Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-2014-week-3-picks

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, 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:

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


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


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
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

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.


Listen to the Week 3 preview podcast:

Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher




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


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

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


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

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,

Tom Dienhart, Big Ten Network

Barrett Sallee, Bleacher Report, B/R Radio

Josh Ward,

Mitch Light, Athlon Sports

David Fox, Athlon Sports

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports, SiriusXM


The Results:


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. 

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

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:


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

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.

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

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. 

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

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.

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

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.


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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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,

Tom Dienhart, Big Ten Network

Barrett Sallee, Bleacher Report

Josh Ward,

Mitch Light, Athlon Sports

David Fox, Athlon Sports

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports/SiriusXM


The Results:


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.

Media Poll: Week 1 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, September 3, 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-2014-week-1-recap


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

Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: 2014 Week 1 Recap
Post date: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 - 16:42
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/tuesday-talking-points-2014-week-1-noles-bama-struggle-we-overreact

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.


Tuesday Talking Points 2014 Week 1: Noles, Bama Struggle, We Overreact
Post date: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-week-1-charlie-strong-trevor-knight-baylor

It was a rather eventful first weekend of action for the Big 12. 


Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas, Kansas State and TCU were picked to finish in the upper half of the league and each did nothing in Week 1 prove anything otherwise. 


The same can't be said for Texas Tech or Iowa State. The Red Raiders still appear to have defensive issues, and Paul Rhoads - a coach respected by many despite a poor win-loss record - did nothing to help his case in Ames.


On the flip side of the coin, Oklahoma State and West Virginia went up against the top two teams in the nation and acquitted themselves very well. 


Here is what we learned from the Big 12 in Week 1:


Rumors of Oklahoma State's demise premature

Glenn Spencer did a fantastic job with the Oklahoma State defense on Saturday night in Arlington. Yes, Florida State scored 37 points, 476 yards and averaged 6.7 yards per play. But Jameis Winston looked like anything but a former Heisman winner and national champion. Spencer's unit forced two Winston interceptions and never allowed Karlos Williams to get going (23 att., 66 yds). Offensively, key miscues by the quarterback cost the team a shot at a win, but J.W. Walsh played admirably for most of the contest, and Mike Gundy found himself a shiny new toy in do-everything dynamo Tyreek Hill. The junior college transfer set a school record for all-purpose yards with 278 (44 rush, 62 rec., 172 return) in his OSU debut and was operating on a different speed than everyone else in black and orange. After losing more than 30 players off last year's roster, a six-point loss to the defending champs in the opener could be a sign the Pokes are more of a contender than expected.


Ash, Espinosa injured in Strong's debut

Charlie Strong debuted in exactly the way fans likely wanted to see. Texas was physical on both lines of scrimmage, as the Longhorns thoroughly dismantled an overmatched North Texas squad. Strong's defense allowed eight first downs and an absurd minus-22.0 opponent passer rating (3-17, 15 yds), while the offense scored on five out of six trips into the redone. That said, Strong revealed on Monday that David Ash won't play against BYU due to concussion-like symptoms he suffered in the opener. This against a quarterback who posted more than 400 yards of offense and five total touchdowns in an easy road opener against UConn. Unfortunately for Strong, it's probably time for Ash to step away from the game before he inflicts long-term damage to himself. Equally as troubling, his starting center, Dominic Espinosa, will be out for the rest of the year with a broken ankle. It was a great debut in the box score for Strong but he may have lost his two most important offensive players in the process.


Listen to the Cover 2 college football podcast:


Clint Trickett ready for a big year?

Quarterback play was a huge issue for West Virginia in 2013. Dana Holgorsen's passing attack threw 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions last fall and ranked No. 102 nationally in pass efficiency offense (115.52). But the veteran Trickett had arguably his best game as a Mountaineer, throwing for a career-high 365 yards on 29-of-45 passing. More importantly, he didn't throw the ball to Alabama one time while keeping his offense moving. There was no help whatsoever from the running game (28 yards on 24 attempts) so his performance against one of the nation's best defenses is even more impressive. If Trickett can repeat his play from Saturday, Holgorsen's squad could bounce back this fall.


Contenders hold serve

Oklahoma and Baylor both won in impressive fashion against overmatched opponents. The Bears christened a gorgeous new home venue in McLane Stadium with a 45-0 shutout of SMU behind a dominant defensive performance — try 64 total yards allowed and eight sacks. Bryce Petty cracked two vertebrae late in the game but it sounds much worse than it actually is (he should play). The Sooners were slightly less thorough on either side but still crushed Louisiana Tech by 32 points. TCU and Kansas State followed suit in similar fashion over Samford and Stephen F Austin. Texas Tech was the only "contender" who didn't play up to expectations by allowing 35 points and 406 yards of offense in a nail-biter against Central Arkansas.


Paul Rhoads inching toward hot seat

Charlie Weis' Jayhawks didn't play and Holgorsen's Mountaineers played valiantly in a 10-point loss. But after allowing 34 consecutive points in an ugly home loss to North Dakota State, many are ready to add Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads to the hottest list in the Big 12. Most agreed that Rhoads entered the season with tremendous job security despite his current 27-37 record in five seasons in Ames. He is an affable guy who is respected by the power structure at Iowa State for a variety of reasons. Three bowl games in five years is a reasonable bar of success at a place like ISU. But while the Bison are a championship program and boast a five-game FBS winning streak, isn't giving up a two-touchdown lead to an FCS opponent at home in a 20-point blowout completely unacceptable?


Big 12 Power Rankings:


RkTeamRecordLast WeekWeek 2
 1.1-0W, 48-16, La. Techat Tulsa
2.1-0W, 45-0, SMUNW State
3.1-0W, 55-16, SFAat Iowa St
4.1-0W, 38-7, N. TexasBYU
5.1-0W, 48-14, SamfordBye
6.0-1L, 37-31, Florida StMissouri St
7.1-0W, 42-35, C. Arkansasat UTEP
8.0-1L, 33-23, AlabamaTowson
9.0-1L, 34-14, N. Dakota StKansas St
10.0-0ByeSE Missouri St


Big 12 Takeaway: Pokes and Mountaineers impress in defeat, Strong debuts at Texas
Post date: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-1-takeaway-sarkisian-petersen-hundley-mariota

The Pac-12 held serve in Week 1. But just barely.


Most of the contenders — Oregon, Stanford, Arizona State, USC, Arizona and Utah — crushed overmatched opponents to start the year. But UCLA had to fight to top Virginia, and Washington barely held on for a win over Hawaii. Both are considered disappointing showings despite each achieving victory. Oregon State also had to fight to beat FCS cellar dweller Portland State.


Washington State and Colorado also began the year in disappointing fashion as well. The Cougars were upset in Seattle by a Big Ten bottom feeder, while the Buffaloes fell to an instate rival. 


This Pac-12's saving grace came from an unlikely source as Cal pulled off one of the bigger upsets of Week 1 over Northwestern.


Here is what we learned from the Pac-12 in Week 1: 


Mixed Debuts 

There are a lot of new faces on the sidelines out West. Don Pellum debuted as Oregon's defensive coordinator by allowing 13 points and 370 yards to South Dakota. Lance Anderson debuted as Stanford's defensive coordinator by pitching a shutout and allowing just 115 yards against UC Davis. And Jeff Ulbrich's first game as UCLA's defensive coordinator netted three defensive touchdowns on the road against Virginia. But the two biggest debuts came in the form of two head coaches forever interwoven at USC and Washington. Steve Sarkisian's Trojans were masterful over Fresno State on both sides of the ball despite a short roster. Meanwhile Chris Petersen's Huskies barely topped a bad Hawaii team on the Islands. While fans in Los Angeles needed this type of showing after a rough week of news, those in Seattle are looking forward to the return of quarterback Cyler Miles in Week 2. Washington's Jeff Lindquist completed just 10-of-26 passes as UW mustered just 336 yards of offense. Cody Kessler, meanwhile, posted 422 yards of offense. The Trojans are clearly talented but will need to stay healthy to get into the Pac-12 title mix.


Listen to Cover 2 college footbll podcast:


Cal scores road upset

Sonny Dykes is a well-respected coaching mind but had an extremely rough first campaign in Berkeley. He's already matched his win total from last year by pulling off a big road upset over Northwestern. Cal opened up a 31-7 third-quarter lead before holding on for the seven-point upset. His Bears held the heavily favored Wildcats (-11) to just 354 yards of offense after allowing 529.5 yards per game last season. Jared Goff finished 21-of-34 passing for 281 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Alongside Dykes in the 2013 Pac-12 head coaching narrative, Colorado's Mike MacIntrye didn't start his second season nearly as well in a disappointing 31-17 loss to instate rival Colorado State.


Arm race heats up

This league has the best signal callers in America but it might be even better under center out West than we expected. Kessler and USC posted 701 yards of offense and 37 first downs on a Pac-12 record 105 offensive plays. He finished with 394 yards passing and wasn't even one of the top two passers in the league. Washington State's Connor Halliday threw for 532 yards, while Arizona's Anu Solomon posted 425 in his first career game (more on him in a minute). Marcus Mariota also rolled up 310 total yards, while Sean Mannion posted 328 yards through the air. This deep and talented collection of passers might actually be deeper and more talented than believed. In fact, one of the few players who struggled in the season opener was UCLA's Brett Hundley. But was that really his fault...


Hundley's supporting cast not ready

Brett Hundley was the most sacked quarterback in the nation over the last two seasons (87). He was running for his life once again facing a team that lost 10 times last fall. Virginia isn't your average last place team as it does have some young talent on defense, but UCLA's lack of overall skill on offense was exposed. This team doesn't have a proven playmaker of any kind to support Hundley, and the offensive line was abused for four sacks. If UCLA wants to win the Pac-12 it will have to prove that it has the ability to slow the opposing pass rush or teams will simply pin their ears back and attack the star quarterback.


RichRod has found a QB

There was a lot of hype surrounding the debut of redshirt freshman quarterback Anu Solomon for Rich Rodriguez and the Wildcats. Against his hometown team, the first-time starter didn't disappoint. He used a barrage of big plays to roll up 425 yards passing and four touchdowns while adding 50 yards rushing on eight carries. In all, Arizona set a school record with 787 total yards of offense, breaking the previous mark of 691 set back in 1969 against New Mexico. Two different Cats (Terris Jones-Grigsby and Nick Wilson) topped 100 yards rushing but Solomon was the clear star of the show and appears to be the next big thing in RichRod's offense.


Pac-12 Power Rankings:


RkTeamRecordLast WeekWeek 2
1.1-0W, 62-13, S. DakotaMichigan St
2.1-0W, 45-0, UC DavisUSC
3.1-0W, 28-20, VirginiaMemphis
4.1-0W, 52-13, Fresno Stat Stanford
5.1-0W, 45-14, Weber Stat N. Mexico
6.1-0W, 58-13, UNLVat UTSA
7.1-0W, 17-16, HawaiiE. Washington
8.1-0W, 29-14, Portland Stat Hawaii
9.1-0W, 56-14, Idaho StFresno St
10.1-0W, 31-24, N'WesternSacramento St
11.0-1L, 41-38, Rutgersat Nevada
12.0-1L, 31-17, CSUat UMass


Pac-12 Takeaway: Sarkisian and Petersen have mixed debuts
Post date: Tuesday, September 2, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/previewing-five-best-college-football-games-week-2

Just when you think you've got it all figured out… the season starts.


Texas A&M, Rutgers and Temple got things started on Thursday evening in shocking fashion by pulling off huge upsets.


The madness continued on Saturday with a thriller in Dublin between Penn State and UCF before the top two teams in the nation struggled mightily with West Virginia (Alabama) and Oklahoma State (Florida State). Needless to say, it was an outstanding first weekend of action. What could Week 2 do for an encore presentation?


The Week Ahead: Sept. 4-Sept. 6

Michigan State at Oregon
When and where:
6:30 p.m., FOX
We’re watching because... we don't really know anything about either team after lopsided victories in Week 1. Sparty crushed poor Jacksonville State 45-7, while the Ducks routed lowly South Dakota 62-13. This is the ultimate contrast in schemes with Marcus Mariota leading one of the nation's most powerful spread attacks and Pat Narduzzi directing one the gnarliest defensive units in the land. Who wins at college football: Powerful up-tempo offense or physical, hard-hitting defense? And there is that small matter that the loser might be knocked out of the College Football Playoff two weeks into the season. This could be the biggest non-conference game of the entire 2014 season.
Vegas says: Oregon by 11

USC at Stanford
When and where
: 3:30 p.m., ABC
We’re watching because... these two rivals always put on a show out West. Stanford got its Pac-12 title defense underway in workmanlike and boring fashion by defeating lowly UC Davis with ease to open the year. USC, a team with just 62 scholarship players, handled Fresno State with equally impressive ease behind elite play from Cody Kessler in Steve Sarkisian's debut. In Week 2, they get conference play started in style with an old-school California bout in Palo Alto. Look for quarterbacks Kevin Hogan (204 yds, 4 total TD) and Kessler (394 yds, 4 TD) to build on excellent Week 1 performances. Stanford is looking for revenge after a late-season upset at the hands of the Trojans in Los Angeles a year ago and the loser will fall a game behind higher ranked division contenders.
Vegas says: Stanford by 4

Virginia Tech at Ohio State
When and where:
8 p.m., ESPN
We’re watching because... we can't wait to see Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett thrust back into the fire against an always excellent Virginia Tech defense. Barrett had a slow start against Navy but finished with a solid line (12-15, 222 yards, 2 TD, INT) in a harder-than-the-score-looked win over the Midshipmen. Facing Bud Foster's Hokies is a bird of a totally different feather all together. If the Buckeyes offense can be modestly effective against Virginia Tech, then Ohio State should be able to get the win. Despite 488 yards in the opener, the Tech offense doesn't figure to have much room to work with in Columbus against one of the nation's best defensive lines.
Vegas says: Ohio State by 12

Michigan at Notre Dame
When and where:
7:30 p.m., NBC
We’re watching because... we may not see this game for a while. Doug Nussmeier's debut for Michigan couldn't have gone any better. Both Devin Gardner and Devin Funchess agree as the duo connected seven times for 95 yards and three first-half touchdowns. Gardner looked more comfortable under center than he did at any time last season. Some of that, of course, has to do with one of the best rushing outputs of Brady Hoke's tenure. Michigan ran for 350 yards at almost 10 yards per carry (9.7) in the easy revenge win over Appalachian State. Notre Dame, meanwhile, welcomed back Everett Golson with five total touchdowns in a resounding victory over Rice in the Irish's opener. Look for quarterback play to be the deciding factor when these two rivals meet for the last time (for now).
Vegas says: Notre Dame by 6

BYU at Texas
When and where:
7:30 p.m., ESPN
We’re watching because... of what happened last year between these two. Taysom Hill got his 2014 season started in style with over 400 yards of offense (308 pass, 97 rush) and five total touchdowns in a blowout win on the road over UConn. Meanwhile, Charlie Strong debuted in impressive fashion for the Longhorns with an easy win over North Texas — Texas held the Mean Green to just 94 yards of total offense. This was a record-setting meeting for both programs last year when BYU rolled up 550 yards and 40 points in a win over the Horns in Provo. With a new sheriff in town, however, how different will things be for Texas' defense down on The 40 Acres? Charlie Strong, though, may be in trouble due to his offense down a starting quarterback (David Ash, concussion) and center (Dominic Espinosa, ankle) perhaps for the remainder of the season.
Vegas says: Texas by 4.5

Previewing the Five Best College Football Games of Week 2
Post date: Monday, September 1, 2014 - 12:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-1-preview-and-predictions

Undefeated should be the Pac-12's goal in Week 1.


Every team in the league is favored to win its season opener with the exception of Cal — an 11-point underdog on the road at Northwestern.


So barring a Golden Bears’ road upset, the league should be hoping to avoid the upset bug in the first weekend of action. All of the league front-runners are huge favorites to win and an early slip up would be crushing.


An 11-1 mark in Week 1 would be considered holding serve for the Pac-12.

Week 1 Previews and Predictions:
ACC | Big Ten | Big 12 SEC


1. Fresno St at USC
7:30 p.m., FOX

Part of the reason the Pac-12 should win at least 11 games in Week 1 is that there is no marquee showdown. Fresno State is picked to win the MW West Division and should be one of the better non-Big 5 teams in the nation. Storylines such as Steve Sarkisian's Trojans' debut, USC and Fresno State's Las Vegas Bowl matchup to end last season and the Josh Shaw saga only adds intrigue.


2. UCLA at Virginia
Noon, ESPN

The Cavaliers pulled an improbable upset against a team from the West (BYU) at home in their season opener last fall. A repeat performance is highly unlikely this go around. Still, Virginia's defense is much more talented than its 10-loss record from last year so Brett Hundley will need to be sharp. But the Virginia offense will have a tough time against one of the better Pac-12 defenses. There are no excuses for UCLA in this one.


3. Rutgers at Washington St
Thurs., 10 p.m., FS1

What should be one of the most competitive Week 1 matchups will feature a “traditional” Big Ten-Pac-12 bout. While a Cougars-Scarlet Knights game is anything but traditional the entertainment value should be high. Kyle Flood enters a critical year as head coach of Rutgers while Mike Leach has a productive returning quarterback and bowl aspirations. Stay up late for this one on Thursday evening, it will be worth it.


4. Colorado St at Colorado
Fri., 9 p.m., FS1, Denver

When it comes to intensity, the Rocky Mountain Showdown in Denver is arguably the most intriguing game of the weekend out West. This meeting marks the 85th between these two in-state rivals. Rams coach Jim McElwain topped the Buffs in his introduction to this series two years ago and has turned the CSU program into a winner while Mike MacIntyre won his debut against the Rams last fall. The Buffs are a 2.5-point favorite.


5. Cal at Northwestern
3:30 p.m., ESPN2

The only Pac-12 underdog in Week 1 is Cal’s trip to Evanston. Sonny Dykes’ first game as the Bears head coach ended in a 44-30 defeat at home against these Wildcats last fall. His squad allowed 508 yards of offense but his freshman quarterback, Jared Goff, threw the ball 63 times for 445 yards in his first career game. Look for more points and a more competitive game this time around (although, the outcome may be the same).


6. UNLV at Arizona
Fri., 10:30 p.m., ESPN

Arizona breaks in a new star at quarterback when redshirt freshman Anu Solomon makes his first career start in his first career game. The Wildcats are a heavy favorite (-23.5) and defeated the Rebels in Las Vegas — Solomon’s hometown — by a 58-13 margin a year ago. Tuning in to see how Solomon handles himself will be important, so get the coffee ready as this was Arizona’s longest game of the year last fall (3:30) and is the final game to kick off on Friday evening.


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

Chris Petersen makes his Washington debut on the islands this weekend. He will be without starting quarterback Cyler Miles and is one of just two Pac-12 teams to start the season on the road. That said, there is a reason the Huskies are a 17-point favorite and Hawaii head coach Norm Chow is on the hot seat. Washington’s defense should dominate a team picked to finish dead last in its division.


Listen to the Week 1 Cover 2 podcast:


8. UC Davis at Stanford
4 p.m., Pac-12 Net

A fairly competitive Big Sky team last year (5-3 in league), UC Davis doesn’t figure to challenge mighty Stanford. The Aggies aren’t picked by many to make the FCS playoffs and won’t be able to compete physically with the Cardinal.


9. South Dakota at Oregon
10:30 p.m., Pac-12 Net

Not to be confused with FCS playoff contenders South Dakota State and North Dakota State, the Coyotes of South Dakota (4-8 last year) don’t figure to be competitive longer than a few series. Look for Oregon to churn out yards and points while, most importantly, staying healthy for the visit from Michigan State looming in Week 2.


10. Weber St at Arizona St
Thurs., 10:30 p.m., Pac-12 Net

The Sun Devils — along with the Utes — picked two of the worst Big Sky teams to face in their season openers. The Wildcats of Weber State won just one conference game last year and will be little to no competition for ASU’s totally reworked defense. Look for Todd Graham to get a lot of looks for his new defensive unit.


11. Portland St at Oregon St
4 p.m., Pac-12 Net

There is one reason to tune in: Sean Mannion. Portland State isn’t a contender in the Big Sky this year so don’t expect a repeat of what Eastern Washington did in Corvallis a year ago. This Beavers' offense is worth watching anytime this unit takes the field, even if the score is extremely one-sided.


12. Idaho St at Utah
Thurs., 7:30 p.m., Pac-12 Net

The Bengals of Idaho State won just one Big Sky game last year and that should basically guarantee a win for Kyle Whittingham. And for a head coach with quarterback questions and a seat warming beneath him, every win is critical.

Pac-12 Predictions:

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Fresno St (+21.5) at USCUSC, 34-13USC, 37-17USC, 42-17USC, 38-20
UCLA (-21) at VirginiaUCLA, 38-13UCLA, 33-14UCLA, 42-10UCLA, 34-13
Rutgers (+8) vs. WazzuWSU, 42-21WSU, 41-17WSU, 52-14WSU, 45-31
Colo. St (+3) vs. ColoradoColo., 28-24Colo., 21-17CSU, 24-17Colo., 31-27
Cal (+11) at N'WesternNW, 31-21NW, 31-24NW, 38-17NW, 34-24
UNLV (+23.5) at ArizonaZona, 45-17Zona, 48-24Zona, 35-14Zona, 40-20
Wash. (-17) at HawaiiWash., 42-7Wash., 51-10Wash., 49-7Wash., 45-13
UC Davis at StanfordStan., 38-3Stan., 41-0Stan., 35-7Stan., 45-7
S. Dakota at OregonOregon, 51-10Oregon, 58-7Oregon, 52-7Oregon, 60-10
Weber St at Ariz. StASU, 41-14ASU, 51-10ASU, 49-10ASU, 58-13
Portland St at Ore. StOSU, 41-20OSU, 44-17OSU, 52-14OSU, 45-17
Idaho St at UtahUtah, 31-7Utah, 41-0Utah, 49-6Utah, 44-7


Pac-12 2014 Week 1 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, August 28, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-week-1-preview-and-predictions

Bob Stoops has been fighting the good fight all offseason long but the rubber meets the road now that the season is starting.


Both Oklahoma State and West Virginia played in BCS bowls in the last few seasons but both are heavy underdogs to their ACC and SEC foes in Week 1.


So while the league’s non-conference record may look bruised following season openers against Florida State and Alabama, the contenders in this league should begin the year with success.

Week 1 Previews and Predictions:
ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 SEC


1. Florida St vs. Oklahoma St
8 p.m., ABC, Arlington

Mike Gundy has an excellent program rolling along in Stillwater. However, losing more than 30 players off your roster and facing a defending national champion that might actually be improved from a year ago isn’t a recipe for success. The Pokes are going to be hard pressed to stop the Noles in either facet of the game and their ongoing quarterback battle raises questions about Oklahoma State’s upside this fall. This was supposed to be a marquee season opener but could turn into a dud quickly.


2. North Texas at Texas
8 p.m., LHN

Charlie Strong makes his debut against an in-state opponent that won nine games a year ago. Does that mean the Mean Green will challenge the Longhorns? Unlikely. But the questions about David Ash’s health, the offensive line’s tenacity and the business culture behind the scenes are still hanging in the air down in Austin. A clean, dominant performance against North Texas would be a great way to begin to answer those questions. Especially, with BYU and UCLA looming.


3. West Virginia vs. Alabama
3:30 p.m., ABC, Atlanta

Much like Oklahoma State-Florida State, this game looked like a great season opener a few years ago. But like the Cowboys, the Mountaineers aren’t in a position to challenge one of the top two teams in the nation. Dana Holgorsen’s group could be improved and the secondary is good enough to challenge whichever signal-caller starts for Bama. That said, WVU's overall roster situation isn’t good enough to put Nick Saban’s squad into any danger whatsoever.


4. SMU at Baylor
Sun., 7:30 p.m., FS1

The Bears scored at least 69 points in each of their first four games last fall. Fans in Waco — the ones who will pack the newly minted McLane Stadium Sunday evening — should expect much of the same against the in-state Mustangs. June Jones’ squad returns six starters to a defense that allowed more than 33 points and 400 yards of offense a year ago. Baylor returns Bryce Petty and Art Briles. Enough said.


5. North Dakota St at Iowa St
Noon, FS1

The Bison don’t have their three-time national championship head coach any more (he’s at Wyoming) but they do have one of the longer FBS winning streaks in college football. Ninth-longest, to be exact. North Dakota State has won four straight against FBS opponents, including two against the Big 12 (Kansas, Kansas State). Paul Rhoads has improved Iowa State's roster to the point that this game should be a win for the Cyclones. But fans in Ames should be extremely wary of NDSU — the No. 2-ranked team in the FCS entering the season.


6. Louisiana Tech at Oklahoma
7 p.m.

After an offseason full of Bob Stoops one-liners and national roster headlines, the Sooners finally get back on the field. And will do so without Frank Shannon, Joe Mixon or Dorial Green-Beckham. Against the Bulldogs, however, Crimson and Cream fans shouldn’t be worried. Trevor Knight should have plenty of room to operate and the defense should be dominant. There is a reason OU is favored by 38 points.


7. Samford at TCU
7 p.m.

Gary Patterson has yet to decide on his starting quarterback as Trevone Boykin and Matt Joeckel are both expected to get plenty of snaps in the season opener. This battle is really the only reason to tune in to this one as the Frogs figure to pound the Bulldogs.


8. Central Arkansas at Texas Tech
7 p.m.

Davis Webb begins his first full season as the starting quarterback in Lubbock against lowly Central Arkansas. The Bears, who were 7-5 last fall, allowed 38 in a loss to Colorado last year so Kliff Kingsbury’s offense should have no issues cruising in Week 1.


9. Stephen F. Austin at Kansas St
7:10 p.m.

Bill Snyder is a genius and has an excellent team returning, including a proven starter at quarterback. Stephen F. Austin lost nine times last year (1-6 in the Southland Conference) and should pose little threat. Sorting out the Wildcats' running game and getting new defensive starters quality reps are adequate goals for this one-sided affair.


Off: Kansas

Listen to the Week 1 Cover 2 Podcast:

Big 12 Predictions:

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Florida St (-17.5) vs. Okla. StFSU, 44-17FSU, 41-17FSU, 49-10FSU, 48-17
N. Texas (+25) at TexasTexas, 34-10Texas, 27-10Texas, 31-14Texas, 34-13
W. Virginia (+26) vs. AlabamaBama, 31-13Bama, 30-13Bama, 38-7Bama, 38-10
SMU (+32.5) at BaylorBaylor, 51-20Baylor, 44-17Baylor, 63-10Baylor, 52-17
N. Dakota St at Iowa StISU, 24-21ISU, 21-17NDSU, 17-14ISU, 27-20
La. Tech (+38) at OklahomaOkla., 45-7Okla., 48-7Okla., 52-10Okla., 48-10
Samford at TCUTCU, 31-10TCU, 34-17TCU, 35-7TCU, 41-7
C. Arkansas at Texas TechTech, 49-10Tech, 55-20Tech, 49-6Tech, 60-17
SFA at Kansas StKSU, 34-7KSU, 48-0KSU, 28-17KSU, 44-7


Big 12 2014 Week 1 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, August 28, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/2014-betting-against-spread-college-football-week-1-picks

Each week, Athlon Sports brings the fans a taste of Las Vegas with our panel picks against the spread for every top 25 game and Braden Gall’s top individual games of the week.


Here are his Week 1 picks:


Boise St (-10) vs. Ole Miss (Atlanta)

Normally the Broncos are excellent in season openers against high-level competition. Normally Ole Miss isn’t considered high-level competition. But Chris Petersen isn’t in Boise any longer and this isn’t your father’s Ole Miss squad. The Rebels are extremely talented and will dominate the line of scrimmage in Atlanta. Prediction: Ole Miss -10


Rutgers (+8) vs. Washington St (Seattle)

This is the tale of two programs heading in two totally different directions. Kyle Flood is in serious hot seat territory in New Jersey while Mike Leach returns a star quarterback and a deep receiving corps on a team that has bowl aspirations. The Cougars will put up a big number. Prediction: Washington State -8


Florida St (-17.5) vs. Okla. St (Arlington)

The Pokes are a solid program but this might be one of Mike Gundy’s worst rosters since taking over in Stillwater. Florida State is not only the defending champion but could actually be in improved this year. The Noles won games by an average of 40 points last year and this one could fall into that category as well. Prediction: Florida State -17.5


Penn State (+2) vs. UCF (Dublin)

I was almost shocked to see UCF as the favorite in this game. James Franklin is a proven sideline wizard and Christian Hackenberg is a special player. The Knights won this game last year but lost its catalyst in Blake Bortles (as well as eight other starters). It will be close but PSU will win outright… so take the points. Prediction: Penn State +2


Miami (+3.5) at Louisville

These aren’t close to being the same two teams that played in the lop-sided Russell Athletic Bowl to end last season. Gone is Teddy Bridgewater, Charlie Strong and numerous other stars from the UL roster. And back are Duke Johnson and a host of incoming talented freshmen for Miami. But Bobby Petrino is coaching the Cardinals who have a deep and talented running game to lean on. The Canes haven't closed the 27-point gap just yet. Prediction: Louisville -3.5


Washington (-17) at Hawaii

Norm Chow is on the hot seat for a reason at Hawaii. Chris Petersen is stepping into his debut performance at his shiny new gig in Seattle. The Huskies' defense will dominate the headlines in this one. Washington doesn’t need Cyler Miles to win this one in easy fashion. Prediction: Washington -17


Listen to the Week 1 Cover 2 podcast:


Top 25 Picks ATS:


Top 25Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Florida St (-17.5) vs. Okla. St
W. Virginia (+26) vs. Alabama
La. Tech (+38) at Okla.
Ohio St (-16) vs. Navy
Arkansas (+19.5) at Auburn
UCLA (-21) at Virginia
Texas A&M (+10.5) at S. Carolina
SMU (+32.5) at Baylor
Clemson (+7.5) at Georgia
Wisconsin (+5) vs. LSU
Fresno St (+21.5) at USC
Rice (+21) at Notre Dame
Boise St (+10) vs. Ole Miss
FAU (+21) at Nebraska
Wash. (-17) at Hawaii


2014 Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 1 Picks
Post date: Thursday, August 28, 2014 - 08:00