Articles By Athlon Sports
Missouri and Tennessee both jumped two spots in the weekly power poll — Missouri after its dominating win at Vanderbilt and Tennessee after taking Georgia to overtime at Neyland Stadium. There was no movement in the top six.
SEC Post-Week 6 Power Rankings
|1||1||Alabama (5-0, 2-0): In the biggest mismatch of the day, Alabama cruised to a 45-3 win over Georgia State, considered by most to be the worst team in the FBS ranks. The Crimson Tide jumped out to a 38-0 lead in the second quarter and shifted into cruise control in the second half. Georgia State’s longest drive of the first half went for 17 yards. Next Week: at Kentucky|
|2||2||Georgia (4-1, 3-0): It was tougher than expected, but Georgia remained unbeaten in the SEC with a 34-31 win in overtime at Tennessee. The Bulldogs fell behind 31-24 with 1:54 in the fourth quarter, but Aaron Murray led the Dawgs on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that tied the game with five seconds remaining. Georgia did not commit a turnover but had a punt blocked that was returned for a touchdown. With Todd Gurley out and Keith Marshall sidelined in the first quarter, true freshman J.J. Green handled the rushing load for Georgia and responded with 129 yards on 17 carries. Next Week: Missouri|
|3||3||LSU (5-1, 2-1): LSU broke open a tight game with 28 straight points in the fourth quarter to beat Mississippi State 59-26 in Starkville. The Tigers were once again dominant on offense, averaging 8.3 yards per play en route to 563 total yards. Zach Mettenberger threw for 340 yards, and Jeremy Hill rushed for 157 (on a 9.8-yard average) to lead the balanced attack. The Tigers continued to get great play from their wide receivers, with Odell Beckham catching nine passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns and Jarvis Landry adding eight catches for 96 yards. Next Week: Florida|
|4||4||Texas A&M (4-1, 1-1): The Aggies had the week off following a 45-33 win at Arkansas. Texas A&M has scored 42 points or more in all five games this season. Next Week: at Ole Miss|
|5||5||South Carolina (4-1, 1-1): For the second time this season, South Caroline jumped out to a huge lead at home against an overmatched SEC East opponent only to have to sweat things out in the fourth quarter. Last month, the Gamecocks led Vanderbilt 28-0 in the second quarter but had the margin trimmed to 35-25 midway through the fourth. On Saturday, a 27-7 lead over Kentucky was cut to 35-28 with five minutes remaining. Once again, South Carolina held on for the win, but Steve Spurrier has not been pleased with his team’s play for most of the season. Connor Shaw, who injured his shoulder in the win at UCF last week, went most of the way for the Gamecocks, completing 17-of-20 passes for 262 yards and one touchdown. Next Week: at Arkansas|
|6||6||Florida (4-1, 3-0): With its ground game struggling, Florida leaned on junior quarterback Tyler Murphy to make plays. And that he did, throwing for 240 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions to lead Florida to a 30-10 win over Arkansas in his second career start. The Gators were held to 2.8 yards on 41 rushing attempts, with Matt Jones managing only 50 on 17 carries and Mack Brown 39 on 11. The Gators did a good job slowing down Arkansas’ ground game, holding Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams to a combined 86 yards on 21 carries. Next Week: at LSU|
|7||9||Missouri (5-0, 1-0): Missouri was very impressive in its SEC opener, cruising to a surprisingly easy 51-28 win over Vanderbilt in Nashville. James Franklin was terrific at quarterback, throwing for 278 yards and four touchdowns to lead an offense that rolled up 523 yards and only punted once. Mizzou set the tone early, marching 75 yards on five plays on the opening drive of the game. The Tigers led 20-0 before Vanderbilt picked up its first first down of the game. Mizzou ranks second in the SEC in total offense with 543.8 yards per game and fourth in yards per play with 7.06. Next Week: at Georgia|
|8||8||Auburn (4-1, 2-1): Auburn can make a case that it’s the most improved team in the nation. The Tigers, who went 0-8 in the SEC in 2012, are now 2-1 in the league and 4-1 overall after beating Ole Miss 30-22 at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Nick Marshall didn’t get much done in the passing game, but the junior quarterback rushed for 140 yards and two scores on 14 carries. The Auburn defense gave up 464 yards of offense but limited the high-powered Ole Miss attack to two touchdowns. Next Week: Western Carolina|
|9||7||Ole Miss (3-2, 1-2): The Rebels have been humbled the past two weeks, losing 25-0 at Alabama and 30-22 at Auburn. The offense, so efficient in the first three weeks of the season, has scored only two touchdowns in the last eight quarters. Bo Wallace put up decent numbers (336 yards and two touchdowns), but he threw two interceptions, including one that was returned 78 yards for a TD by Robenson Therezie in the first quarter. Wallace, who led the nation with 17 interceptions last year, had not thrown a pick in the first four games. Next Week: Texas A&M|
|10||12||Tennessee (3-3, 0-2): It was in a losing effort, but the Volunteers played their finest game of the season on Saturday afternoon at Neyland Stadium. Tennessee fell behind Georgia by scores of 10-0 and 17-3 in the first half but battled back and took a lead late in the fourth quarter. The Vols eventually lost the game in overtime, but they made a strong statement that the program is making big gains under Butch Jones. Embattled quarterback Justin Worley played well, throwing for 215 yards and one touchdown, and running back Rajion Neal rushed for 148 yards and two scores on 28 carries. Next Week: Bye|
|11||13||Arkansas (3-3, 0-2): As expected, yards were tough to come by for Arkansas on its trip to Gainesville. The Razorbacks managed only 275 total yards and were held without a touchdown for the final three quarters in a 30-10 loss to Florida. Brandon Allen once again struggled at quarterback, completing only 17-of-41 passes for 164 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams both averaged at least 4.0 yards per rush, but they only had a combined 21 attempts. Next Week: South Carolina|
|12||10||Vanderbilt (3-3, 0-3): Vanderbilt’s struggles in SEC play continued. The Commodores dropped to 0-3 in the league with a 51-28 loss at home to Missouri. After falling behind 20-0 at the end of the first quarter and 30-7 at the half, Vanderbilt cut the margin to two scores (16 points) three times in the final two quarters but were never able to get a stop on defense. The Commodores gave up 523 total yards and are allowing an average of 530.3 yards in their three SEC games. With his team trailing all night, quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels threw for a career-high 338 yards on a career-high 41 attempts. Next Week: Bye|
|13||13||Mississippi State (2-3, 0-2): The Bulldogs flirted with the upset but wilted in the fourth quarter of a 59-26 loss to LSU in Starkville. Tyler Russell was cleared to play, but Mississippi State went with Dak Prescott at quarterback once again. The junior dual-threat completed only 9-of-20 attempts for 106 yards, but he led the team in rushing with 103 yards on 12 carries. Russell played for the first time since the opener, completing 7-of-11 for 146 yards and two touchdowns. The MSU offense averaged 7.0 yards per play (including 6.0 per rushing attempt), but the Bulldogs’ defense had no answers for LSU’s balanced attack. Next Week: Bowling Green|
|14||14||Kentucky (1-4, 0-2): Kentucky twice cut a 20-point second-half deficit to one score in the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats were unable get any closer and lost 35-28 at South Carolina. Jalen Whitlow played the entire game at quarterback, throwing for 178 yards and two touchdowns and leading the team with 69 yards rushing and one score. The Cats have not won an SEC road game since beating Georgia 34-27 in November 2009. Next Week: Alabama|
Week 6 Recap and Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Zach Mettenberger, LSU
Mettenberger’s sensational senior season continues. The Tigers’ strong-armed quarterback completed 25-of-29 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns — both to Odell Beckham — in LSU’s 59-26 win at Mississippi State. For the season, Mettenberger is completing 68.2 percent of his passes with 15 touchdowns and two interceptions. In the last two weeks, he has thrown for 712 yards.
Defensive Player of the Week: Carl Lawson, Auburn
One of the top recruits in the Class of 2013, Lawson enjoyed the finest game of his young career in Auburn’s 30-22 win over Ole Miss. The defensive end from Georgia recorded six tackles (including two sacks) to key an Auburn defense that limited Ole Miss to only two touchdowns.
Team of the Week: Missouri
After rolling through its non-conference schedule with relative ease, Missouri made a statement in its SEC opener, drilling Vanderbilt 51-28 in Nashville. Led by senior quarterback James Franklin, the Tigers jumped out to leads of 20-0 and 30-7 in the first half and were never seriously threatened the rest of the way. Mizzou, which went 2-6 in its SEC debut in 2012, currently ranks seventh in the nation in total offense (543.8 ypg) and eighth in scoring offense (46.6 ppg). Franklin is completing 67.9 percent of his passes and has 13 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Coordinator of the Week: Cam Cameron, LSU
He has outstanding personnel at his disposal, but Cameron has made a huge impact in his first season at LSU. On Saturday, the Tigers rolled up 563 yards of offense on an impressive 8.3 per-play average. LSU had 340 yards passing and 223 on the ground, and converted 6-of-11 on third down and 2-of-2 on fourth down.
Freshman of the Week: J.J. Green, Georgia
Green, a true freshman tailback who had a total of five carries in the first four games, was forced into action due to injuries to Todd Gurley (last week) and Keith Marshall (in the first quarter). He responded with 129 yards on 17 carries in the Bulldogs’ 34-31 overtime win at Tennessee. Green’s biggest run of the day came on Georgia’s final possession in regulation, when he picked up 17 yards on a 3rd-and-1 at the Dawgs’ 34-yard line.
• Tennessee tailback Rajion Neal rushed for 148 yards on 28 carries against Georgia and has 317 yards and three touchdowns in the last two games. Neal’s previous two-game high was 255 yards, last season against Akron (151) and Georgia (104).
• Kentucky’s 28 points at South Carolina were the most for the Wildcats in an SEC road game since a 42-35 loss at Ole Miss in October 2010. On Saturday, UK scored three of its four touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
• Ole Miss scored a total of 15 touchdowns in its wins over Vanderbilt, SE Missouri State and Texas but has managed only two touchdowns in losses to Alabama and Auburn.
• Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall threw for a season-low 93 yards but did plenty of damage with his legs. The former junior college transfer rushed for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries to lead a ground attack that picked up 282 rushing yards.
• Jordan Matthews became Vanderbilt’s all-time leading receiver in the Commodores’ loss to Missouri. The senior now has 2,996 yards receiving and will soon become the fourth player in SEC history to top the 3,000-yard mark.
Check out this awesome one-handed catch by Colorado receiver Paul Richardson against Oregon. (You will need to fast forward to the 40-second mark).
Week 6 provided college football fans with some of the best catches of the season.
Georgia’s Chris Conley made this nifty one-handed grab in the first half against Tennessee, which gave the Bulldogs a 10-0 lead.
Before Miami began its surprising run to the 2012-13 ACC regular-season title, coach Jim Larranaga viewed Shane Larkin as a defensive specialist. The speedy sophomore was part of the “Blitz Brothers,” a group of harassing perimeter disrupters charged with creating energy and easy buckets.
This story appears in the 2013-14 Athlon Sports College basketball annual. This year’s edition previews every team in the country and includes everything you need to now to prepare for the upcoming season. The annual is available online and on newsstands near you.
That was a good thing, because as a freshman the year before, Larkin had trouble scoring on anything but the simple shots. His field goal percentage was a spindly 36 percent, and he converted just 32.3 percent of his 3-pointers. Larkin could create havoc on defense, but he was a liability when he put the ball in the air.
Last summer, Larkin went to work, and by the end of the ’12-13 campaign, he was a first-round draft choice known as much for his offense as his play at the other end. He scored 14.5 points per game, nearly double his previous season’s output, shot 47.9 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from behind the arc.
“Shane spent last summer working on his mid-range game and floaters,” Larranaga says. “His jump shot improved dramatically, and he became a much better offensive player.”
It’s hard to blame Larkin for entering Miami as an incomplete player when the ball was in his hands. Only rarely are freshmen ready to score big when they arrive on campus. They’re young. They’re raw. But these days, there’s something else at work.
They haven’t really worked on their offensive games.
“Kids don’t develop skills in summer (while in high school),” Larranaga says. “They play a lot of games, but they don’t work on their shooting.
“The amount of time it takes for a player to become a good shooter is hours and hours every single day. Kids aren’t doing that anymore.”
Larranaga isn’t alone in his assessment of the state of shooting among college players. Coaches all over agree that skill development suffers as the AAU wave washes across the teenage basketball community. Its impact — along with a collection of other factors — has led to a historic drop in offensive effectiveness throughout the college game.
Last season, teams averaged a meager 67.5 points per game, the lowest since 1951-52. Three-point shooters succeeded at a 34.05 percent clip, the worst since the shot was introduced in 1986-87. Assists (12.82 per game) reached a 20-year low. And fans were subjected to some games that made them run, screaming, to the box office for refunds. The halftime score of the Miami-Maryland game was 19–14. Arkansas and Vanderbilt were in a 21–11 tussle at intermission of their game. And how about this final score: Georgetown 37, Tennessee 36.
Last season, teams averaged a meager 67.5 points per game, the lowest since 1951-52. Three-point shooters succeeded at a 34.05 percent clip, the worst since the shot was introduced in 1986-87. Assists (12.82 per game) reached a 20-year low.
“The skill level of players is really low,” Villanova coach Jay Wright says. “You have to work on (ball-handling) skills, footwork and shooting technique before you can teach a player your system. No system is effective without fundamentals.”
The skills are lacking. But there are other factors, beginning with how physical defenders — particularly those on the perimeter — are allowed to be. Last season, only 17.68 fouls/team were called, an all-time low. And the 19.76 free throws/team/game were the lowest number since 1975-76. Defenses are more sophisticated. Scouting has advanced to the point where coaches can break down rivals almost to the individual dribble. The glut of transfers kills program continuity, and the continued departure of top players after one season drains the game of some of its more accomplished offensive players. Players are bigger and more athletic and therefore more capable of defending larger swaths of the court.
Add it up, and you have a problem that can’t be solved by merely sticking kids in the gym and asking them to launch 500 jumpers a day, although it would be nice to give that a try, too. If college basketball is to escape its current state of drudgery, there must be a commitment on many levels to change. A model exists in the NBA. In 1998-99, teams averaged a puny 91.6 points per game, as rules allowed defenders to bludgeon rivals as they negotiated hoopward. After that season, the league called for an end to contact against ball-handlers on the perimeter and eliminated the process of “re-routing” of players with the ball. In other words, pushing a ball-handler away from the basket ended. Two years later, the defensive three-second violation debuted. And referees were directed to call the fouls. As a result, movement returned to the game, and scoring went up.
In '99-00, teams averaged 97.5 points. Last year, the average was 98.1 on 45.3 percent shooting. Though down from the 100.4/46.1 percent high-water mark in 2009-10, it is a marked improvement on the league’s dead-ball era. If the college game is to climb out of the mire and flow freely, it must address a variety of concerns. Rules can help. The rest is up to players and coaches.
“To win a championship, you have to play good offense,” Missouri coach Frank Haith says. “Louisville needed that against Michigan and Wichita State, because those teams were capable of scoring a lot of points.
“Louisville is a multiple defense team. Very few teams press, then play zone and then morph into a matchup zone. But at the end of the day, their offense got them through. You still have to have the ability to score.”
Like most coaches, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo tries to teach his players the right way to do things on the court. He preaches smart, team-oriented basketball that strives to have the unit working together toward a common goal. But despite his urging, pleading, and yes, yelling, Izzo is often helpless against a power more alluring than hardwood purity.
“We live in such a selfish society,” he says. “Everybody is looking out for their own interests and aren’t making people better.”
Izzo is not making a grand statement about the state of American culture, although he does raise an interesting point about our unwillingness to help others. In this case, he’s referring to how self-interest hurts a basketball team’s ability to score. We hear all the time about how point guards can “set up” teammates, but Izzo questions whether that is the primary motivation of those who play the game or merely a last resort.
“Guards aren’t giving the ball to the guy when he has a chance to score,” Izzo says. “They try to ‘get mine, get mine, get mine’ and when they can’t, they give it up to someone who isn’t as open as he was earlier.”
That leads to poorer attempts and fewer points. And it is exactly what defenses want to see. Instead of working for the right shot, players who handle the ball are hoping to create something for themselves first. When that doesn’t happen, they pass — sometimes reluctantly, as the shot clock slithers toward zero — into the midst of a defense that is happy to strangle the desperate attempt.
“I think decision-making has a lot to do with it,” Izzo says. “Players are completing passes, but they’re not putting guys in shooting position. It’s like throwing a bomb in football. Do you hit the receiver in stride, or is the pass underthrown, and the receiver has to stop, catch it and get tackled?”
When that happens, the advantage goes to defenses that are already enjoying more robust success, thanks to a variety of circumstances. One is the type of player being recruited by top teams. Longer, quicker athletes are being found on the outskirts of defensive sets, and what used to be open shots are now contested. “In the past, defenders couldn’t help in the paint and then get out on the shooter,” Wright says. “Guys can do that now.”
It wasn’t that long ago that if a player drove the lane, and a defender stepped up to impede his path, the ball-handler would dish a bounce pass to a cutter along the baseline for an easy bucket. Now, according to Wright, “the big man can stop the penetration and get back to block the layup.”
Teams are more adroit at stopping the 3-pointer, too. That explains the continued drop in the success rate. It helps that defenders are allowed to body ball-handlers and cutters along the perimeter — “It’s hard to score when you’re getting knocked around,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim says — and that the priority for teams is to stop the long ball, not the mid-range jump shot. Wright says that players on the weak side used to provide help when drivers beat their men. That isn’t so prevalent anymore. “They fake help and stay with the shooter,” he says. “That layup isn’t worth as much as a 3-pointer.”
In order to play the kind of defense that recovers quickly on the interior and can move out to the perimeter to thwart 3-point attempts, teams are recruiting long-armed athletes and hoping they can turn them into productive offensive players. Often, those players can drive to the basket, but when the avenues are cut off, they have no countermoves.
“There used to be a lot of stories about people shooting in the summer, but guys are now more interested in getting to the basket and dunking,” Boeheim says. “We work on shooting more than ever before. We recruit guys who are great athletes, but they can’t shoot.”
If coaches know that their own players can’t shoot well, it’s reasonable for them to believe that opponents’ eyes aren’t so sharp, either. So, they create schemes that focus on thwarting rivals, rather than opening the game up. If teams practice defense first and prefer players with skills that benefit that philosophy, they aren’t to be all that effective at the other end. “I think it’s always been true that you can stay with anybody if you defend well,” Boeheim says. He uses last year’s Marquette team, which was excellent defensively (40.4 opposing field goal percentage) but somewhat challenged at the other end (29.6 percent 3-point) as an example of how defense can carry the day. Marquette tied for first in the Big East and reached the Elite Eight. Of course, Boeheim’s one to talk. His Orange have been strangling rivals with their zone for years. Last year’s Final Four run was fueled by a nasty D that surrendered only 58.7 points per game and allowed rivals to make a mere 36.9 percent of their shots.
Watching the Orange and Louisville reach the Final Four with their zones could well lead to a rush to that style of play. It’s hard to replicate the types of athletes those teams have, but their strategies are transferable. The Cardinals’ multiple defenses (press for 10 seconds, pure zone for 15 seconds, matchup for 10) are pretty advanced, but expect more teams to embrace the zone ideal.
That is if they’re able to keep their players on campus long enough to teach it. Every year, there is a large contingent (about 450 in 2013) of players who transfer in search of more playing time, greater compatibility with coaches and a variety of other reasons. Haith believes that hurts teams’ abilities to create productive offensive cultures.
“Kids are coming in with lesser skills and also aren’t sticking around to develop them,” he says. “It’s a microwave society. Everybody wants it quick and fast, and the patience isn’t there. You see very few veteran teams. Guys don’t stick around and go through things.”
Solving the problem won’t be easy, but there are some steps that could help. Emulating the NBA’s move to clean up contact along the perimeter would be a good idea. “Because of the physical play on the perimeter, pushing guys out, and bumping cutters across the lane, the flow of the game has been disrupted,” Haith says. Coaches aren’t worried about the rough stuff inside. “Inside guys are used to being physical,” Boeheim says. They want freer movement away from the hoop. If refs were to call fouls on defenders who bump and disrupt, offenses would have more room to operate.
Players have a responsibility, too. Their desire to drive to the basket and finish spectacularly has robbed them of the skills needed to be complete offensive players. That doesn’t just mean the jump shot. Larranaga says he and his staff teach how to come off a down screen, how to make a “V” cut and how to take a dribble to get past a defender and then hit a floater. What were once basics are now advanced basketball theory.
One thing that won’t change is the emphasis coaches put on defense, or the information available to coaches preparing for games. “Scouting is so much better now,” Izzo says. That means no matter how much is done to help create more room and a steadier stream of offensive movement, the players had better be in the gym, too, working on their skills.
If not, fans had better get ready for more games in the 30s.
-By Athlon Sports contributor Michael Bradley.
Miami (Ohio) became the third program to fire its coach this season, as the school parted with Don Treadwell on Sunday.
Treadwell is an alum of the school and was one of the nation’s top assistants when he was hired to take over in Oxford.
However, Miami (Ohio) went just 8-20 in Treadwell’s first two seasons and was off to an 0-5 start this year.
This is solid job in the MAC with plenty of past success, so it will be interesting to see what coaches emerge as candidates.
The number of sports injuries that have occurred on the field this year have been staggering. But fans are used to it and consider it part of the game. However, the injuries that still get fans upset are the ones that occur when players hurt themselves doing random, seemingly mundane things. Here’s a list of our favorite ways players have been injured. Most are true, but a few seem a bit suspect. We’ll let you decide.
Wild animal attacks. While Nolan Ryan was playing for the Astros in 1985, a coyote bit him on the hand and forced him to miss a start; no word on whether any Acme products were involved. Former Norwegian soccer star Svein Grondalen was absent from an international match in the late-1970s because an angry moose ran into him while he was jogging. We suspect the moose was a fan of Brazil and vuvuzelas.
Eating. The Homer Simpson Award for injuries sustained while eating donuts goes to former National League MVP Kevin Mitchell, who chipped a tooth on a frozen donut in 1990 (dude, that's what microwaves are for). He had to have a root canal and ended up on the DL. Montreal Expo infielder Bret Barberie got chili pepper juice in his eye and missed a game. Hockey player Dustin Penner of the Los Angeles Kings takes the (pan)cake, though, wrenching his back last year while leaning over to eat a stack of flapjacks. His back spasm caused him to miss one game.
Sneezing. Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa got back spasms from sneezing in 2004 and was never the same player again (he even turned white after he retired). Pitcher Mat Latos tried to learn from Sosa's example on the dangers of the sneeze, attempting to suppress the one he felt coming in July 2010. Latos strained muscles in his left side and wound up on the DL anyway.
Vomiting. Most of us feel better after we throw up, but not baseball’s Kevin Mitchell (yes, the same Mitchell from the earlier item) and Josh Outman. Both strained rib muscles while puking and had to be placed on the DL. Mitchell’s injury occurred in 1992, while Outman’s happened in April 2012.
Playing video games. NBA star Lionel Simmons missed several games of the 1991 season from tendonitis suffered while playing his Nintendo GameBoy. Detroit pitcher Joel Zumaya may have been a Guitar Hero, which cost him a chance to be a baseball hero in the 2006 ALCS. He missed three games due to injuries to his elbow and forearm due to aggressive strumming on his PlayStation 2. Apparently he was attempting to play Buckethead on advanced.
Chopping wood – in the locker room. When the Jacksonville Jaguars started 0-3 in 2003, coach Jack Del Rio put an axe and a stump of wood in the locker room and implored his team to “keep chopping wood.” It turns out that his players were still better at football than lumberjacking. Punter Chris Hanson took aim at the stump, but whacked his non-kicking foot instead and missed the rest of the season. Del Rio finally got the axe himself, a few years too late for Hanson.
Participating in the coin toss. Call this one the Anton Chigurh Award for career-ending coin toss. Offensive tackle Turk Edwards’ career was good enough to make the Hall of Fame, but it might have been better if he hadn’t been the Washington Redskins’ captain in 1940. Edwards called the coin toss and shook hands with Giants’ captain Mel Hein, but when he turned toward the sideline, his cleat caught in the turf and his knee buckled. He never played again.
Yelling at teammates. Words hurt, especially when you scream them with such force that you dislocate your jaw, as Manchester United goalie Alex Stepney did in 1975. If you're a python swallowing a deer, a dislocated jaw is an advantage. Otherwise, not so much.
Sleeping. All sorts of potential dangers await the slumbering athlete. Former baseball player Glenallen Hill, an arachnophobe, had a nightmare in 1990 involving spiders and consequently tumbled down the stars and slammed into a glass table. He sustained multiple cuts and required a stay on the disabled list. Thank God he steered clear of the bed pillows, or it might have been worse: former MLB pitcher Terry Mulholland scratched his eye on a loose feather in 2005, and Detroit catcher Brandon Inge went on the DL a few years later (2008) when he pulled an oblique while adjusting a pillow. Former Tigers pitcher Denny McLain once awoke from his slumber with two dislocated toes in 1967. Then, there’s "sleeping." Milan AC midfielder Kevin Prince Boateng earlier this year had a muscular lesion on his left thigh. His model girlfriend attributed it to “too much sex.”
Ironing shirts. This possible injury is shrouded in mystery. As legend has it, former Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz burned himself back in 1990 while ironing his shirt. But that’s not the weird part. The story goes that Smoltz was wearing the shirt when he decided to iron it and not surprisingly burnt himself. Smoltz, of course, denies that it ever happened. And he’s probably telling the truth. Probably.
Phone book attack. In 1994, 28-year-old knuckleballer Steve Sparks missed out on a chance to make his first big-league roster when he dislocated his left (non-throwing) shoulder during spring training in Chandler, Ariz., with the Milwaukee Brewers. He tried to rip a phone book while imitating a group of motivational speakers named "Radical Reality" who had visited the team.
The first week of November can’t get here fast enough for the Big 12.
Each week, it seems more inevitable that the Nov. 7 clash between Baylor and Oklahoma will determine the Big 12 race and perhaps the national landscape. That's the way it looks after Week 6. Baylor’s offense scored 70 points for the third consecutive game, and Oklahoma continued to shut down opponents.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Big 12 doesn’t look ready to compete for a title, even if teams like Texas and Texas Tech are 2-0.
Oklahoma State eked out a close win over Kansas State, earning two Big 12 weekly honors, but Baylor and Oklahoma continued to steal the show as conference play began in full this week.
Big 12 Week 5 Recap and Awards
Offensive player of the week: Bryce Petty, Baylor
Last season’s Baylor-West Virginia game featured 1,507 total yards and 133 points. By halftime, there was a sense Baylor could approach those totals alone if it really wanted to. Quarterback Bryce Petty continued to lead an unstoppable Baylor offense with a Big 12-record 864 yards its conference opener against West Virginia. Petty completed 17 of 25 passes for 347 yards with three total touchdowns and an interception in the 73-42 win over the Mountaineers. Nearly all of the damage occurred in a 56-point first half as Petty threw only two passes after halftime.
Defensive player of the week: Shaun Lewis, Oklahoma State
Defense may need to carry Oklahoma State for the time being, and linebacker Shaun Lewis proved to be up to the task in a 33-29 win over Kansas State. Lewis finished with eight tackles, a tackle for a loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the win, but his biggest play was an interception late in the fourth quarter. The Cowboys led by 1 at the time, but Lewis’ pick and 24-yard return set up a field goal to force K-State to go for the touchdown on the final drive.
Freshman of the week: Ben Grogan, Oklahoma State
A week after special teams were a major liability in the loss to West Virginia, Oklahoma State relied on special teams to defeat Kansas State 33-29. As the Oklahoma State offense stalled in the red zone, freshman kicker Ben Grogan converted four of his five attempts, the lone miss a blocked 43-yard attempt. Grogan made field goals of 30, 34, 23 and 28 yards.
Team of the week: Baylor
Baylor’s schedule is backloaded with the toughest Big 12 competition waiting until November. But after the 73-42 rout of West Virginia, the question is who is going to stop the Bears? Baylor’s scoring output against West Virginia alone was more than Connecticut, Georgia State and Southern Miss have scored all year. The 56 points in the first half alone were more than FIU, Miami (Ohio) and UMass have scored this season. And remember, this was against a West Virginia defense that is vastly improved over the one from a year ago.
Coordinator of the week: Mike Stoops, Oklahoma
The question of who could stop Baylor falls on the shoulders of Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. The Sooners have the Big 12’s top defense and proved it again in a 20-17 win over TCU. The Horned Frogs gained only 16 yards in the first half, failing to gain a first down until their second possession of the third quarter. TCU finished with 44 rushing yards as Stoops’ defense picked up four sacks and seven tackles for a loss.
• With 172 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk has topped 100 yards in eight consecutive games.
• Baylor has the top three games in total yardage this season with 864 against West Virginia and 781 each against ULM and Buffalo. Each was a school record.
• Kansas State became the fifth Big 12 team to start a different quarterback since the opener. Daniel Sams started against Oklahoma State, replacing Jake Waters. Sams had been a running specialist, but he completed 15 of 21 passes for 181 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 118 yards and two touchdowns. Sams, though, struggled with the deep ball, throwing three interceptions.
• Michael Brewer, who was the projected starting quarterback for Texas Tech this season, made his first appearance of the season in the final minutes of the rout of Kansas. Brewer never threw a pass but appeared in the final three possessions after missing the first four games with a back injury.
• Texas Tech starting quarterback Baker Mayfield left with an injury in the third quarter after passing for 368 yards. The extent of his injury was not known after the game.
• By now, you’ve probably seen Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads’ impassioned postgame press conference after questionable officiating went in Texas’ favor in the Cyclones’ loss Thursday. In case you’ve haven’t seen it...
• One place where Rhoads has a legitimate beef is penalties: Iowa State’s 10 penalties against Texas doubled the Cyclones’ output this season. Rhoads received a reprimand from the Big 12, but not a fine, for his critical comments.
• Texas wide receiver Mike Davis received a reprimand from the Big 12, but not a suspension, after he lunged at the legs of a defenseless Iowa State player after the whistle in Thursday’s game. He was assessed a 15-yard personal foul on the field.
• Regardless of the outcome Thursday, Iowa State found it has a focal point for its offense in running back Aaron Wimberly, who rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries. Wimberly has rushed for 254 yards in his last two games. Quarterback Sam Richardson also had the best game of his career with 345 yards of total offense (262 passing, 83 rushing).
In the last few years, Florida State has had well-documented issues staying upright in the national championship race.
If the Seminoles’ new star quarterback has anything to do about it, Florida State will remain on its feet for the long haul.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston turned in one of the plays of the week and added to his growing highlight reel of impossible plays with a wild touchdown pass to Nick O’Leary. Maryland’s Yannik Virgil-Cudjoe, a 250-pound linebacker, tried to wrap up Winston for a sack, but the quarterback escaped and scrambled to his right to make the 12-yard pass to O’Leary.
“I can't tell you what the play was but I can tell you I actually held the ball too long,” Winston said. “I just try to get it to the open guys. ... I just slipped out of it and Nick was wide open for the touchdown.”
Winston completed 23 of 32 passes for 393 yards with five touchdowns to earn Athlon Sports National Player of the Week honors in addition to his third National Freshman of the Week award.
Athlon Sports Week 6 National Awards
National Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week: Jameis Winston, Florida State
The redshirt freshman is playing with the poise of a fifth-year senior. In Saturday’s win over Maryland, Winston completed 23 of 32 passes for 393 yards and five scores, while rushing for 24 yards on seven attempts. Winston’s five touchdown tosses were the most by a Florida State quarterback since Christian Ponder threw five in 2009, and the redshirt freshman already has three games of at least 300 passing yards. The freshman ranks second in the ACC with 288.2 passing yards per game, averaging an impressive 16 yards per completion. Winston has tossed only two picks and ranks fifth in the NCAA with a 73.2 completion percentage.
National Defensive Player of the Week: Shayne Skov, Stanford
UCLA had a trio of great performances from Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr and Anthony Jefferson, but Shayne Skov was all over the field against an excellent Washington offense. Skov played one of the best games of his career, posting 14 total tackles and 1.5 sacks in the huge win over the division rival Huskies. With Trent Murphy, A.J. Tarpley and James Vaughters, the Cardinal boast the best linebacker corps in the nation.
National Coordinator of the Week: Mike Stoops, Oklahoma
The question of who could stop Baylor falls on the shoulders of Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. The Sooners have the Big 12’s top defense and proved it again in a 20-17 win over TCU. The Horned Frogs gained only 16 yards in the first half, failing to gain a first down until their second possession of the third quarter. TCU finished with 44 rushing yards as Stoops’ defense picked up four sacks and seven tackles for a loss.
Athlon Sports Week 6 Conference Awards
Offense: Jameis Winston, Florida State
Defense: Vic Beasley, Clemson
Freshman: Jameis Winston, Florida State
Coordinator: Jeremy Pruitt, Florida State
Offense: Bryce Petty, Baylor
Defense: Shaun Lewis, Oklahoma State
Freshman: Ben Grogan, Oklahoma State
Coordinator: Mike Stoops, Oklahoma
Offense: Carlos Hyde, Ohio State
Defense: Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
Freshman: Tommy Armstrong, Nebraska
Coordinator: John Papuchis, Nebraska
Offense: Ty Montgomery, Stanford
Defense: Shayne Skov, Stanford
Freshman: Daquon Brown, Washington State
Coordinator: Lou Spanos, UCLA
Offense: Zach Mettenberger, LSU
Defense: Carl Lawson, Auburn
Freshman: Cam Cameron, LSU
Coordinator: J.J. Green, Georgia
Michigan State posted one of the most complete outings of the Big Ten season thus far in a critical road division win over Iowa. Indiana exercised some demons with the first win in school history over Penn State. Without Taylor Martinez, Nebraska handled its business at home against overmatched Illinois team. And Michigan kept control of the Little Brown Jug.
But Ohio State made the biggest statement of the weekend by clearly yet another big hurdle. The Buckeyes turned to the power running game to make a big statement against a very good Northwestern team in a hostile environment in Evanston.
Here are the Big Ten's Week 6 Superlatives:
Big Ten Week 6 Recap and Awards
Offensive Player of the Week: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
The 235-pound running back from Florida was simply too much for Northwestern to handle. On a night when Braxton Miller didn't play his best, Hyde stepped up and salvaged the Buckeyes national championship hopes. He entered the night with just 22 rushing attempts and 126 yards on the season but finished with 26 carries, 168 yards and three crucial second-half touchdowns. The worn-down Wildcats had no answer for Hyde's physicality in the second half. The Ohio State tailback also caught four passes for 38 yards.
Defensive Player of the Week: Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State
The Michigan State cornerback was preseason first-team All-Big Ten pick by Athlon Sports and he showed why Saturday. In a key division road win, Dennard led the team with eight tackles and added two interceptions as the Spartans shut out of the Hawkeyes in the second half. This unit held Mark Weisman to just nine yards and is still leading the nation in total defense (203.8 ypg).
Team of the Week: Ohio State
Both Michigan State and Indiana had critical — and historic in the Hoosiers case — wins in Week 6 over Iowa and Penn State respectively. But the Buckeyes were once again the class of the Big Ten conference after defeating Northwestern 40-30 on the road. With a power rushing attack, a dynamic quarterback, elite-level coach and, now, two huge wins over ranked conference opponents, there is little doubt who the best team in the league is after six weeks of play.
Coordinator of the Week: John Papuchis, Nebraska
Illinois entered the game against Nebraska averaging nearly 500 yards of offense and more than 40 points per game. Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase was averaging 307.5 yards per game with 12 touchdowns in four games. Nebraska's defense, though, played its best game of the year, holding the Illini to 372 yards, 19 total points, 4-of-15 on third downs, registering three sacks and forcing two turnovers. Without Taylor Martinez, the Huskers' defense came up big once again.
Freshman of the Week: Tommy Armstrong Jr., QB, Nebraska
In the absence of Taylor Martinez, Armstrong (and fellow reserve signal caller Ron Kellogg III) has been charged with running the Huskers offense. Armstrong played excellent football against the Illini, completing 8 of 13 passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns in the impressive win. He also ran the ball nine times for 18 yards on the ground and didn't throw an interception for a second straight game. With a road trip to Purdue up next before another week off, don't be surprised if Bo Pelini goes to his freshman again in an effort to get Martinez fully healthy.
• Penn State's Christian Hackenberg broke his own school freshman passing record with 340 yards against Indiana.
• Allen Robinson had 12 receptions for 173 yards and two TDs against Indiana. He moved into seventh place all-time in school history with 118 career receptions and fifth all-time with 16 career TD receptions.
• Iowa was leading the Big Ten and was fourth nationally in time of possession entering Week 6 (35:50). The Hawkeyes held the ball for 22:47 in the loss to Michigan State.
• Nebraska is now leading the nation all by itself with just two sacks allowed in 2013.
• Indiana is now 1-16 all-time against Penn State after the win over the Nittany Lions this weekend.
• Ohio State still owns the nation's longest winning streak at 18 and Michigan owns the longest home winning streak with 18. These two will play in Ann Arbor on the final weekend of the regular season.
• After going 10 of 13 on third downs against Minnesota, the Wolverines are leading the Big Ten in third-down conversions at 53.7 percent (36 of 67) which is good for 11th nationally.
• Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah ran for a personal-best 225 yards and two touchdowns against Illinois.
• Despite two different outcomes, Iowa and Michigan are still the nation's only teams that have yet to allow a rushing touchdown.
• Michigan State's Connor Cook set a career high with 277 yards passing. He also had two long scoring strikes in the win over Iowa.
• Saturday was the first game of the season that Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste didn't have an interception in 2013.
Stanford highlighted the weekend by staying unbeaten after slipping past Washington. Oregon trounced Colorado on the road. So never fear, the collision course for Thursday, Nov. 7 in Palo Alto is still intact. But only by the slimmest of margins.
Elsewhere, Mike Leach had a signature performance for Washington State, UCLA won a critical road game on Thursday night and Arizona State tripped all over itself in Jerry's World against Notre Dame. The league has two remaining non-conference games left in 2013 (Notre Dame at Stanford, USC at Notre Dame).
Pac-12 Week 6 Awards and Recap
Offensive Player of the Week: Ty Montgomery, WR, Stanford
As usual, there were plenty of worthy candidates who accounted for seven touchdowns (Marcus Mariota), topped 500 yards passing (Connor Halliday) or scored three different ways (Brett Hundley), but only one posted 290 all-purpose yards in the biggest conference game to date. Montgomery took the opening kickoff 99 yards for the game's first score and Stanford never looked back. He finished with 204 return yards — a 35.0 yards per return average on his other three returns — three receptions for 56 yards, a receiving touchdown, a return touchdown and 30 yards rushing on two attempts. He was a one-man show in a game highlighted by its defensive prowess.
Defensive Player of the Week: Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
UCLA had a trio of great performances from Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr and Anthony Jefferson, but Shayne Skov was all over the field against an excellent Washington offense. Skov played one of the best games of his career, posting 14 total tackles and 1.5 sacks in the huge win over the division rival Huskies. With Trent Murphy, A.J. Tarpley and James Vaughters, the Cardinal boast the best linebacker corps in the nation.
Team of the Week: Stanford
Stanford's slimmest of margins entailed an Keith Price tipped-pass interception inside the Cardinal's 5-yard line with less than seven minutes to play and a final minute replay booth decision. Kevin Hogan was solid — 12 of 20, 100 yards with two total touchdowns — but didn't turn any Heisman voters' heads. More important, the defense pressured Price all night and a playmaker emerged on the outside of the offense in Montgomery. This team has a nasty schedule but the poise and veteran leadership needed to conquer it was on full display Saturday night as the Huskies rallied. Stanford won despite being outgained by more than 200 yards.
Coordinator of the Week: Lou Spanos, UCLA
The Bruins went into a hostile environment and returned home still unbeaten due to extraordinary performance by the defense. Spanos' defense had quarterback Travis Wilson solved from the opening kickoff. UCLA forced six turnovers, registered three sacks and held an offense averaging over 500 yards per and 42 points per game to just 387 yards and 20 offensive points. But maybe the most critical performance came on third downs, where the Bruins held Utah to just 2 o -13. This unit has star power and could quickly develop into an elite defense should the young players continue to hold their own.
Freshman of the Week: Daquawn Brown, DB, Washington State
At some point, we will all have to acknowledge the Pac-12's No. 2 tackler, Colorado freshman linebacker Addison Gillam. He posted 15 tackles, two for loss and one sack in the blowout loss to Oregon. But Washington State's freshman defensive back played an equally large role in a road win for the Cougars. Brown posted six tackles and his second interception of the season against a Golden Bears offense that threw the ball 62 times.
• Washington had more than twice as many first downs (30) as Stanford (14). But the Huskies never led the Cardinal.
• The Huskies had 489 yards of offense. Stanford had 279.
• UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley threw, ran and caught a touchdown pass on Thursday night against the Utes. He finished with 211 yards passing, 85 yards rushing and seven yards receiving.
• Oregon's Marcus Mariota scored seven touchdowns against the Buffaloes this weekend. So after 18 career games, he has 59 total TDs and just six interceptions. That is 3.3 touchdowns and 0.3 interceptions per game and basically a 10:1 total TD-to-interception career rate. He has gone 202 consecutive attempts without an interception.
• The Ducks scored at least 50 points for fifth straight time. According to ESPN Stats and Info, there are only the second team in history to do so, joining Princeton in 1885.
• There were 129 pass attempts for 1,027 passing yards between Cal and Washington State.
• Taylor Kelly through for his fifth straight 300-yard game but the Sun Devils lost thanks to two more interceptions. He has six on the year, ahead of only Connor Halliday (10) and Travis Wilson (nine) in the Pac-12.
• Nine players are tied for the lead nationally in interceptions with four. Three of them play in the Pac-12: Colorado's Greg Henderson, Oregon State's Steven Nelson and Wazzu's Deone Bucannon. Bucannon also leads the league in tackles with 56 total stops.
Georgia running back Keith Marshall suffered a knee injury in the first half against Tennessee and is out for the remainder of the game.
Marshall’s injury is a huge loss for the Bulldogs, as starter Todd Gurley did not dress against the Volunteers due to an ankle injury.
With Marshall sidelined, Georgia will have to lean on J.J. Green and Brendan Douglas for the rest of the game.
The Rutgers-SMU matchup wasn’t one of the weekend’s most-anticipated games, but this American Athletic Conference game was an entertaining, three-overtime affair.
The Scarlet Knights led 21-0, and the Mustangs rallied to cut the deficit to 21-14 early in the third quarter.
SMU rallied once again after trailing 35-14 late in the third, with quarterback Garrett Gilbert connecting with receiver Jeremy Johnson on a 13-yard touchdown passes with just over a minute to go.
After Johnson’s touchdown catch, the Mustangs needed a two-point play to tie. And if you haven’t seen it, this conversion is easily one of the best two-point plays in recent memory.
Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown took a huge hit in Saturday’s loss to Florida State and did not return to action.
After the game, Terrapins’ coach Randy Edsall indicated Brown suffered a concussion and will be evaluated.
Brown has been a big reason why Maryland got off to a 4-0 start, and his status for next week’s game against Virginia is uncertain.
Even with quarterback Taylor Martinez sidelined with a toe injury, Nebraska’s offense didn’t miss a beat against Illinois.
The Cornhuskers won 39-19, and freshman quarterback Tommy Armstrong threw for 135 yards and two touchdowns on eight completions.
One of Armstrong’s top passes was a 37-yard scoring strike to receiver Kenny Bell, who made an excellent one-handed grab against the Illinois’ defense.
As expected, Alabama had little trouble scoring in its Week 6 matchup against Georgia State.
Receiver DeAndrew White made one of the top plays of Week 6, as he made a one-handed grab from quarterback AJ McCarron to give Alabama a 21-0 lead in the first quarter.
Check out White’s one-handed touchdown grab against Georgia State:
Texas quarterback David Ash has been ruled out for next Saturday’s game against Oklahoma.
The junior suffered a concussion in Texas’ 40-21 loss at BYU on Sept. 7 and sat out the Longhorns’ 44-23 defeat to Ole Miss on Sept. 14.
Ash returned against Kansas State but was forced to leave the game early and did not play in the 31-30 win over Iowa State on Thursday night.
With Ash sidelined, Texas will go with Case McCoy at quarterback once again. McCoy has thrown for 574 yards and two scores this season but missed several throws in the win over the Cyclones.
Will Texas pull the redshirt off of freshman Tyrone Swoopes?
Oklahoma has dominated the Longhorns in the last two seasons, and not having Ash on the field next weekend only adds to the challenge for Texas.
Minnesota coach Jerry Kill suffered a seizure on Saturday morning and won’t coach the Golden Gophers against Michigan.
Kill suffers from epilepsy and has suffered five seizures since taking over at Minnesota in 2011.
Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will serve as Minnesota’s coach against Michigan.
Minnesota releases statement that Jerry Kill suffered a seizure on Saturday morning and will remain at home in Minnesota for today’s game.— Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart) October 5, 2013
Minnesota released a statement on Saturday morning regarding Kill:
Minnesota football coach Jerry Kill is at home in Minneapolis and will not be on the sideline for today's game against Michigan. Coach Kill was not feeling well on Friday morning and decided to meet the team in Ann Arbor on Saturday. He then suffered a seizure on Saturday morning and will remain at home in Minnesota for today's game.
Coach Kill has been in contact with his staff today and defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys will serve as Minnesota's acting head coach from the press box.
Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton is one of college football’s most underrated players, but the junior suffered a knee injury in Friday night’s loss to BYU and is out indefinitely.
Prior to his injury, Keeton threw for 1,388 yards and 18 touchdowns this season, while tossing only two interceptions and adding 241 yards on the ground.
With Keeton sidelined, Utah State will start Craig Harrison in next week’s matchup against Boise State.
Chuckie Keeton is back on the sideline in crutches, out of uniform. Also, torn ACL & MCL is the fear— Jeremy Mauss (@JeremyMauss) October 5, 2013
Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez has been ruled out of Saturday’s game against Illinois with a turf toe injury. This will be the second straight game Martinez will miss due to injury, as he did not play in the Cornhuskers’ win over South Dakota State.
Freshman Tommy Armstrong will start in place of Martinez, and he held up well against South Dakota State, completing 12 of 15 passes for 169 yards and one score. Armstrong also added 38 rushing yards on five attempts.
If Armstrong struggles, Ron Kellogg III will get the call off the bench.
Although Martinez will be missed, Nebraska has a strong supporting cast to ease Armstrong’s transition into the starting lineup.
Also, this experience should serve Armstrong well this offseason, as he is expected to be Nebraska’s No. 1 quarterback in 2014.
The Week 6 slate is highlighted by Ohio State’s trip to Northwestern and Washington’s visit to Palo Alto to play Stanford. Elsewhere, Ole Miss tries to get back on track against improved Auburn; Georgia hopes to avoid a letdown at Neyland Stadium against Tennessee; and Maryland looks to knock off ACC superpower Florida State.
No. 43 BYU at No. 57 Utah State
Gary Andersen is now the coach at Wisconsin, but Utah State is still one of the more underappreciated teams in the nation. The Aggies are 3-2, with a four-point loss at Utah and a three-point loss at USC. They also have convincing road wins over Air Force and San Jose State. This is a very good team.
Utah State 27-24
No. 77 Nevada at No. 103 San Diego State
Nevada quarterback Cody Fajardo returned to the lineup last Saturday after a two-week absence due to injury. He put up Fajardo-like numbers, throwing for 389 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 81 yards and two scores in a 45-42 win over Air Force. Expect similar numbers this week.
No. 125 Georgia State at No. 1 Alabama
Alabama steps out of SEC play for what should be little more than a scrimmage. Georgia State is 0-4, with three of the four defeats coming against teams from the FCS ranks — and all three of those games were at home. Now, the Panthers head to Tuscaloosa to play the nation’s No. 1 team. Good luck.
No. 2 Ohio State at No. 19 Northwestern
ESPN is bringing its travelling road show — better known as College GameDay — to Northwestern for the first time since 1995. That year, the Wildcats were led by an undersized linebacker named Pat Fitzgerald. Nearly 20 years later, Fitzgerald is in the eighth year at his alma mater and has the program positioned to challenge for its first Big Ten title since 2000. This week, the undefeated Cats host No. 2 Ohio State in their first true test of the season.
Ohio State 27-23
No. 3 Oregon at No. 84 Colorado
First-year Oregon coach Mark Helfrich served as the offensive coordinator at Colorado from 2006-08. It’s safe to say he has far more talent at his disposal in his current gig. The Ducks will score a ton of points. Colorado won’t score many.
No. 4 Clemson at No. 68 Syracuse
In two weeks, Clemson will host Florida State in the Game of the Year in the ACC. That game, however, won’t mean quite as much if the Tigers slip up in the next two weeks — at Syracuse on Saturday or at home vs. Boston College on Oct. 12.
No. 5 Georgia at No. 49 Tennessee
Georgia lost nine straight in this series from 1989-99 but has since won nine of the last 13, including three straight. And after looking at both teams’ performances through the first month of the season, there is no reason to believe that won’t be four straight after the Bulldogs’ trip to Neyland Stadium this weekend.
No. 13 Washington at No. 6 Stanford
Washington’s emergence as a legitimate contender in the Pac-12 North has elevated this game to must-see status. The Huskies have cruised to a 4–0 start against a solid schedule that has featured home wins over Boise State and Arizona and a road win at improved Illinois. Stanford might lack dynamic playmakers at the skill positions, but this team has few weaknesses.
No. 7 LSU at No. 48 Mississippi State
LSU proved once again last week that it might be the most improved offensive team in the nation. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they proved it in a loss — despite scoring 41 points on the road. One loss will not eliminate LSU from the national title hunt, but this team no longer has any margin for error.
No. 9 South Carolina at No. 83 Kentucky
Steve Spurrier was not pleased with his team’s start or finish last week in Orlando. The Gamecocks got the win — 28-25 over UCF — but it was not the type of performance that gave Spurrier confidence his team can compete with the powers in the SEC. He can’t, however, have many complaints about Mike Davis, his sophomore tailback. Davis leads the SEC in rushing with 127.0 yards per game and has done so on a healthy 7.2-yard average.
South Carolina 24-10
No. 10 Louisville at No. 116 Temple
Things are not going well for first-year Temple coach Matt Ruhle. The Owls are 0-4 and have lost at home to Fordham and at Idaho. Those are two really bad losses.
No. 26 Maryland at No. 11 Florida State
The same week that UConn fired his replacement, Randy Edsall is gearing up for the biggest game of his tenure as the coach at Maryland. The Terps, off to a 4–0 start, head to Tallahassee to play a loaded Florida State team that has dreams of a national title.
Florida State 34-21
No. 32 TCU at No. 12 Oklahoma
The Sooners are beginning to separate themselves in the Big 12. The defense has been better than expected, and Blake Bell, who began the year No. 2 on the depth chart, is emerging as one of the league’s top quarterbacks. He has completed 71.2 percent of his passes and has six TDs and zero INTs.
No. 45 West Virginia at No. 14 Baylor
These two teams combined to score 133 points last year in Morgantown, with West Virginia outlasting Baylor 70-63. Baylor is still scoring an obscene amount of points — the Bears lead the nation with 69.7 per game — but WVU, minus Geno Smith & Co., isn’t quite as explosive.
No. 59 Minnesota at No. 15 Michigan
Minnesota’s Big Ten opener was a disaster. The Golden Gophers, who went 4-0 against a soft non-conference schedule, managed only 165 total yards in a disheartening 23-7 loss at home to Iowa. That does not bode well for the rest of the season.
No. 29 Georgia Tech at No. 16 Miami (Fla.)
This was shaping up to be the Game of the Year in the ACC Coastal Division … until Georgia Tech lost at home to Virginia Tech last Thursday. Still, this is a big game for both teams. Miami has only been challenged once, and the Canes passed the test in impressive fashion, beating Florida 21–16 in Week 2.
No. 50 Arkansas at No. 17 Florida
So far so good for Tyler Murphy. One week after coming off the bench to lead Florida past Tennessee in Gainesville, Murphy completed 15-of-18 passes for 156 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the Gators’ 24-7 win at Kentucky. Those numbers won’t get you in the discussion for All-SEC honors, but it’s probably more than most Florida fans expected from the former 2-star recruit.
No. 20 Fresno State at No. 115 Idaho
Fresno State is undefeated, but the Bulldogs are living dangerously. They have won three games by five points or less, including last week’s too-close-for-comfort 42-37 win over a bad Hawaii team. The Bulldogs’ defense must improve.
Fresno State 48-10
No. 21 Ole Miss at No. 35 Auburn
We learned last Saturday night that Ole Miss isn’t quite ready to contend for the SEC West title. But one loss — especially when that loss is at Alabama — should not derail the momentum the Rebels grabbed with their 3-0 start. This is still a very good team.
Ole Miss 31-21
No. 22 Arizona State vs. No. 28 Notre Dame (Arlington, Texas)
Notre Dame rushed for 220 yards (on a 7.6-yard average) at home last week yet still lost by 14 points to Oklahoma. The reason? Tommy Rees completed only 9-of-24 and was intercepted three times. The Irish will need more balance to beat a solid Arizona State team at Cowboys Stadium.
Arizona State 28-20
No. 55 Kansas State at No. 23 Oklahoma State
Those of us who picked Oklahoma State to win the Big 12 title weren’t envisioning a loss at West Virginia in the Pokes’ league opener. But that’s what happened, thanks in part to a subpar day from quarterback J.W Walsh, who threw 27 incomplete passes (including two picks). The Pokes will have to play much better to stay in the race throughout the season.
Oklahoma State 27-20
No. 58 North Carolina at No. 24 Virginia Tech
It’s hard to decide what stat was the most disappointing last week for North Carolina. Was it the 603 total yards rolled up by East Carolina in the Pirates’ 42-24 win? Was it the 186 rushing yards accumulated by ECU tailback Vintavious Cooper? Or was it the fact that UNC only averaged 2.1 yards per carry against a C-USA defense?
Virginia Tech 24-20
No. 27 Texas Tech at No. 93 Kansas
The schedule hasn’t been too taxing, but the Red Raiders are thriving under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury. Tech is 4-0, with wins over four teams from Texas — SMU (on the road), Stephen F. Austin, TCU and Texas State. This week, the Raiders leave the Lone Star State for the first time, but their perfect record should remain intact.
Texas Tech 51-17
No. 31 Michigan State at No. 53 Iowa
Iowa opened the season with a loss at home to Northern Illinois but has since won four straight, several in very impressive fashion. Last week, the Hawkeyes limited Minnesota to 165 yards in a 23-7 win in Minneapolis. This week, offensively challenged Michigan State visits Iowa City. Don’t expect a lot of points.
No. 33 Northern Illinois at No. 104 Kent State
The Huskies are 4-0, with two wins coming against teams from the Big Ten (Iowa and Purdue). Jordan Lynch is completing nearly two-thirds of his passes with 10 TDs and two INTs and has added 439 yards and three scores on the ground. It would be a surprise if NIU does not win the MAC.
Northern Illinois 43-18
No. 60 Illinois at No. 34 Nebraska
Illinois hasn’t won a Big Ten road game in almost two calendar years. They won’t win this week, either — but don’t be surprised if this game isn’t decided until the fourth quarter. It’s tough to trust the Nebraska defense. Plus, the Huskers could be playing without quarterback Taylor Martinez.
No. 36 Missouri at No. 37 Vanderbilt
Missouri has cruised to a 4-0 start against a relatively soft non-conference schedule. Now the fun begins for the Tigers, who play eight SEC games over the next nine weeks. On Saturday, Mizzou makes its first trip to Vanderbilt since 1957. Last year, the Tigers outgained the Dores by 100 yards but dropped a 19-15 decision in Columbia.
No. 38 UCF at No. 94 Memphis
Memphis is clearly on the right track under second-year coach Justin Fuente, but the Tigers aren’t quite ready to beat a team as talented as UCF. Blake Bortles is one of the nation’s most underrated players.
No. 39 Penn State at No. 62 Indiana
Indiana closes its season-opening, five-game home stand with a visit from Penn State. The Hoosiers, who have already lost two games, will have a tough time reaching bowl-eligibility unless they win on Saturday.
No. 46 Rutgers at No. 97 SMU
There’s no shame in losing to Texas Tech, Texas A&M and TCU — as SMU has done — but the Mustangs haven’t been competitive in any of the three losses. Also, their only win came against Montana State, by one point. It’s fair to say this team has been a disappointment in 2013.
No. 51 NC State at No. 91 Wake Forest
NC State plays on the road for the first time this year, making the short trip from Raleigh to Winston-Salem. The Wolfpack are 3-1 but don’t have anything resembling a quality win.
NC State 34-24
No. 52 East Carolina at No. 87 Middle Tennessee
East Carolina must avoid a letdown after last week’s shockingly easy 55-31 win at North Carolina. The Pirates rolled up 603 yards of offense and only committed one turnover on 101 offensive plays.
East Carolina 47-24
No. 54 Washington State at No. 69 California
Washington State (-1.5) is favored in a league road game for the first time since late in the 2006 season, when the Bill Doba-led Cougars were a one-point favorite at Arizona State. They lost 47-14.
No. 98 Air Force at No. 61 Navy
After a few days of uncertainty, the Air Force-Navy game will be played despite the government shutdown. Air Force has lost four in a row for the first time since the end of the 2006 season. The Falcons haven’t lost five straight since 1993.
No. 63 Cincinnati at No. 110 South Florida
There’s still a lot of football to be played, but South Florida — 0-4 with a 53-21 loss to McNeese State on its resume — has a chance to be remembered among the worst AQ conference teams in the BCS era.
No. 123 UMass at No. 64 Bowling Green
Last year, Bowling Green limited UMass to 118 total yards, including only 33 passing, in a 24-0 win over the Minutemen. The Falcons should dominate again.
Bowling Green 34-10
No. 79 Ball State at No. 65 Virginia
Ball State stubbed its toe in a surprising Week 3 loss at North Texas (by three points), but Pete Lembo once again has a very good team. The Cardinals are already 2-0 in the MAC, highlighted by a nice win over MAC West rival Toledo. This will be a struggle for Virginia.
No. 111 Army at No. 66 Boston College
This game, like Air Force-Navy, was in jeopardy due to the government shutdown. But it will be played — and that’s a good thing for a Boston College program that is trying to piece together six wins to get to a bowl game under first-year coach Steve Addazio.
Boston College 34-13
No. 81 Texas State at No. 72 UL Lafayette
Dennis Franchione is quietly doing a solid job at Texas State. The Bobcats are 3-1 after beating a decent Wyoming team by 21 points last weekend in San Marcos.
Texas State 34-30
No. 73 Ohio at No. 112 Akron
Ohio has rebounded from a 49-7 loss in Week 1 at Louisville by winning three straight — highlighted by a 34-31 victory over Marshall on Sept. 14. Akron made headlines in Week 3 with its near-miss at Michigan, but the Zips are 1-4, and the only win came by two points against James Madison.
No. 102 UTSA at No. 74 Marshall
Marshall is just a few plays away from a perfect 4-0 record. The Thundering Herd lost by three at Ohio in Week 3 and by eight in triple-overtime at Virginia Tech in Week 4. This team is good enough to challenge East Carolina for the C-USA East title.
No. 76 Rice at No. 86 Tulsa
Tulsa appears to be in the midst of a slow decline under third-year coach Bill Blankenship. None of the Golden Hurricane’s three losses — at Bowling Green, at Oklahoma and vs. Iowa State — is a particularly bad loss, but it’s pretty clear the talent level isn’t the same as previous Tulsa teams.
No. 78 North Texas at No. 89 Tulane
With two roads on the season — at Louisiana Tech and at ULM — Tulane is making solid progress in Curtis Johnson’s second year. Beating North Texas, however, could be a challenge. The Mean Green beat a good Ball State team in Week 3 and made Georgia sweat into the second half last week in Athens.
North Texas 27-17
No. 121 Western Michigan at No. 80 Toledo
The schedule hasn’t been easy, but Western Michigan has been one of the worst teams in the nation over the first month of the season. There’s nothing wrong with losing to Michigan State, Northwestern or Iowa. There is, however, something wrong with losing at home to Nichols State.
No. 85 San Jose State at No. 118 Hawaii
It’s a bit too soon to declare the first year of the Ron Cargher era a disappointment — after all, there are a lot of teams that would lose to Stanford, Minnesota and Utah State — but the Spartans really need to beat Hawaii this week.
San Jose State 41-34
No. 88 South Alabama at No. 101 Troy
This has the makings of a solid regional rivalry. Troy has proven it can win on a consistent basis, and Joey Jones is doing an outstanding job building the program from scratch at South Alabama.
South Alabama 34-30
No. 120 Eastern Michigan at No. 96 Buffalo
It’s been a strange season for Buffalo, which in consecutive games gave up 70 points to Baylor, beat Stony Brook in five overtimes and beat Connecticut by 29 points.
No. 109 FAU at No. 106 UAB
The record isn’t very good (1-5), but FAU is showing signs of life under second-year coach Carl Pelini. The Owls won at South Florida in Week 3 and have lost their two games — vs. Middle Tennessee and at Rice — by a combined 11 points (one in overtime).
No. 122 New Mexico State at No. 107 New Mexico
It’s the annual battle in the Land of Enchantment between two of the worst FBS teams in the country. New Mexico is 0-5, and only one its losses (at home to San Diego State) has come by less than 21 points. New Mexico is 1-3, with its only win in overtime at UTEP.
New Mexico 34-20
No. 113 Louisiana Tech at No. 108 UTEP
Some teams have bad records because they’ve played a tough schedule. Louisiana Tech has a bad record because it’s a bad team. The Bulldogs are 0-4 against FBS competition, including losses to Tulane at home, at Kansas and vs. Army in Dallas.
No. 114 Central Michigan at No. 119 Miami (Ohio)
Miami has scored a total of 35 points in four games and only has two plays of at least 30 yards. Wisconsin, for comparison purposes, has 19 such plays.
Central Michigan 20-7
No. 124 FIU at No. 117 Southern Miss
Southern Miss hasn’t won a game since the end of the 2011 season yet is a 17-point favorite over FIU. This game could be painful.
Southern Miss 38-10
Each week, Athlon Sports will highlight some of the best one-on-one matchups to watch in college football. Here are the most important games within the game to watch this weekend:
Anthony Barr, LB vs. Travis Wilson, QB (UCLA at Utah)
Stopping a 6-foot-6, 240-pound quarterback is a daunting task — even for a freakish 6-foot-4, 245-pound outside linebacker like Barr. Wilson has been dynamic for Utah, rushing for 251 yards and five touchdowns to go with his 279.5 passing yards per game. Barr has the quickness, power and athletic ability to mirror Wilson everywhere he goes. This could be one of the best individual matchups of the entire weekend.
Bishop Sankey, RB vs. Shayne Skov, LB (Washington at Stanford
On the other side of the ball, Steve Sarkisian’s balanced offensive attack will put major pressure on Stanford’s extremely talented linebacking corps, led by the senior inside linebacker. The Washington offensive line was decimated last year and Stanford took advantage with three sacks and seven tackles for a loss. This unit is much healthier this time around and has been churning out yards on the ground and protecting Keith Price. Skov will go head-to-head with Bishop Sankey, who broke the game-winning 61-yard touchdown run last year, all game long in what could be one of the most physical games of the year.
Robert Nkemdiche/C.J. Johnson, DE vs. Greg Robinson/Patrick Miller, OT (Ole Miss at Auburn)
The super freshman Nkemdiche and veteran Johnson are a formidable duo on the edge of the Ole Miss defensive line. Charged with stopping them will be Auburn's sophomore tackle tandem of Robinson and Miller. The Tigers have been solid up front, allowing just 4.0 sacks in 2013, and the Rebels have struggled to get pressure (100th in sacks nationally). To hold serve on the road, the Rebs need to disrupt the quarterback and hold their ground against Tre Mason and the Tigers’ running game.
Vad Lee, QB vs. Anthony Chickillo, DE (Georgia Tech at Miami)
Chickillo was active around the line of scrimmage in last year’s game against Georgia Tech, recording seven stops, three tackles for a loss and one sack. The Yellow Jackets are struggling at times to execute the option, but are still a handful to defend. Assignment football is an overused cliché at times, but it’s important for Chickillo and the other Miami defenders to not lose responsibility of their gaps. Georgia Tech’s offensive line struggled to block Virginia Tech last Thursday, and if Chickillo can disrupt the offense, the Hurricanes will contain quarterback Vad Lee.
Braxton Miller, QB vs. Tyler Scott, DE (Ohio State at Northwestern)
Scott, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound senior, will be under a microscope this weekend. He leads the Wildcats in tackles for a loss (4.0) and sacks (3.0) but will be in for his toughest challenge this weekend against Braxton Miller. It goes without saying the goal for Scott and the Cats defensive line will be to contain Miller in the pocket but, moreover, they need to punish the oft-injured Buckeyes star every chance they get. The more physical the game gets, the better chance Northwestern has at an upset.
Alex Collins, RB vs. Antonio Morrison, LB (Arkansas at Florida)
Jonathan Williams will be a heavy factor in the backfield for the Hogs as well, but his carries have decreased in every game this season. Collins, a freshman from Florida, has quickly shown why he was so highly touted as his 119.4 rushing yards per game rank No. 2 in the SEC. He returns to his home state and gets to face one of the most vicious hitters in the nation in Morrison. The rest of the Gators’ front seven will be tough to move as well, but watching these two underclassmen battle all day will be fun for all parties involved.
James Hurst, OL vs. James Gayle/J.R. Collins, DE (North Carolina at Virginia Tech)
Hurst is the leader of a struggling North Carolina offensive line. The Tar Heels have allowed nine sacks and rank last in the ACC in rushing offense after four contests. With three new starters, the Tar Heels' line was expected to be a work in progress in 2013. However, while the line is inexperienced, this group needs to have a good showing on Saturday against Virginia Tech’s defensive front. Hurst will be matched up against ends James Gayle and J.R. Collins, who have combined for 6.5 sacks in five contests. This Hokies' defensive line is one of the best in the nation, and if the Heels can’t move the line of scrimmage they will have no chance on the road.
Tyler Lockett, WR vs. Justin Gilbert or Kevin Peterson, CB (Kansas State at Oklahoma State)
Kansas State’s offense needs work, but Lockett is a dynamic presence. The Wildcats' primary pass-catcher has hauled in 29 for 469 yards and a touchdown this season despite K-State’s struggles at quarterback. Gilbert is listed as the starter on the school’s two-deep for this game but Oklahoma State could be without its top cornerback, who was ejected against West Virginia for throwing punches. A suspension of some kind could be possible, giving talented sophomore Peterson the chance to mark Lockett.
Week 6 is here already and now it is time to make a push for the fantasy playoffs. If your team is in the middle of the pack, every roster move you make from this point on can propel you up in the standings or bring your team closer to irrelevancy.
Nathan Scheelhaase, QB-Illinois at Nebraska
Dual-threat quarterbacks have had a ton of success against Pelini’s defense in the recent past. Why should anything be different this week?
Donnel Pumphrey, RB-San Diego State vs Nevada
There is no way that the freshman does not receive significant carries against the fourth-worst rushing defense in the FBS
Saylor Lavallii, RB-Central Michigan at Miami (OH)
After struggling last week on the road against North Carolina State, Savallii should redeem himself in Week 6 when he faces the nation’s fifth-worst rushing defense.
Brian Fields, RB-Western Michigan at Toledo
Fields has totaled over 100 yards in three of five games this season and faces a Toledo defense that has allowed double-digit rushing touchdowns through five games.
Colby Goodwyn, RB-Old Dominion vs Liberty
Goodwyn is averaging 90 total yards per game and has scored seven touchdowns in five games. As long as the Monarchs face inferior competition, the senior running back is a solid starting option.
Jeff Scott, RB-Ole Miss at Auburn
Scott only carried the ball eight times last week in a 25-0 loss at Alabama. Expect his workload to increase against an Auburn defense that gives up 175 yards per game on the ground.
Tyler Gaffney, RB-Stanford vs Washington
Gaffney was shelved early in the third quarter of last week’s game against Washington State when the Cardinal went ahead 31-3. Expect Stanford to lean on Gaffney quite a bit when they host Washington late Saturday.
Alonzo Russell, WR-Toledo vs Western Michigan
Russell has proven himself to be just as valuable as fellow wideout Bernard Reedy, as he leads the team in receiving yards and touchdown receptions.
Taylor Martinez, QB-Nebraska vs Illinois
As of Tuesday, Martinez remained questionable with a toe injury and fantasy owners should be planning for an alternative course of action this week.
Alonzo Harris, RB-Louisiana vs Texas State
Harris has yet to run for more than 75 yards in a game this season and faces the nation’s third ranked rushing defense this week.
George Atkinson III, RB-Notre Dame vs Arizona State
Atkinson ran for 148 yards last week against Oklahoma, but up until the game against the Sooners, the junior back had only rushed for 121 yards in four previous contests.
Jordan Hall, RB-Ohio State at Northwestern
Through three games, Hall ran for 402 yards and was one of the nation’s leading rushers. Then, Carlos Hyde returned from suspension and the senior back has been virtually M.I.A (5 carries for 25 yards the previous two games).
Jahwan Edwards, RB-Ball State at Virginia
Oregon hung up 59 points against Virginia in Week 2, but the Cavaliers defense has only allowed 19 total points in their other three games, which included opponents BYU and Pitt.
Savon Huggins, RB-Rutgers at SMU
We’re pretty sure that Huggins will be the Scarlet Knights’ primary ball carrier this weekend, but don’t be surprised to see more of Justin Goodwin and Desmon Peoples.
Albert Wilson, WR-Georgia State at Alabama
In three games against non-FBS opponents, Wilson has caught 22 passes for 457 yards and four touchdowns. In his only game against an FBS opponent, West Virginia, Wilson was held without a catch. He may not get blanked this weekend, but we feel pretty confident about this recommendation.
Quinshad Davis, WR-North Carolina vs East Carolina
We were wrong about Davis last week, as he caught five passes for 111 yards and a touchdown against ECU. However, we are not ready to insert the sophomore receiver into the starting lineup until he produces on a consistent basis.
For the first time all season, every Big 12 team will be in action as the league begins conference play in earnest.
In some ways, the league has more questions than it was three weeks ago. A TCU-Oklahoma game is now a chance for the Horned Frogs to prove they’re still a league contender or risk falling to 0-2 in the conference.
In a rematch of a wild 70-63 Baylor win over West Virginia, the Mountaineers suddenly appear to have a defense, but there’s a major difference between handling this season’s Oklahoma State team and facing Baylor in Waco.
And then there’s Texas. There are plenty of questions for the Longhorns on a weekly basis (Who will start at quarterback? Will the defense show up?), but the more interesting questions about the long-term (What’s next for Mack Brown?).
That’s the backdrop for the first week of conference play as the calendar turns to October.
Big 12 Week 6 Game Power Rankings
All times Eastern, all games Saturday unless noted
1. TCU at Oklahoma (7 p.m., FOX)
TCU was projected to be one of a handful of teams competing for the Big 12 title, but the Horned Frogs may need to win in Norman to prove they’re still in the mix. TCU’s offense has been inconsistent, but the Horned Frogs continue to have a big-play defense. Even with limited contributions from star defensive end Devonte Fields this season, TCU leads the Big 12 in sacks (15 in four games) and interceptions (nine). And for all the talk of Oklahoma’s quarterbacks, perhaps the Sooners’ run game has been overlooked. OU is second in the Big 12 in rushing at 256.8 yards per game.
2. West Virginia at Baylor (8 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
Baylor’s offensive firepower is well-established, but the Bears also led the Big 12 in total defense (297 yards per game), yards per play (3.8) and fewest touchdowns (three). And thanks to Baylor’s quick-strike offense, only nine defenses nationally have spent more time on the field. West Virginia’s defense is going to have enough trouble against Baylor, but the offense has lingering concerns even after it received passing marks last week. Quarterback Clint Trickett may be the best option for the ailing Mountaineers’ offense, but he’s ailing with a shoulder injury. Ford Childress has a torn pectoral muscle, meaning Paul Millard may get the call Saturday. Millard has completed 41 of 67 passes for 466 yards in two starts, but he was benched for Childress in the second game of the season.
3. Texas at Iowa State (Thursday, 7:30 p.m., ESPN)
For a time, things quieted down around Texas. The Longhorns defeated Kansas State to end their two-game losing streak, the defense looked much improved, and then the Longhorns had an off week. Then, athletic director DeLoss Dodds announced his plans to retire, putting Mack Brown’s fate back into the spotlight. For this week, though, quarterback David Ash will be unavailable again after a second head injury this season, meaning Brown has a key decision on whether to play the underwhelming Case McCoy or remove the redshirt from heralded freshman Tyrone Swoopes. No. 2 wide receiver Mike Davis is also on the injury list as a game-time decision with an ankle injury. Despite the 1-2 record, Iowa State is plus-four in turnover margin and 9-for-9 in the red zone.
4. Kansas State at Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m., ABC regional)
Oklahoma State has been first or second in the Big 12 in total offense in each of the last three seasons, but the Cowboys now have legitimate concerns on offense after scoring a combined 42 points against Mississippi State and West Virginia. The problems start with the run game. Oklahoma State is fifth in the league in rushing (one spot behind Kansas). Jeremy Smith and Desmond Roland have combined for 83 carries for 312 yards in four games. Kansas State’s run game has been even worse. Aside from a 329-yard outburst against UMass, the Wildcats have rushed for 101.7 yards and 3.1 yards per carry in the other three games.
5. Texas Tech at Kansas (noon, Fox Sports 1)
Kansas quietly has the No. 2 pass efficiency defense in the Big 12, holding opponents to a 53.2 completion rate with four interceptions and two touchdowns. Texas Tech will keep Baker Mayfield at quarterback despite recent struggles, but he’ll need to find a way to get the ball to star receiver Eric Ward, who has seven receptions in the last three games.
Big 12 Week 6 Pivotal Players
J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State
Walsh had his worst game of the season at West Virginia, completing 20 of 47 passes for 322 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Mike Gundy told reporters he never considered going to Clint Chelf, whom Walsh replaced after two possessions in the opener. Oklahoma State needs Walsh to return to form if the Cowboys are going to remain in Big 12 contention.
Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
Kansas State’s offense needs work, but Tyler Lockett is a dynamic presence. Lockett has caught 29 passes for 469 yards with a touchdown this season despite K-State’s struggles at quarterback. Oklahoma State could be without starting cornerback Justin Gilbert, who was ejected against West Virginia for a throwing punches. A suspension of some kind could be possible, opening up the Wildcats’ passing game.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
The Horned Frogs’ stagnant offense finally showed some life in the second half against SMU last week. A few breaks on special teams helped, including an SMU onside kick returned for a touchdown, but Boykin must bring his momentum from the second half of last week into the Oklahoma game. Boykin was 8 of 10 for 155 yards with two touchdowns in the second half and led TCU to 7.5 yards per play. TCU ranks ninth in the Big 12 in third-down efficiency (33.3 percent) and must find a way to crack the top third down defense in the league (28.6).
Shaq Rowell, West Virginia
The Mountaineers had their best defensive game in more than a year against Oklahoma State, holding the Cowboys to 111 rushing yards. The nose tackle anchored the line in West Virginia’s three-man front and will have another major task this week against Baylor and standout guard Cyril Richardson.
Aaron Wimberly, Iowa State
Iowa Western Community College transfer became the first Iowa State running back to rush for 100 yards since the 2012 season opener when he ran for 137 yards on 19 carries against Tulsa last week. With the Cyclones offensive getting healthier and Wimberly picking yards, Texas has another competent run game to worry about.
Big 12 Week 6 Predictions
|David Fox||Braden Gall||Steven Lassan||Mitch Light|
|Texas (-8.5) at Iowa State||Texas 28-14||Texas 31-21||Texas 31-20||Texas 24-20|
|Texas Tech (-17.5) at Kansas||Tech 35-7||Tech 38-13||Tech 34-17||Tech 51-17|
|K-State (+14) at Okla. St.||OSU 28-24||OSU 31-17||OSU 34-27||OSU 27-20|
|TCU (+10.5) at Oklahoma||OU 42-24||OU 35-20||OU 34-20||OU 34-20|
|West Va. (+28) at Baylor||Baylor 63-10||Baylor 42-21||Baylor 45-24||Baylor 54-21|
The midpoint of the 2013 season is getting closer...
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College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Tuesday, October 1st
South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw is out 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury.
In case you missed it: Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds is stepping down.
Lost Lettermen has a look at college football's top-10 most ridiculous mascot costumes.
Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon was arrested late last week on assault charges.
Northwestern will have running back Venric Mark back in the lineup against Ohio State.
Virginia Tech cornerback Antone Exum has been cleared to return to action.
Ohio State safety Christian Bryant will miss the rest of the season due to injury.
Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage left last week's game due to injury but is expected to start next Saturday.
Why is Florida State's defense struggling to stop the run?
NC State quarterback Brandon Mitchell is getting closer to a return.
Ole Miss has a few notable players injured - but all are expected to play against Auburn.
A good read on the expectations and the downfall of Lane Kiffin at USC.
BYU will have running back Jamaal Williams and receiver Cody Hoffman back in the lineup on Friday night against Utah State.
ULM QB Kolton Browning is expected to miss the rest of the year with a torn quad muscle.
Alabama silenced any doubters — and there were some despite the team’s No. 1 ranking — with an emphatic 25-0 win over upstart Ole Miss in Oxford. Elsewhere, Georgia held on to the No. 2 spot in our power rankings with a huge win at home vs. LSU. The Tigers, despite the loss, remain No. 3.
SEC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
|1||1||Alabama (4-0, 2-0): Alabama was dominant on defense in an impressive 25-0 win over Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide limited Ole Miss to an average of 3.6 yards on 57 offensive plays en route to its first shoutout against Ole Miss since 1996. AJ McCarron was solid at quarterback, but Alabama did most of its work on the ground. T.J. Yeldon led the way with 121 yards on 17 carries, and Kenyan Drake chipped in with 99 yards on 12 attempts. Next Week: Georgia State|
|2||2||Georgia (3-1, 2-0): Georgia protected its home field with a thrilling 44-41 win over LSU in Athens. Led by senior quarterback Aaron Murray (298 yards and four TDs),2 the Bulldogs rolled up 494 yards of offense and scored on all but three possessions. Trailing 41-37 late in the game, Murray led the Dawgs on a six-play, 75-yard game-winning drive that ended with a 25-yard scoring toss to Justin Scott-Wesley. Georgia completed its grueling early season schedule with a 2-1 record against top-10 opponents. Next Week: at Tennessee|
|3||3||LSU (4-1, 1-1): There is no shame in losing by three points in Athens, but the Tigers have to feel they let one get away on Saturday afternoon. LSU grabbed its first lead of the game with 4:52 in the fourth quarter on a Jeremy Hill 8-yard run, but the Tigers’ defense allowed Georgia to march down for the decisive score on a six-play, 75-drive that lasted 2:27. Zach Mettenberger was once again outstanding for the LSU offense, throwing for 372 yards and three touchdowns and no interceptions. Next Week: at Mississippi State|
|4||4||Texas A&M (4-1, 1-1): As expected, Texas A&M had trouble slowing down Arkansas’ rushing attack. And as expected, the Texas A&M offense overwhelmed the Razorbacks’ defense. The result was a 45-33 Texas A&M win in Fayetteville, the Aggies’ ninth straight away from home. Johnny Manziel completed 23-of-30 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns, and five A&M ball-carries combined to rush for 262 yards on 44 attempts. It was the Aggies’ first trip to Fayetteville since 1990 when both schools were members of the now-defunct Southwest Conference. Next Week: Bye|
|5||5||South Carolina (3-1, 1-1): It was a struggle, but South Carolina picked up a solid road win, edging UCF 28-25 in Orlando. The Gamecocks, who trailed 10-0 at the half, seized control of the game with 28 unanswered points in the first 20 minutes of the second half. With quarterback Connor Shaw sidelined with a should injury, South Carolina turned to the running game, and Mike Davis delivered. The sophomore tailback picked up 150 of his 167 yards in the final two quarters and scored on runs of 53, 13 and 13 yards. Dylan Thompson completed 15-of-32 passes for 261 yards with no touchdowns and one interception in relief of Shaw. Both teams committed four turnovers. Next Week: Kentucky|
|6||6||Florida (3-1, 2-0): The Gators were solid on offense and dominant on defense in a 24-7 win at Kentucky. Making his first career start, junior quarterback Tyler Murphy completed 15-of-18 passes for 156 yards with one touchdown and one pick. The ground game was led by sophomore Matt Jones, who rushed for 176 yards on 28 carries. The Florida defense, as expected, shut down a suspect Kentucky offense. The Wildcats managed only 173 yards of offense, did not have a play longer than 25 yards and converted only 1-of-8 on third down. Next Week: Arkansas|
|7||7||Ole Miss (3-1, 1-1): The red-hot Ole Miss offense ran into the nation’s No. 1 team. The results were not pretty. The Rebels were held to 205 yards of offense (3.6 per play) and were shut out for the first time since 1998 in a humbling 25-0 defeat at Alabama. Quarterback Bo Wallace completed 17-of-31 passes, but those 31 attempts netted just 159 yards. Alabama took away the Rebels’ zone-read game; Wallace rushed five yards on 12 carries with a long of 11 yards, and tailback Jeff Scott was held to 28 yards on eight carries. Next Week: at Auburn|
|8||8||Auburn (3-1, 1-1): The Tigers had the week off to prepare for a visit from Ole Miss in key SEC West game that features two of the league’s top offensive coaches — Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze. Next Week: Ole Miss.|
|9||9||Missouri (4-0, 0-0): Missouri completed its non-conference schedule with a 4-0 record after surging past Arkansas State 41-19. The Tigers fell behind 16-14 early in the third quarter but outscored the Red Wolves 27-3 the rest of the way. James Franklin continues to play well at quarterback for Gary Pinkel’s team. He completed 20-of-29 for 255 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. The Missouri defense gave up 425 yards and allowed 10-of-20 third-down conversions, but Arkansas State scored only one touchdown. Next Week: at Vanderbilt|
Vanderbilt (3-2, 0-2): The Commodores played their most complete game of the season, dominating UAB from wire-to-wire in a 52-28 victory in Nashville. Vanderbilt had a 300-yard passer (Austyn Carta-Samuels), a 100-yard rusher (Jerron Seymour) and two 100-yard receivers (Jordan Matthews and Jonathan Kraus). Matthews, who had 115 yards and one touchdown on eight receptions, is now tied with Dan Stricker for first place on Vanderbilt all-time TD receptions list with 21. Matthews is also third in school history with 190 catches. Next Week: Missouri
|11||11||Mississippi State (2-2, 0-1): The Bulldogs had the week off after their impressive 62-7 win over Troy in Starkville on Sept. 21. Last week, coach Dan Mullen said the plan is for Tyler Russell to get the start next week against LSU. Russell has missed three games with a concussion suffered in the Bulldogs’ Week 1 loss to Oklahoma State. Next Week: LSU|
|12||12||Tennessee (3-2, 0-1): Tennessee appeared to be in complete control after taking a 31-7 lead on South Alabama early in the third quarter. But rarely do things come easy for the Volunteers these days. The Jaguars, in only their fifth year of football, trimmed the lead to 31-24 on a 3-yard run from Cris Dinham with 9:38 remaining in the fourth quarter. South Alabama had an opportunity to tie the game in the final minutes but was unable to punch it into the end zone despite having the ball 1st-and-goal from the 7-yard line. Safety Brian Randolph preserved the win for the Vols, intercepting a fourth-down pass in the end zone. Justin Worley played the entire game at quarterback, throwing for 204 yards with two TDs and three INTs. Rajion Neal was the offensive star for Tennessee, rushing for 169 yards on 25 carries. Next Week: Georgia.|
|13||13||Arkansas (3-2, 0-1): The Razorbacks scored 33 points and had 483 yards of offense — numbers that in year’s past would have almost guaranteed a win at home in the SEC. But times are changing, and on most days four touchdowns will not be enough to beat Texas A&M. The Razorbacks made things interesting, twice trimming double-digit leads to one score in the second half but in the end Arkansas was unable to stop Johnny Manziel & Co. when it mattered most. The Aggies had 523 total yards, with 262 through the air and 251 on the ground. Next Week: at Florida|
|14||14||Kentucky (1-3, 0-1): The Wildcats marched 75 yards on 10 plays for a touchdown on their first drive of the game. Not much else went well for Kentucky on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium. UK had only 98 yards the rest of the way in a 24-7 loss to Florida. Maxwell Smith went most of the way at quarterback for the Cats but threw for only 90 yards on 20 attempts and was sacked four times. The Kentucky defense had trouble stopping the run, allowing Florida sophomore Matt Jones to gain for 176 yards on 28 carries. Next Week: at South Carolina|
Offensive Player of the Week: Aaron Murray, Georgia
The spotlight could not have been brighter on Aaron Murray on Saturday afternoon. The game against LSU was a shootout from the start with LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, a Georgia transfer and former roommate of Murray’s, matching the Bulldogs quarterback pass for pass. Murray, though, came out on top by leading the game-winning drive in the final minutes of a 44-41 win over the Tigers. Murray finished 20 of 34 for 298 yards with four touchdowns and an interception in his second brilliant game in SEC play.
Defensive Player of the Week: C.J. Mosley, Alabama
It was hard to find an Alabama defensive player who did not shine on Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium, but we’ll give the nod to Mosley. The senior linebacker played a pivotal role in the Tide’s surprising shutout against Ole Miss. Mosley recorded seven tackles and made several key plays: He batted down a fourth-down attempt in the third quarter to thwart an Ole Miss scoring opportunity and tackled Rebels quarterback Bo Wallace for a safety early in the fourth quarter to increase the Tide’s lead to 18-0.
Team of the Week: Georgia
The Bulldogs took another step toward a third straight trip to the SEC Championship Game with a thrilling 44-41 win over LSU in a game that lived up to lofty expectations. Since losing at Clemson in Week 1, the Bulldogs have knocked off South Carolina and LSU at home to seize control of the SEC East race. Georgia rolled up 494 yards of offense, led by another terrific performance from quarterback Aaron Murray. The senior threw for 298 yards and four touchdowns for an offense that was forced to play without star tailback Todd Gurley in the second half. Georgia’s defense gave up 449 yards and 41 points but came up with a key stop late to preserve the win.
Coordinator of the Week: Kirby Smart, Alabama
When you factor in the quality of the opponent, Alabama might have had the finest defensive performance of the season by an team in the nation this season. The Crimson Tide, torched for 628 yards two weeks at Texas A&M, allowed only 205 yards in a 25-0 win over high-powered Ole Miss in Tuscaloosa. The Rebels, who came into the game averaging 490.0 yards and 38.0 points, had no answer for the Alabama defense. Ole Miss averaged 3.6 yards on 57 offensive plays — 22 below its season average — and only had two drives that went for more than 30 yards.
Freshman of the Week: Alex Collins, Arkansas
Collins bounced back from a subpar performance at Rutgers last week to rush for 116 yards on 14 carries (8.3-yard average) and one touchdown in the Razorbacks’ loss to Texas A&M. Collins has rushed for at least 100 yards in four of his five games and is averaging 6.0 yards per carry.
• Texas A&M, which beat Arkansas in Fayetteville, has won nine straight games away from home. The Aggies have true road wins over Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi State, Auburn, Ole Miss and LSU, a win over Louisiana Tech in Shreveport, La., and bowl wins over Oklahoma (Cotton Bowl) and Northwestern (Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas).
• Mike Davis continues to shine for South Carolina. The sophomore tailback rushed for 167 yards on 26 carries in the Gamecocks’ 28-25 win at UCF. Davis is averaging 7.2 yards on his 71 attempts this season.
• Vanderbilt senior tackle Wesley Johnson was flagged for a holding penalty for the first time in his career in the Commodores’ 52-24 win over UAB. Johnson made his 43rd career start on Saturday night.
• Kentucky only had 47 offensive plays in its 24-7 loss at home to Florida. The Wildcats only had one possession in the first quarter and one possession in the fourth quarter.
• Matt Jones, Florida’s highly touted sophomore running back, enjoyed the finest day of his young career. Jones rushed for 176 yards and a touchdown and added three catches for 20 yards in the Gators’ win at Kentucky.