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Path: /college-football/texas-longhorns-vs-tcu-horned-frogs-game-preview-and-prediction-2014
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The Lone Star State is home to three Thanksgiving Day games, and the Big 12 showdown between TCU and Texas may provide the most intrigue of any game on the Thursday slate. Sure, Dallas-Philadelphia will draw plenty of interest in the afternoon, and Texas A&M-LSU is an interesting SEC contest, but this matchup between the Longhorns and Horned Frogs has national title and playoff implications in the college football world.

 

TCU ranked No. 5 in the latest playoff standings release and the road date in Austin is its toughest remaining game. The Horned Frogs have won five in a row since a 61-58 loss against Baylor and have some ground to makeup for the No. 4 spot. A loss against the Longhorns would end TCU’s playoff hopes. On the other sideline, Texas has won four out of its last five games and is looking to finish the year with momentum in coach Charlie Strong’s first season.

 

Texas has dominated the overall series with TCU. The Longhorns own a 59-21-1 series edge over the Horned Frogs. The two teams have split the series at one victory apiece since TCU joined the Big 12.

 

TCU at Texas

 

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV Channel: Fox Sports 1

Spread: TCU -6.5

 

TCU’s Key to Victory: Overcome the Recent Struggles Away from Home

 

TCU has experienced close calls in its last two road games. The Horned Frogs defeated West Virginia 31-30 and survived Kansas’ upset bid with a 34-30 win. Can TCU avoid another subpar road performance in Austin? If the Horned Frogs struggle, Texas has all of the necessary pieces to take advantage and pull of the upset. Getting the offense back on track will be crucial to holding off the Longhorns on Thursday night. In TCU’s last two road trips, the Horned Frogs lost five turnovers – and still won. West Virginia and Kansas gave TCU all it could handle in both matchups, and the Longhorns are a tougher all-around matchup. The offense can’t afford to make mistakes, and quarterback Trevone Boykin has to replicate his performance against Kansas State (219 pass yards, 123 rush yards), instead of his 12 of 30 for 166 yards and one score output against West Virginia on the road. In conference-only games, the Horned Frogs lead the Big 12 by scoring 46.4 points per matchup. There’s no doubt Texas will throw a few things at TCU with extra time to prepare. The Longhorns’ defensive front is active (37 sacks) and should challenge Boykin at the line of scrimmage. It’s important for TCU to win the turnover battle and find balance to offense to limit the pressure on Boykin against a stout Longhorns’ defensive line.

 

Texas’ Key to Victory: QB Tyrone Swoopes

 

There’s more to Texas’ victory hopes than Swoopes, but TCU coach Gary Patterson is one of the best defensive minds in the nation. And there’s no doubt Patterson will throw a few different looks at Swoopes to test the young quarterback. The sophomore has tossed three touchdowns to five interceptions in five home games but is coming off a solid performance against Oklahoma State (305 yards, 2 TDs). TCU’s defense has a strong front seven, which is led by linebacker Paul Dawson and a solid collection of talent on the line that has helped the Horned Frogs register 28 sacks in 10 games. Swoopes can counter TCU’s pass rush with his mobility, and the Longhorns may need 40-50 rushing yards from the sophomore on Thursday night. TCU’s pass defense isn’t as stingy as it was last year, but the Horned Frogs rank fourth in the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense and have allowed 15 passing scores in conference games. Swoopes has developed a nice rapport with John Harris (59 catches) and Jaxon Shipley (58 catches) this year, and the receivers will challenge the TCU secondary. As a first-year starter, Swoopes has experienced his share of ups and downs. If he can deliver a complete performance on Thursday night, Texas will have a good shot at the upset.

 

Final Analysis

 

There’s no doubt Texas is getting better, and this is a dangerous matchup for the Horned Frogs. TCU needs quarterback Trevone Boykin to continue his efficiency (only five picks in 386 attempts), while allowing the junior to use his legs against the Longhorns’ defensive line when the pocket collapses. And even though running back B.J. Catalon is not expected to play, the Horned Frogs can lean on Aaron Green (8.3 ypc) to provide balance. Texas needs to lean on its defense to hang around in this one. And if the Longhorns control the pace of the game with their defense, can the offense make enough plays in the fourth quarter to win? That’s the big question on Thursday night. Texas keeps it close, but TCU's offense makes just enough plays in the fourth quarter to pull out the victory.

 

Prediction: TCU 27, Texas 24
Teaser:
Texas Longhorns vs. TCU Horned Frogs Game Preview and Prediction
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 14:20
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-kicker-rankings-week-13
Body:

New England takes on Green Bay, which means their kickers are prominently featured in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Kicker Rankings for Week 13. As productive as Stephen Gostkowski and Mason Crosby have been this season, however, one of the bigger surprises has been the performance of rookie Cody Parkey. An udrafted free agent from Auburn, Parkey beat out incumbent Alex Henery for the Eagles’ kicking job in training camp and all he’s done is miss just two of his 64 kicks thus far. He’s 23-of-25 on field goal tries and a perfect 39-for-39 on PATs, production that places him third in scoring in both the NFL and fantasy. Not bad for a first impression.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 13 Fantasy Football Rankings — Kickers

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Stephen GostkowskiNEat GB
2Adam VinatieriINDvs. WAS
3Cody ParkeyPHIat DAL (Thurs.)
4Steven HauschkaSEAat SF (Thurs.)
5Mason CrosbyGBvs. NE
6Dan BaileyDALvs. PHI (Thurs.)
7Justin TuckerBALvs. SD
8Phil DawsonSFvs. SEA (Thurs.)
9Caleb SturgisMIAat NYJ (Mon.)
10Dan CarpenterBUFvs. CLE
11Shaun SuishamPITvs. NO
12Randy BullockHOUvs. TEN
13Matt PraterDETvs. CHI (Thurs.)
14Connor BarthDENat KC
15Shayne GrahamNOat PIT
16Matt BryantATLvs. ARI

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Kicker Rankings: Week 13
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-defensespecial-teams-rankings-week-13
Body:

Every team is in action, but it’s the Jets’ opponent who gets the distinction of leading off Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Defense/Special Teams Rankings for Week 13. Yes, the Jaguars are playing, but the Jets gave up 25 fantasy points on Monday night to the Bills. Buffalo not only sacked New York quarterbacks seven times, the Bills blocked a punt for a touchdown, picked off a pass and held the Jets to a mere three points. This Monday night the Jets will host Miami, whose DST is third in fantasy points and had its string of five straight double-digit efforts come to an end last week in Denver. Needless to say, the Jets’ offense and the Broncos’ offense are not on the same level. But take heart Jacksonville “fans.” The Jags are still No. 1 in fantasy points allowed to DSTs and their Week 13 opponent, the Giants, most likely is on your league’s waiver wire. That said, the G-Men barely made our rankings and that’s entirely due to this enticing matchup.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 13 Fantasy Football Rankings — Defense/Special Teams

 

RankPlayerOpp
1Miami Dolphinsat NYJ (Mon.)
2Buffalo Billsvs. CLE
3Seattle Seahawksat SF (Thurs.)
4Arizona Cardinalsat ATL
5St. Louis Ramsvs. OAK
6San Francisco 49ersvs. SEA (Thurs.)
7Houston Texansvs. TEN
8Cincinnati Bengalsat TB
9Minnesota Vikingsvs. CAR
10Baltimore Ravensvs. SD
11Indianapolis Coltsvs. WAS
12Detroit Lionsvs. CHI (Thurs.)
13Philadelphia Eaglesat DAL (Thurs.)
14Denver Broncosat KC
15Cleveland Brownsat BUF
16New York Giantsat JAC

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit www.FantasyRundown.com

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Defense/Special Teams Rankings: Week 13
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-tight-end-rankings-week-13
Body:

With a couple of guys returning from injury, Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings for Week 13 is as deep as it’s been all season. Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham and Julius Thomas (who missed last week’s game because of an ankle injury) continue to headline the group, but Delanie Walker returned in Week 12 after missing a game because of a concussion and paced the position with 155 yards receiving. Additionally, Kyle Rudolph, considered by many a top-10 TE entering this season, caught three passes for 50 yards in his second game back after missing the previous seven because of a sports hernia. And then there’s Jason Witten, the wily old veteran who got off to a slow start this season but has picked up things lately. Witten averaged just 6.3 fantasy points (Athlon scoring) over his first seven games. Over his last four games that number has doubled to 12.6 on the strength of three touchdown catches during this span.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 13 Fantasy Football Rankings — Tight Ends

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Rob GronkowskiNEat GB
2Jimmy GrahamNOat PIT
3Julius ThomasDENat KC
4Greg OlsenCARat MIN
5Delanie WalkerTENat HOU
6Antonio GatesSDat BAL
7Jason WittenDALvs. PHI (Thurs.)
8Travis KelceKCvs. DEN
9Martellus BennettCHIat DET (Thurs.)
10Larry DonnellNYGat JAC
11Coby FleenerINDvs. WAS
12Kyle RudolphMINvs. CAR
13Owen DanielsBALvs. SD
14Heath MillerPITvs. NO
15Mychal RiveraOAKat STL
16Charles ClayMIAat NYJ (Mon.)
17Zach ErtzPHIat DAL (Thurs.)
18Dwayne AllenINDvs. WAS
19Jared CookSTLvs. OAK
20Jordan CameronCLEat BUF
21Vernon DavisSFvs. SEA (Thurs.)
22Scott ChandlerBUFvs. CLE
23Tim WrightNEat GB
24Jordan ReedWASat IND

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:
All touchdowns are 6 points
1 point for 25 yards passing
1 point for 10 yards rushing/receiving
Receptions are .5 points
Interceptions/fumbles are minus-2 points

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit www.FantasyRundown.com

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Tight End Rankings: Week 13
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-wide-receiver-rankings-week-13
Body:

Odell Beckham Jr. exploded onto the national scene this past Sunday night, a performance that earned the rookie top-10 status in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Rankings for Week 13. Beckham, following his 146-yard, two-touchdown effort (31.4 fantasy points, Athlon scoring) against the Cowboys, checks in at No. 10, an indication as to how deep wide receiver has been this season. In fact, as impressive as Beckham’s Week 12 performance was, he was topped by Denver’s Demaryius Thomas, who caught three TDs (31.7 fantasy pts) in the win against Miami, for top honors. Beckham also wasn’t the only wideout that had a big game Sunday night either. Dez Bryant helped his Cowboys defeat Beckham’s Giants with two touchdown grabs of his own. All three are locked in as must-start options this week, along with the likes of Antonio Brown, Calvin Johnson, A.J. Green, Jordy Nelson, Josh Gordon, T.Y. Hilton and Emmanuel Sanders.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 13 Fantasy Football Rankings — Wide Receivers

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Demaryius ThomasDENat KC
2Antonio BrownPITvs. NO
3Dez BryantDALvs. PHI (Thurs.)
4Calvin JohnsonDETvs. CHI (Thurs.)
5A.J. GreenCINat TB
6Jordy NelsonGBvs. NE
7Josh GordonCLEat BUF
8T.Y. HiltonINDvs. WAS
9Emmanuel SandersDENat KC
10Odell Beckham Jr.NYGat JAC
11Randall CobbGBvs. NE
12Julio JonesATLvs. ARI
13Mike EvansTBvs. CIN
14Alshon JefferyCHIat DET (Thurs.)
15Brandon MarshallCHIat DET (Thurs.)
16Jeremy MaclinPHIat DAL (Thurs.)
17Kelvin BenjaminCARat MIN
18Roddy WhiteATLvs. ARI
19Golden TateDETvs. CHI (Thurs.)
20Mike WallaceMIAat NYJ (Mon.)
21Keenan AllenSDat BAL
22Julian EdelmanNEat GB
23DeSean JacksonWASat IND
24Sammy WatkinsBUFvs. CLE
25Jordan MatthewsPHIat DAL (Thurs.)
26Torrey SmithBALvs. SD
27DeAndre HopkinsHOUvs. TEN
28Vincent JacksonTBvs. CIN
29Anquan BoldinSFvs. SEA (Thurs.)
30Brandon LaFellNEat GB
31Marques ColstonNOat PIT
32Andre JohnsonHOUvs. TEN
33Steve SmithBALvs. SD
34Martavis BryantPITvs. NO
35Mohamed SanuCINat TB
36Reggie WayneINDvs. WAS
37Jarvis LandryMIAat NYJ (Mon.)
38Rueben RandleNYGat JAC
39Terrance WilliamsDALvs. PHI (Thurs.)
40Kenny BrittSTLvs. OAK
41Michael CrabtreeSFvs. SEA (Thurs.)
42Percy HarvinNYJvs. MIA (Mon.)
43John BrownARIat ATL
44Michael FloydARIat ATL
45Eric DeckerNYJvs. MIA (Mon.)
46Kenny StillsNOat PIT
47Cecil ShortsJACvs. NYG
48Kendall WrightTENat HOU

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit www.FantasyRundown.com

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Wide Receiver Rankings: Week 13
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-running-back-rankings-week-13
Body:

Le’Veon Bell trails DeMarco Murray by more than 400 yards for the NFL lead in rushing but he’s our choice to head up Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Running Back Rankings for Week 13. Bell is coming off of a career-best 204 yards rushing in his last game and on Sunday faces a Saints defense that gave up 182 to Justin Forsett on Monday night. Forsett has come from nowhere to rank third with 903 yards rushing and is a must-start option this week against the Chargers. Murray will look to extend his league-leading yardage total on Thanksgiving against the Eagles while LeSean McCoy hopes to build off of last week’s 130-yard effort. Another entertaining RB matchup to keep an eye on is Sunday night’s Denver vs. Kansas City tilt. C.J. Anderson and Jamaal Charles combined for 247 yards rushing and two touchdowns last week against the Dolphins and Raiders, respectively.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 13 Fantasy Football Rankings — Running Backs

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Le'Veon BellPITvs. NO
2DeMarco MurrayDALvs. PHI (Thurs.)
3Jamaal CharlesKCvs. DEN
4Eddie LacyGBvs. NE
5Matt ForteCHIat DET (Thurs.)
6LeSean McCoyPHIat DAL (Thurs.)
7Justin ForsettBALvs. SD
8C.J. AndersonDENat KC
9Marshawn LynchSEAat SF (Thurs.)
10Alfred MorrisWASat IND
11Andre EllingtonARIat ATL
12Arian FosterHOUvs. TEN
13Denard RobinsonJACvs. NYG
14Rashad JenningsNYGat JAC
15Mark IngramNOat PIT
16Jeremy HillCINat TB
17Tre MasonSTLvs. OAK
18Ryan MathewsSDat BAL
19Isaiah CrowellCLEat BUF
20Giovani BernardCINat TB
21Lamar MillerMIAat NYJ (Mon.)
22Joique BellDETvs. CHI (Thurs.)
23Fred JacksonBUFvs. CLE
24Daniel HerronINDvs. WAS
25Frank GoreSFvs. SEA (Thurs.)
26Latavius MurrayOAKat STL
27Trent RichardsonINDvs. WAS
28Jerick McKinnonMINvs. CAR
29Shane VereenNEat GB
30Steven JacksonATLvs. ARI
31Chris IvoryNYJvs. MIA (Mon.)
32LeGarrette BlountNEat GB
33Darren SprolesPHIat DAL (Thurs.)
34Bishop SankeyTENat HOU
35Jonathan StewartCARat MIN
36Terrance WestCLEat BUF
37Doug MartinTBvs. CIN
38Reggie BushDETvs. CHI (Thurs.)
39Charles SimsTBvs. CIN
40Pierre ThomasNOat PIT
41DeAngelo WilliamsCARat MIN
42Jonas GrayNEat GB
43Anthony DixonBUFvs. CLE
44Alfred BlueHOUvs. TEN
45Branden OliverSDat BAL
46Carlos HydeSFvs. SEA (Thurs.)
47Andre WilliamsNYGat JAC
48Darren McFaddenOAKat STL

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit www.FantasyRundown.com.

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Running Back Rankings: Week 13
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 14:00
Path: /fantasy/fantasy-football-2014-quarterback-rankings-week-13
Body:

Peyton Manning is once again leading everyone in fantasy scoring, but he’s second fiddle to Aaron Rodgers in Athlon Sports’ Fantasy Football Quarterback Rankings for Week 13. Manning has 10 touchdown passes in his last three games, a stretch of performances that has allowed him to move past Andrew Luck to take over the fantasy scoring lead. Rodgers meanwhile has 11 scoring strikes in his last three games and checks in at No. 1 in our rankings this week because of the highly anticipated showdown between him and Tom Brady at Lambeau Field Sunday afternoon. Luck should be able to bounce back from a season-low 19 fantasy points (Athlon scoring) when he takes on Washington at home. Perhaps somewhat of a surprise, Mark Sanchez (at DAL, Thurs.) and Ryan Tannehill (at NYJ, Mon.) also are top-10 options this week because of their respective matchups.

 

Positional Rankings: QB I RB I WR I TE I DST I K

 

2014 NFL Week 13 Fantasy Football Rankings — Quarterbacks

 

RankPlayerTeamOpp
1Aaron RodgersGBvs. NE
2Peyton ManningDENat KC
3Andrew LuckINDvs. WAS
4Tom BradyNEat GB
5Drew BreesNOat PIT
6Tony RomoDALvs. PHI (Thurs.)
7Ben RoethlisbergerPITvs. NO
8Matthew StaffordDETvs. CHI (Thurs.)
9Ryan TannehillMIAat NYJ (Mon.)
10Mark SanchezPHIat DAL (Thurs.)
11Russell WilsonSEAat SF (Thurs.)
12Eli ManningNYGat JAC
13Philip RiversSDat BAL
14Jay CutlerCHIat DET (Thurs.)
15Matt RyanATLvs. ARI
16Alex SmithKCvs. DEN
17Joe FlaccoBALvs. SD
18Cam NewtonCARat MIN
19Josh McCownTBvs. CIN
20Colin KaepernickSFvs. SEA (Thurs.)
21Andy DaltonCINat TB
22Kyle OrtonBUFvs. CLE
23Zach MettenbergerTENat HOU
24Drew StantonARIat ATL
25Brian HoyerCLEat BUF
26Teddy BridgewaterMINvs. CAR

Rankings are based upon Athlon Sports' standard scoring system:

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

 

Need more fantasy help? Visit www.FantasyRundown.com.

Teaser:
Fantasy Football 2014 Quarterback Rankings: Week 13
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 14:00
Path: /nba/what-we-are-thankful-2014-15-nba
Body:

Let’s not beat around the bush: We love the NBA. That’s why we’re here. And in lieu of any game action tomorrow — football’s time to shine as the turkey’s tryptophan tricks us to sleep — we’ll have to subsist on the memory of some of the season’s most heart-warming trends. What are we thankful for through the beginning of the 2014-15 season?

Boogie Cousins and the surging underdogs, the Sacramento Kings
The 9-5 Kings have been the league’s most fun team this November. Their collection of written-off ballers has been the David raging against the collective media’s Goliath-sized doubt about them, and their endearing chemistry is an essential part of their cache. Check out DeMarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi flaring some of that love on the bench:

Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis is the future of the NBA. The 21-year-old Chicago native has long been regarded as a future MVP candidate, but after his stint with Team USA this summer, The ‘Brow is jumping into headlines sooner than many expected. It’s still early in the season, but right now it’s an easy call: Davis is the best player in the league, and watching him is a singular joy. Watch him prove it in this recent 40-point performance against the Utah Jazz:


The Lakers and Knicks are both terrible
My apologies if you reside in — or root for — one of the nation’s two biggest basketball markets. But for myself and everyone else in between, the schadenfreude that the burning rubbish of these two franchises grants us is richer than the pumpkin pie that follows the feast. New York and L.A. are a combined 7-22; yikes. Enjoy the failure while it lasts.

Nate Robinson
I think this Vine of lil’ Nate speaks for itself:

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 13:43
Path: /college-football/lsu-tigers-vs-texas-am-aggies-game-preview-and-prediction-2014
Body:

Texas A&M and LSU meet for the third time as SEC opponents in a Thanksgiving night matchup at Kyle Field. The Aggies and Tigers enter the regular season finale at 7-4 and 3-4 in conference play. Both teams have spent time in the top 25 and a win on Thursday night would nudge either back into contention for next week’s rankings.

 

With Texas A&M and LSU out of the conference title mix in the SEC West, Thursday night’s game is all about bowl positioning and establishing momentum. Neither team should be considered a disappointment with a 7-4 record, as both programs had to replace a significant amount of talent in the offseason. However, question marks and personnel concerns have continued throughout the year for both teams. Thursday night’s game is a chance to finish with momentum and establish something positive before bowl practices in December.

 

LSU owns a 29-19-3 series edge against Texas A&M. The Tigers have won both meetings between these two teams as SEC members. LSU has played at Kyle Field only once since 1995.

 

LSU at Texas A&M

 

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Thursday)

TV Channel: ESPN

Spread: LSU -3

 

LSU’s Key to Victory: Establish the Run

 

In LSU’s last game against Arkansas, the rushing attack was held to just 36 yards on 32 attempts. That’s the fewest rushing yards by the Tigers since recording 43 on 31 attempts against Alabama in 2013. Establishing the run on Thursday night is critical with the struggles of quarterback Anthony Jennings. The sophomore is completing only 47.9 percent of his throws and passed for 87 yards on 12 completions against the Razorbacks. In LSU’s last two games against Texas A&M, the Tigers have gashed the Aggies for 543 yards and four scores on 100 carries. Averaging 5.4 yards per rush on Thursday night isn’t out of the question with Texas A&M giving up 208.9 rushing yards per game. True freshman Leonard Fournette recorded only five carries against Arkansas, but the true freshman should see 20-25 touches against the Aggies. And if Fournette needs a rest, LSU has Terrence Magee (471 yards) and Darrel Williams (4.6 ypc) to hammer away against the Texas A&M defense. If LSU can establish the run, Jennings will have opportunities to hit plays downfield on play-action passes.

 

Texas A&M’s Key to Victory: Push the Tempo/Style of Play

 

LSU’s identity on offense is clear with a struggling passing game: Establish the run and control the clock. The Tigers average 33:19 in time of possession, which ranks second in the SEC behind Arkansas. On the flipside, Texas A&M ranks last in time of possession with a 26:15 mark. Time of possession doesn’t mean much in terms of success, but it’s critical in a matchup like the one on Thursday night. The Aggies want to speed up the tempo and get the ball in space to their playmakers. Freshman quarterback Kyle Allen has made three starts this year and threw for 237 yards and three scores in Texas A&M’s 34-27 loss to Missouri. He also completed 19 of 29 passes for 277 yards and four touchdowns in a 41-38 win over Auburn. LSU’s pass defense has been stingy this season, limiting opponents to just eight passing scores and a 49.4 completion percentage. The Aggies know they have a struggling rush defense and can’t afford to let the Tigers hammer away for four quarters on the ground. The best counterpunch to LSU’s offense is Texas A&M’s ability to push the tempo and let Allen hit receivers Speedy Noil, Josh Reynolds, Malcome Kennedy and Ricky Seals-Jones. If the Aggies get ahead, they can take the Tigers out of their preferred offense and force coach Les Miles’ team to take to the air.

 

Final Analysis

 

In the two previous meetings between LSU and Texas A&M as SEC members, the Tigers have controlled the pace of the game with a punishing ground attack and a quick, athletic defense. For the Aggies to reverse the trend on Thursday night, they have to get Allen going early and strike first on offense to force LSU out of its ground-and-pound gameplan. Which team establishes the tempo will emerge on Thanksgiving night with the victory. The guess here is LSU’s rushing attack and offensive line controls the pace of game and Texas A&M struggles to stop the run once again.

 

Prediction: LSU 27, Texas A&M 20
Teaser:
LSU Tigers vs. Texas A&M Aggies Game Preview and Prediction 2014
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-november-26-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Nov. 26:

 

Cheerleader of the week: Michigan State's Alexa Brewer.

 

Richard Sherman masterfully trolled the NFL with a cardboard Doug Baldwin.

 

• A pre-Thanksgiving treat: Watch a photo of Kate Upton get reconstructed using Turkey Day food.

 

• Today, among other things, we're thankful for Jennifer Lawrence.

 

Two years ago today, the Buttfumble happened and things were never the same.

 

A nice gesture from JJ Watt to Houston's first responders.

 

Fran Tarkenton spent a season on horse painkillers.

 

The nation's 10 best high school Thanksgiving rivalries.

 

Oregon's Elgin Cook went up for a dunk, changed his mind in mid-air and embarrassed himself and his family.

 

The feel-good Devon Still story doesn't feel quite as good if this is true.

 

Benching RG3 was Jay Gruden's last-ditch attempt to keep the locker room.

 

• Kenneth Faried's dunk elicited an enthusiastic celebration from Nate Robinson.

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 11:29
Path: /8-classic-thanksgiving-moments-dallas-cowboys-and-detroit-lions
Body:

Just like the crazy uncle with the nonstop inappropriate jokes or the aunt with the barely edible green bean casserole, the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys are welcome additions to the holiday family gathering even though they will probably provide an awkward moment or two.

Here are a few of the noteworthy Thanksgiving Day memories from the Lions, whose first Turkey Day game was in 1934, and Cowboys, who first sat at the table in 1966.



1. Lett It Snow
On a snow-covered field at old Cowboys Stadium in Dallas in 1993, the Cowboys blocked a potential game-winning field goal by the Dolphins with 15 seconds to play. The Boys surrounded the dead ball in celebration before Leon Lett came sliding in through the snow, tipping the ball and allowing the Fins to recover the muff at the one-yard-line — and beat Dallas, 16–14, on a game-winning field goal as time expired.


2. Heads or Tails?
Prior to the coin toss at the start of overtime in Detroit in 1998, Pittsburgh’s “Bus” Jerome Bettis clearly called “tails.” But referee Phil Luckett awarded the ball to the Lions, who kicked a game-winning field goal on their first drive to beat the stunned Steelers, 19–16.


3. O-fer
En route to becoming the only 0–16 team in history, the Lions allowed a Thanksgiving Day team-worst 47 points to the Titans, who posted an NFL-best 13–3 record in 2008.


4. Fried Turkey
Vikings rookie Randy Moss burned the Cowboys — who infamously passed on the wideout in the 1998 draft — to the tune of three catches for 163 yards (54.3 ypc) and three touchdowns, as Minnesota ran by Dallas, 46–36.



5. Unruly Kids
Detroit 24-year-old Ndamukong Suh threw a temper tantrum on the field and was ejected from the game for stomping on Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith during a 27–15 loss in 2011.


6. Delicious Leftovers
Cowboys third-stringer Jason Garrett starts in place of an injured Troy Aikman and outpitches the Packers’ Brett Favre in a 42–31 Dallas win in 1994. The game reminds many of the time Cowboys backup Clint Longley replaced an injured Roger Staubach to lead thrilling come-from-behind 24–23 win over the rival Redskins in 1974.


7. Juice Spoiled
O.J. Simpson broke the NFL’s single-game rushing record with 273 yards at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day in 1976. But due to inept quarterback play from Gary Marangi, who went 4-for-21 for 29 yards, the Bills lost to the Lions, 27–14.


8. Unfitting Finale
Mr. Thanksgiving himself, Lions legend Barry Sanders, had just 33 yards on 20 carries against the Steelers in 1998 — the worst showing No. 20 ever had on a fourth Thursday in November. Although the effort pushed Sanders over the 15,000-yard mark for his career, it was (shockingly) the last Thanksgiving Day he graced the nation with his brilliance.
 

Teaser:
<p> Best and Worst Thanksgiving Day Moments: Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions, including Leon Lett's mistake in the snow in 1993, Jerome Bettis and Phil Luckett's coin toss confusion in 1998, Randy Moss' three-touchdown game in 1998, Jason Garrett's duel against Brett Favre in 1994, O.J. Simpson's record-breaking effort in 1976 and Ndamukong Suh's stomp heard round the world in 2011.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 10:24
Path: /overtime/nba-recap-kings-down-pelicans-steph-curry-goes-crazy-more-d-rose-drama
Body:

Led by 22 points and 12 rebounds from DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins, the Sacramento Kings improved to 9-5 on the season by beating Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans, 99-89, at the Smoothie King Center in Louisiana last night.

Considering that the Kings beat the Pellies without their No. 2 man Rudy Gay, it might be safe to say this was something of a statement game. Boogie and Davis, both, are the best young big men in the game, and they’re also both trying to lead their teams from mere Western Conference fodder into genuine playoff contention. In the ongoing (and fascinating) tug of war between the two teams — which last saw N.O. take a 106-100 victory in Sacramento, just a week ago — the Kings now stand proudly.

The Kings’ Northern California suite mates, meanwhile, took care of business all the way over in America’s swampiest appendage, downing the Miami Heat 114-97 behind Stephen Curry’s 40-point explosion, which included 8-of-11 shooting from three-point land. Watching Curry do his thing at top volume is one of the greater joys of the modern game, so I’m just going to leave this here:

Fellow point guard mega-star Derrick Rose wasn’t having the same luck as Curry up in the woozy altitude of Denver, as the Chicago Bulls fell 114-109 to the Nuggets. Rose left the game at halftime, citing discomfort with his recently tweaked hamstring. Given that the team was playing on a back-to-back and Rose’s body is prone to breakdowns anyway, resting him was probably the wisest course available. But that won’t stop the endless, Rose-centric idiot wind from storming through the net for today, tomorrow, and forevermore.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 10:20
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-2014-week-14-picks
Body:

Happy Thanksgiving, college football fans. It's the best day and weekend of the sports calendar. According to me, at least.

 

It's also one of the toughest weeks to predict as historic rivalries dominate the landscape. Strange things happen in rivalry games, so none of my top picks are from traditional Power 5 Thanksgiving matchups.

 

Enjoy the holiday, be thankful and please don't burn your house down.

 

Last Week: 4-3

Year-to-Date: 48-48-1

 

Stanford (+4.5) at UCLA

Jim Mora is out for revenge and has three championships (division, conference, national) hanging in the balance against the Cardinal. Brett Hundley has been excellent in November, but it's the Bruins defense that should control the game against the below-average Stanford offense. Prediction: UCLA -4.5

 

Utah (-9) at Colorado

The Utes have been one of the best plays all season long, going 8-3 against the number. And of importance for this week's game: Utah is 5-0 against the number on the road. Colorado is overmatched here and may be without their starting QB. Prediction: Utah -9

 

Colorado St (-7) at Air Force

The Falcons are a solid team and could find some space to run but more is hanging in the balance for the Rams. Jim McElwain's group won't know where they stand in the Mountain West race until Saturday, so they have to take care of business on Friday. The Rams have been one of the best plays all year (8-3 ATS) and are even better on the road (4-1 ATS). Prediction: Colorado St -7

 

UL-Monroe (+14) at Georgia Southern

Georgia Southern is one of the better stories in college football this fall. The Eagles are unbeaten in the Sun Belt and are poised to win the league (if allowed). This team is also excellent against the spread, going 8-3 for the season and a tidy 4-0 ATS at home. Willie Fritz's club has had two weeks to prepare. Prediction: Georgia Southern -14

 

Syracuse (+11) at Boston College

The Eagles are playing well and Cuse is playing exactly the opposite of that. The Orange can't score right now, recording only 40 points in its last four games. Boston College is 7-4 against the spread and Cuse is 4-7 for the season. Take the Eagles to win big. Prediction: Boston College -11
 

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Top 25 Picks ATS:

 

Top 25Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Auburn (+9.5) at Alabama
Oregon (-20) at Oregon St
Florida (+7.5) at Florida St
Mississippi St (-2) at Ole Miss
Michigan (+21) at Ohio St
Baylor (-24.5) vs. Texas Tech
Stanford (+4.5) at UCLA
Georgia Tech (+12.5) at Georgia
Michigan St (-13) at Penn St
Kansas (+28) at Kansas St
Arizona St (NL) at Arizona
Minnesota (-9) at Wisconsin
Utah (-9) at Colorado
Notre Dame (+7) at USC
Arkansas (+2) at Missouri
South Carolina (+4.5) at Clemson
Nebraska (+1) at Iowa
Kentucky (+13) at Louisville
Last Week:8-85-1110-66-10
YTD:98-97-499-96-490-105-494-101-4
Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: College Football 2014 Week 14 Picks
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-14-preview-and-predictions
Body:

It’s pretty simple for Pac-12 fans.

 

Oregon has clinched the North Division title regardless of what happens in The Civil War but need to win twice to lock up a spot in the first College Football Playoff.

 

Down South, UCLA is in control. Beat Stanford and Jim Mora’s bunch gets a rematch with the Ducks. A Bruins loss, however, makes this Territorial Cup arguably the most anticipated meeting in the desert in the history of the rivalry.


Week 14 Previews and Predictions:
ACC
| Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

 

Pac-12 Week 14 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Arizona St at Arizona
Fri., 3:30 p.m., FOX

Todd Graham and Rich Rodriguez know each other extremely well as they enter what could amount to the most important Territorial Cup in history. This, of course, hinges on Stanford upsetting UCLA (see below), but even if this ends up just a battle for second place, it will be heated. It’s a great rivalry that is made better by the history between the two head coaches (Graham coached under RichRod at WVU and is 2-0 against his former boss) and the gravity of the situation. Both teams are eyeing a 10-win season and both will need their quarterback to overcome adversity to get there. Taylor Kelly hasn’t been particularly sharp since returning from injury, but was brilliant bringing his team back from a two-touchdown deficit against Washington State last weekend. Anu Solomon has been brilliant all season but is dealing with a foot issue that, if he is able to play, would likely limit one of his key assets – his mobility. With the Sun Devils' ability to attack the quarterback and create turnovers, Solomon — or backup Jesse Scroggins — will have to distribute the football quickly and accurately to beat their in-state rivals.

 

2. Stanford (+4.5) at UCLA
Fri., 3:30 p.m., ABC

Jim Mora has had issues with Stanford, losing all three meetings to David Shaw. But this is the best UCLA team he’s had since getting to Westwood, while Shaw brings with him to Pasadena the worst Stanford team of his head-coaching tenure. Brett Hundley is playing the best ball of his career, either topping 300 yards passing or 100 yards rushing in five consecutive games and throwing just one interception over his last four games. Stanford scored 38 in a win over Cal last weekend but don’t be fooled, the Cardinal still have major offensive issues. Holding USC (276) and Arizona (255) to season lows in total offense over the last three games is no easy feat, so UCLA should have a major advantage when its defense is on the field. With a Pac-12 title hanging in the balance, the Bruins might be the only team that can beat the Bruins this weekend.

 

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3. Notre Dame (+7.5) at USC
3:30 p.m., FOX

Any momentum USC built up with wins on the road over Utah and Washington State came to a screeching halt against UCLA last weekend. The Irish have been at a dead stop for what feels like a month, losing three straight and four out of five. Both defenses have shown elite talent among the starters, but their lack of depth has been exposed in November. This historic and normally important rivalry game is surprisingly lacking in national relevance but viewers should still tune in to watch the quarterback play. Cody Kessler is wildly underrated and has been excellent all year while no one knows what to expect from Everett Golson on any given snap. This feels like it could be a wild and memorable showdown despite the game meaning very little to the college football landscape.

 

4. Oregon (-20) at Oregon St
8 p.m., ABC

The Civil War has come a long ways since 0-0 but likely won’t be as exciting as the one-point thriller from last season. Marcus Mariota and the Ducks have clinched a spot in the Pac-12 title game but are still playing for a national title and a Heisman Trophy. Oregon's offense is clicking right now, rushing for between 264 and 269 yards in four straight games while scoring no fewer than 44 points during this span. The Beavers need to pull the upset to get bowl eligible and are at home, but too much is at stake for the Ducks to overlook their archrival.

 

5. BYU (+4.5) at Cal
4:30 p.m., P12 Net

Sonny Dykes has done an excellent job this season in Berkeley but Cal missed a great shot at home against an archrival to get bowl eligible. Finishing the season with three Pac-12 wins was a solid step in the right direction but the Bears would likely be disappointed if they lost three straight chances to get to the postseason for the first time since 2011. A win over BYU would change the entire complexion of the offseason.

 

6. Washington (-3.5) at Washington St
10:30 p.m., FS1

The Apple Cup is a fantastic rivalry and has given fans some memorable moments over the past few seasons. While Mike Leach enters his third such meeting, Chris Petersen is enjoying his debut in the important Evergreen showdown. Leach catapulted his team into a bowl game in 2013 on the strength of a wild comeback victory in '12 while the 10-point win by Washington last year was Steve Sarkisian’s final game in Seattle. Petersen has his team playing better with excellent balance on offense — UW has been over 200 yards rushing and passing in three out of its past four games and its 8.2 yards per play last week was a season high by a large margin. Leach’s team, despite the loss to ASU, did play better last weekend, posting 622 yards on 100 offensive snaps. Anything can happen when these two get together.

 

7. Utah (+9) at Colorado
1 p.m., P12 Net

The Buffaloes are winless in the Pac-12 and will have to play arguably the best game of their season to beat the Utes in Boulder. Sefo Liufau didn’t start against Oregon but came on at the beginning of the second half once the game was out of hand. Jordan Gehrke is Mike MacIntyre’s backup option (he was 9-of-18 for 64 yards). Utah has lost three out of four and is trying to erase the memory of what was its worst showing of the season against Arizona last week. The 520 yards and 7.54 yards per play allowed against the Wildcats were the most the Utes had given up this season while the 42 points were the second most.

 

Pac-12 Predictions:

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
ASU at ZonaASU, 34-30AZ, 28-23AZ, 38-28ASU, 34-30
Stan (+4.5) at UCLAUCLA, 31-13UCLA, 26-20UCLA, 27-17UCLA, 27-20
N. Dame (+7.5) at USCUSC, 40-20USC, 35-21USC, 24-21USC, 38-27
UO (-20) at OSUUO, 45-24UO, 41-21UO, 44-33UO, 45-24
BYU (+4.5) at CalCal, 33-31Cal, 34-20Cal, 28-20Cal, 38-34
UW (-3.5) at WSUUW, 30-28UW, 41-29UW, 35-19UW, 34-31
Utah (+9) ColoUtah, 31-17Utah, 33-21Utah, 27-13Utah, 34-20
Last Week:4-23-33-36-0
YTD:60-2464-2065-1963-21

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 2014 Week 14 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-week-14-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The Eyes of Texas will be focused squarely on Austin Thanksgiving night. So, too, will the eyes of the nation.

 

TCU’s last big test of the season will take place Thursday night against the surging Longhorns and fans in Texas, the Big 12 and in places like Columbus and Starkville will be focused on The 40 Acres.

 

Fans can bet the Playoff Committee will be paying attention as well.

 

Elsewhere, Baylor and Kansas State should hold serve in preparation for their season-ending meeting next weekend.


Week 14 Previews and Predictions:
ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

 

Week 14 Big 12 Game Power Rankings

 

1. TCU (-7.5) at Texas
Thur., 7:30 p.m., FS1

This is as dangerous a game as any national championship contender will have over the last two weeks of the season. Texas is one of the hottest teams in the nation, has one of the best defenses in the nation, is the most powerful program in the league and is a home underdog on Thanksgiving night. So the Horned Frogs will have to stop more than just a developing quarterback and surging running game on offense or even the top pass-rushing defense in the Big 12. A win would give Charlie Strong a four-game winning streak to end the year and a winning overall record — all after a 2-4 start. Trevone Boykin will have to play his best game of the year to get the win and keep pace with Baylor. Because if TCU plays like it did in its last two road trips to Morgantown or, worse, Lawrence, the Frogs could leave Austin with a loss they can't afford.

 

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2. Baylor (-24.5) vs. Texas Tech
3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2, Arlington

By Saturday afternoon, Art Briles will know exactly what is at stake against Texas Tech. Baylor (and KSU) will be watching intently on Turkey Day evening, knowing a win by Texas gives the Bears a shot at the College Football Playoff and an outright league championship. Either way, Bryce Petty should have no issues moving up and down the field against Texas Tech. Last year, this game featured 97 points and 1,129 yards of total offense — 63 and 657 of which came from Baylor. Kliff Kingsbury finally got into the win column last weekend against Iowa State but nothing about this matchup indicates the Red Raiders have a chance to pull the upset.

 

3. West Virginia at Iowa St
Noon, FS1

This is likely Paul Rhoads' last shot at a Big 12 win with a road trip to TCU looming in the season finale. Iowa State has had plenty of close calls, however, losing to Kansas State, Texas and Texas Tech by a total of 10 points. The Mountaineers aren’t playing much better, losing three straight with a surprising lack of offense — with their three least efficient yards per play showings of the season (4.46, 4.98, 5.09). Much of that is due to level of competition and Clint Trickett’s third concussion in two seasons. Skyler Howard would get the nod under center should Dana Holgorsen do the right thing and protect his starting quarterback. The undersized sophomore has attempted 25 career passes for WVU.

 

4. Kansas (+28) at Kansas St
4 p.m., FS1

Win and advance is all that matters for Kansas State. That, and, spend Thanksgiving rooting hard for Charlie Strong. If TCU loses to Texas, Bill Snyder’s bunch is right back in the mix for an outright Big 12 championship. The Jayhawks were destroyed by Oklahoma's Samaje Perine last weekend and there is no reason to think the Sunflower State rivalry will turn out differently.

 

Off: Oklahoma, Oklahoma St

 

Big 12 Predictions:

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
TCU (-7.5) at TexasTexas, 24-23TCU, 28-20TCU, 28-14TCU, 27-24
BU (-24.5) at TTBU, 45-17BU, 47-13BU, 42-24BU, 48-24
WVU at ISUWVU, 34-31WVU, 33-13WVU, 35-17WVU, 34-27
KU (+28) at KSUKSU, 50-10KSU, 41-10KSU, 44-17KSU, 40-13
Last Week:3-12-24-04-0
YTD:58-1056-1261-760-8

 

Teaser:
Big 12 2014 Week 14 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big Ten, News
Path: /college-football/big-ten-2014-week-14-preview-and-predictions
Body:

One rivalry will determine a piece of the Big Ten championship, and unless you’ve been living under a rock this season, you know it’s not the usual game.

Michigan-Ohio State is the undercard in the Big Ten this week to Minnesota and Wisconsin. The longest-lived rivalry in major college football has been for the Slab of Bacon and Paul Bunyan’s Axe, but for the first time it’s for a trip to the Big Ten title game.

For all of the rivalry’s longevity, the two teams have been both ranked at kickoff only twice since 1962, the last time the rivalry was played with both teams in Big Ten championship contention.

It’s the most important game in the Big Ten this week — and not just for the Big Ten, TCU is pulling for the Gophers, too — but it’s not the only one with major implications.

Ohio State still has a playoff spot it would like to claim. Michigan, Illinois and Northwestern are all looking to be bowl eligible. And Nebraska and Iowa are looking for a win that will keep fans of their coaches’ backs.

Week 14 Previews and Predictions:
ACC | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

 

Big Ten Week 14 Game Power Rankings
All times Eastern

1. Minnesota at Wisconsin
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network

The contest for Paul Bunyan’s Axe has rarely been this important on the Big Ten stage. The winner will claim the Big Ten West and face Ohio State in the conference title game, making this the most important Minnesota-Wisconsin game since 1962. That season, both teams were ranked in the top five, and Wisconsin claimed the Big Ten title with a 14-9 win in the season finale. In this year’s meeting, what should be a showdown of two great running backs has diminished a bit. Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon is coming off a 200-yard game against Iowa, tying him with Badgers great Ron Dayne for the Big Ten single-season record last week. Gordon is 519 yards short of Barry Sanders’ national record from 1988. On the other side, though, Minnesota running back David Cobb is “very questionable,” coach Jerry Kill says. Cobb has rushed for 1,430 yards and 12 touchdowns this season in Minnesota’s tricky ground game. Quarterback Mitch Leidner rushed for 110 yards while passing for 135 to fill some of the void left by Cobb late in last week’s win over Nebraska.

2. Michigan at Ohio State
Saturday, noon, ABC

That Virginia Tech loss in Week 2 continues to be an anchor for Ohio State’s playoff hopes even though the Buckeyes were ranked sixth in the most recent release from the selection committee. The Buckeyes haven’t helped their case, either, in the last two games. Ohio State allowed Minnesota to rush for 218 yards and Indiana to run for 281, plus three touchdowns apiece. Both the Gophers and Hoosiers have effective running games, but the production (6.2 yards allowed per carry) is cause for concern. The Buckeyes have also turned the ball over eight times in the last three games, finishing on the wrong side of the turnover margin in each game. Michigan is a wounded team, but the Wolverines have been effective on the ground in the last three games (207.7 yards per game, 5.4 yards per carry). The Wolverines have high stakes in this game, too. A loss means no postseason for Michigan. The same program that reached a bowl game every year from 1975-2007 (and would have made more in the 70s if not for Big Ten rules) is in danger of missing the postseason for the third time in seven seasons.

3. Michigan State at Penn State
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2

Michigan State’s Big Ten and playoff hopes evaporated several weeks ago, but the Spartans still have plenty of goals for the final game of the regular season. A spot in a major New Year’s Bowl (the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange or Peach) remains at stake as well as a fourth 10-win season in the last five years. Penn State is still looking to clinch a winning season after missing an opportunity against Illinois in a 16-14 loss last week. The Nittany Lions’ offensive line has been able to patch together a run game during the last three weeks, but quarterback Christian Hackenberg is still running for his life. This week, he’ll face a Michigan State defense that is tied for the Big Ten lead in sacks. Also of note: Spartans senior Tony Lippett is slated to be Michigan State’s first two-way starter since 1968 when he opens the game at receiver and cornerback.

4. Nebraska at Iowa
Friday, noon, ABC

The enthusiasm game for this game probably isn’t very high. Nebraska’s deflating loss to Minnesota last week puts the Cornhuskers a game away from Bo Pelini’s traditional four losses. A season that started 8-1 for Nebraska is in danger of ending on a three-game losing streak before the bowl game. Iowa’s season has been even more of a letdown with three losses in the last five games. What the future holds for either of these coaches — Pelini and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz — isn’t clear, but certainly one fanbase will be howling by Friday afternoon. On the field, though, this game will feature one intriguing matchup in the trenches between Nebraska defensive end Randy Gregory and Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff. NFL scouts will be closely attuned to that pairing.
 

5. Illinois at Northwestern
Saturday, noon, ESPNU

This seemed unthinkable at one point this season, but the winner of this game goes to a bowl game. Illinois stole wins over Penn State and Minnesota to put the Illini into bowl contention. Northwestern defeated Wisconsin on Oct. 4 and defeated Notre Dame in double overtime two weeks ago. The Wildcats, though, might be in dire straits as quarterback Trevor Siemian left last week’s game against Purdue with a torn ACL. Junior Zach Oliver will start against Illinois, but freshman Matt Alviti is expected to play, too.

6. Rutgers at Maryland
Saturday, 3:30 p.m., ESPNU

This isn’t a good game in a weekend of great games, but let’s stop to note that both of the Big Ten newcomers are enjoying successful seasons. Both are bowl eligible. Maryland (7-4) is 5-1 on the road and scored Big Ten wins over Iowa, Penn State and Michigan. Rutgers has been outclassed by the better Big Ten teams it has faced this season, but the Scarlet Knights are at least bowl eligible. Both teams will enjoy at least one beneficial matchup: Maryland and Rutgers are among the worst teams in the league in both sides of the run game.

7. Purdue at Indiana
Saturday, noon, Big Ten Network

The Battle for the Old Oaken Bucket will have to take the place for a bowl game for Purdue and Indiana ... again. Purdue will look to get its offense back on track. The Boilermakers looked like they had their quarterback of the future in Austin Appleby back in early October, but he’s throw six interception in his last four games. On the other sideline, Indiana running back Tevin Coleman is putting the finishing touches of a fantastic season — one that could be his last with the Hoosiers. Coleman is 94 yards of 2,000. If he’s able to hit that threshold, it will mark only the third time a conference has had two 2,000-yard rushers in the same season. UCF’s Kevin Smith and Tulane’s Matt Forte did it Conference USA in 2007. Iowa State’s Troy Davis and Texas Tech’s Byron Harnspard did it in the Big 12 in 1996.

Big Ten Week 14 Athlon Staff Picks

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
Nebraska at Iowa (-1)Iowa 24-21Neb 30-27Iowa 27-24Iowa 24-20
Illinois at Northwestern (-8)Ill. 21-14NW 30-21NW 27-20NW 17-14
Purdue at Indiana (-2 1/2)Purdue 34-31IU 34-31IU 34-31IU 34-30
Michigan at Ohio State (-20)OSU 42-21OSU 27-14OSU 38-17OSU 34-20
Michigan St (-13 1/2) at Penn StMSU 21-14MSU 34-3MSU 27-10MSU 20-10
Minnesota at Wisconsin (-13 1/2)Wisc 31-14Wisc 40-27Wisc 30-20Wisc 30-15
Rutgers at Maryland (-8 1/2)Md 31-13Md 34-27Md 34-17Md 27-13
Last Week4-34-34-34-3
Season75-3075-3078-2772-34

 

Teaser:
Big Ten 2014 Week 14 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/acc-2014-week-14-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The stakes are high for the ACC in Week 14. The Florida State-Florida matchup has lost some of its national appeal with the Gators hovering around .500, but the Seminoles need to win to stay alive for a spot in college football’s four-team playoff.

Clemson has lost five straight to South Carolina, but coach Dabo Swinney’s team has a good opportunity to reverse the trend in this series if quarterback Deshaun Watson is able to play. Georgia Tech and Louisville take on SEC rivals this Saturday and both need wins to have a shot at a berth in the Orange Bowl if Florida State does not make the college football playoff.

In addition to the four ACC-SEC rivalry games, there are five conference matchups slated for Week 14. Virginia-Virginia Tech is the matchup with the most importance in conference play, with the winner earning bowl eligibility. Pittsburgh is battling for postseason hopes in a road trip to Miami.


Week 14 Previews and Predictions:
Big 12Big TenPac-12SEC 


ACC Week 14 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Florida at Florida State (-7.5)
3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN


The annual rivalry matchup between Florida and Florida State has lost some of its national appeal this year, but there’s still plenty at stake for both programs. All of the pressure in this game is on the Florida State sideline, as the Seminoles need to win out to claim a spot in college football’s playoff. For Florida, this will be coach Will Muschamp’s last game. The Gators want to send Muschamp out a winner and spoil Florida State’s unbeaten record and national title hopes. And despite Florida’s struggles this year, the oddsmakers are giving the Gators plenty of respect with a line just over a touchdown. Florida’s upset hopes hinge on its ability to establish the run. The Seminoles have struggled at times to stop the run, allowing 4.7 yards per carry in last week’s win over Boston College. If the Gators establish their ground attack, they can limit Florida State’s possessions and keep quarterback Jameis Winston on the sidelines. In addition to stopping the run, the Seminoles can’t afford turnovers to give the Gators any early confidence and will need receivers outside of Rashad Greene to step up. All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III could spend most of his snaps covering Greene, which opens the door for freshman Travis Rudolph and sophomore Jesus Wilson to pickup the slack in the passing game. Florida State has won three out of the last four in this series, including a 30-point victory in 2013.
 

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Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


2. South Carolina at Clemson (-4.5)
Noon ET, ESPN


South Carolina has dominated the Palmetto State rivalry in recent years by winning five in a row over the Tigers since 2009. The gap between the two teams during that span has been wide, as South Carolina has won each of the last five meetings by at least 10 points. Despite the recent history between these two programs, Clemson is a slight favorite for Saturday’s game. But coach Dabo Swinney’s team has uncertainty at quarterback, as freshman Deshaun Watson is questionable to play due to a knee injury. If Watson doesn’t start, senior Cole Stoudt (1,576 yards, 6 TDs, 9 INTs) would get the nod under center. Regardless of whether Stoudt or Watson is under center, Clemson’s offense will have opportunities to move the ball against a South Carolina defense allowing 6.1 yards per play. The strength of the Gamecocks is an offense averaging 34 points per game in SEC contests. Quarterback Dylan Thompson leads the SEC with an average of 275.5 yards per game, but Clemson’s defense leads the nation by limiting opponents to just 3.9 yards per play. The turnover battle will be one area to watch on Saturday. Over the last four matchups, South Carolina owns a +11 edge over the Tigers.    
 

3. Georgia Tech at Georgia (-13)
Noon ET, SEC Network

 

Georgia Tech will play for the ACC Championship next week, but the Yellow Jackets have some unfinished business in the regular season. Georgia has won 12 out of the last 13 matchups against Georgia Tech in their annual in-state rivalry. Can coach Paul Johnson’s team reverse the trend in the series? The Yellow Jackets rank fourth in the nation in rush offense, and the Bulldogs have been susceptible to the run at times this year. Georgia allowed 418 yards to Florida and gave up 214 against Kentucky. Quarterback Justin Thomas leads the ground attack for Johnson, with Zach Laskey and Synjyn Days each capable of rushing for 100 yards. While Georgia Tech’s option attack will be tough to stop, a bigger problem for Johnson is on defense. The Yellow Jackets allow 6.1 yards per play and rank 10th in the ACC in rush defense. That’s an issue against a Georgia team averaging 260.6 rushing yards per game, largely on the shoulders of freshman running back Nick Chubb. In order to pull off the upset, Georgia Tech needs to force a couple of turnovers against a Bulldog offense that has lost just eight all year.

 
4. Virginia (-1) at Virginia Tech
8 p.m. ET, ESPN (Friday)

 

The in-state rivalry between Virginia and Virginia Tech has been a one-sided affair in recent years. The Hokies have recorded 10 wins in a row in this series and claimed seven consecutive victories in Blacksburg against the Cavaliers. However, there’s very little separating the two programs in 2014, and the winner of Friday night’s matchup will earn a bowl bid. Points could be at a premium between two offenses that average less than 22 points a game in ACC contests. Virginia Tech’s defense has allowed 12 plays of 40 yards or more this year, but coordinator Bud Foster’s group has limited opponents to 20.5 points per game. Virginia’s offense has been inconsistent at times this year but averaged five yards per play in the 30-13 win over Miami. The health of running back Kevin Parks is critical on Friday night, as the senior missed most of last week’s game due to concussion-like symptoms. Injuries have been a major issue for Virginia Tech all year, as running backs Shai McKenzie and Marshawn Williams were lost for the year, and Trey Edmunds has played in only six contests. In a tight game, quarterback play – especially between two struggling signal-callers – and turnovers will be crucial to the outcome. These two teams have lost 45 turnovers this year and an edge in this department could be the difference in the game on Friday.

 

5. Kentucky at Louisville (-12.5)
Noon ET, ESPN2


Bragging rights in the Bluegrass State are on the line when Kentucky and Louisville meet on Saturday. Additionally, there’s plenty at stake in terms of bowls and postseason positioning. The Wildcats need a win to go bowling for the first time since 2010, while the Cardinals are still alive for a spot in the Orange Bowl (provided Florida State makes the college football playoff). For Kentucky to defeat Louisville for the first time in four years, coach Mark Stoops’ team has to find ways to stop the potent Cardinals’ offense. Louisville freshman quarterback Reggie Bonnafon completed only 8 of 21 passes for 180 yards in last week’s win over Notre Dame, but he had plenty of help from a rushing attack that recorded 229 yards on 50 attempts. Stopping the run has been a challenge for Kentucky this year, and the Wildcats (201 ypg) will have trouble containing a Cardinals’ ground attack that features Michael Dyer and Brandon Radcliff. The Wildcats started fast on offense this year but have not averaged more than 4.5 yards per play over the last three weeks. That’s not a good sign against a Louisville defense limiting opponents to 4.6 yards per play and one that has forced 26 turnovers in 11 games.
 

6. NC State at North Carolina (-7.5)
12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network/ESPN3

 

There’s some added appeal to the annual battle between NC State and North Carolina this year, as both teams are bowl eligible and looking to improve their standing in the ACC’s crowded postseason picture. For the second year in a row, the Tar Heels have played better over the second half of the season. Coach Larry Fedora’s team has scored at least 40 points in three out of its last five games, with quarterback Marquise Williams leading the way by recording at least 300 yards of total offense in five out of his last six starts. NC State’s defense has been prone to giving up big plays (25 of 30 yards or more) and allows ACC opponents to score 34.7 points per game. While those numbers are problematic for the Wolfpack, North Carolina’s defense has been equally porous. The Tar Heels rank last in the conference by allowing league opponents to score 36.6 points per game, and this unit is giving up 6.2 yards per play (ACC-only games). Quarterback Jacoby Brissett (19 TDs, 5 INTs) has energized NC State’s offense, but his numbers have dipped in conference play and in road contests. Considering the play of both defenses, a shootout would not be surprising in Chapel Hill. North Carolina has won the last two meetings in this series.

 

7. Pittsburgh at Miami (-10)
7 p.m. ET, ESPN2

 

The Panthers and Hurricanes began 2014 with expectations of competing for the Coastal Division crown, but these two teams enter the season finale with a combined 11-11 overall record and just a 6-8 mark in conference play. This matchup features the ACC’s top running backs in Pittsburgh’s James Conner and Miami’s Duke Johnson. Conner is questionable to play with a hip injury suffered last week against Syracuse, but even if he plays, running room could be limited against a defense holding opponents to 3.6 yards per carry. With Johnson eligible to declare for the draft, this game is expected to be his final appearance in a Miami uniform at Sun Life Stadium. The junior has six 100-yard efforts over his last seven games and faces a Pittsburgh defense allowing 5.2 yards per carry in ACC contests. Stopping the run is critical for both teams on Saturday, but the turnover battle is also worth monitoring. Miami and Pittsburgh both rank near the bottom of the ACC in lost turnovers, with the Panthers owning a negative margin (-5) in 11 contests. The Hurricanes have won 16 out of the last 17 in this series, but Pittsburgh needs a win to get bowl eligible.  

 

8. Syracuse at Boston College (-11)
12:30 p.m. ET, RSN/ESPN3

 

Boston College fell short in its upset bid against Florida State, but the Eagles are clearly on the right track in coach Steve Addazio’s second year. With a win over Syracuse on Saturday, Boston College would earn back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2009-10. While the trajectory of the program in Chestnut Hill is clear, there’s uncertainty on the other sideline. The Orange went 7-6 last season but have slipped to 3-8 in 2014. Injuries and offensive issues have plagued coach Scott Shafer’s team this year, limiting Syracuse to just one ACC win (30-7 Wake Forest). The battle in the trenches is critical for both teams on Saturday, as Syracuse has limited opponents to just seven rushing scores and 3.4 yards per carry in 2014. Boston College ranks second in the ACC by averaging 261.8 rushing yards per contest, with quarterback Tyler Murphy leading the team with 1,054 yards. Even if the Orange limits the Eagles on the ground, Shafer’s team has to find a spark on offense. Syracuse has not scored more than 17 points in each of its last four games and averages just 4.4 yards per play in ACC contests. The Eagles allow 5.3 yards per play on defense and limit opponents to 23.9 points per game in league play. The Orange has won three out of the last four meetings against Boston College.
 

9. Wake Forest at Duke (-18)
7 p.m. ET, ESPNU


Seven out of the last eight meetings between Wake Forest and Duke have been decided by 11 points or less. The Demon Deacons controlled this rivalry from 2000-11, but the Blue Devils have won two in a row. Despite the recent trend in this series, Duke is a heavy favorite for Saturday’s game. Coach David Cutcliffe’s team appeared to have the inside track to the ACC Championship in early November but back-to-back losses ended the hopes of a repeat trip to Charlotte. Turnovers have been a problem for the Blue Devils in their three losses this year. Duke committed nine turnovers in defeats and three in victories. Assuming the Blue Devils can hold onto the ball, they should win their third game in a row over their in-state rivals. Wake Forest is averaging just 2.8 yards per play in ACC games and has scored only 19 points in its last two league contests. The Demon Deacons are rebuilding under first-year coach Dave Clawson but picked up their first conference win by beating Virginia Tech 6-3 in double overtime last Saturday.
 

ACC Week 14 Predictions

 David
Fox
Braden
Gall
Steven 
Lassan
Mitch
Light
UVa (-1) at VTUVa 24-14VT 19-18VT 24-20UVa 17-14
SC (+4.5) at ClemsonSC 28-21CU 27-24SC 30-27CU 34-26
GT (+13) at UGaUGa 31-21UGa 34-23UGa 38-27UGa 41-20
UK (+12.5) at ULUL 35-14UL 31-24UL 34-20UL 23-20
Syracuse (+11) at BCBC 34-14BC 35-17BC 30-13BC 27-13
NC State (+7.5) at UNCUNC 35-21UNC 45-42UNC 38-27UNC 37-23
Florida (+7.5) at FSUFSU 38-28FSU 29-21FSU 30-20FSU 27-20
Wake (+18) at DukeDuke 31-10Duke 35-13Duke 30-10Duke 20-10
Pitt (+10) at MiamiMiami 34-20Miami 34-27Miami 31-20Miami 23-13
Last Week:5-24-33-44-3
Season Record:78-2577-2678-2575-28

 

 

Teaser:
ACC Week 14 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/sec-2014-week-14-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The final week of the regular season is highlighted by rivalry games in Tuscaloosa and Oxford. Elsewhere, Missouri attempts to capture the outright SEC East title; Texas A&M and LSU try to close disappointing seasons on a positive note; Tennessee seeks its sixth win to become bowl-eligible; and a quartet of SEC schools will play rivalry games against ACC foes.

Week 14 Previews and Predictions:
ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 

 

SEC Week 14 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Auburn (+9.5) at Alabama (7:45 ET, ESPN)

Auburn played its way out of the SEC West race — and a spot in the College Football Playoff — by losing consecutive games to Texas A&M and Georgia, but this game is still very important on the national scene. Top-ranked Alabama is one of three teams — along with Oregon and Florida State — that controls its own destiny to secure one of the four Playoff spots. A win over Auburn and in the SEC Championship Game — against Missouri or Georgia — likely would make the Crimson Tide the No. 1 seed. First things first: A very talented Auburn team awaits. Despite the Tigers’ struggles two weeks ago at Georgia — they scored only seven points and managed only 292 total yards — this is one of the top offensive teams in the nation. Last year, Auburn rolled up 393 yards on a healthy 5.8 yards-per-play average in its thrilling 34–28 win over Alabama. The guess here is Auburn will need to score at least 30 points to win in Tuscaloosa.

 

2. Mississippi State (-2)  at Ole Miss (3:30 ET, CBS)

About a month ago, the folks in the Magnolia State were dreaming of an Egg Bowl featuring two undefeated teams, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the national polls. That hasn’t happened, but this is still the most anticipated game between these two rivals in decades. Mississippi State, 6–1 in the SEC, can advance to the league title game with a win over Ole Miss coupled with an Alabama loss to Auburn. And the Bulldogs are still very much alive in the hunt for a College Football Playoff spot even if they don’t win the SEC West. Ole Miss must regroup after a sobering 30–0 loss at Arkansas, the Rebels’ third straight loss in league play. This team was 7–0 not too long ago; now a 4–4 SEC record is a very real possibility. That’s not what the locals had in mind when they were storming the field after the epic win over Alabama.

 

3. Arkansas (-1.5) at Missouri (Friday, 2:30 ET, CBS)

This is suddenly one of the more intriguing games of the holiday weekend. Missouri is one win away from securing its second straight trip to the SEC Championship Game. The Tigers, who beat Tennessee in Knoxville on Saturday, have now won eight straight SEC road games. The key to Missouri’s success has been a defense that is allowing a league-low 4.19 yards per play against SEC opponents. The Tigers have 25 sacks in seven conference games and have forced 11 turnovers in their last five games. Arkansas has been arguably the most impressive team in the nation the past two weeks with wins over LSU and Ole Miss by a combined score of 47–0. Like Mizzou, Arkansas is getting it done on defense. The same unit that gave up 595 yards to Auburn, 523 to Texas A&M and 459 to Mississippi State allowed an average of 219.5 — including 49.5 on the ground — against LSU and Ole Miss. Points could be at a premium on Friday.

 

4. LSU (-3) at Texas A&M (Thursday, 7:30 ET, ESPN)

Despite the fact that both teams have a losing record in the league, there will be a ton of talent roaming the field in College Station on Thanksgiving night. The LSU offense has struggled over the last three weeks, scoring a total of two offensive touchdowns against Ole Miss (a win), Alabama (a loss) and Arkansas (a loss). The Tigers averaged an alarmingly low 2.3 yards per play in the shutout defeat at Arkansas. Texas A&M has some issues, but the Aggies’ offense has shown progress of late. They have scored a total of 68 points in their last two games — a win at Auburn and a home loss against Missouri — as true freshman Kyle Allen has become more comfortable in the offense.

 

5. Georgia Tech (+13) at Georgia (12 ET, SEC Network)

Georgia Tech clinched a spot in the ACC Championship Game last Thursday when North Carolina beat Duke. In a season with low (external) expectations, the Yellow Jackets have won nine games, including the last four by an average of 24.5 points. As usual, Tech is doing most of its work on the ground, ranking fourth nationally with 327.9 rushing yards per game. The Jackets have averaged 285.6 rushing yards against Georgia in the last five seasons but have lost all five games. The problem has been on the other side of the ball; Georgia has scored 30 points or more in all five of those wins, including 41 in last year’s victory in Atlanta. Georgia Tech’s task this weekend will be to slow down running back Nick Chubb. The true freshman has rushed for at least 100 yards in six straight games and is averaging 7.2 yards per carry for the season.

 

6. Kentucky (+12.5) at Louisville (12 ET, ESPN2)

Kentucky is seeking its first win since early October, when the Wildcats topped ULM 48–14 to improve to 5–1 overall. They have since lost five straight, all by 10 points or more. The defense has been UK’s biggest issue; the Cats have given up 41 points or more four times during the losing streak, including a total of 113 in consecutive losses to Georgia and Tennessee. Louisville is riding high after beating Notre Dame 31–28 in South Bend. The Cards were powered by a rushing attack that churned out 229 yards on 50 carries. True freshman quarterback Reggie Bonnafon only completed eight passes, but he averaged a healthy 22.5 yards on those eight completions. The Cards are now 8–3 overall and closed their first season in the ACC with a 5–3 record.  

 

7. Florida (+7.5) at Florida State (3:30 ET, ESPN)

Will Muschamp’s final game at Florida will be on the same field as one of his finest moments as the Gators’ head coach. Two years ago, Florida closed the season with a 37–26 win in Tallahassee to cap off an 11–1 regular season. Since that late November Saturday, Florida is 10–13 overall while Florida State has yet to lose another game. The Seminoles have come close of late, flirting with defeat in each of their last five games. They have found a way to win each week and remain in control of their own destiny for a spot in the College Football Playoff. Florida will need significant production from its running game to have a shot in this game. Freshman quarterback Treon Harris has shown flashes of excellence but shouldn’t be trusted to get too much done against the FSU secondary. Last week, the Noles allowed 240 yards rushing to Boston College. If Florida approaches that number, this game could be very interesting.

 

8. South Carolina (+4.5) at Clemson (12 ET, ESPN)

South Carolina has won five straight in this underrated rivalry and has done so on the defensive end. Clemson, one of the top offensive teams in the ACC in recent years, has not scored more than 17 points in any of the five losses to South Carolina. Conventional wisdom suggests that will change due to the Gamecocks’ defensive struggles, but Clemson is having trouble scoring points of late. With true freshman Deshaun Watson slowed by an injury, Cole Stoudt got the nod last week in a lethargic 28–0 win over hapless Georgia State. The week before, the Tigers managed only 190 total yards in a 28–6 loss at Georgia Tech. Watson, who missed the final three quarters of the Tech game and the entire Georgia State game with a knee injury, is questionable this week. His return, assuming he’s close to 100 percent, would provide a nice boost to the Clemson attack. South Carolina has underachieved this season, but the Gamecocks have at least kept things exciting; each of their last five games against Power 5 teams have been decided by seven points or fewer.

 

9. Tennessee (-17) at Vanderbilt (4 ET, SEC Network)

The stakes are high for Tennessee, which needs to beat Vanderbilt to become bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010. The Vols are making nice progress under Butch Jones, but a loss to Vanderbilt would not sit well with Volunteer fans. The Commodores have been a disappointment in Derek Mason’s first season in Nashville. A third-straight win over Tennessee would no doubt be a huge boost for this program as it heads into the offseason, but there is nothing on the Dores’ 2014 résumé that suggests they are capable of winning this game. Vanderbilt is 0–7 in the SEC, none of its league games have been decided by fewer than 10 points, and it ranks last in the SEC in total offense and 12th in total defense.

 

SEC Week 14 Predictions

 

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
LSU at Texas A&MLSU 21-20LSU 31-27LSU 30-20A&M 21-20
Arkansas at MizzouUA 24-20MU 24-21MU 24-20MU 24-21
Kentucky at LouisvilleUL 35-14UL 31-24UL 34-20UL 31-20
S. Carolina at ClemsonUSC 28-21CU 27-24USC 30-27CU 34-27
Ga. Tech at GeorgiaUGa 31-21UGa 34-23UGa 38-27UGa 41-24
Miss. State at Ole MissMSU 35-17MSU 30-20MSU 27-24MSU 28-24
Florida at Florida St.FSU 38-28FSU 29-21FSU 30-20FSU 23-20
Tennessee at VanderbiltUT 42-14UT 41-17UT 34-13UT 30-17
Auburn at AlabamaUA 31-21UA 37-24UA 34-24UA 30-20
Last Week7-17-17-17-1
Season78-2481-2181-2183-19

 

 

 

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Teaser:
SEC Week 14 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Basketball, News
Path: /college-basketball/2014-battle-4-atlantis-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The early season basketball tournaments have in some ways become bowl season.

There are the — let’s say — lower profile events with obscure teams and sparse crowds.

The Battle 4 Atlantis, though, has risen to the Orange Bowl or Fiesta Bowl of the non-conference basketball season.

Louisville, Duke and Memphis played here two years ago, Kansas, Villanova and Iowa a year ago.

This season’s even includes four teams ranked in this week’s Associated Press top 25 — No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 5 North Carolina, No. 18 Florida and No. 22 UCLA — plus Big East power Georgetown and Big 12 contender Oklahoma.

Those top five teams can solidify their bona fides while the other teams in the field can start to make moves into the national picture.

Wednesday’s First Round Games
All times Eastern
Butler vs. North Carolina (noon, ESPN2)
UCLA vs. Oklahoma (2:30 p.m., ESPN2)
Wisconsin vs. UAB (7 p.m., AXStv)
Florida vs. Georgetown (9:30 p.m., AXStv)

Championship Game: Friday, 4:30 p.m., ESPN

Best potential game: Wisconsin vs. North Carolina in the final
The Badgers and Tar Heels opened the season in the Athlon top 10 and have done nothing to damage those projections through the first weeks of the season. The game could feature a handful of All-America candidates, including Marcus Paige, Frank Kaminsky and Sam Dekker.

Player to watch: Marcus Paige, North Carolina
Paige isn’t off to a blistering start (12 points per game), but North Carolina has hardly needed him to be an All-American in the first three games of the season. That changes as North Carolina advances through Atlantis. The second round brings a matchup against Oklahoma or UCLA and then probably Wisconsin, Florida or Georgetown.

Freshman to watch: Kevon Looney, UCLA
Atlantis features a handful of veteran teams or at least team’s that aren’t expecting freshmen to be the primary contributors. One of the exceptions is UCLA with five-star prospect Kevon Looney, who is averaging 14.8 points and 12 rebounds per game.

Breakout player: Nigel Hayes, Wisconsin
Wisconsin lost one major contributor to last year’s team in Ben Brust. Filling the spot is sophomore forward Nigel Hayes, an outstanding athlete who is averaging nearly a double-double per game.


Storylines to watch


Wisconsin’s progress
The Badgers are playing like a team that returns nearly every player from a Final Four squad. In fact, they’re playing better than last year’s squad. Frank Kaminsky is playing better than he did a year ago, raising his shooting percentage by more than 10 points while taking more shots from the outside. Sam Dekker is also a more efficient player than he was last season, and Nigel Hayes is amid a breakout campaign.

North Carolina’s post presence
The Tar Heels may have a breakout frontcourt this season with the performance of sophomore Kennedy Meeks, junior Brice Johnson and freshman Justin Jackson. Together, they’ve averaged 44 points per game through the first three.

Florida, Oklahoma try to bounce back
Florida and Oklahoma both had hopes of challenging Kentucky and Kansas in their respective conferences, but neither team looks anything like a conference contender. Florida lost at home to Miami and needed overtime to beat ULM. Oklahoma led Creighton by 18 in the second half only to lose 65-63 to a team rebuilding with Bluejays. Avoiding the losers’ bracket would be signs of progress.

Where does UCLA stand?
Arizona is the prohibitive favorite in the Pac-12. UCLA would have trouble challenging the Wildcats even in a best-case scenario this season, but the Bruins still have a shot to be No. 2 in the conference. Matchups against Oklahoma and potentially North Carolina, both contenders in their respective conferences, will be a good gauge of UCLA’s ceiling right now.

Butler’s coaching situation
Brandon Miller remains on medical leave due to an undisclosed issue, and the prospects of his return don’t appear optimistic. Under federal law, Miller can take 12 weeks of leave, but that will expire near the end of December. For now, Chris Holtmann is leading the program in place of the coach hired to replace Brad Stevens two years ago.

 

Battle 4 Atlantis Staff Predictions

 

 David FoxBraden GallMitch Light
PredictionWisconsin over North CarolinaNorth Carolina over WisconsinWisconsin over UCLA
Player to WatchBuddy Hield, OklahomaKennedy Meeks, North CarolinaFrank Kaminsky, Wisconsin

 

Teaser:
2014 Battle 4 Atlantis: Preview and Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, November 26, 2014 - 05:00
All taxonomy terms: Detroit Lions, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/ranking-detroit-lions-thanksgiving-quarterbacks
Body:

One of the great Thanksgiving traditions is snickering at who is playing quarterback for the Detroit Lions.

The list of Lions quarterbacks starting on Thanksgiving is a list of draft busts, journeymen, career backups and former stars whose best days had gone by.

Giggling at Lions quarterbacks on Thanksgiving, though, is getting tougher. Thank you, Matthew Stafford.

To fill that void is our (somewhat arbitrary) ranking of the quarterbacks who have started on Thanksgiving for the Lions since the NFL merger (1970).

To be clear, we’re looking at their entire career, not just their starts on Thanksgiving nor their tenures with the Lions. You’re welcome, Daunte Culpepper.

1. Matthew Stafford (2009, 2011-13)
Stafford has made the most starts for the Lions on Thanksgiving since Joey Harrington and delivered the first win in a decade with a 40-10 win over the Packers last season. Give the Lions' all-time leading passer a keg (to carry).

2. Dave Krieg (1994)
The longtime Seahawks quarterback made one Thanksgiving start for Detroit, and it was one of the Lions’ best. Subbing for Scott Mitchell, Krieg went 20-of-25 for 351 yards with three touchdowns in a win over the Bills. By then, Kreig was a 36-year-old QB with three Pro Bowl selections and an NFC Championship Game behind him.

3. Daunte Culpepper (2008)
Remember the Culpepper era in Detroit? We didn’t, either. From 2000-04, Culpepper was a rival to Peyton Manning. After that? Not so much. By 2008, the three-time Pro Bowler made five starts during the Lions’ winless season in 2008. Culpepper was 0-10 as a starter in two seasons for the Lions.

4. Jon Kitna (2006-07)
Kitna entered the league in 1997, and he was still on an NFL roster at age 41 in 2013. The Cowboys signed him away from being a high school math teacher and coach at Lincoln High in Tacoma, Wash. — during winter break, of course. Kitna then donated his $53,000 Cowboys salary to the high school. Oh, and he started on Thanksgiving for both the Lions and Cowboys during his career. You’re a cool teacher, Mr. Kitna.

5. Joe Ferguson (1986)
Ferguson made five career starts for the Lions in his mid-30s, well after he played for the Bills from 1973-84. He led the league in passing in 1977 and touchdowns in '75 and pulled the Bills out of the doldrums. But he also had a knack for throwing interceptions in the playoffs and also during the 1982 regular season when he threw 16 picks.

6. Scott Mitchell (1995-97)
Mitchell enjoyed his best season in 1995 with 4,338 yards and 32 touchdowns, including a win over Minnesota on Thanksgiving. He started three full seasons for Detroit and hung around the NFL for five more years until 2001. He resurfaced as a 366-pound contestant on "The Biggest Loser" in 2014.


7. Greg Landry (1970-72, 1974, 1976-77)
Landry spent 10 seasons with the Lions, only four as their primary quarterback. After spending 1968-84 in the NFL, he was an assistant in the pros and in college until 1986. Bet you didn’t know there’s a National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame, and Landry’s in it. Now you know.

 

8. Erik Kramer (1991-92)
He started 15 games in three seasons for the Lions, including twice on Thanksgiving and three times in the playoffs. He didn’t become a full-time starter until age 31 for the Bears.

 

9. Gus Frerotte (1999)
The journeyman Frerotte is one of 14 quarterbacks to throw a 99-yard pass. In that way, he’s just like Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Jim Plunkett and Otto Graham.

 

10. Rodney Peete (1993)
Peete bounced around the league as a backup for most of his 15 seasons. He finished with a 45-42 career record, which for this list is pretty good.

11. Eric Hipple (1981-83, 1985)
Hipple played his entire career for the Lions, going 3-1 on Thanksgiving and 25-29 otherwise.

12. Gary Danielson (1978, 1980, 1984)
The CBS college football commentator started three non-consecutive Thanksgivings for the Lions and had a couple of nice seasons in 1978-80.

 

13. Bill Munson (1973)
Munson played for the Lions from 1968-75, started 48 games and yet only one of them came on Thanksgiving. In his first two seasons in the NFL in 1964-65 for the Rams, Munson threw 29 total interceptions. A decade later, he led three game-winning drives for the Lions in 1974 alone.


14. Charlie Batch (1998, 2000-01)
We could have sworn Charlie Batch was still a backup somewhere. He’s not.

 

15. Joey Harrington (2002-05)
Harrington started four Thanksgiving games for the Lions. He finished two of them. He’s on TV now.

16. Bob Gagliano (1989-90)
For Detroit in two years: 11 starts, 16 touchdown passes. For three other NFL teams in five years: Two starts and one touchdown pass Also played two years in the USFL.

17. Shaun Hill (2010)
Hill started one season while Stafford was hurt, threw 12 interceptions, including two against the Patriots on Thanksgiving.

18. Chuck Long (1987-88)
He started twice on Thanksgiving and went a combined 8-of-20. His 2.8 passer rating in 1988 is the worst for any Lions QB on Thanksgiving since 1970. Led the NFL with 20 interceptions in 1987.

19. Joe Reed (1975)
Enjoyed one extended look as a starter in 1975 and threw nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

20. Jeff Komlo (1979)
A ninth-round pick, Komlo threw 23 interceptions and went 2-12 in his lone season as a starter in the NFL as a rookie. His story didn’t end well.

 

Teaser:
Ranking the Detroit Lions' Thanksgiving Quarterbacks
Post date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 19:53
All taxonomy terms: College Football, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-playoff-rankings-analysis-week-14
Body:

If the weekly exercise of explaining the College Football Playoff rankings has taught us anything, it’s that coming up with perfect answers is impossible.

A week after “game control” became the talking point of the week, selection committee chair Jeff Long indicated previous rankings remain in the back of the minds of the committee members’ minds even on Nov. 25.

That’s partly why Mississippi State remains at No. 4 and in the playoff with only one win against a team in the current top 25.

The Bulldogs have wins over three teams that were at some point in the playoff rankings that started since Week 10 — Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M. Only No. 15 Auburn remains and that’s a long way from the top three where the Tigers started.

“It’s just something the committee discusses,” Long said. “We know if we team was ranked 14-15-16 and teams play differently at different parts of the year. A team that may have been playing very well early in the season whether through injuries or level of competition, they’re not playing as well (now).

“It’s not a criteria but we certainly discuss or know when a team was previously ranked in the top 25.”

Long clarified he means the playoff’s top 25 and not the polls, but the distinction may be lost on fans who want to know why those games and rankings still count up to five weeks later.

Let’s attempt to translate just a bit: Teams previously ranked in the top 25 are probably in the top 30 or 40 now, even if the committee doesn’t go that deep into the rankings. The committee knows LSU is not Tulane. Texas A&M is not Texas State. And West Virginia is not Washington State.

In trying to explain something that already makes sense to the common fan, the weekly rankings release force the committee to dress up the movements in a way that seems smarter and more ironclad than it actually is.

 

So before you start sifting through old polls and top 25s, take a deep breath and wait until next week. Surely, we'll have somethign new to discuss then.

 

Here’s how the most recent top 25 shook out, followed by our observations.

 

College Football Playoff Rankings: Nov. 25
1. Alabama10. Michigan State18. Minnesota
2. Oregon11. Arizona19. Ole Miss
3. Florida State12. Kansas State20. Oklahoma
4. Mississippi State13. Arizona State21. Clemson
5. TCU14. Wisconsin22. Louisville
6. Ohio State15. Auburn23. Boise State
7. Baylor16. Georgia Tech24. Marshall
8. UCLA17. Missouri25. Utah
9. Georgia  

Notables:

 

The Group of Five makes an appearance

Boise State and Marshall are your official leaders for a spot in the Cotton, Fiesta, Orange or Peach bowls. Boise State (9-2) checked in at No. 23, and Marshall (11-0) at No. 24. Those rankings carry important distinctions: First, Boise State is head of Mountain West foe Colorado State. Boise defeated Colorado State 37-24 in Week 2, but the Rams have two wins over Power 5 teams (Colorado on a neutral field and Boston College on the road). Marshall is one of two undefeated teams, but the Thundering Herd have the 136th-ranked schedule in the Sagarin ratings.

 

Rivalry games will be noted

This will be of note this week: Long said the unexpected nature of rivalry games may be a topic among the committee. “We certainly discuss if it’s a rivalry game, and we do know that (there are) a number of unanticipated outcomes in rivalry games,” Long said. That may be good news for teams like Ohio State and Florida State that face rivals that they should defeat comfortably on paper.

Division on Florida State

Is Florida State a good team because it finds a way to win each week or should the Seminoles be downgraded for letting lesser teams hang around? The committee is as divided as anyone. “There are some who believe a team coming from behind and winning is a sign of a strong team,” Long said. “There are others who believe that they are a good enough team and they should have been in front or in control of the game. It’s a debate in the room.”

The committee was down to 11

Archie Manning hasn’t participated all year as he recovered from knee replacement surgery, but the committee was down a second member in Mike Tranghese. The former Big East commissioner was ill but is expected back next week.

 

Who Should Worry:

 

 

TCU

 

The Horned Frogs still have a nice ace in the hole when it comes to its non-conference schedule compared to Mississippi State, Baylor and Ohio State. The Frogs defeated No. 18 Minnesota 30-7 in September when the Bulldogs and Bears were playing lackluster non-conference schedules and the Buckeyes lost to Virginia Tech. TCU has a road game Thursday against an improving Texas, but Baylor (No. 12 Kansas State),  Mississippi State (No. 19 Ole Miss) and Ohio State (either No. 14 Wisconsin or No. 18 Minnesota) all finish their seasons with tougher games. TCU is already out of the top four with few ways to make up ground without help.
 

Marshall

The Thundering Herd entered the top 25, but Marshall shouldn’t get too excited. Marshall is behind Boise, a team Long said was ahead because its strength of schedule is “far and away” better. If both continue to win, that leaves little room even for an undefeated Marshall to move up. The Herd face Western Kentucky (6-5) and either Louisiana Tech and Rice (7-4) in the league title game. Even if Boise State loses to Utah State (9-3) and falls out of Mountain West contention, one-loss Colorado State would swoop in for the MWC championship game.

 

Who Should be Pleasantly Surprised:

 

Ohio State

 

The Buckeyes’ loss to Virginia Tech may not be as damming as we think. The Hokies are 5-6 after a 6-3 double-overtime loss to Wake Forest on Saturday and haven’t come close to duplicating their high-water mark of defeating Ohio State 35-21 in Columbus in Week 2. In response to a question about losses to teams whose stature as fallen regarding Alabama’s loss to Ole Miss and Ohio State’s loss to Virginia Tech, Long said: “We certainly talk about bad losses, but I’m not sure I would agree with the ones you listed there.”

 

If the Season Ended Today:

 

National Semifinals:

Sugar: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 4 Mississippi State

Rose: No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Florida State

 

Other bowls (projected)

Cotton: No. 5 TCU vs. No. 11 Arizona

Fiesta: No. 23 Boise State* vs. No. 6 Ohio State

Orange: No. 16 Georgia Tech^ vs. No. 10 Michigan State

Peach: No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 8 Georgia

*automatic Group of 5 bid

^automatic ACC bid to Orange Bowl

Teaser:
College Football Playoff Rankings Analysis: Week 14
Post date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 19:46
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-2014-week-14-predictions
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Hosts Braden Gall and Steven Lassan preview another historic week of Thanksgiving football. The Big Ten West, SEC West and East and Pac-12 South division championships hang in the balance. We also offer up some locks of the week against the spread and breakdown Turkey Day menus and traditions.


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

Teaser:
Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: Week 14 Predictions
Post date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 17:54
Path: /nba/nba-recap-cavs-bounce-back-derrick-rose-returns-melo-injured
Body:

LeBron James called his Cleveland Cavaliers team “fragile” over the weekend, after they hit a new low by losing a fourth-straight game. The Cavs haven’t proved they’re tough and playoff-ready, by any means. But at least that streak is over now. Cleveland dominated the young Orlando Magic wire-to-wire last night, pulling out a 104-76 victory behind James’ 29 points, 11 assists, four rebounds and three steals. That’s what MVPs do: They snap you out of a funk, straightening out a whole squad seemingly on their own. 

Derrick Rose used to do such work the Chicago Bulls, but lately the Windy City’s lucky just to see their star point guard take the floor. After missing four games with a tweaked hamstring, Rose returned to action against the Utah Jazz last night to help the Bulls eke out a win in Salt Lake City after blowing a 19-point lead. Chicago played Rose for just 25 minutes, clearly still uneasy about the health of their game-changing star. Until the stakes are truly high, you can expect the team’s approach to favor preserving Rose’s fragile body, regardless of what his critics might say.

The New York Knicks were put in a position to understand Chicago’s plight last night, as Carmelo Anthony left the court with back spasms toward the end of a 91-86 road loss to the Houston Rockets. ESPN's Ian Begley reported that 'Melo went to a Houston hospital to receive medication for the pain, but Anthony’s status is otherwise unknown at this moment. Stay tuned for updates. 

But Rockets counterpart James Harden continued to prove, in this contest, that he deserves mention in the MVP category himself. Racking up a season-high 36 points to go with six rebounds and six steals, Harden closed the Knicks by scoring his team’s last 12 points and widened the gap to let Clutch City breathe easy. If the Rockets are to survive Dwight Howard’s recent knee injury — which has led to some serious rebounding and rim-protection problems — it’ll be because of The Beard simply won’t let them lose.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 13:42
All taxonomy terms: Essential 11, Overtime
Path: /overtime/athlons-essential-11-links-day-november-25-2014
Body:

This is your daily links roundup of our favorite sports and entertainment posts on the web for Nov. 25:

 

1970s teen idol David Cassidy has a rather attractive daughter.

 

Kobe had a message for his teammates.

 

The legend of Odell Beckham's catch is only growing.

 

Robert Woods of the Bills got in on the weekend's good hands action. As did the Ravens' Steve Smith.

 

Peter King and the Red Sox had remarkably ill-timed, ill-phrased tweets.

 

NFL logo pancake art. It's exactly what it sounds like.

 

An NFL journeyman was found passed out in a Wendy's drive-thru. As a commenter notes, he got a frosty reception.

 

• Joe Pos reminds us that for one shining moment, Priest Holmes was the greatest player fantasy football had ever seen.

 

The North Carolina Tar Heels left their mark in the Duke locker room.

 

Rick Pitino was dishing one-liners after an epic beatdown of Savannah State.

 

• Watch James Harden abandon matador defense in favor of statue defense.

 

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

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 11:07
All taxonomy terms: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, NBA
Path: /nba/kevin-durant-russell-westbrook-back-practicing-oklahoma-city-thunder
Body:

It’s been a weird season for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Preseason speculation had them atop of the league, fighting for a second Western Conference title and their first NBA championship. Reigning MVP Kevin Durant’s foot injury — a Jones fracture — cast doubt on those hopes, but by no means dashed them. When Russell Westbrook left the team’s first game of the season with a hand injury, things got even dimmer.

Next came injuries to Reggie Jackson, Anthony Morrow, Perry Jones III, Andre Roberson and Jeremy Lamb. The “Zombie Thunder” have been a collection of overstretched players; basketball journeymen thrust into roles they couldn’t have possibly imagined a 59-win team would’ve handed them. Kendrick Perkins has been asked to score — yikes — in an offense regularly led by Sebastian Telfair, a point guard who wasn’t even in the league last season. 

Now 3-12, the Thunder have the worst record in their conference. Only the comically bad, winless Philadelphia 76ers are at a lower spot in the standings. The Thunder have dug themselves quite a hole to get out of.

Good thing the cavalry’s on the way, then. According to Darnell Mayberry of The Oklahoman, the Thunder’s dual superstars are now participating in the majority of team practices. Westbrook could return as soon as Friday, when OKC hosts the New York Knicks. “They looked good,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said when asked about Durant and Westbrook. “But no more than that. They’re going to continue to go through this process, and when they’re ready, 100 percent ready, they will play. But until then, nothing else we know of.”

At the end of the day, the berserk Western Conference is arguably no easier or more difficult for a team whether their postseason berth comes with a No. 1 seed or a No. 8 seed. Every matchup is tough. And the Thunder, lucky them, are talented enough to beat any team in a seven-game series (home court or not) if they’re healthy. The challenge now is for them to play nearly perfect basketball for four months, just to get to those playoffs.

 

— John Wilmes

@johnwilmesNBA

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, November 25, 2014 - 10:27

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