Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-2014-week-4
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The original reality TV show is sports. No contrived setting where seven strangers living in a house or one bachelor searching for love can match the excitement the Iron Bowl delivered last fall.

 

The beauty of college football lies in its complete unpredictability and drama. Here are some outrageous predictions for Week 4.

 

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

 
Duke Johnson and Ameer Abdullah will rush for more than their combined weight

 

Nebraska lists Ameer Abdullah as 195 pounds and Miami lists Duke Johnson at 206 pounds. While both of those numbers seem extremely suspect (both look a lot lighter than that), the explosive and exciting duo will combine to rush for more yards against each other's team than their combined weight of 401 pounds. This is a historic rivalry that has been played in three national title situations and these two electric tailbacks will make the 2014 version a memorable one.

 

Deshaun Watson will be the most productive QB in the Clemson-Florida State game

 

Jameis Winston and FSU topped a much better Clemson team last season 51-14 in Death Valley. It isn’t out of the question to think that Winston has 177 yards and one touchdown at halftime with a 50-point lead and no need to play in the second half. On the flip side of that, Cole Stoudt could easily be benched or, worse, injured by the halftime whistle. Instead look for Tigers freshman Deshaun Watson to have the most yards of total offense in this game. You heard it here first, folks.

 

Listen to the Week 3 recap podcast:



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Mississippi State scores more points in the first half than LSU has allowed all season

 

LSU has given up 24 total points in three games this fall and has a current streak shutout streak going of 147 minutes and 24 seconds. When Mississippi State comes to town this weekend, Dak Prescott will bring his triple-threat ability to the bayou. LSU may still win the game but Prescott — and his 323 yards per game average — should lead his Bulldogs to 24 points in the first half alone. The Tigers have yet to face a legitimate quarterback all season and Prescott could open some eyes against LSU.

 

Marcus Mariota and Connor Halliday will combine for 1,000 yards of offense

 

Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday set an NCAA record a year ago against Oregon with 89 pass attempts. It netted him 557 yards in the 62-38 defeat to the Ducks. Meanwhile, Marcus Mariota rolled up 394 yards of offense (327 pass, 67 rush) in the win. These two will be prominently featured once again and could easily combine for 1,000 yards of total offense and 100 points.

 

Amari Cooper will post season lows against Florida

 

Cooper is off to an unreal start to the season for the Crimson Tide. He is leading the nation with 33 receptions and is third nationally in yards with 454 in three games. But he will be matched up with the best corner in the SEC this weekend when Vernon Hargreaves III and Florida come to town. The guess is Lane Kiffin will attack other areas of the Florida defense with great success and won’t let the Cooper-VH3 matchup dictate the direction of the offense.

 

 

BONUS: Clint Trickett will be the focal point of Bob Stoops' defense

 

If I had written that sentence last year, I might have been fired from my current position and relegated to restocking Dana Holgorsen's RedBull Frigidaire. Thus, making my bonus prediction totally outrageous and bizarre.

 

Teaser:
Outrageous College Football Predictions: 2014 Week 4
Post date: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/10-amazing-college-football-stats-week-3-pac-12
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Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of Pac-12 football action:

 

452: Rushing yards allowed by USC

How is this not the most important number in the Pac-12 this weekend? The Trojans were outgained on the ground by Boston College by an astounding 452 to 20. This a week after the Eagles allowed over 300 yards rushing to Pitt. After leading 17-6 early in the second quarter, USC allowed 24 unanswered points. The Trojans didn’t score again until 4:32 left in the game, going 39:36 without a point.

 

14: Teams Shaq Thompson outscored

Washington linebacker Shaq Thompson turned in one of the top defensive performances of Week 3 by returning an interception 36 yards for a score and later scoring on a 52-yard fumble return. By scoring 12 points, Thompson outscored these teams in Week 3: Central Michigan, Kansas, UCF, Minnesota, Tennessee, Miami (Ohio), Kent State, Rutgers, Eastern Michigan, Southern Miss, Rice, Army, South Alabama and Louisiana-Monroe.

 

Listen to the Week 3 recap podcast:



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11.0: Sacks for Danny Shelton, Hau’oli Kikaha

Thompson isn’t the only defensive standout for the Huskies this fall. Washington is leading the nation with 15.0 sacks through three games due to the play of its dynamic D-line duo of Danny Shelton and Hau’oli Kikaha. Shelton is leading the nation with 6.0 sacks and Kikaha is third nationally with 5.0 of his own after posting 3.0 in the blowout win over Illinois.

 

206: D.J. Foster's yards from scrimmage

The biggest news in Tempe will be the health of quarterback Taylor Kelly and how soon he can return to the field. But in the meantime, enjoy watching tailback D.J. Foster. He rushed for 147 yards on 20 carries and caught four passes for 59 yards while scoring twice in the easy win over Colorado. Foster now leads the nation with 649 yards from scrimmage in three games (510 rush, 139 rec.) and has scored six times. UTEP’s Aaron Jones is second with 560 YFS.

 

0: Points Stanford allowed in games not against USC

The Cardinal lost 13-10 to USC in Week 2 but has been pretty much perfect otherwise. Stanford beat Army 35-0 in Week 3, pitching a second shutout in three weeks. Stanford has had 36 defensive possessions in three games and it has allowed one touchdown (and two field goals). It pitched one shutout from 2011-13. Stanford is leading the nation with 204.3 yards per game allowed as well.

 

18: Total margin of victory for UCLA in 2014

Without its star quarterback, UCLA figured out a way to beat Texas in Arlington 20-17. It gives the Bruins three wins in three tries by a grand total of 18 points after beating Virginia by eight points and Memphis by seven. In the modern playoff era, however, survive and advance may be all that matters and UCLA has done just that.

 

31.0: Tackles for a loss against UCLA

The Bruins are 127th nationally — second to last (UConn) in the nation with 31.0 tackles for a loss allowed. The Bruins allowed 10.0 tackles for a loss, including three sacks, in the win over Texas. It means that UCLA has allowed at least 10.0 tackles for a loss in each of its three games (Virginia had 11.0 and Memphis had 10.0).

 

119, 175, 1,465, 12: Connor Halliday’s nation’s leading passing stats

Washington State finally got into the win column this weekend with a victory over lowly Portland State. Connor Halliday completed 41-of-62 passes for 544 yards and six touchdowns. He is now leading the nation in completions (119), attempts (175), yards (1,465) and is tied with Maty Mauk and Brandon Doughty for the lead in TD passes with 12.

 

14-for-14: Colorado's opponents in the red zone this season

Of the 26 teams that have failed to make a red zone stop this season, none can match Colorado in opportunities to fail. The Buffaloes have allowed their opponents to score on all 14 trips inside the red zone — 12 of which have gone for touchdowns. Only Toledo (14) has allowed more red zone TDs this fall. Arizona State was 4-for-4 on Saturday.

 

4: Pac-12 teams who have scored on every trip into the red zone

Conversely, 27 teams are perfect on offense in the red zone. Four of those hail from the Pac-12. Washington (13), Cal (11), Arizona (10) and UCLA (7) are all perfect in the red zone on offense thus far in 2014.

Teaser:
10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 3 in the Pac-12
Post date: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/10-amazing-college-football-stats-week-3-big-12
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Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of Big 12 football action:

 

108: Plays West Virginia ran

The Mountaineers rolled up 694 yards of offense in the win over Maryland in College Park. They ran 108 plays to get those yards and are third in the nation with 273 offensive snaps in three weeks. It took five games for WVU to hit the same mark a season ago.

 

2: Times Texas kicked off to start a half

One of the oddest occurrences in any football game ever took place at the coin toss between Texas and UCLA. The Bruins won the toss and deferred to the second half. Texas then inexplicably decided to kickoff to start the game instead of taking the ball. Texas lost the coin toss and the game 20-17 in dramatic fashion.

 

Listen to the Week 3 recap podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

4: Consecutive losses by Texas to teams outside the state of Texas

After the painful and dramatic loss to UCLA in Arlington, Texas, has now lost five of its last seven games and four straight to opponents from outside of the state of Texas. The Longhorns have beaten Texas Tech and North Texas while losing to Oklahoma State, Baylor, Oregon, BYU and UCLA in their last seven contests.

 

6:05: Texas Tech’s time of possession in the second half

Arkansas gashed the Red Raiders defense for 438 rushing yards (6.4 ypc) and seven scores. Bret Bielema’s offense held the ball for 40:39, which limited the high-powered Texas Tech offense to just three second-half possessions. The Red Raiders only registered 6:05 in time of possession over the final two quarters. The Hogs had more rushing attempts (68) than passing yards (61).

 

293.7: Texas Tech’s rushing yards allowed per game over their last 9 games

After the drubbing at the hands of the Razorbacks, the Red Raiders' opponents have rushed for 293.7 yards per game in their last nine contests. Kliff Kingsbury’s record is 3-6 in those games.

 

2:42: Total time of TCU’s three touchdown drives

Each of TCU’s three touchdown-scoring drives against Minnesota took less than 1:12 worth of time. The Frogs scored a touchdown on drives that took 35 seconds, 55 seconds and 1:12 — all in the first half of the 30-7 win over Minnesota. Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham have implemented the Horned Frogs’ new up-tempo attack in short order.

 

61.6: Average yards of KD Cannon’s TD catches

In three games this year, Cannon has caught 14 passes for a nation’s best 471 yards and five scores. The true freshman is averaging 33.6 yards per catch, with his five touchdown catches averaging 61.6 yards per reception.

 

2: Trevor Knight 300-yard games against SEC teams

Oklahoma’s quarterback likes facing the SEC. He has two career 300-yard passing games and both have come against SEC foes after he threw for 308 yards in an easy win over Tennessee. His other such game was his 348-yard Sugar Bowl outing against Alabama. Knight averages 102.3 yards per game passing in 10 other career games.

 

3-1: Paul Rhoads record against Kirk Ferentz since 2011

The Cyclones kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired to topple Iowa in Kinnick Stadium this weekend. It was the third win in four years for Iowa State and Paul Rhoads in the heated battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy. (Overall, Rhoads is 3-3 against Iowa.)

 

20.4: Yards per carry by Duke's Shaun Wilson against Kansas

There is a lot wrong with Kansas but its rushing defense was exposed this weekend in the embarrassing 40-3 loss to Duke. The Jayhawks allowed Duke true freshman running back Shaun Wilson to rush 12 times for a school-record 245 yards and three touchdowns for an astounding 20.4 yards per carry.

Teaser:
10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 3 in the Big 12
Post date: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/tuesday-talking-points-2014-week-3-georgia-misses-another-chance-pac-12-south-wide-open
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Every Saturday night, Athlon Sports’ Braden Gall hosts The Scoreboard Show on SiriusXM College Sports Nation, Ch. 91. Every Tuesday, Athlon Sports will feature his take on the national conversation from fans to players to coaches.

 

The 2007 season is the benchmark for college football craziness, and while there is still more than two months left in the ‘14 campaign, comparisons are already being made to that wacky season seven years ago.

 

I bet Mark Richt remembers all about the '07 campaign.

 

We entered Week 3 with one marquee showdown in the SEC East and a bunch of so-so matchups throughout the rest of college football.

 

But as the day went along, it was obviously not going to be an average run of the mill Saturday afternoon.

 

West Virginia and Clint Trickett ran 108 plays for 694 yards to outlast Maryland, sending an unexpected shot across the Big 12 bow. Ruffin McNeill and East Carolina basically dominated a Virginia Tech team in Blacksburg that went into Columbus and won easily last weekend. Bowling Green scored with nine seconds left to give the Big Ten their third loss to the MAC. And Virginia won an ACC game for the first time in 672 days when it upset a ranked Louisville team at home.

 

And that was just the noon kickoffs. The real craziness took place in the SEC East and the Pac-12 South.

 

Georgia and South Carolina duked it out in true heavyweight fashion in a rainy but electric Williams-Brice Stadium. The Bulldogs had no answer on defense for the balanced and explosive South Carolina offense. Dylan Thompson waited his turn behind Connor Shaw for years for exactly this type of moment.

 

With the season hanging in the balance just three weeks into his senior season, the Gamecocks quarterback led an offense that dissected the UGA defense for 447 yards and 6.2 yards per play in what turned out to be the highest scoring game in the history of the SEC East series. 

 

Thompson finished with 271 yards passing and four total touchdowns. More importantly, Steve Spurrier’s bunch left Week 3 with what amounts to a two-game lead over Georgia in the East and a renewed sense of purpose. Do both the Dawgs and Cocks have glaring issues on the defensive side of the ball? Is the rest of the SEC East — considering how good Mizzou has looked — considerably more balanced and more difficult than expected in the preseason? Did Georgia once again miss an opportunity to make a championship statement in a huge moment under Mark Richt?

 

Yes. Yes. And yes. But, for now, South Carolina landed the first big SEC East blow.

 

One guy who didn’t miss his chance in the spotlight was UCLA backup quarterback Jerry Neuheisel.

 

The Bruins have looked like anything but a College Football Playoff team with three victories over Virginia, Memphis and Texas by a grand total of 18 points. But Neuheisel, the son of former UCLA coach and QB Rick Neuheisel who was forced into action when Brett Hundley left in the first quarter with an arm injury, won’t ever forget what happened in Arlington on Saturday night.

 

With three minutes to go in the game and trailing by four points, Neuheisel dropped a gorgeous 33-yard touchdown pass into the waiting arms of Jordan Payton down the left sideline to give UCLA the win over Texas. He may never throw another pass on any level again in his career but he certainly won’t ever forget that one.

 

While the Bruins have struggled on the whole this season, UCLA is still unbeaten and is coming off its most complete game against its best opponent and did so without its Heisman Trophy candidate. It should give Jim Mora’s bunch some confidence heading into a bye week before traveling to Tempe to face Arizona State in a critical Pac-12 South showdown.

 

The key will be who is playing quarterback in that huge Thursday night showdown. Hundley is optimistic he can return for UCLA while the Sun Devils may not be as lucky. Arizona State’s star quarterback Taylor Kelly was on crutches in the waning moments of ASU’s win over Colorado on Saturday and appears to be out for 2-3 games.

 

It couldn’t come at a worse time for Todd Graham. Arizona State will get an off weekend in Week 4 but then have to face UCLA, USC, Stanford and Washington. The Sun Devils’ Pac-12 South hopes may now hinge on the inexperienced but very powerful right arm of junior Mike Bercovici.

 

If either Kelly or Hundley miss any amount of time — or aren’t playing at their usually elite level — one would think that would open the door for another team to step into the Pac-12 title picture.

 

It’s just hard to make the case that this team will be USC. The Trojans' win over Stanford was fortunate but there was nothing fluky about the way Boston College dominated the line of scrimmage against USC on Saturday night. Steve Sarkisian’s bunch was outrushed 452 to 20 in the massive upset. Seriously, read that previous sentence again.

 

No, it may actually be Arizona (3-0) or Utah (2-0) who might be ready to step into a challenger's role in the Pac-12 South rather than the Men of Troy.

 

Entering Week 3, the races in the SEC East and Pac-12 South were somewhat clear with Georgia and UCLA standing in control. While both the Bruins and Dawgs could still be considered the front-runners, each appears to be right in the heart of a much more heated race than originally expected.

 

Would it really shock anyone now if Missouri or Arizona won its respective division?

 

Saturday Conversation

 

Dylan Thompson, QB, South Carolina

The Gamecocks quarterback was extra motivated after hearing about how great Georgia was for two weeks and that helped his team pull off the upset at home.

 

 

Jerry Neuheisel, QB, UCLA

The UCLA quarterback had to step in for the injured Brett Hundley and he led the Bruins to a comeback win over Texas. He talks about his interview with his father, Rick, and being forced into the spotlight.

 

 

Tyler Murphy, QB, Boston College

The Eagles quarterback rushed for 191 yards and explained how his team was able to pull off the shocking upset over USC.

 

 

Ruffin McNeill, East Carolina

The head coach of the Pirates knew his team was prepared to compete with Virginia Tech but he explains how losing to South Carolina helped his team.

 

 

Brandon Allen, QB, Arkansas

The Razorbacks quarterback explained how the SEC-Big 12 rivalry and difference in offensive styles helped the Hogs prepare for (and defeat) Texas Tech.

 

 

Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina

The Gamecocks running back gives all of the credit for the ground game’s success to the offensive line after the big win over Georgia.

 

 

Greyson Lambert, QB, Virginia

The Cavaliers signal-caller explains how the locker room at Virginia is brimming with confidence following a big win over Louisville.

 

Teaser:
Tuesday Talking Points: Georgia Misses Another Chance, Pac-12 South Wide Open
Post date: Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-week-3-recap
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The guys recap the big Georgia-South Carolina game and what it means for the SEC East. The Week 3 edition also features the quality showing from the Big 12, UCLA's comeback, the Big Ten's second rough weekend in a row and a couple of big upsets in the ACC - and what it means for the USC Trojans moving forward. 


Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall or @DavidFox615 or email [email protected]. The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, iTunes, Stitcher and our podcast RSS feed.

 

 

Teaser:
Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: Week 3 Recap
Post date: Monday, September 15, 2014 - 12:04
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-3-takeaways-taylor-kelly-brett-hundley-injured-wins-trojans-upset
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The Pac-12 was 7-2 overall in Week 3. One of those losses was a conference game but the other was a horrendous road defeat for USC at the hands of Boston College.

 

But there were two other losses that could prove to be huge in the race for the Pac-12 South Division title. UCLA and Arizona State both finished costly wins with their star quarterbacks standing on the sidelines with could be significant injuries.

 

Here is what we learned from the Pac-12 in Week 3: 

 

USC has major questions

The road win over Stanford had fluky characteristics and the Trojans didn't get nearly as lucky against Boston College. Facing an Eagles team that allowed 302 yards rushing and mustered just 4.4 yards per play on offense in a loss to Pitt last weekend, USC was completely dominated in the trenches on Saturday. In one of the most bizarre stats of the year, the Trojans were outrushed 452 to 20 in the stunning upset loss. While allowing 7.4 yards per play on defense, USC managed only 4.8 yards per play on offense. The questionable coaching decisions against Stanford didn't cost the Men of Troy (due in large part to luck) but Steve Sarkisian clearly didn't have his team ready to compete and the staff didn't make adjustments against a team many believed wouldn't be a challenge.

 

Listen to the Week 3 recap podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

 

 

 

 

Taylor Kelly injury reshapes South race

Arizona State won on the road against Colorado in relatively easy fashion. But the win might be a costly one. Kelly, one of only two quarterbacks in college football to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 500 yards in each of the last two seasons (the other is that Manziel guy) was on crutches with his right foot in a boot on Saturday night. While no immediate prognosis is available, Kelly seemed awfully emotional and dejected on the sidelines. The defending South Division champs looked better than preseason pollsters projected but will face UCLA, USC, Stanford and Washington in the next four games. Even if Kelly can return for November, it's hard to see ASU surviving the next month of action still in Pac-12 contention. On a positive note, D.J. Foster is pretty much awesome. After another 206 yards from scrimmage and two more touchdowns, the Sun Devils tailback now has 510 yards rushing, 139 yards receiving and scored six times. No one in the nation has more yards from scrimmage than his 649 yards.

 

Without its star, UCLA finds balance

The biggest piece of news coming out of AT&T Stadium was Brett Hundley's arm injury. It certainly didn't appear to be as bad as Taylor Kelly's, but if the star quarterback is out for any extended period of time, UCLA could be in major trouble. The Bruins survived another scare with the gutty play from backup quarterback Jerry Neuheisel. More importantly, the offense found some balance in the running game with 217 yards rushing (124 from Paul Perkins) and the Bruins played their most complete game without Hundley under center. Was Texas also depleted and not as good as its name brand indicates? Sure, but if the Bruins can consistently play games like they did against Texas and Hundley can return to the field, then UCLA clearly sit in the driver's seat in the South — even if it's looked like anything but a Playoff team.

 

Shaq Thompson is a Heisman candidate

If the Huskies can keep winning, it may have a legitimate defensive Heisman candidate in linebacker Shaq Thompson. The two-way star scored twice on defense this weekend against Illinois on a 36-yard INT return and a 52-yard fumble return. His absurd stat line through three games: 22 tackles, one INT, 1.0 sack, 82 yards rushing on 13.7 yards per carry and three total touchdowns. Hello, Charles Woodson.

 

Survive and advance

It goes without saying, but in a year that is feeling more and more like the wild and wacky 2007, winning is all that matters. UCLA, Washington, Arizona and Oregon State haven't looked like conference championship teams but those four are a combined 11-0 on the season. So while criticism is warranted for all four programs in how they struggled with lesser competition, they've remained unblemished and each appears to have started to iron out some of the early season kinks to enter conference play with perfect records. Additionally, Arizona State, Cal and Utah are a combined 7-0 as well. By comparison, the Pac-12 has more unbeaten teams left (8) as the Big Ten (2), Big 12 (4) and American Athletic Conference (1) combined and is tied with the SEC (8).

 

Pac-12 Power Rankings:

 

RkTeamRecordLast WeekWeek 2
1.3-0W, 48-14, Wyomingat Washington St
2.3-0W, 20-17, TexasBye
3.2-1W, 35-0, ArmyBye
4.3-0W, 38-24, ColoradoBye
5.2-1L, 37-31, Boston CollegeBye
6.3-0W, 35-28, NevadaCal
7.3-0W, 44-19, IllinoisGeorgia St
8.2-0ByeSan Diego St
9.2-0Byeat Michigan
10.2-0Byeat Arizona
11.1-2W, 59-21, Portland StOregon
12.1-2L, 38-24, Arizona StHawaii

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 2014 Week 3 Takeaways: Taylor Kelly, Brett Hundley Injured in wins, Trojans Upset
Post date: Monday, September 15, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-2014-week-3-picks
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I was feeling pretty good about my picks with about 19 minutes left in the Oregon game and about 19 seconds left in the Stanford game.

 

Then Marcus Mariota and Stanford’s red zone offense happened and I finished 2-3. Although, I did go 9-5 against the number in Top 25 games (see below), so I got that going for me.

 

It has not been a strong start for me, but I am feeling confident about rebounding in a very modest Week 3 slate.

 

Last Week: 2-3

Year-to-Date: 5-6

 

UTSA (pk) at Oklahoma St

According to Covers.com, two of their five sports books are offering this game as a pick-em while the other three are listing Oklahoma State as a 13-point favorite. If you can get in on this game as a straight-up pick-em, then this becomes my lock of the week. Prediction: Oklahoma State (pk)

 

Listen to the Week 3 preview podcast:



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Pitt (-25.5) at FIU

The Panthers have been one of the more impressive teams in the nation thus far and FIU has been the complete opposite. The Panthers are 2-0 against the number and I expect a huge day from the No. 5-ranked rushing team in the nation (355.5 ypg). Prediction: Pitt -25.5

 

Arkansas (+2) at Texas Tech

The Razorbacks are one of the most physical and powerful running games in the nation and Texas Tech is having issues all over the field. The Red Raiders can sling it around and will score points as well but most like the Hogs to win outright so take the points. Prediction: Arkansas +2

 

USC (-17) at Boston College

The Eagles allowed 302 yards rushing to Pitt last weekend so USC tailback Buck Allen (143.5 yards per game) should have a field day. And this speaks nothing of the elite passing game Cody Kessler and Coach Sarkisian have on offense as well. Prediction: USC -17

 

Indiana (-7) at Bowling Green

This was an upset special in the summer but now that Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson is out, the Falcons have looked like a different team. One of the Big Ten’s best offenses should be able to score at will against a BG defense that has allowed 445.0 yards passing per game in two contests. Prediction: Indiana -7

 

Kansas (+14.5) at Duke

The Jayhawks needed to hold off Southeast Missouri State for a narrow six-point win last week at home. Duke has scored 86 points in two games and is poised for another big offensive showing at home. The coaching differential is astounding in this one. Take the Blue Devils big. Prediction: Duke -14.5

 

Rice (+31.5) at Texas A&M

This pick breaks one of my rules of gambling and that is never to touch a spread of 30 or more points. But Texas A&M is just too good on offense and Rice was torched by Notre Dame in its only game (48-17). If you are okay with the big number, take the Aggies to win BIG in College Station. Prediction: Texas A&M -31.5

 

Top 25 Picks ATS:

 

Top 25Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Wyoming (+43) at Oregon
S. Miss (+48) at Alabama
Tennessee (+20.5) at Oklahoma
Georgia (-6.5) at S. Carolina
Rice (+31.5) at Texas A&M
Baylor (-35) at Buffalo
USC (-17) at B. College
ULM (+31) at LSU
Purdue (+28.5) at Notre Dame
UCLA (-8) vs. Texas
ULL (+27.5) at Ole Miss
Army (+28.5) at Stanford
Arizona St (-15.5) at Colorado
E. Carolina (+11) at Va Tech
UCF (+10) at Missouri
Louisville (-6.5) at Virginia
Kent St (+32) at Ohio St
Last Week:9-510-46-88-6
YTD:16-1320-914-1514-15

 

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: College Football 2014 Week 3 Picks
Post date: Friday, September 12, 2014 - 08:30
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-2014-week-3-preview
Teaser:
Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: 2014 Week 3 Preview
Post date: Thursday, September 11, 2014 - 11:29
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-week-3-preview-and-predictions
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Many are talking about how weak the Week 3 slate looks nationally. While there’s only one Top 25 matchup in any conference, the Big 12 only has one “bad” game this weekend.

 

There’s an intense in-state rivalry. There are clashes of style with the SEC. There’s a top 10 team coming to The Lone Star State. There are three bouts with the Big Ten. And there’s Baylor. Even Kansas has an intriguing game this weekend.

Week 3 Previews and Predictions:
ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC


Big 12 Week 3 Game Power Rankings

 

1. UCLA (-8) vs Texas
8 p.m., FOX, Arlington

While UCLA is looking for a complete performance from both sides of the ball (in the same game), Texas is looking for answers all over the roster. The Bruins are a known commodity with a proven playmaker at quarterback and several stars on defense. Longhorns quarterback Tyrone Swoopes wasn’t terrible in his debut against BYU but Texas still has glaring questions under center — and most every other position on the offense. The defense, supposed to be a strength, needs to play like it did in Week 1 (94 yds allowed) rather than how it did last weekend (41 pts). Both offensive lines are a concern and both defensive lines have future NFL players, so whichever team protects the quarterback better will leave Arlington a winner.

 

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2. Arkansas (+2) at Texas Tech
3:30 p.m., ABC

This is an awesome battle of tempo and style that should be exciting all the way to the wire. Arkansas will bring in one of the most powerful rushing attacks in the country at 324.0 yards per game after two weeks. Meanwhile, David Webb is sixth nationally with 730 yards passing in two games for Texas Tech. Kliff Kingsbury needs a more disciplined performance from his team as Tech’s 25 penalties rank 126th nationally and are last in the Big 12 in turnover margin (-3). If Tech doesn’t play a cleaner game and doesn’t get freshman running back Justin Stockton (12.4 ypc) the ball, the Hogs will physically dominate the trenches and leave Lubbock with a win. This is a critical test for a Red Raiders team that appears to have the same issues it did to end last season.

 

3. Tennessee (+20.5) at Oklahoma
8 p.m., ABC

The Volunteers have two wins but have yet to get any push up front on offense, ranking 91st in the nation in rushing. The Sooners have been excellent against the run and are playing elite defense, ranking 13th nationally in stopping the ground game. Trevor Knight obviously needs to play well against a much improved defense that has been excellent on third down (7-of-31), but the line of scrimmage figures to be the biggest factor and Oklahoma appears to have a major advantage in this department on both sides of the ball. Bob Stoops has been railing on the SEC because he knows his team should get a relatively easy win against one of the conference's lower-tier teams that still could wind up in a bowl game by season’s end. There is a reason the Vols are a three-touchdown underdog.

 

4. West Virginia (+3.5) at Maryland
Noon, BTN

This game has gotten dramatically more interesting after two weeks of play. The Terps, who will be wearing these uniforms, won this contest 37-0 a year ago and are coming off a hard-fought win over USF on the road. West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett has been a different player this year, throwing for 713 yards and no interceptions in two games thus far. Fans on both sides are expecting a much closer battle this time around. In order to keep it close, the Mountaineers must be focused on stopping a host of talented Maryland playmakers, including quarterback C.J. Brown (6 total TD), receiver Stefon Diggs (12 receptions) and running backs Wes Brown and Brandon Ross.

 

5. Iowa State (+10) at Iowa
3:30 p.m., ESPN

One of the more underrated in-state rivalries in college football began back in 1894 and has been played 61 times. Paul Rhoads is 2-3 against Kirk Ferentz but won the last trip into Iowa City in ugly fashion 9-6. Both teams have struggled in the early going this fall, as Iowa has needed late heroics to reach 2-0. Iowa State played much better football against Kansas State than it did in Week 1 but still couldn’t score in the fourth quarter. This is a classic rivalry that could go either way depending on quarterback play and third-down defense — two areas where Iowa appears to have a significant advantage. Even the campus Police Departments are getting into fray.

 

6. Minnesota (+14.5) at TCU
4 p.m., FS1

The Gophers are one of the few Big Ten teams that have looked solid in both outings this fall, as the running game has averaged 233.0 yards per game. Normally, the defense gets the headlines for Gary Patterson but the TCU coach is drawing attention for his QB depth chart instead. Trevone Boykin — who threw for over 300 yards in the season opener — is a co-starter with Matt Joeckel. It appears this battle is far from over and whoever plays better against a well-coached but potentially overmatched Minnesota squad this weekend could take control of the job. Stopping UM tailback David Cobb is the key for TCU on Saturday.

 

7. UTSA (off) at Oklahoma State
7 p.m.

Daxx Garman played well (over 15 yards per completion) in backup duty last weekend and appears to have a better skill set for Mike Gundy’s offense than J.W. Walsh. Texas-San Antonio has played excellent defense, due in large part to a stout defensive line, against Arizona and Houston as the Roadrunners figure to be a much better test for Garman (or whomever plays QB) than Southwest Missouri State. Many are suggesting Garman should be the unquestioned starter but the fact remains he needs to prove himself against more legitimate competition before he’s handed the keys to Gundy’s Air Raid attack. UTSA is a solid step up for OSU but shouldn’t pose a threat for the Pokes in Stillwater.

 

8. Baylor (-34) at Buffalo
Fri., 8 p.m., ESPN

Bryce Petty’s vertebrae are the only real story in what should be a very lopsided Bears win. Petty will start after missing all of last week’s game and the offense didn’t miss a beat. Art Briles' top concern this weekend should be keeping his QB upright and returning home healthy.

 

9. Kansas (+15) at Duke
3:30 p.m., ESPN3

Charlie Weis and David Cutcliffe know each other quite well. The Kansas coach hired the Duke coach while at Notre Dame but the two never coached together due to health complications for Cutcliffe. This time, Cutt appears to be the boss, as his Duke team is surging after two easy wins. Stopping Anthony Boone will be a tall order for the Jayhawks on the road.

 

Off: Kansas State

 

Big 12 Predictions:

 

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
UCLA (-8) vs. TexasUCLA, 31-17UCLA, 24-10UCLA, 35-10UCLA, 27-13
Ark. (+2) at T. TechArk., 30-27Ark., 34-30Ark., 42-38Ark., 38-34
Tenn. (+20.5) at Okla.Okla., 38-17Okla., 33-13Okla., 35-14Okla., 38-13
W. Virginia (+3.5) at Mary.Mary., 34-31Mary., 27-24WVU, 35-24WVU, 34-31
Iowa St (+10) at IowaIowa, 31-21Iowa, 21-10Iowa, 21-17Iowa, 27-17
Minn. (+14.5) at TCUTCU, 27-20Minn., 24-21TCU, 17-10TCU 30-20
UTSA (off) at Okla. StOSU, 31-17OSU, 30-17OSU, 35-28OSU 38-24
Baylor (-34) at BuffaloBaylor, 49-10Baylor, 41-0Baylor, 56-10Baylor 52-20
Kansas (+15) at DukeDuke, 43-15Duke, 34-10Duke, 28-10Duke, 38-17
Last Week:8-08-08-08-0
Year-to-Date:16-116-117-016-1

 

Teaser:
Big 12 2014 Week 3 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 11, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-3-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Washington State and Colorado notwithstanding, the Pac-12 has had a very successful first two weeks of the season.

 

Oregon looks like a national title team, all of the other contenders have survived and stayed unblemished in the non-conference (UCLA, Oregon State, Washington) and the rest of the league (Arizona State, Arizona, Cal, Utah) has looked better than anticipated.

 

This weekend should feature much of the same as some teams look to survive key road non-conference games and contenders aim to hold serve at home against overmatched opponents.

Week 3 Previews and Predictions:
ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC


Pac-12 Week 3 Game Power Rankings

 

1. UCLA (-8) vs Texas
8 p.m., FOX, Arlington

While UCLA is looking for a complete performance from both sides of the ball (in the same game), Texas is looking for answers all over the roster. The Bruins are a known commodity with a proven playmaker at quarterback and several stars on defense. Longhorns quarterback Tyrone Swoopes wasn’t terrible in his debut against BYU but Texas still has glaring questions under center — and most every other position on offense. The defense, supposed to be a strength, needs to play like it did in Week 1 (94 yds allowed) rather than how it did last weekend (41 pts). Both offensive lines are a concern and both defensive lines have future NFL players, so whichever team protects the quarterback better will leave Arlington a winner.

 

Listen to the Week 3 preview podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

 

 

2. Nevada (+14.5) at Arizona
11 p.m., P12 Net

These two have only played once since World War II, but the 2012 New Mexico Bowl was one for the ages. The 49-48 showdown was an epic, back-and-forth affair between two great offenses and that figures to be the case once again this weekend. Arizona won a hard-fought game against UTSA in San Antonio last Saturday and has had extra time to prepare for a Wolf Pack defense that was excellent against Washington State in Week 2. Anu Solomon (358.5 ypg) and Cody Fajardo (290.5 ypg) are two of the most entertaining quarterbacks in the nation and both should deliver fireworks late night on Saturday. Look for Rich Rodriguez’ defense to get key stops in the second half, pushing his non-conference record in Tucson to a perfect 11-0.

 

3. USC (-17) at Boston College
8 p.m., ESPN

Anytime the Trojans play on the East Coast, it’s must-see TV. That said, the Eagles' defensive front better be ready for a heavy dose of Buck Allen and Justin Davis. Boston College allowed 302 yards rushing — 213 to James Conner — against Pittsburgh last weekend and show no signs of being able to stop USC's powerful rushing attack. Allen has been excellent on the ground, averaging 6.4 yards per carry and 143.5 yards per game in the early going. This says nothing of the elite collection of wideouts Cody Kessler has at his disposal. The late kickoff should help USC stave off any remaining jet lag from the cross-country journey.

 

4. Illinois (+13) at Washington
4 p.m., FOX

The Huskies defense will be without star cornerback Marcus Peters this weekend against what is developing into one of the Big Ten’s better passing attack. Neither team has looked good against inferior competition but both quarterbacks exploded last week with big numbers. Wes Lunt threw for 456 yards in a narrow win over Western Kentucky while Cyler Miles scored four times and led his team to 59 points in his season debut. The biggest difference between these two should be the play of UW’s front seven on defense. If this group is effective, Washington should win easily.

 

5. Arizona St (-15.5) at Colorado
10 p.m., ESPNU

The conference opener for both should be closer than the first two meetings between Todd Graham and the Buffaloes. Taylor Kelly and Graham have scored over 50 points and rolled up more than 530 yards in each of their two games against Colorado. Tailback D.J. Foster has given Kelly a tremendous counterpart, as the star tailback is averaging an absurd 10.7 yards per carry on 34 attempts (363 yds, 4 TD). Meanwhile, the Buffs haven’t looked good in either game despite adequate play from sophomore quarterback Sefo Luifau (559 yds, 5 TD, INT). Look for Luifau to target that reworked ASU secondary with talented peripheral weapons Nelson Spruce (17 rec., 249 yds, 4 TD) and Shay Fields. Mike MacIntrye has to hope to outscore Arizona State — which is much easier said than done.

 

6. Army (+28.5) at Stanford
5 p.m., P12 Net

The story coming out of Palo Alto last weekend wasn’t that Stanford lost, it was how they lost. In 2014, the Cardinal has made 11 trips into the red zone that have resulted in a total of three touchdowns. That has to change against Army this Saturday. The good news is the Stanford defense is picking up right where it left off by allowing just one total touchdown in 25 defensive possessions. The long trip out West for the Knights doesn’t help their chances either.

 

7. Wyoming (+43) at Oregon
2 p.m., P12 Net

The only thing the Cowboys can hope for here is a complete and total letdown of focus for the Ducks after their huge win over Michigan State. Wyoming is unbeaten but topped Montana by just five points and needed 10 fourth quarter points to beat Air Force by four last week. Oregon scored almost as many points in the final 19 minutes against Sparty (28) as the Cowboys have scored in two games (34). This will be ugly.

 

8. Portland St at Washington St
8 p.m., P12 Net

After two weeks, there are few teams in the nation more disappointing than the Cougars. The defense was atrocious in Week 1 and the offense was ineffective in Week 2. With eight (maybe nine) potential bowl teams left on the schedule, this is the last “guaranteed” win on Wazzu's schedule.

 

Off: Oregon State, Utah

 

Pac-12 Predictions:

 

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
UCLA (-8) at TexasUCLA, 31-17UCLA, 24-10UCLA, 35-10UCLA, 27-13
Nevada (+14.5) at ArizonaZona, 34-20Zona, 41-24Zona, 41-14Zona 41-30
USC (-17) at B. CollegeUSC, 41-17USC, 30-20USC, 35-14USC, 34-17
Illinois (+13) at Wash.Wash., 44-24Wash., 33-27Wash., 42-28Wash., 45-31
Ariz. St (-15.5) at Colo.ASU, 45-21ASU, 37-17ASU, 42-10ASU, 45-17
Army (+28.5) at Stan.Stan., 33-7Stan., 31-10Stan., 28-14Stan., 34-17
Wyo. (+43) at OregonOregon, 51-7Oregon, 41-7Oregon, 56-10Oregon, 55-7
Port. St at WazzuWSU, 34-14WSU, 41-17WSU, 35-7WSU, 48-13
Last Week:9-210-19-28-3
Year-to-Date:18-519-419-417-6

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 2014 Week 3 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 11, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/expert-poll-week-2-heisman-trophy-voting
Body:

Athlon Sports has formed a Heisman Trophy committee. Each week, we will ask 13 members of the national college football media to rank their top candidates for the Heisman Trophy.

 

Each voter will rank their top five candidates, with each first-place vote getting five points and each last-place vote getting one point.

 

The Panel:

 

Stewart Mandel, FOX Sports

Dave Revsine, Big Ten Network 

Adam Zucker, CBS Sports

Steven Godfrey, SBNation

Zac Ellis, Sports Illustrated

Bryan Fischer, NFL.com

Tom Dienhart, Big Ten Network

Barrett Sallee, Bleacher Report, B/R Radio

Josh Ward, MrSEC.com

Mitch Light, Athlon Sports

David Fox, Athlon Sports

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports, SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

 PlayerTeamPts1st2nd3rd4th5th
1.Marcus Mariota62103---
2.Todd Gurley53382--
3.Kenny Hill22-1341
4.Jameis Winston21-1324
5.Everett Golson13--15-
6t.Taysom Hill7--1-4
6t.Amari Cooper7--2-1
8.Ameer Abdullah6--1-3
9.Bryce Petty4---2-

Dropped out: Christian Hackenberg, Melvin Gordon, Brett Hundley, Tyreek Hill

 

Listen to the Week 2 recap podcast:

 

The Top 3:

 

 
1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Saturday’s game against Michigan State cannot be understated. The Ducks' quarterback turned in arguably his most brilliant performance of his career, whirling in and around Spartan defenders for 318 yards passing, 42 yards rushing and three total touchdowns. He is only the second quarterback (Dayne Crist, 2010) since 2010 to throw for over 300 yards against a Pat Narduzzi-coached team. Mariota put his team on his back, surrounded by freshmen, and carried Oregon to the biggest win of the non-conference season.

 

2. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

The Dawgs were off in Week 2 but will play in arguably the biggest game of the Week 3 slate. Look for Gurley to post another big statline in a critical SEC East showdown against South Carolina in Columbia. In two games against the Gamecocks, Gurley has been dominant (30 att., 132 yds, TD) in a win and stymied (13 att., 39 yds) in an ugly 35-7 loss.

 

3. Kenny Hill, QB, Texas A&M

Hill has one of the biggest wins of the season under his belt when he set records in front of a national audience against South Carolina. After 511 yards in 60 attempts in a real game, Hill attempted just 26 passes (completing 17) for 283 yards and four touchdowns against Lamar in Week 2. That’s 794 yards, seven TDs and no interceptions on 70.9 percent passing in two starts for Hill. 

Teaser:
Expert Poll: Week 2 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-2014-week-3
Body:

The original reality TV show is sports. No contrived setting where seven strangers living in a house or one bachelor searching for love can match the excitement the Iron Bowl delivered last fall.

 

The beauty of college football lies in its complete unpredictability and drama. Here are some outrageous predictions for Week 3.

 

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

 

Todd Gurley will rush for less than 40 yards

The Georgia running back is a freak of nature and ran all over the Gamecocks last year (132 yds). But he was held to just 39 yards on 13 carries in a 35-7 loss the last time UGA visited South Carolina. Look for Steve Spurrier to focus on Gurley, forcing Hutson Mason to make plays (and the Dawgs will still win).

 

Only one Top 25 team will lose

And the only reason one Top 25 team will lose is because both Georgia and South Carolina are ranked. This week’s slate is extremely lacking in anything juicy as Florida State, Auburn, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Kansas State and Clemson are off and only one game features two ranked teams. Only UCLA (Texas), Virginia Tech (ECU) and Mizzou (UCF) should even be worried in the slightest in what should be a weekend full of blowouts.

 

Tennessee won’t gain positive rushing yards

The Vols rank 91st in the nation in rushing (139.0 ypg) and are 11th in the SEC. However, Tennessee has struggled mightily to get any push against Utah State and Arkansas State and will be without its starting left tackle. Against an Oklahoma Sooners defense that has allowed 148 yards on 63 carries (2.4 ypg) and no touchdowns in two games, there is a chance the Vols have a negative rushing total in Week 3.

 

Twitter will break when Maryland takes the field

Whether you like or hate the new wave of alternate uniforms, I am willing to bet you will have something to say when Maryland takes the field against West Virginia this weekend. Not only has it turned into an interesting game, but Maryland also will be dressed like this:

 

Teaser:
Outrageous College Football Predictions 2014: Week 3
Post date: Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/how-big-ten-will-make-college-football-playoff
Body:

The Big Ten already has losses to the Pac-12 (twice), SEC, ACC and Notre Dame — not to mention two losses to the MAC.

 

Many, including myself, are writing the Big Ten off as a playoff contender. It’s not that there won’t be some good teams in the league but more that so many things would have to fall into place for a Big Ten team to get into the four-team tournament.

 

Here is what would have to happen for the Big Ten to reach the postseason:

 

1. Either Nebraska goes unbeaten or a one-loss Michigan State or Ohio State wins the Big Ten. First and foremost, this has to happen above all else. It’s possible an unbeaten Penn State or Maryland could face an unbeaten Iowa but those schedules and rosters aren’t good enough to earn a playoff spot. No, the Big Ten champ would have to be a 13-0 Cornhuskers team with wins over Michigan State, Miami, Wisconsin and Iowa or a 12-1 East Division squad with two wins over an otherwise unbeaten Nebraska as well as Ohio State/Michigan State, Penn State and Maryland.

 

2. Notre Dame and BYU need to lose somewhere along the way. The margin for error in the Big Ten is minuscule and a perfect Irish (definitely) or Cougars (maybe) squad might get the nod over a one-loss Big Ten champ.

 

3. Jameis Winston gets suspended by Florida State due to a Title IX investigation. The Noles — two years too late — have finally opened a Title IX investigation into the Winston sexual assault investigation.  Should any complications arise, Winston could easily find himself suspended and standing on the sidelines. That would give Clemson, Louisville, Notre Dame, Florida or the ACC Coastal Division champion a shot at knocking FSU from the ranks of the unbeatens. Winston would have to miss significant time because Florida State would have to lose twice.

 

4. A multiple-loss team from the state of Mississippi has to win the SEC. Should Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M, Mizzou or South Carolina win the SEC with two losses, that champion is still going to get the nod into the playoffs over a one-loss Big Ten champ. But a two- or three-loss champion that isn’t a traditional power — Ole Miss, Mississippi State — might not have the same clout as a one-loss Big Ten champ. A two-loss Rebels team would likely still earn a bid over the Big Ten but since the Bulldogs don’t play anyone in the non-conference and crossover play is with Vanderbilt and Kentucky, the B1G needs Hail State to win the SEC.

 

5. Stanford beats Oregon, Arizona State and UCLA. UCLA beats USC and Oregon. Arizona State beats UCLA and Stanford. Arizona beats Arizona State. Most importantly out West, however, Oregon has to lose three times. So in addition to losing to UCLA and Stanford, Oregon would also have to lose again — likely at Oregon State. The schedules in the Pac-12 are nasty but a two-loss champ is a must for the Big Ten to get into the playoff. Unless that champ is Oregon, in which case, it likely has to lose three times.

 

6. Bryce Petty never returns to the field and Trevor Knight misses significant time with an injury. Petty didn’t play in Week 2 and Knight was constantly banged up a year ago. Baylor and Oklahoma are the clear-cut title contenders in the Big 12 and the only way one of those two doesn’t win the crown with one or fewer losses will be the loss of a star QB for an extended period of time.

 

By this point, the words running through your head right now should be “yeah, right.” That is the point of this exercise. The Big Ten is a solid league with some great coaches and solid teams but a lot of unlikely things have to happen for its champion to earn a spot in the playoff. 

 

All hope is not lost, however. The Big Ten has a better shot at the playoff than the best team from the American Athletic Conference. So there's that.

Teaser:
How the Big Ten Will Make the College Football Playoff
Post date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 13:30
Path: /college-football/10-amazing-college-football-stats-week-2-pac-12
Body:

Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of Pac-12 football action:

 

9: Stanford drives inside the USC 35-yard line

The Cardinal took all nine of their drives to at least the USC 32-yard line but managed only 10 points for an ugly 1.1 points per trip inside the 40. Stanford missed two field goals, lost two fumbles, punted twice and was stopped on a fourth down conversion. Stanford outgained USC 413-291 but simply couldn’t finish drives.

 

Listen to the Week 2 recap podcast:

 

59: Plays run by USC

A week after setting a Pac-12 record with 105 offensive plays, USC set a Pac-12 season-low with just 59 offensive snaps against Stanford. The Trojans averaged 4.9 yards per play for 291 yards of offense and still managed to win on the road. For what it’s worth, USC (164) now trails Arizona for total offensive plays run in 2014 (170).

 

2: Number of 300-yard passers allowed by Michigan State since 2010

Marcus Mariota was Athlon Sports’ Player of the Week for a reason. He was outstanding against a defense that normally never allows anything outstanding to take place. He threw for 318 yards and only Dayne Crist of Notre Dame (369) has thrown for more yards on a Michigan State defense since 2010.

 

287: Yards of offense for Oregon freshmen

Oregon totaled 491 yards of total offense. Of that 491 yards of offense, three freshmen — Royce Freeman, Devon Allen and Darren Carrington — accounted for 287 of it. Freeman (89 rush, 22 rec), Allen (110 rec) and Carrington (66 rec) scored four of the team’s six touchdowns, as the trio of first-year athletes have established themselves quickly as go-to talents for Mark Helfrich.


19: Combined losses for Virginia and Memphis in 2013

UCLA has won two games in two totally different ways in 2014 by a grand total of 15 points. The Bruins' margin of victory over 'Virginia and Memphis is less than the total number of combined losses the Cavaliers (10) and the Tigers (9) experienced last fall. Both teams are improved in 2014 but UCLA hasn’t looked anything like a Playoff contender in two weeks.

 

11: Combined TDs from QBs in the Washington game

Chris Petersen and Washington welcomed Cyler Miles back to the huddle in Week 2 and they needed him. Miles ran for three touchdowns and threw for another as Washington outlasted Eastern Washington 59-52 in Seattle. That’s because EWU quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. threw for 475 yards and seven touchdowns. The two QBs combined for 729 yards of total offense and 11 total touchdowns in the shootout.

 

73: Combined rushing yards for Shaq Thompson and Myles Jack

Washington and UCLA both have superstar linebackers in Shaq Thompson and Myles Jack. Both rank in the top 10 in the Pac-12 in tackles (18 and 19 respectively) but both got into the action on offense this weekend. Jack (3 att., 7 yards, TD) and Thompson (3 att., 66 yards, TD) combined for 73 yards rushing on six carries and each scored a touchdown. Heisman voters love this stuff.

 

2008: Last time a Utah QB threw 5 TDs

Utah quarterback Travis Wilson threw five touchdowns in Saturday’s win over Fresno State. The last time the Utes had five passing scores in a game was 2008 (Brian Johnson). Utah is 2-0 and has scored 115 points in two games after averaging 29.2 ppg a season ago.

 

26: Oregon State penalties in two games

Through two weeks, the Beavers are leading the nation in breaking the rules. Oregon State has been penalized 26 times for 218 yards in two narrow wins over lowly foes Portland State and Hawaii.

 

2: Wins for Cal

This one is pretty simple but deserves to be mentioned. Cal won just one time in Sonny Dykes' first season last fall and, after just two weeks, has already improved that total after beating Sacramento State 55-14 this weekend. Quarterback Jared Goff threw for 229 yards and four touchdowns and has seven scoring strikes and just one interception on the young season. 

Teaser:
10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 2 in the Pac-12
Post date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 10:00
Path: /college-football/10-amazing-college-football-stats-week-2-big-12
Body:

Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of Big 12 football action:

 

81-28: Texas-BYU score the last two years

Fans in Austin were appalled (rightly so) when its team allowed nearly 700 yards of offense in a 40-21 loss to BYU in Provo, Utah, a year ago. It wasn’t supposed to get worse in 2014 with Charlie Strong running the ship but it did. Texas lost 41-7 on Saturday night and gave up 429 yards of offense in the worst home defeat since 1997 (UCLA, 66-3). If you’re counting at home, that’s 1,108 yards of offense and 81 points in two losses to BYU.

 

Listen to the Week 2 recap podcast:

 

58.2: Baylor's yards per TD pass

No Bryce Petty? No problem. Baylor’s offense maintained its big-play ability with Seth Russell at the controls, as the sophomore completed 16 of 25 passes for 438 yards and five scores. Russell’s five touchdown tosses averaged 58.2 yards per completion, with three of those going to freshman standout KD Cannon. The Bears averaged 9.2 yards per play overall on offense.

 

0.82: Yards per carry allowed by Baylor

The Bears are leading the nation in yards per carry allowed at 0.82 yards per carry. Most of this is helped by their nation’s best 11 sacks in two games. Baylor’s opposition has rushed 66 times for 54 yards in two games.

 

51: Jake Waters yards rushing the final drive

Kansas State got the ball with 3:01 remaining in the game against Iowa State and trailing on the road by two points. Wildcats quarterback Jake Waters then took over the game and willed his team to victory. He led a seven-play, 80-yard drive in which he rushed four times for 51 yards and the game-winning touchdown. He also completed a 23-yard pass to Tyler Lockett. It was tremendous performance from the Iowa native.

 

3: Ways Jarvis West scored a TD

Iowa State receiver Jarvis West had a standout all-around performance against Kansas State. He threw a 29-yard touchdown, caught eight passes for 77 yards and one score and returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown. According to STATS LCC, he’s only the fourth player since 1996 to score on a pass, catch and punt return in a single game.

 

Sept. 4, 2010: Last time West Virginia pitched a shutout

The Mountaineers surrendered 33.3 points per game last year and 38.1 points per game in 2012. Playing Towson isn’t anything special but West Virginia pitched its first shutout since Sept. 4, 2010 when it blanked Coastal Carolina 31-0.

 

15.3: Yards per completion for Daxx Garman

J.W. Walsh injured his foot against Southwest Missouri State on Saturday night but Daxx Garman played well in his absence. He completed 16-of-26 passes for 244 yards and two touchdowns for an average of 15.3 yards per completion. Garman may be a better fit as a passer for Mike Gundy’s offense than Walsh and Garman may have a chance to prove it.

 

25: Texas Tech penalties in two games

The Red Raiders are 2-0 but have struggled mightily against lowly foes Central Arkansas and UTEP. Tech has won both games by a combined 11 points and has committed 25 penalties for 204 yards. Only Oregon State (26) has been more penalized in two weeks thus far.

 

300: Sterling Shepard yards in two games against Tulsa

Shepard set career highs with eight receptions, 123 yards and two touchdowns against Tulsa last season. He broke those benchmarks this weekend by catching eight passes for 177 yards and a touchdown. That’s 16 receptions, 300 yards and three scores in two games against the Hurricane.

 

3: Career TDs for Geneo Grissom

Oklahoma’s outside linebacker Geneo Grissom snatched a Dane Evans pass midway through the third quarter and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown. According to ESPN, Grissom became the first Sooners defensive lineman or linebacker to score three defensive touchdowns — all of which have happened in the last 10 games.

Teaser:
10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 2 in the Big 12
Post date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 08:30
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/tuesday-talking-points-2014-week-2-big-ten-whiffs-oregon-shines
Body:

Two weeks in and the Big Ten is finished.

 

Okay, that might be a touch dramatic but it’s not too far from the reality.

 

The Big Ten entered 2014 in desperate need of some brand equity — i.e., regular season wins against quality non-conference opponents. But after two weeks, every major contender in this league — with the possible exception of Penn State — have already lost critical showcase games against high-level competition.

 

Michigan State played well but was Oregon-ed in Autzen Stadium in the fourth quarter. Michigan looked as bad as Michigan has ever looked. And Ohio State was pushed around at home by a Hokies team that lost five times last year.

 

Not only did the Big Ten miss out on an opportunity to prove it’s worth on a national stage, it was embarrassed as Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State lost by a combined 64 points. In fact, it was the first time since Sept. 17, 1988 that the Buckeyes, Spartans and Wolverines each lost on the same day.

 

This is to say nothing of Wisconsin, Northwestern, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Rutgers and Purdue. All of which have either lost already or looked bad in wins.

 

So is it really that farfetched to suggest that the Big Ten has already been eliminated from the College Football Playoff?

 

Maybe, we should ask Pat Haden?

 

His USC Trojans won on Saturday in ugly fashion against a really good Stanford team in Palo Alto. No one, however, is talking about the gutty play of quarterback Cody Kessler one week after surgery or the Trojans' suffocating red-zone defense. No, the conversation has centered around Haden’s bizarre behavior on Saturday when the USC AD, prompted by a text message from a staffer, left his suite, jogged to the sideline and had an emotional exchange with the officials.

 

It was inappropriate and should never happen again. Is a discussion about active members of the college football community being on the committee that decides which teams get into the playoffs a legitimate one? Yes. But the Pac-12 has fined Haden $25,000 so talk of Haden being removed from the Playoff Committee for his actions this weekend is simply absurd.

 

Unfortunately for Mark Helfrich and Marcus Mariota, the conversation centering on Haden is so loud that the Oregon Ducks' performance in the fourth quarter against Michigan State is almost being overlooked.

 

The Spartans were leading deep into the third quarter in Eugene before Mariota turned in what might have been the most brilliant performance of his career. He consistently escaped pressure and executed to near perfection leading Oregon to 28 unanswered points to cap the big win. In what might have been a playoff elimination game, Oregon did what Oregon normally does to teams who appear to be competitive in the third quarter. It rolled to a relatively easy fourth quarter win.

 

For all of the depression running rampant through Big Ten territory and the large withdrawal from Haden’s bank account there is good news for fans in East Lansing, Ann Arbor, Palo Alto or Columbus.

 

At least they’re not Texas Longhorns fans.

 

Taysom Hill should be in Heisman conversations and is one of the most entertaining players in the nation. BYU is extremely well coached and could run the table unbeaten, forcing the Committee to look outside of the Big 5 for its four-team bracket.

 

But losing at home by 34 points is completely unacceptable at Texas. Charlie Strong’s rebuilding project looks like it will be much more difficult and slower moving than originally anticipated and he appears to be cleaning house with a morale compass pointed in the right direction. But this team looked worse against the Cougars at home on Saturday than it did in the record-breaking loss in Provo last fall.

 

Clearly, Strong has a lot of work to do and things don’t get any easier with UCLA coming to the Lone Star State this weekend.

 

Listen to the Week 2 recap podcast:

 

Saturday Conversation

 

Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, CB, Oregon

The Ducks' cornerback made a signature All-American play to help seal the deal for Oregon this weekend. When asked about the atmosphere in Autzen Stadium, Ekpre-Olomu put the win over Michigan State in "the top three" of his career.

 

 

Michael Brewer, QB, Virginia Tech

The Tech quarterback led an impressive road win over Ohio State in Columbus. Brewer credited the great fans from Blacksburg for showing up and staying loud the entire game.

 

 

Cody Riggs, DB, Notre Dame

Riggs was only playing in his second game for the Irish, but he knew all about how big the rivalry was between Notre Dame and Michigan.

 

 

Andre Heidari, K, USC

After kicking his second game-winner against Stanford, the humble Heidari gave all of the credit to his offense, defense and fellow special teamers for the big win against Stanford.

 

Teaser:
Tuesday Talking Points: Big Ten Whiffs, Oregon Shines, USC Stuns
Post date: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-week-2-recap
Body:

 

Week 2 is in the books and the Big Ten should be worried. Hosts David Fox and Braden Gall recap all of the action from Week 2, including the Big Ten's struggles, the Ducks marquee win, the Hokies huge upset and Pat Haden's behavior. Was the Pac-12 a winner this weekend or a loser? That and much more on this edition of the Cover 2 podcast.

 

Have a question or comment? Contact us at [email protected] or on Twitter at @AthlonSports, @BradenGall and @DavidFox615

Teaser:
Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: Week 2 Recap
Post date: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 11:39
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-2-takeaways-marcus-mariota-usc-ucla-mike-leach
Body:

The entire nation was watching the Pac-12 in Week 2 and the league didn't disappoint. 

 

The Ducks won what was being billed as "the most important game of the year" by FOX over a top 10 team. USC won the first of what is surely to be many Pac-12 conference bouts in dramatic fashion. And, as expected, offenses were on full display around the league as four teams scored at least 50 points and seven scored at least 40.

 

What could make this league the best in college football isn't just the depth, talent and coaching that is clearly among the nation's best but the week-in, week-out pure entertainment the Pac-12 has to offer. In fact, even the league's athletic directors are must-see TV.

 

Here is what we learned from the Pac-12 in Week 2: 

 

Ducks confirm front-runner status

The only real questions about the Ducks entering the season were the overall level of coaching and leadership from the sidelines. Despite a "sluggish" first half, Marcus Mariota proved that not only is he the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy but that Oregon is clearly the class of the Pac-12. Oregon matched Michigan State's level of physicality — no easy feat — in what turned out to be a relatively easy win. Dropping a heavy fourth quarter hammer has become a standard storyline in Eugene as Oregon rattled off 28 unanswered points to end the game. Mariota finished with 360 yards of total offense and consistently danced around and escaped a very talented and well-coached Spartans front seven. In what was the first of many potential College Football Playoff elimination games, Oregon won decisively.

 

Listen to the Week 2 recap podcast:

 

Let's not overreact to USC, Pat Haden

The Trojans are really, really talented and are going to be really, really fun to watch every week. This, of course, includes the bizarre behavior of USC Athletic Director Pat Haden and head coach Steve Sarkisian. The AD left his suite, jogged to the USC sideline and had an unprecedented emotional exchange with officials during his program's dramatic win over Stanford. Many began calling for Haden to resign from the Playoff Committee. While Haden's behavior was inappropriate and should never happen again, the idea that he should resign from the committee is absurd. Just like, despite UCLA's early season struggles, fans shouldn't be crowning USC as the South Division favorites. Depth is still a major issue for the Trojans and they needed a 53-yard field goal to win a game that Stanford gave away with extremely poor red zone play. Coach Sark's third-down play-calling and sideline demeanor should also give fans pause before penciling the Men of Troy into the Pac-12 title game.

 

Balance of power shifting

It's still extremely early so avoiding overreaction is important but after two weeks, the Pac-12 South appears to have closed the gap on the North significantly. USC beat Stanford on the road and looks extremely dangerous, both Arizona schools look like division contenders and even Utah looks like it's much improved. Meanwhile, up North, Stanford is already a game back in the loss column, Washington State has played atrocious football (more on that soon) and neither Washington nor Oregon State — who have won four games over bad competition by 7.7 points per game — look capable of being mentioned among the league's better teams. Oregon is as advertised and Cal looks to be improved but it is clear that the South has, at best, drawn even with the North and, at worst, narrowed the gap significantly after two weeks of action.

 

What do we make of UCLA?

UCLA is 2-0. But it has beaten two teams that combined for 19 losses last year by a combined 15 points. The Bruins' defense looked outstanding against Virginia in Week 1 but the offense looked pedestrian and lacking in overall talent other than Brett Hundley. In Week 2, at home, Hundley was outstanding — try 33-for-44, 396 yards and three touchdowns. But the defense allowed 24 first downs, 469 yards of offense and nearly six yards per play against a Memphis team that was more than a three touchdown underdog. While the Bruins have survived and are unbeaten, this schedule will get dramatically more difficult in coming weeks with Texas, Arizona State, Utah and Oregon in the next four. The Bruins need to establish consistency on both sides of the ball or the phrase "playoff contender" will disappear from the UCLA commentary in rapid fashion.

 

Washington State has major issues

The Cougars entered the season with bowl aspirations, were completely healthy and had a quarterback poised to set more Pac-12 passing records. After two weeks, all of that has virtually disappeared. If Mike Leach wanted to make a bowl, wins over Rutgers and Nevada were must-haves but Wazzu has lost both. More concerning is how it lost to the Wolf Pack on Friday night. Nevada's defense completely outplayed Leach's high-powered Air Raid, holding Washington State to one touchdown. Leach's squad turned the ball over, was 5-of-17 on third and fourth downs and was penalized 10 times. Seven of the Cougs' remaining 10 opponents are virtual locks for bowl games and two others (Cal, Utah) appear to be much improved, so if Wazzu wants to make the postseason it will have to pull off more than a few upsets.

 

Pac-12 Power Rankings:

 

RkTeamRecordLast WeekWeek 2
1.2-0W, 46-27, Michigan StWyoming
2.2-0W, 42-35, MemphisTexas (Arlington)
3.2-0W, 13-10, Stanfordat Boston College
4.1-1L, 13-10, StanfordArmy
5.2-0W, 58-23 New Mexicoat Colorado
6.2-0W, 26-23, UTSANevada
7.2-0W, 59-52, E. WashingtonIllinois
8.2-0W, 38-30, HawaiiBye
9.2-0W, 59-27, Fresno StBye
10.2-0W, 55-14, Sacramento StBye
11.1-1W, 41-38, UMassArizona St
12.0-2L, 24-13, NevadaPortland St

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 Takeaways: Marcus Mariota, USC and Mike Leach
Post date: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-2014-week-2-picks
Body:

Normally, Week 1 is a great place to make some cash.

 

Not for me. I broke even at 3-3 last week and will attempt to rebuild my already mediocre reputation.

 

The big thing to consider for Week 2 is line swings. Vanderbilt (+20) against Ole Miss in Nashville didn’t make my cut, but that is a perfect example of market overcorrection after Week 1 showings.

 

Be wary of lines that look off after bizarre outcomes last weekend. And with that…

 

Last Week: 3-3

Year-to-Date: 3-3

 

Michigan St (+12) at Oregon

Oregon is really, really good. But so is Michigan State. I like Oregon to win but when was the last time a Spartans defense lost by more than 10 points? Sept. 15, 2012 to a Notre Dame team that played in the national title game. Oregon to win, Sparty to cover. Prediction: Michigan State +12

 

Week 2 Previews and Predictions:

ACC | Big 12 | Big TenPac-12 | SEC 

 

BYU (+3.5) at Texas

When all four Athlon Sports experts pick BYU to win outright, I listen (especially, since I am one of them). Texas is without its starting quarterback, center and two offensive tackles in a revenge game that they will have to score big in to win. I’m taking Taysom Hill and the Cougars to win outright so take the points. Prediction: BYU +3.5

 

Listen to the Week 2 preview podcast:

 

USC (+2.5) at Stanford

This will be a battle but that hook under a field goal makes this one too good to pass up. Stanford feels like the overlooked Pac-12 team and its defense is still the best in the league. With revenge on the mind after losing last year and playing at home, I will take the Cardinal to cover. Prediction: Stanford -2.5

 

Missouri (-3.5) at Toledo

The Rockets are obviously a solid opponent and are playing at home. But Maty Mauk and the Tigers are too powerful for Toledo to keep it within a field goal. The Tigers won this match by 15 last year so it’s a close game throughout but Mizzou pulls away and covers at the end. Prediction: Missouri -3.5

 

Kansas St (-12) at Iowa St

The Cyclones won't be as bad as they were last week when they allowed 34 unanswered points to an FCS team (albeit a really good one). But Kansas State is unbeaten against ISU coach Paul Rhoads and Bill Snyder has a balanced team with stability at the quarterback position. Take the Wildcats to win big. Prediction: Kansas State -12

 

Top 25 Picks ATS:

 

Top 25Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
FAU (+40) at Alabama
Michigan St (+12) at Oregon
Oklahoma (-25) at Tulsa
San Jose St (+31) at Auburn
Virginia Tech (+11) at Ohio St
Memphis (+24) at UCLA
USC (+2.5) at Stanford
Ole Miss (-20) vs. Vanderbilt
Michigan (+3.5) at Notre Dame
Arizona St (-25) at New Mexico
Kansas St (-12) at Iowa St
E. Carolina (+17) at S. Carolina
S. Diego St (+15.5) at N. Carolina
Missouri (-3.5) at Toledo
Last Week:7-810-58-76-9
YTD:0-00-00-00-0

 

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: College Football 2014 Week 2 Picks
Post date: Friday, September 5, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-2014-week-2-preview
Body:

Hosts Braden Gall and Steven Lassan previews all of the big action from Week 2 including Michigan State-Oregon, USC-Stanford, Michigan-Notre Dame, BYU-Texas and so much more. The guys also give their locks of the week against the spread as well. 

 

Have a question or comment? Contact us at [email protected] or on Twitter at @AthlonSports, @BradenGall and @AthlonSteven

Teaser:
Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: 2014 Week 2 Preview
Post date: Thursday, September 4, 2014 - 12:05
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-2-preview-and-predictions
Body:

All of college football should be watching the Pac-12 this weekend.

 

The two biggest games of the Week 2 slate will be played out West and will feature four teams ranked in the top 15 of the AP Poll. One of which will feature two top-10 teams.

 

In fact, over the last 10 years, only four times has a Pac-12 team ranked in the AP top 10 faced a non-conference foe also ranked in the AP top 10 during the regular season. USC won both legs of a home-and-home with Ohio State in 2008-09 while the Trojans also topped Notre Dame in the famed Bush Push in ‘05. The last such meeting was an Oregon loss to LSU to start the 2011 campaign.

 

This puts into perspective just how big Michigan State’s visit to Oregon will be this weekend.

 

1. Michigan St at Oregon
6:30 p.m., FOX

The hyperbole heaped upon this meeting may sound over the top, but it’s not. The loser of this contest could easily be knocked out of national title contention, as both teams could be vying for the same playoff spot at season’s end. Moreover, it’s a philosophical showdown between the fastest of up-tempo offenses and the stingiest of physical defenses. But while the Marcus Mariota-Pat Narduzzi chess match will be fascinating to watch on literally every play, it’s the other side of the ball that could determine the outcome. Connor Cook is developing into one of the best quarterbacks in the nation and the Ducks defense — now led by Don Pellum — will have to stop what has become an extremely balanced MSU attack. I won't bore you with Xs and Os schematic breakdowns (although, there are some great ones out there) but the bottom line is whichever defense stays disciplined and makes the fewest mistakes will be the victor. For what it’s worth, the home team has won all four meetings between these two programs (2-2).

 

Listen to the Week 2 preview podcast:

 

2. USC at Stanford
3:30 p.m., ABC

Conference play begins in style with what has developed into one of the best West Coast rivalries in the game today. Both USC head coach Steve Sarkisian and Stanford defensive coordinator Lance Anderson debuted in impressive fashion as the Trojans ran nearly as many plays (105) as the Cardinal allowed yards (115) in their openers last week. A year ago, USC used three Stanford turnovers and a game-winning field goal in the final half-minute to pull off the upset at home. It was the first win in the series for the Men of Troy since 2008 — the last time USC won in Palo Alto. This could be Cody Kessler's toughest test of the year and it comes in Week 2.

 

3. Arizona at UTSA
Thurs., 8 p.m., FS1

The Wildcats and Roadrunners come into this Week 2 primetime meeting after decidedly different showings in Week 1. Both won but how they won was totally different. Arizona, behind the debut of Anu Solomon at quarterback, rolled up a school-record 787 yards of offense and scored 58 points. UTSA struggled mightily on offense, averaging just 3.55 yards per play, but was stifling on defense. The once-powerful Houston offense was held to just 2.85 yards per play, minus-26 yards rushing and just seven points. This will be much closer than the experts think. Rich Rodriguez is attempting to move his non-conference record at Arizona to 10-0 with a win Thursday evening.

 

4. E. Washington at Washington
3:05 p.m., Pac-12 Net

Eastern Washington isn’t an average FCS opponent. Just ask Oregon State. Chris Petersen gets Cyler Miles (thankfully) back under center after the Huskies' abysmal showing against Hawaii. And this offense will have to be much better if it expects to beat the No. 2-ranked FCS team in the nation. Especially, one filled with players who likely grew up dreaming of playing in the Purple and Gold.

 

5. Washington St at Nevada
Fri., 10:30 p.m., ESPN

One Evergreen State school that needs to rebound in Week 2, Washington State must face an always tricky Nevada team in Reno. Both quarterbacks will be on display as Connor Halliday, fresh off a 532-yard performance, will battle with the dynamic Cody Fajardo (303 pass, 68 rush in Week 1). The Wolfpack, whose offense started slowly last week but finished with 547 yards, won’t be scared of the mighty Pac-12, as Nevada has played UCLA, Arizona and Cal in the last two years. The Wolfpack have gone 1-2 in these games, beating Cal and nearly upsetting Arizona. Needless to say, Mike Leach’s bowl hopes may hang in the balance Friday evening.

 

6. Fresno St at Utah
3 p.m., Pac-12 Net

Fresno State will face its third consecutive Pac-12 foe and is hoping for a better outcome than the first two after getting boat-raced by USC last weekend. Utah used three different quarterbacks, eight different ball-carriers and nine different receivers in an easy Week 1 victory over Idaho State. Look for Travis Wilson to play most of the game, however, after a triumphant return to the field (13-18, 265 yds, 2 total TDs). This is a must-win situation for Kyle Whittingham if he wants to get his Utes back into the postseason.

 

7. Oregon St at Hawaii
10:30 p.m., CBS Sports

Washington struggled mightily in their trip to the Islands last weekend and Oregon State didn’t exactly dominate Portland State as expected. Did Sean Mannion throw for more than 300 yards? Sure, but Mike Riley is looking for a more complete performance against a bad Hawaii team – although one that has traditionally been tricky to beat in Honolulu.

 

8. Memphis at UCLA
10 p.m., Pac-12 Net

Jim Mora’s bunch escaped with a win over Virginia but he couldn’t have been happy with the way his offensive line played. Memphis won its opener 63-0 but that was against Austin Peay. Fans should expect some aggression to be enacted upon the poor Tigers after what was likely a rough week of practice in Los Angeles.

 

9. Arizona St at New Mexico
7 p.m., CBS Sports

The Sun Devils have won three consecutive road games and New Mexico doesn’t figure to be much of a test for Todd Graham’s bunch. Taylor Kelly and D.J. Foster were excellent on offense and the totally reworked defense pitched a shutout deep into the third quarter. The Lobos, coming off a loss to UTEP in Week 1, should be easy fodder for ASU in Week 2.

 

10. Colorado at UMass
3 p.m., ESPN3

After a fast start last week, the Buffaloes allowed their in-state rival to roll off 24 consecutive points and it resulted in a crushing defeat. Mike MacIntrye’s bunch needs to improve on defense against both the running and passing games if Colorado wants to get into the win column this week against a Minutemen team that posted just seven points, nine first downs and 202 yards of offense against Boston College.

 

11. Sacramento St at Cal
3 p.m., Pac-12 Net

The Bears might have been the nicest surprise in the league last week when they upset Northwestern on the road. Now, against a totally overmatched Sacramento State squad, Sonny Dykes could improve on his win total from last year in just two games. This should be a fun home opener for the fans in Berkeley. 

 

Pac-12 Predictions:
 

GameBraden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Mich. St (+12) at OregonOre., 31-27Ore., 30-24Ore., 35-28MSU, 31-27
USC (+2.5) at StanfordStan., 24-17USC, 27-24Stan., 27-17 Stan., 27-24
Arizona (-7) at UTSAZona, 38-21Zona, 40-20Zona, 42-14Zona, 34-20
E. Wash. at Wash.Wash., 31-17Wash., 41-20Wash., 24-10Wash., 38-24
Wazzu (-4) at NevadaWSU, 45-28WSU, 34-20 WSU, 41-21WSU, 34-31
Fresno St (+10.5) at UtahUtah, 31-21Utah, 27-17Utah, 28-14Utah, 34-24
Ore. St (-10.5) at HawaiiOSU, 34-13OSU, 28-13OSU, 35-10OSU, 34-20
Ariz. St (-26) at N. MexicoASU, 54-10ASU, 37-10ASU, 49-14ASU, 48-17
Memphis (+24) at UCLAUCLA, 41-13UCLA, 30-13UCLA, 31-10UCLA, 38-13
Colo. (-17) at UMassColo., 30-14Colo., 27-13Colo., 27-10Colo., 40-13
Sacramento St at CalCal, 35-17Cal, 44-17Cal, 35-14Cal, 48-10
Last Week:9-39-310-29-3
Year-to-date:9-39-310-29-3

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 2014 Week 2 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 4, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-week-2-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Most of the Big 12 went about its business in Week 1.

 

All of the title contenders, with the exception of Texas Tech, won easily and looked good doing it. Unfortunately for Texas, however, their victory was far more costly than the rest of the Big 12 as the Longhorns lost two key offensive weapons.

 

Now, as most of the league looks to win easy (and possibly boring) games against overmatched competition, it’s those same Horns who have to battle in the biggest game of the weekend.

 

1. BYU at Texas
7:30 p.m., FS1

The numbers are simple. Texas is 12-4 when David Ash starts and 6-5 when he does not. The Longhorns, who also will be without starting center Dominic Espinosa for the rest of the year, will turn to Tyrone Swoopes (and maybe Jerrod Heard as well) this weekend against a BYU team that was very impressive in Week 1 and torched Texas for 679 yards last year. The Horns defense looked much improved in Week 1 but facing North Texas is totally different than having to slow one of the most dynamic weapons in college football. Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill threw for 308 yards and ran for 97 while scoring all five touchdowns for BYU in the road win over UConn to start the year. If Charlie Strong can’t slow down Hill, it may not matter who is playing quarterback for the Burnt Orange.

 

Listen to the Week 2 preview podcast:

 

2. Kansas St at Iowa St
Noon, FS1

What better way to recover from an ugly home loss to an FCS opponent than to face a Bill Snyder-coached team ranked in the top 20? Paul Rhoads has never beaten Kansas State in five tries and Week 1 did little to suggest that he can break through in 2014. Snyder used Tyler Lockett sparingly in Week 1 and instead gave the ball to seven different ball-carriers for 240 yards rushing. “A plus B equals C” is rarely accurate but if Iowa State can’t stop North Dakota State’s running game, why would it be able to stop the much more balanced Wildcats?

 

3. Texas Tech at UTEP
11 p.m., FS1

The seven-point win over Central Arkansas was a major disappointment despite Davis Webb throwing for 452 yards while completing 75 percent of his passes. Kliff Kingsbury won’t have any issues on offense this year but the questions raised in the preseason about his defense appear to be warranted after allowing 35 points and 406 yards in the opener. Tech will need to slow an offense that rushed for 330 yards — 237 by sophomore Aaron Jones — in the opener against New Mexico. This is the Miners' home opener so expect an inspired effort from the three-touchdown underdog.

 

4. Oklahoma at Tulsa
Noon, ABC/ESPN2

The Sooners did all of the things they needed to win easily in Week 1. These two in-state rivals have played 13 times since 1943 and Oklahoma has won all but once (Sooners fans don’t need any reminders of 1996). The Hurricane rolled up 592 yards of offense last week against Tulane but also allowed over 500 yards on defense. Trevor Knight and his stable of running backs should be able to produce big numbers in Week 2.

 

5. Northwestern St at Baylor
7:30 p.m.

The most watched vertebrae in college football shouldn’t be asked to do much against Northwestern State this weekend. After a dominating performance by the Bears' defense — it doesn’t matter how bad SMU is, holding a June Jones offense to less than 70 yards is absurdly impressive — Art Briles isn’t likely to ask too much of quarterback Bryce Petty. Keep the QB upright, run the ball and play defense and Baylor should start 2-0.

 

6. Missouri St at Oklahoma St
3:30 p.m.

Both Oklahoma State and West Virginia acquitted themselves admirably against the top two teams in the nation but neither got into the win column. Both should do so this weekend. Mike Gundy’s defense played well, J.W. Walsh was solid and Tyreek Hill announced his presence to college football. Look for a much lighter workload this week for Hill and for the Pokes to lean on Desmond Roland, Rennie Childs and their defense in what should be an easy win. Keep an eye on quarterbacks Daxx Garman and Mason Rudolph to see if Gundy gives either backup a look under center.

 

7. Towson at West Virginia
7:30 p.m.

Much like Oklahoma State, West Virginia showed an improved defense and found a playmaker on offense in Clint Trickett in a Week 1 loss. And like Ok-State, the Mountaineers should be able to celebrate this week with a victory. Trickett should have no issues topping a team that lost to Central Connecticut State last week in the opener.

 

8. SE Missouri St at Kansas
7 p.m., ESPN3

The Montell Cozart era begins for Kansas this weekend in a must-win situation for head coach Charlie Weis. Other members of the Big 12 have lost to FCS opponents in season openers the last two years and Weis cannot afford to struggle against SEMO — a team that won its 2014 debut 77-0 last week.

 

Off: TCU

 

Big 12 Predictions:
 

GamesBraden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
BYU (+4) at TexasBYU, 31-28BYU, 24-17BYU, 28-13BYU, 24-20
Kan. St (-12) at Iowa StKSU, 34-20KSU, 30-17KSU, 35-17KSU, 38-20
T. Tech (-20) at UTEPTech, 48-23Tech, 31-27Tech, 42-28Tech, 50-24
Okla. (-25) at TulsaOkla., 49-13Okla., 47-17Okla., 49-10Okla., 45-7
NW St at BaylorBaylor, 45-7Baylor, 47-10Baylor, 63-0Baylor, 61-10
Mizz St at Okla. StOSU, 34-7OSU, 48-17OSU, 42-14OSU, 51-10
Towson at WVUWVU, 44-17WVU, 41-20WVU, 35-10WVU, 41-17
SEMO at KansasKansas, 20-14Kansas, 27-21Kansas, 17-10Kansas, 34-7
Last Week:8-18-19-08-1
YTD:8-18-19-08-1

 

Teaser:
Big 12 2014 Week 2 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 4, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/expert-poll-week-1-heisman-trophy-voting
Body:

Athlon Sports has formed a Heisman Trophy committee. Each week, we will ask 13 members of the national college football media to rank their top candidates for the Heisman Trophy.

 

Each voter will rank their top five candidates, with each first-place vote getting five points and each last-place vote getting one point.

 

The Panel:

 

Stewart Mandel, FOX Sports

Dave Revsine, Big Ten Network 

Adam Zucker, CBS Sports

Steven Godfrey, SBNation

Zac Ellis, Sports Illustrated

Bryan Fischer, NFL.com

Tom Dienhart, Big Ten Network

Barrett Sallee, Bleacher Report

Josh Ward, MrSEC.com

Mitch Light, Athlon Sports

David Fox, Athlon Sports

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports/SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

 PlayerTeamPts1st2nd3rd4th5th
1.Todd Gurley60931--
2.Marcus Mariota443611-
3.Jameis Winston3611722
4.Kenny Hill26-324-
5.Ameer Abdullah7--112
6t.Christian Hackenberg6---22
6t.Melvin Gordon6---22
8t.Everett Golson3----3
8t.Brett Hundley3--1--
10.Bryce Petty2---1-
11t.Taysom Hill1----1
11t.Tyreek Hill1----1

Listen to Cover 2 college footbll podcast:

 

The Top 3:

 

Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

The Bulldogs' workhorse back was at his best in one of the biggest games of the week. He rushed for 198 yards and returned a kick 100 yards for a touchdown in the 45-21 win over Clemson. He scored from 100 yards, 51 yards, 23 yards and 18 yards, including two fourth quarter runs that sealed the win for UGA. Gurley now has two weeks to rest before heading to Columbia to take on South Carolina. He appeared on all 13 ballots.

 

Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

The Ducks' signal-caller entered the season as the "front-runner" and did little to hurt his case in a blowout win over South Dakota. He completed 14 of 20 passes for 267 yards and three touchdowns while rushing six times for 43 yards and a fourth score. His Heisman campaign takes center stage as Oregon welcomes Michigan State to town in Week 2. He was left off two ballots.

 

Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

Winston was one of only two players (Gurley) to land on all 13 ballots. This after what might be considered his worst game as a college player. He threw two early interceptions and forced bad throws all night, but eventually his highlight-reel run solidified the Seminoles' win. He finished with 370 yards passing and two total touchdowns over Oklahoma State. He gets The Citadel this weekend.

Teaser:
Media Poll: Week 1 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - 08:30
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Week 1 is in the books and the entire world is overreacting. Hosts David Fox and Braden Gall recap the entire first weekend of action and tell you what they learned about each of the Big 5 conferences. Injuries, upsets, letdowns and analysis highlight this jampacked Week 1 edition of the Cover 2 podcast.

 

Have a question or comment? Contact us at [email protected] or on Twitter at @AthlonSports, @BradenGall and @DavidFox615

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Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: 2014 Week 1 Recap
Post date: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 - 16:42
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Every Saturday night, Athlon Sports’ Braden Gall hosts The Scoreboard Show on SiriusXM College Sports Nation, Ch. 91. Every Tuesday, Athlon Sports will feature his take on the national conversation from fans to players to coaches. Follow the conversation from College Sports Nation hosts on Twitter using the hashtag #section91.

 

Everybody is overrated.

 

Alabama and Florida State looked beatable. Ohio State looked average. UCLA has a nasty defense and a star QB but not much else.

 

Auburn looked like, well, Auburn. The Tigers were unstoppable on offense no matter who played quarterback but the defense still has some major holes, no matter how many miracles defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson works at halftime this year.

 

The first weekend of the year is an eye-opening experience for the college football world. True freshmen are thrown into the deep end against grown men and told not only to swim, but to excel. New coaches get their first taste of battle in a new zip code with totally new players. And, most especially, six months of media prognostication is erased with 60 minutes of football, right?

 

After all that, let's not go crazy after one weekend.

 

That doesn't mean we didn't learn a few interesting things: Does Wisconsin have major issues at quarterback — and apparently a lack of communication about injuries? Does UCLA need to address the supporting cast for Brett Hundley, the nation's most sacked QB the last two years? And South Carolina? What was that?

 

But when the final whistle blew on Week 1, what was different? Again, the only real change of expectations is for South Carolina and Texas A&M.

 

All those teams that, according to the commentary Saturday night and Sunday, you would have believed had lost by more than three touchdowns? They all won. Except South Carolina.

 

I will be the first to admit I was shocked by the performance of Steve Spurrier — the same Head Ball Coach who was 22-0 in season openers as an SEC coach — at home against a team missing three first-round draft picks, including the most productive player per game in SEC history. Something tells me, however, the Gamecocks are going to bounce back.

 

Georgia coach Mark Richt made clear after the 45-21 win over Clemson he is preparing for a different South Carolina team in two weeks.

 

"They are going to hear about all of their flaws and we are going to hear about how good we are for a couple of weeks.” Richt told me on SiriusXM Satellite Radio. “They are going to be mad."

 

But the Bulldogs were still Athlon Sports predicted winner in the SEC East and were ranked No. 8 in the nation. After one week, I'm not going to lie, we can't help but feel better about that pick.

 

SiriusXM's Eddie George is a believer now, too.

 

"Everyone looked beatable,” George said on air. “With the exception of one team: Georgia."

 

I don't disagree, but the basic assumption that Georgia is the only team that looked unbeatable seems comical since the season is less than six percent over. Although, the Bulldogs appear to have increased the list of SEC title contenders from two to three (Alabama, Auburn).

 

But other than that, what exactly is different after Week 1? How deep do we want to dig into the standings?

 

Vanderbilt has major issues. Tennessee looks solid. Oklahoma State might be more of a Big 12 threat than anticipated. Oregon State might be better than Washington. Arizona looks dangerous in the South.

 

But when it comes to the College Football Playoff, what has changed?

 

Alabama is still the frontrunner to win the SEC West as it got decent QB play and held West Virginia to 28 yards rushing. Florida State is still the frontrunner in the ACC as Jameis Winston still posted nearly 400 yards of offense.

 

Ohio State still looks a step behind Michigan State in the Big Ten East but appears to be developing a lot talented playmakers in Dontre Wilson, Curtis Samuel and Ezekiel Elliott. UCLA is still my pick to win the Pac-12 South. And Auburn could be so unstoppable on offense it might be the top rated non-league champ vying for a Playoff spot at the end of the year.

 

This speaks nothing of conference frontrunners and popular College Football Playoff favorites Oregon, Stanford, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Baylor — all of which dominated like true top 10 teams.

 

The lesson after Week 1 is don’t overact. Don’t try to project the most unpredictable 60 minutes of college football into grand sweeping philosophical changes about what the 2014 season will look like.

 

Saturday Conversation

 

Each week, I get a chance to sit down with some of the day’s biggest names. Here is what our Saturday conversation sounded like this weekend: 

 

JT Barrett, QB, Ohio State

The Ohio State passer was thrust into the fire and showed his inexperience at times. But he knew his role and that was to get the ball to the playmakers and “not do anything too crazy.”

 

 

Mark Richt, Georgia

The Bulldogs outlasted Clemson in impressive fashion on Saturday evening Between the Hedges. Richt attributed that to his team’s excellent conditioning and Jeremy Pruitt’s halftime adjustments.

 

 

Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

The star wideout for Bama had a career day, catching 12 passes for 130 yards in the win over West Virginia. But how did he grade quarterback Blake Sims’ debut? “I’d give him an A-plus.”
 

 

Kenny Hilliard, RB, LSU

The burly tailback spearheaded a furious second-half comeback against Wisconsin late on Saturday night. He gives his offensive line and Anthony Jennings all of the credit.

 

 

Chris Klieman, North Dakota State

One of the more entertaining stories of Week 1 was the Bison’s upset of Iowa State on the road. Klieman, making his coaching debut, understands there is a tradition of winning at North Dakota State that he is trying to continue.

 

Teaser:
Tuesday Talking Points 2014 Week 1: Noles, Bama Struggle, We Overreact
Post date: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 - 11:00

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