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Path: /college-football/north-carolina-state-wolfpack-vs-north-carolina-tar-heels-preview-and-prediction-2016

When North Carolina kicks off on Friday with NC State, the Tar Heels will have no idea of their ACC fate. Carolina needs a Virginia Tech loss to Virginia to have a shot at the Coastal title but that outcome will not be determined until 24 hours later. Despite the uncertainty with regards to their chances in the division, one thing is sure. Without a win over the archrival Wolfpack, nothing else matters.


The guys from Raleigh have a completely different mind set. After beating Notre Dame on Oct. 8 to move to 4-1, NC State has lost five of six and now needs a win over North Carolina to become bowl eligible. As a result, there are questions as to whether Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren will return in 2017.


In a series that dates back to 1894, the Tar Heels hold a 66-33-6 advantage.


NC State at North Carolina


Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 25 at 12 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: North Carolina -12


Three Things to Watch


1. Matt Dayes and the NC State Running Game
The senior from Weston, Fla., has been asked to carry a heavy load this year. Dayes has amassed 1,015 of the Wolfpack’s 1,630 rushing yards this season. What makes Dayes so important this week is that North Carolina’s run defense has been consistently poor for the past three seasons while the Tar Heels have solid against the pass. So Dayes will get plenty of opportunities and the only way that quarterback Ryan Finley will be effective throwing the ball is if Dayes can soften up Carolina by running the ball.


2. North Carolina Will Throw and Throw and Throw
Every team wants to achieve offensive balance. But the Tar Heels are averaging about 150 rushing yards per game while the Wolfpack are ranked in the top nationally against the run. But NC State has not fared as well against the pass, which is something North Carolina’s offense does very well. Look for Tar Heels head coach Larry Fedora to come up with a game plan that has Mitch Trubisky throwing early and often. The Wolfpack will have their hands full covering Ryan Switzer and the Carolina’s stable of pass catchers. Pressuring Trubisky will be key, although he’s capable of making something happen with his legs too.


3. Tar Heels’ Advantage on Special Teams
North Carolina has the edge in just about every aspect of special teams. NC State has struggled in the kicking game while Tar Heels kicker Nick Weiler has been solid and clutch this season. The Wolfpack have not done a great job returning punts; UNC is tops in the country when it comes to punt coverage. Switzer has been a dangerous punt returner for his entire career and T.J. Logan has run two kickoffs back for scores this year. In a game like this where NC State is a decided underdog, the Wolfpack need to turn the tables and make something happen on special teams.


Final Analysis


So much of this game will be determined by the psyche of the two teams. The Tar Heels still have a chance at a repeat ACC Coastal Division title, but they know that they don’t control their own destiny. But it is the mental state of the other team that will have a greater impact on the outcome. NC State found itself in a pretty good spot midway through the year, but still needs one more win to have any chance of going to a bowl game. Is that enough motivation for this Wolfpack team? It is true that playing the team from down the road should be all the motivation they need. But when adversity hits, how will Dave Doeren’s team respond?


On what is supposed to be a nice day in Chapel Hill, North Carolina quarterback Mitch Trubisky will have a big game throwing the ball, something that NC State’s offense just can’t match. Matt Dayes will do his damage on the ground, but the Tar Heels win easily and then turn their attention to the Virginia-Virginia Tech game on Saturday.


Prediction: North Carolina 41, NC State 21


— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.

NC State Wolfpack vs. North Carolina Tar Heels Preview and Prediction
Post date: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - 11:45
Path: /nfl/minnesota-vikings-vs-detroit-lions-preview-and-prediction-2016

It’s been a drought-busting season throughout major sports. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Finals, bringing Cleveland its first title since 1964. The Chicago Cubs ended their historic 108-year run without a championship by winning the World Series.


Could the Detroit Lions be next on the list?


A team whose last NFL championship appearance (and win) was in 1957 must first make the playoffs. Sitting at 6-4, the Lions are tied for the NFC North lead with Thursday’s opponent, the Minnesota Vikings and are two games ahead of the Green Bay Packers. In a weak season for the NFC, 6-4 also is a half-game behind Washington, who currently possesses the second wild card spot. However, Detroit’s remaining schedule is difficult. The Lions still have road games against the Cowboys, Giants and Saints as a rematch with the Packers in Week 17 at home.


That makes this game with the Vikings crucial. A win here gives Detroit the tiebreaker and a virtual two-game lead on the division with five games left to play. It also instills confidence in an organization whose flaw for years has been struggling to close games out against elite teams. Turkey Day is a prime opportunity for these Lions to show the nation that this team is “for real.”


Expect a packed, rowdy crowd at Ford Field and a fantastic, competitive start to perhaps the best Thanksgiving Day football schedule we’ve seen in years. (All six teams playing have a winning record.)


Series History: Vikings lead 71-37-2, teams have split last 10.


Minnesota at Detroit


Kickoff: Thursday, Nov. 24 at 12:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Lions -2.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Matthew Stafford vs The Vikings “D”
Stafford is in the midst of, by all accounts, his most consistent season as Detroit’s quarterback. His 101.2 passer rating ranks fifth in the NFL, as he has 18 touchdown passes and just five interceptions in 10 games. In the last six, his TD-to-INT ratio is a robust 11:1, one of the big reasons why the Lions are 5-1 during that span.


What’s interesting about this surge is that Stafford has just two 300-yard passing games thus far and none since Week 3. Instead of playing for stats, he’s done a great job at taking what the defense gives him and minimizing mistakes. Detroit has just eight giveaways all season, tied for sixth in the NFL and had gone four games without losing a fumble before last Sunday’s matchup against Jacksonville.


Stafford’s been at his best when managing the two-minute drill. The Lions have come from behind in five of their six wins with the go-ahead (or game-tying) score coming with less than two minutes on the clock in four of those. Vikings fans remember one drive all too well, Stafford and the offense setting Matt Prater up for a 58-yard field goal that forced overtime in Minnesota three weeks ago. Detroit then won the game on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Stafford to Golden Tate to cap the first drive of the extra period.


Stafford’s confidence is sky high, even responding against Washington a few weeks ago when he got the ball with 1:05 remaining after Kirk Cousins put the Redskins in position to win on the road. The Vikings’ defense, which showed signs of revival against the Cardinals last week, knows it will have to play a full game and not let up late unless they want Stafford to add another comeback to his résumé.


2. Which Running Game Can Get Going?
Both teams have had issues with the running game this season. The Lions, whose top rusher ran for just 511 yards last season, have dealt with injuries to their top running backs and just haven’t been able to find productive replacements. Ditto for the Vikings, who have been without All-Pro Adrian Peterson since he injured his knee in Week 2.


Detroit is 30th and Minnesota is last in the NFL in rushing, as both teams average fewer than 80 yards per game on the ground. In last week win’s against Jacksonville, Theo Riddick led the way with a grand total of 13 rushing yards, as the team averaged an anemic 0.7 yards per carry.


In the first meeting against the Vikings, Riddick finished with 70 rushing yards, as the Lions outgained Minnesota on the ground 97-78. There’s a good chance that whichever team comes out ahead in that statistic again in this game will be victorious, but don’t be surprised to see a lot of balls flying in Ford Field on Thanksgiving Day.


3. Can the Vikings Make Big Plays?
After starting 5-0, Minnesota lost its next four, averaging just 14 points per game in the process. The Vikings got back into the win column last week with a 30-24 home victory over the Cardinals, but it wasn’t because of an offensive onslaught. Sam Bradford finished with just 169 passing yards and committed his fifth turnover in as many games, while the ground game managed just 72 yards on 24 carries (3.0 ypc).


Instead, as has been the key for Minnesota this season, it was the defense’s and special teams’ big plays that fueled the win. Xavier Rhodes picked off Carson Palmer near the goal line and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown, increasing the Vikings’ lead to 10 at that point in the game. And Cordarrelle Patterson opened the second half with a 104-yard kickoff return for a score to put his team back in front by double digits. Kai Forbath, who replaced a struggling Blair Walsh as kicker, also chipped in with a 27-yard field goal, although he did miss one of his four extra point attempts.


In many ways, it was a textbook victory for this Minnesota team. The offense needs to capitalize on the few scoring opportunities it creates, while the defense comes up with a few big plays and special teams provides a spark. If the Vikings can build on this formula (and the offense can pick it up a bit), the schedule is there to make a playoff run. Minnesota still has games left against Chicago and Jacksonville, who are a combined 4-16 entering Week 12. If the Vikings can find a way to beat Detroit on the road, they would be looking at a strong chance of finishing no worse than 9-7.


Final Analysis


This game is a coin flip. But since I have to choose, I like Detroit’s annual Thanksgiving slot to serve as an opportunity for Matthew Stafford to showcase his growth as an NFL quarterback. While Sam Bradford has done an admirable job leading Minnesota, playing on the road against the Lions’ newfound confidence in a game rife with playoff implications, may prove too much to overcome.


Prediction: Lions 24, Vikings 21


— Written by Tom Bowles, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @NASCARBowles.

Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions Preview and Prediction
Post date: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - 11:30
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army West Point Black Knights, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, syndicated, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Troy University, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/predictions-every-college-football-game-week-13-2016

College football’s 2016 regular season is winding down, but there are two weeks of action remaining, including a busy and rivalry-filled Week 13 slate. Three MAC games start the action on Tuesday night for Week 13, including Akron at Ohio and Central Michigan traveling to Eastern Michigan. The NFL takes the spotlight on Thanksgiving, but there’s an intriguing showdown in College Station with LSU visiting Texas A&M on Thursday night. A handful of games are on tap for Friday, including NC State-North Carolina, Arkansas-Missouri, Washington-Washington State, Nebraska-Iowa and TCU-Texas. The rivalry week slate concludes on Saturday with key matchups like Ohio State-Michigan, Florida State-Florida, Colorado-Utah and Alabama-Auburn. 


Which teams will come out on top in every FBS game for Week 13? Bryan Fischer and Jim Weber join Athlon Sports' Steven Lassan and Mitch Light to provide weekly predictions for every contest:


College Football Week 13 Predictions







Central Michigan at

Eastern Michigan


Ball State at

Miami, Ohio


Akron at



LSU at

Texas A&M


NC State at

North Carolina


Buffalo at

Bowling Green


Northern Illinois at

Kent State


Toledo at

Western Michigan


Nebraska at



Houston at



Cincinnati at



Louisiana Tech at

Southern Miss


Arkansas at



Washington at

Washington State


TCU at



Boise State at

Air Force


Baylor vs. 

Texas Tech


Arizona State at


Purdue at


Kentucky at


Rutgers at


Duke at


Michigan State at

Penn State

Syracuse at


Virginia at

Virginia Tech

Boston College at

Wake Forest

WKU at


Tulane at


UCF at


East Carolina at


West Virginia at

Iowa State

Kansas at

Kansas State

Illinois at


Mississippi State at

Ole Miss

Tennessee at


Minnesota at


Navy at


Arkansas State at

UL Lafayette

North Texas at


Utah State at


Wyoming at

New Mexico



Oregon at

Oregon State

Rice at


Nevada at


South Alabama at


FIU at

Old Dominion

San Jose State at

Fresno State

Troy at

Texas State

Appalachian State at


FAU at


Charlotte at


Colorado State at

San Diego State

UMass at


Notre Dame at


Auburn at


Georgia Tech at


South Carolina at


Florida at

Florida State

Utah at 


Michigan at

Ohio State


Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 13 2016
Post date: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - 11:30
Path: /college-football/arkansas-razorbacks-vs-missouri-tigers-preview-and-prediction-2016

The 2016 version of the Battle Line Rivalry may not have SEC title implications but there are enough interesting story lines to keep even the average college football fan hooked. When the Arkansas Razorbacks (7-4, 3-4 SEC) face off against the Missouri Tigers (3-8, 1-6) expect a lot of offense and big numbers on the scoreboard.


Missouri is not getting Arkansas at the best time. The Razorbacks are coming off a tour de force offensive performance against Mississippi State, racking up 661 yards, the fourth-highest single-game output in school history. Arkansas mixed it up between sophomore running back Rawleigh Williams and junior quarterback Austin Allen and scored on nine of 11 drives en route to a 58-42 road win over the Bulldogs.


The Tigers limp into this game on the heels of a 63-37 loss to Tennessee in Knoxville. Mizzou gave its all for three quarters, but gave up a total of 42 points in the second half, 28 of those coming in the fourth quarter alone. The silver lining for Tigers was a school-record 740 yards against the Volunteers.


Arkansas at Missouri


Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 25 at 2:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: CBS
Spread: Arkansas -9.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Damarea Crockett Suspended
Following a record-setting 225-yard performance against Tennessee, Crockett also is now the record holder at Missouri for rushing yards by a freshman with 1,062. The fourth-leading rusher in the SEC, Crockett was really looking forward to this game considering the Little Rock native was never offered by Arkansas coming out of high school.


Unfortunately, Crockett will have to wait for his shot against the Razorbacks as he has been suspended by head coach Barry Odom for this game following his arrest Sunday morning on suspicion of marijuana possession. Junior Ish Witter and sophomore Nate Strong will handle the carries against Arkansas in Crckett’s absence. Witter ran for a career-best 163 yards last week against the Volunteers. 


2. Can Missouri Stop Rawleigh Williams?
Williams, like Crockett, also enters this game after putting together his best effort in an Arkansas uniform. Against Mississippi State, Williams piled up 205 yards on just 16 carries (12.8 ypc) and scored four times. Most of the damage came in the first half (191 yards), as Williams now leads the SEC and is top 20 in the nation in rushing with 1,209 yards, while averaging 5.8 yards per carry.


The Razorbacks have been tinkering with their offensive line all season, but the addition of Johnny Gibson at right guard has made the difference during this second half surge. The sophomore has brought both size (6-4, 344) and a presence up front to help provide more power and push for the ground game that was missing at times early in the season.


3. Which Quarterback Can Lead His Team to Victory?
Arkansas’ Austin Allen bounced back from a bad game against LSU for a 300-yard performance against Mississippi State. Allen connected on 18 of 25 pass attempts and tossed two more touchdowns to bring his season total to 22. Missouri’s Drew Lock went 21-for-43 for 320 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions in the loss to Tennessee. The Tigers’ sophomore signal-caller leads the SEC in passing yards (3,131), and is tied with Allen for second in touchdown passes. Both have thrown 10 interceptions in 11 games.


The difference between the two is accuracy. Allen is fourth in the conference with a completion rate of 61.3 percent. Lock has by far attempted the most passes (408 compared to 331 for Allen), but he’s only completed 54.2 percent of his attempts.


Final Analysis


Neither team is a titan on defense, but Arkansas might be just a tad bit better. The Razorbacks are 10th in the SEC and 85th in the FBS in total defense at 431.4 yards per game allowed. Missouri is last in the conference and near the bottom of the national rankings (No. 116 out of 128) at 477.5 yards per game. Arkansas also is credited with one of the nation’s toughest schedules, ranking ninth in opponents’ strength; whereas Missouri’s slate checks in considerably lower (No. 55).


The two defenses are fairly close from a statistical standpoint in how each unit has fared against the pass, which could be a key considering the success both Austin Allen and Drew Lock have had throwing the ball for their respective teams. Neither defense has done a great job against the run, but the Razorbacks have fared better statistically, at least in terms of rushing yards allowed (216.5 ypg vs. 239.9 ypg). However, Arkansas is near the bottom of the FBS in terms of rushing touchdowns allowed (33, tied for 125th), while Missouri has not been as generous (26, tied for 101st).


The Razorbacks are looking to improve to .500 in SEC play and improve their bowl positioning in the process. The Tigers have the opportunity to not only play spoiler as it relates to the Hogs’ postseason aspirations, but also end their season on a high note with a big win at home. Unfortunately, Arkansas has too much firepower for Missouri to match.


Prediction: Arkansas 48, Missouri 28


— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and he has his own recruiting site, Follow him on Twitter @HogManInLA.

Arkansas Razorbacks vs. Missouri Tigers Preview and Prediction
Post date: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - 11:15
Path: /nfl/washington-redskins-vs-dallas-cowboys-preview-and-prediction-2016

It’s an annual tradition across the country on Thanksgiving. Turkey. Pumpkin Pie. The Dallas Cowboys.


While past editions of the NFL's Turkey Day games have featured some mediocre (at best) squads, this year’s matchups figure to be some of the best they’ve ever been and that’s highlighted by the Dallas Cowboys hosting the Washington Redskins in a meeting between two of the hottest teams in the NFC. Each squad is currently in the running for a top seed in the playoffs and the contest has serious divisional implications down the road.


The Cowboys are of course led by their budding MVP candidates in rookie quarterback Dak Prescott and No. 4 overall pick Ezekiel Elliott. The backfield tandem has played a huge part in the team running off a franchise-record nine wins in a row and the offensive line has simply worn down opponents over four quarters on a consistent basis. The Dallas defense also has made huge strides in 2016 and is hoping to limit an opponent to 17 or fewer points for the seventh time this season.


On the other sidelines, Washington has lost just once since falling at home to the Cowboys back in mid-September. While the team’s defense has steadily improved as the year has gone on, it’s the offense and quarterback Kirk Cousins that have exploded to the point where they’re second in the NFL entering the week. While it’s a short week, they routed the Packers on Sunday night and have plenty of confidence and momentum heading into Thanksgiving.


This will be the 114th meeting between the two bitter rivals that have combined for eight Super Bowl titles. The Cowboys own the series edge 67-44-2 and have won five of the last seven. However the Redskins have won three of four in Dallas, including a 34-23 thumping at AT&T Stadium back in January and a seven-point win back when the two last met on Thanksgiving.


Washington at Dallas


Kickoff: Thursday, Nov. 24 at 4:30 p.m. ET

TV Chanel: FOX

Spread: Cowboys -6.5


Three Things to Watch


1. Limiting the Cowboys’ Backfield

The Cowboys have progressed from a nice story with Tony Romo out of the lineup to full-on Super Bowl contenders out of the NFC East thanks to the play of their rookie backfield. There’s no question that the team’s mammoth offensive line has played the starring role in that resurgence but Ezekiel Elliott has been able to rack up yards between the tackles and in the open field like the best back in football right now. Dak Prescott has slowly added more to his plate at quarterback and it’s paying off as the passing game has become much more potent down the field. Washington is in the bottom half of the league in terms of stopping the run and has already given up 13 rushing touchdowns this season. The front seven has started to come on lately but the bottom line is this game will come down to the Redskins slowing down the Dallas rookies.


2. The Kirk Cousins Show

“How do you like me now?” Pretty good as it turns out. The Washington quarterback is coming off one of his best outings of the season (375 yards, three touchdowns) and has gone over the 300-yard mark five times this year. The talk is already heating up about the franchise ponying up and dropping a big contract offer on the table for the signal-caller and you can bet that a win over the Cowboys would help negotiations even more for the fifth-year veteran. Dallas’ defense has not been quite as good as others at pressuring opponents in the pocket but has made up for it on the back end in limiting some of the better QBs in the league in recent weeks. The last meeting between the two teams saw Cousins throw a costly interception and you can bet he’ll be gunning for some revenge on Thursday with another aerial show.


3. Tryptophan Effect

While fans may long for a short cat nap at halftime after a bunch of turkey and stuffing, you wonder if each team might be in for a bit of a slow start given the short week each faces. This has been a particularly rough stretch for Washington, which flew back from London at the beginning of the month and then concluded a two-game home stretch with a late Sunday night win. Now the Redskins have to head to Texas with little practice time and needing to go through a crash course to install a new game plan. The Cowboys, meanwhile, have played three straight against the rough AFC North and also have to regroup after the short week. Thanksgiving Day games have their fair share of strange plays, mistakes and turnovers so it could be a little more of the same for these two.


Final Analysis


The best and most interesting division in football this season has surprisingly been the NFC East and things are about to shift into a high gear as we enter the home stretch. The first of the big divisional showdowns starts on Thursday and it pits two of the hottest teams in the league who have lost just once since late September. Not just that, but the contrast in styles — Washington winning through the air, Dallas on the ground — makes this meeting a must-watch on your slate of things to do on Thanksgiving.


Quarterback Kirk Cousins has plenty riding on a big win and can continue his stellar play of the last few weeks by picking apart a thin secondary. The Redskins also have received contributions from unexpected places like tailback Robert Kelly and wide receiver Jamison Crowder to turn into a playoff contender once again and a potential roadblock in Dallas’ dream season. It won’t be easy, but Jay Gruden’s team has all of the weapons to pull off a big upset and is playing much better than it was in the first meeting between the two franchises.


But these Redskins will be running into a freight train heading downhill however, and in more ways than one. The Cowboys are not only winners of nine straight but they’re rolling over opponents in unexpected ways. Their rookie backfield sliced and diced one of the league’s best defenses on Sunday and is aiming to keep things going with a big win on Thanksgiving.


This has all the makings of a close contest that comes down to protecting the football, something Dallas does a bit better than its opponent. Playing at home in front of a turkey-fueled crowd will be enough to keep the win streak going but it won’t be easy in this NFC East tussle.


Prediction: Cowboys 28, Redskins 24


— Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.

Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys Preview and Prediction
Post date: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - 10:45
All taxonomy terms: syndicated, NFL
Path: /nfl/predictions-every-nfl-game-week-12-2016

While Week 11’s NFL action may not have matched the excitement and entertainment value from Week 10, it could end up having just as much impact on how the season eventually plays out. Injuries were the headline for Week 11 as Andrew Luck, A.J. Green, LeSean McCoy, Luke Kuechly, Earl Thomas, Ryan Mathews, Jay Cutler, Giovani Bernard, C.J. Prosise were among those who got hurt.


Even though the health of specific players will certainly loom large for certain Week 12 matchups, there is good news for football fans. There’s a full slate of action lined up, starting with a Thanksgiving Day triple-header. The Turkey Day action begins with a battle for first place in the NFC North between Minnesota and Detroit.


Dallas, the other traditional Thanksgiving host team, will put its nine-game winning streak on the line at home against archrival Washington. The Redskins are in the thick of the playoff chase following a convincing 42-24 win over the Packers. The football feast concludes Thursday night with Indianapolis in Pittsburgh to face the Steelers. The Colts may be without Luck, who is in the concussion protocol and may not be able to clear the necessary tests on a short week.


Other intriguing matchups in Week 12 include a key AFC North clash between Cincinnati and Baltimore. How will the Bengals respond after losing Green and Bernard to injuries? Arizona travels to Atlanta with the Cardinals desperately needing a win as they look to get a second half surge started. Carolina also faces a must-win situation as the Panthers will visit the Black Hole to take on AFC-leading Oakland.


And the Sunday night game, which was flexed from New England at the Jets, features Kansas City and Denver facing off in a matchup of the two teams currently leading the chase for the wild card spots in the AFC.


So which teams will come out on top in every NFL game in Week 12? Athlon's own Rob Doster (AthlonDoster), John Gworek (JohnGworek), Steven Lassan (AthlonSteven), and Mark Ross (AthlonMarkR), along with contributor Bryan Fischer (BryanDFischer), predict the winners for every game this week:


NFL Week 12 Predictions












Minnesota at

Washington at

Pittsburgh at

Tennessee at

Jacksonville at

Cincinnati at

Arizona at

NY Giants at

Los Angeles at
New Orleans

San Francisco at

San Diego at

Seattle at
Tampa Bay
Carolina at

New England at
NY Jets

Kansas City at
Denver (SNF)

Green Bay at
Philadelphia (MNF)

Week 10 9-5 8-6 10-4 10-4 10-4
Season 104-55 91-68 93-66 94-65 95-64


Note: Ties are not included in season record.

Predictions for Every NFL Game in Week 12
Post date: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - 10:30
Path: /college-football/nebraska-cornhuskers-vs-iowa-hawkeyes-preview-and-prediction-2016

As we enter the final full weekend of the 2016 college football season, the Big Ten West division is still up for grabs. Sure, Wisconsin can clinch the division title with a win over Minnesota on Saturday, but given what we've seen go down over the past couple of weekends that's not exactly a lock. As a result, the Nebraska Cornhuskers are still alive in the race for the division and a trip to the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis. The Huskers can get there with a win over Iowa on Friday and a Minnesota victory over Wisconsin the next day.


The Hawkeyes, however, are playing as well as anyone in the country right now. They've allowed only 13 points in their last two games and look like they've re-discovered that elite rushing attack that made them so dangerous a season ago.


Black Friday in Iowa City will be a high-stakes, entertaining affair.


Nebraska at Iowa


Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 25 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: ABC

Spread: Iowa -3


Three Things to Watch


1. The Health of Tommy Armstrong

There's literally no bigger factor in the outcome of this game. The Cornhuskers beat Maryland last weekend without Armstrong, but you could tell that the Nebraska offense was missing some of his playmaking ability. There were a couple scrambles by backup quarterback Ryker Fyfe that may have resulted in much longer runs — if not touchdowns — had it been Armstrong carrying the ball. Armstrong is the type of player whose presence dictates how opposing defenses attack. If he plays, regardless of how healthy he is, Iowa must account for him. If he doesn't, I'm not sure Fyfe can have the same success against the Hawkeyes as he did against the Terrapins.


2. Iowa's Rushing Attack

When they are playing to their full potential like they have been over the last two games, there may not be a better running back duo in the country than Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels. Each has more than 850 rushing yards on the year and have combined for 17 scores on the ground. They'll be running behind the best offensive line outside of Ohio State that Nebraska has seen all year. Iowa wants to keep Nebraska's skill position-heavy offense off the field. The Hawkeyes can do just that and shorten the game if they can get their running back tandem rolling.


3. Nate Gerry vs. C.J. Beathard

If Iowa is going to win, it wont be able to do so with the run alone. Beathard, Iowa's senior quarterback, is going to need to find his tight ends and slot receivers over the middle for some tough throws during key parts of the game. Roaming that part of the field for Nebraska will be Gerry — one of the best safeties in college football. Beathard's ability to read Gerry and find those open receivers will be the difference between a one-dimensional Iowa offensive attack and one that keeps Nebraska's Blackshirt defense on its heels.


Final Analysis


If Tommy Armstrong plays, we're in for a terrific matchup featuring two of the most seasoned quarterbacks in college football. If he does not, Nebraska is in for an uphill battle on the road against a very physical football team. Regardless of whether or not the Cornhuskers' signal-caller goes under center, Nebraska's defense is going to have its hands full with Iowa's running game and quarterback C.J. Beathard's playmaking ability. As a result, expect Iowa to win the time of possession battle. When Nebraska has the ball, the Husker offensive line is going to be facing a defensive front that is quite simply more violent and physical. That's going to make rushing lanes tough to come by and throw off the timing in Nebraska's passing game. Iowa wins a low-scoring game that really isn't as close as the score would indicate.


Prediction: Iowa 23, Nebraska 17


— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on,, Yahoo! and Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.

Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes Preview and Prediction
Post date: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - 10:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/thanksgiving-day-nfl-tv-games-times-schedule-channel-2016

Thanksgiving is a holiday full of tradition. There’s time spent with family and friends, some great food and of course football. Each year the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys join four other NFL teams to provide quality entertainment for your Thanksgiving feast.


This year’s Turkey Day slate incudes two divisional matchups with playoff implications as well as a primetime showdown between two perennial AFC contenders who find themselves on the outside looking in. Here’s how (TV channel, online streaming) and when (kickoff time) to catch every game:


Minnesota vs. Detroit

Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: CBS

Location: at Detroit

Game Preview: Minnesota Vikings vs. Detroit Lions Preview and Prediction

Livestream: NFL GamePass

The Vikings look to take back the NFC North lead from Matt Stafford and the Lions in the first game of the day. The winner of this game will be in the driver’s seat in the division.


Washington vs. Dallas

Kickoff: 4:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: FOX

Location: at Dallas

Game Preview: Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys Preview and Prediction

Livestream: NFL GamePass

Don’t look now, but the NFC East has become one of the top two divisions in football. Dallas has enjoyed the success of rookies Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott and is sitting pretty atop the division, while the Washington Redskins look to claw their way into a wild card position.


Pittsburgh vs Indianapolis

Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: NBC

Location: at Indianapolis

Game Preview: Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Indianapolis Colts Preview and Prediction

Livestream: NFL GamePass

Big Ben and Andrew Luck aren’t very familiar with being outsiders in the playoff picture, but that is the exact situation in which both quarterbacks and their teams find themselves. Expect high-flying action to cap off this year’s edition of Thanksgiving football.

Post date: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - 09:40
Path: /college-football/5-best-apple-cups-washington-vs-washington-state-college-football-rivalry

Friday’s showdown in Pullman, Wash., will be one of the biggest Apple Cups in history. Either Washington or Washington State will be playing in their first Pac-12 Championship Game based on which team wins and the Huskies still have a decent shot at making College Football Playoff.


The two Evergreen State schools first met in 1900 and have played some thrilling games in their 108 previous meetings. Even though Washington holds a commanding 70-32-6 lead in the series, there have been plenty of matchups that not only enthralled their respective fan bases, but the rest of the country too. Here are the five best.


5. Washington State 21, Washington 20

Nov. 23, 1985 – Seattle

Both teams were tied 14-14 in the fourth quarter, but Washington State quarterback Mark Rypien completed a 15-yard strike to Kitrick Taylor to take a 21-14 lead with 11:19 left in the game. However, the Huskies responded with a 50-yard touchdown pass from Chris Chandler to Lonzell Hill with less than three minutes to go. On the two-point try, Chandler tried to connect with Hill again, but the attempt failed. For the Cougars, the win was a bright spot to what had been a disappointing season.


4. Washington 29, Washington State 26 (3OT)

Nov. 23, 2002 – Pullman, Wash.

The third-ranked Cougars led 20-10 with 4:41 to go in the game, but had just lost starting quarterback Jason Gesser to a leg injury. Washington then scored to narrow the lead to 20-17. On the next series, Washington State backup quarterback Matt Kegel threw an interception that set up the tying field goal. In overtime, Huskies kicker John Anderson nailed three field goals and put Washington up 29-26 in the third overtime. On the first play of Wazzu’s final possession, Kegel threw a pass to his left, but UW lineman Kai Ellis batted the ball to the ground and fell on it. After a minute of review, the officials determined that it was a backward pass and that Ellis recovered a fumble. The game was over and the Huskies left Pullman with an epic upset.


3. Washington 8, WSU 7

Nov. 19, 1960 – Spokane, Wash.

The 8-1 Huskies were three-touchdown favorites, but were held scoreless for the first three quarters. The Cougars went ahead 7-0 with a three-yard touchdown pass from Mel Melin to end Hugh Campbell. Washington’s Charlie Mitchell returned the ensuing kickoff 35 yards to the Washington State 48-yard line and the Huskies put together a 14-play, 52-yard drive that was punctuated with a one-yard sneak by backup quarterback Kermit Jorgensen for the touchdown. Starting quarterback Bob Hivner then came back in and hit Don McKeta in the end zone for the two-point conversion. That narrow win sent Washington to the Rose Bowl where the Huskies beat national champion Minnesota (remember this is still the era when the national champs were named before the bowl games.). Note: Even though Washington State is located in Pullman, the Cougars hosted their Apple Cup games in Spokane from 1950-80.


2. Washington 31, Washington State 24 (OT)

Nov. 23, 1996 – Pullman, Wash.

The Huskies led 24-0 midway through the third quarter thanks to three touchdowns by running back Corey Dillon and the game appeared to be all but over. The Cougars responded with a field goal in the third quarter and then staged a furious fourth quarter comeback. Quarterback Ryan Leaf ran for a score and threw for another touchdown. Wazzu running back Michael Black tied the game at 24-24 with a 10-yard touchdown run with 1:18 left. Washington drove down the field and lined up for the game-winning field goal with eight seconds left, but the kick was blocked. In overtime, quarterback Brock Huard hit Jerome Pathon in the end zone to put the Huskies up 31-24. On Washington State’s possession, Leaf threw a pass to Chad Carpenter, but it was caught out of bounds. That was as close as the Cougars got to tying the game and the epic comeback fell just short.


1. Washington State 32, Washington 31

Nov. 19, 1988 – Pullman, Wash.

The Cougars were putting together their best regular season in more than 50 years, but still had to beat Washington in the snow. The Huskies jumped out to a 28-16 halftime lead, but Washington State scored 10 points to close the lead to 31-26. In the fourth quarter, cornerback Shawn Landrum blocked a Washington punt and the Cougars recovered the ball on the Huskies’ 13-yard line.  Facing a fourth-and-2, Wazzu quarterback Timm Rosenbach took the snap, rolled left and cut up the middle for a five-yard touchdown. With the win, the Cougars were 8-3 and accepted a bid to the Aloha Bowl, their first postseason game in seven years.


— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.


(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

5 Best Apple Cups in the Washington vs. Washington State College Football Rivalry
Post date: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - 09:30
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/happy-thanksgiving-memes-funny-football

Thanksgiving Day is about family, food and, most importantly, football. In anticipation of three NFL games on the schedule for Thanksgiving, here are some of the best Turkey Day-related football memes we could find on the internet. Happy Thanksgiving!


Thanksgiving Football Meme

Funny Thanksgiving Day Meme NFL


Thanksgiving Day Football meme


Thanksgiving Football Meme


Happy Thanksgiving Memes


Thanksgiving Football Meme




Post date: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/iron-bowl-10-greatest-moments-alabama-vs-auburn-college-football-rivalry-history

Saturday will mark the 81st Iron Bowl, the annual gridiron contest between Alabama and Auburn. The rivalry has been at its best in the last 10 years, but the series has produced a number of great moments. Here are the 10 best.


10. The First Meeting

Auburn 32, Alabama 22
Feb. 22, 1893 – Birmingham, Ala.

The teams met in Birmingham’s Lakeview Park, with Auburn (then the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama) winning 32-22. Both schools launched football programs in 1892 and Alabama considers this game to be the final one of that season, while Auburn considers it to be the first of the 1893 season.


9. The Rivalry Resumes

Alabama 55, Auburn 0
Dec. 4, 1948 – Birmingham, Ala.

The two schools stopped playing after the 1907 season because they could not agree on officiating crews and per diems for players, but finally agreed to play again some 40 years later. For Auburn, it could not have come at a worse time. The Crimson Tide gave a 1-8-1 Tigers team their biggest beating of the series and one of the greatest rivalries in college football was born.


8. Alabama is Back

Alabama 36, Auburn 0

Nov. 29, 2008 - Tuscaloosa, Ala.

After losing six straight to Auburn, the Crimson Tide capped their undefeated regular season with a waxing of the Tigers. After the game, Alabama head coach Nick Saban ran around the field waving to the fans who were cheering on the program he had turned around in only two seasons.


7. The Big Muddy

Alabama 7, Auburn 3
Dec. 2, 1967 – Birmingham, Ala.

The first night game of the series was played in severe thunderstorms and wind. The weather and Auburn’s defense shut down Alabama and held a 3-0 lead in the fourth quarter. Then with 11 minutes left, Alabama quarterback Ken Stabler faked a pitchout and sprinted 47 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. The Crimson Tide defense then picked off two Auburn passes to seal the win.


6. Alabama Gets to Know Bo

Auburn 23, Alabama 22
Nov. 27, 1982 – Birmingham, Ala.

The Tigers had lost nine straight to the Crimson Tide and trailed 22-17 in the fourth quarter. However, they would not be denied on this day. Auburn drove 66 yards and scored when freshman Bo Jackson, who had 114 yards in the game, jumped over the top of the pile of defenders with 2:26 left in the game. Jackson actually fumbled on the next possession, but a penalty and the Tigers’ defense kept the Tide out of scoring range. Celebrating Auburn fans tore down the goal posts at Legion Field.


5. Van Tiffin Wins With 52-yard Field Goal

Alabama 25, Auburn 23

Nov. 30, 1985 – Birmingham, Ala.

Alabama led 16-10 entering what would be a wild fourth quarter. First, Bo Jackson scored on a one-yard run to put Auburn ahead 17-16 with 7:03 left. Then Alabama running back Gene Jelks scampered 26 yards into the end zone a minute later to put his team up 22-17. The Tigers responded with a time-consuming 70-yard drive punctuated with a Reggie Ware touchdown run with less than a minute left. Auburn failed on the two-point conversion so its lead was 23-22. Crimson Tide quarterback Mike Shula completed three clutch passes and also had a key block on a reverse to bring his team to the Auburn 35-yard line with six seconds left to play. There, walk-on Van Tiffin kicked a 52-yard field goal to cap one of the best games of the series.


4. Punt Bama Punt

Auburn 17, Alabama 16

Dec. 2, 1972 – Birmingham, Ala.

Alabama held Auburn to 80 yards of offense and led 16-3 with 5:30 to go as the Crimson Tide lined up to punt. Greg Gantt took the snap, but Auburn’s Bill Newton blocked his kick and David Langner picked up the ball and ran into the end zone. A few minutes later, Newton and Langner accomplished the same feat to take a 17-16 lead. Langner later sealed the win with an interception and when he got to the sideline, legendary head coach Shug Jordan appeared upset. According to Langner, he said "But coach, I intercepted the pass," and Jordan replied, "Yeah, but our plan was to make them punt." Recordings of the radio broadcast were sold after the game and bought by more than 20,000 Auburn fans.


3. The Camback

Auburn 28, Alabama 27

Nov. 26, 2010 – Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Alabama jumped out to a 24-0 lead over No. 2 Auburn in the second quarter. Lesser teams would have rolled over, but this was the Cam Newton-led Tigers. Auburn’s defense stiffened and Newton threw three touchdowns and ran for another as the Tigers escaped Tuscaloosa with a 28-27 victory. Auburn went on to win the national title, but its most dramatic victory was its comeback over Alabama.


2. 315

Alabama 28, Auburn 17
Nov. 28, 1981 – Birmingham, Ala.

All eyes were on the state of Alabama as head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant was one win away from breaking Amos Alonzo Stagg’s record of 314 career victories. It looked like he may have to wait another day when Auburn turned two fumbles into 10 points and led 17-14 early in the fourth quarter. The Crimson Tide responded with two touchdowns as Bryant secured his 315th victory.


1. The Kick Six

Auburn 34, Alabama 28

Nov. 30, 2013 – Auburn, Ala.

Two-time defending national champion Alabama was 11-0 and Auburn was 10-1. The winner of the game would go to the SEC Championship Game the next week. The Tigers seemed to match the Crimson Tide score for score and tied the game 28-28 with 32 seconds left. Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon ran out of bounds at the Auburn 38-yard line with one second on the clock and the Crimson Tide lined up for a 57-yard field goal. Punt returner Chris Davis fielded the offline kick nine yards deep in the end zone and blew past Alabama’s stunned and somewhat slow field goal unit as he streaked down the sidelines to the end zone for the most dramatic moment of the series. Today, the “Kick Six” is not only the best play in Iron Bowl history. It may very well be the greatest play in college football history.


— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.


(Top photo courtesy of

Iron Bowl: 10 Greatest Moments in Alabama vs. Auburn Rivalry History
Post date: Tuesday, November 22, 2016 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Texas Longhorns, Big 12, News
Path: /college-football/5-coaching-candidates-replace-charlie-strong-texas

Texas hasn’t officially made a coaching change, but all signs point to Saturday’s matchup against TCU as the final regular season game of Charlie Strong’s tenure in Austin. Strong is 16-20 through three seasons leading the Longhorns and posted losing records in his first two years on campus. This season’s team seemed to be on the right track after a win over Notre Dame in the opener, and the offense improved behind new play-caller Sterlin Gilbert. However, the Longhorns lost a 50-43 shootout against California in September, which began a three-game losing streak. Texas rebounded to win three of its next four conference matchups, providing some signs of progress for Strong to sell in order to return in 2017. But the biggest setback of Strong’s tenure was an overtime 24-21 loss to Kansas on Nov. 19.


Barring a change of heart by the Texas administrators, a new coach will lead the Longhorns in 2017. Who could be the next coach at one of college football’s top jobs? Here are five names to watch:


5 Candidates to Replace Charlie Strong at Texas


Tom Herman, head coach, Houston

Normally, we would list candidates in alphabetical order. However, the list of coaching candidates for Texas begins and (likely) ends with Herman. The California native has extensive ties to the state of Texas, spending time in the Lone Star State as an assistant at Texas (1999-00), Sam Houston State (2001-04), Texas State (2005-06), Rice (2007-08) and is in his second season as the head coach at Houston. Under his watch, the Cougars are 22-3 overall and finished No. 8 nationally after a 13-1 mark last year. Herman was also one of the nation’s top assistant coaches during his stint as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator from 2012-14. Herman is one of the nation’s rising stars and a great fit in Austin.


Larry Fedora, head coach, North Carolina

Fedora is 40-23 during his five seasons at North Carolina and is a native of the state of Texas (College Station). Before landing his first FBS head coaching gig at Southern Miss in 2008, Fedora worked as an assistant at Oklahoma State, Florida, MTSU, Air Force and Baylor. Under his watch, the Tar Heels posted an 11-win season last fall and claimed the Coastal Division title for the first time in school history.


Bryan Harsin, head coach, Boise State

Harsin is a name familiar to many in Austin, as he worked under Mack Brown as the program’s offensive coordinator from 2011-12. The former Boise State quarterback is another rising star in the Group of 5 head coaching ranks, guiding the Broncos to a 31-7 record over the last three seasons. Harsin also spent one year at Arkansas State (2013) and guided the Red Wolves to a 7-5 record that season.


Mike MacIntyre, head coach, Colorado

MacIntyre should be the national coach of the year at the end of the 2016 season. Under his watch, Colorado has made major improvement in on-field results and could win the Pac-12 South with a victory over Utah this week. After winning just three Pac-12 games from 2013-15 and inheriting a mess of a roster from former coach Jon Embree, MacIntyre has guided the Buffaloes to a 9-2 overall mark and 7-1 record in conference play this season. And prior to Colorado, MacIntyre worked the same type of turnaround at San Jose State. The Spartans went 1-12 in his first year but improved to 10-2 in the 2012 regular season.


Philip Montgomery, head coach, Tulsa

Montgomery is another coach with ties to the state of Texas. After a playing career in college at Tarleton State in Stephenville, Montgomery worked as an assistant in the high school ranks from 1995-02. Montgomery worked at Houston under Art Briles as an assistant from 2003-07 and again at Baylor from 2008-14. Montgomery was hired as Tulsa’s coach in 2015 and guided the Golden Hurricane to a 6-7 record – a four-win improvement from the previous year. Tulsa is 8-3 in 2016 and is led by one of the nation’s top offenses (41.5 ppg).

5 Coaching Candidates to Replace Charlie Strong at Texas
Post date: Monday, November 21, 2016 - 16:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army West Point Black Knights, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, syndicated, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Troy University, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-post-week-12-bowl-projections-2016

Just two weeks remain in college football’s 2016 season. While the regular season is winding down, the bowl picture is starting to clear for all 10 conferences and rivalry week should add even more certainty to postseason destinations for eligible teams. Considering the 2016-17 bowl season is less than one month away, it’s never too early to take a peek at the potential matchups this postseason. The first edition of the College Football Playoff rankings by the committee were released on Nov. 1 and continue each Tuesday until the first Sunday in December after the conference championship games.


The bowl season features 41 matchups, with five games on Dec. 17 starting the 2016-17 slate. The postseason concludes on Jan. 9 with the national championship, while the playoff semifinals are on Dec. 31 this year.


The post-Week 12 bowl projections are a mixture between picks for the next two weeks, preseason projections, how things would look if the season ended today, and the results from the first 12 weeks of action. Expect several changes over the next two weeks.


* Indicates conferences did not have enough projected teams to fill tie-ins.


College Football's Post-Week 12 Bowl Projections


Bowl Date Matchup Projection
New Mexico Dec. 17

C-USA vs.


 UTSA vs.

New Mexico 

Las Vegas Dec. 17

Pac-12 vs.


San Diego State vs.

Arizona State 

AutoNation Cure Dec. 17

American vs.

Sun Belt

 Appalachian State vs.


Camellia Dec. 17

MAC vs.

Sun Belt

 Miami, Ohio vs.

South Alabama 

New Orleans Dec. 17

C-USA vs.

Sun Belt

 Arkansas State vs.

Old Dominion 

Miami Beach Dec. 19

American vs.


 Toledo vs.


Boca Raton Dec. 20

American/MAC vs.


WKU vs.


Poinsettia Dec. 21

BYU vs.


 BYU vs.


Famous Idaho Potato Dec. 22

MW vs.


 Central Michigan vs.

Colorado State 

Bahamas Dec. 23

American/MAC vs.


 Eastern Michigan vs.

North Texas

Armed Forces Dec. 23

American vs.

Big 12

 Navy vs.


Dollar General Dec. 23

Sun Belt vs.


 Troy vs.


Hawaii Dec. 24

MW vs.


 Hawaii vs.


St. Petersburg Dec. 26

American vs.


 Memphis vs.


Quick Lane Dec. 26

ACC vs.

Big Ten

Indiana vs.

Boston College 

Independence Dec. 26

ACC vs.


 Kentucky vs.

NC State 

Heart of Dallas Dec. 27

Big Ten vs.


 Louisiana Tech vs.


Military Dec. 27

American vs.


 Temple vs.

Georgia Tech 

Holiday Dec. 27

Big Ten vs.


 Iowa vs.

Washington State 

Cactus Dec. 27

Big 12 vs.


 TCU vs.

Boise State* 

Pinstripe Dec. 28

ACC vs.

Big Ten

 Maryland vs.


Russell Athletic Dec. 28

ACC vs.

Big 12

 West Virginia vs.

North Carolina 

Foster Farms Dec. 28

Big Ten vs.


 Northwestern vs.


Texas Dec. 28

Big 12 vs.


 Kansas State vs.

Texas A&M 

Birmingham Dec. 29

American vs.


 South Carolina vs.


Belk Dec. 29

ACC vs.


 Georgia vs.

Virginia Tech 

Alamo Dec. 29

Big 12 vs.


Oklahoma State vs.


Liberty Dec. 30

Big 12 vs.


 Texas vs.

Ole Miss 

Sun Dec. 30

ACC/ND vs.


 Wake Forest vs.


Arizona Dec. 30

Sun Belt vs.


 Air Force vs.


Music City Dec. 30

ACC/Big Ten vs.


 Minnesota vs.


Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Dec. 31

Big Ten/ACC vs.


 Auburn vs.

Florida State 

TaxSlayer Dec. 31

ACC/Big Ten vs.


 LSU vs.


Outback Jan. 2

Big Ten vs.


 Nebraska vs.


New Year's Six
Orange Dec. 30

ACC vs.

ND/SEC/Big Ten

 Louisville vs.


Cotton Jan. 2

At-large vs.


 Western Michigan vs.

Penn State 

Rose Jan. 2

Big Ten vs.


 Michigan vs.


Sugar Jan. 2

Big 12 vs.


 Oklahoma vs.


CFB Playoff
Chick-fil-A Peach Dec. 31



 Alabama vs.


Fiesta Dec. 31



 Ohio State vs.


National Title Jan. 9 Peach Winner vs. Fiesta Winner

 Alabama vs.

Ohio State 

College Football's Post-Week 12 Bowl Projections 2016
Post date: Monday, November 21, 2016 - 13:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-podcast-week-12-recap

Athlon Sports breaks down Week 12 in college football. Don't forget to subscribe here and rate us if you like (or don't like) what you hear!


- Congrats to Clemson, Florida and Navy for clinches division and spots in conference championship games. Congrats are also in order for Joe Thomas Sr - aka, the oldest college football player ever - Donnell Pumphrey, Dalvin Cook and James Conner as well.


- How did the top four teams fare this weekend and should coaches go for two at the end of games to win it?


- LSU somehow LSUed their way to a loss to Florida while Texas fell to Kansas for the first time since 1938. What does this mean for Tom Herman and Jimbo Fisher?


- What has happened to the football in the state of Texas? TCU, Baylor, Texas and Texas Tech all had brutal weekends (and seasons).


- Colorado and Washington State. Just, thank you (I hoped you watched).


- A Group of 5 update from the AAC and Mountain West are in order as those races are coming down to the final weekend.



    Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall or @AthlonMitch or email [email protected]. The podcast can be found on and our podcast RSS feed.

    College Football Podcast: The Week 12 Recap
    Post date: Monday, November 21, 2016 - 12:47
    Path: /college-football/game-10-interesting-facts-about-michigan-vs-ohio-state-college-football-rivalry

    Saturday marks the 112th meeting between Michigan and Ohio State on the gridiron and after almost a decade of ups and downs, this game has finally returned to the relevance it deserves. The two teams face at high noon on ABC as they historically have in the past and if Michigan wins, it is in the Big Ten Championship Game and controls its own destiny to get in the College Football Playoff. If Ohio State wins, then... well it’s a little more complicated with that loss to Penn State.


    If you’ve just started watching college football, you may wonder how this rivalry (which Michigan leads 58-47-6) became one of the biggest in the sport. Here are 10 facts that may help shed some light on that question.


    1. The Toledo War

    The hatred of this rivalry was fueled by both Michigan and Ohio’s claim of the Toledo Strip, a 468-square mile region of land at the states’ borders. When Michigan tried to join the union in 1835, it tried to include the Toledo Strip in its borders and Ohio blocked its admittance. President Andrew Jackson stepped in and worked out a compromise where Ohio received the Strip and Michigan received the Upper Peninsula, which was mainly an unsettled territory at the time. It is safe to say that both fan bases have put the Toledo War behind them, but it was still fresh on people’s minds when the teams first met...


    2. The First Meeting

    Michigan was a much better team when the teams first met on Oct. 16, 1897 in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines scored all of their touchdowns in the first half and played conservative ball in the second half en route to a 34-0 win. Michigan finished the season at 6-1-1, while Ohio State would finish 1-7-1. The two schools would not play again until 1900, with the game finishing in a tie...


    3. Six Ties

    There have been six ties in this rivalry. The two teams played to a 0-0 ending in their second meeting in 1900 and tied each other in ‘10, ‘41, ‘49, ‘73 and ‘92. The 1973 tie was the only blemish on both schools records that year and the ‘92 tie made Michigan the last team to finish the regular season unbeaten with only eight wins since they had already tied Notre Dame and Illinois. In the early 1900s, the situation was much different for Ohio State. The best the Buckeyes could hope for was a tie, thanks to legendary Michigan coach Fielding Yost...


    4. Fielding Yost

    In 1901, Michigan hired San Jose State coach Fielding Yost, who quickly turned the Wolverines into the premiere program in college football. Yost won six national titles, including four straight from 1901-04. During that period, Michigan won every game, played in the first Rose Bowl and beat its opposition so badly that his squads were dubbed “Point-a-Minute” teams. Yost also dominated the Buckeyes, only losing to them three times during his 25-year career. However, in the 1930s the tenor of this rivalry would change and the “Gold Pants Charm” would be born...


    5. “Gold Pants Charm”

    Michigan led the series 22-6-2 when Francis Schmidt became Ohio State’s head coach in 1934. When reporters asked Schmidt if Ohio State could beat Michigan, he said something to the effect of, “Of course we can win, Michigan puts their pants on one leg at a time just like we do.” He was right. Ohio State proceeded to win four straight, beating the Wolverines by a collective score of 114-0. Today, Buckeyes players receive a “Gold Pants Charm” if they beat Michigan. Schmidt gave Ohio State its pride, but the next coach put the program on the same level as Michigan...


    6. Paul Brown

    In 1941, Ohio State hired Paul Brown, who had won six straight state championships at Massillon Washington High School in Massillon, Ohio. Brown immediately transformed the Buckeyes program and the 1941 Michigan/Ohio State game marked the first time both schools met ranked in the AP poll. The 14th-ranked Buckeyes tied the fifth-ranked Wolverines 20-20. The next year, Ohio State beat Michigan 21-7 on its way to winning the first national title in the program’s history. Brown left Ohio State for military service at the end of the 1943 season and by ‘50, the Wolverines had resumed control of the series. A game in a blizzard would change that and bring this series into the modern era...


    7. The Snow Bowl

    On Nov. 25, 1950, Ohio State and Michigan faced off in Columbus with the Big Ten title on the line. Whichever team won would have to overcome their opponent, 10-degree weather, 28-mile per hour winds and snow falling at a rate of two inches per hour (If you think I’m being hyperbolic about the conditions, check out this video.). Both teams punted a collective 45 times for 1,408 yards and Michigan managed to win 9-3 accumulating only 27 yards of offense and no first downs in a game forever known as the “Snow Bowl.” Ohio State head coach Wes Fesler resigned amidst severe criticism about this play-calling in the game and was replaced by Woody Hayes. This is where things got interesting...


    8. The Ten Year War

    Woody Hayes won five national titles in Columbus and went 12-6 against Michigan from 1951-68. The last win during that period was a 50-14 whipping of the Wolverines in 1968 where Hayes went for two after the final touchdown. When asked why, the colorful and volatile Hayes answered, “Because I couldn’t go for three.” The next year, the Buckeyes were ranked No. 1 and riding a 22-game win streak when they faced Michigan and first-year head coach, Bo Schembechler, a former assistant to Hayes. The 12th-ranked Wolverines built a 24-12 halftime lead and held it for the remainder of the game. This launched what would become known as the “Ten Year War” a decade of intense rivalry and competition between the two teams from 1969-78. Michigan held the slight edge during those 10 years, going 5-4-1. The teams were ranked in the top 10 in seven of those games and in the top five in five of them. It is actually kind of amazing that these schools have only held the top two spots one time when they met...


    9. Only One No. 1 vs. No. 2 Matchup

    The only No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup in the rivalry came in 2006. Both teams entered the game undefeated for the first time since 1973 and the hype surrounding their meeting has not been eclipsed by any game since. The Buckeyes jumped out to 28-14 halftime lead at home and held onto it despite a furious Michigan comeback to eventually win 42-39. A mere 14 Bowl Championship Series (BCS) ranking points prevented a rematch from taking place in the BCS National Championship Game, as Florida finished with .945 and Michigan finished with .932. One final note, the drama surrounding this matchup turned to sadness when Bo Schembechler died of a heart attack the day before the game. It was a very sad moment in a rivalry that has produced so much greatness...


    10. 19 National Championships

    Ultimately, the reason the rest of country cares about this game is because these schools win. Michigan has more wins than any college football program in history and Ohio State has the fifth most. Along the way, these two schools have produced:

    *159 All-Americans

    *10 Heisman Trophy winners

    *80 conference championships


    These schools also have 19 national titles between them and depending on how the rest of the season plays out, there may be another added to that total.


    — Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.


    (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

    The Game: 10 Interesting Facts About the Michigan vs. Ohio State College Football Rivalry
    Post date: Monday, November 21, 2016 - 12:30
    Path: /college-football/ball-state-cardinals-vs-miami-ohio-redhawks-preview-and-prediction-2016

    While there’s enough to be thankful this week, it could be extra special for Miami (Ohio) with a win over Ball State Tuesday evening in both teams’ final game of the regular season.


    The RedHawks (5-6, 5-2 MAC) need just one more win to become bowl eligible, just a season after finishing 3-9. Head coach Chuck Martin’s team lost its first six games before beating Kent State on Oct. 15. Miami hasn’t lost another game since, including a 35-24 victory over Buffalo two Saturdays ago.


    Ball State (4-7, 1-6), which also posted a 3-9 record in 2015, got off to a strong start but has since fizzled. The Cardinals were 3-1 a month into the season but have lost six of their last seven. Their last victory came a week ago, also against Buffalo, beating the Bulls 31-21. Ball State isn’t like to go bowling even with a win Tuesday night, but it would be a positive note to end the season on.


    There’s rich history between these MAC programs, as they played their first game in 1931. Miami leads the all-time series 16-12-1, but Ball State was won the past three meetings.


    Ball State at Miami (Ohio)


    Kickoff: Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. ET

    TV Channel: ESPN3

    Spread: Miami (Ohio) -7.5


    Three Things to Watch


    1. Ball State running back James Gilbert
    Despite the Cardinals’ less-than-stellar season, Gilbert isn't to blame for the shortcomings. Gilbert, who is second in the MAC in rushing, has 1,215 yards and 12 touchdowns. Behind Gilbert, the Cardinals are averaging 217.5 rushing yards per game, which makes for an interesting matchup, as Miami (Ohio) is only allowing 129.9 yards on the ground per game.


    Gilbert, a sophomore, has been limited to just 73 rushing yards in his last two contests. He’s posted six 100-yard rushing game, including a season-high 264 on Oct. 15 against Buffalo, which also was Ball State’s last win.


    Related: Central Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan Preview and Prediction


    2. RedHawks’ defense
    For all of Miami’s offensive troubles — 10th out of 12 MAC teams in both total and scoring offense — its defense is one of the reasons why the RedHawks are one win away from bowl eligibility. Miami leads the conference in total defense, giving up 347.5 yards per game. The RedHawks also have held opponents to 24.7 points per game, which is fourth in the MAC.


    Miami has been solid against the both run and the pass, as the RedHawks are second in the conference in rushing defense (130.1 ypg) and rank fifth in passing defense (217.4 ypg). Miami’s defense also has basically the same number of interceptions (13) as touchdown passes allowed (14).


    Related: Akron vs. Ohio Preview and Prediction


    3. Ball State wide receiver KeVonn Mabon
    Quite frankly, Mabon would be a threat in whichever conference he played. At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, the senior is a quarterback’s dream. Mabon has just two touchdown catches this season, but he’s tallied 850 (seventh in the MAC) yards on 74 receptions (third). He posted a season-high 149 yards and two touchdowns on Nov. 8 against Eastern Michigan.


    While teammate James Gilbert has emerged as the star of the offense, Mabon is a valuable cog capable of making the big play when needed.


    Final Analysis


    Yager Stadium will be electric as the RedHawks faithful are sure to pack it out to witness their team try to clinch bowl eligibility for the first time since the 2010 season. Even with Ball State getting a chance to play spoiler, Thanksgiving will be extra special for Miami (Ohio) this year as a win over the Cardinals puts the RedHawks in position for a postseason appearance.


    Prediction: Miami (Ohio) 28, Ball State 17


    — Written by Elton Hayes, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. A sports reporter for The Meridian Star Newspaper, Hayes also has been an invited guest on “The Paul Finebaum Show.” Follow him on Twitter @EHDC12.


    (Top photo courtesy of

    Ball State Cardinals vs. Miami (Ohio) RedHawks Preview and Prediction
    Post date: Monday, November 21, 2016 - 12:00
    Path: /college-football/central-michigan-chippewas-vs-eastern-michigan-eagles-preview-and-prediction-2016

    Bragging rights between two Michigan MAC rivals are on the line Tuesday night, as Central Michigan travels to Ypsilanti to take on Eastern Michigan in the regular season finale for both teams. The Chippewas and Eagles are both bowl eligible, so it’s unlikely Tuesday night’s game is the final appearance for either team in the 2016 season.


    Eastern Michigan has made considerable progress under coach Chris Creighton’s watch, and a win over the Chippewas would secure the program’s first winning season since 1995. The Eagles missed an opportunity to earn their seventh win last week, losing to Northern Illinois 31-24 in overtime after opening up a 21-0 lead in the first half. Even though Creighton’s team is just under .500 in MAC play (3-4), this squad was competitive in matchups against some of the league’s top programs this year. EMU lost 45-31 against Western Michigan and fell 35-20 to Toledo in early October. The Eagles have not defeated Central Michigan since 2011, so there’s plenty of motivation on the sideline for Creighton and this program as it tries to earn its seventh victory.


    Central Michigan secured postseason eligibility with a 27-20 victory over Ohio last Tuesday. The victory over the Bobcats ended a three-game losing streak for coach John Bonamego’s team and was the first win in MAC play since a 34-28 victory over Northern Illinois on Oct. 15. While the Chippewas won’t have the pressure of bowl eligibility hanging over their heads on Tuesday night, there’s still plenty at stake for Bonamego’s program. Central Michigan should be in good shape to earn a bowl bid, but a win over Eastern Michigan would improve those odds. Additionally, a victory over the Eagles would add to the program’s dominance over its in-state rival.


    Central Michigan holds a 59-28-6 series edge over Eastern Michigan. The Chippewas have also won four in a row and six out of the last seven in this series.


    Central Michigan at Eastern Michigan


    Kickoff: Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. ET

    TV Channel: ESPN3

    Spread: Central Michigan -1


    Three Things to Watch


    1. Central Michigan QB Cooper Rush

    The unquestioned leader of Central Michigan’s offense is quarterback Cooper Rush. The senior delivered a clutch performance in last week’s win over Ohio (25 of 32 for 268 yards and two scores) and enters Tuesday night’s game with 3,043 yards and 23 touchdown tosses this season. Rush is the clear focal point on an offense that struggles to get consistent play from its line and ground game. Additionally, he needs just over 500 yards (518) to break the MAC’s career passing yardage mark set by former Chippewa Dan LeFevour. It’s a safe bet the senior will have plenty of opportunities to chip away at that total on Tuesday night, as Eastern Michigan ranks seventh in the MAC in pass efficiency defense and allows opposing quarterbacks to complete 60.8 percent of their passes. In order for the Eagles to slow down Rush, the defense needs a big effort out of its line, which includes one of the MAC’s top linemen in senior Pat O’Connor (seven sacks).


    If Rush has time to throw, an Eastern Michigan secondary that has surrendered eight passing plays of 50 yards or more is going to have trouble containing the Chippewas’ downfield attack. Corey Willis (61 catches) is the go-to receiver, but tight end Tyler Conklin (38 grabs) and receiver Mark Chapman (38 catches) are valuable targets for Rush. In last year’s game, Rush threw for 391 yards and two touchdowns. Can he repeat those numbers or will the Eastern Michigan defense find a way to slow one of the MAC’s top quarterbacks?


    Related: Akron Zips vs. Ohio Bobcats Preview and Prediction


    2. Eastern Michigan’s Passing Offense

    Behind quarterback Brogan Roback and a deep group of receiving options, Eastern Michigan ranks as the MAC’s No. 2 team in passing offense. The Eagles average 290.4 yards per game through the air, with Roback connecting on seven plays of 40 yards or more through eight games. The junior isn’t going to handle 15-20 carries, but he’s a capable runner (147 yards this season) and is protected behind a solid offensive line (just 12 sacks allowed). Sergio Bailey (49 grabs) headlines a receiving corps that features six players with at least 20 catches.


    How will the Chippewas counter the Eastern Michigan passing game? With a front seven that’s generated only 17 sacks, there’s a lot of pressure on the talented cornerback duo of Amari Coleman (14 pass breakups) and Josh Cox. In addition to Coleman’s 14 pass breakups, this duo has combined for six interceptions. Only one team (Virginia) has managed more than 300 passing yards against this secondary in 2016. The Chippewas are also good at taking away the big plays. Through 11 games, this defense has allowed only four passing plays of more than 40 yards. Considering the depth of weapons on the outside and Roback’s penchant to take care of the ball (only five picks on 289 attempts), this battle will be an interesting chess match on Tuesday night.


    3. Ground Game and Turnovers

    With Roback and Rush leading the way for their respective offenses, it’s no surprise both teams are near the bottom of the MAC in rushing yards. Eastern Michigan ranks ninth at 155.9 yards per game (4.2 ypc), while Central Michigan is last at 118.5 per contest (3.6 ypc). A struggling offensive line and an injury to running back Devon Spalding has limited the ground game at times for the Chippewas. Spalding has missed the last two games but is on track to play against the Eagles. Eastern Michigan lost promising running back Shaq Vann due to injury early in the year, but Ian Eriksen (741 yards) has been a solid replacement. However, Eriksen left last week’s game due to injury and his status is up in the air for Tuesday night. If Eriksen can’t go, Blake Banham (111 yards) or freshman Willie Parker would be the top options unless Breck Turner can return after missing two games due to injury.


    In addition to which team is able to overcome injury concerns and generate production on the ground, keep a close eye on the turnover battle. Eastern Michigan is plus-one in margin in 2016, while Central Michigan is minus-three. During the Chippewas’ recent three-game losing streak, Bonamego’s team posted a negative turnover margin. In last week’s win over Ohio, Central Michigan posted a plus-three margin. Considering a close game is expected, one (or two) turnovers could decide this one.


    Final Analysis


    There’s plenty at stake for both teams on Tuesday night. The in-state rivalry aspect is just one angle, but both programs are looking to secure their bowl position or improve their standing among the MAC’s eligible teams. The injuries at running back add a layer of mystery to Eastern Michigan’s offense. Even if the Eagles are shorthanded at running back, Roback is going to create his share of problems for the Central Michigan defense. The Chippewas will lean heavily on Rush’s right arm, but the return of Spalding could add some punch to the ground game. Expect a tight game, but the difference in this one will be Rush and a couple of second-half stops by the CMU defense.


    Prediction: Central Michigan 31, Eastern Michigan 27
    Central Michigan Chippewas vs. Eastern Michigan Eagles Preview and Prediction 2016
    Post date: Monday, November 21, 2016 - 11:45
    Path: /college-football/akron-zips-vs-ohio-bobcats-mac-preview-and-prediction-2016

    Ohio can lock up the East division's berth into the 2016 Mid-American Conference Championship Game with a win Tuesday night over Akron, but the Zips have plenty riding on their visit to Athens, as well.


    Akron needs a win to keep its bowl aspirations alive. After starting the season 4-2, the Zips have stumbled to a 1-4 record in the season's second half, including a tough home loss last week against Bowling Green.


    Tuesday's matchup pits two of college football's most well-tenured head coaches against one another. Akron's Terry Bowden had an 11-year layoff between stints at Auburn and Div. II North Alabama, but held his first head coaching position 33 years ago at Salem.


    Frank Solich is in his 12th season at the helm at Ohio, and at 72, ranks behind only Kansas State's Bill Snyder among college football's elder statesmen. The vast experience between these two head coaches suggests both can and will go deep into their playbooks in what amounts to a must-win for their respective teams.


    Akron at Ohio


    Kickoff: Tuesday, Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. ET

    TV Channel: ESPNU

    Spread: N/A


    Three Things to Watch


    1. Running 'Cats

    Ohio's offense operates largely on the ground, this season running 103 times more (458) than passing (355). Expect a heavier-than-usual dose of the rushing attack this week, with the Bobcats opposite a porous Akron run defense. 


    The Zips come in ranked No. 113 nationally against the run at 233.3 rushing yards allowed per game. Perhaps most alarming for Akron is that it's surrendered multiple rushing touchdowns in each of its last five games, and four rushing scores three times. The most recent came last week against a Bowling Green offense not known for its running proficiency. 


    With five Ohio ball carriers boasting between 199 and 747 rushing yards as well as averaging at least 4.5 yards per carry, expect the Bobcats to inundate the Zips on the ground.


    Related: Eastern Michigan vs. Central Michigan Preview and Prediction


    2. Zipping Out Passes

    Flip the script for the Akron offense against Ohio's defense, and you have the key to victory for the Zips. 


    Terry Bowden brought a pass-heavy offensive philosophy to Akron in 2012, and its paid dividends in recent years. This season, the Zips rank No. 35 nationally through the air and on Tuesday against college football's No. 108-ranked passing defense, they'll have opportunity to operate.


    The big question is how Akron fares against a vulnerable Ohio passing defense without primary quarterback Thomas Woodson, who departed early due to injury in the loss to Bowling Green last week. That leaves things in the hands of Tra'Von Chapman, who has thrown as many interceptions (5) as touchdowns. He's also completing fewer than 47 percent of his attempts and he too suffered an injury last week. By the end of that game, wide receiver Tyrell Goodman was under center. It's not an ideal situation for there to be so much uncertainty regarding the quarterback situation, but especially considering the importance of this game.


    3. Capitalizing on Opportunities

    Including last week's single-possession loss to Central Michigan, Ohio has four defeats by fewer than 10 points. That's the entirety of the blemishes on the Bobcats' ledger.


    Such heartbreak can leave a team wondering what if. Flip a few possessions this season -- literally a few possessions -- and Ohio's undefeated and perhaps talking Cotton Bowl, as is the case for MAC West counterpart Western Michigan.


    By the same token, Ohio's won four games by 10 points or less. The line between an historic season and an ugly one is very thin.


    With eight wildly competitive games on the season, the trend for Ohio coming in suggests Akron will have an opportunity. The key for the Zips: capitalize on any opportunities the Bobcats might present. By the same token, Ohio needs to exert its advantage early, and eliminate any hope for upset early.


    Final Analysis


    Ohio has not exactly been the kind of team that blows out opponents or rolls up tons of points this season. The Bobcats' owe their front-running status in the MAC East to a workmanlike approach on both offense and defense, a clear reflection of head coach Frank Solich's style. That style's worked well for this program, which is well-positioned for a MAC Championship Game return.


    While Ohio's deficiencies against the pass would open a prime upset opportunity for Akron with a healthy Thomas Woodson at quarterback, his injury casts serious doubt on the Zips' best chance for a win. Look for Ohio to go on long drives, employing a multifaceted rushing attack to take the air out of the ball, and win in perfectly methodical fashion.


    Prediction: Ohio 31, Akron 20


    — Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Kensing is publisher of Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.


    (Top photo by Sarah Stier/Ohio Athletics, courtesy of

    Akron Zips vs. Ohio Bobcats Preview and Prediction
    Post date: Monday, November 21, 2016 - 11:30
    All taxonomy terms: College Football
    Path: /college-football/week-13-college-football-picks-challenge-athlon-sports-experts-2016

    It's Rivalry Week, adding extra intrigue to an important slate of games as the college football regular season winds down.


    The Athlon Sports College Football Experts Club gives you the chance to compete with your friends and our experts each week.


    Think you’re up for taking on our experts every week? Think you can beat the writers and editors each week? Join our weekly pick 'em game and compete for tons of cool prizes.


    Here are this week’s top picks from Athlon Sports senior editor Rob Doster:


    LSU at Texas A&M

    It's odd to think that Texas A&M was a part of the initial College Football Playoff projection. A season of great promise for the Aggies disintegrated with consecutive losses to the two Mississippi also-rans. They should salvage a nine-win regular season against an LSU team that has likewise tasted disappointment down the stretch.

    Doster's pick: Texas A&M 24–17


    Houston at Memphis

    The Cougars have righted the ship in a big way after a sluggish midseason stretch, putting Tom Herman back in the mix for some big-time jobs. They should reach 10 wins in Herman's final Power 5 audition. 

    Doster’s pick: Houston 42–31


    Arkansas at Missouri

    The Hogs are tough to figure out. They've alternated wins and losses every week since September. Fortunately for Mizzou, Arkansas is coming off a win, but the Hogs should be able to post their first two-game winning streak since winning their first three of the season. 

    Doster’s pick: Arkansas 28–17


    Washington at Washington State

    The most meaningful Apple Cup matchup of our lifetimes is nothing less than a winner-take-all battle for the Pac-12 North title and a spot in the conference championship game. Washington got back on track with a rout of Arizona State, while the Cougars come in smarting after a loss to Colorado that snapped an eight-game winning streak.

    Doster’s pick: Washington 34–31


    Nebraska at Iowa

    The Huskers can keep their flickering Big Ten West title hopes alive with a win over a dangerous but inconsistent Iowa team. Injury-plagued Huskers quarterback Tommy Armstrong Jr. would love one last chance to will his team to victory.  

    Doster's pick: Nebraska 28–21


    Michigan at Ohio State

    The game of the year in the Big Ten pits two playoff contenders who aren't playing their best football right now. The Buckeyes struggled to hold off Michigan State, while Michigan's offense is suddenly sputtering. A key turnover could prove to be the difference.

    Doster’s pick: Michigan 24–23


    Kentucky at Louisville

    Not much at stake here except for pride, bowl position and Lamar Jackson's Heisman candidacy. The Cats clinched bowl eligibility with a win over Austin Peay, while Louisville suffered a crushing defeat to Houston in which Jackson was stymied. Look for one more statement game from the electric Cards QB. 

    Doster's pick: Louisville 38–27


    Virginia at Virginia Tech

    The Hokies have had a habit of playing down to their competition in Year One of the Justin Fuente era, but a win over the Cavs would mark a nine-win debut for Fuente, nothing to sneeze at. Meanwhile, the first year of the Bronco Mendenhall era in Charlottesville has been characterized by close losses, but losses nonetheless.  

    Doster's pick: Virginia Tech 27-13


    Georgia Tech at Georgia

    These old rivals are peaking just in time for their season-ending slugfest. The Jackets have won four of five, while the Bulldogs have won three in a row, including a win over Auburn. Freshman QB Jacon Eason has played well of late for the Dawgs and could provide an edge in this matchup of run-happy teams.

    Doster's pick: Georgia 21–20


    Michigan State at Penn State

    An Ohio State win over Michigan coupled with a Penn State win over Michigan State would give the Lions the Big Ten East title, which would be a remarkable achievement for the program. They can't overlook a proud Spartans team that took Ohio State to the wire.  

    Doster's pick: Penn State 24–17


    Notre Dame at USC

    This is only the second losing season of Brian Kelly's career, but it's put Brian Kelly's future in South Bend into question. Meanwhile, Clay Helton has answered all questions in L.A. with a seven-game winning streak that includes wins over Washington and Colorado.

    Doster's pick: USC 31–21


    West Virginia at Iowa State

    The Cyclones took out their frustrations on Texas Tech, putting up 66 points. They'll find the going a little tougher against the Mountaineers, who will look to take out some frustration of their own after a turnover-filled performance against Oklahoma.    

    Doster's pick: West Virginia 37–21


    Duke at Miami

    The Canes' midseason four-game swoon is a distant memory after three straight impressive wins. Mark Richt can put a bow on a largely successful first season by reaching eight wins with a chance for a ninth in a bowl game. 

    Doster’s pick: Miami 28–17


    Minnesota at Wisconsin

    The Gophers present a formidable obstacle for a Wisconsin team with one eye on a playoff berth. The Gophers' three losses this season have all come by one score. A fourth close loss is likely in the offing.  

    Doster's pick: Wisconsin 23–20


    Mississippi State at Ole Miss

    The winner of this year's Egg Bowl will escape the SEC West cellar, and the loser won't, providing ample motivation for both teams. The Rebels can achieve bowl eligibility with a win, giving Shea Patterson & Co. a little extra edge.  

    Doster's pick: Ole Miss 37–31


    Auburn at Alabama

    Auburn blew its chance at an SEC West title with a loss to Georgia. Still, the Tigers would love to deny the Tide another national championship. Unfortunately, they're facing what may be the most complete team of the Nick Saban era.

    Doster’s pick: Alabama 28–21


    South Carolina at Clemson

    The Gamecocks have been a pleasant surprise in Will Muschamp's first season, but they lack the firepower to hang with their rivals. The Tigers will send Deshaun Watson out in style.

    Doster’s pick: Clemson 34–17


    Tennessee at Vanderbilt

    It's been a strange season on Rocky Top. The injury-crippled Vols allowed 700-plus yards to Missouri — and won by 25. Vanderbilt's no threat to post 700 yards, but the Dores are a threat to reach bowl eligibility with an upset of their rivals. 

    Doster's pick: Tennessee 24–21


    Utah at Colorado

    The Buffs have surged past mere bowl eligibility and are a dark horse playoff contender. Closing the season with back-to-back wins over ranked opponents could clinch national Coach of the Year honors for Mike MacIntyre.

    Doster's pick: Colorado 31–21


    Florida at Florida State

    The Florida defense has carried the Gators to an SEC East title, and this rivalry game will provide good preparation for the Gators' rematch with Alabama. The FSU seniors are looking to become the first class in school history to go 8–0 against rivals Florida and Miami. That's enough motivation right there.

    Doster's pick: Florida State 23–17


    Last Week: 15-5

    Post date: Monday, November 21, 2016 - 11:10
    Path: /college-football/ranking-top-25-rivalries-college-football-history-2015

    The end of the college football season is never a welcomed sight for fans of all 128 programs. However, the end of November brings arguably one of – if not No. 1 – parts of the college football regular season in rivalry week.


    Rivalries are a huge part of college football and matter for bragging rights among the teams and on the recruiting trail. Rivalries are often built on geography, tradition and history. However, rivalries can morph based upon the coaches involved, current success of teams or realignment in leagues.


    With several huge rivalry matchups this week, Athlon Sports ranks the best 25 rivalries in college football. Army-Navy (played on Dec. 10 this year) ranks No. 1, but two matchups – Ohio State-Michigan and Auburn-Alabama – take place this week.

    College Football's Top 25 Rivalries


    1. Army-Navy (Navy, 60-49-7)

    Go ahead and try to attend this game without experiencing a surge of patriotism. If the Super Hornets’ flyover doesn’t get you, the Army paratroopers will. If you miss the parades of Cadets and Midshipmen, then the non-stop spirit videos on the big board will stir your senses. By game’s end, no matter what the score, America wins. That may seem hokey to some, but they haven’t been there. Trust us, Army-Navy is college football in its purest state. Today, that’s something worth celebrating. Fans of the teams thirst for victory, and so do the players, who are truly playing for their fellow students. Afterward, they rejoin their classmates in preparation for military service, not an NFL career. For 364 days of the year, Army and Navy are on the same team. For three hours on a chilled December afternoon, they represent every soldier or sailor who has ever donned a uniform, walked a post or sailed into the dark of night. The football has been pretty good over the years, too. Five Heisman winners have participated in the rivalry, and dozens of Hall of Famers have taken the field representing the academies. Though Navy has dominated the scoreboard over the past decade, the game remains a huge draw and still thrills fans across the country. Most important, it pits future military and government leaders against each other as they fight for their Academies and provide the country with an afternoon of prideful competition.


    Related: 5 Biggest FCS vs. FBS Upsets in College Football History


    2. Alabama-Auburn (Alabama, 44-35-1)

    When Bill Curry was coaching at Alabama, he went to a Birmingham elementary school one day to speak with children about football and life. Upon entering the classroom, he saw a boy standing in the corner, sobbing. Curry wondered what was going on, and a student told him, “Jason is an Auburn fan, and we took care of him.” Curry brought Jason out of the corner and told him it was all right to root for the Tigers, no doubt angering the young Crimson Tide supporters in the room. Truth be told, it isn’t all right to be an Auburn fan — if you follow the Tide. Tiger fans feel the same way about Bama. If you live in the state of Alabama, you have to choose; you either yell “Roll Tide” or “War Eagle.” You’re either a fan of the big-brother Crimson Tide, or Auburn, which has its roots in agricultural education and resents the perceived arrogance of its rival. In a state with no major professional sports team, Auburn-Alabama football is a religion. Curry’s minister once told him it was more important. It has been that way from the game’s earliest days, which proved to be so contentious that the schools stopped playing each other for 41 years. Once they resumed hostilities, they did so at a geographically neutral site, in Birmingham, but Auburn fans groused for decades because Legion Field was the Tide’s home away from home. That changed when the game moved to campus, but the vitriol has not abated. Fans of both teams crave victory, and a loss means a full year of misery from friends, co-workers and even family members. It’s enough to make someone want to stand in a corner and cry. And for the first time in Iron Bowl history, an SEC West and trip to the BCS national championship hung in the balance in 2013 when the Tigers won with the most improbable play in college football history.


    Related: Iron Bowl — 10 Greatest Moments in Alabama vs. Auburn Rivalry History


    3. Michigan-Ohio State (Michigan, 58-48-6)

    Some think the story is a tall tale, but others swear it’s true. After his Ohio State team scored its final touchdown late in a 50–14 rout of Michigan at the end of the 1968 season, Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes elected to go for two points, instead of kicking the PAT. When asked afterward why he did that, Hayes reportedly said, “Because they ­wouldn’t let me go for three.” Hayes’ hatred for “that team up north,” as he referred to Michigan, was legendary. Rest assured that Wolverine fans harbor no affection for the Buckeyes, either. The schools have met every year but five (1913-17) since 1900 — the teams’ first game was in 1897 — and their contests have become appointment viewing for much of the country, late in November, usually under gun-metal gray skies with a hint of winter in the air. More important, Big Ten supremacy is usually at stake, especially since Bo Schembechler took over in Ann Arbor in 1969 to turn the U-M fortunes around and provide an irascible counterbalance to the cantankerous Hayes. Since that point, Michigan-Ohio State has been the nation’s most consistently competitive and heated rivalry. Because the games have so much significance and occur at season’s end, a loss can be doubly haunting. Not only does the vanquished team lose to a hated foe, but its season can be destroyed also. There may be games that match these schools’ animosity for each other, and there may be contests that are as consistently important. But none combines the two into such a volatile package. This rivalry has some extra punch since 2015 with the arrival of Jim Harbaugh as Michigan's coach. Urban Meyer is 4-0 as Ohio State's head coach against Michigan.


    Related: The Game — 10 Interesting Facts About the Michigan vs. Ohio State College Football Rivalry


    4. Oklahoma-Texas (Texas, 62-44-5)

    One of the most unique characteristics about the Cotton Bowl in Dallas is both locker rooms empty into a common corridor, so that players take the field through the same tunnel. On more than one occasion, as Texas and Oklahoma have prepared to charge onto the hallowed stadium’s turf, they have encountered each other in a highly charged, emotional moment that could have ignited an inferno. Instead, they decided to enjoin the fight on the gridiron, in front of 95,000-plus fans divided evenly into crimson and burnt orange enclaves. Rarely has the flame from the ensuing collision failed to heat the passions of all in attendance. While the Texas State Fair rollicks on around them, and vendors offer to fry anything that doesn’t move — and some things that do — the Longhorns and Sooners offer a mid-season football feast that dates back to 1900, when Oklahoma wasn’t even a state and Texas was just beginning to tap into the huge oil reserves deep below its surface. The neighbors harbor a significant dislike for each other, and tempers have boiled over many times on nights before the game. It doesn’t help that many OU grads now live in Texas, lured south by jobs in the petroleum industry. And plenty of Lone Star football talent has headed north to Norman, especially when Barry Switzer was pillaging the state’s top programs for all-stars. The action on the field rarely disappoints. Although there have been several blowouts over the years, including 2011’s 55–17 Sooner wipeout, the action is usually taut and has national implications. Though the game is played in October, several championship runs have been spawned by a victory in Dallas, and several high hopes have been dashed.


    5. USC-Notre Dame (Notre Dame, 4-36-5)

    The nation’s top intersectional rivalry owes a debt of gratitude to some unfriendly residents of Lincoln, Neb., and Bonnie Rockne’s love of warm California weather. At a time when traditional gridiron matchups are being torn asunder by the whirling conference kaleidoscope, Notre Dame and USC continue their annual hostilities, treating the nation to a classic matchup of iconic programs. The schools almost didn’t get together. But in 1925, after ND dropped a 17–0 decision at Nebraska, before an inhospitable crowd of Cornhusker fans, coach Knute Rockne and his wife were joined on the train back to Chicago by USC athletic director Gwynn Wilson and his wife, Marion. While Wilson tried to convince Rockne to ditch the burgeoning rivalry with Nebraska for an annual trip west, Marion Wilson and Bonnie Rockne became fast friends in another train compartment. Rockne resisted Wilson’s entreaties, but his wife was enthralled with the idea of Los Angeles in the late fall. She later convinced her husband to play the Trojans. The resulting rivalry has lasted 85 years and has filled the college football history books with dozens of classic tales. More Heisman winners have played in the Notre Dame-USC game than in any other rivalry, and many a national championship hope has been validated with a victory in the game. Though the teams alternate between their home sites, playing in late November in L.A. and mid-October in South Bend, the game retains a glamour that defines it and is a product of two of college football’s most storied programs.


    6. Georgia-Florida (Georgia, 49-43-2*)

    The festivities begin at “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” around Tuesday, when the big boats start cruising up the St. John’s River in Jacksonville. By game time, everybody is in a festive mood – except the players. The Bulldogs and Gators have engaged in some classics over the years, from Georgia’s thrilling comeback in 1980 to Florida’s soggy 1993 triumph. Cheers! What's more special about this rivalry? These two programs can't even agree on how many times they've actually played. Florida claims the two have met 90 times while the Bulldogs have 91* outcomes in the record books. The Gators claim the 52-0 loss in 1904 doesn't count because they had not yet technically started playing football yet. 


    Related: 5 Most Ruthless Coaches in College Football History


    7. Miami-Florida State (Miami, 31-30)

    For a while there during the 1990s, there was more talent on the field when the ‘Canes and ‘Noles met up than in some NFL stadiums. And everybody wanted to put on a show. This matchup lacks the tradition and history of other rivalries, but the hostility is just as high. And there have been some classics. FSU fans still wince when they hear the words “Wide Right,” while Miami backers still cringe at the 34-3 beating their heroes absorbed in ’84.


    8. Harvard-Yale (Yale, 66-59-8)

    The Crimson and Bulldogs may not have played the first-ever college football game, but both schools had hands in how the game developed into what we have today. The late-November meeting between the schools is a history lesson wrapped in a high-class tailgate party. Harvard and Yale no longer compete at college football’s highest level, but they remain forever linked to the sport’s earliest days.


    9. Florida-Florida State (Florida, 34-24-2)

    For years, this was a big brother/little brother battle, with the establishment Gators looking down on the upstart Seminoles. Then, FSU started to win games – a lot of games – and things changed. This may lack the in-state hate of Auburn-Alabama, but don’t worry; the two sides harbor plenty of dislike for each other. During the past three decades, as both have competed for national laurels, their games have become more than just neighborhood brawls.


    10. California-Stanford (Stanford, 61-46-11)

    To some, The Big Game is the province of the wine-and-cheese crowd, and the schools’ NoCal addresses reinforce that. But there can be no denying that these schools thirst to defeat each other. It’s a classic battle of private (Stanford) against public (Cal), and bragging rights go well beyond which side brings the best pinot to the pre-game party. Plus, what other rivalry can boast a game with a crazy ending as the 1982 contest: “The band is on the field!”


    11. Pittsburgh-West Virginia (Pittsburgh, 61-40-3)

    Only 75 miles separates the two combatants in the Backyard Brawl.  Unfortunately conference realignment (Pittsburgh to the ACC, West Virginia to the Big 12) meant that in the 2011 season this game didn't take place for the first time since 1942. These two teams are scheduled to renew their rivalry in 2022.


    12. Texas-Texas A&M (Texas, 76-37-5)

    This Thanksgiving weekend tradition has been suspended, at least temporarily, with Texas A&M's move to the SEC. A Texas state legislator introduced a bill that would require the two in-state teams to play each other in 2013. However, the two teams have yet to agree on a date to resume the rivalry.


    13. Oregon-Oregon State (Oregon, 63-46-10)

    The Civil War has come a long way since the Ducks and Beavers played to a 0–0 tie in 1983.


    14. BYU-Utah (Utah, 58-34-4)

    The Holy War might be the best name for any rivalry in the nation.


    15. UCLA-USC (USC, 47-31-7)

    The Southern California showdown was dominated by USC from 1999-2011, while the Bruins claimed three out of four before losing to the Trojans last year.


    16. Alabama-Tennessee (Alabama, 54-38-7)

    The Third Saturday in October means only one thing to people in the South: Alabama vs. Tennessee.


    17. Oklahoma-Oklahoma State (Oklahoma,  85-18-7)

    T. Boone Pickens’ interest in the Oklahoma State program was piqued after the Pokes, 3–7 at the time, knocked OU out of the 2001 national title game with a 16–13 win.


    18. Clemson-South Carolina (Clemson, 67-42-4)

    These two schools were bitter rivals well before they started playing football in the 1890s. Clemson has won two in a row after South Carolina claimed five straight.


    19. Mississippi State-Ole Miss (Ole Miss, 63-43-6)

    The Egg Bowl is often the only way to salvage a season for these two programs that have struggled to win consistently in the SEC.


    20. Auburn-Georgia (Georgia, 57-55-8)

    It’s the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry and it dates back to 1892. Georgia holds the slimmest of margins, with a 57–55–8 edge in the series. The Prayer on the Plains only added to this historic battle's legacy.


    21. Michigan-Michigan State (Michigan, 69-35-5)

    It pains MSU fans that Michigan’s biggest rival is Ohio State, but the “Little Brothers” from East Lansing have won the seven of the last nine in the series. Last year's game resulted in one of the most incredible endings in college football history when the Spartans won on the last play of the game.


    22. Minnesota-Wisconsin (Minnesota, 59-58-8)

    The winner of the Gophers vs. Badgers showdown takes home the prized Paul Bunyan Axe. It’s the most played rivalry in FBS football, dating back to 1890. 


    23. Michigan-Notre Dame (Michigan, 24-17-1)

    These two traditional powers have only played regularly for the past three decades, but they produced a ton of memorable moments. Strike a pose, Desmond!


    23. Georgia-Georgia Tech (Georgia, 65-40-5)

    You know it’s a good rivalry when the book about the series is called Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.


    25. Lafayette-Lehigh (Lafayette, 78-68-5)

    The Rivalry, as it’s called, pits two small private schools located 17 miles apart in Eastern Pennsylvania. Lafayette and Lehigh have met 150 times, including every year since 1897.

    The Top 25 Rivalries In College Football History
    Post date: Monday, November 21, 2016 - 11:10
    Path: /fantasy/aj-green-lesean-mccoy-cj-prosise-injured-possible-replacements-save-fantasy-team

    Week 11 could be the turning point for many fantasy leagues, as a slew of key players went down with injuries, many of the season-ending variety. With the fantasy playoffs just around the corner, impacted teams now have to think ahead and shuffle their lineups while also scouring the waiver fire for healthy bodies to fill their roster.


    With that in mind, let’s take an early look at how these injuries will affect fantasy teams for Week 12 and beyond, and who may be available as direct replacements. With three games on Thursday, waiting on injury reports is even tougher this week, so fantasy owners should be prepared.


    Injured Player: A.J. Green (hamstring), WR, Cincinnati Bengals
    Likely Replacement: Tyler Boyd, WR, Cincinnati Bengals (5 percent owned)

    When Green was carted off the field after his first target early in the first quarter on Sunday and was quickly ruled out for the rest of the game, it was not a good sign. The Bengals fear that Green has a torn right hamstring (results pending a Monday MRI), and that his season will be over. Fantasy owners should prepare for the worst-case scenario, and look to pick up Boyd. Boyd led the team in targets and receptions in the loss to the Bills, finishing with six catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. Boyd is not Green, by any means, but he'll fill in as a decent WR3 with upside as long as Green is out.


    Injured Starter: LeSean McCoy (thumb), RB, Buffalo Bills
    Likely Replacement: Mike Gillislee, RB, Buffalo Bills (25 percent owned)

    McCoy suffered a dislocated thumb in Week 11 and missed the second half of the game. The early reports following the game are that he will need surgery to put the thumb back in place, but he should be able to play in Week 12. However, as a pass-catching running back, fantasy owners should be concerned about his ability to catch the football a week after having surgery. Either way, look for Gillislee to have a bigger workload against the Jaguars in Week 12. If he’s not already, Gillislee should be owned by all McCoy owners. He had 14 carries for 72 yards in the win over the Bengals.


    Injured Starter: C.J. Prosise (scapula), RB, Seattle Seahawks
    Likely Replacement: Thomas Rawls, RB, Seattle Seahawks (75 percent owned)

    If for some reason, Rawls is available, grab him immediately. The Seahawks may be kicking themselves for releasing Christine Michael, as their running back depth just got very thin. Prosise reportedly has a fractured scapula (shoulder blade) and could miss up to eight weeks. It's a similar injury to Donte Moncrief (who missed five weeks). Prosise owners should hear within a day or so if that is the diagnosis and if so, he can be dropped in re-draft leagues.


    Injured Players: Ryan Mathews (knee) and Darren Sproles (ribs), RBs, Philadelphia Eagles
    Likely Replacement: Wendell Smallwood, RB, Philadelphia Eagles (3 percent owned)

    The extent of both injuries is unknown at this point, but it looks like Sproles may be more likely to suit up for Week 12 than Mathews. The next man up for Philadelphia would be Smallwood, who took over in Week 11. Smallwood had 13 carries for 48 yards against a tough Seahawks defense. The Eagles play the Packers on Monday night in Week 12, which is going to be tough for fantasy owners unless injury information is released earlier in the week. At this point, look for Mathews to be out, Smallwood to fill in as a lead back, and Sproles to continue to handle passing downs if healthy. If Sproles is also out, look for Kenjon Barner (0 percent owned) to fill in.


    Injured Player: T.J. Yeldon (ankle), RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
    Likely Replacement: Chris Ivory, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars (48 percent owned)

    The extent of Yeldon's ankle injury is unknown, but fantasy owners should look to see if Ivory is available in their league. In Week 11, Ivory had 17 carries for 39 yards and added six receptions for 75 yards. Ivory has been hit-or-miss this season, but if Yeldon isn't playing, he has RB3 value with potential for RB2 numbers. Both backs have seen work even when both were healthy, so Ivory is worth a grab, just in case.


    Injured Player: Robert Woods (knee), WR, Buffalo Bills
    Likely Replacement: Brandon Tate, WR, Buffalo Bills (0 percent owned)

    The official word on Woods' knee injury likely won't come until after an MRI, but it looked like one that would cause him to miss time. Woods was coming off a 10-catch, 162-yard performance in Week 9 before the Week 10 bye. Marqiuse Goodwin would be the next man up, but he suffered a concussion in Week 11, so his status for Week 12 is unknown. Tate led the team in receiving yards (48) and really isn't a great fantasy option, but he will be the No. 1 receiver on the team (assuming Goodwin is out). This also assumes that Sammy Watkins (41 percent owned) doesn't return. The Bills want him back, but he has yet to practice. Tight end Charles Clay (13 percent owned) is actually the best option in the Bills passing game to pick up.


    Injured Started: Giovani Bernard (knee), RB, Cincinnati Bengals
    Likely Replacement: Rex Burkhead, RB, Cincinnati Bengals (0 percent owned)

    Bernard didn't appear to be injured in the game, however, late Sunday night things went from bad to worse for the Bengals on the injury front. It was reported that Bernard tore his ACL in the loss to Buffalo. Jeremy Hill is the likely beneficiary of his absence, but he's 94 percent owned. For fantasy owners looking for a long shot, Burkhead is next on the depth chart. He's seen the field a few times this year, and he's more of a pass catcher than a true running back. He'll likely pick up some of the passing downs, while Hill is the lead back seeing most of the work. For deep leagues, Burkhead is worth a flier to see his role in Week 12.


    Injured Starter: Zach Miller (foot), TE, Chicago Bears
    Likely Replacement: ???

    Miller reportedly has a broken foot, which would end his season. The tight end just started to come on, especially on a team that will be without a suspended Alshon Jeffery for three more games. The next tight end on the Bears roster is Logan Paulsen, but he's not a viable fantasy option. Eddie Royal, Cameron Meredith and Marquess Wilson will be the Bears’ primary pass catchers. However, this offense is on a downward spiral and it's hard to recommend any. Royal is owned in 22 percent of leagues; Meredith is owned in 57 percent of leagues; Wilson is owned in 0 percent of fantasy leagues. For a tight end replacement, consider Zach Ertz (57 percent owned), the aforementioned Charles Clay (13 percent owned), Vance McDonald (8 percent owned) or Will Tye (2 percent owned).


    — Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. She also writes for among other sites. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.

    A.J. Green, LeSean McCoy, C.J. Prosise Injured: Possible Replacements to Save Your Fantasy Team
    Post date: Monday, November 21, 2016 - 10:30
    Path: /college-football/seven-step-drop-coaching-carousel-about-kick-high-gear

    It goes without saying that the last game on everybody’s must-watch list on Saturday was Texas at Kansas.


    The Jayhawks have been dreadful for years and rarely competitive during Big 12 play this or any other season. The Longhorns were expected to take care of business, become bowl eligible and set up a big game on Black Friday that would ultimately go a long way in sorting out the program’s future direction.


    Of course, that’s not what ended up happening in a weekend that was otherwise devoid of much major action with just three games featuring a ranked team that was within two scores. The tune-in factor kept increasing as Texas failed to put away its typically overmatched opponent. Social media naturally ran wild in the final few minutes as the Jayhawks sent the contest to overtime and eventually pulled a miraculous win out thanks to an interception and short field goal.


    As the ball sailed through those uprights for the first Kansas victory over Texas since 1938, so too did the tenure of head coach Charlie Strong in Austin. While you can debate all you want about the position the program was in when he took over, or what kind of changes he made this year that will pay off long term, the simple fact is that loss sealed Strong’s fate on the field with a game that was inexplicable on many levels.


    So now the fun really begins. This year’s coaching carousel is expected to be a little more subdued than in years past with fewer openings overall even with a number of big-time jobs already available. The end result could mean plenty of dominoes down the road and a market that takes off a bit more than anticipated when all is said and done — and that’s not even getting into possible NFL openings either.


    It’s already been a strange coaching carousel as is, with two openings created and filled during the season (FIU, Fresno State). With all that in mind, let’s swing around the country and look at the current openings, the ones likely to hit the market and a few schools who might be looking for a new head coach after a surprise departure.



    Open: None

    Potentially Open: NC State, Boston College

    Dominoes That Could Fall: Florida State, North Carolina

    The outlook: There shouldn’t be much, if any, coaching movement in the ACC barring something crazy. The industry expectation is both Boston College and NC State retaining their coaches with a change to be made after the 2017 season if things continue to trend in the same direction they are now. While the lack of firings may take some buzz out the league, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any openings. Jimbo Fisher will remain connected with LSU until that job is filled and Larry Fedora’s name is the one most frequently mentioned for the opening behind his ACC counterpart. And their current schools are really attractive situations for an up-and-coming coach if Florida State or North Carolina is suddenly in the market.


    Big 12

    Open: Baylor, Texas

    Potentially Open: Kansas State

    Dominoes That Could Fall: West Virginia, Oklahoma State

    The outlook: Based on industry chatter, it seems increasingly unlikely that Baylor hires anybody with a connection to the previous regime of Art Briles. While somebody like Tulsa’s Philip Montgomery makes sense, it’s a “break glass in case of emergency” move for athletic director Mack Rhoades. SMU’s Chad Morris is probably considered the odds-on favorite at this point, with Les Miles still a potential fit if a new direction is sought out. Other names like Cal’s Sonny Dykes or Arkansas State’s Blake Anderson could get involved late in the search with some “nos.” As for Texas, the only question is what the contract terms are for Houston’s Tom Herman in a move that should happen fairly quickly once the season officially ends for both. Nobody but Bill Snyder himself knows when it’s time for a second stab at retirement so it’s not out of the question a change is made in the Little Apple. Mike Gundy seems plenty happy at his alma mater but you simply never know given his flirtations in the past and a potential landing spot like LSU open, especially if he were to win the Big 12 title.


    Big Ten

    Open: Purdue

    Potentially Open: None

    Dominoes That Could Fall: Minnesota

    The outlook: There’s been plenty of talk about the direction Purdue will take in its search and you can expect the school to move quickly on candidates as soon as the season is over on Saturday. The job is better than people will give it credit for and a splashy name like Les Miles makes a lot of sense if Purdue avoids the temptation to go for a MAC hire again (though P.J. Fleck remains a possibility). Aside from the Boilermakers, the only situation that could shock folks is at Minnesota, where Tracy Claeys has just two years left on his short-term deal. While the school’s new athletic director would prefer to hire somebody else (and still may), it will be tough to do that with the team winning eight games this year and borderline impossible if the Golden Gophers upset Wisconsin to get a ninth. A contract extension after the season seems like it’s in the cards but AD Mark Coyle could be dead set on making a move no matter what.



    Open: None

    Potentially Open: Oregon

    Dominoes That Could Fall: Arizona, California, UCLA

    The outlook: Despite bad seasons at Oregon and UCLA, it has been unlikely either were going to make a proactive change. Mark Helfrich may have truly saved his job with an upset of Utah on the road but will need to present a clear plan to school brass about big changes after a big win over Oregon State. Still, Phil Knight may fall in love with a coach (P.J. Fleck? Philip Montgomery?) and not stop until he takes the job. Odds seem decent Helfrich is back but the wind is constantly shifting in Eugene and there’s no perfect candidate. If Jim Mora is to depart Westwood, it would be for another job — something not out of the realm of possibilities in college or the pros. At a minimum, wholesale staff changes are coming for the Bruins. Elsewhere, it’s been well documented that Rich Rodriguez and Sonny Dykes have looked elsewhere in recent offseasons and probably will again even if the interest isn’t quite as high in them in 2016.



    Open: LSU

    Potentially Open: Texas A&M

    Dominoes That Could Fall: Mississippi State

    The outlook: With Tom Herman likely gone to Texas, attention will turn to LSU’s love affair with Jimbo Fisher. If that marriage doesn’t happen, many have speculated that North Carolina’s Larry Fedora will be in the next group of candidates but it’s really anybody’s game at that point and there could be a dozen dominoes that result from the move. That includes a surprise hire in Baton Rouge like Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly or Utah’s Kyle Whittingham. A report from USA Today said Kevin Sumlin’s job could be on the line and that may well be true given how restless Aggies have become with this stretch run. A loss to LSU would certainly complicate things but chances are you can count on him being back in College Station. Dan Mullen’s attempts for a change of scenery have been well documented and there certainly could be a number of openings that make sense for him if they can match his salary.



    Open: None

    Likely Open: Houston, Cincinnati

    Dominoes That Could Fall: Tulsa, Temple, SMU, USF, UCF

    The outlook: A league like the AAC is continually going to provide young coaches opportunities to enhance their resumes and the way things have trended, that will be the case for just about every upcoming cycle. Tom Herman is out the door at Houston and that will probably provide the most attractive opening in the country aside from major Power Five jobs. Tommy Tuberville’s time at Cincinnati appears to be up and a move to TV in the near future seems likely as that makes for another attractive job for coaches. Philip Montgomery, Matt Rhule, Chad Morris, Willie Taggart and Scott Frost (even after a season) could all move up to bigger and better jobs if the right opportunity came along. Don’t be shocked if Lane Kiffin is able to snag one of these openings either given the limited number of Power Five openings.


    Mountain West

    Open: None (Fresno State hired Jeff Tedford)

    Potentially Open: Nevada, San Jose State

    Dominoes That Could Fall: Air Force, Utah State

    The outlook: Fresno State has already fired and hired during the middle of the season and that might just be the extent of moves in the Mountain West this year. San Jose State is the likeliest to come open but Nevada could move on from Brian Polian as well. Air Force’s Troy Calhoun has always been mentioned for other openings at the college and pro level but chances are he will pass on most offers. Matt Wells at Utah State was once a hot name out West but that has cooled this season, possibly keeping him in town longer.


    Remaining Group of Five

    Open: Georgia State

    Potentially Open: FAU, Kent State, UTEP, Western Michigan

    Dominoes That Could Fall: Western Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Rice, Bowling Green, Arkansas State, Appalachian State, Troy

    The outlook: The reason there may not be a ton of changes this offseason is because there doesn’t appear to be a ton of sure-fire... um, firings. WKU’s Jeff Brohm, WMU’s P.J. Fleck, Troy’s Neal Brown and Appalachian State’s Scott Satterfield all figure to be prominently mentioned in a number of searches. Arkansas State’s Blake Anderson could be a seamless replacement for Larry Fedora if he moves elsewhere. One of Clemson’s two co-offensive coordinators — Jeff Scott or Tony Elliott — could be a solid choice for Georgia State but that job is generating a ton of interest now that it’s officially open.


    Hot assistant coach names: Lane Kiffin (Alabama), Mario Cristobal (Alabama), Brent Venables (Clemson), Geoff Collins (Florida), Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma), Sonny Cumbie (TCU), Doug Meacham (TCU), Tim Drevno (Michigan), Mike Bloomgren (Stanford), Greg Schiano (Ohio State), Rhett Lashlee (Auburn)


    Stat of the Week

    Per ESPN, no Colorado player in school history had posted a 300-yard passing/100-yard rushing game. The Buffs have two such performances this year, from two different quarterbacks (Steven Montez and Sefo Liufau).


    Tweet of the Week


    Superlatives of the Week

    Player of the Week: Ed Oliver, DT, Houston

    Heisman five: 1. Lamar Jackson (Louisville), 2. Dede Westbrook (Oklahoma), 3. Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma), 4. Ed Oliver (Houston), 5. Sam Darnold (USC)

    Team of the week: Kansas

    Honorary Les Miles Goat of the week: Kyle Whittingham (Utah)

    Quote of the week: Florida’s Jim McElwain on LSU after the fiasco moving their game to Baton Rouge: "They got what they deserved."


    Play of the Week


    Super 16

    I’m a voter in the FWAA/National Football Foundation Super 16 Poll and will be releasing my ballot here every week. Here’s my ballot heading into Week 13.


    1. Alabama 11-0

    2. Ohio State 10-1

    3. Michigan 10-1

    4. Washington 10-1

    5. Clemson 10-1

    6. Wisconsin 9-2

    7. Penn State 9-2

    8. Oklahoma 9-2

    9. USC 8-3

    10. Louisville 9-2

    11. Colorado 9-2

    12. Houston 9-2

    13. Oklahoma State 9-2

    14. Florida State 8-3

    15. West Virginia 8-2

    16. Navy 8-2


    Best of the rest: Auburn, Western Michigan, Virginia Tech, Stanford, Boise State, Washington State, Temple, USF, Nebraska.


    Pre-snap Reads


    Auburn at Alabama

    The Iron Bowl looked a little bigger a few weeks ago but there’s no doubt that the Tigers still present a formidable challenge to their in-state rivals. Perhaps the Crimson Tide’s lackluster performance against an overmatched FCS team was a signal they were looking ahead to this one but they’ll need plenty of fortitude to get points against a stingy defense. Alabama should emerge with a comfortable margin of victory but stranger things have happened in this game.


    Michigan at Ohio State

    There were long stretches on Saturday where both the Wolverines and Buckeyes seemed like their minds had already turned to the biggest edition of The Game in a decade. This is the closest talent gap between the two teams in a long time and coaching may even favor the maize and blue given what their staff has done. The game is in the Horseshoe and the Buckeyes have a veteran presence at quarterback in J.T. Barrett — just enough to eke out another win over their rivals.


    Washington at Washington State

    This is the biggest Apple Cup in ages and it’s a sign of the times that both programs are going radio silent heading into the matchup this week. Despite dropping the game to Colorado last Saturday, the Cougars remain dangerous and plenty capable of capturing the Pac-12 title with vastly underrated lines on both sides of the ball. Washington has been superior most of the year however so we’ll go with the Huskies on a late field goal.


    — Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.

    Seven-Step Drop: Coaching Carousel About to Kick into High Gear
    Post date: Monday, November 21, 2016 - 10:00
    All taxonomy terms: College Football, syndicated
    Path: /college-football/fcs-rankings-power-poll-week-13-2016

    The top teams in the FCS just kept winning and winning and...


    Seriously, the top four teams in the Athlon FCS Power Poll – North Dakota State, Eastern Washington, Jacksonville State and Sam Houston State – have been in that order for nine straight weeks. It’s hard to argue if you want to slip James Madison in there somewhere.


    And now comes everybody’s favorite way to decide who’s No. 1 - the 24-team FCS playoffs.


    Yeah, 24 beats a four-team playoff, right?


    Here is the Athlon Sports FCS Power Poll through the games of Nov. 19:


    1. North Dakota State

    (10-1, 7-1 Missouri Valley)

    Previous Ranking: 1

    Last Week’s Result: 28-21 win over South Dakota

    As long as they keep winning, the five-time reigning FCS champion Bison have home-field advantage through the playoff semifinals. The No. 1-seeded team is 53-5 at the Fargodome this decade, including 17-0 in the playoffs.

    Next Opponent: San Diego or Cal Poly in FCS Playoffs second round (Dec. 3)


    2. Eastern Washington

    (10-1, 8-0 Big Sky)

    Previous Ranking: 2

    Last Week’s Result: 35-28 win over Portland State

    Portland-area natives Gage Gubrud (348 yards of total offense, three TD passes), Kendrick Bourne (game-winning TD reception) and Samson Ebukam (two sacks) all had a hand in the Eagles’ road win over Portland State, as EWU clinched a fourth Big Sky title in five seasons.

    Next Opponent: Illinois State or Central Arkansas in FCS Playoffs second round (Dec. 3)


    3. Jacksonville State

    (10-1, 7-0 Ohio Valley)

    Previous Ranking: 3

    Last Week’s Result: 33-7 win over UT Martin

    Not only have the Gamecocks gone three straight regular seasons without an Ohio Valley Conference loss, they’ve gone three straight regular seasons with losses only to FBS opponents. Quarterback Eli Jenkins had four touchdown carries against UT Martin.

    Next Opponent: Samford or Youngstown State in FCS Playoffs second round (Dec. 3)


    4. Sam Houston State

    (11-0, 9-0 Southland)

    Previous Ranking: 4

    Last Week’s Result: 59-23 then-No. 10 Central Arkansas (Nov. 19)

    Junior quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe’s seven touchdown passes against a stunned UCA delivered the Southland Conference title and moved him to a conference-record 52 – just four shy of the FCS single-season record.

    Next Opponent: Weber State or Chattanooga in FCS Playoffs second round (Dec. 3)


    5. James Madison

    (10-1, 8-0 CAA Football)

    Previous Ranking: 5

    Last Week’s Result: 63-14 win over Elon

    The Dukes rested No. 1 quarterback Bryan Schor (non-throwing shoulder) against Elon, and he has two more weeks to heal up before their second-round playoff game.

    Next Opponent: Lehigh or New Hampshire in FCS Playoffs second round (Dec. 3)


    6. The Citadel

    (10-1, 8-0 Southern)

    Previous Ranking: 6

    Last Week’s Result: 41-7 loss to North Carolina

    It wasn’t surprising the Bulldogs fell from the unbeaten ranks with a loss to North Carolina. Despite the lopsided defeat, their triple option held the ball for 42 minutes, 25 seconds.

    Next Opponent: Charleston Southern or Wofford in FCS Playoffs second round (Dec. 3)


    7. South Dakota State

    (7-3, 6-1 Missouri Valley)

    Previous Ranking: 9

    Last Week’s Result: 45-24 win over then-No. 20 Northern Iowa

    The Jackrabbits pulled the toughest dome-double around, winning at North Dakota State and Northern Iowa in the same season. Quarterback Taryn Christion threw two touchdowns to wide receiver Jake Wieneke and Wieneke threw one to Christion.

    Next Opponent: Saint Francis or Villanova in FCS Playoffs second round (Dec. 3)


    8. North Dakota

    (9-2, 8-0 Big Sky)

    Previous Ranking: 7

    Last Week’s Result: Idle

    The Fighting Hawks go into their first FCS playoff appearance with a nine-game winning streak, which is their longest since 2005. They have one of the stingiest run defenses in the FCS, but they’ve also picked off 20 passes.

    Next Opponent: North Carolina A&T or Richmond in FCS Playoffs second round (Dec. 3)


    9. Chattanooga

    (8-3, 6-3 Southern)

    Previous Ranking: 11

    Last Week’s Result: 31-3 loss to Alabama

    Not a bad loss for the Mocs considering they led the nation’s top college football team, 3-0, after one quarter. Linebacker Dale Warren must have impressed the Tide with seven tackles, including three for a loss and a sack, as well as a forced fumble and fumble recovery.

    Next Opponent: Weber State in FCS Playoffs first round (Nov. 26)


    10. Charleston Southern

    (7-3, 4-1 Big South)

    Previous Ranking: 13

    Last Week’s Result: 28-7 win over Kennesaw State

    It was win and be in or lose and miss the playoffs, so the Buccaneers definitely preferred the former while earning the Big South’s automatic bid. Senior running back Darius Hammond (153 rushing yards, 2 TDs) regained his form, too.

    Next Opponent: at Wofford in FCS Playoffs first round (Nov. 26)


    11. Richmond

    (8-3, 5-3 CAA)

    Previous Ranking: 8

    Last Week’s Result: 34-13 loss to William & Mary

    The Spiders blew a seed and first-round bye in the playoffs by falling to rival William & Mary. Even worse, they won't have starting quarterback Kyle Lauletta for the remainder of the season after he suffered a torn ACL.

    Next Opponent: North Carolina A&T in FCS Playoffs first round (Nov. 26)


    12. Villanova

    (8-3, 6-2 CAA Football)

    Previous Ranking: 12

    Last Week’s Result: 41-10 win over Delaware

    The Wildcats won their 50th meeting with rival Delaware and extended head coach Andy Talley’s 32nd and final season on their sideline. He’s 229-136-1 with the ‘Cats and 257-154-2 overall heading into his 12th FCS playoff appearance.

    Next Opponent: Saint Francis in FCS Playoffs first round (Nov. 26)


    13. Coastal Carolina

    (9-2 FCS Independent)

    Previous Ranking: 14

    Last Week’s Result: 42-7 win over Liberty

    Ineligible for the FCS playoffs, the Sun Belt-bound Chanticleers have a six-game winning streak heading into their final game in the subdivision. The quarterback carousel continued when Tyler Keane was knocked out of the Liberty game, but running back De’Angelo Henderson was as good as ever.

    Next Opponent: Hampton (Nov. 26)


    14. Youngstown State

    (8-3, 6-2 Missouri Valley)

    Previous Ranking: 17

    Last Week’s Result: 65-20 win over Missouri State

    The Penguins so wanted to end a 10-year playoff drought that they averaged 10.6 yards on their 54 carries against Missouri State. Joe Alessi (seven carries, 190 yards, 2 TDs) Martin Ruiz (19-183-3) and Jody Webb (15-166-2) fueled the 572-yard ground assault.

    Next Opponent: Samford in FCS Playoffs first round (Nov. 26)


    15. Central Arkansas

    (9-2, 8-1 Southland)

    Previous Ranking: 10

    Last Week’s Result: 59-23 loss to No. 4 Sam Houston State

    The Bears have to regroup quickly from their defeat in the pseudo-Southland Conference title game. A seed and first-round playoff bye also were surrendered by a team that had won eight straight games.

    Next Opponent: Illinois State in FCS Playoffs first round (Nov. 26)


    16. Lehigh

    (9-2, 6-0 Patriot)

    Previous Ranking: 21

    Last Week’s Result: 45-21 win over Lafayette

    The Patriot League champion Mountain Hawks enter the playoffs on a nine-game winning streak. Quarterbacks Nick Shafinisky and Brad Mayes have combined for 32 touchdown passes and only seven interceptions.

    Next Opponent: at New Hampshire in FCS Playoffs first round (Nov. 26)


    17. North Carolina Central

    (9-2, 8-0 MEAC)

    Previous Ranking: Unranked

    Last Week’s Result: 42-21 win over then-No. 15 North Carolina A&T

    The Eagles’ demolition of rival North Carolina A&T was a statement. Behind quarterback Malcolm Bell (315 yards of total offense, 3 total TDs), the Eagles powered into the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl with the outright MEAC title.

    Next Opponent: Celebration Bowl (Dec. 17)


    18. Illinois State

    (6-5, 4-4 Missouri Valley)

    Previous Ranking: 18

    Last Week’s Result: Idle

    Three season-ending wins, including two over Top 25 teams, were enough to get the Redbirds into the playoffs as only the second 6-5 team to earn an at-large bid. They were the national finalist in 2014 and a quarterfinalist last season.

    Next Opponent: at Central Arkansas in FCS Playoffs first round (Nov. 26)


    19. Wofford

    (8-3, 6-2 Southern)

    Previous Ranking: 19

    Last Week’s Result: 17-0 win over VMI

    While Wofford is known for its triple-option offense, the defense, behind linebacker Datavious Wilson and safety Jaleel Green, has posted three shutouts this season. The Terriers have not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season.

    Next Opponent: Charleston Southern in FCS Playoffs first round (Nov. 26)


    20. Cal Poly

    (7-4, 5-3 Big Sky)

    Previous Ranking: 24

    Last Week’s Result: 55-48 win over Northern Colorado

    In a high-scoring game that got Cal Poly into the playoffs, quarterback Dano Graves (338 yards of total offense, 3 total TDs) never let the Mustangs trail against Northern Colorado. The Mustangs beat San Diego, 38-16, on Sept. 10.

    Next Opponent: San Diego in FCS Playoffs first round (Nov. 26)


    21. Grambling State

    (8-1, 8-0 SWAC)

    Previous Ranking: 23

    Last Week’s Result: Texas Southern

    The Grambling-Southern winner will represent the SWAC West Division in the conference championship game Dec. 3 in Houston. While quarterback DeVante Kincade has led the offense all season, Jestin Kelly and Martez Carter have taken the run game to a higher level in recent weeks.

    Next Opponent: Southern in Bayou Classic (Nov. 26)


    22. North Carolina A&T

    (9-2, 7-1 MEAC)

    Previous Ranking: 15

    Last Week’s Result: 42-21 loss to North Carolina Central

    The Aggies are 27-7 over the last three years, but have lost to rival North Carolina Central to end each of those regular seasons. This time, Tarik Cohen and Co. got renewed life with an at-large playoff bid.

    Next Opponent: at Richmond in FCS Playoffs first round (Nov. 26)


    23. Samford

    (7-4, 5-3 Southern)

    Previous Ranking: 16

    Last Week’s Result: 15-14 loss to East Tennessee State

    Perhaps the most surprising loss of the final full weekend of the FCS regular season didn’t prevent the Bulldogs from earning a playoff bid. Quarterback Devlin Hodges was held to a season-low 122 passing yards and no touchdowns.

    Next Opponent: at Youngstown State in FCS Playoffs first round (Nov. 26)


    24. New Hampshire

    (7-4, 6-2 CAA)

    Previous Ranking: Unranked

    Last Week’s Result: 24-21 win over Maine

    For much of the regular season, there was never a definitive answer whether UNH should be in the power poll or not. But Morgan Ellman’s late field goal lifted the Wildcats over rival Maine for the seventh straight time and to their 13th straight playoff bid.

    Next Opponent: Lehigh in FCS Playoffs first round (Nov. 26)


    25. Princeton

    (8-2, 6-1 Ivy)

    Previous Ranking: Unranked

    Last Week’s Result: 38-21 win over Dartmouth

    Other teams (Fordham and Weber State among others) have a say here, but why not the Tigers, who shared the Ivy League title with Penn despite owning a 28-0 win over the Quakers. In 10 games, do-everything offensive threat John Lovett had 30 total touchdowns (20 passing, 10 rushing).

    Next Opponent: Season complete


    — Written by Craig Haley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Haley has covered the FCS level since 1999 and is the national writer for He appears frequently on radio shows and podcasts to discuss everything FCS. Follow him on Twitter @CraigHaley.


    (Top photo by Keith Currie/EWU Athletics)

    FCS Rankings: Power Poll for Week 13
    Post date: Monday, November 21, 2016 - 09:30
    All taxonomy terms: AFC, Houston Texans, Oakland Raiders, syndicated, NFL
    Path: /nfl/houston-texans-vs-oakland-raiders-preview-and-prediction-2016

    ¡Vamos a Mexico!


    The NFL hits the road for the latest stop in the league’s international initiative and heads to Mexico City for a “Monday Night Football” game from Estadio Azteca. The environment figures to be a wild one and the game carries plenty of playoff implications for both teams as one of the best defenses tries to slow down a hot-shot offense that has been rolling over opponents.


    That would be the Oakland Raiders, fresh off their bye week and ready to lay claim to not just the division but home-field advantage as well. Quarterback Derek Carr has turned into a legitimate MVP candidate in leading the team’s resurgence and has benefitted from one of the best offensive lines in all of football. The team’s defense hasn’t quite gotten up to speed under new head coach Jack Del Rio but the Silver and Black are improving on that side of the ball and appear to be hitting their stride coming into this week.


    On the flip side, the Houston Texans are benefitting from the relatively weak AFC South and are clinging to the division lead and a playoff home game to boot. Big free agent flashes Brock Osweiller and Lamar Miller haven’t quite panned out like the team had hoped but the defense remains among the stingiest in the NFL to help carry the team through whatever rough patches they may face. Last week’s win over Jacksonville was the team’s first road victory and head coach Bill O’Brien is hoping that the hard-fought game will help propel these Texans as they look ahead to the rest of the season.


    This is only the 10th meeting between the franchises and will obviously be the first outside of either Oakland or Houston. The Texans own the slight 6-3 lead in the series but the pair has split the last four meetings dating back to 2010. It should make for a fun matchup between the two with playoff seeding on the line and in a fun atmosphere south of the border.


    Houston vs. Oakland (Mexico City)


    Kickoff: Monday, Nov. 21 at 8:30 p.m. ET

    TV Channel: ESPN

    Spread: Raiders -6


    Three Things to Watch


    1. Containing Carr and Company

    The Texans are third in the NFL in pass defense and have allowed just eight touchdown passes all season. They’ll be tested by what is perhaps their most talented opponent so far this year on Monday however as Derek Carr has been lighting things up ever since he took over under center for the Raiders. In addition to pressuring the still-young quarterback, trying to contain his productive receivers will be the top task for Romeo Crennel’s unit. Amari Cooper has proven to be one of the best young receivers in the game and running mate Michael Crabtree has flourished since moving across the Bay Area to Oakland. Both are able to stretch the field or use their size against smaller corners to muscle out tough catches. Without J.J. Watt and others, the task of containing Carr and company won’t be an easy one for Houston, especially when you factor in the small revenge factor the Oakland signal-caller might have given the way the franchise treated his brother, Derek, all those years ago.


    2. Sustaining Drives

    It’s been no secret around the NFL that Brock Osweiller has been ineffective since taking over as the starting quarterback and there has even been talk that there could be a change made if things don’t pick up at the position. That’s what makes the fact that Houston has the fifth-best run game in the league so much more surprising given how teams love to load the box against the Texans. Part of the issue is due to the offensive line and inability for some of the team’s receivers to create separation but the bottom line is Osweiler and company will have to sustain drives and make some plays down the field if they want a shot at beating one of the better teams in the AFC. It’s been a thin edge Bill O’Brien’s offense has been living on but perhaps the past few victories have allowed the unit to grow and move forward instead of having to rely on the defense to get things done.


    3. High Altitude and Hangovers

    Let’s face it, neither Houston or Oakland are cities at elevation and that makes the trip to Mexico City (7,382 feet above sea level) even worse than going to play at Denver. With so many high-level athletes hitting the field, they’re bound to experience at least a little difference from a normal NFL game and it will be something to keep in mind if one side or the other has a long drive or is dominating in time of possession. Don’t forget that the Raiders are also coming off their bye week and could exhibit a little rust early in the game before they find their legs. Add in the unknown from what an NFL game will be like at Estadio Azteca and don’t be shocked if things are a little ugly to begin the game.


    Final Analysis


    The way things are going this season for both teams, this game could end up being a preview of a potential AFC playoff pairing. The Raiders have become a legitimate threat to not only make the postseason but also make noise in what might be the toughest division in football out in the AFC West. The Texans have benefitted from playing in the weak AFC South and done most of their damage at home but have won three of their last four and are showing more signs of life than they did in early October.


    Houston has always been limited by its quarterback play and that has continued this season despite the addition of splashy free agent acquisition Brock Osweiller. While his play hasn’t been stellar, the team has still managed to win games behind a solid run game, some big plays from players like rookie Will Fuller and a handful of defensive stops from a unit that has more than survived the loss of star J.J. Watt. Unfortunately starting tailback Lamar Miller is banged up and backup Alfred Blue won’t play on Monday. That will put more pressure on Osweiller’s arm to come through with some big plays against an Oakland defense that has given up a few of its own.


    Whether that will be enough to slow down one of the hottest teams in the league remains to be seen. Oakland head coach Jack Del Rio has breathed life into the franchise and Derek Carr has picked up more and more momentum as an MVP candidate with each win. Beating Denver and stringing together three straight victories has put the team in a position many thought it would be if all that young talent came together and these Raiders might even be ahead of schedule. The normally fearsome Oakland defense didn’t quite show up early in the year but has been playing much better with some new pieces on the back end and old hands like Khalil Mack finally rounding into form.


    Anything can happen on the road in a game outside the normal confines of an NFL stadium but the Raiders have been playing much better football their their AFC rivals and get the benefit of the some additional rest before making the trip south of the border. While things won’t be easy against a defense like the Texans, they’ll get it done in the end and head back home to the Bay Area with a big win in what should be a much different kind of “Monday Night Football” game than we’re used to.


    Prediction: Raiders 26, Texans 20


    — Written by Bryan Fischer, an award-winning college football columnist and member of the Athlon Contributor Network. You can follow him from coast-to-coast on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @BryanDFischer.

    Houston Texans vs. Oakland Raiders Preview and Prediction
    Post date: Monday, November 21, 2016 - 09:00
    All taxonomy terms: ACC, Air Force Falcons, Akron Zips, Alabama Crimson Tide, Appalachian State Mountaineers, Arizona State Sun Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Arkansas Razorbacks, Arkansas State, Arkansas State Red Wolves, Army West Point Black Knights, Army Black Knights, Army West Point Black Knights, Auburn Tigers, Ball State Cardinals, Baylor Bears, Boise State Broncos, Boston College Eagles, Bowling Green Falcons, Buffalo Bulls, BYU Cougars, California Golden Bears, Central Michigan Chippewas, Charlotte 49ers, Cincinnati Bearcats, Clemson Tigers, College Football, Colorado Buffaloes, Colorado State Rams, Connecticut Huskies, Duke Blue Devils, East Carolina Pirates, Eastern Michigan Eagles, FAU Owls, FIU Panthers, Florida Gators, Florida State Seminoles, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs, Georgia Southern Eagles, Georgia State Panthers, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, Hawaii Warriors, Houston Cougars, Idaho Vandals, Illinois Fighting Illini, Indiana Hoosiers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Iowa State Cyclones, Kansas Jayhawks, Kansas State Wildcats, Kent State Golden Flashes, Kentucky Wildcats, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, Louisville Cardinals, LSU Tigers, Marshall Thundering Herd, Maryland Terrapins, Memphis Tigers, Miami Hurricanes, Miami Ohio RedHawks, Michigan State Spartans, Michigan Wolverines, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Missouri Tigers, MTSU Blue Raiders, Navy Midshipmen, Navy Midshipmen, NC State Wolfpack, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Nevada Wolf Pack, New Mexico Lobos, New Mexico State Aggies, North Carolina Tar Heels, North Texas Mean Green, Northern Illinois Huskies, Northwestern Wildcats, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Ohio Bobcats, Ohio State Buckeyes, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Old Dominion Monarchs, Ole Miss Rebels, Oregon Ducks, Oregon State Beavers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Pittsburgh Panthers, Purdue Boilermakers, Rice Owls, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, San Diego State Aztecs, San Jose State Spartans, SMU Mustangs, South Alabama Jaguars, South Carolina Gamecocks, South Florida Bulls, Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Stanford Cardinal, syndicated, Syracuse Orange, TCU Horned Frogs, Temple Owls, Tennessee Volunteers, Texas A&M Aggies, Texas Longhorns, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Toledo Rockets, Troy Trojans, Troy University, Tulane Green Wave, Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UAB Blazers, UCF Knights, UCLA Bruins, UConn Huskies, UL Lafayette Ragin Cajuns, UL Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, UL Monroe Warhawks, UMass Minutemen, UNLV Rebels, USC Trojans, Utah State Aggies, Utah Utes, UTEP Miners, UTSA Roadrunners, Vanderbilt Commodores, Virginia Cavaliers, Virginia Tech Hokies, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, West Virginia Mountaineers, Western Kentucky Hilltoppers, Western Michigan Broncos, Wisconsin Badgers, Wyoming Cowboys, American Athletic, Big 12, Big Ten, Conference USA, Independents, MAC, Mountain West, Pac 12, SEC, Sun Belt, News
    Path: /college-football/college-football-week-12-awards-2016

    Week 12 of the 2016 college football season produced several big performances and memorable moments. Saturday's slate didn't produce another week of upsets, but there were several key matchups that will have a role in determining conference champions or the playoff picture. Colorado defeated Washington State in a critical game for positioning in the Pac-12, Oklahoma kept its playoff hopes alive with a victory over West Virginia, Florida upset LSU in Baton Rouge and Houston defeated Louisville on Thursday night. 


    With the third weekend of November games in the books, it’s time to take a look at the best of the best and honor some of the top performances. Here’s a look at Athlon Sports’ picks for the offensive, defensive, coordinator, team, freshman and unsung hero from Week 12:


    College Football Week 12 Awards

    Offensive Player of the Week: Sefo Liufau, QB, Colorado

    Colorado moved one step closer to clinching the Pac-12 South with a 38-24 victory over Washington State on Saturday. Liufau led the way for coach Mike MacIntyre, guiding the offense to four second-half scoring drives and 603 total yards. The senior completed 27 of 41 throws for 345 yards and rushed for 113 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries.


    Defensive Player of the Week: Ed Oliver, DL, Houston

    Oliver dominated the trenches during Houston’s 36-10 upset over Louisville. The true freshman was a key cog in the efforts to contain quarterback Lamar Jackson, and the Cougars limited the dynamic sophomore to just 244 total yards and one touchdown. Oliver finished with six tackles (three for a loss), three sacks, one pass breakup and one forced fumble.


    Coordinator of the Week (Offense): Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma

    Snow and cold temperatures weren’t enough to slow down Oklahoma in Morgantown on Saturday night. The Sooners kept their playoff hopes alive with a 56-28 win over the Mountaineers, with the offense generating 485 yards and accumulating 27 first downs in a strong overall performance. Riley’s group gashed West Virginia for 316 yards on the ground, dominated the time of possession (39:54 to 20:06) and scored touchdowns on five out of their first seven possessions.


    Coordinator of the Week (Defense): Todd Orlando, Houston

    Orlando and Houston’s defense found a way to slow down Louisville’s high-powered offense and Heisman Trophy candidate Lamar Jackson on Thursday night, helping the Cougars earn a dominant 36-10 victory. Orlando’s defense limited Louisville to just 312 yards (lowest mark of the season), recorded 11 sacks, 12 tackles for a loss and forced three turnovers. Houston’s defense set the tone early, as this unit did not allow a drive longer than 37 yards in the first half and forced two turnovers on Louisville’s first four possessions.


    Freshman of the Week (Offense): Justin Herbert, QB, Oregon

    Herbert’s development throughout the 2016 season is a reason for Oregon fans to be optimistic about the future. The true freshman helped the Ducks upset Utah on Saturday, completing 30 of 43 throws for 324 yards and three touchdowns. Herbert also added 44 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries.


    Freshman of the Week (Defense): David Reese, LB, Florida

    Reese earns this award for the second week in a row. The freshman linebacker was terrific in Florida’s 16-10 road win at LSU, leading the team with 12 tackles and helping to limit Leonard Fournette and Derrius Guice to just 123 yards on 31 carries.


    Team of the Week: Kansas

    Second-year coach David Beaty inherited a massive rebuilding project, and while the wins have been tough to come by, the Jayhawks have showed signs of progress over the last two seasons. However, Beaty and his team can now point to a key turning point in the team’s rebuilding effort. Kansas stunned Texas 24-21 in overtime to earn the program’s first Big 12 victory since Nov. 8, 2014 and earn the first win over the Longhorns since 1938. The Jayhawks capitalized on six Texas turnovers, generated eight tackles for a loss and got a steady effort from freshman quarterback Carter Stanley (21 of 42 for 220 yards) to seal one of the year’s biggest upsets.


    Unsung Hero of the Week: De’Veon Smith, RB, Michigan

    With starting quarterback Wilton Speight sidelined due to injury, and the Wolverines facing an early 10-6 deficit against Indiana, coach Jim Harbaugh leaned on Smith to get the offense on track in the second half. The senior delivered with 158 yards and two scores on 23 attempts and helped Michigan dominate the time of possession (34:21 to 25:39) in a game with less-than-ideal weather conditions.

    College Football Week 12 Awards 2016
    Post date: Sunday, November 20, 2016 - 13:01