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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. 

Start
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.


Bench
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.

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Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-6-preview-and-predictions-2013
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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.

Week 6 Previews and Predictions:  |  |  |

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 FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light
Texas (-8.5) at Iowa StateTexas 28-14Texas 31-21Texas 31-20Texas 24-20
Texas Tech (-17.5) at KansasTech 35-7Tech 38-13Tech 34-17Tech 51-17
K-State (+14) at Okla. St.OSU 28-24OSU 31-17OSU 34-27OSU 27-20
TCU (+10.5) at OklahomaOU 42-24OU 35-20OU 34-20OU 34-20
West Va. (+28) at BaylorBaylor 63-10Baylor 42-21Baylor 45-24Baylor 54-21
Last week2-23-13-13-1
This season29-528-628-628-6

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-october-1
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The midpoint of the 2013 season is getting closer...

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. ()

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Tuesday, October 1st

South Carolina quarterback is out 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury.

In case you missed it: Texas athletic director is stepping down.

has a look at college football's top-10 most ridiculous mascot costumes.

Baylor safety was arrested late last week on assault charges.

will have running back Venric Mark back in the lineup against Ohio State.

Virginia Tech cornerback has been cleared to return to action.

Ohio State safety will miss the rest of the season due to injury.

Pittsburgh quarterback left last week's game due to injury but is expected to start next Saturday.

Why is defense struggling to stop the run? 

NC State quarterback is getting closer to a return.

has a few notable players injured - but all are expected to play against Auburn.

A good read on the expectations and the downfall of .

will have running back Jamaal Williams and receiver Cody Hoffman back in the lineup on Friday night against Utah State.

is expected to miss the rest of the year with a torn quad muscle.

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 17:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Pac 12
Path: /college-football/amazing-pac-12-college-football-stats-week-5
Body:

True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether its a quarterback's completion percentage or a team's winning record on the road. We, however, love stats. With that in mind, we scoured the Pac-12 to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in week 5.

1: Arizona State looking to become first team to defeat USC and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks

In the history of USC and Notre Dame football, a team has played both programs in consecutive weeks on 12 separate occasions. No team has ever won both of those contests, giving Arizona State a chance to make history when it takes on the Fighting Irish in Arlington, Texas, this week. Only two teams gave themselves a shot to complete the double (Michigan State in 1987 and South Carolina in 1983) by winning the first game of the series but both went on to fall to Notre Dame by scores of 31-8 and 30-6, respectively. Arizona State was actually one of those 12 separate occasions. In 1998, the Sun Devils dropped both contests.

4: Sun Devils make it four straight with a pick-6 against Trojans
Alden Darby’s interception of USC quarterback Cody Kessler and subsequent 46-yard return for a score made it four straight meetings Arizona State has returned a pick for a score against the Trojans. Darby had a 70-yard INT return last season. Shelly Lyons collected a pick-6 in 2011 and Omar Bolden did so in 2010. Darby finished Saturday’s 62-41 win with two interceptions, a forced fumble and fumble recovery.

2 for 12: Cardinal defense collects two picks-6s in rout of Cougars
Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday is second in the nation in pass attempts (223) and tied with four others for the most interceptions thrown (9) this season. It had been 16 interceptions and a year since the junior had one returned for a score. Stanford’s Jordan Richards 30-yard touchdown interception return in the third quarter was the first such score against WSU since Oregon’s Avery Patterson picked off Halliday for a 34-yard TD return in their Sept. 29, 2012 meeting. Halliday was knocked out of the game with an ankle injury on Saturday. Eight plays later, Trent Murphy intercepted Austin Apodaca and collected the Cardinal’s second 30-yard TD return.

36: Stanford’s red zone-scoring streak halted at 36
The Cardinal had its string of 36 straight trips to the red zone with a score stopped in the second quarter of a 55-17 win against Washington State. The streak, which was the second longest in the nation, was snapped when Deone Bucannon intercepted Kevin Hogan in the end zone. The junior does remain the only active FBS quarterback to lead his team to nine straight wins in as many consecutive starts. 

5: Oregon State offense eclipses 30 for fifth straight game
Oregon State’s 44-17 win over Colorado made it five straight games for the Beaver offense scoring 30-plus points, a record for the program. The old mark of four was set in 2009. OSU (4-1) is averaging 41.6 points per game — 20th in the nation and fifth in the Pac-12. The 542 yards of offense the Beavers posted against the Buffaloes is a season high, and quarterback Sean Mannion threw for a school-record six touchdowns, along with 414 yards.

20: Colorado’s defense has forced 20 three-and-outs this year after 29 all of last season
It’s the little things that count for Colorado. In suffering their first loss of the season — a 44-17 defeat against Oregon State — the Buffaloes did manage to force the Beavers into six three-and-out drives. That makes 20 such stops for CU in three games after having accomplished the feat 29 times in all of 2012. Colorado ranks 12th in the nation and No. 1 in the Pac-12 in third down conversion defense (13-of-50 for .258).

40: Sankey’s school-record 40 rushing attempts paces Huskies in Pac-12 opener
Bishop Sankey, the nation’s leading rusher in yards per game, toted the rock a school-record 40 times in Washington’s 31-13 win over Arizona in a Seattle downpour. Sankey, averaging 151.8 yards per game, bested Corey Dillon’s old mark of 38 set in 1996. Sankey had 35 of his 40 carries in the first three quarters for 156 of his 161 yards. The national record for rushing attempts in a game is 58, set by Kansas’ Tony Sands in 1991. 

29 bests 31: Arizona’s first eight drives take 31 plays, net no points; next 29 plays produce 13
Arizona’s offense did itself no favors on their first eight drives at Washington. The 31 plays run produced 75 yards, no points, an interception, a safety and helped the Huskies score the first 11 points. The Wildcats finally put together successful drives to close out the first half and begin the second half — scoring touchdowns on both. They ended the first half with a 14-play, 84-yard TD drive, missed the PAT, and opened the second with a 15-play, 72-yard scoring drive.

32: Oregon backup running backs step in for injured Thomas, carry 32 times for 224 yards, 3 TDs
If there was ever a time for Oregon running De’Anthony Thomas to miss a game, it was against California and the Pac-12’s worst run defense (262.5 YPG). Thomas injured his ankle after returning the opening kickoff 27 yards, and gave way to sophomore Byron Marshall and freshman Thomas Tyner. Marshall, who had 29 carries for 196 yards over the first three games, finished 19-for-130 with two scores. Tyner, who had 12 carries for 80 yards and three scores in two games, added 13 carries for 94 yards and scored again.

90-plus: Cal offense racks up at least 90 plays for the fourth straight game
The Sonny Dykes’ era (1-3) at Cal has not brought a lot of wins yet, but it is bringing a lot more plays than Bears fans are used to. Cal ran 95 plays in its 55-16 loss to Oregon Saturday, marking the fourth time in as many games the Bears have run at least 90 plays. The Golden Bears average 94.8 plays per game. The Dykes offense is a far cry from the Jeff Tedford offense. Only three times in the last five years have the Bears run 80 plays — 88 against Stanford in 2009, 87 against Presbyterian in 2011 and 87 two games later against Oregon. Only 13 times in the last 50 games before Dykes arrived had Cal even run 70 plays a game.

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, SEC
Path: /college-football/sec-post-week-5-power-rankings-2013
Body:

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. 

More Post-Week 5 Power Rankings:  | |  |

SEC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

RankTeamLWAnalysis
11Alabama (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
22Georgia (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
33LSU (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
44Texas 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 
55South 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 
66Florida (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
77Ole 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
88Auburn (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.
99Missouri (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
1010

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  

1111Mississippi 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
1212Tennessee (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. 
1313Arkansas (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
1414Kentucky (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.

Fifth Down

• 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.
 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/amazing-college-football-stats-week-5
Body:

Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of the game. Any game, for that matter.

Some fall on the sabermetric side of things, while others like to keep it simple and use the ol' eyeball test. In the football world, that means total offense, total defense and points scored versus points per play and defensive efficiency ratings. Rational and logical arguments can be made for the legitimacy and relevance of both sides of the stats spectrum.

With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of college football action:

40-35: Lane Kiffin's career head coaching record
Lane Kiffin was the youngest head coach in NFL history when he was hired in 2007 by the Oakland Raiders. He lasted 20 games and went 5-15 before being ousted just four games into his second year. He worked a minor miracle in his first season at Tennessee, going 7-6 and nearly toppling eventual champion Alabama, before abruptly leaving for USC. Hampered by severe NCAA sanctions, Kiffin managed one quality year (10-2 in 2011) in three-plus seasons in Los Angeles. However, his teams are 10-8 (5-6 Pac-12) since the start of last season — when he was ranked preseason No. 1. He tied his own school record in his final game by allowing 62 points to Arizona State.

1: Time Ole Miss has won in Tuscaloosa
Alabama's defense came to play in a big way by continuing home dominance over the Rebels. Ole Miss is 1-32-1 all-time on the road against the Crimson Tide with the only win coming in 1988. Alabama has won the last 10 meetings overall and has outscored the Rebels 155-34 since 2009. The 25-0 beatdown was as impressive as Bama has been all season, holding an Ole Miss offense averaging nearly 500 yards, 38 points and 27 first downs per games to just 205 total yards, 11 first downs and zero points.

1,086: Miles from Stillwater to Morgantown
Oklahoma State made its first trip to Morgantown, W.Va., since 1928 and for just the second time in series history. The Cowboys were penalized 10 times and turned the ball over four times — more than the entire season combined until that point. There are few direct flights into Morgantown, so the long trip home for MIke Gundy after losing to his former offensive coordinator will be a bumpy one (even if he is riding in a private plane).

21-2: Sean Mannion's TD-to-INT ratio
The Oregon State quarterback is leading the nation in attempts (238), completions (160), yards (2,018) and touchdowns (21). In fact, only two players in the nation have thrown more than 14 touchdown passes — Mannion and Utah State's Chuckie Keeton (17). It makes the two interceptions that much more impressive. Mannion is efficient as well, completing 67.2 percent of his passes (23rd nationally) for a 165.9 passer rating (17th nationally). He has had to carry his team to wins all season but the Beavers sit at 2-0 in Pac-12 to start the year. He threw a school-record six touchdown passes in the easy win over Colorado on Saturday.

41.2: Average points per team in the SEC's three biggest games
It is safe to say the three biggest SEC games to this point of the season have been Georgia over South Carolina (41-30), Alabama over Texas A&M (49-42) and Georgia over LSU (44-41). These six teams combined to score 247 points or 41.2 points per game in these three games. On Saturday, the Bulldogs outlasted the Tigers with two defensive coordinators — John Chavis and Todd Grantham — making just under $1 million salary per year each. The offenses are great, in particular, the quarterbacks have been excellent. But this is starting to look a lot more like the Big 12 than the SEC.

13: Tyler Murphy consecutive completions to start the game
There will still be growing pains but the Gators appear to have found their quarterback. Murphy got his first career start on the road in Commonwealth Stadium and all he did was connect on 13 straight passes. He finished the game 15-of-18 for 156 yards passing, 36 yards rushing and two total touchdowns (one rushing). Should he be able to play consistent and efficient football like he has through two games, the Gators dominant defense will win most games. The nation's best third-down defense held Kentucky to 1 of 8 and gave up just 173 total yards. It was the 27th straight win over the Cats for the Gators, the longest such streak in the nation.

221:02: Game time that passed before UCF trailed in 2013
South Carolina's Dylan Thompson rolled right and scored from two yards out with 3:58 left on the clock in the third quarter of Saturday's 28-25 win over UCF. It marked the first time in four games that the Knights had trailed during 2013. Central Florida never fell behind Akron, FIU or Penn State and led South Carolina for the first 41:02 before allowing four straight touchdowns to the Gamecocks.

0: Passing TDs allowed by Washington State, Oklahoma and Wisconsin entering Week 5
Oklahoma, Wisconsin and Wazzu entered the weekend as the only three teams that had yet to allow a touchdown pass and they combined to allow nine in one weekend. The Badgers allowed four touchdown passes to Braxton Miller and Ohio State in their critical road loss. Washington State gave up three scoring strikes to Kevin Hogan in a blowout "neutral" field loss with Stanford in Seattle. And Oklahoma allowed Tommy Rees to connect on two touchdown throws. The Sooners, however, won their game in impressive fashion on the road in South Bend. For the record, only Iowa and Michigan have yet to allow a rushing touchdown on the season.

497: Rushing yards by New Mexico… in a loss
New Mexico had three players gain 100 yards rushing in the same game for the first time in school history. The Lobos rushed for 497 yards and five touchdowns on 59 attempts for an 8.4-yard per carry average and somehow managed to lose to UNLV. The Rebels outlasted New Mexico 56-42 with two late touchdowns, snapping UNLV's 23-game consecutive road losing streak. The Lobos rushed for more yards at halftime (400) than Washington State did in all of 2012 (349). 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/legends-poll-top-25-college-football-week-5-2013
Body:
Aaron MurrayGeorgia made a statement with a signature win over LSU in Athens this weekend and jumped four spots to No. 6 in the Legends Poll.
 
Quarterback Aaron Murray led Georgia on a game-winning drive with just under two minutes remaining and the Bulldog defense held on for the 44-41 victory.
 
"I think (Murray) has been overlooked a little bit this year," former Georgia coach Vince Dooley said. "But I think he'll get more attention if he continues the pace he's on. He's had four outstanding games."
 
Alabama held on to the top spot for a third straight week, once again receiving 14 first-place votes. Oregon, Clemson and Ohio State followed, and Stanford made its first top five appearance of the season. With the loss, LSU dropped five spots to No. 10 in the rankings.
 
No. 12 Oklahoma moved up three spots with a commanding win at Notre Dame, and unbeaten Miami continued to climb the rankings at No. 13.
 
No. 20 Oklahoma State took the biggest tumble in the top 25, falling nine spots after dropping its first game 30-21 at West Virginia.
 
No. 22 Fresno State, No. 23 Arizona State and No. 25 Northern Illinois were newcomers to the poll this week.
 
Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Georgia Tech dropped out of the rankings.
 
To see the individual votes by coach, visit 
 
THE LEGENDS POLL TOP 25
RKTEAMRECORDPOINTSPV RK
1AlabamaAlabama (14)4-03981
2OregonOregon (2)4-03862
3ClemsonClemson4-03633
4Ohio StateOhio State5-03464
5StanfordStanford4-03366
6GeorgiaGeorgia3-131010
7Florida StateFlorida State4-03067
8LouisvilleLouisville4-02798
9Texas A&MTexas A&M4-12759
10LSULSU4-12655
11UCLAUCLA3-024412
12OklahomaOklahoma4-021715
13Miami (FL)Miami (FL)4-020914
14South CarolinaSouth Carolina3-119113
15NorthwesternNorthwestern4-016716
16WashingtonWashington4-015418
17FloridaFlorida3-114117
18BaylorBaylor3-013519
19MichiganMichigan4-011420
20Oklahoma StateOklahoma State3-18711
21Texas TechTexas Tech4-05624
22Fresno StateFresno State4-041-
23Arizona StateArizona State3-140-
24WisconsinWisconsin3-23923
25Northern IllinoisNorthern Illinois4-026-

* The Legends Poll voting process is exactly what the BCS is trying to create and Athlon will bring it to you as the de facto Selection Committee for fans to follow over the next two seasons, allowing you to see how the Selection Committee will operate from 2014 onward.  You can see the entire Poll at www.legendschannel.com.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/big-12-post-week-5-power-rankings-2013
Body:

The state of Oklahoma’s 1-1 record in Week 5 prompted a change at the top of the Big 12 Power Rankings.

But it also signaled we have no clue how the league race is going to shake out. Preseason conference favorite Oklahoma State lost 30-21 to West Virginia in a sloppy game in what appeared to be one of the Big 12’s weaker teams.

Oklahoma scored the biggest win for the Big 12 by defeating Notre Dame 35-21, but it’s not clear how much stock we should put in a win over a team that lost to Michigan and slogged its way through wins over Michigan State and Purdue.

For now, though, it’s enough to put OU at the top of the Big 12 for at least a week or at least until Baylor picks up a win against a quality opponent.

Big 12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

RankTeamLWAnalysis
13Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0): Oklahoma made its statement in the 35-21 win at Notre Dame, ending a seven-game losing streak to the Irish. The run defense was not itself, allowing 220 yards. But the Sooners intercepted three passes and kept the pressure on Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees. The offense is in good hands under Blake Bell, who has completed 49 of 67 passes for 645 yards with six interceptions in his two starts. Why was he second-string in the first two games again? This week: TCU
22Baylor (3-0, 0-0): The Bears had their second off week in September, but West Virginia gave Baylor something to think about after shutting down Oklahoma State. Baylor still leads the nation in yards (751.3) and points (69.7) per game by a comfortable margin. This week: West Virginia
31Oklahoma State (3-1, 0-1): Is it time to be concerned for the Oklahoma State offense. In games against West Virginia and Mississippi State, the Cowboys scored only 21 points each. Neither team is a defensive juggernaut. The Mountaineers were the second team this season to hold Oklahoma State to fewer than 3 yards per carry. It had happened only twice in 35 games before this season. Quarterback J.W. Walsh also struggled, completing 20 of 47 passes with two interceptions, but Mike Gundy never went to Clint Chelf on his bench. This week: Kansas State
44Texas Tech (4-0, 1-0): Despite being undefeated, Texas Tech still needs to prove it belongs among the realistic conference contenders. Taking care of business against Kansas will help. Michael Brewer, the Red Raiders’ projected starting quarterback in the preseason, is nearing a return from injury, so that could make the next week interesting in Lubbock. This week: at Kansas
55TCU (2-2, 0-1): The Horned Frogs’ offense has looked lost for most of the season, but it came alive in a 41-point second half against SMU. After recording five plays of 10 or more yards in the first half (one resulting in a fumble), the Horned Frogs had 10 plays of 10 yards or more in the second, not including a 51-yard punt return and a 45-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on an onside kick. With defensive end Devonte Fields hurt, TCU still managed to force five turnovers and sack SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert seven times. This week: at Oklahoma
66Texas (2-2, 1-0): A win, an off week and a trip to Iowa State. That’s how things calm down around Austin. But don’t look now, the Cyclones just discovered a run game. This week: at Iowa State (Thursday)
78West Virginia (3-2, 1-1): The Mountaineers found something that worked with 21 changes on the depth chart against Oklahoma State. The defense has been one of the most improved units in the Big 12, and it appears the Mountaineers finally have their quarterback in Clint Trickett. Special teams, though, remain a major liability. Some answers, though, are better than none going into a game against the most explosive offense in the country. This week: at Baylor
87Kansas State (2-2, 0-1): Kansas State spent an off week recovering from the loss to Texas and . This week’s opponent may be just as wounded. This week: at Oklahoma State
910Iowa State (1-2, 0-0): The Cyclones had their best game of the season in a win over Tulsa on Friday as Iowa State’s run game was not a major liability for the first time all season. The 434 yards of total offense was a season high and was 166 more than the last time Iowa State faced Tulsa on Dec. 31 in the Liberty Bowl. This week: Texas (Thursday)
109Kansas (2-1, 0-0): Two bad signs for Kansas: The only FBS team the Jayhawks beat this season, Louisiana Tech, lost 35-16 at home to Army. And the team that beat Kansas this season, Rice, needed a fourth-quarter rally to beat FAU at home. This week: Texas Tech

 



Big 12 Week 5 Recap and Awards

Offensive player of the week: Blake Bell, Oklahoma
The Sooners defense set the tone with two early interceptions against Notre Dame, but Bell was key in preserving the 35-21 win. Bell was stuffed on a couple of “Belldozer” short yardage situations, but he still finished 22-of-30 for 232 yards and two touchdowns in his first career road start. He also rushed for 59 yards on 12 carries.

Defensive player of the week: Sam Carter, TCU
The safety Carter was all over the field in an impressive defensive effort against SMU despite the absence of star defensive end Devonte Fields. Carter finished with five tackles, two interceptions and forced fumble and a sack in a 48-17 win.

Team of the week: Oklahoma
Who knows how a win at Notre Dame will look at the end of the season, but for now, it’s the best the Big 12 has. Oklahoma’s win in South Bend was the Big 12’s first over a ranked opponent, though the Irish won’t be ranked after the loss. The Sooners picked up the best non-conference win for the league in a game that was rarely in doubt. OU had three first-half interceptions and then protected the lead with 212 rushing yards

Freshman of the week: Ty Slanina, TCU
In a quiet week for Big 12 rookies, Slanina stands out. The freshman from East Bernard, Texas, caught three passes for 63 yards against SMU, including the 20-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to take a lead.

Coordinator of the week: Keith Patterson, West Virginia
The West Virginia offense is a work in progress to put it kindly, but the defense is vastly improved since last season. Oklahoma State amassed 433 yards against the Mountaineers, but West Virginia forced three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble), returning one pick for a touchdown in the 30-21 win. West Virginia held Oklahoma State to 6 of 20 on third down and turned in a successful goal-line stand in the fourth quarter against a team that converted all 15 of its red zone opportunities to touchdowns.

Fifth Down

• Oklahoma beat Notre Dame for the first time in eight tries. The Sooners last beat Notre Dame in 1956.

• West Virginia started its third quarterback of the season in Clint Trickett. The Florida State transfer completed 24 of 49 passes for 310 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions but still looked like the best Mountaineers quarterback this year.

• In a special teams disaster, kickers in the West Virginia-Oklahoma State game went a combined 3 of 7, including misses for 23 and 34 yards and a blocked attempt. West Virginia’s special teams were particularly bad, losing five yards on three punt returns and amassing an average of 9.7 yards on three kickoff returns.

• TCU had four interceptions against SMU, giving the Horned Frogs nine interceptions in two seasons against the Mustangs and nine picks in the last three games of 2013.

• TCU’s 31 points in the fourth quarter against SMU was the most in a fourth quarter by any FBS team this season.

• In Friday’s 38-21 win over Tulsa, Iowa State finally found a threat in the run game in back Aaron Wimberly. The junior college transfer carried 19 times for 137 yards, the most for a Cyclones tailback since Sept. 1, 2012.

• Iowa State was in the right place at the right time by recovering three fumbles, including two by sophomore defensive end Nick Kron.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, September 30, 2013 - 07:00
Path: /college-football/georgias-murray-wins-athlon-sports-national-player-week
Body:

The SEC is a new conference in 2013. Up-and-down offensive showcases are now the norm.

Maybe this is the league where Aaron Murray can truly flourish. Don’t be mistaken: Murray had a fine first three seasons, leading Georgia to two SEC championships game and putting himself in position for conference career passing records.

But, now, Murray has Georgia in position for bigger and better things.

On the biggest stage of the week against LSU and another quarterback throwing darts all over the field, Murray shined again, earning Athlon Sports National Player of the Week honors.

Murray had another standout game on third down and didn’t blink even when LSU took a four-point lead in the final 4:14 lead. Murray guided a six-play, 75-yard drive, capped by a 25-yard touchdown pass to Justin Scott-Wesley for the 44-41 win.

Athlon Sports Week 5 National Awards
 

National 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.

National Defensive Player of the Week: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
The hard-hitting star linebacker was all over the field for the Buckeyes Saturday night. Facing one of the most powerful running games in the nation, Shazier led an impressive showing from the Ohio State front seven by holding Wisconsin to just 104 yards rushing. He finished with nine tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and one key forced fumble. There is a reason he is an All-America candidate.

National Freshman of the Week: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State
Florida State got off to a slow start against Boston College, but the Seminoles rallied behind Winston for a 48-34 victory. Winston completed 17 of 27 passes for 330 yards and four touchdowns and added 67 yards on the ground. The redshirt freshman added another play to his highlight reel, as he escaped Boston College’s pass rush on the final play of the first half and hit Kenny Shaw for a 55-yard touchdown. Winston has thrown for 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions on 91 attempts this year.

National Coordinator of the week: Keith Patterson, West Virginia
The West Virginia offense is a work in progress to put it kindly, but the defense is vastly improved since last season. Oklahoma State amassed 433 yards against the Mountaineers, but West Virginia forced three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble), returning one pick for a touchdown in the 30-21 win. West Virginia held Oklahoma State to 6 of 20 on third down and turned in a successful goal-line stand in the fourth quarter against a team that converted all 15 of its red zone opportunities to touchdowns.

Week 5 Conference Awards


Offense: Brandon Connette, Duke
Defense: Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
Freshman: Jameis Winston, Florida State
Coordinator: Bud Foster, Virginia Tech


Offense: Blake Bell, Oklahoma
Defense: Sam Carter, TCU
Freshman: Ty Slanina, TCU
Coordinator: Keith Patterson, West Virginia


Offense: Braxton Miller, Ohio State
Defense: Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
Freshman: Danny Etling, Purdue
Coordinator: Phil Parker, Iowa


Offense: Marion Grice, Arizona State
Defense: Alden Darby, Arizona State
Freshman: Justin Davis, USC
Coordinator: Derek Mason, Stanford


Offense: Aaron Murray, Georgia
Defense: C.J. Mosley, Alabama
Freshman: Alex Collins, Arkansas
Coordinator: Kirby Smart, Alabama

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 29, 2013 - 16:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, SEC
Path: /college-football/sec-week-5-recap-and-awards
Body:

One of the two huge SEC games lived up to the hype last weekend. Georgia outlasted LSU 44-41 in an epic clash in Athens. There was, however, little drama in Tuscaloosa, where the Alabama defense pitched a shout out against Ole Miss.

SEC Week 5 Recap and Awards

Offensive Player of the Week: Zach Mettenberger, LSU
His team didn’t win the game, but Mettengberger was brilliant in his return to Athens. The former Bulldog completed 23-of-37 passes for a career-high 372 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions in the Tigers’ 44-41 loss. Mettenberger, arguably the most improved quarterback in the nation, averaged 10.1 yards on his 37 attempts and completed six of his 10 attempts on third down with all six completions resulting in a first down or touchdown.

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 shut out 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 Rebel 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.

5th Down

• Texas A&M, which beat Arkansas in Fayetteville, has now 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 Ruston, La., and bowl wins over Oklahoma (Cotton) 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.
 

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 29, 2013 - 15:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Pac 12
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-5-recap-and-awards
Body:

Once again, this league features some of the nation's best offensive performances. Bishop Sankey carried the ball 40 times, Sean Mannion tied a school record, Brandin Cooks can't be covered, Bralon Addison cannot be tackled and Kevin Hogan made a big statement. But Marion Grice scored four touchdowns in the biggest win of the weekend — which led to the biggest pieces of news in college football. USC has decided to part ways with head coach Lane Kiffin before the calendar even flips to October. It was supposed to be a great first full week of action out west and the nation's second-best league provided plenty of drama.

Pac-12 Week 5 Awards and Recap

Offensive Player of the Week: Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State

There were so many worthy candidates for best offensive performance but Marion Grice likely has the most complete resume. He carried a team-high 12 times for 63 while catching a team-high seven passes for 36 yards through the air. He scored twice on the ground and twice on the receiving end of Taylor Kelly passes. That brings his season total to 12 total touchdowns — more than anyone else in college football. The most impressive part was the level of competition. USC has been downright unbeatable on defense and Grice made the Trojans look silly and helped push Lane Kiffin out the door in the Pac-12's most important win of the weekend.

Defensive Player of the Week: Alden Darby, S, Arizona State

The senior safety from Long Beach, Calif., came up big against the guys from Los Angeles. He posted seven tackles and intercepted two interceptions, one of which re returned 46 yards for a touchdowns when the game was still very much in doubt. Darby also forced a fumble in the big win over USC as well. 

Team of the Week: Arizona State

Much like offensive player of the week, Washington and Stanford probably both deserve credit for excellent statement wins over Arizona and Washington State respectively. But Arizona State all but eliminated the Trojans from Pac-12 South contention but pushing USC to 0-2 in the league. The Sun Devils tied a record for most points ever scored on a Trojans team. USC began playing football in 1988. While ASU might have some unexpected defensive woes, Arizona State's offense was wildly impressive against a usually stingy Southern Cal defensive unit.

Coordinator of the Week: Derek Mason, Stanford 

There were many deserving candidates for Coordinator of the Week out West but Stanford's defense made a big statement away from home against a much-improved MIke Leach offense. The Cardinal allowed just three points over the first 50 minutes of the game, registered two sacks, forced three fumbles and returned both interceptions for touchdowns (Jordan Richards, Trent Murphy). Arizona State's offensive coordinator Mike Norvell gets a major tip of the cap as well for essentially ending Lane Kiffin's tenure at USC. The 62 points allowed tied a USC school record.

Freshman of the Week: Justin Davis, RB, USC

Davis was a big-play machine all night long for the Trojans despite the 21-point loss. He rushed for 122 yards on just 10 carries — that's 12.2 yards per attempt — and scored the first and final two touchdowns of the game for the USC. Over the last three weeks, Davis has rushed 26 times for 235 yards and four touchdowns in the last three games. 

Fifth Down

• Sean Mannion tied an Oregon State school record with six touchdown passes in the key win over Colorado. He threw for 417 yards and is leading the nation in passing.

• If things couldn't get any worse, USC watched star receiver Marqise Lee depart the game early with a  "severely sprained knee. Freshman safety Su'a Cravens was banged-up as well.

• Bishop Sankey redefined the term "workhourse" back by carrying the football 40 times for Washington in the win over Arizona. He rushed for 161 yards and scored a touchdown and is leading the nation in rushing at 159.8 yards per game.

• USC had allowed 691 yards of total offense in the three previous games combined before Arizona State dropped 612 yards and a USC record 62 points (allowed).

• Bralon Addison returned two punts for a touchdowns this weekend in a monsoon in Eugune. He scored on a 75-yarder midway through the second quarter and a 67-yarder early in the third. He also caught three passes and got one rushing attempt.

• Mannion, along with Taylor Kelly, Connor Wood, Jared Goff and Conner Halliday, each rank in the top 14 nationally in passing.

• Lane Kiffin was 28-15 while at USC after the 3-2 (0-2) start to the season. He is 10-8 since the start of the 2012 season. The 62 points allowed tied a school record for the most given up in a game. Kiffin was responsible for both as Oregon scored 62 on the Trojans last fall.

• Oregon State's Brandin Cooks continues his impressive play. He is leading the nation in receptions (52), yards (807) and touchdown receptions (9) by a wide margin.

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 29, 2013 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big 12
Path: /college-football/big-12-week-5-recap-and-awards
Body:

An interesting dynamic played out during the Big 12’s limited slate of games Saturday.

On one hand, Oklahoma grabbed the most impressive win for a Big 12 season even if Notre Dame slid out of the top 25. On the other hand, West Virginia showed why the teams at the top of the league may be in for an eventful season.

The Sooners grabbed an early lead in South Bend and never let go, but Bedlam rival Oklahoma State gave West Virginia, a team that was shut out by Maryland a week earlier, every opportunity to score an upset. The Mountaineers followed suit by defeating the Big 12 preseason favorite thanks to a surprising defense.

Elsewhere, TCU used a monster second half to defeat SMU, earning the Horned Frogs as spot in the weekly Big 12 honor roll.

Big 12 Week 5 Recap and Awards

Offensive player of the week: Blake Bell, Oklahoma
The Sooners defense set the tone with two early interceptions against Notre Dame, but Bell was key in preserving the 35-21 win. Bell was stuffed on a couple of “Belldozer” short yardage situations, but he still finished 22-of-30 for 232 yards and two touchdowns in his first career road start. He also rushed for 59 yards on 12 carries.

Defensive player of the week: Sam Carter, TCU
The safety Carter was all over the field in an impressive defensive effort against SMU despite the absence of star defensive end Devonte Fields. Carter finished with five tackles, two interceptions and forced fumble and a sack in a 48-17 win.

Team of the week: Oklahoma
Who knows how a win at Notre Dame will look at the end of the season, but for now, it’s the best the Big 12 has. Oklahoma’s win in South Bend was the Big 12’s first over a ranked opponent, though the Irish won’t be ranked after the loss. The Sooners picked up the best non-conference win for the league in a game that was rarely in doubt. OU had three first-half interceptions and then protected the lead with 212 rushing yards

Freshman of the week: Ty Slanina, TCU
In a quiet week for Big 12 rookies, Slanina stands out. The freshman from East Bernard, Texas, caught three passes for 63 yards against SMU, including the 20-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to take a lead.

Coordinator of the week: Keith Patterson, West Virginia
The West Virginia offense is a work in progress to put it kindly, but the defense is vastly improved since last season. Oklahoma State amassed 433 yards against the Mountaineers, but West Virginia forced three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble), returning one pick for a touchdown in the 30-21 win. West Virginia held Oklahoma State to 6 of 20 on third down and turned in a successful goal-line stand in the fourth quarter against a team that converted all 15 of its red zone opportunities to touchdowns.

Fifth Down

• Oklahoma beat Notre Dame for the first time in eight tries. The Sooners last beat Notre Dame in 1956.

• West Virginia started its third quarterback of the season in Clint Trickett. The Florida State transfer completed 24 of 49 passes for 310 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions but still looked like the best Mountaineers quarterback this year.

• In a special teams disaster, kickers in the West Virginia-Oklahoma State game went a combined 3 of 7, including misses for 23 and 34 yards and a blocked attempt. West Virginia’s special teams were particularly bad, losing five yards on three punt returns and amassing an average of 9.7 yards on three kickoff returns.

• TCU had four interceptions against SMU, giving the Horned Frogs nine interceptions in two seasons against the Mustangs and nine picks in the last three games of 2013.

• TCU’s 31 points in the fourth quarter against SMU was the most in a fourth quarter by any FBS team this season.

• In Friday’s 38-21 win over Tulsa, Iowa State finally found a threat in the run game in back Aaron Wimberly. The junior college transfer carried 19 times for 137 yards, the most for a Cyclones tailback since Sept. 1, 2012.

• Iowa State was in the right place at the right time by recovering three fumbles, including two by sophomore defensive end Nick Kron.

Teaser:
Post date: Sunday, September 29, 2013 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big Ten
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-5-recap-and-awards
Body:

It was bizarre weekend in the Big Ten. Five of the top seven teams in this league were on bye in Week 5 as well as Indiana. So all of the focus was on the Leaders Division showdown in Columbus where Braxton Miller made his triumphant return to the starting lineup. Overshadowed by the big win for Buckeyes was a critical performance by Iowa on the road against key division foe Minnesota. The only other two teams in action, Purdue and Illinois, had two very different outcomes.

Here are the Big Ten's Week 5 Superlatives:

Big Ten Week 5 Recap and Awards

Offensive Player of the Week: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State 

Welcome back, Braxton. Urban Meyer benched his red-hot back quarterback in favor of his preseason Heisman candidate and it was clearly the right move. Miller zipped passes around and over the Badgers secondary from the first drive while still showing his tremendous allusiveness on the ground. He finished the conference's biggest game to date 17-of-25 for 198 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air with a team-high 85 yards rushing on 17 carries — all of this against a team that hadn't allowed a single passing touchdown all season long.

Defensive Player of the Week: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State

The hard-hitting star linebacker was all over the field for the Buckeyes Saturday night. Facing one of the most powerful running games in the nation, Shazier led an impressive showing from the Ohio State front seven by holding Wisconsin to just 104 yards rushing. He finished with 9.0 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and one key forced fumble. There is a reason he is an All-American candidate.

Team of the Week: Ohio State

The Buckeyes extended the nation's longest winning streak (17) with a huge win over division rival Wisconsin. Miller was extraordinary in his return to the lineup and the defense played extremely well against the Badgers powerful three-headed running back monster — Wisconsin gained just 104 yards on 27 carries (3.9 yards per carry. The win puts Ohio State squarely in the driver's seat in the Leaders Division.

Coordinator of the Week: Phil Parker, Iowa

The Hawkeyes defense was downright nasty this weekend. Led by an elite linebacker corps, Parker's unit totally shutdown the Golden Gophers on the road in their Big Ten opener. Minnesota ran for just 27 yards on 1.1 yards per carry average and totaled just 165 total yards of offense while being held to 4-of-13 on third downs. Iowa registered four sacks and forced two turnovers while committing just one penalty all game.

Freshman of the Week: Danny Etling, QB, Purdue

This was a weak week for freshman in the Big Ten. Dontre Wilson had 108 all-purpose yards but touched the ball just three times on offense. But the future might have been on display for Purdue in a bad home loss to Northern Illinois. Quarterback Danny Etling replaced an ineffective Rob Henry just before halftime and the freshman was able to move the ball. He threw for 241 yards and two touchdowns. The Purdue offense posted season highs in every major offensive category: rushing yards, passing yards, yards per play and points scored. Most of Etling's production came through fellow freshman wide receiver DeAngelo Yancey, who caught seven passes for 117 yards. 

Fifth Down

• Illinois' quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase had five touchdown passes in the first half against Miami-Ohio. He had four total touchdown passes all season long in 2012 and now has 12 on the season.

• Melvin Gordon hadn't rushed for fewer than 140 yards in any game this season and has scored at least once in all four contests. He was held to 74 yards and no TDs on 15 carries against Ohio State.

• Illini linebacker Jonathan Brown is still leading the Big Ten in tackles and is 8th nationally with 11.8 stops per game.

• Braxton Miller's four touchdown passes tied a personal best and were the first four touchdown passes allowed all season by the Badgers defense.

• Jared Abbrederis was virtually uncoverable against All-American corner Bradley Roby. Wisconsin's wideout had 10 receptions for 207 yards and a touchdown.

• Mark Weisman carried 24 times for 147 yards in the big road win over Minnesota. No one in the nation has carried the ball more in 2013 than the Iowa running back (119 att.). 

• After defeating both Iowa and Purdue on the road, Nothern Illinois is actually leading the Big Ten with a 2-0 record against the conference.

• A plus B does not equal C. But it needs to be pointed out that UConn got crushed this weekend by a 1-2 Buffalo team 41-12. You know, the same Husky team that nearly beat Michigan two weekends ago?

• Ohio State was dealt a big blow to the defense when starting safety and leader Christian Bryant was lost for the season with serious ankle injury.

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Post date: Sunday, September 29, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /college-football/oklahoma-state-unveils-new-helmets-against-west-virginia
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Oklahoma State opened Big 12 play on the road at West Virginia this Saturday, and the Cowboys unveiled a brand new helmet in Morgantown.

Oklahoma State used an orange helmet with Pistol Pete last year, but the Cowboys unveiled a white variation this Saturday.

Count us in as liking this look for the Cowboys:

Teaser:
Post date: Saturday, September 28, 2013 - 13:00
Path: /college-football/notre-dame-fighting-irish-vs-oklahoma-sooners-game-preview-and-prediction
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Notre Dame and Oklahoma are two of college football's premier programs and meet on Saturday in a huge measuring stick game for both teams. The Fighting Irish have had the Sooners' number.

In 10 all-time matchups, Oklahoma is just 1-9 with an average score of 16 points. The Sooners haven't defeated Notre Dame since 1956, when Oklahoma grabbed its lone victory in the series in a 40-0 blowout win, en route to a national championship. In fact, it was the Fighting Irish that ended Oklahoma’s record 47-game winning streak in 1957. The Sooners have a staggering .733 win percentage against all other opponents in their program history but sit at just a .100 win percentage against the Irish.

Historically, Oklahoma has stacked up exceptionally well against college football's preeminent programs. Oklahoma owns more wins than losses against Texas since the 1940s; Oklahoma owns a 45-38-3 edge against Nebraska; and holds a winning or even mark against the likes of Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State and Tennessee. After a 30-13 loss in Norman last season, which saw the Sooners held to a mere 15 yards rushing, Bob Stoops is eager to turn the tables on Brian Kelly and the Irish.

Notre Dame and Oklahoma appear to be two teams moving in opposite directions. The Irish, fresh off their perfect regular season a year ago, have limped to unimpressive victories the last two weeks. The Sooners appear to be on the right track, off to a 3-0 start and allowing the fifth-fewest points in the nation. If there's a time for Oklahoma to change the momentum of the series, this may be the year.

3 Things to Watch

Sooners' Rushing Attack

We are used to seeing Oklahoma, under Landry Jones and Sam Bradford, pass upwards of 50 times a game. That isn't the identity of this Sooners squad. The team averages 50.3 rush attempts compared to just 30.3 pass attempts per game. The Sooners boast the No. 16 rushing attack in the nation, averaging 271.7 yards per game behind the two-headed monster of Brennan Clay and Damien Williams. Look for Blake Bell to be a factor in the red-zone as the "Belldozer" has 24 rushing touchdowns on just 118 career carries.

Can Tommy Rees bounce back?

Since Everett Golson left the team in the summer, Notre Dame fans have been fearing the inconsistent play of senior Tommy Rees. Rees has thrown for over 300 yards in every game but last week's uninspiring performance against Michigan State, where he completed just 14 of 34 passes for 142 yards. His decision making has been in question at times, with his two costly interceptions against Michigan. Give Rees credit, however, as he led the Irish back against Purdue and avoided any big mistakes against Michigan State. Rees will need some help for the running game as the Irish haven't topped the 100-yard rushing mark since their opener against Temple.

Oklahoma defense

The Sooners defense looks much improved from a year ago. Currently, Oklahoma ranks No. 5 in scoring defense, allowing just nine points per game, and No. 20 in total defense, allowing 291 yards per game. The defense already has four interceptions through three games. It is worth noting that the Sooners defense hasn't been truly tested and could be exposed against a quality Irish team.

Key Player: Blake Bell, QB, Oklahoma

Initially passed up for the starting QB job, Bell replaced an injured Trevor Knight two weeks ago against West Virginia. After a stellar performance against Tulsa, Bell will start against Notre Dame. The junior set a school record for passing yards by a quarterback in his first start with 413. He also threw for four touchdowns, but it's his skills with his legs that could be key to this game. Notre Dame feasted on a stationary Landry Jones last season, holding the Sooners to just 13 points. Bell, a more dynamic athlete, will cause the Irish to respect his scrambling abilities and could open more holes in the secondary.

Final Analysis:

I like the Sooners to get a big win against the Irish. I think Blake Bell's mobility and ability to move the pocket will prove troublesome for Bob Diaco's defense. I will be interested in watching the battle between the Sooners offensive line, which seems much improved from a year ago, and Notre Dame's defensive line. If Louis Nix can keep Oklahoma from establishing a running game, then I think the Irish will be able to expose some of Bell's deficiencies throwing the football. Ultimately, I don't like the stagnant nature that Irish offense displays at times and I believe they will struggle against the speed of Oklahoma's defense.

Prediction: Oklahoma 24, Notre Dame 7

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Post date: Saturday, September 28, 2013 - 11:00
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It's only Week 5 of the 2013 college football season, but the late-night matchup between USC-Arizona State could be a crucial game for both teams. The Trojans and Sun Devils expected to compete for the Pac-12 South title, are looking to notch their first conference win this season. USC was embarrassed at home by the Washington State a few weeks ago, while ASU is stinging after a 42-28 throttling at the hands of Stanford.

USC leads the series all-time 18-10, riding an 11-game win streak that stretched from Paul Hackett's final season at USC in 2000 to 2011. However, of those 10 Arizona State wins in the series, six of them have come in Tempe. USC coach Lane Kiffin has a career 2-1 record against the Sun Devils, with both wins coming at home, and the 2010 victory coming by just one point.

Last year, USC defeated ASU 38-17 in a sloppy affair that saw nine total turnovers. From that game, the Sun Devils return six offensive starters, including quarterback Taylor Kelly, and eight defensive starters, namely All-America defensive tackle Will Sutton. Things should be electric in Tempe as 1980's rock band Journey will be performing the Star-Spangled Banner.

3 Things to Watch

Quarterback Play

Taylor Kelly was a nice surprise for the Sun Devils in 2012. Slotted as the third-string quarterback during spring ball, Kelly won the starting job by opening day. He exceeded expectations as a sophomore by throwing for 3,039 yards, 29 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. Unfortunately, three of those interceptions came in the loss to USC. So far this year, Kelly has picked up where he left off, throwing for 1,019 yards, eight touchdowns and just three interceptions. The last two games, against Wisconsin and Arizona State, Kelly has attempted a combined 106 passes and thrown for over 350 yards in each game. Kelly is behind only Oregon's Marcus Mariota and UCLA's Brett Hundley as the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12. While the Sun Devils have a clear starting quarterback, things are much foggier in Los Angeles. After going back-and-forth on his starting quarterback, Kiffin eventually landed on Cody Kessler. Kessler hasn't been very impressive thus far, as the USC offense often looks stagnant. Kessler completed just 48 percent of his passes against Utah State, averaging just six yards a completion. Kessler needs to be much better against a Sun Devils defense that boasts a couple NFL prospects. To emerge victorious, Kelly needs to avoid the big mistake against a tough USC defense, while Kessler needs to start making big plays in a tough road atmosphere.

USC defense

The Trojans are 3-1 while ranking 98th in the country in scoring and 108th in passing offense. How is this possible? It's because of the defensive clinic that USC has showcased for the first three weeks. New coordinator Clancy Pendergast has done a terrific job molding this unit to fit his 5-2 scheme, which takes full advantage of the Trojans deep and talented defensive line. USC is ranked 11th in the nation in points allowed, giving up an average of just 11 points per contest. The Trojans are third in the country in rush defense as opponents average around 59 rushing yards per game. The USC pass defense has been just as strong, forcing six interceptions, while giving up no more than 215 passing yards in a single contest.

Arizona State rushing defense

Lane Kiffin doesn't have faith in his passing game; therefore, he will try to keep the ball on the ground this week. The Sun Devils have not been stellar against the run this year, yielding 210 rushing yards to Wisconsin and 240 to Stanford. Opponents have keyed on ASU's weak rushing defense as they have passed 68 times this year, compared to 87 rushing attempts. The Sun Devils definitely have the talent to turn things around, but 2012 consensus All-American Will Sutton, who had 13 sacks a season ago, has been relatively quiet on the stat sheet so far. The reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year has just nine tackles in 2013. ASU will look to junior linebacker Carl Bradford to pick up the slack. If these leaders don't step up for the Sun Devils, the Trojans could find themselves nearing the 225 rushing yards they put up against Arizona State a season ago. 

Key Player: Tre Madden, RB, USC

The sky appeared to be falling when it was announced Silas Redd would miss the season opener due to a knee injury. However, he's yet to play a snap this season and the Trojans rushing attack hasn't missed a beat. Tre Madden has filled in quite admirably for a back that scored 10 touchdowns a season ago. Madden has gone for over 100 yards in each of the first three games to open the season. The last USC tailback to do that was Marcus Allen in his 1981 Heisman-winning season. Kiffin will go to Madden early and often on Saturday as he tries to take the pressure off of quarterback Cody Kessler.

Final Analysis:

The game features a dynamic Arizona State offense versus a stingy USC defense. Both should perform well, but what I expect to decide the game is whether USC can run the football effectively and whether the Sun Devils can stop them. If USC is able to take the air out of the ball and dictate the pace, they are at a huge advantage. If Arizona State can close down the rushing lanes and force Kessler to beat them with his arm, then I believe the fans in Tempe will be going home happy. If this game stays under 21 points then I'd take USC, but anything over than and I don't think the Trojans offense can match it. I think this is the game USC's defense gets exposed a bit, as Taylor Kelly is the best quarterback the Trojans have seen all year. Don't underestimate Kelly's scrambling ability as the junior rushed for 516 yards last year. Keep an eye on how Kessler (bruised hand) and Marqise Lee (ankle) handle their respective injuries in this potentially season-defining game for the Pac-12 North.

Prediction: Arizona State 27, USC 16

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Post date: Saturday, September 28, 2013 - 09:00
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The No. 14-ranked Oklahoma Sooners ride into South Bend for a Saturday afternoon showdown (NBC, 3:30 p.m. ET) with the No. 22-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium. After last season’s 30–13 Notre Dame upset of Oklahoma in Norman, this rematch has been circled on the calendar as OU looks to circle the wagons for a redemption win on the road.

While the Sooners are favored by 3-to-3.5 points, depending on the betting line, the Fighting Irish are far from the longshot 10-point underdogs they were in last year’s matchup. In fact, the Golden Domers have more than a few edges over Boomer Sooner. Here are five reasons Notre Dame will beat Oklahoma — again.

1. Fighting Fat Boys
Notre Dame’s defense is once again anchored by its pair of NFL-caliber monsters in the middle, senior nose tackle Louis Nix III and junior defensive end Stephon Tuitt. No team in the country boasts a more intimidating duo down low in the trenches. Nix, a.k.a. “Irish Chocolate,” weighs in at 6’2.5” and 342 pounds. Tuitt is a towering 6’6.5” and a svelte 312 pounds. But Nix and Tuitt aren’t just big; they’re athletic, efficient and play nasty with a mean streak.

“Defensively, (Notre Dame) is still very good and physical up front. Structurally sound and disciplined with how they play,” said Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops.

Last season, Nix, Tuitt and Co. engulfed the Sooners running game. Oklahoma ended with just 15 rushing yards on 24 carries, averaging an embarrassing 0.6 yards per carry in defeat. OU enters this year’s contest with the nation’s 16th-best running game, averaging 271.7 yards per game on the ground in wins over ULM (34–0), West Virginia (16–7) and Tulsa (51–20).

The Sooners O-line, led by All-America candidate center Gabe Ikard, must move Irish immovable mountains Nix and Tuitt in order to avoid last year’s disastrous results.

2. Wake Up the Echoes

Notre Dame vs OklahomaWho: Notre Dame vs. Oklahoma

 

Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana

 

When: Saturday, Sept. 28, 2:30 PM (CT)

Notre Dame’s series history against Oklahoma is golden. The Fighting Irish have a 9–1 all-time record against the Sooners, including a victory in 1957 that ended OU’s 57-game winning streak.

The Irish have also won 10 consecutive games at Notre Dame Stadium with Touchdown Jesus watching over. This week, the faithful will be wearing the four-leaf clover green in a “Green Out” of the stadium.

“We will not be wearing green jerseys, but the Leprechaun Legion and the Kelly Cares Foundation will be giving out upwards of 40,000 pompoms,” said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. “It’s a ‘Green Out’ officially this weekend for Oklahoma.”

3. The Tommy Rees Experience
Sure, Fighting Irish fans were deflated when Everett Golson was suspended for the season. But senior quarterback Tommy Rees is a low-risk leader who provides the type of stability under center that Notre Dame will need to beat Oklahoma. He’s no Rick Mirer or Brady Quinn, but who is?

This season, Rees has thrown for 1,111 yards, eight TDs and two INTs, with both of his picks coming in the Irish’s only loss, at Michigan (41–30). He combined to throw six TDs and zero INTs in Notre Dame’s three wins — Temple (28–6), at Purdue (31–24) and Michigan State (17–13).

Rees is 17–5 as a starter at ND, with wins over USC, Miami, Utah, Navy, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Boston College and Purdue under his belt. His counterpart, Oklahoma’s Blake Bell, was Bob Stoops’ second choice after losing a quarterback competition to Trevor Knight. Injury has thrown the goal line gimmick known as the “Belldozer” into the fire. Bell is 1–0 as a starter at OU and has never made a start on the road.

Who ya got? The veteran resumé or the road rookie?

4. Mike Stoops’ 3-3-5 Defense
Bob’s little brother Mike is back at helm of the Sooners stop-unit, in his second year of his second stint with the program. And the former Arizona head coach has gone all mad scientist this season, switching the OU base defense from a 4-3 to a 3-3-5.

“They’ve gone to a 3-3-5 defensive structure, whereas they were a four down (lineman) team last year. You’d have to ask them why,” said Kelly. “If I was to guess, it’s to probably handle a lot of the spread offenses in the Big 12.”

That is a logical assumption, since Oklahoma allowed an average of 43 points per game against speedy spreads Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M last year. But Notre Dame does not want to spread the field. Kelly’s philosophy is predicated on ground-and-pound, protect the football and then win a close call in the end. The Irish are 10–1 in their last 11 games decided by a touchdown or less.

Bob Stoops5. Big Game Bob
Bob Stoops has been rumored for the Notre Dame job before. As a Midwestern Catholic BCS national champion, he checks all the boxes. But he’s only coached one game at Notre Dame, a 34–30 loss to the Irish in 1999. In his fourth game as the coach at OU, Stoops’ Sooners let a 16-point lead slip away, allowing 20 unanswered points in the first defeat of his head-coaching career.

Stoops has come a long way since then, with eight Big 12 titles and raising BCS crystal over 14 seasons. But he has lost his spark in big games. Over the past four seasons, the Sooners are 13–9 against ranked opponents, with four other upset losses against unranked teams. Take Texas out of the equation and OU’s senior class carries a mediocre 10–9 record vs. Top 25 teams.

Oklahoma may be the favorite at Notre Dame, but winning on the road in a hostile environment with an inexperienced quarterback, limited running game and completely new defensive scheme won’t be easy.

“How could going to Notre Dame be easy?” said Stoops. “At the end of the day, that’s ridiculous. They’re an incredibly great, physical football team. Great quarterback play. Tough and good. It’ll be a huge challenge.”

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, September 27, 2013 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-quarterback-transfers-put-coaches-bind
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Ohio State will open conference play against Wisconsin with an “OR” in fine print on the depth chart between the two quarterbacks. Urban Meyer doesn’t  seem to mind.

His Heisman-contending starter at quarterback, Braxton Miller, hasn’t played since the first quarter of the second game, but Meyer has reason for confidence in backup Kenny Guiton. The senior has played about as well as could be expected even for the standard Miller set during a 12-0 season.

Meyer is one of the lucky ones. Miller is undoubtedly his starter when healthy. Having Guiton on the roster is more a luxury than any kind of dilemma.

“It’s a blessing to have it,” Meyer said. “We just have to manage it the right way.”

Keeping a quality backup quarterback like Guiton on the roster is as difficult as it’s ever been. Multiple teams have needed to go to the second-string option before the calendar has turned to October only to find their quarterback situation is not as luxurious as the one in Columbus.

2013 TRANSFERS TURNED STARTING QUARTERBACKS
Includes only quarterbacks who began careers at FBS programs
Previous school in parentheses

Drew Allen, Syracuse (Oklahoma)*
Ronnie Bell, Georgia State (Ohio)
Steven Bench, USF (Penn State)
Allan Bridgford, Southern Miss (Cal)
Terrance Broadway, UL Lafayette (Houston)
Austyn Carta-Samuels, Vanderbilt (Wyoming)
David Fales, San Jose State (Nevada)
Taylor Graham, Hawaii (Ohio State)
Cody Green, Tulsa (Nebraska)
Garrett Gilbert, SMU (Texas)
Jake Heaps, Kansas (BYU)
Adam Kennedy, Arkansas State (Utah State)
Nick Marshall, Auburn (Georgia)^
Ross Metheny, South Alabama (Virginia)
Zach Mettenberger, LSU (Georgia)
Tom Savage, Pittsburgh (Arizona, Rutgers)
Jameill Showers, UTEP (Texas A&M)
Pete Thomas, NC State (Colorado State)
Connor Wood, Colorado (Texas)
Scotty Young, Louisiana Tech (Texas Tech)*
*Began season as starter, now a backup
^Began career as cornerback

Nearly every major program in the country has been impacted by a quarterback transfer, either coming or going. Roughly 20 starting quarterbacks at the FBS level started their careers at another FBS school only to transfer. And that doesn’t include dozens of backups.

College players are more familiar than ever with the roster landscape. Depth charts and commitment lists have been readily available for years, allowing quarterbacks to survey the field of new destinations where they may fit. A quick Google search can determine if an offensive coach might be a schematic fit.

“All the resources out there have instigated young people transferring,” said Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, who had one of his three starting quarterbacks from 2012 transfer before the season. “If things don’t go well or if they don’t look like they’re the future, they’ll transfer.

“If you have two quarterbacks, you’re fortunate.”

One of the latest to feel the transfer sting was Florida when two-year starter Jeff Driskel suffered a broken leg against Tennessee. Tyler Murphy performed admirably in relief, going 8 of 14 for 134 yards and a touchdown in the 31-17 win over the Volunteers. He also rushed for 84 yards and a score.

Murphy, a two-star recruit from Connecticut, was not intended to be the top quarterback off the bench when Will Muschamp and predecessor Meyer were drawing up recruiting classes. Jacoby Brissett, a top-100 prospect, competed with Driskel to start last season. After being relegated to the bench, he transferred to NC State, where he’ll sit in 2013 before being eligible next year.

“There’s only one ball,” Muschamp said. “If a guy’s not playing, greener pastures are somewhere else. That’s part of the deal, and that’s why I want to sign a quarterback every year.”

Texas has gone to backup quarterback Case McCoy after two head injuries to David Ash. Freshman Tyrone Swoopes may be an option down the line, but the Longhorns have also watched three quarterbacks who would have been eligible this season transfer — Garrett Gilbert (SMU) and Connor Wood (Colorado) who are starters elsewhere plus Connor Brewer, who is redshirting at Arizona.

Notre Dame was fortunate to have an experienced backup in Tommy Rees when Everett Golson was suspended due to academic issues, but depth at the position could have been greater had highly touted freshman Gunner Kiel stayed on campus. Kiel transferred to Cincinnati two months before Golson was declared ineligible.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly spoke in approval of Kiel’s move, and the Irish have another highly regarded freshman on campus in Malik Zaire. Quarterbacks like Kiel have good reason to want to test the transfer waters, moreso than other positions.

Even Muschamp, with his depleted quarterback depth, can agree with that.

“When you play defensive end, you can be involved in special teams and you can be in different packages, you’re not going to play the entire time,” Muschamp said. “When you look at our situation Saturday (against Tennessee), Ronald Powell, Dante Fowler and Jon Bullard are played 42 snaps in the game ... that’s why it’s not as prevalent at other positions.”

Muschamp may have told Brissett he was one play away from being the starter, but that’s tough on a young quarterback’s ego, especially one who has had designs on starting at a big-time program since high school.

Tom Savage heard the same at Rutgers. He started 11 games as a freshman in 2009, being named the MVP of a team that finished 9-4. The next season, Savage struggled early when he was benched for Chas Dodd four games into the season.

His pride damaged, Savage transferred to Arizona to play for then-coach Mike Stoops.

“I was a young, kind of bitter kid,” Savage said. “I was pissed off that I wasn’t playing.”

(Dodd, incidentally, was benched in 2011 for Gary Nova. Dodd remained on the roster as the backup).

After leaving when he was passed on the depth chart, Savage again found himself in the other common position where a quarterback will transfer — a new coach and a new system. Arizona hired Rich Rodriguez, a spread option coach. Savage is a classic drop-back passer. Savage, who played high school football near Philadelphia, also hoped to move closer East to be closer his ailing godmother. Though he moved again, Savage said he approached the second move with a little more maturity.

Finding a place that would spend two years worth of scholarship space for a quarterback who could only play for a year (plus a player who had already transferred twice) was difficult. Pitt coach Paul Chryst, who coached Savage’s brother Bryan at Wisconsin, allowed Savage to walk on before putting him on scholarship and naming him the starter this season.

Savage’s move paid off as he’s passed for 861 yards and nine touchdowns in three games, but he’s plenty familiar with the risk/reward proposition of transferring.

His brother transferred from Wisconsin to junior college to Hofstra, where he started for a year before a back injury ended his senior season. After watching his brother’s experience, he promised his father he wouldn’t repeat the ordeal.

“When he transferred and he went through it, I told my dad that if I ever get recruited, I’m never going to transfer,” Savage said. “You don’t hear too many kids transfer twice, but I ended up being pretty lucky. It was tough to even find an opportunity to play because a guy transferring twice is kind of a red flag.”

NOTABLE 2013 TRANSFERS ELIGIBLE IN 2014
Connor Brewer, Arizona (Texas)
Jacoby Brissett, NC State (Florida)
Phillip Ely, Alabama (Toledo)
Gunner Kiel, Cincinnati (Notre Dame)
Wes Lunt, Illinois (Oklahoma State)
T.J. Millweard, Kansas (UCLA)

Like Savage, some quarterbacks and coaches end up lucky.

There was little reason for Guiton to look at greener pastures despite little hope of beating out Miller for the starting job entering the season. Although Guiton led Ohio State late in a win over Purdue last season, Meyer had no assurances Guiton would play at this kind of level before this season.

“It's not because the (previous) staff was screwing him over,” Meyer told reporters after Saturday’s rout of Florida A&M. “He wasn't very good in a lot of areas. (Since then) he pushed himself academically. He's an exceptional guy, and he didn't do things exceptionally. He was an underachiever, and to an underachiever, that's fighting words.”

A similar backup quarterback dynamic played out in Stillwater where perhaps Gundy didn’t know what he had.

Oklahoma State opened the 2012 season with freshman Wes Lunt starting at quarterback. Lunt was impressive enough to be named the starter during the spring, despite veterans Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh on the roster.

Lunt sustained an injury early in the season, opening the door for Walsh and then Chelf. When the 2013 season started, Chelf opened as the starter, but Walsh took over midway through the win over Mississippi State.

Lunt, once the precocious freshman, has transferred to Illinois.

Gundy may grumble that his quarterback depth has taken a hit with the youngest prospect leaving town, but he acknowledges it’s a fact of life in today’s game. (Gundy, it’s worth noting, initially blocked Lunt from transferring to a handful of high-profile schools, whether or not they were on Oklahoma State’s upcoming schedule).

“I can see both sides,” Gundy said. “I’ve never been a big fan of transferring. It’s just difficult. In some cases, players have had success, but over history there will be more cases of players who haven’t had success when they’ve transferred. But I do understand.”

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, September 27, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-week-5-picks
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Like it or not, Las Vegas rarely gets it wrong, so tracking betting lines should always be a big part of each football weekend — even if there are no bets on the line. Whether you condone gambling or not, think of it as becoming a more informed fan.

I tried to tell folks to stay away from their bookies last weekend, so I'm taking my 5-3 mark and sprinting to the bank. Maryland once again delivered and it's only a matter of time before the boys in Vegas pick up on the fact that the Terps have crushed the point spread this season. We can hold off until next weekend to deal with Randy Edsall as his squad is off this weekend. 

With a massive weekend of action of ahead of us, bettors need to be aware of a few trends. Most believe in staying away from road favorites, but with 12 of the 19 Top 25 teams in action playing on the road, it may be hard to avoid the road favorite.

2013 Record Against the Spread: 15-8-1 (5-3 last week)

Week 5 Picks of the Week:

Texas A&M (-7) at Arkansas
The Aggies' run defense is atrocious and the Razorbacks have an excellent 1-2 combo with running backs Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams. But there is no way Arkansas can stop Johnny Manziel from posting big numbers. This was an ugly 58-10 game in College Station last year and while Arkansas is improved, the Hogs haven’t closed the 48-point gap. Especially, if starting quarterback Brandon Allen can’t go. Prediction: Texas A&M -7

Fresno State (-17.5) at Hawaii
The Bulldogs thoroughly dominated the Warriors 45-10 at home last year as Derek Carr needed just 15 completions to reach 304 yards and score four times. And while all games seem to be tighter on the Big Island, Fresno State is actually better this year than last. Carr is averaging over 370 yards per game this year and Hawaii recently allowed 451 yards to Sean Mannion and Oregon State. Prediction: Fresno State -17.5

South Alabama (+19) at Tennessee
The USA defensive line is dramatically out-matched and out-weighed by the Tennessee offensive line and shouldn’t be able to stop the Vols' running game. The Jaguars defeated Western Kentucky last week but the win was fluky (a late turnover was returned for a touchdown) and the defense allowed 427 yards on nearly six yards per play. Look for the Vols to pound the football for four quarters and easily win their final non-conference game of the season. Prediction: Tennessee -19

Arizona (+9.5) at Washington
The Huskies are one of the most improved teams in the nation with impressive wins over Boise State and Illinois already. Arizona is still unbeaten but hasn’t played a tough game and their new quarterback, B.J. Denker, has never started in a hostile environment yet in his career. Husky Stadium will be rocking Saturday night and Washington’s elite balance on both sides of the ball will be too much for an Arizona team that is average at best. This line feels skewed due to the drubbing 'Zona put on U of W last year in the desert. Prediction: Washington -9.5

A few more road favorites I like:

Florida State (-21.5) at Boston College
The 'Noles won by 41 last year at home and might be even better this year. 

Stanford (-10) at Washington State
The Cardinal sacked Wazzu 10 times and held it to minus-18 yards rushing last year.

South Carolina (-7) at UCF
UCF's win over Penn State has inflated their value. Take the Gamecocks.

Take the Over:

LSU at Georgia: 61.5
Wisconsin at Ohio State: 54.5
South Carolina at UCF: 52.5

Week 5 Previews and Predictions:  |  |  |  | 

Top 25 Picks Against the Spread:

Note: games with FCS opponents won't be included each week

Top 25 GamesMitch LightBraden GallSteven LassanDavid Fox
No. 21 Ole Miss (+15) at No. 1 Alabama
Cal (+36.5) at No. 2 Oregon
Wake Forest (+28.5) at No. 3 Clemson
No. 23 Wisconsin (+7) at No. 4 Ohio St 
No. 5 Stanford (-10) at Washington St
No. 6 LSU (+3) at No. 9 Georgia
No. 8 Florida St (-21.5) at Boston College
No. 10 Texas A&M (-7) at Arkansas
No. 11 Oklahoma St (-18) at West Virginia
No. 12 South Carolina (-7) at UCF
No. 14 Oklahoma (-3.5) at No. 22 Notre Dame
No. 15 Miami (-18.5) at USF
Arizona (+10) at No. 16 Washington
No. 20 Florida (-12.5) at Kentucky
No. 25 Fresno St (-17.5) at Hawaii
Last Week:8-56-76-75-8
Year-To-Date:35-25-126-34-134-26-134-26-1

 

Teaser:
Post date: Friday, September 27, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-link-roundup-september-26
Body:

Week 5 starts tonight...

Contact us on twitter with a link or a tip we should include each day. ()

College Football's Must-Read Stories Around the Web for Thursday, September 26th

The for college football's 2014-15 playoff could be decided by the end of the regular season.

All signs point to quarterback returning to the starting lineup this Saturday for Ohio State.

takes a look at the most successful former high school coaches in college football.

spent a Saturday watching games with SEC commissioner Mike Slive.  

Is Eastern Illinois' the best quarterback you never heard of?

Duke quarterback is making progress in his return from a broken collarbone.

has canceled a future series with Michigan State. 

SMU could have running back back against TCU.

will be down to its third starting quarterback this season, as Jaleel Awini is suspended indefinitely from the team.

How can offense exploit Notre Dame's defense?

Rutgers running back is nursing a leg injury but expects to return later this season.

have helped to key Iowa's offensive improvement.

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 15:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/top-college-football-player-matchups-watch-week-5
Body:

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:

QB Zach Mettenberger vs. FS Tray Matthews (LSU at Georgia)
Mettenberger’s ties to Georgia run deep. He grew up in nearby Watkinsville. His mother, Tammy, is an administrative assistant in the Georgia football offense. And he spent the first two years of his career as a Georgia Bulldog. This is not just another game for Mettenberger, who is in his second season as the starter at LSU. So far, he has thrived under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, but this will be his toughest test — in a very difficult environment — of his senior season. With two elite wide receivers and a solid offensive line, it falls to Mettenberger to accurately attack the Bulldogs' young, but talented secondary. Matthews, a true freshman, will be responsible for handling the top of the defense against two great vertical threats in Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.

RB Melvin Gordon vs. LB Ryan Shazier (Wisconsin at Ohio State)
The hard-hitting Ohio State linebacker was all over the field for the Buckeyes last year against Wisconsin. He registered 12 tackles, 3.0 tackles for a loss and forced a fumble in last year’s win over the Badgers. He’s right back at it again this season, topping the team in tackles (30). It will fall to the explosive junior to stop the three-headed monster in Wisconsin's backfield, led by Heisman candidate Melvin Gordon. The Badgers' star tailback is leading the nation in rushing (156.0 ypg) with an absurd 11.8 yards per carry average and seven rushing touchdowns. 

WR LaQuon Treadwell vs. CB Deion Belue (Ole Miss at Alabama)
Treadwell was a difference-maker in the Rebels’ win over Vanderbilt in Week 1, catching nine passes for 82 yards in addition to a key 2-point conversion in the third quarter. He has teamed with Donte Moncrief to give Ole Miss two big-time targets in the passing game. Alabama’s secondary is talented, but it’s difficult for any team to take away two elite wide receivers. Treadwell, a 5-star recruit from Illinois, could have an opportunity to play a key role in the Rebels' attack against one area of the Alabama defense that can be exploited. Belue (toe) and Jarrick Williams (eye) both missed last week’s game with Colorado State but have returned to the practice field and are expected to play a big role in this weekend’s contest.

C Gabe Ikard vs. DT Louis Nix III (Oklahoma at Notre Dame)
The Sooners’ star center will match up once again with Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III, who got the better of Ikard last season. Ikard may be one of the Big 12’s best linemen, but the OU veteran called Nix one of the best in the country in . The Sooners rushed for only 15 yards on 23 carries in last season’s game. The Sooners trail only Baylor in the Big 12 in rushing and sit at 16th nationally with over 270 yards rushing per game in three games thus far.

RB Tre Madden vs. DT Will Sutton (USC at Arizona State)
The best way to help out a struggling passing attack is with a quality running game. And Madden has been just that for Lane Kiffin over the first four weeks. He has topped 100 yards in all but one game and has scored in each of the last two contests. His 90 carries are second only to Iowa’s Mark Weisman nationally and his 455 yards are eighth in the nation. Cody Kessler needs No. 23 to come up big on the road. Sutton has been fairly quiet this season so far, registering just 9.0 tackles and no big plays yet. The All-American defensive lineman needs to play well this weekend to avoid an 0-2 start to the Pac-12 season.

LB Chris Borland vs. QB Braxton Miller or QB Kenny Guiton (Wisconsin at Ohio State)
Wisconsin’s All-American linebacker has been making big plays for the Badgers for years but stopping the Buckeyes' versatile offensive attack might be his tallest order — no matter who plays quarterback. Borland constantly disrupts opposing backfields and makes big special teams plays — he even completed a 23-yard pass on a fake punt against Arizona State — but has missed two of the last three meetings with Ohio State. That said, he went head-to-head with Miller in 2011, posting 10 tackles in the historic Hail Mary game. Keeping Miller or Guiton contained within the pocket will go a long way to giving UW a chance at the win.

LB Lamin Barrow vs. RB Todd Gurley (LSU at Georgia)
Few teams in the country are as balanced offensively as Georgia, which has the personnel to throw for over 400 yards or run for 300 on any given Saturday. Barrow, one of the leaders of this new-look LSU defense, will have to be at his best from his weak-side linebacker position on Saturday. When Georgia gets its play-action attack going, the Bulldogs are very difficult to slow down. Gurley, who is averaging 125.7 yards per game, is arguably the nation's most talented running back and will be asked to pound the very physical Tigers front seven.

RB Ka'Deem Carey vs. LB Shaq Thompson (Arizona at Washington)
Stopping one of the nation’s best running backs in one of the nation’s most explosive offensive schemes falls to Thompson and his running mates John Timu and Princeton Fuimaono. The top three tacklers on the Huskies' squad must contain Carey (149.5 yards per game) and Daniel Jenkins (80.7 yards per game) at home. This will force Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker to throw the ball — something he hasn’t proven he can do in a hostile environment yet. 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: NASCAR
Path: /nascar/ron-howard-gives-us-inside-scoop-his-racing-movie-rush
Body:

Oscar-winning filmmaker Ron Howard grew up in our living rooms, first as lovable Opie Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show” and then as Richie Cunningham on the equally iconic sitcom “Happy Days.” But Howard’s true calling was behind the camera, and with his latest movie, he’s returned to his roots as a director by putting his audience behind the wheel. 

Howard cut his filmmaking teeth with 1977’s “Grand Theft Auto,” a low-budget, high-octane action comedy that featured more crashes than a season on the Sprint Cup circuit. Fast forward 36 years, and Howard’s latest big-budget epic features cars of a sleeker, faster but equally dangerous variety. 

“Rush,” which hits theaters this week, chronicles the 1976 Formula 1 season, including Austrian driver Niki Lauda’s near-fatal crash and subsequent comeback. Howard deftly captures an era of fast cars and European playboys who set the standard for high-level racing from Monaco to the Orient, along with the danger, speed and precision of open-wheel competition. But at its heart, the story’s focus is the rivalry between the confident Lauda and flashy British driver James Hunt, and how their on-track clashes came to define a go-for-broke sport. 

Athlon Sports caught up Howard and had no trouble persuading the entertainment icon to share his infectious passion for his latest film. 

What attracted you to this story?

Ron Howard: It’s the fact that in one movie there are all these elements, so to me, as a director, that means a lot. That means that different audience members can glean different things from it and enjoy it for different reasons. I love working with actors on interesting characters and emotional scenes. You know, there’s a lot of that in this story. But I also love trying to create something for the audience that’s a ride, that’s visceral, that’s intense, and kind of an experience. So I thought, “Here’s a movie that combines both those things.” And it’s all too rare that you can make a movie that has a chance to be a big-screen experience, but it’s not a fantasy. You know, there are no superheroes. They’re real people. It’s a real story. And yet it’s kind of cinematic and intense in that big movie way.

Your first movie as a director was “Grand Theft Auto.” Did you think your next “car” movie would be 36 years later?

I learned a lot about cars during “Grand Theft Auto.” Most of what I learned I couldn’t apply to this (“Rush”) because we ­couldn’t afford to crash these cars, and when we did we had to do it very, very carefully. “Grand Theft Auto” was all about them T-bones, and it was fun. And nobody got hurt, thankfully.

What’s the fastest you’ve ever driven?

When I was preparing for “Rush,” I drove a Formula 1 training car and probably got up around 100 (mph). The straightaway was short enough that it wouldn’t allow you to get much quicker than that. But it was a great experience. I also spun out. Thank God nobody was too close behind me when that happened. One person described it as though you’re trying to ride a thoroughbred race horse. An F1 car sort of feels like it has a mind of its own.

Did the actors do any of the driving?

The actors did some of the driving. Nothing harrowing. We ­didn’t put them into close proximity to other cars going over 100 miles an hour or anything like that, but they did drive over 100 miles an hour. And we put cameras on them and did a lot of laps with them that we could build into the movie. But we also did old-fashioned green screen stuff to put them into the right tracks at the right moment. More important than driving fast on the track, they also had to be good enough that they could speed into the pits, because that was my chance to have a steady-cam move in, see them lift the visor and just, in a subliminal way, convince the audience that they’re driving — they can drive a car. And then also, go through the whole pit change, lower the visor and speed off, and that’s with a lot of people around. So that was a safety factor that they had to really, really train for. The first day that we really tested the guys in the cars, (Niki Lauda actor) Daniel Brühl’s front tire came off his Ferrari and bounded off, and he went into a spin. So right away on Day 1, we realized that we could never relax around these cars.

Rush Movie PosterYou chose not to use original footage of Niki Lauda’s crash. What was your method for determining when to use original footage and when not to?

In many places in the movie, we discovered we could sort of do a “Forrest Gump” kind of trick. Only instead of putting Tom Hanks next to Richard Nixon, we could put Lauda’s car or Hunt’s car into a particularly good, say, aerial helicopter shot from Monaco or someplace and make that shot, which was great, tell the story we needed to tell. So it was 99 percent the archival footage, but somehow by changing the cars around a little bit, we could make it our story. We did a good deal of that. With the crash, I wanted to break it down for the audience on a little bit more of a micro level. And so the archival shot that exists is 8 millimeter — very, very grainy — and it’s a single shot that a 12-year-old kid took. In fact, I sort of … I do a cutaway to a kid shooting the accident. We actually do use that footage later on television just out of respect to the original footage.

In “Rush,” Niki Lauda exhibits extreme attention to detail. Did you encounter that facet working with him?

He sanctioned the project. He had no editorial controls; he trusted Peter Morgan, the writer. He trusted me as the director, and he made himself available for any questions. And he was very meticulous and very, very helpful. And especially to Daniel Brühl, who was playing him in the movie. He literally had him on speed dial and could call him up at any moment and could ask him about the particulars of racing or his behavior. But he’s a powerful guy, a brilliant guy, a great businessman. He’s back in Formula 1 in a competitive way as one of the principal owners of the Mercedes race team. They’re having an unexpectedly good year in his first year back. I can see that he enjoys that competition, but with Niki, mostly it’s all about productivity. For him, every waking hour is supposed to be directed towards something. He’s making things happen that matter all that time, and that’s what’s important to him. I think he keeps score that way.

A rival can be a great source of motivation. Have you ever had that situation in your own life?

I don’t feel that kind of personal rivalry. I have a lot of respect for people. But it’s not that kind of competition where somebody can literally beat you. There are times when different directors and producers are vying for the same project and you’re trying to get the rights. That’s the closest thing to a competition like that, I suppose. But I think filmmaking is a little more … you sort of have to be in competition with yourself and with what the possibilities of the project are. And I think that you’re not really fueled by rivals, although you can see movies that you respect and they can fuel you.

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-fantasy-football-2013-week-5-start-or-sit-report
Body:

Bye weeks litter the college landscape this week, so expect league scoring averages to drop drastically.  Second-guessing a couple of guys on your roster this week?  Hopefully, this week’s Start/Bench helps in your decision-making process.
 

College Fantasy Football: Week 5 Start or Sit Report

Start
Connor Wood, QB-Colorado at Oregon State
Wood should find receiver Paul Richardson early and often as the Buffaloes face an Oregon State defense that is allowing over 287 passing yards per game.

Keith Wenning, QB-Ball State vs Toledo
Wenning is averaging over 330 yards passing and may top that number this week when the Cardinals host Toledo.

Keenan Reynolds, QB-Navy at Western Kentucky
Through two games, Navy leads the nation in rushing at 398 yards per game and Reynolds has topped 100 yards on the ground in both contests.

Storm Johnson, RB-Central Florida vs South Carolina
We’re not expecting Johnson to run wild against the South Carolina defense, but the junior running back should post respectable numbers for fantasy owners that play in deep leagues.

Rajion Neal, RB-Tennessee vs South Alabama
Neal should bounce back after two tough outings against Oregon and Florida in back-to-back weeks.

Shaun Wick, RB-Wyoming at Texas State
Wick is only averaging about 15 carries per game, but he has either scored multiple touchdowns or topped 100 yards in every game this season.

Jay Ajayi and Aaron Baltazar, RBs-Boise State vs Southern Mississippi
Ajayi’s fumbling woes may lead to more playing time for the freshman Baltazar, and there is a good chance that both backs top the century mark at home against USM.

Josh Huff, WR-Oregon vs California
After watching the Buckeyes torch the Bears’ secondary two weeks ago, we feel that Huff has to be good for a couple of big receptions Saturday night.

Chandler Jones, WR-San Jose State vs Utah State
Last week at Minnesota, Jones picked up the slack in the passing game with the loss of teammate Noel Grigsby.  Expect more of the same this week when the Spartans host Utah State.

Bench

Connor Halliday, Washington State vs Stanford
We expected Halliday to light up the scoreboard against Idaho, but Stanford is an entirely different beast.  Just ask the Sun Devils.

Darrin Reaves, RB-UAB @ Vanderbilt
Reaves has the potential for a big play, but we see far too many 2- to 3-yard carries against the Commodores.

Charles Sims, RB-West Virginia vs Oklahoma State
The only thing we were able to take away from the Mountaineers’ game against Maryland last week was that the West Virginia offense does not have a safe fantasy play on its roster.

David Oku, RB-Arkansas State at Missouri
Oku’s rushing stats at home:  37-198-4  Oku’s rushing stats on the road:  28-93-0 
This is the toughest part of the schedule for owners of Oku because after Missouri the Red Wolves have a bye in two of the next three weeks. 

Jeff Scott, RB-Ole Miss at Alabama
Remember our formula:  Opposing player (excluding anyone named Johnny Manziel) + Alabama defense = Bench

Jordan Parker, RB-Middle Tennessee at BYU
Junior running back Reggie Whatley may be cutting into Parker’s carries, but the biggest obstacle for fantasy owners this week is the BYU defense.

Quinshad Davis, WR-North Carolina vs East Carolina
We are not patient enough to have a guy on our roster that only has eight receptions through three games, but if are not ready to throw in the towel, keep Davis on the bench until he proves himself on the field.

Titus Davis, WR-Central Michigan at North Carolina State
Believe it or not, but the Wolfpack are one of the better defensive plays in Week 5.

For Start/Bench advice from Joe DiSalvo,
Follow Joe on twitter ()

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 11:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, SEC
Path: /college-football/sec-week-5-preview-and-predictions-2013
Body:

Two heavyweight battles highlight the Week 5 slate in the SEC. LSU, off to a 4-0 start, travels to Georgia in a potential preview of the SEC Championship Game. Ole Miss, which already has won two road games, heads to Tuscaloosa to take on the mighty Crimson Tide.

Week 5 Previews and Predictions:   |  |  

SEC Week 5 Game Power Rankings

1. LSU (+3) at Georgia (3:30 ET, CBS)
LSU has emerged as a legitimate national title contender through the first quarter of the 2013 season. The offense has made significant improvements under new coordinator Cam Cameron, and the defense has been solid despite the loss of key personnel at every level. That defense, however, will face by far its toughest test this Saturday. Georgia puts tremendous pressure on a defense with its ability to move the ball through the air and on the ground. In two games vs. BCS conference opponents (Clemson and South Carolina), the Bulldogs are averaging 540.5 yards and 38.0 points per game. For LSU, Jeremy Hill has been spectacular running the ball — he’s averaging 8.36 yards per carry and has six TDs in three games — but the spotlight will be on quarterback Zach Mettenberger. The fifth-year senior is a Georgia native who spent the first two years of his career with the Bulldogs. How he handles the pressure of his homecoming to Athens could go a long way in determining the outcome of this game.

2. Ole Miss (+16) at Alabama (6:30 ET, ESPN) 
Ole Miss has already proven itself on the road with wins at Vanderbilt and Texas. Winning at Alabama, however, is an entirely different animal. The Crimson Tide have only lost three times in Tuscaloosa in the past five seasons — once to a team that won the national title (Auburn, 2010), once to a team that lost in the national title game (LSU, 2011) and once to a team that won 11 games and featured the Heisman Trophy winner (Texas A&M, 2012). Still, don’t expect Ole Miss to be intimidated. Hugh Freeze’s young team is playing with a ton of confidence and truly believes it can contend for the SEC West title. The Rebels will score some points, but the key will be their ability to slow down Alabama’s balanced attack.

3. Texas A&M (-7) at Arkansas (7 ET, ESPN2)
At first glance, it’s a bit surprising that Texas A&M, a top-10 team, is only a touchdown favorite at Arkansas, a team that lost to Rutgers last week. But look at one key stat: Texas A&M ranks 105th nationally in rushing defense, giving up an average of 218.3 yards per game — and it’s even worse when you look at yards per carry allowed (5.94, 118th). And those numbers have come against one great team (Alabama), one decent team (Rice), one bad team (SMU) and one FCS team (Sam Houston State). Arkansas doesn’t do a ton of things well, but the Razorbacks have the ability to expose A&M’s rush defense. The Hogs feature the SEC’s No. 2 rusher (Alex Collins, 120.3 ypg) and No. 6 rusher (Jonathan Williams, 104.5 ypg). Stopping this duo will be the focus for the Aggies’ defense.

4. South Carolina (-7) at UCF (12 ET ABC)
This will not be easy for South Carolina. UCF is 3-0 with wins at home vs. Akron (38-7), at FIU (38-0) and at Penn State (34-31). The Knights feature an experienced quarterback in junior Blake Bortles, who is completing over 70 percent of his passes and averaging 11.7 yards per attempt (third best in the nation). The UCF ground game is led by Storm Johnson, a former 4-star recruit who began his career at Miami. Through three games, Johnson has rushed for 308 yards on a 5.6-yard average. South Carolina will obviously be the toughest defense UCF has faced to date, but keep in mind that the Knights rolled up over 500 yards of offense in their win at Penn State. This is a solid team.

5. Florida (-13) at Kentucky (7 ET, ESPNU)      
Tyler Murphy exceeded expectations in his first appearance as the Gators’ quarterback. Now, however, the junior must prove he is not a one-hit wonder and that he can take his show on the road. Kentucky is far from an elite defensive team, but the Wildcats played well for a half against Louisville and are solid on the defensive line. Still, it will be a bad sign for Florida if Murphy does not play well in Lexington. The Gators’ defense is elite, but the offense will have to at least be mediocre for this team to be a factor in the SEC East race.

6. Arkansas State (+21) at Missouri (7:30 ET, CSS)
A few weeks ago, this looked like a decent matchup on paper. That was before Missouri went to Indiana and posted an impressive 45-28 win over the Hoosiers, and Arkansas State was gashed for 505 yards (329 on the ground) in a surprisingly lopsided 31-7 loss at Memphis. Arkansas State, which won 10 games in each of the past two seasons, is showing signs of slippage under first-year coach Bryan Harsin. This one could get out of hand unless the Red Wolves can find a way to stop the run.

7. UAB (+21) at Vanderbilt (7:30 ET, FSN)
Vanderbilt has allowed an average of 37.0 points in its two SEC games (Ole Miss and South Carolina) and 5.0 points in its two non-conference games (Austin Peay and UMass). So how many will UAB score this weekend? Well, it’s safe to say the Blazers aren’t nearly as potent as the Dores’ two SEC opponents, but they are also quite a bit better than both Austin Peay and UMass. Vanderbilt will have to put some points on the board to win this game, and the Commodores figure to have success attacking UAB through the air. The Blazers are allowing 268.7 passing yards per game and rank 117th in the nation in passing efficiency defense.

8. South Alabama (+20) at Tennessee (12:21 ET, SEC Network)
South Alabama opened the season with a 21-20 loss at home to Southern Utah, but the Jags have bounced back with two solid wins, 41-39 at Tulane and 31-24 vs. Western Kentucky. Joey Jones is doing a nice job in Mobile. Tennessee wraps ups its non-conference schedule before diving back into the SEC with a brutal three-game stretch that includes home games against Georgia and South Carolina followed by a visit to Alabama. Justin Worley will get the start at quarterback for the Vols, but don’t be surprised if one of the true freshmen — Joshua Dobbs or Riley Ferguson — sees significant action. 

5 Pivotal Players for Week 5

Zach Mettenberger, QB, LSU
Mettenberger’s ties to Georgia run deep. He grew up in nearby Watkinsville. His mother, Tammy, is an administrative assistant in the Georgia football offense. And he spent the first two years of his career as a Georgia Bulldog. This is not just another game for Mettenberger, who is in his second season as the starter at LSU. So far, he has thrived under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, but this will be his toughest test — in a very difficult environment — of his senior season. He needs to play well to give his team a chance to win the game.

Lamin Barrow, LB, LSU
Few teams in the country are as balanced offensively as Georgia, which has the personnel to throw for over 400 yards or run for 300 on any given Saturday. Barrow, one of the leaders of this new-look LSU defense, will have to be at his best from his weak-side linebacker position on Saturday. When Georgia gets its play-action attack going, the Bulldogs are very difficult to slow down.

Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Murray delivered on the big stage in Week 2, throwing for 309 yards and four touchdowns in a pivotal 41-30 win over South Carolina. Now, he must do it again — or hear from his critics how he can’t win the big game. Murray doesn’t have to post gaudy numbers for Georgia to beat LSU, but he must avoid the big mistakes — something that has plagued him in previous seasons.

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss
Treadwell was a difference-maker in the Rebels’ win over Vanderbilt in Week 1, catching nine passes for 82 yards in addition to a key 2-point conversion in the third quarter. He has teamed with Donte Moncrief to give Ole Miss two big-time targets in the passing game. Alabama’s secondary is talented, but it’s difficult for any team to take away two elite wide receivers. Treadwell, a 5-star recruit from Illinois, could have an opportunity to play a key role in the Rebel attack.

The Arkansas defense
Arkansas’ defensive numbers look good — 17th nationally in total defense and 25th in scoring defense — but the schedule has been relatively soft. The Hogs’ D will be stressed at every level on Saturday by a Texas A&M offense that is among the best in the nation. Last year, the Aggies torched Arkansas for an astounding 716 yards in a 58-10 win in College Station. The Hogs will need to lop about 250 yards off of that total to have a chance to beat A&M this time around. 

 David FoxBraden GallSteven LassanMitch Light

South Carolina at UCF 

S. Carolina 28-24S. Carolina 35-21S. Carolina 30-20S. Carolina 31-17

S. Alabama at Tennessee 

Tennessee 31-21

Tennessee 31-14Tennessee 38-13Tennesssee 34-17

LSU at Georgia

LSU 27-24

LSU 24-21Georgia 34-31Georgia 31-24
Ole Miss at Alabama

Alabama 35-14

Alabama 38-20Alabama 34-24Alabama 31-28

Texas A&M at Arkansas 

Texas A&M 42-21

Texas A&M 49-31Texas A&M 45-24Texas A&M 44-21

Florida at Kentucky 

Florida 28-14

Florida 24-10Florida 31-13Florida 21-3

UAB at Vanderbilt 

Vanderbilt 35-7

Vanderbilt 38-14Vanderbilt 41-17Vanderbilt 31-14

Arkansas St. at Missouri 

Missouri 28-10Missouri 34-13Missouri 45-20Missouri 41-17

Last Week

7-28-18-18-1
Season37-536-637-536-6
Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, September 26, 2013 - 08:00

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