Articles By Braden Gall

All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/amazing-college-football-stats-championship-weekend-2013
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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:

101: SEC championship game record for total points
The mighty SEC saw little to no defense in Atlanta on Saturday night. Auburn (28) and Mizzou (27) set an SEC championship game record with 55 first half points. The game ended with a SEC championship game-record 101 total points scored — 26 more than the previous record (75) set in 1996 by Florida and Alabama. Auburn also set an SEC title game record with 676 yards of offense, 544 yards rushing and 59 points. Tre Mason carried the load with an SEC title game record 46 carries, an SEC championship record 304 yards and, you guessed it, an SEC title game record four touchdowns in the win. The previous record for yards was set by Auburn with 589 in 2010. Missouri began the weekend ranked No. 2 in the SEC in rushing defense (119.1 ypg) but will finish eighth (151.8 ypg) after the carnage in the Georgia Dome. All in all, Auburn set 16 SEC title game records on Saturday. Gus Malzahn was relentless in his play calling as he rode his zone-read triple option to an SEC championship in just his first season as a head coach in the nation's toughest league.

3: SEC coaches to win the league in their first season
Gus Malzahn became the third head coach in SEC history, and the first in the championship game era, to win a conference crown in his first trip through the league with the impressive showing against Mizzou. Malzahn joined Bernie Moore, who led LSU to a 9-2 record in 1935, and John Vaught, who led Ole Miss to a 9-2 record in 1947, as first-year coaches to win SEC titles. Malzahn took a winless SEC team that averaged 305.0 yards per game on offense — 118th in the nation — and turned them into SEC champions in one offseason, and now the Tigers will play for the BCS National Championship in Pasadena against the Florida State.

17 and 46: Ohio State plays and total yards in the final 20 minutes
There are a lot of stats to like about the Big Ten championship game. Michigan State snapped Ohio State's 24-game winning streak to go to its first Rose Bowl since 1987. Connor Cook, the game's MVP, threw for a career high 304 yards and three touchdowns in the signature performance of his young career. But over the final 20 minutes, the Spartans defense was the story. Ohio State scored with 5:36 left in the third quarter to take its first lead of the game, but Mark Dantonio's defense completely shut down Ohio State the rest of the way. The Buckeyes had four possession in which they ran 17 plays for 46 total yards during the final 20:36 of play. Those four drives ended in two punts and two turnovers on downs. Meanwhile, the Spartans scored 17 unanswered to win the Big Ten championship. 

57-14: Stanford's combined first-half score over Arizona State in two games
Back in September, Stanford jumped out to a 29-0 halftime lead over the Sun Devils in Palo Alto. The Cardinal eventually pushed the lead to 39-7 before letting off the pedal and winning 42-28. Two months later, nothing has changed as Stanford blitzed ASU in the first half of the Pac-12 championship game. Kevin Hogan and Tyler Gaffney posted a 28-7 second-quarter lead and a 28-14 halftime margin. David Shaw's bunch never looked back, crushing the Sun Devils 38-14 for its second consecutive Pac-12 championship — the first time the school has done that since 1970-71. The Michigan State-Stanford Rose Bowl will be as physical as a football game can get in the modern era of spread offenses and touchy officiating.

1-8: Mike Gundy's record against Oklahoma
Over the last four years, Oklahoma State is 41-10 overall with three seasons of at least 10 wins. But Mike Gundy just can't seem to solve the Bedlam riddle. The Sooners, led by starter-turned-backup Blake Bell, drove 66 yards on eight plays to score the game-winning touchdown with 19 seconds left. The loss wasn't just a bitter defeat at the hands of an in-state archival. Oklahoma State was a double-digit favorite at home needing a win to clinch a BCS bowl and win the Big 12 championship. Moreover, Oklahoma State had the lead with less than two minutes to play. The loss knocks Oklahoma State out of the Fiesta Bowl and pushes Gundy's record against Oklahoma and Bob Stoops to 1-8.

1980: Baylor's last outright conference championship
Technically, the Bears earned a share of the 1994 Southwest Conference championship. However, Texas A&M had the best record in the league (10-0-1) but was ineligible as Baylor tied with Texas, TCU, Texas Tech and Rice at 4-3 for a five-way split championship. But the last time the Bears won an outright conference championship was the 10-2 squad of 1980 coached by Grant Teaff. Only twice prior to 2013 had Baylor won 10 games in a season (1980, 2011) and had never won 11 games in school history. In fact, the last time Baylor finished a season with just one loss was a 5-1-2 Frank Bridges-coached team in 1923. The Bears will play in their first BCS game in program history when it meets UCF in the Fiesta Bowl. The icy cold 30-10 drubbing of Texas was a perfect way to put an end to Floyd Casey Stadium. 

38: Jameis Winston's NCAA freshman passing TD record
He is the frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy for a reason. Jameis Winston has led the Seminoles to a perfect 13-0 record, an ACC championship and a berth in the BCS National Championship Game against . He is the nation's most efficient passer (190.06) and has thrown more touchdown passes than any freshman in NCAA history. With three scoring strikes in the easy win over Duke in the ACC title game, Winston passed Sam Bradford's NCAA freshman passing TD record of 36. The Noles signal caller finished the year with 3,820 yards, 38 touchdowns, 10 interceptions on 67.9-percent passing to go with 193 yards rushing and four more touchdowns on the ground.
42.3: Average margin of victory for Florida State in 2013
After topping Duke 45-7 in the ACC title game, Florida State won all 13 games it played this fall and earned a spot in the BCS National Championship Game against Auburn. But the Noles didn't slip into the title game like the Tigers did. Florida State didn't need any help from Michigan State, Oklahoma State or Utah. The Seminoles crushed the opposition all season. Jimbo Fisher's squad outscored its 13 opponents 689-139 for an average margin of victory of more than six touchdowns per game. Again, that's more than six touchdowns per game. There is a reason they are the clearcut No. 1 team in the polls — even if they are facing the "Team of Destiny" in Pasadena.

7: Games UCF won by one score or less
Its first bowl appearance in school history came in 2005 and its first bowl win in school history came in 2010. And now, UCF will play in its first BCS bowl less than two decades since making its FBS debut. The Knights proved that in one season it could step up in competition and find success, moving from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference. With a 17-13 win over SMU, the AAC champions finished 8-0 in league play and 11-1 overall. It's the best record in school history, and it didn't come easy. Seven of those 11 wins were by one touchdown or less. UCF beat Penn State, Memphis, Louisville, Houston, Temple, USF and SMU by a combined 28 points.

1957: Rice's last outright conference championship
The Owls (10-3) rolled through Marshall 41-24 in the Conference USA championship game. The Thundering Herd had been averaging more 50 points per game during its five-game winning streak entering the weekend but David Bailiff's defense held Marshall to just 24 points, 371 yards and only 4.8 yards per play. It is Rice's first outright conference championship since winning the Southwest Conference in 1957.

Teaser:
Amazing College Football Stats from Championship Weekend 2013
Post date: Monday, December 9, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-big-ten-championship-preview-and-prediction-michigan-state-and-ohio-state
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The intrigue surrounding the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis is more intense than ever before. Michigan State and Wisconsin in the inaugural bout was one of the better, more exciting conference title games in any league of recent memory. But there wasn’t a trip to the BCS National Championship game on the line in that tilt like there is at Lucas Oil Stadium this Saturday.

The dust has settled on the Big Ten regular season, and the two teams that survived unscathed will appropriately battle for the league crown and a guaranteed trip to the Rose Bowl. Michigan State boasts the nation’s best statistical defense after giving up a paltry 237.7 yards per game this season. This physical, experienced unit has seven seniors starting dotting the depth chart and it allowed a nation’s low 11.0 points per game in conference play. In fact, the Spartans have held its opponent out of the endzone in five of the last six games (Nebraska).

This is the challenge that faces Ohio State’s dynamic backfield duo of Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde. Urban Meyer deploys a power zone-read with his 235-pound tailback and versatile and explosive quarterback to the tune of 321.3 yards rushing per game — good for second nationally to only Army. Hyde has been huge in the second half of important games against Northwestern, Iowa and Michigan. Miller, however, has been downright brilliant in conference play, leading the Big Ten in total offense (295.0 ypg) and passing efficiency (164.51) in conference play.

When the Buckeyes offense is on the field it will be a match of strengths. But the other half of the game could end up being more critical and entertaining. Ohio State’s defense has given up plenty of yards and points this season, culminating in a 603-yard performance by a Michigan offense ranked 96th in the nation in total offense. Michigan State’s offense, also considered the weaker Spartan unit, is vastly underrated. Tailback Jeremy Langford has seven consecutive 100-yard games and led the Big Ten with 16 rushing touchdowns. Quarterback Connor Cook takes care of the ball (only four interceptions) and the receivers have made big plays all season.

Be it a shootout or a defensive struggle, fans in Indy should expect a close game. Despite Ohio State winning eight of the last nine meetings, these two have split the last two games by a grand total of four points. Ohio State owns a 28-12 all-time record in the series.

Michigan State vs. Ohio State

Kickoff: 8:17 p.m. ET
TV Channel: FOX
Spread: Ohio State -5.5

Three Things to Watch

Can Connor Cook make plays?
Michigan State’s gameplan on offense is pretty clear: Run, run and run some more. Jeremy Langford has been a star for this team with seven straight 100-yard games. But Connor Cook will be called upon to be the difference maker when OSU stacks the box. Cook passed for just 176.6 yards per game this year but was much better over the final month, averaging 217.8 per game with a couple of elite performances. He completed 93.8-percent of his passes and three touchdowns against Illinois, he threw for 252 yards and scored twice over Michigan and posted a career-high 293 yards and two TDs in the division clinching road win over Northwestern. Ohio State is ninth in the Big Ten in pass efficiency defense and the banged-up secondary will provide chances for Cook to make plays with his arm.

Protecting the quarterback
Michigan State leads the nation in pass efficiency defense (91.79), leads the Big Ten in passing defense (172.9) yards per game and is third in the Big Ten in both interceptions (16) and sacks (29.0). This will give Braxton Miller a huge challenge in the passing game. On the flip side, Cook could be running for his life as the Buckeyes boast the nation’s No. 1 pass-rush (39.0 sacks). Obviously, both teams want to run the ball and the defenses know it. So with two defenses geared up to stop the ground game, the outcome may hinge on whichever quarterback has the time to complete critical third-and-longs late in the game. Additionally, both defenses will look to punish the quarterback so survival might be the name of the game.

Special teams battle
The all-important third phase of the game will be huge this weekend for both teams, especially if it becomes a low-scoring, tightly played affair. Ohio State leads the Big Ten in punting (43.5 ypp) and has blocked three kicks or punts this season. And while Ohio State has made 8-of-9 field goals, the Buckeyes haven’t asked Drew Basil to make key kicks as OSU has attempted the fewest number of field goals in the Big Ten. Conversely, the Spartans Michael Geiger has made 12-of-13 kicks and MSU is 16-of-19 overall. The Buckeyes should have a big advantage in the return game as well. Michigan State is dead last in the league in kickoff returns while Ohio State is No. 2 in the league. Both coaches love to use the fake punt at unexpected times, so don’t take any bathroom breaks on special teams as they are sure to be critical this weekend.

Key Player: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Star quarterbacks are always the most important players but even more so for Ohio State. Miller will be the most dynamic and important player on the field for either team on Saturday. Michigan State has the talent and experience to stop the Buckeyes' offense in its tracks but no amount of discipline or physicality can overcome the improve skills of a player like Miller. The Spartans will look to hit the Ohio State quarterback as hard and as often as possible as Miller has demonstrated an issue with injuries. So if No. 5 can survive the entire game, he will likely do something that drops jaws and pops eyes. This is what keeps great coordinators like Pat Narduzzi up late at night. 

Final Analysis
This should be a great chess match battle between two hard-nosed coaches and two hard-nosed teams. Both teams are undefeated in Big Ten play, which sets up a perfect winner-take-all situation in Indianapolis. Michigan State is playing for its first Rose Bowl bid since 1987 and Ohio State is playing for a trip to the BCS National Championship game. It is a battle of strength on strength when Ohio State has the ball and weakness on weakness when Michigan State has the ball. Look for a trick play or fake of some kind to play a huge role in the second half, but No. 5 in Scarlet and Gray is the difference. Braxton Miller will make one or two miraculous plays that no defense can stop, which translates to a victory for the Buckeyes.

Big Ten Championship Predictions:

Athlon EditorChampionship PredictionB1G Season Record
Braden GallOhio State, 31-3080-16
David FoxOhio State, 27-2180-16
Steven LassanOhio State, 27-2484-12
Mitch LightOhio State, 24-2084-12

 

Teaser:
2013 Big Ten Championship Preview and Prediction: Michigan State and Ohio State
Post date: Friday, December 6, 2013 - 07:18
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-championship-week-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. Last week was not a happy holiday for my picks. I let you all down in a big way by taking more than a few rivalries to be blowouts. As it turns out, only the Florida Gators were bad enough to give me a cover. Normally, I would stay away from all picks this weekend due to lack of options. But since I know some of you are looking for any and all advice on what should be some great championship games, below are the spread picks for Week 15.

2013 Record Against the Spread: 39-32-1 (1-3 last week)

Week 15 Picks of the Week:

Texas (+14.5) at Baylor
These two teams appear to be heading in opposite directions. Baylor struggled to survive against TCU and needed two defensive touchdowns to beat a team that was supposed to have a tough time scoring points. Texas crushed Texas Tech in extremely impressive fashion. This could be Mack Brown’s final game as the head coach, and the Horns can still win the conference championship. Look for a motivated Texas team to keep it close, if not win outright. Prediction: Texas +14.5

Utah State (+3) at Fresno State
The Aggies enter Saturday's matchup with a five-game winning streak. Fresno State is at home and coming off a loss. To me, this explains why the line seems to be too small this weekend. With the championship on the line in the Mountain West title game, fans can expect both teams to play up to their potential. Fresno State’s Derek Carr is on a tear right now, throwing for 1,041 yards and 12 touchdowns with just one interception in his last two games. Prediction: Fresno State -3

Title Game Picks (if I have to):

Stanford (+3) at Arizona State
Defense wins championships and despite being on the road, I like the Cardinal to smother an ASU offense missing its top playmaker in Marion Grice. Stanford was up 29-0 at halftime and 39-7 after three quarters against ASU back in September. Prediction: Stanford +3

Ohio State (-5.5) vs. Michigan State
This should be a very close game between two excellent coaches and physical football teams. Trick plays will abound, and I like the Spartans' defense to keep them in the game. Braxton Miller makes a big play at the end to win it - but MSU covers. Prediction: Michigan State +5.5

Auburn (-2.5) vs. Missouri
The entire world (and maybe the Almighty above) is picking the Tigers of Auburn. But Mizzou is the more complete team. The Tigers of Missouri have a dramatically better defense and healthy James Franklin. When the entire herd is taking one team, I like to go the other way (especially with the line growing by the day). Missouri has the best record in the nation against the spread this year: 10-1-1. Prediction: Mizzou +2.5

Duke (+29) vs. Florida State
We are all rooting for David Cutcliffe and Duke in general. It's virtually impossible not to love the Blue Devils story this year. But Florida State is operating in a different stratosphere. With Jameis Winston now cleared of any wrong-doing, all eyes are focused on a championship (or two). The Noles are one of four teams with 10 wins against the numbers this year (10-2) Prediction: Florida State -29

Championship Game Previews: ACC Big Ten Pac-12 SEC

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. 20 Duke (+29) vs. No. 1 Florida State
No. 2 Ohio St (-5.5) vs. No. 10 Michigan St

No. 5 Missouri (+2.5) vs. No. 3 Auburn

No. 17 Oklahoma (+10) at No. 6 Oklahoma St
No. 7 Stanford (+3) at No. 11 Arizona State
No. 25 Texas (+14.5) at No. 9 Baylor
Bowling Green (+4.5) at No. 14 N. Illinois
No. 16 UCF (-7) at SMU
Utah St (+3.5) at No. 23 Fresno St
Last Week:4-128-87-95-11
Year-To-Date:108-113-4110-111-4109-112-4116-105-4

 

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: College Football Championship Week Picks
Post date: Friday, December 6, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-pac-12-championship-preview-and-prediction-stanford-arizona-state
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The Pac-12 North was supposed to be one of, if not the, best division in college football this fall. Certainly, it was supposed to be better than the Pac-12 South. If a team from this league was supposed to earn a berth in the BCS National Championship game it was supposed to be from the North.

As it turns out, Arizona State boasted the best record in the Pac-12 (8-1) and earned the right to host tonight's Pac-12 Championship Game. And because the Sun Devils are at home in Sun Devils Stadium, Arizona State is favored over a Stanford team that abused the Sun Devils back on Sept. 21 in Palo Alto.

In the first meeting, the defending Pac-12 champs posted a 29-0 halftime lead and a 39-7 margin after three quarters. Arizona State made a late charge with three fourth-quarter touchdowns but the 42-28 final score made the lopsided game look a lot closer than reality. Fans of both teams should expect a much closer affair this time around.

Arizona State went on to win its last eight Pac-12 games since the loss to Stanford and has been virtually unstoppable at home all season. The Sun Devils averaged 49.1 points at home in Tempe this season and scored at least 53 points in six of eight home contests. The last time Stanford allowed more than 30 points in a game — much less 50 — was the 48 it allowed to Arizona in early October of last year.

While ASU has surged on offense over the final two months, it's the Sun Devils' defense that may be the deciding factor this weekend. Since losing to Notre Dame on Oct. 5, Arizona State has allowed more than 24 points just once (33, UCLA) and has given up just 85.6 yards rushing per game — which includes 249 in the blowout finale against Arizona. Will Sutton, Carl Bradford and Chris Young have developed into one of the league’s top defensive fronts (more on that soon).

On the flip side, the Cardinal are a different team since boat-racing Arizona State back in September as well. Stanford lost two of its last seven overall — both of which came on the road against teams Arizona State defeated (Utah, USC) — and the offense has topped 400 yards just three times since September (8 games). The 387.6 yards per game during that span would be ranked 82nd nationally.

Stanford has won the last three meetings in fairly convincing fashion, but, needless to say, these are two very different teams today than in any of those Cardinal victories.

Arizona State leads the all-time series 16-11.

Stanford at Arizona State

Kickoff: 7:45 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Spread: Arizona State -3

Three Things to Watch

Arizona State's backfield without Marion Grice
Not having injured starting running back Marion Grice will hurt Todd Graham’s offense in a big way. Grice had 1,434 yards from scrimmage and wasn’t just a running threat as his 50 receptions will attest. But can Graham replace the points? Grice led the Pac-12 and is fifth nationally with 20 total touchdowns despite missing the regular-season finale. Do-everything dynamo D.J. Foster, who spent most of the season playing wide receiver, stepped in last week in a big way. He rushed 23 times for 124 yards and two scores against Arizona and has played running back for most of his career until 2013. Foster is an excellent player but losing Grice is a big blow to Graham’s offense. Can the diminutive Foster carry a full workload against a physical and punishing defense?

Which pass rush is more effective?
Stanford’s experience, versatility, physicality and suffocating front seven is no secret. It posted three sacks, 10.0 tackles for a loss and blocked a punt against Arizona State in the first meeting. The Cardinal finished as the Pac-12's No. 1 scoring defense at just 19.0 points per game allowed. But Arizona States’s front seven is no joke either. The Sun Devils have averaged more than four sacks per game (4.1 pg) in Pac-12 play since losing to Stanford and used nine sacks against UCLA two weeks ago to clinch the South Division. Both quarterbacks are athletic but these are two of the top 10 teams in the nation in creating pressure on the quarterback, so offensive line play will be paramount this weekend.

Stanford's balance on offense
The best way for David Shaw to keep his quarterback upright is to create balance on offense. His offense struggled at times over the final two months — namely against Washington, Utah, Oregon Sate and USC. It couldn’t complete passes against USC or Washington and struggled to run the ball against Utah and Oregon State. Both Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson split carries against Arizona State in September but Gaffney has established himself as the lead back with 29.3 carries per game over his last six. Quarterback Kevin Hogan has shown flashes of being able to create balance but has been below 158 yards passing in four of the last five games. He and big-play wide receiver Ty Montgomery — who scored twice against Arizona State in the first meeting — must be able to create balance to slow down the ASU pass rush.

Key Player: Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford
Hogan has had his moments of brilliance this season but has been inconsistent at times this fall. He can go from an 82.67 passer rating one week (USC) to 235.14 the next (Cal). Stanford is unbeaten this year when he completes more than 56 percent of his passes and he will likely have to be much better than that to outscore Arizona State. Hogan needs to get wide receiver Ty Montgomery involved in the game plan right away as one or two big passes down the field to the speedster could really open things up for Tyler Gaffney and the power running attack. Stanford will go as far as Hogan takes them — which could be the Granddaddy of Them All… or the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30. 

Final Analysis
Stanford was the significantly better team when these two met this year as the Cardinal totally baffled Graham with bizarre formations on offense and disguised blitzes on defense. However, Arizona State is a much better team today than back in September and are also playing in a stadium they haven’t lost in this year (7-0). This should gives fans a back-and-forth chess match in the desert. That said, the Cardinal have played in championship games before and are loaded on defense with senior superstars at every level. How does the old adage go: Offense wins games and defense wins championships? The physicality at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball for Stanford is the difference in what should be an extremely entertaining and well-played Pac-12 title tilt.

Pac-12 Championship Predictions:

Athlon EditorChampionship PredictionPac-12 Season Record
Braden GallStanford, 34-3174-17
David FoxArizona St, 35-2869-22
Steven LassanStanford, 31-2776-15
Mitch LightStanford, 28-2472-19

 

Teaser:
2013 Pac-12 Championship Preview and Prediction: Stanford at Arizona State
Post date: Thursday, December 5, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-14-heisman-trophy-voting
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Each week of the college football season, Athlon Sports will poll some of the nation's best college football people from every region of the country. Each voter offers up a top five and each first-place vote is worth five points. A second-place vote is worth four points, so on and so forth. With 13 voters, a perfect ballot — i.e., 13 first-place votes — would give a player 65 total points.

And for the first time all season, one player clearly stands above the rest with 11 of the 13 first-place votes. As long as nothing changes... off the field.

Post-Week 14 Voting Results:

 LWPlayerPos.TeamPts1st2nd3rd4th5th
1.(1)Jameis WinstonQBFlorida St5511----
2.(7)Jordan LynchQBN. Illinois361433-
3.(10)Braxton MillerQBOhio St26-34-2
4.(2)AJ McCarronQBAlabama2511331
5.(3)Johnny ManzielQBTexas A&M13-3--1
6.(4)Andre WilliamsRBBoston College8---4-
7t.(7)Ka'Deem CareyRBArizona6--2--
7t.(5)Bryce PettyQBBaylor6--1-3
9t.(ur)Nick MarshallQBAuburn4---12
9t.(6)Marcus MariotaQBOregon4-1---
9t.(9)Aaron DonaldDLPitt4-1---
12.(ur)Brandin CooksWROregon St3---11
13.(ur)Connor ShawQBSouth Carolina2---1-
14t.(ur)Teddy BridgewaterQBLouisville1----1
14t.(12)Derek CarrQBFresno St1----1
14t.(ur)Jadeveon ClowneyDESouth Carolina1----1

Heisman Headlines:

What to do with Jordan Lynch? His numbers are ridiculous and his team could be an undefeated conference champion but voters still don’t know what to do with the Northern Illinois quarterback. He is fourth in the nation in rushing at 146.3 yards per game, third nationally with 20 rushing touchdowns and his 248 carries are 12th nationally. And all of this ground production comes with 204.8 yards passing per game, a 64.4 percent completion rate and a 22:5 TD:INT ratio as a passer. And his team has handled Iowa, Purdue, Toledo and Ball State with relative ease. However, evidence suggests that his level of competition is entirely too weak to win the Heisman. Will fans hold his lackluster performance against Florida State last season against him this year? He completed just 36.6 percent of his passes, averaged 1.9 yards per carry (23 att., 44 yards) and scored once in the 31-10 Orange Bowl drubbing.

Jameis Winston. There is no other candidate that has the resume that Winston presents on the field. His numbers are sick — he is leading the nation in passing efficiency, is third nationally with 35 TD passes and is second in the country at 11.0 yards per pass attempt. His team is perfect, ranked No. 1 and poised to crush yet another opponent for a conference title and berth in the BCS title game. The only thing that will keep Winston from winning the coveted stiff-armed trophy will be if charges are levied in the sexual assault investigation. Voters have a brutally difficult decision to make with the Seminoles quarterback.

Buckeye Rising. The name moving up boards the most is Ohio State’s quarterback Braxton Miller. The preseason frontrunner missed some time due to injury against Cal and Florida A&M but has been the Offensive Player of the Year in the Big Ten. He is 10th nationally in passing efficiency (164.31) and is fourth nationally among quarterbacks in rushing (89.1 ypg). His 295.0 yards per game of total offense in Big Ten play leads the league and he has come up huge in November (rushing for 488 yards and six scores on 10.6 yards per carry in the month). Should he post another huge game against Michigan State, finishing 25-0 over the last two seasons, and lands in the BCS title game, he will get a lot of votes.

Deepest Vote Yet. The 13-person Athlon Sports Heisman panel has been voting all season and this is easily the deepest field of vote-getters. Brandin Cooks is the top wide receiver in the nation, Connor Shaw might be the most underrated QB in SEC history, Bryce Petty could still win the Big 12 outright, Andre Williams is over 2,100 yards rushing and Nick Marshall could lead his team to a BCS title game after an 0-8 SEC record in 2012. After Winston, it's completely wide open.

The Voting Panel:

NameOrganizationWebsiteNo. 1
Tom DienhartBig Ten NetworkBigTenNetwork.comJameis Winston
Bryan FischerPac-12 NetworkPac-12.comJameis Winston
David FoxAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comAJ McCarron
Braden GallAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comJameis Winston
Steven GodfreySB NationSBNation.comJameis Winston
Chris HustonHeisman PunditHeismanPundit.comJordan Lynch
Steven LassanAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comJameis Winston
Chris LevelRed Raider SportsRedRaiderSports.comJameis Winston
Mitch LightAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comJameis Winston
Billy LiucciTexAgsTexAgs.comJameis Winston
Dan RubensteinSB Nation/Solid VerbalSolidVerbal.comJameis Winston
Josh WardMr. SEC/WNMLMrSEC.comJameis Winston
Jim YoungACC Sports JournalACCSports.comJameis Winston

 

Teaser:
College Football: Post-Week 14 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-championship-weekend
Body:

The beauty of sports, in particular college football, lies in their complete unpredictability and reality TV-like drama. Here's what might happen on Championship Saturday.

Note: The point of this column is to have some fun and make some outlandish predictions. Please react accordingly.

David Cutcliffe will win National Coach of the Year
There have been a lot of firsts this year for Duke. This year marks the first time Duke has won 10 games in a season. It is the first time in school history that the Blue Devils have earned back-to-back bowl bids. It won a game over a ranked opponent for the first time in four decades. And it won its first Coastal Division championship — outright, I might add. So while there are plenty of excellent candidates for Coach of the Year (Gus Malzahn, Gary Pinkel, Todd Graham, Mark Dantonio, Art Briles), Cutcliffe is the most deserving candidate. His team may not have a chance against Florida State this weekend but simply being in Bank of America Stadium on Saturday makes this the most historic football season in Duke's history. Cutcliffe should be honored for it.

Three underdogs will win conference title games
Florida State will crush Duke in the ACC Championship Game but Stanford (+3.5), Michigan State (+5.5) and Missouri (+1.5) could all pull off upsets. And here’s why. What do all three teams have in common? They each boast their respective league’s most athletic and most dominant defense. All three have elite defensive lines and will be facing elite rushing attacks. Offense wins games and defense wins championships. Take all three underdogs to cover and at least three (of the six) to win outright in the power-league championship games. For good measure, I am including Bowling Green and Utah State as four-point underdogs in their conference championship games to mid-major darlings Northern Illinois and Fresno State respectively.

Texas will win the Big 12 outright
Oklahoma State controls its own destiny in the Big 12 and hosts archrival Oklahoma in the Bedlam Series this weekend. But both Texas and Baylor still have a chance to win the league outright and the two will meet in Waco on Saturday. The Bears have come quickly down to earth after a big first two months and were lucky to escape a trip to TCU with a win last weekend. Texas, meanwhile, has been impressive since losing to Oklahoma State. The Sooners have had two weeks to prepare for Okie State and is coming off of their best offensive showing of the season against Kansas State. Oklahoma and Texas both win and the Longhorns clinch the Big 12 title outright and head to the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

Mizzou will hold Auburn to under 150 yards rushing
Gus Malzahn’s zone-read offense has been virtually unstoppable all season long, averaging over 300 yards per game on the ground and using 296 rushing yards to topple mighty Alabama last week. However, Missouri leads the SEC in sacks, tackles for a loss and turnover margin and brings arguably the most athletic defensive line in the conference into the Georgia Dome for Saturday's championship game. Look for Gary Pinkel to study the Mississippi State-Auburn game tape closely this week. The Bulldogs are the only team to hold Auburn to less than 213 yards rushing this year — 120 yards and no touchdowns on 3.3 yards per carry.

Jim Mora won’t be coaching at UCLA
His alma mater Washington has been thrust into a critical coaching search and Mora has long eyed Seattle as his potential dream destination. Mora has announced that he won’t be taking the Washington job, however, what if Texas comes calling after the Baylor game? New Texas AD Steve Patterson has long coveted Mora as the potential successor to Mack Brown. The NFL also will make overtures towards the Bruins' head coach as well. Mora has stated he is staying put but what if the Longhorns or NFL makes an offer?

Braxton Miller will win the Heisman Trophy
Should my second prediction not come true and Ohio State happens to defeat Michigan State as expected, it means Braxton Miller likely will have had a fantastic game. He has led the Big Ten in total offense (295.0 ypg) and passing efficiency (164.31) in Big Ten games and is fourth nationally in rushing yards per game among quarterbacks (89.1 ypg). The Spartans' defense will be geared up to stop Carlos Hyde but will have no answer for No. 5 under center. More than 300 yards of offense and four total touchdowns on a team that is 25-0 over the last two seasons might be enough to upset the Jameis Winston Heisman apple cart.

Teaser:
Outrageous College Football Predictions: Week 15
Post date: Wednesday, December 4, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/amazing-stats-nfls-week-13
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 Week 13 of the NFL season:

13: Peyton Manning's NFL-record 4,000-yard seasons
Many believe that Peyton Manning is the greatest quarterback of all-time. He is setting all types of Denver records and is on pace to top both the NFL single-season yards mark (Drew Brees, 5,476) and passing TDs (Tom Brady, 50). But after 403 yards and five touchdowns in the road win over Kansas City, Manning posted his NFL-record 13th 4,000-yard season. It was also his NFL-record eighth career game with at least five touchdown passes (tied with Drew Brees). What makes the 4,000-yard record so impressive is Drew Brees is a distant second with just seven such seasons. Barring injury, Brees will easily get his eighth such season this year but Manning is head and shoulders above the rest of the NFL world with 13 4,000-yard seasons.

1: Players in NFL history with back-to-back 200-yard receiving games
In the long and storied history of the NFL, a Cleveland Brown has done something no player in NFL history has ever done. On a team that can’t seem to find a quarterback, Josh Gordon recorded at least 200 yards receiving in back-to-back games — the first time the feat has ever happened in NFL history. Gordon caught 14 passes for 237 yards and a TD last week against Pittsburgh and caught 10 passes for 261 yards and two scores this week against Jacksonville. But in true Cleveland fashion, the Browns lost both games.

3: NFL games with a 200-yard rusher and 200-yard receiver
Adrian Peterson rushed 35 times for 211 yards in the upset win over the Bears on Sunday. On the other side of the field, Alshon Jeffery caught 12 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns in the crushing loss for Chicago. It marked only the third time in NFL history that a game boasted both a 200-yard rusher and 200-yard receiver. Cleveland’s Jamal Lewis (216) and Cincinnati’s Chad Johnson (209) did it on Sept. 16, 2007 while Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles (259) and Denver’s Jabar Gaffney (213) did it on Jan. 3, 2010. Jeffery’s 249 yards were a Bears single-game franchise record, breaking his own record set early this season against the Saints (218). It was Peterson’s fifth career 200-yard rushing effort, tying him with Tiki Barber for second all-time. Only O.J. Simpson (6) has more 200-yard rushing games than All-Day. The Vikings are 4-1 in such games and 6-1 when Peterson tops 190 yards.

20: Career games Cam Newton has thrown and run for a TD
Cam Newton was at his finest in a blowout win over the lowly Tampa Bay Bucs this Sunday. He threw for 263 yards and two touchdowns in the air while rushing for 68 yards and scoring another time on the ground. It was the 20th time in his career in which he has thrown and run for a touchdown in the same game. Since entering the NFL in 2011, Newton is leading the NFL by a wide margin as Tom Brady (6) is second and Matthew Stafford, Andy Dalton and Mark Sanchez (5) are tied for third. More importantly, the Panthers won a franchise-record eighth consecutive game. In those eight games, Newton has done the pass-run touchdown combo five times. 

39.2: Geno Smith's completion percentage over the last four games
The Jets have lost three straight after falling in ugly fashion to the Dolphins 23-3 in Week 13. And Geno Smith might be playing himself out of a starting job. He completed just 4 of 10 passes for 29 yards, no touchdowns and one interception, continuing a very disturbing accuracy trend for the rookie passer. Smith hasn’t topped 42.1 percent in any of the Jets' last four games and has completed just 39.2 percent of his passes over the last four games (29-of-74). He has a total of 374 yards, six interceptions and not one touchdown pass during this span. The Jets are 1-3 during the last month and have played themselves out of the playoff picture.

28-15-1: Dallas’ record on Thanksgiving
Some would say it is an unfair advantage that the Cowboys get a home game on a short week every single season during the Thanksgiving holiday. And some would be right. Dallas topped Oakland 31-24 in comeback fashion thanks to three DeMarco Murray rushing touchdowns for the ‘Boys 28th Turkey Day win. Dallas trails only the Lions (34) for the most wins on Thanksgiving — Detroit also has the most Thanksgiving losses as well (37). Only the Ravens (2-0), Texans (1-0), Saints (1-0) and Colts (2-0-1) have played but never lost on Thanksgiving and only the Panthers and Jaguars have yet to play a single game on the November holiday. Of the teams that have played at least five times on Thanksgiving, only the Vikings (5-1), Eagles (4-1), 49ers (3-1-1), Dolphins and Titans (both 5-2) have a better winning percentage than Dallas’ .636 on Thanksgiving.

19:0: Nick Foles' 2013 TD:INT ratio
Nick Foles has started six games this year. After going 21-of-34 for 237 yards and three touchdowns passes without an interception in a 24-21 win over Arizona, Foles moved to 5-1 as the starter and has led Phily to four straight wins. More impressively is how he is doing it. Foles has 19 touchdown passes and hasn’t thrown an interception yet in 196 pass attempts this year. The only player in NFL history to start a season with more TD passes without an interception is Peyton Manning… this year… with 20. Chip Kelly’s squad is No. 4 in the NFL in scoring offense and is tied with the Cowboys atop the NFC East.

185.2: Packers' rushing yards allowed per game over the last five
At the end of the season, Packers fans will point to a broken collarbone if Green Bay doesn’t make the playoffs. However, the defense needs to join not having Aaron Rodgers as a primary culprit behind the Packers' 2013 demise. Entering the Week 8 Monday night game against the Bears, Green Bay was 5-2 and was allowing just 83.6 yards per game rushing on defense. Since (and counting) the Bears game, the Packers' defense has been gashed on the ground for 185.2 yards per game and is 0-4-1 during that span. The Green and Gold gave up a season-worst 241 yards rushing in the holiday blowout loss to the Lions — this just four days after allowing 232 yards to the Vikings. Rodgers may be back soon and he certainly helps all that ails Green Bay, but No. 12 doesn’t play linebacker. If the Packers want to win the division, the front seven will have to play better football.

0: Times Andrew Luck has lost back-to-back games
The Colts bounced back after an ugly 40-11 loss in Arizona to sweep the division series with the Titans 22-14 in Indianapolis on Sunday. According to Elias, he has started the second-most games by an NFL quarterback since 1970 without losing back-to-back games to start a career (28), behind only Dan Marino (33). He is currently tied with Kordell Stewart but will obviously pass him in his next start. With the win, the Colts have all but locked up the AFC South title as Indy has a three-game lead and the tiebreaker over Tennessee. The Colts' magic number is one.

Teaser:
Amazing Stats from the NFL's Week 13
Post date: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/amazing-big-ten-college-football-stats-week-14
Body:

True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's 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 Big Ten to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 14:

226: Carlos Hyde's rivalry-high rushing yards against Michigan
No Ohio State running back has ever rushed for more yards in "The Game" than Hyde did against the Wolverines on Saturday. He rushed 27 times for 226 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown in what might have been the best game between "Ohio" and "That Team Up North" in the long and storied history of the rivalry. Quarterback Braxton Miller accounted for five total touchdowns, rushed for 150 yards and played electric football all game long as well. Urban Meyer has won 24 straight games to start his OSU coaching career, tying Larry Coker for fourth all-time in NCAA history (Pop Warner, 30; Fielding Yost 29; Walter Camp, 28). Michigan and Ohio State have played 110 times and 2013 might have been the best version to date.

603: Yards allowed by Ohio State to Michigan
The Game featured 1,129 yards of offense, three fighting ejections and the biggest two-point conversion attempt since Tom Osborne went for it in the 1984 Orange Bowl. But the most startling number is the 603 yards of offense from Michigan. The Wolverines were ranked 96th nationally in total offense but went up and down the field on the Buckeyes defense. The Wolverines had one scoring drive of at least 70 yards in its previous five games but had five such drives against Ohio State. The 603 yards, 451 passing yards and 41 points were the most allowed by the Buckeyes defense this season.

1966: The last time Michigan State was unbeaten in Big Ten play
With an ugly but convincing win over Minnesota at home, Mark Dantonio and the Spartans finished the year unblemished in Big Ten play. The 8-0 record is just the third such perfect Big Ten record for Michigan State and the first since 1966. The Spartans have allowed six points or less in five of their last six games and are leading the nation in total defense. Dantonio now has his sights set on the Rose Bowl, as his Spartans take on an Ohio State team that has won 24 straight games in the Big Ten Championship Game. Michigan State hasn't been to the Rose Bowl since 1987 — when Nick Saban was the defensive coordinator. The 1965 season is the only other perfect Big Ten record in MSU history.

208.92: Christian Hackenberg’s QB rating against Wisconsin
The true freshman phenom saved his best for last against the ranked Badgers on the road in the regular-season finale. He went 21-of-30 for 339 yards — one shy of his career high — and a career-high four touchdowns with nary a turnover in the 31-24 win over Wisconsin. His 208.92 passer rating was by far by the best of his brief career, topping his 165.38 against UCF. What’s more impressive is the defense he was facing was ranked in the top six nationally in total yards and points allowed per game. Hackenberg is a special talent with elite NFL upside. With a full offseason to continue his development and maturation following a successful freshman campaign, the sky could be the limit for the Nittany Lions in 2014. With two winning seasons in the face of heavy-handed NCAA sanctions, few coaches in the nation have done a better job over the last two years than Bill O'Brien.

297: Total tackles by Iowa’s starting linebackers
James Morris, Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey are a big reason why Iowa went from 4-8 to 8-4 in 2013. The trio is fifth (Hitchens, 102), eighth (Morris, 98) and ninth (Kirksey, 97) in the Big Ten in tackles and has combined for 297 total stops. All three were preseason Butkus Award candidates and all three delivered in a big way. In 2013, the group combined for 297 tackles, 31.5 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, six interceptions and six forced fumbles. And they might have saved Kirk Ferentz’ job.

10: Quarters Minnesota’s offense hasn’t scored a TD
You have to go all the way back to Nov. 9 to find an offensive touchdown for the Golden Gophers. Yes, Minnesota’s eight-win season is one of the better stories nationally considering all that the Gophers' community has had to deal with,. However, the storybook ending simply didn’t happen. Minnesota lost its final two games of the regular season to Wisconsin and Michigan State without scoring an offensive touchdown. And since it was held scoreless in the second half of the Penn State victory, that makes 10 straight quarters without an offensive touchdown for Goldie. The bowl game can’t get here fast enough.

6: Straight seasons with four losses for Bo Pelini
Nebraska and its head coach finally melted down in the 38-17 drubbing to Iowa to end the already bizarre 2013 season. Pelini didn’t handle himself well during or after the game and there is a reason he should be concerned. Pelini does have three trips to the conference championship game in six season but has now lost four games in all six of his seasons in Lincoln. There is still a bowl game left but even a win won’t change the strange run of solid but mediocre four-loss teams for the embattled Pelini.

2: Combined Big Ten wins for Northwestern, Illinois and Purdue
Illinois defeated Purdue for its only conference win of the season and that was an ugly 20-16 affair in which the Illini broke a 20-game Big Ten losing streak. Not much was expected of Purdue either. So a combined 1-15 record for those two isn’t all that surprising. But Northwestern was picked by many as a dark horse candidate to win the Big Ten Legends Division and was a top-25 team as late as Week 5. Certainly, injuries were a problem, but Pat Fitzgerald has to be concerned with his team's 1-7 performance in Big Ten play this fall. His team played well against Ohio State but wasn’t that competitive in blowout losses to Wisconsin and Michigan State. For the Wildcats, 2013 was a major reality check.

Teaser:
Amazing Big Ten College Football Stats from Week 14
Post date: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/amazing-college-football-stats-week-14
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:

1: Second it takes to win the SEC West
The officials put one second back on the clock — much to Auburn's chagrin — giving Alabama a 57-yard field goal attempt to win the SEC West. Except, the kick was short and Chris Davis returned it 109 unofficial yards for the win and the SEC West title in arguably the most dramatic finish to a college football game ... ever. One is also the number of times Nick Saban and Alabama have lost when rushing for at least 140 yards since the start of the 2008 season, a span of 61 games. Alabama gained 218 yards rushing while Auburn rushed for 296 yards — or 131 more yards than Alabama had allowed all season (165, Arkansas). It was just the fourth time in 77 games that Alabama has lost under Nick Saban while leading at halftime. Auburn now has wins over nine bowl teams and is 5-1 against teams ranked in the Sagarin Top 35.

42: Active record consecutive games with a turnover forced
Missouri forced a turnover against Texas A&M but that one forced fumble kept alive the nation's longest active streak of consecutive games with at least one turnover forced. For the 42nd straight game, the Tigers have taken the ball away from the opponent, and its a big reason why they finished 11-1. With an SEC East, SEC and BCS title hanging in the balance, Mizzou held Johnny Manziel and the Aggies to 379 yards and 5.4 yards per play — both of which would be season lows if not for LSU's performance against the reigning Heisman winner last weekend. In 2013, Gary Pinkel's team led the SEC in sacks (37), interceptions (18), takeaways (27), turnover margin (1.25) and tackles for loss (95).

2-14: Auburn, Missouri SEC record last year
According to @LVSuperBook back in August, Auburn was a 50-1 longshot to win the SEC while Missouri was 60-1. That's because these two programs went a combined 2-14 in SEC play last season. For all intents and purposes, these two Tigers were the 12th and 13th worst teams in the conference. Now, they will meet in Atlanta for an SEC crown and potential BCS national championship berth, depending on the Big Ten and ACC title games. Missouri wasn't supposed to be able to compete in the big, bad SEC and the 2-6 season last fall only strengthened the durability doubts of the Tigers. However, not only has Missouri bounced back to win the SEC East, but it did it in true SEC style — with a nasty, playmaking defense. Auburn, a team with a first-year head coach following a 0-8 campaign in the league, is rushing for more yards per game (318.3 ypg) than the entire offense averaged a year ago (305 ypg). On Saturday, a traditional SEC power that employs a zone-read spread option will face a former Big 12 team boasting the SEC's most physical and athletic defensive line.

49.1: Home scoring average for Arizona State
In crushing in-state rival Arizona 58-21 in the Territorial Cup on Saturday night, the Sun Devils clinched the best record in the Pac-12 (8-1) and earned the right to host the Pac-12 Championship Game. Not only does Arizona State avoid having to visit Palo Alto for the second time this year — a place where Stanford hasn't lost in 16 games — but it gets to play in Sun Devil Stadium — a place where ASU has been virtually unstoppable. The Sun Devils are sixth in the nation in home scoring average at 49.1 points per game. In six home games this year, Todd Graham's squad has scored at least 53 points five times.

226: Carlos Hyde rivalry-high rushing yards against Michigan
No Ohio State running back has ever rushed for more yards in "The Game" than Carlos Hyde did against the Wolverines on Saturday. He rushed 27 times for 226 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown in what might have been the best game between "Ohio" and "That Team Up North" in the long and storied history of the rivalry. Quarterback Braxton Miller accounted for five total touchdowns, rushed for 150 yards and played electric football all game long as well. Urban Meyer has won 24 straight games to start his OSU coaching career, tying Larry Coker for fourth all-time in NCAA history (Pop Warner, 30; Fielding Yost 29; Walter Camp, 28). Michigan and Ohio State have played 110 times and 2013 might have been the best version to date. The Game featured 1,129 yards of offense — 603 from Michigan's 96th ranked offense — three fighting ejections and the biggest two-point conversion attempt since Tom Osborne went for it in the 1984 Orange Bowl.

1966: The last time Michigan State was unbeaten in Big Ten play
With an ugly but convincing win over Minnesota at home, Mark Dantonio and the Spartans finished the year unblemished in Big Ten play. The 8-0 record is just the third such perfect Big Ten record for Michigan State and the first since 1966. The Spartans have allowed six points or less in five of the last six games and are leading the nation in total defense. Dantonio now sets his sights on the Rose Bowl as his Spartans take on Ohio State that has won 24 straight games in the Big Ten Championship Game. Michigan State hasn't been to the Rose Bowl since 1987 — when Nick Saban was the defensive coordinator. The 1965 season is the only other perfect Big Ten record in MSU history.

26-5: Connor Shaw's record as a starter
No South Carolina Gamecock has won more games than Connor Shaw. The gritty quarterback has set himself apart as the greatest signal caller to ever play at Williams-Brice Stadium. He began the season as the sixth-most efficient passer in SEC history (151.5) and all he has done is add to his underrated resume (156.2 in 2013). His 26 wins are the most in South Carolina history, and he set a Gamecocks record with 18 consecutive home wins (18-0). He went 3-0 against rival Clemson and helped his team defeat the hated Tigers five times in a row for the first time in rivalry history. He has rushed for 1,636 yards, 16 touchdowns and countless first downs on third down. He is seventh all-time in SEC history with a 64.7 career completion percentage and second only to Tee Martin (24) with 20 consecutive completions last year against Missouri. In terms of win percentage, Shaw is just behind names like Tim Tebow (86.6 percent) and Peyton Manning (86.7 percent) as one of the top 10 winningest SEC quarterbacks (83.8 percent). Shaw has 52 passing touchdowns and only 14 interceptions in his three seasons as the starter with just one interception and 23 scoring strikes in his last 13 games. He has to be considered as one of the league's all-time great leaders under center.

12-1: Mark Richt's record against Georgia Tech
Since taking over in Athens, Mark Richt has dominated the in-state rivalry with Georgia Tech titled "Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate." Without starting quarterback Aaron Murray and after falling behind 20-0, Richt watched his team fight back over the final 30 minutes to force overtime. Richt has now won five straight and 12 out of 13 against the Yellow Jackets since taking over as the Georgia coach in 2001. Signal caller Hutson Mason, who got his first career start in place of Murray and will likely be the starter next fall, led the Bulldogs to a 41-14 run over the final 31 minutes and overtime. Todd Gurley scored three late touchdowns, and the defense forced one critical turnover.

1,068: Combined passing yards for Derek Carr and David Fales
Fresno State lost for the first time this year when San Jose State and David Fales topped the Bulldogs 62-52 on Friday. Fales was 37-of-45 for 547 yards and six touchdowns and didn't throw an interception. Derek Carr was 38-of-50 for 519 yards and had six touchdowns of his own for Fresno State. The 114 points is the second highest scoring game in college football this season behind Baylor's 73-42 win over West Virginia (115). The loss is costly for Tim DeRuyter as the Bulldogs are out of BCS bowl contention with just one loss.

1927-28: The last time Vanderbilt won eight games in back-to-back seasons
With yet another late turnover and another late comeback, Vanderbilt topped Wake Forest 23-21 to finish the regular season with an impressive 8-4 mark. It is the Commodores second straight season with at least eight wins for the first time in 85 years, dating back to 1927-28 (the last time Vandy posted back-to-back winning seasons was 1974-75). Coach James Franklin's teams have proven themselves in the most critical of times, winning their last nine November games and 10 of 12 all-time under Franklin during the season's final month. With three consecutive bowl berths, this is without question the most successful three-year run in program history.

Teaser:
Amazing College Football Stats from Week 14
Post date: Monday, December 2, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-big-ten-week-14-awards-and-power-rankings
Body:

The Big Ten regular season is in the books. Two teams went undefeated in the league, and those two teams will square off in the 2013 Big Ten Championship Game. Michigan State topped Minnesota with a suffocating defense to finish unbeaten in the league for the first time since 1966. Ohio State rode the star backfield tandem of Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde to defeat Michigan on the road in dramatic and historic fashion. But that wasn't the only excitment in the Big Ten — Penn State's seniors went out as winners, Northwestern finally got a win, Indiana officially improved two years in a row and Bo Pelini had a press conference for the ages.

Here are the Big Ten's Week 14 Superlatives:

Offensive Player of the Week: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Running back Carlos Hyde gets honorable mention for his rivalry-high 226 yards and game-winning touchdown on the ground. But he also nearly gave the game away with a costly fumble while Braxton Miller accounted for five total touchdowns and 286 total yards. Miller rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns, consistently moving his team up and down the field against a solid Michigan rushing defense. Miller's third game with at least 144 yards rushing in a row and his ability to make big plays with both his legs and arm, make him the most dangerous weapon in the league and a potential late-season Heisman contender. If he does something special against Michigan State to push the Buckeyes the national title game on a 25-game winning streak, he would belong in New York despite missing two games and most of a third early in the season.

Defensive Player of the Week: James Morris, LB, Iowa 
Ohio State's Ryan Shazier continued his campaign for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors with 14 tackles, 1.5 for loss and half of a sack against Michigan. But his unit gave up 603 yards and 41 points to the 96th-rated offense in the nation. Iowa's linebackers have been excellent all season and in a huge road win over Nebraska, Morris posted one of the best stat lines of the year. He had 10 tackles, his fourth interception of the year, four tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble. Cornhuskers workhorse back Ameer Abdullah didn't get to 100 yards for the first time in nine games.

Team of the Week: Ohio State
It took a goal line stop on a two-point conversion with 30 seconds left in a one-point game, but Ohio State beat "That Team Up North" in wild and dramatic fashion. In one of the most exciting games ever played between the Midwestern rivals, Ohio State's dynamic duo on offense outlasted a gusty performance from Devin Gardner and the Michigan offense. The two heavyweights traded blows all game, but Urban Meyer got clutch drives when he needed them from his offense and a huge stop on a the winner-take-all two-point gamble by Brady Hoke. Meyer has won 24 straight games to start his Buckeyes career, tying him with Larry Coker for fourth all-time in NCAA history (Pop Warner, 30; Fielding Yost, 29; Walter Camp, 28). Michigan State and the nation's top defense awaits in Indianapolis with a trip to the Rose Bowl — and maybe more for OSU — on the line for both teams.
 
Coordinator of the Week: Bill O'Brien, Penn State
Yes, he is the head coach but he is also the offensive coordinator. And what his offense accomplished this weekend in Madison should not be undersold. Penn State scored 31 points and rolled up 467 yards against a Badgers defense that had been allowing 13.8 points and 278.5 yards per game, both were ranked in the top six nationally. Wisconsin had allowed only 19 total points at home in Big Ten play before losing this weekend and PSU was one yard shy of creating the Badgers worst defensive performance of the season (468, Arizona State). For a team that has struggled on the road this year, the Nittany Lions put together their best game of the year in Camp Randall.

Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
Penn State's true freshman phenom played the best game of his young career in the season finale on the road against a ranked Wisconsin team. Hackenberg was brilliant in Madison, completing 21-of-30 passes for 339 yards and a career-high four touchdown passes against a defense that was giving up less than 14 points per game in 2013. He finished the season with 2,955 yards, 24 total touchdowns and, most important, a second straight winning record for Bill O'Brien and Penn State. Hackenberg is as big time a quarterback prospect as the Big Ten has seen in decades, and his legend should only grow during the offeason due to this performance.
 
Big Ten Post-Week 14 Power Rankings
 TeamLWRecordThis WeekNext Week
1.(1)12-0, 8-0W, Michigan, 42-41Michigan St
2.

(2)11-1, 8-0W, Minnesota, 14-3 Ohio St
3.

(3)9-3, 6-2L, Penn St, 31-24 Bye
4.

(6)8-4, 5-3W, Nebraska, 38-17Bye
5.

(4)8-4, 4-4L, Michigan St, 14-3Bye
6.(5)8-4, 5-3L, Iowa, 38-17Bye
7.

(8)

7-5, 4-4

W, Wisconsin, 31-24Bye
8.

(7)7-5, 3-5L, Ohio St, 42-41Bye
9.

(9)5-7, 3-5W, Purdue, 56-36 Bye
10.

(10)5-7, 1-7W, Illinois, 37-34  Bye
11.

(11)4-8, 1-7L, Northwestern, 37-34Bye
12.

(12)1-11, 0-8L, Indiana, 56-36 Bye

 

Teaser:
2013 Big Ten Week 14 Awards and Power Rankings
Post date: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /college-football/2013-pac-12-week-14-awards-and-power-rankings
Body:

The Civil War, Apple Cup, Battle for the Victory Bell, Territorial Cup and Rumble in the Rockies always make the final weekend of Pac-12 action exciting. The in-state and crosstown battles make the Pac-12's rivalries underrated nationally. However, the most that was on the line in all but one game was simply bragging rights — even in the historic Stanford-Notre Dame bout. The Duel in the Desert was the only game that carried any weight as Arizona State was attempting to clinch home-field advantage in the Pac-12 title game.

And they did just that in impressive fashion. 

Offensive Player of the Week: Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
On the road against the league's No. 1 total defense and No. 2 scoring defense, Hundley was efficient and productive against his crosstown rival. He finished 18-of-27 passing for 208 yards with 80 more yards on the ground, two total touchdowns and no interceptions. The Bruins scored more points against the Trojans defense than USC had allowed since Lane Kiffin was the head coach. Both Tyler Gaffney (33 carries, 189 yards, TD) and Bishop Sankey (34 carries, 240 yards from scrimmage, TD) were impressive in rivalry games as well.

Defensive Player of the Wek: Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon
In one of the more underrated rivalries in the nation, the All-America cornerback was charged with guarding Oregon State's Brandin Cooks, a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award. Ekpre-Olomu had 12 solo tackles, three passes broken up and one critical interception in the one-point Civil War classic. He did allow 10 completions to Cooks (exactly his per game average) but he held him to 30 yards below his average and kept him out of the end zone for just the third time this fall.

Team of the Week: Arizona State
On a weekend where very little was settled other than in-state bragging rights, the Sun Devils proved that it may be the team of the year in the Pac-12. Arizona State scored 58 points in a thorough destruction of archival Arizona in the Territorial Cup. The win means the Sun Devils have the best record in the Pac-12 and will be the host for the Pac-12 Championship Game this weekend. It also means Stanford won't have a chance to extend its 16-game home winning streak, and ASU has a chance to extend its eight-game home streak. Todd Graham in just his second season in Tempe could return Arizona State to the Rose Bowl for the first time 1996, a game it hasn't won since 1986.

Coordinator of the Week: Noel Mazzone, UCLA
UCLA walked into the Coliseum and scored 35 points and gained 396 yards with relative ease against the top total defense in the Pac-12. Brett Hundley played flawlessly while leading Mazzone's offense up and down the field without turning the ball over. Only Arizona State, Stanford and Cal have rushed for more yards on the Trojans than UCLA's 188 and only the Sun Devils (62) scored more points on USC than the Bruins' 35.

Freshman of the Week: Myles Jack, LB, UCLA
Back right where he belongs making tackles on defense, Jack got back into the two-way swing of things in a huge road win over USC. After not playing at all on defense in a critical loss to Arizona State, Jim L. Mora put his electric freshman linebacker back on defense — for the most part. He posted three tackles and got just a pair of offensive touches, the fewest since becoming a two-way player. That said, he still made a big impact on both sides of the ball, scoring the first quarter's only points for either team on a three-yard plunge. Colorado's Addison Gilliam was also excellent in defeat. He posted 14 tackles and an interception in the loss to Utah.
 

Pac-12 Post-Week 14 Power Rankings:

RankTeamLWRecordThis WeekNext Week
1(1)10-2, 7-2W, Notre Dame, 27-20 Arizona St
2(2)10-2, 7-2W, Oregon St, 36-35Bye
3(3)10-2, 8-1W, Arizona, 58-21   Stanford
4(4)9-3, 6-3W, USC, 35-14Bye
5(5)9-4, 6-3L, UCLA, 35-14Bye
6(6)8-4, 5-4W, Washington St, 27-17Bye
7(7)6-6, 4-5L, Oregon, 36-35Bye
8(8)6-6, 4-5L, Washingon, 27-17Bye
9(9)7-5, 4-5L, Arizona St, 58-21Bye
10(10)5-7, 2-7W, Colorado, 24-17 Bye 
11(11)4-8, 1-8L, Utah, 24-17 Bye
12(12)1-11, 0-9ByeBye

 

Teaser:
2013 Pac-12 Week 14 Awards and Power Rankings
Post date: Sunday, December 1, 2013 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-week-14-picks
Body:

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. Oklahoma State, Michigan State and Washington State helped me out last week in a big way as I went 3-1 in my Picks of the Week. First, Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Second, I didn't find much I liked this week, in fact, I would recommend staying away from rivalry games in general. But if you must, here is what I came up with...

2013 Record Against the Spread: 38-29-1 (3-1 last week)

Week 14 Picks of the Week:

Ohio State (-14.5) at Michigan
Normally, I would suggest staying away from rivalry games, as this weekend is a bad one to make big moves. And the Wolverines are a much better team at home than on the road. However, Ohio State is eying a BCS national title and will not be stopped by a reeling Michigan team that has lost three of the last four. Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, Ryan Shazier and Urban Meyer will not be denied and this one could get ugly. Prediction: Ohio State -14.5

Boston College (-2) at Syracuse
I nearly pulled the trigger on BC last week in a pick 'em with Maryland. The win over the Terps gave the Eagles four straight on the back of star ball carrier Andre Williams. Syracuse has lost two straight by a combined 76-19 and has struggled to move the ball over the last month. Boston College knows it has a Heisman candidate in Williams and should feed him the ball enough to cover the two-point spread. Prediction: Boston College -2

Minnesota (-15) at Michigan State
The Gophers struggled in a big way to move the ball against a solid defense at home in Wisconsin last week. They mustered zero offensive points and only 185 yards in the loss and now Minnesota is on the road on Senior Day against the nation's top-rated defense. The Spartans will celebrate an extraordinary class of senior defenders in style with another dominating performance. Prediction: Michigan State -15

Florida State (-27.5) at Florida
Picking the Gators to lose by more than four touchdowns at home seems downright illogical. But there is no way Florida will score points and, since Jameis Winston is going to start, it doesn't appear the once-vaunted Gators defense will be able to slow FSU's offense. The Noles have won by 64, 56 and 56 points in their last three games, so four touchdowns against the worst Florida team in four decades shouldn't be much of a challenge. Prediction: Florida State -27.5

Arkansas (+24.5) at LSU
The Tigers are fresh off of the best performance of their season and are facing a team that has been completely uncompetitive against the SEC. The Hogs have been outgunned by 142.3 yards per game in SEC play and lost by at least 10 points in every game except last week's overtime setback to Mississippi State. LSU should have no issue stopping the Razorbacks' one-dimensional offense and won't have any issue moving the ball. Prediction: LSU -24.5

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

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. 1 Alabama (-11) at No. 4 Auburn
No. 2 Florida St (-27.5) at Florida
No. 3 Ohio St (-15) at Michigan
No. 21 Texas A&M (+5) at No. 5 Missouri
No. 6 Clemson (+5.5) at No. 10 South Carolina
No. 25 Notre Dame (+14) at No. 8 Stanford
No. 9 Baylor (-13.5) at TCU
Minnesota (+15) at No. 11 Michigan St
Arizona (+12.5) at No. 12 Arizona St
Oregon St (+21) at No. 13 Oregon
Penn St (+24) at No. 15 Wisconsin
No. 16 Fresno St (-7.5) at San Jose St
Arkansas (+24.5) at No. 17 LSU
USF (+27) at No. 19 UCF
No. 22 UCLA (+3.5) at No. 23 USC
No. 24 Duke (+5.5) at North Carolina
Last Week:5-97-78-610-4
Year-To-Date:104-101-4102-103-4102-103-4111-94-4

 

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 14 Picks
Post date: Friday, November 29, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/top-college-football-player-matchups-watch-week-14
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:

Ka’Deem Carey, RB vs. Chris Young, LB
Arizona at Arizona State

The Sun Devils' defense gave up some yards last week but the front seven saved the day by pressuring Brett Hundley all game. Young was the star with 13 tackles, 3.0 sacks and 3.0 tackles for loss. Now, with a home game in the Pac-12 championship game on the line, Young and company are faced with stopping arguably the nation’s top running back in Ka’Deem Carey. Carey just carried 48 times for 206 yards and four scores in the upset win over Oregon. The Wildcats running back averaged 6.9 yards per carry (172 yards) and scored in the Territorial Cup last season.

C.J. Mosley, LB vs. Nick Marshall, QB
Alabama at Auburn

Marshall has been terrific in his first season at Auburn. He’s completed just under 60 percent of his passes, averaged 8.3 yards per attempt and only thrown five interceptions. Not bad for a guy who does his best work on the ground. This week, Marshall will have to be productive both on the ground and through the air to beat Alabama, the best team in the nation. He’s done it before, but the stage will be bigger and the opponent more difficult this time around. At some point, he will need to make some plays down the field in the passing game against the Tide's best defender C.J. Mosley. The linebacker is fifth in the SEC in tackles and might be a frontrunner for National Defensive Player of the Year. Mosley will be charged with deciphering Gus Malzahn's extremely productive Marshall-Tre Mason zone-read option.

Braxton Miller, QB vs. Frank Clark, DE
Ohio State at Michigan

The Wolverines have a strong rush defense but will be pushed to the brink this weekend by the Buckeyes powerful rushing attack. Carlos Hyde (133.0 ypg, 13 TD) and Braxton Miller (82.0 ypg, 5 TD) are surging at exactly the right time on the ground as the duo has combined for 691 yards and nine touchdowns over the last two weeks. The freakish defensive end is coming off an excellent performance against Iowa with 5.0 total tackles and 2.5 tackles for a loss. Clark has to be the tip of the Michigan defensive spear this weekend.

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

Johnny Manziel, QB vs. Michael Sam, DE
Texas A&M at Missouri

We learned last week that it’s not a given that Manziel will throw for 300 or 400 yards and the Aggies will roll up 40 or 50 points. A good defense, with a great plan of attack, can actually slow down the Texas A&M offense. This week, Manziel & Co. will be facing what many consider to be the best defensive line in the SEC, led by defensive end Michael Sam. The Mizzou star defender is leading the SEC in sacks (10.0) and tackles for loss (17.0). And while Manziel would never admit it publicly, he is well aware that a huge game — against a top-five opponent — can vault him back into the Heisman Trophy race. Meanwhile, the Tigers are playing for an SEC East championship.

Tajh Boyd, QB vs. Jadeveon Clowney, DE
Clemson at South Carolina

There will be pressure on Clowney, a preseason All-American, to finish off what has been a relatively disappointing junior season with a big game against the archrival Clemson Tigers and their star quarterback Tajh Boyd. Clowney, who has been slowed by injuries, only has two sacks this season — down from 13 during his breakout sophomore season. Oh, and we can’t forget that Clowney said back in July that Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is “scared” of him. Boyd completed only 45-percent of his passes in a loss last year and only 37-percent of his passes in a loss in 2011. Boyd has two touchdowns and three picks in three games — all losses — to the rival Gamecocks. Should be a fun night in Columbia.

Ryan Shazier, LB vs. Devin Gardner, QB
Ohio State at Michigan

Few players are playing as well as Shazier nationally right now. He is leading the Big Ten in tackles (109), tackles for loss (20.5) and is third in the league in sacks (6.5). Simply put, the hard-hitting linebacker makes big plays all over the field. If Devin Gardner cannot escape his grasp this weekend, it could be a long day for Michigan’s offense. Gardner had 171 yards passing, two total touchdowns, one interception and was held to minus-28 yards rushing. Another line like that from Gardner and Shazier’s Buckeyes will be 12-0 with relative ease.

Anthony Barr, LB vs. Cody Kessler, QB
UCLA at USC

It is difficult to get recognized at quarterback in a league as talented as the Pac-12. But Kessler needs to get some credit for his improved play over the final few months. He has just six interceptions all season and has thrown just one pick during the Trojans five-game winning streak. He completed over 80-percent of his passes against both Oregon State and Cal, and star outside backer Anthony Barr will be charged with pressuring the passing game. Barr has 14 tackles, 4.0 for loss and 2.0 sacks in his last two games.

Teaser:
Top College Football Player Matchups to Watch in Week 14
Post date: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 12:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-13-heisman-trophy-voting
Body:

Each week of the college football season, Athlon Sports will poll some of the nation's best college football people from every region of the country. Each voter offers up a top five and each first-place vote is worth five points. A second-place vote is worth four points, so on and so forth. With 13 voters, a perfect ballot — i.e., 13 first-place votes — would give a player 65 total points.

Week 13 featured a wild slate of games, in particular, for Heisman contenders. Bryce Petty and Baylor looked downright miserable in the cold against Oklahoma State. Marcus Mariota's Ducks were blown out on the road in Arizona as well. Johnny Manziel looked completely out of place and off his game in a 34-10 drubbing at the hands of LSU. Meanwhile, AJ McCarron and Jameis Winston continue to win without much fanfare — and it means they might be the top two candidates with two weeks left to play.

Post-Week 13 Voting Results:

 LWPlayerPos.TeamPts1st2nd3rd4th5th
1.(1)Jameis WinstonQBFlorida St5511----
2.(5)AJ McCarronQBAlabama311226-
3.(2)Johnny ManzielQBTexas A&M27-4213
4.(6)Andre WilliamsRBBoston College24-2412
5.(3)Bryce PettyQBBaylor19-3112
6.(4)Marcus MariotaQBOregon1111--2
7t.(ur)Ka'Deem CareyRBArizona7--12-
7t.(7)Jordan LynchQBN. Illinois7-1-11
9.(ur)Aaron DonaldDLPitt6--111
10.(ur)Braxton MillerQBOhio St4--1-1
11.(ur)Tajh BoydQBClemson3--1--
12.(ur)Derek CarrQBFresno St1----1

Heisman Headlines:

What to do with Winston? Whether Tallahassee authorities decide to press charges or not may determine the Heisman Trophy. If not for the off-the-field investigation — which should not be minimized — Winston is the complete Heisman package. He has huge numbers, came up big in marquee showdowns, will win the ACC title and play in the national title game. But even if no charges are filed, can voters give him sports' most coveted trophy considering what has transpired? And much like the Athlon Sports ballot, Winston appears to be either voted No. 1 (11 of 13 voters) or left off ballots completely (David Fox and Chris Huston).

Petty’s Performance. In the biggest game of the season, the nation’s most efficient passer was anything but. Much like Tajh Boyd and Clemson, Petty and the Bears had a chance to not only win the league but possibly play for a national title. All they had to do was beat the best team on their schedule. And like Boyd and Clemson, the Bears’ signal-caller looked downright pedestrian in a 49-14 blowout loss. Baylor can still win the Big 12 outright — which has to happen for Petty to get back in the Heisman mix.

Mariota Grounded. Through the season's first eight games, Mariota had run 56 times for 507 yards and nine touchdowns with a per carry average of 9.1 yards per carry. Since hurting his knee, he has rushed 18 times for 22 yards and no scores while his team has lost two out of three games. Knee injury or not, Mariota's Heisman hopes fell by the wayside much like the Ducks' Pac-12 title hopes.

Manziel's Miscues. Similar to Mariota and Petty, Manziel is likely out of the Heisman trophy race by way of a 24-point defeat to LSU. The reigning Heisman winner hasn't beaten a ranked team in 2013 and is 0-2 against Les Miles. And it hasn't been pretty. Manziel has 52 incompletions, 500 yards passing, one total touchdown, five interceptions and 2.8 yards per carry in two career games against the Tigers. Barring a magical performance against Missouri and an Alabama loss to Auburn, Manziel's chances to repeat appear to be slim.

Heisman Void. Ka’Deem Carey and Andre Williams are likely the top non-quarterback candidates. Both have been spectacular for middle-of-the-pack teams. But Carey has been more consistent and has performed better against better competition. In Arizona's upset win over Oregon, Carey carried 48 times for 206 yards and four scores for his 14th consecutive 100-yard game. Williams has slightly better stats overall but was terrible against Clemson (24 att., 70 yards) and USC (17 att., 38 yards), two of the top three teams BC has played all season. Neither running back should win the award but Carey is the more deserving of the two.

Braxton's Back. With a road trip to Michigan and a Big Ten title game with Michigan State, don't count out Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller just yet. He is leading the Big Ten in total offense with 296.3 yards per game and passing efficiency at 166.2 in conference play. He leads an unbeaten team that is surging on offense and has posted huge numbers since returning from injury. Keep an eye on the preseason Heisman frontrunner over the last two weeks.

The Voting Panel:

NameOrganizationWebsiteNo. 1
Tom DienhartBig Ten NetworkBigTenNetwork.comJameis Winston
Bryan FischerPac-12 NetworkPac-12.comJameis Winston
David FoxAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comAJ McCarron
Braden GallAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comJameis Winston
Steven GodfreySB NationSBNation.comJameis Winston
Chris HustonHeisman PunditHeismanPundit.comMarcus Mariota
Steven LassanAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comJameis Winston
Chris LevelRed Raider SportsRedRaiderSports.comJameis Winston
Mitch LightAthlon SportsAthlonSports.comJameis Winston
Billy LiucciTexAgsTexAgs.comJameis Winston
Dan RubensteinSB Nation/Solid VerbalSolidVerbal.comJameis Winston
Josh WardMr. SEC/WNMLMrSEC.comJameis Winston
Jim YoungACC Sports JournalACCSports.comJameis Winston

 

Teaser:
College Football: Post-Week 13 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-week-14
Body:

The beauty of sports, in particular college football, lies in their complete unpredictability and reality TV-like drama. Here's what might happen in Week 14.

Note: The point of this column is to have some fun and make some outlandish predictions. Please react accordingly.

Sun Devil Stadium will host the Pac-12 championship
Not only were the Sun Devils not expected to win the Pac-12 championship but they weren't even picked to win the Pac-12 South (unless, of course, you read Athlon Sports' preseason magazine). But not only has Arizona State clinched the South Division championship in just Todd Graham's second season but should they beat arch in-state rival Arizona in the Territorial Cup, Sun Devil Stadium would host the Pac-12 championship next weekend. Put your hand up if you had Stanford at Arizona State in the preseason?

Florida will lose by six touchdowns
The Gators have been pummeled by Vanderbilt for the first time since World War II and lost to an FCS foe for the first time — both at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium this month. What's worse? Florida State comes into town with a Heisman Trophy and BCS National Championship on the line. And no one has stopped the Seminoles. Florida State has won its last three games by a combined score of 198-to-20. The Noles were favored by 57 points against Idaho last weekend and they covered the spread plus nine. The Gators stand no chance and might post the worst home defeat in program history.

Ole Miss will finish sixth in the SEC West
The Rebels have been in and around the top 25 all season long. Ole Miss has wins over Vanderbilt, LSU and Texas and close calls with Texas A&M and Auburn. But when it loses the Egg Bowl on the road in Starkville against hated arch rival Mississippi State, Ole Miss would fall to sixth place in the SEC West. The 3-5 record would tie the Rebels with the Bulldogs and by virtue of a tiebreaker head-to-head loss, Ole Miss would finish ahead of only Arkansas. Not what Rebels fans were expecting to see at season’s end.

Washington will score 28 points in the 4th quarter to win the Apple Cup
Last season, a 2-9 Washington State surprised the nation by scoring 18 unanswered fourth-quarter points to send the game into overtime where it toppled bitter in-state rival Washington in the famed 2012 Apple Cup. This year, Mike Leach is already bowl-eligible with six wins and has a chance to finish third in the Pac-12 North division should they beat UW again. In a rivalry game where the unexpected should be considered normal, look for Washington to fall behind early and then storm back with four fourth-quarter touchdowns as an injured Keith Price does his best Willis Reed impersonation in Husky Stadium.

There will be a five-way tie in the ACC Coastal Division
Don’t believe me? Here is how it could happen. North Carolina is a five-point favorite over Duke, and with a win, the Tar Heels would finish in a tie at 5-3 with Duke. Georgia Tech is already in the ACC clubhouse with a 5-3 record. Virginia Tech should polish off Virginia in the Commonwealth Cup fairly easily, finishing their season 5-3 in the ACC. Lastly, Miami needs to win at Pittsburgh — the toughest piece of the five-way tie puzzle. Should Virginia Tech, Miami and North Carolina each win this weekend, there will be a five-way tie atop the ACC Coastal — and the Hokies would win based on a 3-1 head-to-head record. A four-way tie could go to either the Hokies or Canes with a three-way tie giving Georgia Tech a chance. 

Alabama and Auburn will combine for less than 200 yards passing
The Tide is eighth in the SEC in passing offense (233.3 ypg) and Auburn is 11th (179.6 ypg). But when push comes to shove, both teams turn to a power rushing attack to win tough games. Auburn beat Tennessee 55-23 with three completed passes and is leading the SEC in rushing offense (320.3 ypg). Alabama is third in the SEC in rushing and pounded LSU into submission in the second half two weeks ago. Don’t be shocked to see over 100 rushing attempts in the game between these two teams with the SEC West and potential SEC and BCS championships hanging in the balance.

Teaser:
Outrageous College Football Predictions: Week 14
Post date: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-big-ten-week-14-preview-and-predictions
Body:

There is little left to determine in the Big Ten this weekend. Bowl pecking order is still yet to be ironed out but no more teams can reach the postseason on the season's final weekend. Even one of college football's greatest and most historic rivalries won't salvage what could be a forgettable weekend of lopsided football.

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

Big Ten Week 14 Game Power Rankings:

1. Ohio State (-14) at Michigan (Noon ET, ABC)
Arguably the greatest rivalry game in college football has a distinct lack of national importance in 2013. That said, the reeling Michigan Wolverines would love nothing more than to knock the Buckeyes out of the BCS National Championship hunt. Ohio State is surging on both sides of the ball behind the electric play of quarterback Braxton Miller, running back Carlos Hyde and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year candidate Ryan Shazier. The Maize and Blue are limping home after losing three of their last four and four of their last six. This Michigan team is vastly different at home (437.0 yards per game on offense) than it is on the road (273.8 ypg), so in a rivalry as heated and as venomous as this one, anything can happen. For Michigan to win, its 14th-ranked rushing defense (116.4 ypg) and embattled junior quarterback Devin Gardner will have to play their best games of the season simultaneously. In this battle, strangers things have happened. 

2. Iowa (+3) at Nebraska (Fri., Noon, ABC)
The battle for the entire ear of corn goes down in Lincoln this weekend between two much more evenly matched teams than anticipated. Kirk Ferentz has already improved his win total from a year ago by three and could really quiet his doubters with a win over Nebraska in the regular-season finale. His defense has been dominant in the last two games, giving up 158 yards to Michigan and 266 to Purdue. Nebraska’s offense, without Taylor Martinez, is finally starting to show its inexperience despite winning three of the last four games. The Huskers have been below 5.0 yards per play in two of the last three and is averaging just 28.7 points per game in Big Ten play as opposed to 43.3 against non-conference foes. Both teams and coaching staffs have shown excellent resiliency over the last month but both teams will have significantly different ends to the regular season following this contest.

3. Minnesota (+14.5) at Michigan State (Noon, BTN)
The Golden Gophers' dream season could see a brutal finish if it can’t pull a big upset in the regular-season finale. Minnesota played well at home on defense against Wisconsin but mustered little offense — 185 yards and no offensive points. Now, Minnesota must face the nation’s best defense on the road in East Lansing. Many point to the heralded Spartans defense as to why Michigan State is perfect in Big Ten play thus far but the offense has been much better than anticipated. This team has averaged 410.7 yards and 32.0 points per game in seven Big Ten wins. Connor Cook has developed into a playmaker and not just a caretaker at quarterback. Jeremy Langford is a complete workhorse at running back and will put his six-game 100-yard rushing streak on the line. And the wide receivers, led by Bennie Fowler, have made big plays down the field all season. This is a complete team that needs to continue to build confidence with a win over Minnesota before the Big Ten Championship Game in two weeks.

4. Penn State (+24) at Wisconsin (3:30 p.m., ESPN)
There is an outside chance the Badgers can slip into a BCS bowl game. Should Ohio State go to the BCS title game, the Rose Bowl would have to look seriously at the surging Badgers. Few teams in the nation are playing as balanced and effective football on both sides of the ball as Gary Andersen’s group. And a rematch with, say, Arizona State would certainly bring national intrigue to the always popular Granddaddy of them all. Either way, the regular-season finale should be emotional for a host of senior Badgers, including historic names like James White and Chris Borland. Christian Hackenberg’s legacy at Penn State is just beginning and an unlikely win on the road would give Bill O’Brien a second-straight winning record. Look for Wisconsin to pound the football per usual with the underrated but appreciated White ideally headlining the final regular-season game his Badgers career.

5. Northwestern (-3.5) at Illinois (3:30 p.m., BTN)
Tim Beckman and Illinois snapped a 20-game Big Ten losing streak last weekend with a narrow win over lowly Purdue. Now, in-state rival Northwestern comes to town looking for its first win of the Big Ten season. Pat Fitzgerald’s bunch isn’t accustomed to losing but has dropped seven straight games since starting 4-0 and ranked No. 16. A season-ending win would change the entire complexion of the offseason for either team. Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has been around for what feels like a decade and will play his final game on senior day in Champaign.

6. Purdue (+21) at Indiana (3:30 p.m., BTN)
The in-state battle for the Old Oaken Bucket won’t feature much pomp or circumstance this year. For Purdue’s first-year head coach Darrell Hazell, it means a final chance at a Big Ten win. For Kevin Wilson, a fifth win overall and third in the league would show improvement for the second consecutive season. The Hoosiers have one of the league’s better offenses and a win over division and intrastate rival Purdue could put Indiana in third place in the Leaders Division — an improvement in the standings for the second straight year under Wilson.

Big Ten Week 14 Pivotal Players


Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox discuss the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry in this edition of Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
1. Frank Clark, DE, Michigan
The Wolverines have a strong rushing defense but will be pushed to the brink this weekend by the Buckeyes' powerful rushing attack. Carlos Hyde (133.0 ypg, 13 TDs) and Braxton Miller (82.0 ypg, 5 TDs) are surging at exactly the right time on the ground, as the duo has combined for 691 yards and nine touchdowns over the last two weeks. Clark, the Wolverines' freakish defensive end, is coming off an excellent performance against Iowa with 5.0 total tackles and 2.5 tackles for a loss. Clark has to be the tip of the Michigan defensive spear this weekend.

2. Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Few players are playing as well as Shazier nationally right now. He is leading the Big Ten in tackles (109), tackles for a loss (20.5) and is third in the league in sacks (6.5). Simply put, the hard-hitting linebacker makes big plays all over the field. If quarterback Devin Gardner cannot escape his grasp this weekend, it could be a long day for Michigan’s offense. Gardner had 171 yards passing, two total touchdowns, one interception and was held to minus-28 yards rushing in last season's 26-21 loss to Ohio State. Another line like that from Gardner and Shazier’s Buckeyes will be 12-0 with relative ease.

3. Nebraska’s Quarterbacks
Tommy Armstrong and Ron Kellogg III will have their work cut out for them against Iowa’s talented linebackers. At times, each has shown the ability to lead the Huskers to victory but neither has truly taken control of the job. Armstrong had 242 yards of offense against Northwestern and was pivotal in the road win over Michigan, but totaled two yards of offense against Penn State last week. Kellogg III has had his moments (see Jordan Westerkamp) and led Nebraska to a win last week in overtime over Penn State. Someone will have to score points other than star tailback Ameer Abdullah, right?

4. Michigan State’s Defensive Seniors
The Spartans are a two-touchdown favorite at home against Minnesota and should have little trouble finishing a perfect 8-0 in the Big Ten this season. The crowd in East Lansing will be saying goodbye to some beloved defensive stars for the final time this weekend. Denicos Allen, Max Bullough, Darqueze Dennard, Isaiah Lewis, Micajah Reynolds and Tyler Hoover are all playing their final home game. Expect a long tip of the cap to this extraordinary group of seniors who are leading the nation in total defense.

5. James White, RB, Wisconsin
This one is a career achievement award mention in the pivotal players section. Wisconsin shouldn’t be challenged at home against Penn State, so the seniors on this Badgers team should be honored. A group that has been to three straight Rose Bowls is led by career backup James White. The running back enters his final regular season game with unreal numbers: 50 games played, 3,818 yards rushing, 67 receptions, 628 yards receiving and 48 total touchdowns. He will never get his due as one of the more dependable, consistent and productive players in Big Ten history.

Big Ten Week 14 Prediction Grid:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Ohio St (-14) at MichiganOhio St, 45-20Ohio St, 34-14Ohio St, 38-20Ohio St, 48-24
Iowa (+3) at NebraskaNebraska, 27-21Nebraska, 27-20Nebraska, 27-24Iowa, 21-14
Penn St (+24) at WisconsinWisconsin, 38-17Wisconsin, 41-10 Wisconsin, 34-17Wisconsin, 35-13 
Minnesota (+14.5) at Michigan StMich. St, 34-13Mich. St, 30-13Mich. St, 31-13Mich. St, 38-10
Purdue (+21) at IndianaIndiana, 34-13Indiana, 48-17Indiana, 45-17Indiana, 42-14
Northwestern (-3.5) at IllinoisN'Western, 21-20 N'Western, 24-20N'Western, 27-24Illinois, 14-10
Last Week:5-16-06-05-1
Year-to-date:76-1480-1080-1076-14

 

Teaser:
2013 Big Ten Week 14 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-pac-12-week-14-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Both Arizona State and Stanford are locked into the Pac-12 Championship Game, but there is still lots left to be accomplished out West in the final weekend of the regular season. Home-field advantage in the title game hangs in the balance in The Territorial Cup and in-state bragging rights are on the line in the Civil War, Apple Cup and the Battle for the Victory Bell.And, oh by the way, Stanford hosts Notre Dame in a potential at-large BCS situation for the Cardinal.

Enjoy the final slate of regular season action.

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

Pac-12 Week 14 Game Power Rankings

1. Arizona (+12) at Arizona State (9:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
The Duel in the Desert for The Territorial Cup carries more than just in-state bragging rights this season. For Arizona and Rich Rodriguez, it would mean a second-straight eight-win season and another quality bowl game. For Arizona State, a win would mean the Pac-12 Championship Game will be played in Sun Devil Stadium on Dec. 7. A loss for Todd Graham and company would not only give RichRod more in-state recruiting fodder and year-long bragging rights but it would force the Sun Devils to travel back to Palo Alto to face Stanford for the Pac-12 title. Stopping Arizona star tailback Ka’Deem Carey is the top priority for ASU’s defense. Carey rushed for 206 yards and four scores on 48 carries in last week’s upset over Oregon and rushed 25 times for 172 yards and a TD in the Sun Devils' 41-34 win last season. Graham knows if his defense — one that registered nine sacks last week against UCLA — can stop Carey, his team has a great shot at hosting the title game and will be one home win away from a trip to the Rose Bowl.

2. UCLA (+3.5) at USC (8 p.m., ABC)
Some are still trumpeting Ed Orgeron as the right fit at USC, and while that seems highly unlikely, the interim head man could make a strong case for himself with a win over crosstown rival UCLA. Brett Hundley was human in the 38-28 home win over USC last year (234 yards, TD passing) but got a huge game from tailback Johnathan Franklin (171 yards, 2 TD). With USC’s stingy defense raring to go, someone other than Hundley will have to step up and take the pressure off of the Bruins' quarterback. UCLA gave up nine sacks last week to Arizona State and the Trojans have been excellent at getting after opposing signal-callers during the five-game winning streak (12.0 sacks). A win for either team changes the complexion of the offseason as USC could finish with 11 wins while UCLA could reach 10.

3. Notre Dame (+14) at Stanford (7 p.m., FOX)
Stanford obviously has its sights set on a rematch with Arizona State in next week’s Pac-12 Championship Game. But another rematch is standing in its way this Saturday. The infamous goal-line stand in South Bend last year gave the Cardinal one of just two losses on the season and propelled Notre Dame into the BCS title picture. With Kevin Hogan and the Cardinal offense coming off its best game of the year (yes, it was against Cal), Stanford should have revenge on the mind when Tommy Rees comes to town. Despite some injuries, the Irish defense played an excellent bend-but-don’t-break game against Taysom Hill and BYU. The 415 yards and 13 points were the second-lowest and lowest outputs respectively of the Cougars' season since Week 1. Rees has five interceptions over his last three games and will have to be better on the road to top Stanford.

4. Washington State (+7) at Washington (Fri., 3:30 p.m., FOX)
The 2012 version of The Apple Cup was loaded with dramatics and excitement but was short on implications or national storylines. These two had a combined 15 losses last season but an 18-point fourth quarter from Washington State salvaged Mike Leach’s first year and gave the Cougars an unlikely upset against their arch rival. This season, much more is at stake as both teams are already bowl-eligible and looking for a third-place finish in the North Division. Cyler Miles got the start for U of W last week and played well but, despite no word from the coaching staff, one has to think Keith Price will play on Senior Day. Bowl pecking order, a winning conference and overall record and in-state bragging rights are on the line between these two. Whichever senior quarterback — Wazzu’s surging Connor Halliday or UW’s injured Price — plays more efficient football will likely finish third in the North at 5-4.

5. Oregon State (+7) at Oregon (Fri., 7 p.m., FS1)
A month ago, The Civil War appeared to be must-see appointment television. After four straight losses for Oregon State and two losses in three games for the Ducks, this game has surprisingly lost most of its national luster. Mike Riley and Beavers everywhere are playing for pride having lost five straight to the Ducks by an average margin of three touchdowns (20 points). Oregon has scored 47.2 against OSU over that span but has recently struggled to score. The Ducks posted no fewer than six touchdowns in any game prior to scoring three times against Stanford and just twice last week against Arizona. Meanwhile, Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion has to figure out a way to protect the football. He has 10 interceptions in his last three games and only four touchdown passes. An interesting tidbit to consider, Oregon State is 4-1 on the road this year and only 2-4 at home.

6. Colorado (+17) at Utah (2 pm., Pac-12 Network)
The “Rumble in the Rockies” actually got started 110 years ago when Colorado topped Utah 22-0 in 1903. These two unusual rivals have played 59 times but rarely as conference foes (Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and Pac-12). Since both joined the Pac-12 South, they have split the two meetings with the road team winning both. Both of these contests have been one-score affairs with just four total points (56-52) separating the two. Both teams are playing for pride and will look to young quarterbacks to gain experience — Adam Schulz for Utah and Sefo Liufau for Colorado.

Pac-12 Week 14 Pivotal Players:


Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox preview rivalry week out West and discuss the Pac-12 title game on this week's Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
1. Chris Young, LB, Arizona State
The Sun Devils' defense gave up some yards last week but the front seven saved the day by pressuring Brett Hundley all game. Young was the star with 13 tackles, 3.0 sacks and 3.0 tackles for a loss. Now, with a home field in the Pac-12 Championship Game on the line, Young and company are faced with stopping arguably the nation’s top running back in Ka’Deem Carey. Carey just carried 48 times for 206 yards and four scores in the upset win over Oregon. The Wildcats running back averaged 6.9 yards per carry (172 yards) and scored in The Territorial Cup last season.

2. Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford
With “only” 95 yards rushing last weekend, Gaffney had his six-game, 100-yard streak snapped against lowly Cal. However, he reached paydirt on the ground for the seventh straight game this season. Look for a workload from Gaffney closer to his school-record 45 carries against Oregon rather than his 16 last week against the Bears. The Irish are strong against the run but have given up yards of late with the loss of defensive tackle Louis Nix.

3. Cody Kessler, QB, USC
It is difficult to get recognized at quarterback in a league as talented as the Pac-12. But Kessler needs to get some credit for his improved play over the final few months. He has just six interceptions all season and has thrown just one pick during the Trojans' five-game winning streak. He completed over 80 percent of his passes against both Oregon State and Cal and if he can distribute the ball to Nelson Agholor and company, USC could easily score enough to top rival UCLA.

4. Cyler Miles or Keith Price, QB, Washington
Miles got the start last week and played excellent football in place of Keith Price. He was 15-of-24 for 162 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions in a road blowout win over Oregon State. Steve Sarkisian hasn’t announced who will start but one has to believe that Price will get significant time on senior day in The Apple Cup. Either way, the Huskies' quarterback will have to play well against the underrated Washington State secondary to get revenge on the Cougars for last season’s debacle in Pullman.

5. Oregon State’s front seven
This group was completely destroyed by a team with a freshman quarterback making his first career start. Washington rushed for 530 yards in the 69-27 drubbing in Corvallis last Saturday. If the Beavers have a chance at pulling an upset over a teetering Oregon squad, the front seven will have to play tougher and more disciplined football. The Beavers will have to match the Ducks' tempo, quickness, depth and explosiveness to have a chance in The Civil War.

Pac-12 Week 14 Predictions:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Arizona (+12) at Arizona StArizona St, 44-31Arizona St, 34-24Arizona St, 34-27Arizona St, 35-28
UCLA (+3.5) at USCUSC, 28-27 USC, 21-17USC, 27-24USC, 27-21
Notre Dame (+14) at StanfordStanford, 31-14Stanford, 28-20Stanford, 27-20Stanford, 27-10
Washington St (+14) at WashingtonWash., 41-29 Wash., 44-27Wash., 38-27Wash., 41-27
Oregon St (+22) at OregonOregon, 45-27Oregon, 50-14Oregon, 48-24Oregon, 49-28
Colorado (+17) at UtahUtah, 27-13 Utah, 27-21Utah, 31-24 Colorado, 21-20
Last Week: 4-24-24-23-3
Year-to-date:69-1667-1871-1464-21

 

Teaser:
2013 Pac-12 Week 14 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Wednesday, November 27, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-10-rivalry-nicknames
Body:

Rivalries are part of what makes college sports the best sport in the country. Because most of the best ones take place on and around Thanksgiving weekend, it makes what happens in these heated battles all the more memorable. Giving them unusual, regional, creative and entertaining nicknames has helped separate the college game from the pro version. As great as the Bears-Packers or Cowboys-Redskins rivalries are, none of them have historic titles like the NCAA game.

Here are the best rivalry nicknames in college football.

1. Holy War: BYU vs. Utah
First Meeting: 1896 
Record: Utah, 53-31-4

Not too be confused with its imposter (looking at you Notre Dame and Boston College), the Holy War's simplicity is what makes this nickname so appealing. The two schools have been equally successful on the football field with each taking a turn dominating the series for long stretches and both needing to win this game on multiple occasions to claim supremacy when they were in the same conference. The extreme proximity — the two campuses are roughly 45 miles from each other — and obvious differences in religious personality add layers to the already passionate rivalry. It's the classic public vs. private narrative between the LDS Church of BYU and the State of Utah (Utah). They are the two biggest schools in the state of Utah and, frankly, Holy War is way better than, say, Battle for the Beehive Boot.

2. Red River (Shootout) Rivalry: Texas vs. Oklahoma
First Meeting: 1900 Record: Texas 60-43-5

For obvious reasons, the official name of the storied Texas and Oklahoma annual neutral field rivalry has been changed to the Red River Rivalry. But to those who grew up at any point in the State of Texas, the Shootout is how it will always been known. Named after the Red River that divides the two states, Oklahoma and Texas played 100 editions of the Red River Shootout before the name officially changed in 2005 to the Red River Rivalry. The game is usually extremely important nationally and the Texas State Fair never disappoints — but try repeating Red River Rivalry as quickly as possible over and over again.

3. World's Largest Outdoor (Cocktail) Party: Florida vs. Georgia
First Meeting: 1904 Record: Georgia, 49-40-2*

These two SEC powerhouses don't agree on how many times they have played — apparently, Florida disputes the 52-0 loss on Oct. 15, 1904 in Macon, Ga. But everyone agrees the rivalry is aptly named. Fans flock from all over the nation to Jacksonville since the SEC launched in 1933 to watch the Bulldogs and Gators do battle. And it most certainly is a party. The beaches, bars and parking lots are packed with outdoor cocktail goers for an entire week leading up until kickoff. You can take the cocktail out of the name but you can't take the cocktail out of the party when Georgia and Florida come together. Legend has it, a local sports editor coined the official phrase after watching an intoxicated fan offer a drink to a police officer in 1950. 

* - Georgia claims 50-20-2

4. Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate: Georgia vs. Georgia Tech
First Meeting: 1893 Record: Georgia, 63-40-5

It has a nasty but polite ring to it, doesn't it? The nickname is almost giving the fans permission to hate one another as long as it is done in a respectful manner. Located just 70 miles from each other, the Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs have done battle since the 1890s in everything from touchdowns to SAT scores. The old-fashioned rivals battle for the The Governor's Cup each season on the season's final weekend.

5. Backyard Brawl: Pitt vs. West Virginia
First Meeting: 1895 Record: Pitt, 61-40-3

No two teams better personify the name of their rivalry quite like West Virginia and Pittsburgh. Like two brothers in the backyard, these two blue-collar programs have duked it out over 100 times. The rivalry has recently been put on hold but there is no reason to think that two schools just 75 miles down I-79 couldn't play each and every season. This name fits the personality of the fan bases and region as well as any in the nation.

6. Bedlam Series: Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State
First Meeting: 1904 Record: Oklahoma, 83-17-7

Originally stemming from two competitive wrestling teams, Bedlam Series has evolved to include all things Cowboys and Sooners. Obviously, the football game — which lately has carried heavy championship implications — is the marquee event of the calendar year for both schools. With two rock star head coaches and two loaded rosters, the once lopsided gridiron battle between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State is now perfectly named for the outright bedlam that normally ensues when these two meet on the season's final weekend.

7. The Iron Bowl: Auburn vs. Alabama
First Meeting: 1893 Record: Alabama, 42-34-1

Only since 1999 have these two played in one another's home stadium in alternating years. For many years, the game was held at a neutral site in Birmingham, Ala., so the name of the heated Iron Bowl rivalry stems from the city's deep connection to the steel industry. In one of, if not, the most college football-crazed state, the Iron Bowl carries year-round significance and repercussions for both the winner and the loser. It may not be all that creative or unique a name, but few terms illicit a more emotional response than Auburn-Alabama's Iron Bowl.

8. The Civil War: Oregon vs. Oregon State
First Meeting: 1894 Record: Oregon, 60-46-10

The seventh-most played rivalry in college football has been named the "Oregon Classic" or the "State Championship Game" but started being known as "The Civil War" in 1929. By 1937, it was the official nickname for the Beavers' and Ducks' annual intrastate showdown. With two of the more passionate fan bases in the Pac-12, the battle for the Platypus Trophy always lives up to its, uh, billing as one of the top in-state rivalries in college football. The two schools are located less than 50 miles from each other.

9. Third Saturday in October: Tennessee vs. Alabama
First Meeting: 1901 Record: Alabama, 50-38-7

There really isn't any in-depth analysis or explanation for this nickname as it's pretty obvious how the Tennessee-Alabama rivalry got its name. It hasn't always taken place on the "third Saturday in October" every single year, but by in large, the third weekend in October has been reserved for the annual battle between the historic SEC rivals. It isn't all that creative or fancy but it has some poetic uniqueness special to the two mighty college football power programs.

10. The Big Game: Stanford vs. Cal
First Meeting: 1892 Record: Stanford, 59-46-11

No rivalry nickname is simpler or more straight forward than Stanford and Cal. And no nickname conjures up a more memorable image of bizarre football history than The Big Game did in 1982. Active and creative student sections partner with extremely brash and entertaining bands to form one of the better rivalries in college football. What could be more direct and to the point than "The Big Game?"

The Top 25 Rivalries in College Football History

Some others we like:

Rumble in the Rockies: Colorado vs. Utah (1903)
Battle on the Bayou: UL Lafayette vs. UL Monroe (1951)
Border War: Kansas vs. Missouri (1891)
The Apple Cup: Washington vs. Washington State (1900)
The Egg Bowl: Ole Miss vs. Mississippi State (1901)
Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry: Auburn vs. Georgia (1892)
Textile Bowl: Clemson vs. NC State (1899)
Battle of the Brazos: Baylor vs. Texas A&M (1899)
The Palmetto Bowl: South Carolina vs. Clemson (1894)
The Game: Ohio State vs. Michigan
Shula Bowl: FAU vs. FIU (2002)
The Commonwealth Cup: Virginia vs. Virginia Tech (1895)
The Territorial Cup: Arizona vs. Arizona State (1899)
Battle for the Iron Skillet: SMU vs. TCU (1915)
Friends of the Coal Bowl: Marshall and West Virginia

 

Teaser:
College Football's Top 10 Rivalry Nicknames
Post date: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /college-football/amazing-big-ten-college-football-stats-week-13
Body:

True college football fans like to examine and dissect statistics, whether it's 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 Big Ten to put together some of the strangest, most amazing, and just plain cool numbers from around the conference in Week 13:

More Stats from Week 13: ACC | Big 12 Pac-12 |

296.3: Braxton Miller's total offense per game in Big Ten play
The Buckeyes' star quarterback missed two full games and most of a third in the non-conference season this fall. However, since returning to the lineup at the start of the Big Ten season, no player in the league has been more productive. In conference play, Miller leads the league in total offense (296.3) and passing efficiency (166.2). He has topped 300 yards of total offense in four of his last five games and has taken his game to another level of late, rushing for 338 yards in his last two games. He has 17 touchdown passes and five rushing scores with just three interceptions in seven Big Ten wins.

14: Combined consecutive 100-yard games from Ameer Abdullah and Jeremy Langford
Nebraska has surged to win three out of four since losing to Minnesota and much of the credit goes to running back Ameer Abdullah. He is leading the Big Ten in rushing yards (1,483) and yards per game (134.8) after his eighth consecutive 100-yard effort. Not to be outdone, Michigan State's Jeremy Langford posted his sixth consecutive 100-yard effort in a dominating, division-clinching win over Northwestern. His 15 rushing scores lead the Big Ten. Having said all of that, Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde — who missed three games due to suspension early in the year — has more rushing yards (1,023) and TDs (13) in conference games than anyone else in the Big Ten.

24-7: Mark Dantonio’s Big Ten record over the last four seasons
Michigan State went 7-1 in 2010 and '11 in Big Ten play and won the Legends Division in the conference’s first year of divisional play. The Spartans came up just a few plays short of winning the Big Ten title over Wisconsin that year. After a 3-5 rebuilding year in 2012, Michigan State has reestablished itself as a Big Ten power. Dantonio’s team is 7-0 in the Big Ten and it gives him a third seven-win Big Ten season in four years. Michigan State has won the Legends Division two of the possible three seasons and will likely finish unbeaten in Big Ten play with Minnesota coming to town next weekend.

10: Straight wins for Wisconsin over Minnesota
On a blistering day in Minneapolis, the Badgers won the 10th straight battle for the Paul Bunyan Axe. The oldest rivalry in college football was once dominated by the Gophers but since Barry Alvarez took over in Madison, Wisconsin has owned the series. Since 1995, Wisconsin is 17-2 against Minnesota and it has closed the overall series to a near tie at 58-57-8. Additionally, Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland forced his 14th career fumble, tying an all-time NCAA record.

7: Times Wisconsin has held an opponent to 10 points or fewer
With yet another suffocating defensive performance against Minnesota on the road, Wisconsin has now held seven of its 11 opponents to 10 points or fewer. Wisconsin pitched shutouts against UMass and Tennessee Tech to start the year. Purdue (10), Iowa (9), Minnesota (7), Northwestern (6) and Indiana all failed to score more than 10 points with the Boilermakers being the only team to score an offensive touchdown. Only Alabama (9) has more games with 10 points allowed or fewer than Wisconsin in the FBS ranks. Dave Aranda’s defense ranks No. 5 nationally in scoring defense (13.4 ppg) and No. 6 in yards allowed (278.5 ypg) in a league where Michigan State gets all of the headlines for leading the nation in defense.

18: Coldest temperature of an Iowa home football in history
The weather might have been the biggest storyline in the Big Ten this weekend. According to KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, the Iowa Hawkeyes played the coldest game in school history against Michigan on Saturday. Prior to last weekend, the coldest recorded temperature in Iowa home football history was 23 degrees (at kickoff) on Nov. 20, 1926 against Northwestern. At kickoff at noon eastern against Michigan on Saturday, the temperature was 18 degrees at Kinnick Stadium. And, oh by the way, has anyone noticed that Iowa could finish 8-4 this year?

20 and 5: Ryan Shazier total tackles and tackles for a loss against Indiana
Ryan Shazier posted a stat line for the ages in the crushing home win over Indiana. The Ohio State linebacker totaled 20 tackles, 5.0 tackles for a loss, one sack and a forced fumble in the victory. He is leading the Big Ten in tackles (109), tackles for a loss (20.5) and is third in sacks (6.5). Shazier has posted a sack in four straight games and is third nationally in tackles for a loss.

20: Illinois' Big Ten losing streak that was snapped this weekend
Ron Zook started 6-0 back in 2011 before losing six straight — all Big Ten games — to finish the year. He was removed from power and the reins of the Fighting Illini football program were given to Tim Beckman. Beckman proceeded to lose his first 14 Big Ten games. Illinois' 20-game Big Ten losing streak came to an end this weekend when the Illini topped Purdue 20-16 in a pillow fight between two teams that entered Saturday winless in conference play. Beckman’s team has shown improvement in his second year and it likely means he deserves a third trip through the Big Ten.

Teaser:
Amazing Big Ten College Football Stats from Week 13
Post date: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/amazing-stats-nfls-week-12
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 Week 12 of the NFL season:

10-4: Tom Brady’s record against Peyton Manning
Among Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, only Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas have faced each other more times (16) than Peyton Manning and Tom Brady (14). With one of the most epic comebacks in NFL history — down 24-0 three minutes into the third quarter — Brady moved his all-time record against Manning to 10-4. Manning posted the worst game of his season, throwing 19-of-36 passes for 150 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while Brady had arguably the best game of his season, completing 34-of-50 passes for 344 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. To cap off one of the most memorable games in NFL history, Bill Belichick elected to take the wind and give the ball to Peyton Manning to start overtime... and it worked.

11: Tony Romo fourth quarter/overtime game-winning drives since 2011
Since the start of the 2011 season, no quarterback in the NFL has more fourth-quarter or overtime game-winning drives than Tony Romo’s 11. Dallas got the ball back with 4:45 left in a tie game on the road against the surging Giants. Romo then led a 14-play, 64-yard drive in which he completed six of eight passes to set up Dan Bailey's game-winning 35-yard field goal. The win puts the Cowboys in first place by virtue of a tiebreaker over the Eagles in the NFC East (as it stands today). With 250 yards and two touchdowns, Romo became the only Dallas quarterback in history with 200 TD passes. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Matthew Stafford and Andrew Luck are tied for second in the NFL with 10 game-winning fourth quarter or overtime drives since the start of the 2011 season.

1978 and 1987: Years Minnesota and Green Bay last posted a tie
The Packers and Vikings played 75 minutes of football on Sunday and accomplished absolutely nothing as the game ended in a 26-26 tie. It was the first tie for Minnesota since a 10-10 decision on Nov. 26, 1978 against… the Packers. The Vikings finished 8-7-1 in ’78 and actually won the NFC Central over the 8-7-1 Packers and made the playoffs based on the tie-breaking win over Green Bay earlier in the year. The Packers’ last tie came in a 17-17 affair with Denver on Sept. 20, 1987. Had the Pats-Broncos game ended in a tie (which it almost did), the NFL would have had two ties on the same day for the first time since Week 2 of 1973. There were seven ties in the ’73 season.

100: Career games for Adrian Peterson
All-Day Peterson rushed 32 times for 146 yards and a touchdown against the Packers in his 100th career game. He has 9,846 yards rushing in his career, giving him the third-most yards in NFL history for a player in his first 100 games. Only Eric Dickerson (10,818) and Jim Brown (10,403) had more yards rushing in their first 100 career games. His 86 rushing touchdowns are fifth-most all-time behind Emmitt Smith (103), LaDainian Tomlinson (102), Shaun Alexander (91) and Jim Brown (88) for a player in their first 100 games. It also marked Peterson’s seventh season with at least 10 rushing touchdowns, trailing only Tomlinson (9) and Smith (8) in that category.

11,019: Larry Fitzgerald's career receiving yards
With five receptions for 52 yards and two touchdowns in the Cardinals impressive 40-11 beat down of Indianapolis, Fitzgerald became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 11,000 yards receiving. At 30 years and 85 days of age, Fitz passed Randy Moss’ previous record of 30 years and 222 days. A month ago, the Cardinals' star wide receiver also became the youngest player in NFL history to reach 800 career catches (30 years, 57 days). Fitzgerald’s 11,019 yards rank 29th all-time in NFL history.

93-12: Colts' combined halftime deficit over the last four games
The Colts were down 27-3 at halftime against Arizona and never had a chance in the second half. Unfortunately, trailing big at halftime is a developing trend in Indianapolis. Over the last four games, the Colts has given up 93 first-half points while scoring just four field goals. That’s an average halftime score of 23-3. The first quarter has been even worse, as the Colts have been outscored 42-3 in the first 15 minutes during the same span. The Colts' last first-half touchdown came with 10 seconds left in the second quarter against Denver in Week 7. The only saving grace for Andrew Luck and the boys in blue is that Indy has somehow figured out a way to win two of those four games. It is a trend that cannot continue if the Colts want to win the AFC South, much less a playoff game.

209.7: Cam Newton's passing yards per game over his last seven contests
The Carolina Panthers were trailing 16-3 on the road against the Dolphins with less than a minute left in the first half. Cam Newton led two second-half touchdown drives, including one that ended with a game-winning, one-yard touchdown pass to Greg Olsen with 43 seconds left to play. It was the Panthers' seventh straight win but what is more impressive is how Carolina is winning. Newton has only averaged 209.7 yards passing per game during the seven-game streak. In the modern era of passing, that 209.7 average would currently rank 30th in the NFL behind names like Chad Henne, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Mike Glennon and Case Keenum.

6: Teams tied for the final AFC Wild Card position
The Chargers (Chiefs), Titans (Raiders) and Steelers (Browns) all won key road games to move to 5-6 in the standings. The Ravens (Jets) won at home to do the same while the Jets and the Dolphins lost to fall to 5-6. It means that all six teams are tied for the final AFC Wild Card spot with no hope of a second team from this group making the postseason. The Titans currently own the tiebreaker due to straight up wins over the Jets, Steelers and Chargers while Pittsburgh and Baltimore sit at seventh and eighth in the AFC respectively. To put into perspective how mediocre the AFC is in 2013, the Titans would be 11th in the NFC right now at 5-6.

5-1: Jacksonville's and Tampa Bay's combined record over the last three weeks
The Bucs and Jags began the season a combined 0-16 by dropping their first eight of the 2013 campaign. Since Week 10, the Bucs have beaten the AFC Wild Card-hopeful Miami Dolphins, the defending NFC South champion Falcons and the NFC North-leading Detroit Lions on the road to win three straight. The Jags' first win came against the Titans, who currently hold the final AFC Wild Card spot, in Week 10, and they just topped the defending AFC South champion Texans on the road this past Sunday. A few weeks ago these two teams were battling for historic NFL ineptitude and now the Falcons, Texans and Vikings would all be picking ahead of them in the May NFL Draft.

Teaser:
Amazing Stats from the NFL's Week 12
Post date: Tuesday, November 26, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/top-25-rivalries-college-football-history
Body:

Pep bands, cheerleaders, tailgating, student sections, cornhole and especially rivalries. All of which makes college football the greatest sport on the planet. With one of the best weeks of the calendar year upon us, the Athlon staff is giving thanks for the 25 best rivalry games in college football history.

1. Army-Navy (Navy leads 57-49-7)
Go ahead and try to attend this game without experiencing a surge of patriotism. If the Super Hornets’ flyover doesn’t get you, the Army paratroopers will. If you miss the parades of Cadets and Midshipmen, then the non-stop spirit videos on the big board will stir your senses. By game’s end, no matter what the score, America wins. That may seem hokey to some, but they haven’t been there. Trust us, Army-Navy is college football in its purest state. Today, that’s something worth celebrating. Fans of the teams thirst for victory, and so do the players, who are truly playing for their fellow students. Afterward, they rejoin their classmates in preparation for military service, not an NFL career. For 364 days of the year, Army and Navy are on the same team. For three hours on a chilled December afternoon, they represent every soldier or sailor who has ever donned a uniform, walked a post or sailed into the dark of night. The football has been pretty good over the years, too. Five Heisman winners have participated in the rivalry, and dozens of Hall of Famers have taken the field representing the academies. Though Navy has dominated the scoreboard over the past decade, the game remains a huge draw and a still thrills fans across the country. Most important, it pits future military and government leaders against each other as they fight for their Academies and provide the country with an afternoon of prideful competition.

2. Alabama-Auburn (Alabama leads 42-34-1)
When Bill Curry was coaching at Alabama, he went to a Birmingham elementary school one day to speak with children about football and life. Upon entering the classroom, he saw a boy standing in the corner, sobbing. Curry wondered what was going on, and a student told him, “Jason is an Auburn fan, and we took care of him.” Curry brought Jason out of the corner and told him it was all right to root for the Tigers, no doubt angering the young Crimson Tide supporters in the room. Truth be told, it isn’t all right to be an Auburn fan — if you follow the Tide. Tiger fans feel the same way about Bama. If you live in the state of Alabama, you have to choose; you either yell “Roll Tide” or “War Eagle.” You’re either a fan of the big-brother Crimson Tide, or Auburn, which has its roots in agricultural education and resents the perceived arrogance of its rival. In a state with no major professional sports team, Auburn-Alabama football is a religion. Curry’s minister once told him it was more important. It has been that way from the game’s earliest days, which proved to be so contentious that the schools stopped playing each other for 41 years. Once they resumed hostilities, they did so at a geographically neutral site, in Birmingham, but Auburn fans groused for decades because Legion Field was the Tide’s home away from home. That changed when the game moved to campus, but the vitriol has not abated. Fans of both teams crave victory, and a loss means a full year of misery from friends, co-workers and even family members. It’s enough to make someone want to stand in a corner and cry. And for the first time in Iron Bowl history, an SEC West —and potential BCS national championship — hangs in the balance for these two college football powerhouses.

3. Michigan-Ohio State (Michigan leads 58-45-6)
Some think the story is a tall tale, but others swear it’s true. After his Ohio State team scored its final touchdown late in a 50–14 rout of Michigan at the end of the 1968 season, Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes elected to go for two points, instead of kicking the PAT. When asked afterward why he did that, Hayes reportedly said, “Because they ­wouldn’t let me go for three.” Hayes’ hatred for “that team up north,” as he referred to Michigan, was legendary. Rest assured that Wolverine fans harbor no affection for the Buckeyes, either. The schools have met every year but five (1913-17) since 1900 — the teams’ first game was in 1897 — and their contests have become appointment viewing for much of the country, late in November, usually under gun-metal gray skies with a hint of winter in the air. More important, Big Ten supremacy is usually at stake, especially since Bo Schembechler took over in Ann Arbor in 1969 to turn the U-M fortunes around and provide an irascible counterbalance to the cantankerous Hayes. Since that point, Michigan-Ohio State has been the nation’s most consistently competitive and heated rivalry. Because the games have so much significance and occur at season’s end, a loss can be doubly haunting. Not only does the vanquished team lose to a hated foe, but its season can be destroyed also. There may be games that match these schools’ animosity for each other, and there may be contests that are as consistently important. But none combines the two into such a volatile package.

4. Oklahoma-Texas (Texas leads 60-43-5)

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

5. USC-Notre Dame (Notre Dame leads 45-35-5)
The nation’s top intersectional rivalry owes a debt of gratitude to some unfriendly residents of Lincoln, Neb., and Bonnie Rockne’s love of warm California weather. At a time when traditional gridiron matchups are being torn asunder by the whirling conference kaleidoscope, Notre Dame and USC continue their annual hostilities, treating the nation to a classic matchup of iconic programs. The schools almost didn’t get together. But in 1925, after ND dropped a 17–0 decision at Nebraska, before an inhospitable crowd of Cornhusker fans, coach Knute Rockne and his wife were joined on the train back to Chicago by USC athletic director Gwynn Wilson and his wife, Marion. While Wilson tried to convince Rockne to ditch the burgeoning rivalry with Nebraska for an annual trip west, Marion Wilson and Bonnie Rockne became fast friends in another train compartment. Rockne resisted Wilson’s entreaties, but his wife was enthralled with the idea of Los Angeles in the late fall. She later convinced her husband to play the Trojans. The resulting rivalry has lasted 85 years and has filled the college football history books with dozens of classic tales. More Heisman winners have played in the Notre Dame-USC game than in any other rivalry, and many a national championship hope has been validated with a victory in the game. Though the teams alternate between their home sites, playing in late November in L.A. and mid-October in South Bend, the game retains a glamour that defines it and is a product of two of college football’s most storied programs.

6. Georgia-Florida (Georgia leads 49-40-2*)
The festivities begin at “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” around Tuesday, when the big boats start cruising up the St. John’s River in Jacksonville. By game time, everybody is in a festive mood – except the players. The Bulldogs and Gators have engaged in some classics over the years, from Georgia’s thrilling comeback in 1980 to Florida’s soggy 1993 triumph. Cheers! What's more special about this rivalry? These two programs can't even agree on how many times they've actually played. Florida claims the two have met 90 times while the Bulldogs have 91* outcomes in the record books. The Gators claim the 52-0 loss in 1904 doesn't count because they had not yet technically started playing football yet. 

7. Miami-Florida State (Miami leads 31-27)
For a while there during the 1990s, there was more talent on the field when the ‘Canes and ‘Noles met up than in some NFL stadiums. And everybody wanted to put on a show. This matchup lacks the tradition and history of other rivalries, but the hostility is just as high. And there have been some classics. FSU fans still wince when they hear the words “Wide Right,” while Miami backers still cringe at the 34-3 beating their heroes absorbed in ’84.

8. Harvard-Yale (Yale leads 65-57-8)
The Crimson and Bulldogs may not have played the first-ever college football game, but both schools had hands in how the game developed into what we have today. The late-November meeting between the schools is a history lesson wrapped in a high-class tailgate party. Harvard and Yale no longer compete at college football’s highest level, but they remain forever linked to the sport’s earliest days.

9. Florida-Florida State (Florida leads 34-21-2)
For years, this was a big brother/little brother battle, with the establishment Gators looking down on the upstart Seminoles. Then, FSU started to win games – a lot of games – and things changed. This may lack the in-state hate of Auburn-Alabama, but don’t worry; the two sides harbor plenty of dislike for each other. During the past three decades, as both have competed for national laurels, their games have become more than just neighborhood brawls.

10. Cal-Stanford (Stanford leads 51-43-10)
To some, The Big Game is the province of the wine-and-cheese crowd, and the schools’ NoCal addresses reinforce that. But there can be no denying that these schools thirst to defeat each other. It’s a classic battle of private (Stanford) against public (Cal), and bragging rights go well beyond which side brings the best pinot to the pre-game party. Plus, what other rivalry can boast a game with a crazy ending as the 1982 contest: “The band is on the field!”

11. Pittsburgh-West Virginia (Pitt leads 61-40-3)
Only 75 miles separates the two combatants in the Backyard Brawl.  Unfortunately conference realignment (Pitt to the ACC, West Virginia to the Big 12) meant that last season this game didn't take place for the first time since 1942.

12. Texas-Texas A&M (Texas leads 76-37-5)
This Thanksgiving weekend tradition has been suspended, at least temporarily, with Texas A&M's move to the SEC. A Texas state legislator has introduced a bill that would require the two in-state teams to play each other.

13. Oregon-Oregon State (Oregon leads 60-46-10)
The Civil War has come a long way since the Ducks and Beavers played to a 0–0 tie in 1983.

14. BYU-Utah (Utah leads 53-31-4)
The Holy War might be the best name for any rivalry in the nation.

15. UCLA-USC (USC leads 46-29-7)
The Southern California showdown was dominated by UCLA from 1991-98, but the Bruins have just two victores (2006, '12) since.

16. Alabama-Tennessee (Alabama leads 51-38-8)
The Third Saturday in October means only one thing to people in the South: Alabama vs. Tennessee.

17. Oklahoma-Oklahoma State (Oklahoma leads 83-17-7)
T. Boone Pickens’ interest in the Oklahoma State program was piqued after the Pokes, 3–7 at the time, knocked OU out of the 2001 national title game with a 16–13 win.

18. Clemson-South Carolina (Clemson leads 65-41-4)
These two schools were bitter rivals well before they started playing football in the 1890s. South Carolina has won four straight, but Clemson holds a 65–41–4 advantage in the all-time series.

19. Mississippi State-Ole Miss (Ole Miss leads 61-42-6)
The Egg Bowl is often the only way to salvage a season for these two programs that have struggled to win consistently in the SEC.

20. Auburn-Georgia (Auburn leads 55-54-8)
It’s the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry and it dates back to 1892. Auburn holds the slimmest of margins, with a 54–52–8 edge in the series. The Prayer on the Plains from this year has only added to this historic battle's legacy.

21. Michigan-Michigan State (Michigan leads 68-33-5)
It pains MSU fans that Michigan’s biggest rival is Ohio State, but the “Little Brothers” from East Lansing have won the five of the last six in the series, including this year's most lop-sided Spartans win since the 1960s.

22. Minnesota-Wisconsin (Minnesota leads 59-57-8)
The winner of the Gophers vs. Badgers showdown takes home the prized Paul Bunyan Axe. It’s the most played rivalry in FBS football, dating back to 1890.

23. Michigan-Notre Dame (Michigan leads 24-16-1)
These two traditional powers have only played regularly for the past three decades, but they produced a ton of memorable moments. Strike a pose, Desmond!

23. Georgia-Georgia Tech (Georgia leads 63-40-5)
You know it’s a good rivalry when the book about the series is called Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.

25. Lafayette-Lehigh (Lafayette leads 77-67-5)
The Rivalry, as it’s called, pits two small private schools located 17 miles apart in Eastern Pennsylvania. Lafayette and Lehigh have met 146 times, including every year since 1897.

Teaser:
The Top 25 Rivalries In College Football History
Post date: Monday, November 25, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/amazing-college-football-stats-week-13
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:

3: SEC receiver tandems to top 1,000 yards in the same year
Only three times in SEC history has a team had two 1,000-yard pass catchers on the same team. LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. (1,101 yards) and Jarvis Landry (1,059 yards) became just the third set of wideouts to reach the milestone. In fact, the Tigers became just the second SEC team to boast such a duo as only Florida had accomplished the feat prior to 2013. 
Steve Spurrier did it with Chris Doering and Ike Hilliard in 1995 and again in 2001 with Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell. What's more impressive is how much of the load these two Bayou Bengals have carried this fall. These two have accounted for 123 of the 180 LSU completions, 2,160 of the 2,949 yards and 18 of 22 receiving touchdowns.

22-1: Les Miles' record at LSU following a loss
Johnny Manziel is virtually unstoppable unless you are Les Miles. The LSU Tigers swarmed the reigning Heisman winner all afternoon and came away with a dominant 34-10 win over Texas A&M in rainy Baton Rouge. It was Miles 22nd win in 23 tries following a loss. LSU won both lines of scrimmage with relative ease, likely using the horrendous showing in Tuscaloosa as motivation. The last time LSU lost back-to-back games under Les Miles was Nov. 22 and 28, 2008 in the final two games of Miles' worst season at the helm. Manziel has an un-Heisman-like 52 incomplete passes, 500 yards, one total touchdown, five interceptions and 2.8 yards per carry in two games against LSU — both losses.

246: Jordan Matthews' SEC record receptions
Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews was basically the only effective offensive player on the field in Knoxville this Saturday. He caught 13 passes for 133 yards in an ugly, low-scoring, mistake-filled conference win over in-state rival Tennessee. Matthews is already the SEC's all-time leader receiving in yards with 3,491 in his career. But he passed fellow Commodore Earl Bennett (236) as the SEC's all-time receptions leader as well. Matthews  has 246 catches with two games to play in his college career.

16: NCAA players to rush for 2,000 yards
Boston College's Andre Williams rushed for 263 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries in yet another Eagles win. His performance against Maryland gives him 897 yards rushing over the last three weeks, 2,073 yards on the season and a nation's best 188.5 yards rushing per game. Williams posted the NCAA's second-best two-game stretch last week (634) and now has the all-time second-best three-game stretch in NCAA history behind only Barry Sanders (937). Sanders' NCAA single-season record of 2,628 yards isn't out of the question as Williams would need to keep this pace going at 287.5 over his last two games. He is the ACC's single-game and single-season rushing record holder.

158: Career wins for Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, a school record
Barry Switzer won 157 games in 190 career tries in 16 seasons as the head coach in Norman. After a 41-31 win over Kansas State in Manhattan, Bob Stoops became the all-time winningest coach in Oklahoma history with 158 career victories. It took Stoops one less season (15) but seven more tries (197) to reach the milestone. More important, embattled coordinator and quarterback Josh Huepel and Trevor Knight put together the best offensive performance of the Sooners' season. Against a normally tough defense in a tough place to play, Oklahoma rushed for more than 300 yards behind excellent play-calling and efficient quarterback play. The Crimson and Cream now get two weeks to prepare for The Bedlam Game in Stillwater. Speaking of Stillwater…

12: Consecutive completions to start the game for Clint Chelf
In the biggest game of the year and the Big 12 championship hanging in the balance, Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf had the best game of his career. He completed his first 12 passes and sparked the Pokes to a 14-0 lead on previously unbeaten and No. 4 Baylor. By midway through the third quarter, he was 15-of-17 and held an insurmountable 28-3 lead over the Bears. He finished the 49-17 blowout 19-of-25 for a career-high 370 yards and four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing). This from a player who has averaged just 185.8 yards per game passing over his last six games since being put back in the lineup. Of course, Glenn Spencer and the Cowboys defense will get most of the headlines by holding the top scoring offense in the nation 47 points below its 61-point scoring average but Chelf was masterful in the win.

0: Completions and passing yards for Georgia Southern
No lower-division team has ever beaten Florida, and the 26-20 loss to Georgia Southern guarantees Will Muschamp will suffer the school's first losing season since 1979. What's more painful, the Eagles didn't even complete a pass. Georgia Southern didn't connect on any of their three total passing attempts, but the option team was able to run the ball at will. The 429 yards allowed on the ground were the most by a Florida team since Tommie Frazier and Nebraska rolled up 524 in the national championship showdown of 1995. Georgia Southern is the first team this season to defeat an FBS team without completing a pass.

9: Sacks by Arizona State against UCLA
With the Pac-12 South Division Championship within reach, Arizona State proceeded to cough up a 22-point lead to the Bruins. But the defensive line saved the day and clinched a spot in the Pac-12 Championship Game by pressuring Brett Hundley and holding on for a 38-33 win at the Rose Bowl. The defense finished with nine sacks and 10 tackles for loss on the day while holding UCLA to 3.7 yards per carry on 41 rushing attempts. It was the most sacks in a game for Arizona State since posting 12 quarterback takedowns against Washington State in 2009. Additionally, defensive end Carl Bradford got into the scoring column by snatching a Hundley pass out of the air and returning it 18 yards for a touchdown in the first half.

640: Brett Smith's Mountain West total offense record
Wyoming held on to defeat winless Hawaii in Laramie 59-56 in overtime. The Cowboys gained a school- and Mountain West-record 793 yards of offense while giving up 624 to Hawaii. Cowboys quarterback Brett Smith set the school and conference record while setting the season-high record for total offense in a game with 640 yards. He needed just 48 throws for 498 yards passing and seven touchdowns while adding 142 yards rushing and another touchdown on 19 carries on the ground. No one in college football this season has accounted for more touchdowns (eight) or produced more yards (640) in one game than Smith did on Saturday afternoon. This came on the same day that Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr threw for a school-record seven touchdowns and 527 yards against New Mexico.

2: ACC teams that scored 80 points
In 2012, the country played 15 full weeks of games and 35 bowls games and only once did a team score at least 80 points in a game. Oklahoma State in Week 1 of 2012 was the last FBS team to top the benchmark when it scored 84 on Savannah State. But in Week 13 of 2013, two teams in the same conference reached the 80-point plateau. North Carolina defeated Old Dominion 80-20 while Florida State beat Idaho 80-14, marking the first time a team has scored at least 80 points since the Cowboys did it in the '12 season opener. North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams threw for 409 yards and rushed for 60 more to set the Tar Heels single-game total offense record.

Teaser:
Amazing College Football Stats from Week 13
Post date: Monday, November 25, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-pac-12-week-13-awards-and-power-rankings
Body:

If you don't where your team is in the Pac-12 standings, just wait a week and things will probably change. For the second straight week, the highest rated team and Pac-12 North leader lost on the road to a South Division team. Oregon fell in the desert, and with a convincing win in The Big Game, Stanford has clinched a berth in the Pac-12 Championship Game. In the other division, the biggest game of the weekend out West featured a quarterback dual for the ages with Taylor Kelly outplaying Brett Hundley in a narrow division-clinching win in Pasadena for Arizona State. 

Needless to say, it was a Grand Canyon State weekend out West.

Offensive Player of the Week: Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
In a week where star performances were plentiful — including Connor Halliday, Ty Montgomery and Taylor Kelly — it was the Wildcats who totally shook the apple cart out West by putting on a zone-read clinic against Oregon. Carey was once again the star of the show in what was arguably the biggest upset in the nation in Week 13. Carey posted his nation's best 14th straight 100-yard effort by carrying 48 times for 206 yards and four touchdowns. He is now second in the nation in rushing (155.9 ypg), first in the Pac-12 in rushing and tied for the league lead with 16 rushing TDs.

Defensive Player of the Week: Chris Young, LB, Arizona State
There were many defensive stars for Arizona State despite giving up 33 points. Carl Bradford had eight tackles, an interception her returned for a touchdown and registered one of ASU's nine sacks. Davon Coleman had five tackles and 2.5 of his own sacks. But the team's leading tackler Chris Young gets the nod for across the board production. He posted 13 tackles and three sacks in the division clinching road win over UCLA. This group will be challenged in a big way next weekend by Rich Rodriguez in a big-time Grand Canyon State showdown.

Team of the Week: The State of Arizona
Both Arizona schools posted monumental conference victories this weekend. Arizona's zone-read was too much for the Oregon Ducks as Rich Rodriguez' bunch rushed for 304 yards and forced three turnovers to top the No. 5 team in the nation. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils went into the Rose Bowl and clinched the South Division championship. Arizona State sacked Brett Hundley nine times and Taylor Kelly was excellent again (322 yards total offense, 2 total TD). These two will meet for the Duel in the Desert next week in not only a battle for the Territorial Cup but also home field advantage in the Pac-12 title game. Should ASU win next week, Sun Devil Stadium will host the championship while a loss means ASU must head back to Palo Alto for the second time this year.

Coordinator of the Week: Jeff Casteel, Arizona
The Wildcats entered Saturday ranked eighth in the Pac-12 in total defense, allowing 387.9 yards per game. And while Oregon posted 506 yards of offense, Jeff Casteel got critical stops when it needed to in order to pull off one of the biggest upsets in the nation this weekend. His defense forced three turnovers and allowed a season-low 16 points to an offense that was averaging more than 50 points per game. Arizona held the Pac-12's top rushing offense to nearly 100 yards less (198) than it had been averaging on the season (285.9 ypg). Another challenge awaits next weekend in the season finale.

Freshman of the Week: Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona
Wright joined one of college football's most exclusive clubs this weekend. He intercepted Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. He and teammate Shaquille Richardson are the only two players in the nation to have done that to the Ducks quarterback this year. Wright collected six tackles and one for a loss in the landscape shifting upset over Oregon. Wright is No. 2 among Pac-12 freshmen with 76 stops this season.
 

Pac-12 Post-Week 13 Power Rankings:

RankTeamLWRecordThis WeekNext Week
1(1)9-2, 7-2W, Cal, 63-13 Notre Dame
2(2)9-2, 6-2L, Arizona, 42-14Oregon St
3(3)9-2, 7-1W, UCLA, 38-33   Arizona
4(4)8-3, 5-3L, Arizona St, 38-33 at USC
5(5)9-3, 6-2W, Colorado, 47-29 UCLA
6(6)7-4, 4-4W, Oregon St, 69-27Washington St
7(7)6-5, 4-4L, Washington, 69-27at Oregon
8(8)6-5, 4-4W, Arizona, 24-17at Washington
9(9)7-4, 4-4W, Oregon, 42-16 at Arizona St
10(10)4-7, 1-7L, Washington St, 49-37at Washington 
11(11)4-7, 1-7L, USC, 47-29at Utah
12(12)1-11, 0-9L, Stanford, 63-13 Bye

 

Teaser:
2013 Pac-12 Week 13 Awards and Power Rankings
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /college-football/2013-big-ten-week-13-awards-and-power-rankings
Body:

It was a throwback weekend in the Big Ten. Blistering temperatures and inclement weather impacted every game in the league and below freezing temperatures, gusting winds and even heavy snow played a role in Week 13.

That said, Ohio State and Michigan State weren't affected as both teams stayed unbeaten in conference play. The third Big Ten title game is now set as both the Spartans and Buckeyes have clinched their respective divisions.

Here are the Big Ten's Week 13 Superlatives:

Co-Offensive Players of the Week: Jeremy Langford and Connor Cook, Michigan State
Quarterback Connor Cook executed with precision on the road against Northwestern this weekend. With great ball-handling and accurate passing in windy Chicago, he orchestrated the Spartans offense to 464 yards and 30 points in the division-clinching win at Northwestern. He threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Langford was once again the workhorse for Mark Dantonio. He carried 25 times and caught three passes for 185 yards from scrimmage and two touchdown runs of at least 20 yards. It is Langford's sixth consecutive 100-yard rushing effort — something a Michigan State back hasn't done since the great Lorenzo White did it in 1985.

Defensive Player of the Week: Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
The Ohio State linebacker is battling with Chris Borland for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year — who had 12 tackles, two forced fumbles and a recovery against Minnesota. But Shazier posted a stat line for the ages. The hard-hitting Buckeye totaled 20 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack and a forced fumble in the demolition of a once-respected Indiana offense. Shazier might have played his final game in the Horseshoe and he now is third nationally with 20.5 tackles for loss this year.

Team of the Week: Division Champions
Both teams won easily against inferior competition, but the Spartans and Buckeyes share Team of the Week honors after each clinched a spot in the Big Ten Championship game. Ohio State extended the nation's longest winning streak to a school-record 23 games in the snow-capped drubbing of Indiana at home. Meanwhile, Michigan State's No. 1-rated defense in the nation shut down an injured Northwestern offense while the underrated Spartans' offense executed masterfully on the road. Both teams are likely to finish perfect in league play in the final week and it sets up a perfect title tout in Indianapolis in two weeks.

Coordinator of the Week: Dave Aranda, Wisconsin
Aranda is making a strong case as one of the top coordinators in the Big Ten. His team totally stuffed the surging Golden Gophers on the road in a rivalry win for the Badgers. Wisconsin allowed just 185 yards of offense and held an opponent under 10 points for the seventh time in 2013 — trailing only Alabama in that category nationally. In fact, Minnesota's only points came on a defensive interception return. The Gophers finished 3-of-13 on third downs, just 9-of-23 passing the ball as a team, tallied just 11 first downs, turned the ball over three times and averaged 3.2 yards per carry.

Freshman of the Week: Michael Rose, LB, Nebraska
The redshirt freshman from Kansas City is starting to see his role expanded on defense. He played in only two of the team's first six games but has made a big impact in the Huskers resurgent final month of the season. After eight tackles in an overtime win over Penn State on the road, Rose has now posted at least seven tackles in three straight games. His 5.7 tackles per game trails only Indiana's T.J. Simmons among Big Ten freshmen.
 
Big Ten Post-Week 13 Power Rankings:
 TeamLWRecordThis WeekNext Week
1.(1)11-0, 7-0W, Indiana, 42-14at Michigan
2.

(2)10-1, 7-0W, Northwestern, 30-6 Minnesota
3.

(3)9-2, 6-1W, Minnesota, 20-7Penn St
4.

(4)8-3, 4-3L, Wisconsin, 20-7 at Michigan St
5.

(5)8-3, 5-2W, Penn St, 23-20 (OT)Iowa
6.(7)7-4, 4-3W, Michigan, 24-21at Nebraska
7.

(6)

7-4, 3-4

L, Iowa, 24-21Ohio St
8.

(8)6-5, 3-4L, Nebraska, 23-20 (OT)at Wisconsin
9.

(9)4-7, 2-5L, Ohio St, 42-14Purdue
10.

(10)4-7, 0-7L, Michigan St, 30-6 at Illinois
11.

(11)4-7, 1-6W, Purdue, 20-16 Northwestern
12.

(12)1-10, 0-7L, Illinois, 20-16at Indiana

 

Teaser:
2013 Big Ten Week 13 Awards and Power Rankings
Post date: Sunday, November 24, 2013 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-week-13-picks
Body:

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. Vanderbilt and Baylor both scored late last week to give me two back door covers and it salvaged my weekend. The games I felt the best about — Kansas State and South Carolina — disappointed in a big way. For the season, however, I am still in the black.

2013 Record Against the Spread: 35-28-1 (2-3 last week)

Week 13 Picks of the Week:

Baylor (-9.5) at Oklahoma State
The Bears are clicking on all cylinders on offense. But so is Oklahoma State. These are the top two scoring offenses in the Big 12 and these two combined for nearly 1,200 yards of offense in last season's meeting. Baylor hasn’t won in Stillwater since 1939 and the Pokes are playing the best football of the season. Oklahoma State may not win outright but nearly 10 points at home for a Mike Gundy offense seems like way too much to me. Prediction: Oklahoma State +9.5

Utah (+1.5) at Washington State
The Utes are without star quarterback and offensive force Travis Wilson this weekend and likely for the rest of the season. Washington State is poised to make a bowl game for the first time in a decade in Mike Leach’s second season. Utah has lost four straight and has been competitive at home but has lost three Pac-12 road games by an average of 16 points. Take the Cougars’ underrated defense to cover this spread fairly easily. Prediction: Washington State -1.5

Michigan State (-7) at Northwestern
Northwestern is on the verge of utter and complete collapse and Michigan State is staring at a Big Ten Legends Division championship. Should the Spartans win, they would clinch the division and nothing about Northwestern’s struggling offense indicates it can score on the nation’s best defense. The tall grasses of Ryan Field actually help Sparty’s physical style of play and it means the Wildcats have no chance to win. Prediction: Michigan State -7

Hawaii (+5.5) at Wyoming
The Warriors haven’t won a game this season and this weekend won’t be the first. Hawaii is scoring 19.6 points per game on the road and giving up 38.4 on the road. The Cowboys have been crushed the last two weeks but that came against the best two teams in the Mountain West (Boise State and Fresno State) and that seems to have skewed the line. It will be cold in Laramie and Norm Chow’s bunch won’t be competitive. Prediction: Wyoming -5.5

Week 13 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC

Top 25 Picks Against the Spread:

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

Top 25 GamesMitch LightBraden GallSteven LassanDavid Fox
Idaho (+57) at No. 2 Florida St
Indiana (+34.5) at No. 3 Ohio St
No. 4 Baylor (-9.5) at No. 10 Oklahoma St
No. 5 Oregon at Arizona
No. 8 Missouri (-3) at No. 24 Ole Miss
Cal (+31.5) at No. 9 Stanford
No. 12 Texas A&M (+4.5) at No. 22 LSU
No. 13 Michigan St (-7.5) at Northwestern
No. 17 Arizona St (-1.5) at No. 14 UCLA
New Mexico (-31.5) at No. 15 Fresno St
No. 19 Wisconsin (-16.5) at No. 25 Minnesota
No. 20 Oklahoma (+4.5) at Kansas St
Memphis (+24.5) at No. 21 Louisville
No. 23 USC (-22.5) at Colorado
Last Week:8-8-17-9-17-9-110-6-1
Year-To-Date:99-92-495-96-494-97-4101-90-4

 

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 13 Picks
Post date: Friday, November 22, 2013 - 07:15

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