protection, struggle this week on the road against the Raiders. I don’t think Martin will get shut out, but I wouldn’t count on an encore performance this week out west.


Cam Newton (CAR) at Washington
Regular readers of this feature would probably bring up the fact that on more than one occasion, I have suggested sitting Newton. I still view Newton as one of the bigger disappointments in fantasy football this season, when you compare production with draft position, but that doesn’t mean he still can’t put up big numbers any given week. And considering Washington is last in the league in passing defense, has allowed the most touchdown passes (18) and yards (2,532) to quarterbacks, I really like his chances to do just that on Sunday.

Michael Vick (PHI) at New Orleans (Monday)
Like Newton, Vick has been another frequent Sit target here. What’s worse, Vick could be playing for his job, as the heat is on him, head coach Andy Reid and the rest of the team and organization to try and turn things around. Whether the Eagles can pull out the win in New Orleans on Monday night or not remains to be seen, but I do like Vick’s chances to do his part against the Saints. New Orleans is allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, and outside of 7.1 points by Matt Cassel, no quarterback has scored fewer than 23.2 against the Saints. Like Cassel, Vick has had his problems with turnovers, but I think he flips that script this week and plays his best game of the season. If not, he may find himself on the bench, and I’m just not referring to the fantasy aspect here.

Jay Cutler (CHI) at Tennessee
Cutler has been about as boom or bust as a quarterback can be this season. He’s had three games of 22 or more fantasy points, yet he’s also posted three games with fewer than 10. Last week against Carolina was one of those (9.8), but I will grant him some leniency as I think his sore ribs were bothering him more than he let on. So why am I on the Cutler bandwagon this week? Let’s just say I think the home cooking will do him some good. Cutler played his college ball at Vanderbilt in Nashville, Tenn., and on top of a visit to his old stomping grounds, he also gets to face the Titans and their 29th-ranked passing defense. What better medicine for an ailing quarterback than a defense that has given up 17 touchdown passes and the fourth-most fantasy points to the position.

Joe Flacco (BAL) at Cleveland
The last time Flacco faced the Browns back in Week 4 he threw for 356 yards, had two touchdowns (1 pass, 1 rush) and just one interception (24.6 fantasy pts). So why the change of heart for this week’s rematch? Two reasons, the first of which is that Flacco has not played well in Cleveland. In four career games in the Dawg Pound, Flacco has completed less than 59 percent of his passes for an average of 165.8 yards per game, to go along with four touchdown passes and one interception. The bigger reason is that when the Ravens and Browns played in Week 4, cornerback Joe Haden did not as he was in the midst of serving a four-game suspension. Haden returned in Week 6 and in the Browns’ last two games, the defense has given up a total of 340 passing yards and no touchdowns. I just don’t see the Ravens throwing it as much or with near as much success this time around against the Browns.

Christian Ponder (MIN) at Seattle
After not throwing an interception in the first four games, Ponder has seven in the past four. He also has just six touchdowns in that same span, further limiting his fantasy production. The Vikings are in Seattle this week to take on a Seahawks defense that has already held Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Tony Romo in check at home. Last time I checked, Ponder wasn’t on any of these guys’ level, even with the issues Romo has had recently with interceptions.

Matt Hasselbeck (TEN) vs. Chicago
With news coming out that Jake Locker is dealing with a fracture in his non-throwing (left) shoulder, Hasselbeck will remain the Titans’ starter until further notice. That said, I wouldn’t plan on using the veteran this week against Chicago. Even though the Bears’ defense has fared worse against the pass than the run, it’s still a pretty stout one overall and I don’t think the Titans have an offense that can be expected to do all that much. For what it’s worth, Hasselbeck isn’t the only Titan I’m down on this week (see below).

Running Backs

Alfred Morris (WAS) vs. Carolina
Let’s see, Morris is third in the NFL in rushing and he’s facing a Carolina defense that’s giving up 114.4 yards per game along with the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing running backs. No one it saw coming, but Morris has become basically a must-start option each week and that’s certainly the case this Sunday.

Reggie Bush (MIA) at Indianapolis
Bush hasn’t rushed for more than 67 yards in a game since exploding for 172 against Oakland in Week 2. Fortunately for him, Indianapolis and the Colts’ 27th-ranked run defense are on tap. The Colts have already given up 177 yards to Maurice Jones-Drew and 161 to Shonn Greene. I’m not sure Bush will get that many, but I am predicting he will end up with around 100 and probably a score or two.

Jonathan Stewart (CAR) at Washington
The Redskins have done a decent job against the run this season, as they are ranked 10th in the league. However, Jonathan Dwyer put up 107 on the ground against them last week and while Stewart probably won’t reach that mark, I think he will do more than enough as both a rusher and receiver to put up decent numbers. Remember, Stewart has been named the No. 1 ball carrier for the Panthers, so he’s getting more touches than he was in previous weeks. After having just six in Week 5, he’s averaged 17 in the past two games. More touches don’t automatically result in production, but they certainly don’t hurt either.

Fred Jackson (BUF) at Houston
It’s bad enough for Jackson owners to have to watch him share carries with C.J. Spiller (and the same goes for Spiller owners too). Now, the Bills have the pleasure of going down to Houston to face a Texans’ defense that’s fourth in the league in rushing yards allowed and has yet to give up a rushing touchdown. Reduced opportunities have already taken away from Jackson’s production potential, combine that with a tough match up and you come up with a strong argument to leave Jackson on the bench this week.

Chris Johnson (TEN) vs. Chicago
Credit Johnson with this much, he has done a good job of turning things around after getting off to a horrendous start. He has 91 or more yards rushing in four of his last five games. Unfortunately, this Sunday he will be facing the NFL’s top rush defense (77.9 ypg), which has given up more than 63 yards to any running back only once. The Bears also have given up just one rushing touchdown, and that came in Week 1. Johnson has taken several steps forward in recent weeks, but it looks like it will be a step or two backwards on Sunday.

Michael Turner (ATL) vs. Dallas
Take out Turner’s lone 100-yard effort this season (103 vs. Carolina in Week 4), and he’s rushed for 312 yards in six games. That’s averages out to 52 yards per game. He’s also scored a total of three touchdowns in those six games and has only seven receptions for 15 yards. He’s still getting the opportunities (24 carries last week), but Turner the Burner just doesn’t seem to be getting the job done any more. I don’t expect Dallas, which is 13th in the league in rush defense, to make things any easier on him this week either. With Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Julio Jones and Tony Gonzalez doing as much damage as they have, the Falcons are slowly becoming a more pass-oriented team, which does not bode well for Turner’s fantasy outlook the rest of this season.

Wide Receivers

Steve Smith (CAR) at Washington
If Cam Newton (see above) is going to have a big game against Washington, he’s going to need some help from his receivers. Brandon LaFell is a little banged up, which means Smith and even tight end Greg Olsen (see below) will be asked to carry the load. The good news is that Smith is more than capable of doing so, and the Redskins’ defense has more than obliged this season. The Redskins have allowed the most receptions (124) and yards (1,819) to opposing wide receivers this season, to go along with 10 touchdowns. What more needs to be said?

Jeremy Maclin (PHI) at New Orleans (Monday)
Similarly to the Newton-Smith connection, Michael Vick will need his wide receivers to come through if he’s to enjoy the fantasy success against New Orleans on Monday night that I am predicting (see above). While I do think DeSean Jackson is a solid play this week, I am casting my vote for Maclin. The Saints are allowing the most fantasy points to wide receivers, including 13 touchdowns, so there should be plenty to go around regardless. However, I think Maclin is more of a complete receiver than Jackson, who relies heavily on the big play/reception, so I like his prospects of having a big night down in the Big Easy a little better.

Titus Young (DET) at Jacksonville
In fantasy football, there’s no better change agent than injury when it comes to a player’s outlook. Take the case of Young. Labeled a sleeper or player on the rise to start the season, the young receiver couldn’t seem to get out of his own way and was passed in the Lions’ pecking order by Nate Burleson. Burleson then breaks his leg in Week 7 against Chicago and Young immediately becomes the starter opposite Calvin Johnson. Young then proceeds to catch nine passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns against Seattle the very next game. Johnson may be dealing with a sore knee, but as long as he’s on the field he will draw the majority of the defense’s attention, not Young. Change can be a good thing, and that appears to be the case here for Young, not to mention his owners.

Jordy Nelson (GB) vs. Arizona
Nelson missed last week’s game against Jacksonville because of a hamstring injury. Reports are he won’t even try to test it until Friday, and even then he will probably be a game-time decision at best. Green Bay is on bye next week and the Packers have already have seen what happens when someone comes back from injury too soon. Greg Jennings tried to do that after injuring his groin and now he’s out indefinitely after deciding to undergo surgery. One has to figure that even if Nelson does play, he will be limited. For the Packers, the more prudent decision would be to sideline him this week in hopes that he will be back to full strength after the bye. I think that’s the wise decision for his fantasy owners too.

Torrey Smith (BAL) at Cleveland
Smith caught six passes for 97 yards and a touchdown against Cleveland in Week 4. But, as has already been referenced (see Joe Flacco, above), that was against a Browns’ defense missing its best cover corner – Joe Haden. Haden will be back for this game and not surprisingly, the Browns’ pass defense has fared much better in the last two games. Smith relies too much on big plays to get his numbers and I don’t think Haden and co. let him get them this Sunday.

Kenny Britt (TEN) vs. Chicago
The good news is that Britt has played in the last four games, and no other injury issues have appeared during this stretch. The bad news is, he hasn’t done a lot in these four games either, catching a total of 13 passes for 149 yards and one touchdown. Don’t expect this trend to change this Sunday as the Bears have given up four touchdown receptions to opposing wide receivers. Britt may be playing, but I wouldn’t start him unless I had no other choice.

Tight Ends

Greg Olsen (CAR) at Washington
The Redskins have allowed the second-most receptions to tight ends (52) and are tied for the most touchdown catches (7). Olsen is a tight end who is averaging better than six targets per game. Sometimes it is just as easy as that.

Kellen Davis (CHI) at Tennessee
The only team to allow more catches to opposing tight ends than the Redskins is the Titans (56) and they also have surrendered seven touchdowns to the position. Davis has only caught a total of 10 passes so far, but two of those are for touchdowns. I don’t think Davis will double his reception total in one game, but I will be surprised if he doesn’t finish with more than three, his current season high, and finds the end zone for the third time.

Kyle Rudolph (MIN) at Seattle
Rudolph does have five touchdown receptions, which ties for him for the third-most among his position, but he’s caught a total of two passes in his last two games. That’s also the number of touchdown passes the Seahawks have allowed to tight ends all season. In this instance, 2 + 2 = Rudolph on the bench.

Dennis Pitta (BAL) vs. Cleveland
Pitta had 18 receptions and two touchdowns in his first three games. Since then he’s caught 12 passes for no scores in his past four contests. Cleveland has given up only two touchdowns to opposing tight ends, and in Week 4 against these same Browns, Pitta didn’t catch a thing. I’m not expecting an exact repeat, per se, but I also would look at other options if I had Pitta on my roster.

Defense/Special Teams

Denver at Cincinnati
The Broncos held Drew Brees to 213 yards passing and the Saints to just 14 points last week. This week they go to Cincinnati to face a Bengals team that is struggling to run the ball (26th in the league in rushing) and has allowed five sacks and eight takeaways in its last three games. Advantage Denver.

Atlanta vs. Dallas
The Falcons have been fairly steady when it comes to DST production. They are 10th overall in fantasy scoring and have scored 10 or more points five times. The Cowboys are coming off of a game in which they turned it over six times, have a running game that’s pretty banged up and a quarterback that’s thrown 10 interceptions in the past four games. It doesn’t hurt that this game is on the Falcons’ home turf either.

Minnesota at Seattle
This appears to be a defense that’s reeling somewhat. Since Week 5, the Vikings’ DST has scored a total of 27 fantasy points. Seventeen of these came in one game, a dominating Week 7 performance against Arizona and its porous offensive line. In the past three games (which includes that same game against the Cardinals), the Vikings have surrendered an average of 156 yards rushing. Next up? Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks, in Seattle. I’ll pass, thanks.

Philadelphia at New Orleans (Monday)
The Eagles have a new defensive coordinator, a lot of other defensive issues and are on the road this weeks. Chances are you weren't planning on playing New Orleans' DST in this game either as this one has the look of an entertaining, high-scoring affair. And if that wasn't enough reason to give you pause on plugging the Eagles in there, how about this? The Saints have only turned the ball over nine times. Contrast that to the Eagles, who have coughed it up 17 times.

Lawrence Tynes (NYG) vs. Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is 2nd in the league in total defense and tied for ninth in scoring defense (20.6 ppg). However, this game is in New York and there's a reason that Tynes has already made 24 field goals, six more than any other kicker. I think the Giants will be able to move the ball against the Steelers, but will be held out of the end zone enough times to allow Tynes to add to his league-leading total of three-pointers.

Garrett Hartley (NO) vs. Philadelphia (Monday)
Hartley has only made seven field goals, as the Saints have been somewhat a touchdown-or-nothing kind of offense. That said, I don't think it matters this week as I am fully expecting the Saints-Eagles match up on Monday Night Football to feature lots of offense and plenty of points. Unless it's a safety, the only way a team can score points is with a kick (field goal) or a play that results in a kick (PAT). That's where Hartley comes in for the Saints. Likewise, I think Eagles kicker Alex Henery would be a solid option this week as well.

Rob Bironas (TEN) vs. Chicago
I will admit, Carolina's Justin Medlock proved me wrong last week, as he drilled five field goals and added a PAT in the Panthers' loss to Chicago, after I tabbed him as a Sit. So even though I am somewhat tempting fate by picking Bironas this week against the Bears, I'm willing to take that chance. The Bears' defense is still pretty good and as you can see by my previous Sit designations for Matt Hasselbeck, Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt (see above), I'm just not that optimistic about the Titans' prospects of doing much of anything on offense on Sunday. This blanket statement includes Bironas.

Jay Feely (ARI) at Green Bay
Arizona managed a total of three points on Monday night at home against San Francisco. Does anyone really expect the Cardinals to fare that much better this Sunday on the road at Lambeau Field? Green Bay is tied for first in the league (ironically with Arizona) in sacks (26), while the Cardinals have given up 39 quarterback takedowns. That's 11 more than any other team in the league. Does anyone else think these two statistics portend a rough day at the office for John Skelton and company?

— By Mark Ross, published on Nov. 2, 2012

<p> 2012 Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 9</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 06:20
Path: /college-football/nebraska-cornhuskers-vs-michigan-state-spartans-preview-and-prediction

With Nebraska’s 23-9 victory over Michigan last Saturday, the race to win the Big Ten Legends’ Division title is still a wide-open battle. The Cornhuskers own a slight lead in the division but a loss to Michigan State would bring Michigan back into the picture. The Spartans are 2-3 in Big Ten play, so they need some help to reclaim the top spot. However, if Michigan State can beat Nebraska, it should be favored to knock off Northwestern and Minnesota in its last two games.

These two teams have met only six times, but Nebraska has a commanding 6-0 lead in the series. The Cornhuskers won last season’s meeting 24-3 and claimed a 17-3 victory over the Spartans in the 2003 Alamo Bowl. This will only be the second meeting between Nebraska and Michigan State as Big Ten foes.

Storylines to Watch in Nebraska vs. Michigan State

Can Nebraska stop Le’Veon Bell?
Stopping the run has been the biggest problem for Nebraska’s defense this season. The Cornhuskers rank 82nd nationally against the run but that stat is slightly skewed by allowing 344 yards to UCLA and 371 yards to Ohio State. Against traditional running teams, Nebraska has fared much better in defending the run. The Cornhuskers held Wisconsin to 56 yards and Michigan to 95. This unit will face another tough test on Saturday, as Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell ranks 15th nationally with an average of 117.9 rushing yards per game. The junior has been held under 100 yards in the last two games but rushed for 210 yards and two touchdowns in the season opener against Boise State. Considering Michigan State has struggled to establish a consistent passing attack this year, expect Nebraska to load the box and try to takeaway Bell from the gameplan.

Taylor Martinez vs. Michigan State’s secondary
The matchup between Nebraska’s receiving corps and Michigan State’s secondary will be one of the most intriguing battles to watch in the Big Ten this Saturday. The Cornhuskers own the conference’s top receiving corps but will be facing a tough Michigan State secondary. Johnny Adams and Darqueze Dennard are two of the best cornerbacks in the Big Ten, but the Spartans could be without backup safeties RJ Williamson and Jairus Jones due to injury. Adding another element to this battle will be what happens in the trenches. Michigan State has surprisingly struggled to generate a pass this year, averaging just 1.2 sacks a game. The Cornhuskers are allowing two sacks per contest, which figures to be tested by ends William Gholston and Marcus Rush.

No Rex Burkhead?
Nebraska’s rushing attack has been without the services of Rex Burkhead for nearly all of the last two games and most of the season. The senior aggravated a knee injury against Northwestern and did not play against Michigan. Burkhead’s status for Saturday’s game is uncertain, but the Cornhuskers are in good shape if he is unable to play. Ameer Abdullah has thrived with more opportunities, rushing for 100 yards in back-to-back weeks and totaling 716 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. Abdullah won’t have much running room available, especially considering Michigan State ranks seventh nationally against the run. Even if Burkhead can play, expect Abdullah to see the majority of carries, with quarterback Taylor Martinez also expected to have around 15 rushing attempts as well.

Andrew Maxwell…ready to emerge?
Was last week’s game a sign of things to come from Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell? The junior has struggled in his first season as a starter, throwing for 2,015 yards, nine touchdowns and completing just 55.9 percent of his throws. However, Maxwell led the offense on a game-tying drive in the fourth quarter and threw a 12-yard touchdown toss to Bennie Fowler to win in overtime. Nebraska has done a good job against the pass this season, allowing just 160.1 yards per game. If the Spartans want to get back into the Big Ten title picture, Maxwell has to pickup where he left off against Wisconsin and continue to build on that the rest of the year.

Final Analysis

While Nebraska-Michigan State may not register on the national radar like Alabama-LSU or USC-Oregon, this game should play a key role in deciding the Big Ten Legends’ Division. Michigan State has fought its way back into the race after beating Wisconsin last week, but the Spartans still have a lot of ground to make up. If the Cornhuskers can beat Michigan State, it’s hard to see a loss the rest of the way with Penn State, Minnesota and Iowa the remaining opponents. Expect this game to be decided on whichever team can establish its strength – Michigan State’s defense or Nebraska’s offense. Although the Spartans found some life on offense at the end of last week’s game, the Cornhuskers escape East Lansing with a victory.

Final Prediction: Nebraska 24-20  

by Steven Lassan


Related College Football Content

ACC Week 10 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 10 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 10 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 10 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 10 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 10 Preview and Predictions

<p> Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Michigan State Spartans Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 06:10
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-9-award-watch

The Heisman Trophy isn’t the only award worth watching on a weekly basis. The Lombardi, Outland, Davey O’Brien and Biletnikoff races are all worth watching and debating as the season goes along.

Throughout the season, we’ll keep an eye on all the prominent position trophies through college football in addition to the Heisman.

If you’re looking for our thoughts on that other trophy, check our weekly Heisman poll.

Week 10 Previews and Predictions

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

Davey O’Brien (Top quarterback)
Our leader: Collin Klein, Kansas State
After a slow start against Texas Tech, Klein and the Wildcats eventually defeated the Red Raiders 55-24 for Kansas State’s fifth 50-point game of the season and third in Big 12 play. Klein was 19 of 26 for 233 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 83 yards and two scores. He hasn’t thrown an interception since Sept. 15 against North Texas. His 12 touchdowns in Big 12 play is second among any player in his respective conference. Tulsa’s Alex Singleton leads with 13 TDs against Conference USA opponents.
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Colby Cameron, Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, Alabama’s A.J. McCarron, Ohio State’s Braxton Miller, West Virginia’s Geno Smith

Doak Walker (Top running back)
Our leader: Giovani Bernard, North Carolina
Bernard had one of the best Octobers of any player in the country. His 924 yards from scrimmage during the month was 490 yards more than anyone else in the ACC and 65 more than anyone else in the country. And that doesn’t count his 74-yard punt return for a touchdown to clinch the win over NC State.
Others: Wisconsin’s Montee Ball, Oregon’s Kenjon Barner, Kansas State’s John Hubert, Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson, Northwestern’s Venric Mark, Stanford’s Stepfan Taylor

Biletnikoff Award (Top wide receiver)
Our leader: Marqise Lee, USC
Marqise Lee became the fourth player to top 300 receiving yards this season, beating out the other three with 345 yards and two touchdowns on 16 catches in the loss to Arizona. Entering this season, there had been only 15 300-yard receiving games in major college football/FBS history.
Others: West Virginia’s Tavon Austin, West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey, Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton, Penn State’s Allen Robinson, Baylor’s Terrance Williams

Mackey Award (Top tight end)
Our leader: Zach Ertz, Stanford
Ertz is second among the nation’s tight ends with 525 receiving yards. In the 24-17 win over Washington State, Ertz caught one pass for 20 yards, giing him 13 receptions of at least 15 yards this season.
Others: Arizona State’s Chris Coyle, North Carolina’s Eric Ebron, Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert, Washington’s Austin Seferian-Jenkins

Outland Trophy (Top interior lineman)
Our leader: Barrett Jones, Alabama
Jones will face his toughest test of the season, but one he has conquered before when Alabama visits Baton Rouge. The Crimson Tide is second in the SEC in rushing at 214.4 yards on the ground per game.
Others: North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper, Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt

Rimington Trophy (Top center)
Our leader: Alabama’s Jones
Others: Kansas State’s B.J. Finney, Clemson’s Dalton Freeman, USC’s Khaled Holmes



Bednarik Award/Nagurski Award (Defensive Player of the Year)
Our leader: Manti Te’o, Notre Dame
Late in the game against Oklahoma, Te’o dove to intercept a deflected pass to record his fifth pick of the season -- a remarkable total for an accomplished linebacker who had not had a career interception until this season. Te’o will take home his share of defensive trophies and perhaps more, but after what Jarvis Jones did against Florida, we have to wonder what the Georgia linebacker would have accomplished had he been healthy all season.
Others: Kansas State’s Arthur Brown, South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney, Georgia’s Jarvis Jones, Utah's Star Lotulelei, Penn State's Michael Mauti, LSU’s Kevin Minter

Lombardi Award (Top lineman or linebacker)
Our leader:Jarvis Jones, Georgia
Jones has missed two games this season, but when he plays, he can simply take over as he did against Florida and earlier this year against Missouri. In the 17-9 win over the Gators, Jones had five tackles, three sacks and two forced fumbles
Others: Kansas State’s Arthur Brown, Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Penn State’s Michael Mauti, Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt

Butkus Award (Top linebacker)
Our leader: Te’o, Notre Dame
Others:Kansas State’s Arthur Brown, Rutgers’ Khaseem Greene, Iowa State’s Jake Knott, Penn State’s Michael Mauti, LSU’s Kevin Minter, Alabama’s C.J. Mosely

Thorpe Award (Top defensive back)
Our leader: Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State
Banks was neutralized against Alabama, limited to four tackles and no big plays. We still like his production over the course of the season (four interceptions), but a key game for Banks will be against Texas A&M and freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel this week.
Others: Florida’s Matt Elam, Oklahoma’s Tony Jefferson, Alabama’s Dee Milliner, Oregon State’s Jordan Poyer

Groza Award (Top kicker)

Our leader: Jeremiah Detmer, Toledo
No Groza contender stuck out last week, so we’ll stick with Detmer despite Toledo’s off week. Detmer was 5 of 5 on field goals two weeks in a win over Cincinnati, including kicks of 43, 42 and 47 yards. Detmer is tied for second nationally with 18 made field goals this season.
Others:Northwestern’s Jeff Budzien, Clemson’s Chandler Catanzaro, Michigan State’s Dan Conroy, Florida State’s Dustin Hopkins

Ray Guy Award (Top punter)
Our leader: Florida’s Kyle Christy
Florida’s offense stalled against Georgia last week, but Christy remained the biggest weapon in terms of field position. Christy is averaging 47.9 yards per kick on a team that leads the nation in net punting.
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Allen, Ball State’s Steven Schott, Utah’s Sean Sellwood, Oklahoma State’s Quinn Sharp

Freshman of the Year
Our leader: Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Mariota leads the Pac-12 in completion percentage at 68.6 percent and has 18 touchdowns to five interceptions. A make-or-break stretch for Oregon is upcoming with USC, Stanford and Oregon State in three of the last four
Others: Louisiana Tech’s Kenneth Dixon, TCU’s Devonte Fields, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel

Coach of the Year
Our leader: Bill Snyder, Kansas State
Kansas State keeps rolling along after a 55-24 win over Texas Tech. The Wildcats are in the top 15 nationally in both scoring offense and scoring defense while leading the Big 12 in both categories.
Others: Ohio State’s Urban Meyer, Florida’s Will Muschamp, Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, Oregon State’s Mike Riley

Broyles Award (top assistant)
Our leader: Art Kaufman, Texas Tech
There’s no shame in giving up 55 points to Kansas State, as Texas Tech did last week. Kaufman’s defense at least gave Collin Klein fits in the first quarter. Texas Tech’s defense remains one of the most improved units in the country.
Others: Oregon State’s Mark Banker, Notre Dame’s Bob Diaco, Alabama’s Kirby Smart

by David Fox


<p> College Football Post-Week 9 Award Watch</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 06:10
Path: /college-football/oregon-ducks-vs-usc-trojans-preview-and-prediction

Before the season started, this Pac-12 matchup was targeted as a potential top-five showdown and a game that would have major national title implications. There’s still plenty on the line this Saturday but USC’s two losses have taken some of the appeal away from the matchup in Los Angeles.

The Trojans are out of the national championship picture but have an opportunity to play the role of spoiler. With matchups against Oregon and Notre Dame remaining, USC still has a chance to work itself into an at-large spot for a BCS bowl. Oregon ranked No. 4 in the latest release of the BCS standings and is only a few decimal points behind Notre Dame for third place. The Ducks have some work to do to catch Kansas State, but if they win out, Chip Kelly’s team should eventually take the No. 2 spot in the BCS standings. However, a loss to USC would knock Oregon out of the national title picture, especially with Kansas State likely to finish unbeaten.

Neither team has been able to gain a huge advantage in the overall series in recent years. USC snapped a two-game losing streak with a 38-35 victory in Eugene last season. The Ducks have lost two out of the last three games in Los Angeles, including a 44-10 defeat in 2008. USC owns a 38-18-2 edge in the overall series.

Storylines to watch in Oregon vs. USC

Matt Barkley, Robert Woods and Marqise Lee vs. Oregon secondary
In last season’s matchup, Barkley torched the Ducks’ secondary for 323 yards and four touchdowns on 26 completions. And those numbers are even more impressive when you consider Robert Woods wasn’t 100 percent at the end of last year. With Woods back to full strength, and Marqise Lee coming off a huge performance against Arizona (16 catches, 345 yards), the Trojans will be the best passing attack Oregon has faced this year. The Ducks rank 45th nationally in pass defense and 13th in pass efficiency defense. Considering the style of play in the Pac-12, the numbers can be a bit deceiving. Oregon has allowed just 10 touchdown passes and held opponents to under 60 percent completion percentage. The Ducks have also intercepted 14 passes, taking four of those back for touchdowns. Cornerbacks Terrance Mitchell and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu will have their hands full trying to slow down Woods and Lee, but they will also have plenty of help from the front seven. Oregon is averaging nearly three sacks a game (2.9) and faces a USC offensive line that has struggled at times. If the Ducks can get pressure on Barkley and not allow him to get comfortable in the pocket, the secondary should be able to prevent any big plays by the Trojans’ receivers.

USC’s run defense vs. Oregon’s rushing attack
Despite losing a couple of key contributors on the defensive line, USC’s rush defense has been solid this season. The Trojans have allowed only two teams to rush for more than 150 yards in a game and have given up just six touchdowns on the ground all year. Those statistics will be put to the test by Oregon’s offense, which is averaging 330.6 rushing yards per game. Kenjon Barner is the team’s workhorse, recording 974 yards and 10 touchdowns so far this season. Sophomore De’Anthony Thomas is one of the nation’s most explosive players and is averaging 8.6 yards per carry. As if stopping those two players won’t be enough of a challenge for USC, quarterback Marcus Mariota has 378 yards and three rushing touchdowns in 2012. The Trojans did a good job of holding the Ducks’ rushing attack in check last season, allowing LaMichael James only 78 yards on 20 attempts, and De’Anthony Thomas had just three yards on three carries. It’s impossible to stop Oregon considering all of the weapons at its disposal. However, the Trojans have to limit the big plays by the Ducks’ trio, as well as hold them to field goals once they get into the redzone.

How will Marcus Mariota play on the road?
The Ducks’ redshirt freshman signal-caller has passed every test so far this year. Mariota has thrown for 1,483 yards and 18 touchdowns, while rushing for 378 yards and three scores. Although this is his first year as Oregon’s starter, he has thrown only five picks and has emerged as a team leader. Mariota’s road resume is limited, as the Ducks played Washington State at a neutral site (Seattle) and at Arizona State on Oct. 18. The redshirt freshman was off against the Cougars, completing 21 of 32 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown. He wasn’t needed for a big game against Arizona State and finished with just 46 passing yards and one score. Considering how easy Mariota has transitioned into the starting role, there’s little reason to believe he will struggle on Saturday night. Oregon’s receiving corps doesn’t have a true No. 1 standout, but there’s plenty of depth and options for the passing game to click. And if the redshirt freshman has an impressive performance, he should have a chance to vault himself into Heisman contention.

Penalties played a huge role in USC’s loss to Arizona last week and could factor into this game. The Trojans rank last in the nation with 10.3 penalties per game, while Oregon is committing 7.9 each contest. Although penalties aren't solely to blame for a loss, the yellow flags could stop a crucial drive or put one of these offenses in a third-and-long situation late in the game.

Can Silas Redd get on track for USC?
The passing offense is going to lead the way for the Trojans, but Lane Kiffin’s team needs to have more balance if it wants to win. After running for 155 yards against Washington and 158 yards versus California, Silas Redd has been a non-factor the last two weeks. Oregon ranks 39th nationally against the run and has allowed each of its last three opponents to record at least 150 yards. The Trojans won’t need Redd to have 175 yards, but the offense could benefit from more balance this week, especially as it looks to keep Oregon’s high-scoring offense off the field and give its defense some time to rest.

Final Analysis

There’s no question USC is disappointed to be 6-2. The Trojans expected to compete for a national championship and are instead just fighting to get into a BCS game. If Oregon can win on Saturday night, the road to an appearance in the national championship will likely hinge on the season finale against Oregon State. Expect this game to go back and forth and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team with the ball last pull out a close victory. Barkley, Lee and Woods will hit on a few big plays, but the Ducks eventually have too much firepower on offense and make a timely stop on defense to seal the victory.

Final Prediction: Oregon 45, USC 38

by Steven Lassan


Related College Football Content

ACC Week 10 Preview and Predictions
Big East Week 10 Preview and Predictions

Big Ten Week 10 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 10 Preview and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 10 Preview and Predictions

SEC Week 10 Preview and Predictions

<p> Oregon Ducks vs. USC Trojans Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/college-football-predictions-10-key-games-week-10-0

College football’s Week 10 slate is highlighted by the Alabama-LSU clash in Baton Rouge and Oregon’s visit to USC. The Trojans have played their way out of the national title race with two losses in league play, but this is still a very talented team that is capable of winning the rest of its games.

Week 10 Predictions

Alabama (-10) at LSU 
Maybe it’s because Alabama is so good. Or maybe it’s because LSU isn’t quite as formidable as we expected (though the Tigers are ranked fifth in the BCS standings). But this game just doesn’t feel as big as it should. Alabama has raced out to an 8–0 start with an efficient offense and a dominating defense. The Crimson Tide have won every game by at least 19 points and have not led by less than 13 points at any point in the second half. LSU is 7–1 overall and 3–1 in the SEC, but the three league wins have come by a total of nine points. The Tigers rely heavily on their rushing attack, which could be a problem on Saturday night. Alabama leads the nation in total defense and has been especially stout against the run, allowing an average of 57.3 yards per game and 1.9 yards per carry. The Crimson Tide will make it very difficult for LSU’s one-dimensional offense to put points on the board.
Alabama 20–7

Oregon (-7.5) at USC
Here’s another game that isn’t quite as big in November as it was back in August. Oregon has done its part, winning its first eight games by an average of 34 points. USC, however, has lost two games, at Stanford in Week 3 and at Arizona last Saturday. The Trojans recorded some gaudy stats in Tucson — Matt Barkley threw for 493 yards and Marqise Lee had 345 receiving yards — but the defense had no answer for Arizona, against the pass (369 yards) or the run (219 yards). Arizona is very good offensively. Oregon is much, much better. The Ducks lead the nation in scoring (53.4 ypg) and are the only team in the country that averages over 300 yards rushing and 200 yards passing.
Oregon 44–30

Texas A&M (-6.5) at Mississippi State
This will be a great barometer for both teams. Mississippi State is no longer undefeated, but the Bulldogs are eager to prove they should be considered among the top teams in the SEC. Texas A&M is 6–2 overall and has already won four road games. Last Saturday, the Aggies rolled up 671 yards in a 63–21 win at Auburn. Johnny Manziel was back to his old playmaking self, throwing for 260 yards and two touchdowns and running for 90 yards and three scores. The key to slowing down A&M — and it’s easier said than done — is keeping Manziel in the pocket and forcing him to make plays in the passing game. The strength of the Mississippi State defense is the secondary; if the Bulldogs’ front seven can stop the run, the onus will be on Manziel to win this game with his arm.
Texas A&M 30–24

Oklahoma State (+9.5) at Kansas State
Kansas State climbed to No. 2 in the BCS standings after Florida lost to Georgia and the Wildcats disposed of Texas Tech 55–24. The Wildcats don’t quite control their own destiny, but they are obviously on the short list of teams that are in position to play in the BCS national title game. The first hurdle to clear is Oklahoma State, which beat TCU 36–14 on Saturday to improve to 5–2 overall and 3–1 in the Big 12. True freshman Wes Lunt, the opening day starter, returned after missing three full games with a knee injury and threw for 324 yards and one touchdown. The schedule hasn’t been too taxing, but Oklahoma State has topped the 600-yard mark four times and leads the nation in total offense (586.1 ypg). K-State is the better team, but the Cats will have to play well to win this game.
Kansas State 34–30

Nebraska (+1.5) at Michigan State
Nebraska took a huge step toward winning the Legends Division title by beating Michigan in Lincoln last week. The Huskers got it done on the defensive end, holding Michigan to 188 total yards and no touchdowns. That’s not good news for Michigan State, which continues to struggle on offense. The Spartans have only topped 330 yards in Big Ten action once this season, in a 31–27 win at Indiana. Last week, they did just enough to beat Wisconsin 16–13 in overtime at Camp Randall Stadium to improve to 2–3 in the league. This team has been about what we expected on defense — the Spartans lead the Big Ten in total defense and scoring defense — but the offense has been a disappointment. A team that gives up 15.0 points per game should be better than 5–4.
Nebraska 20–13

Ole Miss (+14) at Georgia
Georgia seized control of the SEC East with a surprising 17–9 win over Florida in Jacksonville. The Bulldogs now must beat Ole Miss at home this weekend and Auburn on the road on Nov. 10 to make their second straight trip to the SEC title game. Ole Miss won’t be heading to the SEC title game, but the Rebels are only one win away from becoming bowl-eligible. Not bad for a team that went 0–8 in the SEC last season and was outgained by an average of 174.2 yards in league games. Last weekend, the Rebels knocked off Arkansas 30–27 in Fayetteville for their first SEC road win since 2009. Hugh Freeze now has to be in the discussion for SEC Coach of the Year honors.
Georgia 30–20 

Texas (+7) at Texas Tech
Here’s something that we didn’t expect to see back in the summer: Texas is a seven-point underdog to Texas Tech. Texas Tech has no doubt exceeded expectations, but the betting line is a strong statement on the state of Texas football. The Longhorns, who gave up 161 points in a three-game stretch in October, avoided complete disaster by scoring in the final minute to beat Kansas 21–17 in Lawrence on Saturday afternoon. Texas’ defense finally played well, but the offense struggled mightily — gaining only 342 yards against a KU defense that was giving up an average of 428.4 yards per game. Texas Tech was manhandled in Manhattan by Kansas State, but the Red Raiders still have to be considered among the most improved teams in the nation. They padded their stats against a very soft non-conference schedule, but it’s still noteworthy that they rank in the top 12 nationally in both total offense and total defense.
Texas Tech 30–27

Arizona at UCLA
What was once considered a forgone conclusion — USC winning the Pac-12 South title — is now very much in doubt. The Trojans have two league losses and still have to play Oregon, Arizona State and UCLA. USC’s unexpected struggles have opened the door for either Arizona, Arizona State or UCLA to win the South. Arizona already has three losses, but the Cats have a key head-to-head win over USC and a relatively soft late-season schedule. UCLA is 3–2 in the league after its upset at Arizona State. The Bruins have been one of the most entertaining teams in the Pac-12, ranking third in the league in total offense (502.9 ypg) and fifth in scoring offense (33.4 ppg). Redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley has made some mistakes — four picks in the loss at Cal — but there is no doubt that he has energized a fanbase that needed something to get excited about.
UCLA 41–37

Virginia Tech (-2.5) at Miami (Fla.) (Thu.)
Virginia Tech and Miami have a combined eight losses, yet the winner of this game likely will be the Coastal Division’s representative in the ACC title game. Duke is still in the race, but the Blue Devils have the most difficult remaining schedule. Virginia Tech hasn’t played since losing 38–17 at Clemson two weeks ago. In their three true road games, the Hokies have given up 35, 48 and 38 points — all in losses. In those three games, they have allowed an average of 242.7 yards rushing. That is very un-Bud Foster-like. Statistically, Miami is in the middle of the pack in the ACC in rushing offense, both overall (seventh, 126.8 ypg) and in league games (sixth, 135.0 ypg). The Canes do boast one of the league’s top running backs in Duke Johnson, but the true freshman is splitting time with Mike James and has not gotten more than 14 carries in any game.
Miami (Fla.) 24–21

TCU (+7) at West Virginia
The two new members of the Big 12 get together for a game that isn’t quite as important as most had expected when the schedules were releasted. West Virginia climbed into the top five of the national polls after winning its first five games, but the Mountaineers have been exposed on defense over the last month. In Big 12 action, WVU is allowing 564.8 yards per game and a staggering 7.7 yards per play. It doesn’t matter how good you are on offense — and the Mountaineers are very good — competing for a conference title is nearly impossible with defensive numbers that bad. TCU’s first season in the Big 12 has been a bit of a disappointment, but the Horned Frogs have had significant personnel issues. They lost starting linebacker Tanner Brock over the summer (drugs) and have dealt with other injury issues at linebacker. Offensively, they have been without tailbacks Ed Wesley (all season), Waymon James (all but two games) and quarterback Casey Pachall (all but four games). It would have been interesting to see this team with all of its pieces.
West Virginia 37–33

Last week: 4–6 overall (3–7 against the spread)
Season: 58–32 overall (46–44 against the spread)


<p> College football’s Week 10 slate is highlighted by the Alabama-LSU clash in Baton Rouge and Oregon’s visit to USC. The Trojans have played their way out of the national title race with two losses in league play, but this is still a very talented team that is capable of winning the rest of its games.</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 06:01
Path: /college-basketball/pac-12-2012-13-college-basketball-preview

Athlon Sports continues its countdown to the start of the 2012-13 basketball season, which begins with the first games on Nov. 9, with a countdown of the nation’s top conferences. We will release one conference preview each day, counting down to the top conference. For profiles of every team in each conference, check out the 2012-13 Athlon Sports College Basketball annual available in the online store.

After three seasons of looking like a mid-major basketball conference rather than one that produces Final Four teams on a regular basis, the Pac-12 is ready to bounce back.

A year ago, even Pac-12 regular season champion Washington was not among the NCAA field with Cal going as an at-large bid and Colorado winning the Pac-12 Tournament. The Pac-12 has garnered only eight NCAA bids the last three seasons, compared to 18 in the three seasons prior.

That looks to change this season. The Pac-12’s best two programs, Arizona and UCLA, have experienced an influx of talent due to transfers and elite freshmen.

Those two programs are securely at the top of the Pac-12, but others will benefit from some coaching stability and the return of key stars. Cal returns Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs, both Athlon All-Pac-12 performers, to go with perhaps the best coach in the league in Mike Montgomery. Colorado returns Andre Roberson along with Tad Boyle, a proven program builder who appears to be doing more of the same in Boulder. Then there’s Stanford, who is poised for its best season under coach Johnny Dawkins after the Cardinal won the NIT a year ago.

2011-12 Regular season champion: Washington Player of the year: Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA
2012 NCAA Tournament teams: Cal, Colorado* Best defensive player: Aziz N'Diaye, Washington
New coaches: None Most underrated player: Aaron Bright, Stanford
Realignment: None Newcomer of the year: Muhammad, UCLA
*Won conference tournament  
G Allen Crabbe, Cal G Mark Lyons, Arizona G Chasson Randle, Stanford
G/F Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA G Jio Fontan, USC G Justin Cobbs, Cal
F Brandon Ashley, Arizona G Kyle Anderson, UCLA G C.J. Wilcox, Washington
F Andre Roberson, Colorado F E.J. Singler, Oregon F Devon Collier, Oregon State
F Brock Motum, Washington State F Solomon Hill, Arizona C Joshua Smith, UCLA

2012-13 PAC-12 PREVIEW
1. Arizona (23-12, 12-6)
The Wildcats are ranked No. 7 in our preseason rankings: Full Preview

The basketball environment in Tucson is such that expectations have returned to Lute Olson-era levels. The acquisition of Mark Lyons from Xavier turned Arizona from a possible top-25 team to one that believes it can win a national championship. Meanwhile, the development of four inside players — sophomore Angelo Chol, 7-foot freshman center Kaleb Tarczewski and McDonald’s All-Americans Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett — will determine if this team is good enough for the long haul. But they won’t have to be game-changers with Solomon Hill and Lyons running the show.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament Elite Eight

Related: Mark Lyons, Larry Drew II among key transfers this season

2. UCLA (19-14, 11-7)
The Bruins are ranked No. 12 in our preseason rankings: Full preview

The pieces are in place for a UCLA revival in 2012-13. After escaping the miserable digs of the Los Angeles Sports Arena, they return home to an impatient fan base, frothing at the mouth in anticipation. The talent is in place, recruiting clicking on all cylinders and a pair of freshmen are expected to propel the Bruins back into title contention. They are no longer staring down at the abyss, afraid to make one wrong move. No, they are looking up.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament Sweet 16

Related: Muhammad, Anderson among top freshmen for 2012-13

3. Cal (24-10, 14-5)
The Golden Bears return plenty of talent and experience. And their depth is even better than a year ago when they finished in a tie for second in the Pac-12. What coach Mike Montgomery isn’t sure about — now that Jorge Gutierrez and Harper Kamp have graduated — are qualities like leadership, toughness and character. Junior wing Allen Crabbe improved his game and will be one of the league’s top scorers, but he’s not a natural born leader. That responsibility could fall to junior point guard Justin Cobbs, a pleasant surprise last season as a first-year transfer from Minnesota. Crabbe, bothered over the summer by a lower abdominal strain, needs to show he can create his own scoring opportunities. He is a strong perimeter shooter, but he doesn’t get to the foul line enough. Cobbs, on the other hand, is an excellent penetrator and gets to the foul line often. He’ll need to prove he can create shots for his teammates. There will be significant pressure on junior post Richard Solomon, who has great potential but was a disappointment in 2011-12. Solomon was suspended early in the season for a violation of team rules then was declared academically ineligible for the second semester. David Kravish, however, exceeded expectations as a true freshman last season after being forced into a bigger role when Solomon was sidelined. Kravish was physically overmatched at times, but he showed a nice shooting touch. These are challenges Montgomery embraces. He doesn’t always have the best players, but his gift is the ability to coax them to play the game he envisions. If the Bears can achieve that, they should find a spot in the Pac-12’s upper division.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament One and Done

4. Stanford (26-11, 10-8)
The Cardinal hopes to build on the momentum of an unexpected run to the postseason NIT title and establish itself as a Pac-12 contender this season. Juniors Aaron Bright, Dwight Powell and Anthony Brown, despite battling injuries, combined to average 37 points during the NIT run. All should be healthier going forward. Bright underwent offseason surgery to repair his shoulder, Powell is better after laboring all year with heel and Achilles issues, and Brown, who also played on a broken foot, had hip surgery in the spring. The team’s best player may be guard Chasson Randle, who averaged 17.5 points over the final 10 games of his freshman season and seems unafraid of the big moment. Those four form a nucleus that boasts experience under fire, and should be ready to lead the Cardinal back into the NCAA Tournament. Johnny Dawkins’ squad is athletic and long and features excellent guards and good depth. The one lingering question is how well the Cardinal will fare in physical matchups without the likes of departed seniors Josh Owens and Andrew Zimmerman. Dawkins believes his team’s ability to survive the midseason slide and finish with a flourish will provide momentum heading into this season. He expects the Cardinal to compete near the top of the league.
Postseason prediction: NCAA Tournament First Four

5. Colorado (24-12, 11-7)
Tad Boyle has an opportunity to do something this season no other coach has done at Colorado. The Buffaloes have never been to the postseason in three consecutive seasons. They have a chance to make history in Boyle’s third year after advancing to the NIT semifinals in ’10-11 and earning a win in the NCAA Tournament last season. Andre Roberson has been a rebounding machine in his first two years. He finished third nationally in rebounding last season (11.1 rpg) and set a single-season school record with 401 boards. He also averaged 11.6 points, but much of his offense comes in transition. Roberson spent the offseason trying to add more perimeter shooting and ball-handling skills to his game in an attempt to make himself into a first-round NBA Draft pick. He could be the second player in three years to leave the program early to turn pro if he continues to progress. Last season’s freshman guards, Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker, are this season’s leaders. Dinwiddie started every game and averaged 10.0 points per game. Booker developed into one of the better sixth men in college basketball providing energy and instant offense off the bench. Dinwiddie might need to look to score more in the early going as the freshmen find their way, but he’s most comfortable when he can be a distributor and pick his spots. That should be his role as the season progresses. Booker will likely be in the starting lineup early. It remains to be seen if it suits him or if coaches will miss the energy he brings off the bench. He’s a solid perimeter shooter and can be a pesky defender.
Postseason prediction: NIT

6. USC (6-26, 1-17)
The basketball gods owe Kevin O’Neill. His USC team was hit so hard by injuries last season that he had only six scholarship players at his disposal at the end of the year. Yet O’Neill somehow coaxed the few athletes he had left to play hard and managed to keep the Trojans in almost every game. Needless to say, he expects both the health and the quality of his team to improve dramatically this season. The backcourt should be the team’s strength. Jio Fontan, who played only half a season two years ago and then missed all of last season, should finally take over as the face of the program. He is a true point guard who can both score and distribute. His best quality, however, is his leadership, which might have been missed most of all a year ago. Mo Jones, a 5-7 combo guard who averaged 13.0 points per game last season, is an option to start alongside Fontan, but the coaches are quietly hoping that J.T. Terrell, a Wake Forest transfer, will win the job. The two starters on the frontline figure to be Dewayne Dedmon and Aaron Fuller, who were the team’s second- and third-leading scorers until injuries shut both of them down at midseason. Dedmon, at 7-0, is still a bit raw, but he has the kind of agility and quickness to be effective in spurts. Fuller, a 6-6 forward who began his career at Iowa, is more fundamentally sound.
Postseason prediction: NIT

Related: USC’s Fontan among key players returning from injury

7. Washington (24-11, 14-4)
The Huskies had plenty of talent last season, enough to win 24 games and the Pac-12 regular-season title and provide two NBA first-round picks. But they had no discernible chemistry, and it cost them an NCAA Tournament berth. A trip to the NIT semifinals satisfied no one. As always, the strength of the Huskies in 2012-13 lies in their guards, and there is plenty of offense firepower and size to go around. C.J. Wilcox, a 6-5 junior and one of the league’s better marksmen, was the team’s third-leading scorer (14.2 ppg) despite starting only 12 games. Transfer Mark McLaughlin, a 6-6 junior with previous stops at Baylor and the Seattle University, led the nation’s junior college scorers (27.5 ppg) last season at Tacoma (Wash.) Community College. Scott Suggs, a 6-6 senior who sat out last season with a broken foot, was the league’s third-best 3-point shooter in 2010-11 (45.0 percent). It has been suggested that Suggs, who was a team captain when he went down, was the missing component for last year’s maddeningly disjointed team. Everything seems to hinge on the play of 7-0 senior center and returning starter Aziz N’Diaye, a formidable rebounder (7.3 rpg game) and shot-blocker (33) but not much of an offensive threat (7.8 ppg). The Huskies will do what they usually do, which is get out and run, put the ball in the basket in bunches and be practically unbeatable at home. Whether they can be any better than a middle-of-the-pack finisher in the Pac-12 and an NIT team is far from clear.
Postseason prediction: NIT

8. Oregon State (21-15, 7-11)
With all but one starter back and sixth man Roberto Nelson ready to slide into Jared Cunningham’s spot in the lineup, Oregon State could stir up some trouble in the Pac-12 race. Two full-time starters (Angus Brandt and Devon Collier) and two part-timers (Joe Burton Eric Moreland) return up front for the Beavers. Throw redshirt freshman Daniel Gomis and incoming freshmen Victor Robbins and Jarmal Reid into the mix and the Beavers almost look imposing inside. Starting point guard Ahmad Starks returns, which is a good thing for a team that may struggle initially to replace NBA first-round draftee Cunningham and his vast skill set. Starks averaged 12.1 points last season though he shot under 40 percent from the field. He does, however, have a knack for hitting clutch shots — often from long range — late in games. The key to this season could be winning close games. The Beavers were 2–6 in the Pac-12 last year in games that were decided by either five points or fewer or in overtime. Winning a few more tight games could put Oregon State in the discussion for an NCAA Tournament bid.
Postseason prediction: NIT

9. Oregon (24-10, 13-5)
Dana Altman enters his third season at Oregon again looking to build off an encouraging postseason run while dealing with significant roster turnover. Altman will rebuild around junior guard Johnathan Loyd and a senior front line of Carlos Emory, Tony Woods and E.J. Singler. Like Sims a year ago and Joevan Catron before that, they’ll be charged with helping the Ducks remain relevant while breaking in another new-look roster for Altman. Oregon is also waiting on word from the NCAA on the immediate eligibility of Rice transfer Arsalan Kazemi, who was one of the best players in Conference USA and is  a possible All-Pac-12 performer now that he’s at Oregon. The heir apparent to Catron and Sims as senior leader will be Singler, once known more for his famous older brother (Kyle) and willingness to take a charge. Now, averaging 13.6 points and 5.6 rebounds as a junior, he’s known for being one of the better frontcourt players in the league. At point guard, Loyd led Oregon with 100 assists in 2011-12 but averaged only 17.3 minutes per game. He figures to have the ball in his hands even more this season, at least as long as he can hold off Artis. Altman won’t call this a rebuilding season, but he’s not naive. “You’ve got six freshmen — any way to put that together quick is probably not going to happen,” Altman says. “It’s just going to take some time.”

10. Washington State (19-18, 7-11)
Washington State has one of the Pac-12’s elite players in Brock Motum, but that may be it. Senior point guard Reggie Moore was dismissed in late September, giving the Cougars major issues in its supporting cast. Moore had an inconsistent career, but he led Wazzu in assists and steals last season and looked like an NBA prospect back in his freshman year. The Cougars also hope to get a lift from Royce Woolridge, a transfer from Kansas and the son of former NBA star Orlando Wooldridge. A better shooter than Moore, Woolridge is also a good ball-handler who can play both guard spots. He was expected to run the point in relief of Moore before his departure. DaVonte Lacy averaged 8.5 points as a freshman last year and should be a double-digit scorer this year. Lacy gives the Cougs another 3-point threat — he shot 34.7 percent from beyond the arc — which will be critical because Washington State, aside from Motum, lacks inside scorers. The 6-10 Motum figures to be an All-Pac-12 first-team candidate this year after averaging 18.0 points and 6.4 rebounds last year. Offensively, the lefty from Australia typically has his way with other big men in the conference, taking them inside and out. His emergence has been a surprise: No one on the Palouse thought he would be a star when he first came to Pullman, and now Motum has a realistic chance at being chosen in the NBA Draft next year.

11. Arizona State (10-21, 6-12)
Not too long ago, coach Herb Sendek was beloved by Arizona State basketball fans. It’s fair to say their ardor has cooled. The Sun Devils have had two straight losing seasons. For various reasons, 12 scholarship players have left the program over the past four years. First-year athletic director Steve Patterson has made it abundantly clear the Sun Devils have to win more games, become more relevant in the community — and do so quickly. That won’t be easy, given ASU is trying to integrate six new scholarship players. It’s not an exaggeration to say that point guard Jahii Carson, who has yet to play in a college game, will be responsible for what happens on the court this season — and off the court after the season, when Sendek will be evaluated by the ASU administration. Carson, a Mesa (Ariz.) graduate who was a non-qualifier last year, is the explosive point guard Sendek never has had in his six seasons at ASU. Carson can shoot, can beat people off the dribble, and he’s a terrific passer. Most important, he makes his teammates better. Carson’s talent isn’t debatable. The question is whether he can quickly adjust to college ball after sitting out a season. There is some promise among ASU’s big men — but just as many questions. The biggest one, both literally and figuratively: Can 7-2 junior Jordan Bachynski build on the second half of his sophomore season, when he turned into one of the Pac-12’s better centers. Bachynski has good hands, he can block shots, and he’s a decent shooter — he shot 57.8 percent from the field last year. But he was a non-factor last year until he started to play more aggressively.

Related: Sendek a coach on the hot seat in 2012-13

12. Utah (6-25, 3-15)
Second-year coach Larry Krystkowiak pretty much managed to dismiss his 6–25 record, the worst season in the Utes’ modern history, as a symptom of the program he inherited. The bad news for his second season, however, is another year without 7-foot-3 center David Foster, who re-injured his foot and will be out for the year again. In Foster’s absence last season, Jason Washburn developed into a solid player, becoming Utah’s only double-figure scorer with an 11.4-point average. He played well down the stretch, averaging 15.6 points in the final seven games, highlighted by a 26-point outing vs. Oregon. Glen Dean and Aaron Dotson likely were the best players in Utah’s program last season, but they were forced to watch loss after loss while in street clothes on the Utes’ bench.  Dean, a point guard, was the Big Sky Freshman of the Year in 2009-10 and again led Eastern Washington in scoring as a sophomore with a 13.3-point average. He shot over 40 percent from 3-point range in both seasons with EWU. Krystkowiak plans to increase the tempo of the offense with Dean running the show. Dean underwent emergency brain surgery in December to repair a congenital blood vessel malformation, but he made a quick recovery.  Dotson, a former top recruit out of Seattle, averaged 6.8 points as a sophomore at LSU. He is a shooting guard who struggled with his outside shot in two seasons in Baton Rouge.


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

Athlon Conference Previews and Power Rankings
7. Mountain West
8. Atlantic 10

9. West Coast

10. Missouri Valley
11. Conference USA
12. Colonial
13. Sun Belt
14. MAC
15. Horizon

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

<p> Pac-12 2012-13 College Basketball Preview</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-week-10

Every Friday for entertainment purposes only, I will bring you my top college football picks against the spread. I do not condone, approve or encourage gambling on sports in any way. But if you are a fan of football — college or pro — and you don't think gambling has played a huge role in the growth and popularity of the sport, then you are simply being ignorant. And behind closed doors, the powers that be understand the impact betting has had on the game of football.

2012 Record Against The Spread: 40-27
Last Week: 5-2

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Penn State (-3.5) at Purdue
The Nittany Lions have to get off of the mat this weekend after Ohio State played its best game of the season at Beaver Stadium. Yet, Penn State is still 6-2 against the spread this fall and Purdue has been downright atrocious of late. The Boilermakers have allowed nearly 300 yards rushing per game over the last four — all Big Ten losses. They have also allowed at least 38 points in four of the last five games and at least 29 in five straight. Penn State is simply the better team and this game could get ugly very quickly. Prediction: Penn State -3.5

Washington (+4.5) at Cal
Huskies ace recruiter and stellar defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi returns to his alma mater after defecting this offseason. His addition, along with defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon, has helped the Washington defense make dramatic improvement. On the other side, Cal, who just lost its best player when wide receiver Keenan Allen injured his knee, is coming off its worst showing of the season against Utah. Washington should win outright so take the points and run. Prediction: Washington +4.5

Stanford (-28) at Colorado
Colorado is bad. I mean, really bad. The Buffaloes have been outscored 171-37 in the last three games and is ranked dead last in the nation in scoring defense (46.0 points allowed per game). That means Colorado, who is 1-7 against the spread this season, didn't cover the 41-point spread against USC or the 46-point spread against Oregon the last two weeks. Meanwhile, the offense has been nearly as bad, posting 290 yards of total offense per game over the last four. Stanford claims the league's most physical, most talented defensive front and the league's most physical rushing attack. Look for Stepfan Taylor to get at least 25 carries as Stanford should cruise past the reeling Buffs. Prediction: Stanford -28

Virginia (+10) at NC State
I will keep going back to this well. The Cavs are the only team without a win against the spread this fall and have lost six straight games overall. This includes consecutive losses to Wake Forest, Maryland, Duke and Louisiana Tech. NC State can score points in bunches and quarterback Mike Glennon has been on a roll of late. He has thrown 13 touchdowns in the last four games, including a 467-yard, 5-TD performance last weekend. He also led the Wolfpack to a 28-14 road win over the Wahoos last fall. Look for a big win from Tom O'Brien's bunch. Prediction: NC State -10

Texas State (+26) at Utah State
Utah State is the only team left in the nation unbeaten against the spread. So even though the spreads keep creeping upwards on the Aggies, I will keep picking them to cover. This team has scored at least 41 points in three straight and shouldn't be slowed by a team that hasn't been competitive against New Mexico, Nevada and San Jose State of late. Look for Chuckie Keeton and company to roll up another big number this weekend. Prediction: Utah State -26

Arizona State (+4) at Oregon State
I am all over the West coast this weekend. Arizona State has given up over 600 yards rushing and 88 points in two straight losses to Oregon and UCLA. And those came at home in the desert. A visit to Corvallis to face the angry Beavers, who should be refocused after a tough, turnover-filled loss to Washington, isn't what the doctor ordered. Cody Vaz has been more than capable at quarterback and will start in place of Sean Mannion. Look for Mike Riley, whose team is 5-2 against the spread this fall, to exploit the hurting rush defense of ASU this weekend. Prediction: Oregon State -4

Picking some of the big games:

Oregon (-8.5) at USC
The Trojans have a lot to play for and should keep it close. Take the points.

Alabama (-9.5) at LSU
The Tigers' will could be crushed early if the passing game can't create balance. Roll Tide.

Ole Miss (+14) at Georgia
LETDOWN ALERT! I'll take the Dawgs to win but Ole Miss can score and should keep it close.

Oklahoma State (+7.5) at Kansas State
Collin Klein will not be denied, especially the way this one ended last fall. KSU rolls big.

Clemson (-12.5) at Duke
The Noles abused the Blue Devils last week and the Tigers will do the same this week.

Pitt (+16.5) at Notre Dame
Another Letdown Alert as the Irish return home against a sneaky Panthers team. 

- by Braden Gall


2012 Trends Against the Spread:

Undefeated ATS: Utah St (9-0)

Winless ATS: Virginia (0-7-1)

One Loss ATS Fresno St (8-1), Kansas St (6-1-1), Kent St (7-1), Ole Miss (7-1), Northwestern (8-1), Western Kentucky (7-1)
Two Losses ATS Arizona St (5-2-1), Ball St (7-2), Clemson (6-2), Florida Atlantic (6-2), Florida (6-2), UL Monroe (6-2), Northern Illinois (7-2), Oregon St (5-2), Penn St (6-2), San Jose St (6-2), Texas St (5-2), Texas Tech (6-2), UNLV (7-2)
One Win ATS Colorado (1-7), Idaho (1-7)
Two Wins ATS Arkansas (2-6), Army (2-6), Auburn (2-6), Boston College (2-6), Central Michigan (2-6), Colorado St (2-6), UConn (2-5-1), Hawaii (2-5), Illinois (2-6), Iowa (2-6), Kentucky (2-7), UMass (2-6), Miami-OH (2-6), Nevada (2-7), NC State (2-5-1), USC (2-6), Southern Miss (2-6), Virginia Tech (2-6), West Virginia (2-5)

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ACC Week 10 Previews and Predictions
Big East Week 10 Previews and Predictions

Big Ten Week 10 Previews and Predictions

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<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 10</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-cornerbacks

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

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

1. Dee Milliner, Alabama (6-1, 199, Jr.)
The only lock to be taken in the first round should be this Crimson Tider. The former five-star prospect has developed into one of the most complete prospects in the nation. He can cover, has excellent overall athleticism, can tackle, play physical football and has been extremely well-coached. He has the size and speed to be an elite player. Is he as good as Morris Claiborne? Probably not, but he is close.

2. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State (6-1, 185, Sr.)
Banks, who has a great length to his frame, is just a great all-around football player. He could remind scouts of a poor-man’s Antoine Winfield in his ability to make open field tackles and fill against the run. He has a nose for the football and makes big plays for a defense that puts him on an island. He needs to add some bulk and toughness, but he has the frame to be an NFL regular. Otherwise, he has little to no weaknesses to his game.

3. Xavier Rhodes, Florida State (6-2, 215, Jr.)
When it comes to size and experience, few players top Rhodes’ resume. He has elite size for a corner. In fact, his frame may prompt a move to safety much like an Antrel Rolle or Patrick Peterson. But scouts know what coaches do: You can’t throw at him. He is a leader for Florida State and has outlasted names that fans expected to be better, like a Greg Reid. His eventual upside may be tied to his ability to stick at corner.

4. Jordan Poyer, Oregon State (6-0, 190, Sr.)
The Beavers' star defender is a great competitor – on defense and special teams. He has created turnovers, led a defensive renaissance in Corvallis in 2012, and has been a big-play machine in the return game. He may not be an elite talent at any one thing, but he is really solid at everything. He is a tremendous member of any locker room and will be a contributor on the next level in a variety of ways. Poyer is the front-runner for 2012 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

5. David Amerson, NC State (6-3, 185, Jr.)
The Wolfpacker began the year as the nation’s top coverman after leading the nation and setting an ACC record for interceptions last fall. After a few poor performances in big games against elite wideouts, Amerson has dropped down the big board a few slots. He has a long, rangy frame that NFL scouts will crave and his agility and speed will test fine. Yet, the performance straight up against names like Justin Hunter have hurt his stock. He can help himself and his draft stock a lot during the combine season.

6. Terry Hawthorne, Illinois (6-0, 190, Sr.)
The speedster is a converted wide receiver so he should have excellent ball skills. He has outstanding overall athletic ability, speed, agility and quickness. He has progressed nicely at the position over time and should only continue to get better as he continues to learn the nuances of playing cornerback at the next level. Overcoming a serious head injury sustained in 2012 will be key.

7. Nickell Robey, USC (5-8, 170, Jr.)
This smallish Trojan is similar to dismissed defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. The biggest differences between the two? Robey can cover wide receivers and he hasn’t been kicked off his team for repeatedly breaking team rules. The Trojan is much smaller than typical NFL covermen, but he plays bigger, consistently is around the football and can make an impact on special teams as a return man. Look for Robey, who is one of the best pure covermen in the nation, to sneak up draft boards based on his effort and toughness despite his overall lack of size.

8. Tharold Simon, LSU (6-2, 190, Jr.)
One guy that isn’t lacking for elite NFL size is Simon. He was used in 2011 as a coverman as Mathieu was pushed into a nickel role on passing downs. He has a huge frame that is long and extremely athletic. He will need plenty of polish before he can start on the next level, but make no mistake about the Bayou Bengal's tremendous raw upside. Few players have more athleticism and size than LSU’s top coverman.

9. Carrington Byndom, Texas (6-0, 180, Jr.)
The Texas defensive backfield was supposedly loaded with elite talent like Kenny Vacarro and Quandre Diggs. But many believe that Byndom is the top coverman of the group. He is charged with stopping the top targets of the Big 12 — which are elite in their own respects. And no, the defense in Austin hasn’t played well in 2012. However, Byndom has the size, speed and overall athleticism to be a quality pro prospect.

10. Sanders Commings, Georgia (6-2, 215, Sr.)
Brandon Smith was the name getting all the preseason buzz this summer, but in a league with massive down the field wide receivers, Commings' rangy frame will undoubtedbly appeal to scouts. He is one of the biggest corners in the nation and will need to prove he has the quickness, burst and speed to hang with NFL pass catchers.

11. Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma (6-0, 181, Jr.)
12. Leon McFadden, San Diego State (5-10, 190, Sr.)
13. Blidi Wreh-Wilson, UConn (6-2, 190, Sr.)
14. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech (6-0, 190, Jr.)
15. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State (6-0, 195, Jr.)
16. Johnny Adams, Michigan State (5-11, 180, Sr.)
17. Desmond Trufant, Washington (6-0, 185, Sr.)
18. Logan Ryan, Rutgers (6-0, 190, Jr.)
19. Micah Hyde, Iowa (6-1, 185, Sr.)
20. Rod Sweeting, Georgia Tech (6-0, 190, Sr.)

Best of the Rest:

Darius Slay, Mississippi State (6-1, 190, Sr.)
Demontre Hurst, Oklahoma (5-10, 185, Sr.)
Nigel Malone, Kansas State (5-10, 185, Sr.)
EJ Gaines, Missouri (5-10, 195, Jr.)
Travis Howard, Ohio State (6-1, 195, Sr.)
Branden Smith, Georgia (5-11, 185, Sr.)
Melvin White, UL-Lafayette (6-3, 190, Sr.)
Adrian Buchell, Louisville (5-11, 185, Sr.)
BW Webb, William & Mary (5-11, 180, Sr.)
Marc Anthony, Cal (6-0, 200, Sr.) 

- by Braden Gall


Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

2013 NFL Draft: Running Backs

2013 NFL Draft: Tight Ends
2013 NFL Draft: Safeties

2013 NFL Draft: Defensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers

2013 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Inside Linebackers

2013 NFL Draft: Cornerbacks

<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Cornerbacks</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/12-statistical-highlights-lsu-vs-alabama-series

LSU and Alabama will meet for the 77th time on Saturday night, when the Crimson Tide travels to Death Valley to battle the Tigers. Bama leads the all-time series 46-25-5, with the first game being played in 1895 and the last meeting in the BCS Championship Game at the conclusion of last season. Les Miles’ crew has the longest home-winning streak in the nation at 22, but Nick Saban’s bunch is ranked No. 1 and has dominated its eight opponents. These two schools have been a popular regional rivalry for decades, but the recent success of both Alabama and LSU has made this game a national event. Here are 12 statistical highlights on both the history and current matchup of these two SEC stalwarts.

5-3: LSU’s record against its former head coaches. The Tigers beat Paul Dietzel’s South Carolina bunch in 1966 and 1973, and they have gone 3-3 versus Nick Saban over the last five years.

20-5-1: Bear Bryant’s career record versus LSU. The legendary coach went 16-4 against the Tigers while he was leading Alabama, 2-1-1 at Kentucky and 2-0 as the Texas A&M head man.

2-14: LSU’s record against Alabama under Charlie McClendon.

36-1: LSU’s record in Saturday Night games in Tiger Stadium under Les Miles. The lone loss was a 13-3 decision against Tim Tebow and No. 1 Florida in 2009.

5: Wins in the last 10 meetings for the team trailing at halftime. Two of the games (2011 and 2008) were tied at the break, so only three times in the last 10 games has the squad with the halftime advantage (Alabama, 2011 BCS game; LSU, 2003 and 2006) gone on to victory.

7.4: First-half points average allowed by the LSU defense in 48 games under defensive coordinator John Chavis.

26: Points scored average for Alabama in the first half this season. The Tide has scored 21 or more in the first half of all eight games.

14: National titles that Alabama claims to have won.

6-7-8: Much closer to the actual number of national titles that the Crimson Tide should claim. Five are no doubters (1961, 1979, 1992, 2009, 2011), while four others (1926, 1930, 1934 and especially 1941) are laughed at outside of the Yellowhammer State. There are solid debates to be had on the five others (1925, 1964, 1965, 1973 and 1978), but most college football historians would not see the Tide having more than two or three of those at the most. Here are a couple of examples (A, B) of the many articles on this subject, and of course, a well-produced video by an Auburn fan would only be fitting.

4-1: Nick Saban’s record against Alabama when he was LSU’s head coach from 2000-04.

34: Times Alabama has scored points in 35 red zone trips this season. That 97-percent mark is tied for first in the country.

1: Touchdown scored in the last eight quarters (and an overtime period) of this series.

<p> 12 Statistical Highlights from the LSU vs. Alabama Series</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 16:00
All taxonomy terms: Alabama Crimson Tide, College Football, NFL
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-could-never-beat-nfl-team

The Alabama Crimson Tide is the best team in college football.

In fact, this Alabama team might be Nick Saban’s best since arriving in Tuscaloosa. Considering he has two BCS National Championships in the last three seasons, that is quite a statement. Yet, this is his first team constructed entirely of players he has recruited. This roster is his and his alone — and they are clearly the best team in the nation. Some believe this is one of the deepest college football rosters ever assembled.

And Alabama would still get crushed by any team in the NFL.

So when Steve Spurrier said on "The Dan Patrick Show" that Alabama might be favored over a couple of NFL teams this week, he was sorely mistaken — or talking with an agenda, as is the case most of the time with the Ol’ Ball Coach.

Those in Vegas have reported that Alabama would be a 24-point underdog to both the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Kansas City Chiefs if they played on a neutral field today.

I would lay the points.

Both NFL teams would win by more than five touchdowns. Or worse.

The talent differential is simply too vast. Take into consideration the Crimson Tide’s remarkable performance in the NFL Draft the last three seasons. Saban has had 19 players drafted off of his team over the last three seasons, 10 of which were taken in the first round. So on what many consider to be the best defense ever assembled in college football — the 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide — six are now playing in the NFL.

What about the other 40 defensive players on that team who will never sniff an NFL roster?

So while Alabama might be the most talented team in the nation with the most NFL players of any team in the nation, they still pale in comparison to an ACTUAL NFL team. One is full of teenage children going to ECON 201 classes learning about Supply and Demand for the first time. And the other is grown adult men paying their mortgages with a six- or seven-figure paycheck.

It’s simple math. If he’s lucky, 20 percent of Saban’s roster would be constructed of NFL players. The Chiefs, who have yet to hold a lead in regulation in any game this season, are constructed of 100 percent NFL players.

So even if the Chiefs are the worst team in the league with the worst roster in the league, most every player on the team would start for Alabama.

With the possible exception of Matt Cassel.

-by Braden Gall


<p> Alabama Crimson Tide Could Never Beat an NFL Team</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 12:41
Path: /nfl/kansas-city-chiefs-vs-san-diego-chargers-preview-and-prediction

Two divisional foes who have not won since September will clash on Thursday Night Football, when the San Diego Chargers host the Kansas City Chiefs at 8:20 p.m. EST on the NFL Network. The Chargers started the season 3-1 before blowing double-digit, second-half leads against New Orleans and Denver, and then losing 7-6 in Cleveland last Sunday. The Chiefs have struggled all season on the way to a 1-6 start, which includes a 37-20 home loss to the Lightning Bolts in Week 4. Amazingly, Kansas City has not led in regulation this year.

When the San Diego Chargers have the ball:
What has happened here? San Diego had played pretty well on offense with the exception of its Atlanta loss, but the Chargers have only scored six points in their last six quarters of football. A turnover-laden second half against the Broncos was followed up by a completely flat performance versus the Browns. Quarterback Philip Rivers obviously must play much better, and he should be able to get back on track against a Chiefs defense that has given up a ton points. Running back Ryan Mathews also needs to pick it up, as he does not have a carry over 20 yards on the season or a 100-yard rushing effort.

The Kansas City defense has some very talented players but has been very inconsistent this season. The Chiefs rank 18th in the NFL in total defense (giving up 348.7 yards per game), but they are 29th in the league in scoring (allowing 29.9 points per contest). A major issue for K.C. defenders has been getting pressure on opposing signal callers. The Chiefs have produced only 13 sacks and seven takeaways in seven games, and that will need to change against a San Diego club that has a penchant for turnovers.

When the Kansas City Chiefs have the ball:
The quarterback tandem of Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn has produced very meager results this season. Quinn suffered a blow to the head against the Raiders last week, so Cassel will be back as the starter tonight. He will look to favorite target Dwayne Bowe for a spark, while also trying to protect the ball. The Chiefs lead the league in turnovers, and that must improve quickly. Kansas City has had success running the ball at times, but Jamaal Charles has totaled only 44 rushing yards on 17 carries over the last two games.

The San Diego defense has been excellent against the run this year, ranking second in the league at 80 yards per game. However the Chargers are 21st in the NFL versus the pass, and those second-half lapses in the Saints and Broncos losses were killers. San Diego has struggled to generate a pass rush, totaling only 12 sacks this season. Charles and the K.C. running game will be the focal point tonight, as the Chargers look to make the Chiefs one-dimensional and create turnovers.

Key Factor:
Both AFC West teams are in desperate need of a victory, and each coach — San Diego’s Norv Turner and Kansas City’s Romeo Crennel — is under major scrutiny in his respective city. The Chargers have struggled lately, but a strong run defense and Rivers should be able to turn things around at home against a flawed Chiefs squad. San Diego has dominated Kansas City at Qualcomm Stadium recently, and look for that to continue tonight.
Chargers 23 Chiefs 13

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

<p> Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers Preview and Prediction</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 06:30
Path: /college-football/sec-week-10-preview-and-predictions

LSU hasn’t quite been as formidable as we originally thought, but Alabama’s trip to Baton Rouge to battle the Tigers is still the biggest game in the SEC this season. There’s also an intriguing battle in Starkville, as Mississippi State hosts Texas A&M in a game featuring teams jockeying for position in the SEC West. Georgia is two wins away from wrapping up the SEC East title. This week, the Bulldogs host the improved Ole Miss Rebels.

Other Week 10 Previews and Predictions

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

SEC’s Top Storylines to Watch in Week 10:

1. Does LSU have enough on offense to beat Alabama?
At first glance, LSU’s offensive numbers are just fine. The Tigers are averaging 385.8 yards and 31.0 points per game — not great, but good enough for a team with an elite defense. Those numbers however, have been padded by a soft non-conference schedule. Against SEC competition, LSU is averaging only 16.3 points (11th in the league) and 318.3 yards (11th) per game. The biggest problem has been an anemic passing attack that has struggled to throw the ball down the field. In SEC games, LSU is last in the league in completions of 10 yards or more (18), 20 yards or more (eight), 30 yards or more (two) … you get the point. Junior quarterback Zach Mettenberger ranks 12th in the SEC in passer rating in league games and is averaging only 5.4 yards per attempt. This production (or lack thereof) has been sufficient to win all but one game this season, but it’s hard to envision LSU beating Alabama without the threat of the forward pass. Last year, the Tigers won the regular-season game vs. the Tide 9–6 despite throwing for only 91 yards, but that LSU team had a quarterback (Jordan Jefferson) who was a threat to run. Jeferson’s mobility added a different dimension to the LSU offense — something that the ’12 Tigers don’t have with Mettenberger under center.

2. Can Alabama continue its dominance away from home?
Alabama has emerged as the premier program in the nation over the last few years due in large part to its ability to win on the road. Nick Saban’s club has won 11 straight games away from home, dating back to a 24–21 setback at LSU in November 2010. And the Crimson Tide aren’t just winning — they are dominating. The average margin of victory in these games — three of which have been on a neutral site — is a staggering 29.9 points per game. The closest victory was by 16 points over Penn State in September 2011; the most decisive was a 52–0 shutout vs. Arkansas this season. Keep these stats in mind when you are sitting down to watch Alabama take on LSU in vaunted Death Valley on Saturday night.

3. Can Georgia handle prosperity?
It’s amazing what one win can do for the morale of a football team and its fan base. Georgia opened the month of October with a disheartening 35–7 loss at South Carolina. After a week off, the Bulldogs struggled through a surprisingly close 29–24 win at Kentucky. A season that began with such promise was on the verge of implosion. That all changed, however, with a 17–9 victory in Jacksonville against the previously unbeaten Gators. Georgia suddenly finds itself in control of the SEC East, needing only wins vs. Ole Miss this weekend and at Auburn on Nov. 10 to return to Atlanta for the second straight season. And if the Dawgs somehow find a way to win the SEC title game, a trip to the BCS National Championship Game likely would be next on the docket. But first things first: Georgia must take care of business this week against a very capable Ole Miss team that has won consecutive SEC games for the first time since 2009.

4. Is Hugh Freeze the SEC Coach of the Year?
Ole Miss is only one win away from becoming bowl-eligible. Not bad for a team that went 0–8 in the SEC last season and was outgained by an average of 174.2 yards in league games. Last weekend, the Rebels knocked off Arkansas 30–27 in Fayetteville for their first SEC road win since 2009. The man responsible for the turnaround is Hugh Freeze, who last season led Arkansas State to its only Sun Belt title in school history. Freeze has instilled confidence in a team that had no reason to be confident heading into the 2012 season. “Hugh Freeze has got them going there at Ole Miss,” said Georgia’s Mark Richt, whose Bulldogs host Ole Miss on Saturday. “He’s doing a great job. They’re really excited right now, and they’re winning. They’ve already scored more points, had more first downs, had more touchdowns, more passing yards and just about every stat that you could have. They’ve had more of that now in eight games than they had all of last season, so it’s very impressive.” I realize it’s not too hard to find a coach praising another coach. But this time it’s all true.

5. Is James Franklin healthy enough to give Missouri a chance in Gainesville?
Missouri has struggled in its first season in the SEC. But we haven’t seen the Tigers at their best for much of the 2012 season. Injuries at quarterback (James Franklin), running back (Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy) and on the offensive line have limited Missouri on offense. Last week, the Tigers broke threw with their first SEC win, pulling away from Kentucky in the second half en route to a 33–10 win. Franklin wasn’t expected to play but was forced into action after Corbin Berkstresser through interceptions on MU’s first two possessions of the third quarter. Franklin clearly wasn’t 100 percent — he attempted only nine passes and did not have any carries — but his presence in the lineup made a difference. The question this week is whether or not his knee is healthy enough to give the Tigers a chance to score some points against an outstanding Florida defense. With Franklin at his best — serving as a threat with both his arm and his legs — the Tigers have a chance to keep it close in Gainesville. If not, it could be another long day for Mizzou, which lost its only previous SEC road games by 21 points (at South Carolina).

6. How alarmed should Florida be about its passing game?
Florida’s passing attack has been among the least productive in the league all season. When the Gators were winning — which they did in their first seven games — it wasn’t too much of an issue. But now, after they were held to 266 yards in a 17–9 loss to Georgia, it’s fair to ask: Why is Florida’s passing game so anemic? The Gators rank last in the SEC and 114th in the nation in passing offense, averaging only 143.6 yards per game. From an efficiency standpoint, they aren’t awful — the Gators rank ninth in the SEC in passing efficiency and have only thrown three interceptions — but a team with as much talent as Florida should be more adept at throwing the ball down the field. It’s unfathomable that a program like Florida only has 15 pass plays for 20 yards or more eight games into the season.

7. Can Tennessee and Auburn avoid disaster?
These are not good times at Tennessee and Auburn. In Knoxville, Volunteer fans are dealing with an 0–5 start in the SEC for the third straight season. At Auburn, the Tiger faithful are trying to understand how their team can be so bad just two years after winning the national championship. As bad as things seem now, imagine the scene at these two SEC strongholds if either team loses this week. Tennessee hosts Troy, which is 4–4 overall and 3–3 in the Sun Belt. The Trojans have had their moments this season — they rolled up 572 yards in a 30–24 defeat at home to Mississippi State in September — but they are coming off a horrible loss to FAU last weekend. Tennessee is favored by 18.5 points. Risk of loss for the Vols: Low. New Mexico State, which has losses to Idaho and Texas-San Antonio on its résumé, is arguably one of the worst five teams in the nation. Auburn is favored by 22.5 points. Risk of loss: Very low.

8. Can Jordan & Jordan keep it going for Vanderbilt?
The level of competition was no doubt a factor, but Jordan Rodgers had his most efficient game at Vanderbilt last week, completing 17-of-21 passes for 217 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in the Dores’ 49–7 win over UMass. The senior quarterback is now completing 58.9 percent of his passes and has only thrown one pick in the last six games. The recipient of many of Rodgers’ targets has been junior wide receiver Jordan Matthews. Last week, Matthews caught 10 passes for 112 yards. It was the seventh 100-yard game of Matthews’ career, but the first that did not come vs. an SEC opponent. A junior from Madison, Ala., Matthews has 775 yards receiving with at least four games remaining. Barring an injury, he figures to be Vanderbilt’s first 1,000-yard receiver since Earl Bennett had 1,146 yards in 2006.

9. Can Mississippi State get back on track?
Mississippi State’s undefeated run came to an end with a resounding 38–7 loss at Alabama on Saturday night. No great surprise. Even the most optimistic MSU fan could not have expected the Bulldogs to win in Tuscaloosa. Now, with that loss behind them, the Dogs must focus on a difficult stretch run. There’s a decent chance State might only be favored one more time this season — at home vs. Arkansas on Nov. 17. This week, Texas A&M comes to town with the league’s most explosive offense. The Aggies opened as a slight 2.5-point favorite but the line quickly jumped to six points. A loss on Saturday would send MSU to Baton Rouge on Nov. 10 riding a two-game losing streak. State coach Dan Mullen is well aware that his team faces a challenging final month of the season. “You always define yourself in November,” he said earlier this week. “To me, it is a thing of how you are going to close out the season. We put ourselves in a great position for the month of November right now. Now, you have to see what separates a good season from a great season to a championship season.”

10. Will Texas A&M run the table on the road?
The wins haven’t exactly come against marquee opponents, but give credit to Texas A&M: The Aggies are 4–0 on the road this season with a redshirt freshman starting at quarterback. Kevin Sumlin’s team beat SMU 48–3 in Week 3; rallied to beat Ole Miss in Oxford 30–27; held on for dear life to edge Louisiana Tech 59–57; and then rolled past Auburn with shocking ease, 63–21, last Saturday. This week, the Aggies take their traveling road show to Starkville to face Mississippi State. The Bulldogs are 7–1 overall and 3–1 in the SEC, yet A&M is a 6.5-point favorite. If the Aggies survive Starkville, then the fun really starts: On Nov. 10, they head to Tuscaloosa to take on the mighty Crimson Tide. Good luck.


  David Fox Braden Gall Steven Lassan Mitch Light

Missouri (+16) at Florida

Florida 35-10 Florida 27-14

Florida 34-13

Florida 24–13

Texas A&M (-6.5) at Miss. State

Texas A&M 28-21 Texas A&M 31-24

Texas A&M 34-31

Texas A&M 30–24

Vanderbilt (-7) at Kentucky

Vanderbilt 28-14 Vanderbilt 30-13

Vanderbilt 34-13

Vanderbilt 21–17

Troy (+18.5) at Tennessee

Tennessee 42-21 Tennessee 38-14

Tennessee 45-20

Tennessee 41–17

Tulsa (+7.5) at Arkansas Tulsa 38-35 Arkansas 34-27

Arkansas 34-30

Arkansas 31–30

N.M. State (+22.5) at Auburn         

Auburn 17-7 Auburn 24-21

Auburn 41-13

Auburn 38–10

Ole Miss (+14) at Georgia Ole Miss 35-31 Georgia 34-21

Georgia 34-20

Georgia 30–20

Alabama (-9.5) at LSU Alabama 35-14 Alabama 20-10

Alabama 24-13

Alabama 20–7

Last week 5-2 6-1 6-1 6-1
Season 61-16 66-11 66-11 64-13

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<p>  </p> <p> LSU hasn’t quite been as formidable as we originally thought, but Alabama’s trip to Baton Rouge to battle the Tigers is still the biggest game in the SEC this season. There’s also an intriguing battle in Starkville, as Mississippi State hosts Texas A&amp;M in a game featuring teams jockeying for position in the SEC West. Georgia is two wins away from wrapping up the SEC East title. This week, the Bulldogs host the improved Ole Miss Rebels.</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 06:10