Articles By Braden Gall

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Ohio State and Minnesota stole the show again this week in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes need to win out and do so in convincing fashion — and likely get some help — to get into the BCS title game and a 49-point win over Penn State was just that for Urban Meyer.
Meanwhile, the Gophers won a second straight game as a double-digit underdog in the division as they toppled Nebraska in impressive fashion at home. This team is clearly rallying around head coach Jerry Kill and their two wins have opened up the Legends Division in short order.

More Post-Week 9 Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

Big Ten Post-Week 9 Power Rankings:

 TeamLWAnalysis 
1.(1)Ohio State (8-0, 4-0): Urban Meyer knows he needs to win big the rest of the season and get some help to make it to the national title game. Style points mean more for the Buckeyes than anyone else in the nation, so the 49-point win over Penn State was an important one. The Bucks jumped out to a big lead over the Nittany Lions and never looked back. Braxton Miller threw for 261 yards, rushed for 68 more and accounted for five total touchdowns. Next Week: at Purdue 
2.
 
(3)Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1): Wisconsin bounced back from a loss to Ohio State in impressive fashion over Northwestern and Illinois. But the final month won't be easy for the Badgers with two road trips to rivals Iowa and Minnesota as well as home games with BYU, Penn State and Indiana. There is a wide range of outcomes in Madison. Next Week: at Iowa 
3.
 
 
 
(5)Michigan State (7-1, 4-0): The Spartans trailed 3-0 at the end of the first quarter before scoring two touchdowns in each of the next three quarters. The defense did the rest by shutting down Illinois' offense. Connor Cook was fantastic, completing 15-of-16 passes for 208 yards and three touchdowns while the rushing attack posted 269 yards on the ground. Sparty had 14 third-down conversions and 29 first downs to Illinois' three conversions and eight total first downs. The nation's No. 1 defense only improved its resume this weekend. With Nebraska losing, Mark Dantonio's bunch has taken over as the frontrunner in the Legends Division ... with Michigan coming to town. Next Week: Michigan 
4.
 
(4)Michigan (6-1, 2-1): Two weeks to prepare for a visit from in-state little brother Michigan State and the nation's top defense is a huge blessing. In fact, the next two games for the Wolverines will decide their fate in the Legends Division. Nebraska comes to town in Week 11. Next Week: at Michigan State 
5.
 
 
(2)Nebraska (5-2, 2-1): The Huskers should have carried a lot confidence into a road meeting with Minnesota. Taylor Martinez returned to the lineup, Nebraska hadn't lost to the Gophers in more than five decades and it was the clear frontrunner in the Legends Division. But Bo Pelini's defensive woes reared their ugly head once again as Minnesota pounded the Huskers defense for nearly 300 yards rushing. The offense got going in the second half but it was never enough to threaten. A home game with the Wildcats next week becomes a must-win. Next Week: Northwestern 
6.
 
(7)Minnesota (6-2, 2-2): For the second consecutive weekend, the Golden Gophers rallied to win as a double-digit underdog without their head coach on the sidelines. Acting coach Terry Claeys moved to 2-0 after dominating the Nebraska defense with 271 yards and three touchdowns on 54 carries. It was the first win over the Huskers for Minnesota since 1960 and the victory makes the Gophers bowl eligible for the second straight season. More important, two straight wins over divisional contenders has vaulted Goldie into Legends Division contention. Next Week: at Indiana 
7.
 
(6)

Penn State (4-3, 1-2): Bill O'Brien was fighting an uphill battle by heading into the Horseshoe this weekend but he likely didn't see a 63-spot coming. His star freshman quarterback has serious long-term upside, but Christian Hackenberg looked like a first-year player making his first start in Columbus as he threw two interceptions. Ohio State jumped all over the Lions early and never really gave PSU a chance to compete. It marks the first time in school history that Penn State has allowed 40 points in three straight games. Next Week: Illinois

 
8.
 
 
 
(10)Iowa (5-3, 2-2): It wasn't pretty, but Kirk Ferentz squad moved to within one win of the postseason when Jake Rudock connected with tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz in overtime. The Hawkeyes, much like Northwestern, had plenty of chances to win the game in regulation late but could never finish a drive with points. Iowa won with 19 first downs, went 6-of-14 on third downs and totaled just 305 yards of offense. Ferentz's team will have to be better than that to defeat the Badgers next weekend. Next Week: Wisconsin 
9.
 
(9)Indiana (3-4, 1-2): Kevin Wilson needs three wins in the final five games to reach the postseason. With road trips to Wisconsin and Ohio State still looming, the Hoosiers must win all three home contests. It starts with two in a row against beatable opponents — Minnesota for Homecoming this week and Illinois the following Sautday.  Next Week: Minnesota 
10.
 
(8)Northwestern (4-4, 0-4): Kain Colter returned to the starting lineup, but it made no difference to Pat Fitzgerald's bunch as Northwestern dropped its fourth straight Big Ten game. The Cats had chances to win the game in regulation but couldn't make critical plays in the final quarter. Colter played well in his return but could muster only two scoring drives all afternoon. The Wildcats are in a complete free fall and have Nebraska, MIchigan and Michigan State next on the slate.  Next Week: at Nebraska 
11.
 
 
(11)Illinois (3-4, 0-3): The Illini lost its 17th consecutive Big Ten game at home in ugly fashion this Saturday. Michigan State walked into Memorial Stadium and abused Illinois in all three phases of the game. Nathan Scheelhaase and the offense totaled 128 yards, eight first downs and three points while the defense couldn't stop a balanced Spartans' attack. Things are starting to slip away for head coach Tim Beckman. Next Week: at Penn State 
12.
 
(12)Purdue (1-6, 0-3): One look at the Boilermakers schedule and it's easy to see why they have one win. Unfortnately, there aren't many chances left for Ws: Ohio State, Iowa, at Penn State, Illinois and at Indiana. Two wins would be impressive (but not unreasonable) in that bunch. Next Week: Ohio State 

Big Ten Week 9 Awards and Superlatives:

Offensive Player of the Week: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Urban Meyer needs style points, and his star quarterback delivered in a big way. Against Penn State, Miller was efficient, completing 18-of-24 passes for a personal-best 252 yards and three touchdowns passes while rushing for 68 yards on 11 carries and two more touchdowns. He led his offense to season highs in points (63) and total yards (686) while posting the best passing game of his career.

Defensive Player of Week: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Facing the Nebraska rushing attack, Hageman was going to play a huge role in the outcome no matter how he played. But he had one of his best games of the season, disrupting the line of scrimmage and playing in the Huskers backfield all game long. He finished with three tackles, two tackles for loss and his second sack of the season. Hageman and the Gophers held Nebraska to its second-lowest rushing output of the season and its lowest total yardage output of the year (328 yards).

Team of Week: Minnesota
For the second straight week the Gophers are the team of the week in the Big Ten after pulling an upset as a double-digit underdog. This time it netted the Gophers its first win over old-time rival Nebraska since 1960 — giving the school its second straight win over a division contender. Not only had the Gophers lost 16 straight against Nebraska but it hadn't had a lead over Nebraska since 1969.

Coach of Week: Matt Limegrover, Minnesota
Acting head coach Tracy Claeys did another fantastic defensive job on a high-powered divisional foe but Limegrover's offensive gameplan was the biggest difference maker in Week 9. Minnesota ran the ball 54 times and threw just 17 passes and outgunned the Huskers by more than 100 yards (430-328). Limegrover didn't ask Philip Nelson to make many plays with his arm but put him in good positions all while pounding the rock for five yards per carry. Minnesota simply took the action to the Huskers' defense and the Blackshirts couldn't handle it.

Freshman of the Week: Tyvis Powell, DB, Ohio State
With Christian Bryant out for the season, Urban Meyer will need some younger players to step into the secondary and provide support. The 6-foot-3 Powell is one of those players. He posted seven tackles in the blowout win over Penn State at home. The Buckeyes defense allowed 357 yards of offense and forced three turnovers as the secondary forced bad decisions from Christian Hackenberg all night.

Fifth Down

• Minnesota took the lead against Nebraska for the first time since 1969 when it went up 14-10 with three minutes to go in the second quarter. The Gophers never trailed the rest of the way. Minnesota has created five total turnovers without giving it up once over the last two games against Northwestern and Nebraska combined.

• For the third straight week, Penn State allowed more than 40 points in a game, the first time it's happened since the turn of the century — the 20th century.

• The Spartans scored 42 points in the road win over Illinois. Michigan State is averaging 31 points per game in Big Ten play this year. Connor Cook completed 15 of his 16 passes.

• Iowa's James Morris and Anthony Hitchens combined for 17 tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
• Minnesota's David Cobb carried a 31 times for 138 yards, both career highs, in the Gophers win over Nebraska. He had 11 career carries entering 2013.

• Ohio State won its national-best 20th consecutive game.

• Northwestern lost to Iowa in overtime 17-10. It was the Wildcats fourth consecutive Big Ten loss in four 2013 Big Ten games.

Teaser:
2013 Big Ten Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 07:18
Path: /college-football/amazing-college-football-stats-week-9
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Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of the game. Any game, for that matter.

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

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

23-1: Bob Stoops' record in first meetings with a coach in Big 12 games since 2000
The Red Raiders handed the game over to the Sooners on Saturday in Norman by turning the ball over three times in critical spots. At home, veteran coach Bob Stoops and his team capitalized on Texas Tech's mistakes by outscoring Kliff Kingsbury's team 17-7 over the final 16 minutes. It was Kingsbury's first loss as a head coach and Stoops' 23rd victory in his first meeting with a coach in a Big 12 game during his tenure at Oklahoma. He won his first Big 12 meeting with Art Briles, Bill Snyder, Gary Pinkel, Mike Gundy, Gary Patterson, Mike Leach, Tommy Tuberville and now Kliff Kingsbury (among many others).

1: Teams that have outscored every opponent by at least 15 points
Missouri and Oregon entered the weekend as two of the 10 remaining unbeatens in college football. They were the only two teams in the nation who had yet to play a "close" game because they were the only two teams to have defeated every opponent by at least 15 points. Mizzou collapsed against South Carolina in the fourth quarter and overtime as the Gamecocks gave the Tigers their first loss of the season. Meanwhile, the Ducks scored 28 unanswered points in the final 20 minutes of play to crush UCLA 42-14. Oregon is now of the only team left in college football to have defeated every team its played by more than two touchdowns.

5: Scoring drives led by Connor Shaw in the fourth quarter and OT
The Gamecocks touched the ball five times in the fourth quarter and overtime against Missouri and scored on all five possessions after whiffing on their first 10 drives. Connor Shaw led five scoring drives by completing 17-of-25 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns in the final period and extra time. He didn't turn the ball over, ran three times for 23 yards and was battling a less-than-perfect left knee. The Gamecocks need to win their final two SEC games against Mississippi State and Florida at home and get one loss from Mizzou to make just their second trip to Atlanta as SEC East champs.

1960: Last time Minnesota defeated Nebraska before this past Saturday
The Golden Gophers and Cornhuskers have actually been longtime rivals. The two programs have played 53 times overall with Nebraska dominating the series for more than 50 years. Prior to Saturday's meeting in Minneapolis, the Gophers hadn't beaten the Huskers since 1960 — a streak of 16 consecutive losses. In fact, the Big Red had dominated the series so much that Minnesota hadn't even had a lead in the series since 1969. It was the first Big Ten loss of the season for Bo Pelini and the Cornhuskers. Speaking of... 

7: Ranked Bo Pelini teams who have lost to unranked opponents
A ranked Nebraska team has lost to an unranked foe in each of the last five seasons under Pelini and seven times overall. The final month of the season — Northwestern, at Michigan, Michigan State, at Penn State, Iowa — will determine his fate as the Nebraska head coach.

 Ranked Nebraska losses to unranked teams
Oct. 26, 2013Minnesota def. No. 25 Nebraska 34-23
Dec. 1, 2012Wisconsin def. No. 14 Nebraska 70-31 (Big Ten Championship Game)
Sept. 8, 2012UCLA def. No. 16 Nebraska 35-30
Nov. 5, 2011Northwestern def. No. 9 Nebraska 28-25
Dec. 30, 2010Washington def. No. 17 Nebraska 19-7 (Holiday Bowl)
Oct. 7, 2010Texas def. No. 5 Nebraska 20-13
Oct. 17, 2009Texas Tech def. No. 15 Nebraska 31-10


6: Cities in which Duke has defeated Virginia Tech
The 13-10 road win for Duke over the Hokies features a plethora of interesting stats. It was the first road win over a ranked opponent for Duke in 42 years. The Blue Devils sixth win makes Duke bowl eligible in back-to-back seasons for the first time in school history. The two starting quarterbacks, Anthony Boone and Logan Thomas, combined for eight interceptions and zero passing touchdowns. In fact, Duke didn't complete a pass in the second half and was 0-11 on third downs for the game. Lastly, it was Duke's first ever win in Blacksburg, giving the Blue Devils a win over the Hokies in six different cities. Duke has beaten Tech in Greensboro, Durham, Winston-Salem, Norfolk, Roanoke and, now, Blacksburg.


3,173: Jordan Matthews' SEC-record receiving yards
Texas A&M and Johnny Manziel crushed Vanderbilt 56-24, but Vanderbilt star wide receiver Jordan Matthews caught eight passes for 92 yards. He passed Georgia's Terrence Edwards' 3,093 yards (1999-02) for No. 1 all-time in SEC history. Matthews is one of just four players to top 3,000 yards receiving (Alshon Jeffery, Josh Reed). He has 216 career receptions, trailing only fellow Commodore Earl Bennett's all-time SEC record of 236 receptions. If Vandy doesn't make a bowl game, Matthews needs to average just under eight receptions per game to pass Bennett. Only six players in SEC history have ever caught more than 200 passes (Craig Yeast, Kenny McKinley, Edwards, Keith Edwards). Finally, Matthews has 22 career touchdown receptions — 11 behind the SEC's all-time record of 31 set by Florida's Chris Doering.


28: Quarters Houston has scored a point in 2013
Houston is 6-1 after an impressive 49-14 road win over Rutgers. They have played 28 quarters of football and have scored in every frame of the season. Houston needed a safety against BYU in the third quarter to keep the streak alive in Week 8, the lowest total of any quarter this season for the Cougs. Houston is still perfect in the American Athletic Conference and control its own destiny with games against Louisville and UCF looming in coming weeks.


455: Octavius McKoy NCAA all-division single-game rushing record
TCU's LaDainian Tomlinson owns the FBS single-game rushing record when he rolled up 406 yards against UTEP in 1999. But Marietta College's Dante Brown actually owns the all-division mark with 441 yards in 1996. That record has fallen as Western Connecticut's tailback Octavius McKoy rushed for 455 yards on 43 carries to an all-division NCAA single-game record. Western Connecticut is a Division III program.

Teaser:
Amazing College Football Stats from Week 9
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-9-recap-and-awards
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Stanford and Oregon handled their business in impressive fashion against Oregon State and UCLA, respectively. The Ducks blew past UCLA with a high-powered offense and better-than-advertised defense while the Cardinal used a typically physical defensive approach to outlast and ground the Beavers normally explosive offensive approach.

The two wins set up one of the most important matchups of the season in two weeks. Both teams will get an off weekend before the primetime Thursday night showdown in Palo Alto, and the outcome could determine half of the BCS championship game.

Here are your Week 9 Pac-12 superlatives:

Offensive Player of the Week: Tyler Gaffney, Stanford
After a monster performance against UCLA at home, Gaffney backed it up with another stellar showing against a team that had yet to lose in Pac-12 play. On the road against Oregon State, Gaffney carried 22 times for 145 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. He accounted for all of Stanford's scoring in Corvallis and is now third in the Pac-12 in rushing (894 yards, 111.8 ypg). His 12 touchdowns are tied for the lead in the conference.

Defensive Player of the Week: Trent Murphy, LB, Stanford
Murphy, much like the rest of the Cardinal defense, was all over the field against Oregon State. Murphy posted eight tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks against the nation's leading passer. He leads the Pac-12 with 9.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss after back-to-back stellar showings against UCLA and Oregon State. The Cardinal's defensive performance — holding the Beavers to a season-low 288 yards — on the road was a championship-style performance. 

Team of the Week: Oregon
Just like it did against Washington, Oregon played a relatively tight game against UCLA for the better part of three quarters. And just like it did against the Huskies, the Ducks put their foot on the gas pedal for the final quarter and pulled away from a ranked team in impressive fashion. Oregon scored 28 unanswered points to make a 14-14 game a blowout. Oregon has scored at least 42 points in every game and produced another 555 yards of total offense. The win for the Ducks and Stanford's subsequent victory over Oregon State has set up the Thursday night battle in Palo Alto between the last two Pac-12 champs.

Coordinator of the Week: Derek Mason, Stanford
After dominating at home last week against UCLA by holding the Bruins to a season-low in yards and points, Mason's bunch was at it again. Against yet another elite offensive attack, this time on the road, Stanford dominated the Oregon State front line. The Cardinal registered eight sacks against the nation's leading passer in Sean Mannion and held the nation's most productive wide receiver to a season-low 90 yards. The Cardinal defense appears to be well past its early season "slump" and has produced two of the most impressive showings in the nation the last two weekends.

Freshman of the Week: Scooby Wright, LB, Arizona
Arizona moved to within a game of bowl eligibility and got its second conference win with a victory over Colorado on the road. Wright posted nine total tackles and helped the Wildcats hold the Buffs to just 349 yards of offense and only 3.3 yards per carry. He is Arizona's leading tackler and is third among Pac-12 freshmen in tackles for the season.

Fifth Down

• Washington's Bishop Sankey got back on track against Cal by rushing for a career-high 241 yards on 27 carries for a sturdy 8.9 yards per carry.

• Arizona's B.J. Denker and Ka'Deem Carey combined for 311 yards and four touchdowns on the ground against Colorado. Carey scored all four touchdowns, and Denker averaged 12.8 yards per carry (192 yards).

With less than 50 scholarship players, USC defeated Utah 19-3. The Trojans allowed 201 yards of total offense and forced four turnovers.

• Byron Marshall rushed for 133 yards and three touchdowns for Oregon in the win over UCLA. He also caught a pass for 23 yards.

• Sean Mannion was averaging more than 400 yards passing per game. He attempted 57 passes in the loss to Stanford and managed just 271 yards for a 4.8-yard per attempt average.

Teaser:
Pac-12 Week 9 Recap and Awards
Post date: Sunday, October 27, 2013 - 11:42
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-9-recap-and-awards
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Ohio State and Minnesota stole the show again this week in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes need to win out in convincing fashion — and get some help from Florida State, Oregon and Alabama — to get into the BCS title game. A 49-point win over Penn State is a start for Urban Meyer.

Meanwhile, the Gophers won a second straight game as a double-digit underdog in the division as they toppled Nebraska in impressive fashion at home to open up the Legends Division in short order.

Here are the Big Ten's Week 9 Superlatives:

Offensive Players of the Week: Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Urban Meyer needs style points, and his star quarterback delivered in a big way. Against Penn State, Miller was efficient, completing 18-of-24 passes for a personal-best 252 yards and three touchdowns passes while rushing for 68 yards on 11 carries and two more touchdowns. He led his offense to season highs in points (63) and total yards (686) while posting the best passing game of his career.

Defensive Player of Week: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Facing the Nebraska rushing attack, Hageman was going to play a huge role in the outcome no matter how he played. But he had one of his best games of the season, disrupting the line of scrimmage and playing in the Huskers backfield all game long. He finished with three tackles, two tackles for loss and his second sack of the season. Hageman and the Gophers held Nebraska to its second-lowest rushing output of the season and its lowest total yardage output of the year (328 yards).

Team of Week: Minnesota
For the second straight week the Gophers are the team of the week in the Big Ten after pulling an upset as a double-digit underdog. This time it netted the Gophers its first win over old-time rival Nebraska since 1960 — giving the school its second straight win over a division contender. Not only had the Gophers lost 16 straight against Nebraska but it hadn't had a lead over Nebraska since 1969.

Coach of Week: Matt Limegrover, Minnesota
Acting head coach Tracy Claeys did another fantastic defensive job on a high-powered divisional foe but Limegrover's offensive gameplan was the biggest difference maker in Week 9. Minnesota ran the ball 54 times and threw just 17 passes and outgunned the Huskers by more than 100 yards (430-328). Limegrover didn't ask Philip Nelson to make many plays with his arm but put him in good positions all while pounding the rock for five yards per carry. Minnesota simply took the action to the Huskers' defense and the Blackshirts couldn't handle it.

Freshman of the Week: Tyvis Powell, DB, Ohio State
With Christian Bryant out for the season, Urban Meyer will need some younger players to step into the secondary and provide support. The 6-foot-3 Powell is one of those players. He posted seven tackles in the blowout win over Penn State at home. The Buckeyes defense allowed 357 yards of offense and forced three turnovers as the secondary forced bad decisions from Christian Hackenberg all night.

Fifth Down

• Minnesota took the lead against Nebraska for the first time since 1969 when it went up 14-10 with three minutes to go in the second quarter. The Gophers never trailed the rest of the way. Minnesota has created five total turnovers without giving it up once over the last two games against Northwestern and Nebraska combined.

• For the third straight week, Penn State allowed more than 40 points in a game, the first time it's happened since the turn of the century — the 20th century.

• The Spartans scored 42 points in the road win over Illinois. Michigan State is averaging 31 points per game in Big Ten play this year. Connor Cook completed 15 of his 16 passes.

• Iowa's James Morris and Anthony Hitchens combined for 17 tackles, three sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

• Minnesota's David Cobb carried a 31 times for 138 yards, both career highs, in the Gophers win over Nebraska. He had 11 career carries entering 2013.

• Ohio State won its national-best 20th consecutive game.

• Northwestern lost to Iowa in overtime 17-10. It was the Wildcats fourth consecutive Big Ten loss in four 2013 Big Ten games.

Teaser:
Big Ten Week 9 Recap and Awards
Post date: Sunday, October 27, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-week-9-picks
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Like it or not, Las Vegas rarely gets it wrong, so tracking betting lines should always be a big part of each football weekend — even if there are no bets on the line. Last week, I played my hand at the big game and missed in a big way — by taking Clemson. So, as you will see below, I haven't learned my lesson. (Is there such a thing as Rebound Alert?) I was all over two of the big SEC upsets, however, as I advised taking both Auburn and Vanderbilt. My 3-3 week kept me six games above .500 for the season, and therefore, am still making money (if I gambled).

This week, I am going after five road teams — three favorites and two dogs. Enjoy...

2013 Record Against the Spread: 25-19-1 (3-3 last week)

Week 9 Picks of the Week:

Clemson (-14) at Maryland
Three weeks ago the Terrapins were unbeaten and ranked in the top 25. After a 63-0 drubbing by Florida State, a one-point win over Virginia and a 24-point defeat at the hands of Wake Forest, Maryland has fallen apart. Quarterback C.J. Brown is banged up and both of his star wideouts — Stefon Diggs and Deon Long — are out for the season. Clemson, meanwhile, should be extremely upset about how it played last weekend against the Seminoles. Tajh Boyd wins big. Prediction: Clemson -14

Utah (+7) at USC
Depth is starting to hurt the Trojans in a big way on both sides of the ball and across all positions. Utah quarterback Travis Wilson was injured last weekend but is back in the lineup for this road trip to L.A. Southern Cal is 2-5 against the spread and still has a glorified defensive line coach in Ed Orgeron leading the way on the sidelines. I’ll take the road dog to cover — and possibly win outright. Predictions: Utah +7

Baylor (-34.5) at Kansas
Normally, any number over 30 is dangerous and should be avoided, but Baylor is a different story. The Bears are averaging over 700 yards of offense and Kansas threw the ball for 16 yards last week against Oklahoma. Baylor has reached 70 points in four games this year and 69 in another, so the odds of the lowly Jayhawks stopping this offense in any way would be shocking. The Bears are 5-1 against the spread in 2013. Prediction: Baylor -34.5

Fresno State (-8) at San Diego State
The Bulldogs haven’t scored less than 38 points all season long while the Aztecs have topped 30 points this year only once (Nevada). San Diego State also needed big late comebacks to beat New Mexico State and Air Force — who are a combined 1-13 this year. Fresno knows this win likely clinches the Mountain West Conference's West Division and will be focused. SDSU is 99th nationally in scoring defense and has little chance to stop Derek Carr and company. Prediction: Fresno State -8

Texas (+2.5) at TCU
The Horned Frogs haven’t topped 380 yards of offense in four straight weeks and haven’t scored more than 27 points in any of their last three. Meanwhile, Texas is playing its best ball of the season on both sides, having won three straight by scoring at least 31 points in each game. More importantly, new coordinator Greg Robinson and his defense have had two weeks to prepare for TCU’s reeling offense after playing their best game of the year against Oklahoma. TCU is 2-5 against the spread this year. Prediction: Texas +2.5

Week 9 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC

Top 25 Picks Against the Spread:

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

Top 25 GamesMitch LightBraden GallSteven LassanDavid Fox
Tennessee (+28) at No. 1 Alabama
NC State (+32) at No. 2 Florida St
No. 12 UCLA (-22.5) at No. 3 Oregon
Penn St (+14.5) at No. 4 Ohio St 
No. 21 South Carolina (+3) at No. 5 Mizzou
No. 6 Stanford (-4.5) at No. 25 Oregon St
Wake Forest (+23.5) at No. 7 Miami
No. 8 Baylor (-34.5) at Kansas
No. 9 Clemson (-14) at Maryland
No. 10 Texas Tech (+7) at No. 15 Oklahoma
FAU (+24) at No. 11 Auburn
Duke (+13.5) at No. 14 Virginia Tech
Vanderbilt (+17) at No. 16 Texas A&M
No. 17 Fresno St (-8.5) at San Diego St
E. Michigan (+30) at N. Illinois
No. 19 Oklahoma St (-12.5) at Iowa St
No. 20 Louisville (-20) at USF
UConn (+22.5) at No. 23 UCF
No. 24 Nebraska (-10.5) at Minnesota
Last Week:7-128-119-106-13
Year-To-Date:64-64-361-67-359-69-368-60-3

 

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 9 Picks
Post date: Friday, October 25, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/top-college-football-player-matchups-watch-week-9
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Each week, Athlon Sports will highlight some of the best one-on-one matchups to watch in college football. Here are the most important games within the game to watch this weekend:

Ed Reynolds, S vs. Brandin Cooks, WR (Stanford vs. Oregon State)
“Wow” is all Stanford coach David Shaw had to say about Cooks’ play this season. The Beavers wide receiver has been uncoverable all season and is leading the nation in receptions (76), yards (1,176) and touchdowns (12). He has a comfort level with quarterback Sean Mannion and will be called upon to play his best this weekend against a front seven that will likely shutdown the Oregon State rushing attack. It falls to All-American safety Ed Reynolds to play physical but disciplined football on the backend of the Cardinal defense.

Allen Robinson, WR vs. Bradley Roby, CB (Penn State at Ohio State)
Robinson is the best wideout in the Big Ten and Roby might be the best coverman in the nation. So a head-to-head duel should be a sight to see for 60 minutes in the Horseshoe on Saturday night. Robinson is leading the Big Ten in receptions per game (7.2) and is 10th nationally in yards per game (117.5). Roby will be tasked with guarding A-Rob all game long and fans can bets NFL scouts will be watching.

Week 9 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC

Anthony Barr/Myles Jack vs. Marcus Mariota/De’Anthony Thomas (UCLA at Oregon)
UCLA’s linebackers are extremely talented and versatile. Jack, a freshman, has starred in open space and in pass coverage while Barr is an elite pass-rusher and disruptive force.  Thomas returns to the field after missing the last four games and will be tested by Jack’s raw athletic ability. Meanwhile, Mariota and Oregon’s zone-read will be focused on No. 11 in blue all game long. Sit back and enjoy.

Victor Hampton, CB vs. Dorial Green-Beckham, WR (South Carolina vs. Missouri)
Missouri’s outstanding crop of big, physical and athletic receivers has been instrumental in the Tigers’ 7-0 start. This week, Green-Beckham (and L’Damian Washington) will face a South Carolina secondary that has held four of six opponents under 200 yards passing but gave up 300-plus to both Georgia and UCF. Hampton is the most physically talented of the group and gets matched up with the opposing team’s best pass-catcher usually. He is leading Carolina in interceptions and will be guarding either Green-Beckham or Washington all game long.

Jace Amaro, TE vs. Gabe Lynn, DB (Texas Tech at Oklahoma)
Amaro is enough of a matchup problem that it’s going to take a handful of Oklahoma defenders to limit his catches, something only a first-half suspension against SMU has done this season. Some of the focus will be on Lynn, a hard-hitting safety, but expect outside linebacker Dominique Alexander, safety Quentin Hayes and nickel back Julian Wilson to all play roles in trying to handle the 6-5, 260-pound junior.

Jay Ajayi, RB vs. Kyle Van Noy, LB (Boise State at BYU)
The Broncos' back is quietly having one of the best seasons in the nation at his position. He is third nationally with 12 total touchdowns and is coming off a career-high 222 yards against Nevada. Van Noy is a well-known commodity for his disruptive and big-play ability. He is second on the Cougars with 43 tackles, is 10th nationally with 10.5 tackles for a loss and has 4.0 sacks on the year. This should be a good matchup.

Jeremy Langford, RB vs. Jonathan Brown, LB (Michigan State at Illinois)
The Spartans tailback is seventh in the Big Ten in rushing at 78.7 yards per game, but has quickly developed into one of the league’s best backs. He has back-to-back 100-yard games against Indiana and Purdue with four total touchdowns in the two wins. Jonathan Brown is leading the Big Ten in tackling (11.0 pg) and is seventh nationally. He and Langford will go head-to-head all game long.

Teaser:
Top College Football Player Matchups to Watch in Week 9
Post date: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 12:25
Path: /college-football/2013-pac-12-week-9-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The coaching, level of athlete, commitment from athletic departments and, frankly, Larry Scott, have turned the Pac-12 into must-see TV every weekend and Week 9 is no different.

In fact, the two most important games in college football will likely take place in the Pac-12. And the North Division to be exact.

Arizona State and Washington State are on bye this weekend.

Week 9 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

Pac-12 Week 9 Game Power Rankings

1. UCLA (+22.5) at Oregon (8 pm. ET, ESPN)
The Bruins are trying to avoid finding out what Washington has just learned the hard way — that Stanford and Oregon are really, really good. The Bruins posted their worst offensive output of the season by a wide margin with just 266 yards and 10 points in the physical loss to the Cardinal last weekend. What was worse was the season-high 419 yards allowed by the UCLA defense. This unit now has to face the best offense in college football, one that is averaging 643.1 yards per game, 8.3 yards per play and 57.6 points per game. If stopping the Heisman Trophy frontrunner isn’t already enough, Oregon is welcoming back all-purpose dynamo De’Anthony Thomas, who has missed the last three games with an ankle issue. A loss could send the Bruins from unbeaten top-10 team to second place in the Pac-12 South in just two weeks, so the stakes are painfully obvious for Jim Mora.

2. Stanford (-4.5) at Oregon State (10:30 p.m., ESPN)
Oregon and Stanford still control their own destiny in the Pac-12 (and maybe more) but so does Oregon State after winning six straight games (4-0 Pac-12) since a bizarre opening weekend loss to Eastern Washington. Hosting the Cardinal will be the toughest test to date for Mike Riley’s bunch, however, after Stanford posted its most complete game of the year by shutting down UCLA’s star quarterback Brett Hundley. Shayne Skov and company now set their sights on another record-setting quarterback in Sean Mannion. The Beavers starter threw only one pass in the emotional 27-23 loss to Stanford in Palo Alto last year and will look to find Brandin Cooks, the nation’s leading receiver, early and often on Saturday. The ability to get pressure on Mannion and limit the big plays from Cooks will be paramount for David Shaw’s team. On defense, Oregon State should expect a similar game plan for the second straight week from Stanford — a smash-mouth, ground and pound approach that netted Tyler Gaffney his best game of the year (171 yards, 2 TD). It’s just the second home game since Sept. 7 for the Beavers, so the crowd at Reser Stadium should play a factor.

3. Utah (+7) at USC (4 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
These new Pac-12 South rivals have met just seven times total with USC winning all but one meeting — the Utes’ Las Vegas Bowl victory in 2001. As divisional foes, the Trojans have won both contests over the last two years by at least two scores. Both offenses are coming off brutal performances in painful defeats last week as USC totaled 10 points and 330 yards of offense against Notre Dame while Utah posted its lowest yardage output of the year (329) against Arizona. Utah’s developing star quarterback Travis Wilson injured his throwing hand in the loss but has vowed to be on the field for this critical game. The coaching battle between former head coaches Ed Orgeron and Dennis Erickson should be fun to watch.

4. Arizona (-14.5) at Colorado (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
Both teams enter this contest riding high after a win last weekend and both have an outside chance at a bowl game. However, this game is critical for both if either expects to reach the postseason. Rich Rodriguez’ offense ran for 300 yards last week, including Ka’Deem Carey’s ninth straight 100-yard game (172 yards, 3 TD). The Buffaloes, behind the running of freshman tailback Michael Adkins II (137 yards, 4 TD), posted its best rushing game of the season (218 yards, 5 TD). More importantly for Mike MacIntyre, his defense posted its best effort of the year as well. Yes, it was against Charleston Southern, but the Buffs will need all the confidence they can get in a legitimate upset opportunity against Zona.

5. Cal (-24) at Washington (11 p.m., FS1)
Someone has to win this game, right? Two teams with very different expectations and talent levels are both experiencing the perils of playing in what could be the nation’s top conference. Washington has lost three straight in brutal fashion against Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State and has a quarterback who has taken a beating during that span. Cal has lost five straight by allowing nearly 50 points per game (47.4) since a win over Portland State in Week 2. Keith Price should play but he is banged up and Bishop Sankey, formerly the nation’s leading rusher, should get back on track after being totally stuffed last weekend (22 yards). Look for the Huskies to get healthy against the 123rd-rated total defense in the nation.

Pac-12 Week 9 Pivotal Players:


Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox talk Miami sanctions, the BCS standings and preview Week 9 in this week's Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
1. Tony Washington, LB, Oregon
The junior hybrid defensive end has picked up right where former first-round pick Dion Jordan has left off. He has registered at least half of a sack in four straight games and is coming off one of his best career games against Washington State (6.0 tackles. 2.0 TFL, 2.0 sacks). He will be charged with tracking down UCLA star quarterback Brett Hundley this weekend.

2. Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford
David Shaw turned to his power running game last weekend to outlast UCLA and Tyler Gaffney rewarded him. However, on the road against one of the highest scoring and most productive passing offense in the nation, Hogan will likely have to make more plays. Hogan has topped 200 yards in each of the last two games and completed 72 percent (18-of-25) of his passes last week against the Bruins. He will need to continue his strong play in Corvallis.

3. Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
“Wow” is all Stanford coach David Shaw had to say about Cooks’ play this season. The Beavers wide receiver has been uncoverable all season and is leading the nation in receptions (76), yards (1,176) and touchdowns (12). He has a comfort level with quarterback Sean Mannion and will be called upon to play his best this weekend against a front seven that will likely shut down the Oregon State rushing attack.

4. Cody Kessler, QB, USC
The USC passer showed signs of life after setting back-to-back career highs in passing and beating Arizona two weeks ago. However, he returned to mediocrity last weekend against Notre Dame by throwing for just 201 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. The Trojans need the redshirt freshman to return to form quickly at home this weekend against Utah.

5. Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
The nation’s leading rusher for the second straight season has posted nine consecutive 100-yard efforts dating back to 2012. He went for 171 yards and three touchdowns in the big win over Utah last weekend and his streak is back on the line this weekend against Colorada. He should have another big day in what should be an easy win — if he is slowed, give the Buffs a chance at the upset.

 

Pac-12 Week 9 Predictions:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
UCLA (+22.5) at OregonOregon, 45-24Oregon, 48-20 Oregon, 48-24Oregon, 49-24
Stanford (-4.5) at Oregon StStanford, 31-24Ore. St, 31-28 Stanford, 27-24Stanford, 28-21
Utah (+7) at USCUSC, 34-27USC, 21-10 Utah, 24-20 Utah, 27-17
Arizona (-14.5) at ColoradoArizona, 41-31Arizona, 47-17Arizona, 45-27Arizona, 31-24
Cal (-24) at WashingtonWash., 42-17Wash., 41-17 Wash., 45-20Wash., 38-21 
Last Week: 7-04-37-05-2
Year-to-date:53-1252-1356-951-14

 

Teaser:
2013 Pac-12 Week 9 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-big-ten-week-9-preview-and-predictions
Body:

It wasn’t supposed to be a dramatic weekend in the Big Ten. There wasn’t a single-digit favorite on the board but that didn’t stop a few teams from upsetting the apple cart.

Iowa put a scare into Ohio State on the road and Michigan set all sorts of records against Indiana. But the big news came in Evanston where Minnesota won one for The Gipper in a big upset over Northwestern. It all but eliminated the Wildcats from division contention and leaves the Michigan schools and Nebraska still standing — two of which will be on upset alert this weekend.

Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Purdue are off this weekend.

Week 9 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12Pac-12 | SEC

Big Ten Week 9 Game Power Rankings:

1. Penn State (+14.5) at Ohio State (8 p.m. ET, ABC)
Two of college football’s most historic programs will meet in the Horseshoe on Saturday night with the Buckeyes’ 19-game winning streak on the line. Penn State has won just two of the last seven meetings but both victories have come in the Nittany Lions’ last three trips to Columbus (2011, '08). Braxton Miller is coming off the best game of his season in the tight win over Iowa last weekend while PSU and star freshman Christian Hackenberg have had two weeks to celebrate the upset win over Michigan. Miller struggled to throw the ball against the Lions a year ago, completing just seven passes. But he was his usual electric self on the ground, rushing for 134 yards and two touchdowns in the 35-23 win. The talented Penn State linebacking corps will have to stop more than just Miller, however, as Buckeyes tailback Carlos Hyde has rushed for 402 yards and five scores in three Big Ten games.

2. Michigan State (-10.5) at Illinois (3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN2)
The Illini and head coach Tim Beckman need a marquee win and the Spartans offer one of their best remaining chances in 2013. Illinois has lost 16 consecutive Big Ten games and 11 of the last 12 meetings with the Spartans. Mark Dantonio’s team comes to town with the nation’s top defense and an offense that is back to puzzling the fans in East Lansing. Sparty mustered only 294 yards of offense last weekend at home against lowly Purdue and Connor Cook will have to be better against an improved Nathan Scheelhaase. The Orange Crush quarterback is No. 2 in the Big Ten in passing (257.7 ypg) and No. 2 in efficiency (157.98), so MSU should be forced to score some points on the road. These two haven’t met since 2010 when State intercepted Scheelhaase three times in the 26-6 home win for the Spartans.

3. Northwestern (+4) at Iowa (Noon, BTN)
The wheels have officially come off the Wildcats bandwagon. After an excellent start to the year, Northwestern has lost three straight Big Ten games. Losses to more talented and more physical Ohio State and Wisconsin are understandable, but the way the Cats played against Minnesota last week has to baffle Pat Fitzgerald. And things aren’t getting any easier as Coach Fitz takes his team to Iowa City to face yet another solid defense and power rushing attack. And he will be without star tailback Venric Mark once again. Kirk Ferentz' squad limps home after a valiant but losing effort against Ohio State in the Shoe last week. Look for the Hawkeyes to take advantage of Northwestern’s inability to stop the run by feeding Damon Bullock and Mark Weisman the football on the ground. Iowa won every meeting between the two from 1974-94 but has since watched Fitzgerald level the playing field. The Cats won 28-17 last year and have taken four of the last five.

4. Nebraska (-10.5) at Minnesota (Noon, ESPN)
The Gophers are riding high off a surprising road victory over Northwestern while Nebraska finds itself squarely in the Legends Division driver’s seat. Star quarterback Taylor Martinez returned to practice this week but his status for this game is still uncertain. He’s been out for five weeks and the Huskers are 3-0 during that span, as they have turned to freshman Tommy Armstrong Jr. and senior Ron Kellogg III. The Cornhuskers haven’t lost without Martinez but neither backup has the same type of ability as the 43-game starter. Minnesota, still without head coach Jerry Kill, was outgained by Nothwestern but used a plus-3 turnover margin to win on the road. Martinez is 2-0 against Minnesota with 470 yards passing, 74 yards rushing, no interceptions and three touchdowns in two blowout wins over the Gophers.

Big Ten Week 9 Pivotal Players


Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox talk Miami sanctions, the BCS standings and preview Week 9 in this week's Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
1. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
The Big Ten’s leading passer will have to be at his best if Penn State is going to win in C-Bus this weekend. He has obvious special ability as the true freshman is leading the league in passing at 278.7 yards per game, completions (132) and attempts (226). Additionally, Hackenberg and head coach Bill O’Brien have had two weeks to prepare for the talented Buckeyes defense. Near perfection will be needed to pull an upset and both are talented enough to deliver that type of a performance.

2. Jeremy Langford, RB, Michigan State
The Spartans tailback is seventh in the Big Ten in rushing at 78.7 yards per game, but Langford has quickly developed into one of the league’s best backs. He has back-to-back 100-yard games against Indiana and Purdue with four total touchdowns in the two wins. With Connor Cook back to his mediocre ways under center, Langford should play a huge role against an Illinois team that just allowed 289 yards on the ground to Wisconsin.

3. Iowa’s linebackers
Northwestern will be without tailback Venric Mark but that doesn’t make the Wildcats offense any less diverse. Anthony Hitchens leads the Big Ten in tackles (70), James Morris (55) is seventh and Christian Kirksey is 13th (49). Pat Fitzgerald’s offense puts a lot of pressure on linebackers with multiple sets and versatile play-calling, so this trio of tacklers will need to come up big for the Hawkeyes.

4. Ra’Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
The All-Big Ten defensive lineman registered his first career interception last week in the big upset of Northwestern. He is a stalwart in the middle of the Gophers' defensive line and is tied for fifth in the league in tackles for a loss (6.5). He will be tasked with slowing down a Nebraska rushing attack that is multifaceted with Ameer Abdullah — No. 2 in the Big Ten in rushing — as well as power backs Imani Cross (8 TDs) and Terrell Newby (5.8 ypc). Hageman will have to play extremely well if Minnesota wants to pull the upset.

5. Iowa’s running backs
The blueprint for beating Northwestern has been pretty clear to this point. The Wildcats have been pummeled by power rushing attacks, in particular, in the second half of games. They have allowed 248, 286 and 176 yards rushing during the three-game losing streak and will face the tandem of Damon Bullock and Mark Weisman this weekend. Kirk Ferentz should lean on these two at home against the Cats.

Big Ten Week 9 Prediction Grid:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Penn St (+14.5) at Ohio StOhio St, 34-28Ohio St, 31-20Ohio St, 38-20Ohio St, 35-13
Michigan St (-10.5) at IllinoisMich. St, 27-17Mich. St, 21-10Mich. St, 31-13Mich. St, 24-10
Northwestern (+4) at IowaN'Western, 34-27 Iowa, 24-21Iowa, 31-30Iowa, 27-21
Nebraska (-10.5) at MinnesotaNebraska, 38-24Nebraska, 33-13Nebraska, 34-17Nebraska, 38-28
Last Week:5-05-05-05-0
Year-to-date:55-956-857-754-10

 

Teaser:
2013 Big Ten Week 9 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 07:14
Path: /college-football/2013-college-football-post-week-8-heisman-trophy-voting
Body:

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

There are two names now standing above the rest in the race for college football's most prestigious award. Oregon's Marcus Mariota was brilliant in yet another win but Florida State's Jameis Winston made a Heisman statement in Death Valley by single-handedly crushing No. 3 Clemson. With contenders dropping like flies all over the nation, it may be a two-horse race to the finish.

Post-Week 8 Voting Results:

 LWPlayerPos.TeamPts1st2nd3rd4th5th
1.(1)Marcus MariotaQBOregon6312-1--
2.(4)Jameis WinstonQBFlorida St491101-1
3.(2)Johnny ManzielQBTexas A&M37-29-1
4.(5)Bryce PettyQBBaylor19-1144
5.(5)Sean MannionQBOregon St14---62
6.(5)AJ McCarronQBAlabama7--112
7t.(ur)Brandin CooksWROregon St2---1-
7t.(ur)Melvin GordonRBWisconsin2---1-
7t.(ur)Jordan LynchQBN. Illinois2----2
10.(9)Bishop SankeyRBWashington1----1

Heisman Headlines:

Winston’s Statement. The basic belief is that every Heisman winner needs a Heisman moment to win the award. Well, redshirt freshman Jameis Winston had his on Saturday night against Clemson. He threw for 444 yards and scored five total touchdowns on the road against the No. 3 team in the nation. He has vaulted himself to No. 2 in the balloting and has created a two-horse race for the stiff-armed trophy. He got his first first-place vote and 10 second-place votes to separate himself from the rest of the field as the top challenger to Marcus Mariota.

Beavers and Ducks. Billy Bob Thornton would be proud, because this state is producing at elite levels. Marcus Mariota is still the frontrunner to win the award after eight weeks of action. He was magical again, scoring three more touchdowns, throwing for 327 yards and rushing for 67 on the ground. But there are other guys playing excellent football in the state of Oregon. Oregon State’s quarterback Sean Mannion is leading the nation in passing (427.4 ypg) and passing touchdowns (29) while wide receiver Brandin Cooks is leading the nation in receptions (76), yards (1,176) and touchdowns (12). And both are on this week’s Heisman ballot. The Beavers, who have won six straight, get to host No. 6 Stanford this weekend, while Oregon gets No. 12 UCLA at home.

Baylor Buzz. Another big Heisman winner this weekend was Baylor’s quarterback Bryce Petty. He led his offense to 700 yards of offense and 70 points for the fourth time this season in the 71-7 crushing win over Iowa State. Petty is leading the nation in passing efficiency at 221.83, which would obliterate the NCAA single-season record, and has the Bears perfect and No. 8 in the BCS.

Boring 'ol Bama. AJ McCarron has been on the Athlon Heisman ballot every single weekend but never seems to get much attention. He is 32-2 as a starter and completed 15-of-21 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns in yet another blowout SEC win this weekend. He’s the eighth-rated passer in the nation and don’t be surprised if McCarron makes it to New York based on consistency and win-loss record. As contenders fall by the wayside each week, McCarron keeps on plugging away.

Dropped Out. Aaron Murray lost his third game and didn’t get a vote this week. Tajh Boyd played one of the worst games of his career and has plummeted completely out of the voting after being in the top three for most of the year. The same could be said about Zach Mettenberger, Teddy Bridgewater, Brett Hundley and Johnny Manziel, who all lost critical games in Week 8. Only Manziel lost and still got votes this week.

What to Watch. Oregon State hosts No. 6 Stanford this weekend and it should give the best QB-WR duo in the nation (Mannion to Cooks) a chance to showcase themselves. The Ducks get No. 12 UCLA at home in a potential Pac-12 championship preview. Jameis Winston, Johnny Manziel and Jordan Lynch get easy home games while Bryce Petty travels to lowly Kansas.

The Voting Panel:

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

 

Teaser:
2013 College Football: Post-Week 8 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-week-9
Body:

The beauty of sports, in particular college football, lies in their complete unpredictability and reality TV-like drama. As I predicted last week, ranked SEC teams on the road were in serious danger of being upset, and, sure enough, four of them lost.  Here's what might happen in Week 9.

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

Three more unbeatens will go down
In each of the last two weeks, at least three previously undefeated teams lost. That could happen again in Week 9. No. 10 Texas Tech goes on the road this weekend to face Oklahoma in its toughest test to date. No. 5 Missouri has to host an angry South Carolina team. No. 3 Oregon has its toughest test to date against UCLA. No. 4 Ohio State hosts Big Ten rival Penn State at home. No. 1 Alabama is facing an arch rival who is showing marked improvement. And No. 17 Fresno State has a tricky road test against San Diego State. There is a very good chance three of the aforementioned unbeatens will lose this weekend (no, it won't be Bama or Ohio State).

Clemson will win by five touchdowns
Tajh Boyd is coming off arguably the worst performance of his career after watching the Seminoles abuse his Tigers in all aspects of the game on Saturday night. So fans should expect to see an angry Boyd and focused Clemson team this weekend on the road against Maryland. The Terps have an injured quarterback in C.J. Brown and lost its top two playmakers for the year last week in Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. This was a 45-10 Clemson win in Death Valley last year and fans should expect much of the same this time around.

Marcus Mariota will become the 8th 400-100 player in NCAA history
BYU’s Taysom Hill became just the seventh player in NCAA history to throw for at least 400 yards (417) and rush for at least 100 (128) in the same game against Houston last weekend. Oregon's quarterback could become the eighth this weekend in a much bigger stage against much better competition. Mariota is fifth nationally in total offense (363.4 ypg) and has been electric all season long both through the air (181.72 rating) and on the ground (70.4 rypg). The Bruins just gave up their most yards this fall (419) against Stanford and have never faced the Ducks' outstanding quarterback. With De’Anthony Thomas back on the field, there should be plenty of open space for Mariota.

Baylor will challenge Georgia Tech’s scoring record
The Yellow Jackets famously defeated Cumberland College 222-0 on Oct. 7, 1916. It is the current, single-game NCAA scoring record. But if any team will ever tio challenge the record, or more reasonably, score 100 points for the first time since Houston beat Tulsa 100-6 in 1968, it would be this weekend in Lawrence. Baylor has scored 70 points four times in six games (and 69 points in another contest) and has topped 700 yards of offense in four of those contests. Kansas, who threw for 16 total yards last week against Oklahoma, has allowed 115 points in three Big 12 games this year. Charlie Weis’ squad will have no answer for the Bears on Saturday and don’t be shocked to see a third digit on the scoreboard.

Sean Mannion will throw more than 1 pass against Stanford
After losing the starting job last year to Cody Vaz due to a knee injury, Mannion got to throw one pass in the emotional 27-23 road loss to Stanford. As the nation’s leading passer, it’s safe to assume that Mannion (427.4 ypg) will attempt more than one pass against the Cardinal at home this weekend. He is No. 2 in the nation with 334 attempts, leads the nation in TDs (29) and is No. 2 in completions (229). Stanford better be ready.

Illinois will end its 16-game Big Ten losing streak
The 6-1, 3-0 Michigan State Spartans are coming to town to play Illinois and their on-going, 16-game conference losing streak. Why is this the week the streak comes to an end? Despite showing signs of life, the Spartans' offense returned to normalcy last weekend against lowly Purdue by gaining just 294 yards and managing one touchdown. The Illini were blown out by Wisconsin but still scored 32 points and gained nearly 400 yards against one of the highest-ranked defenses in the Big Ten. Look for Tim Beckman and Nathan Scheelhaase to have a signature moment at home this weekend.

Someone will win the Kentucky-Mississippi State game
Yes, I know, it’s far fetched, but true. Someone will actually have to win the Kentucky-Mississippi State Thursday night game. The Wildcats have lost four straight overall and 11 straight SEC games while the Bulldogs have lost six of their last seven conference games. So these two are a combined 1-13 in their last 14 SEC games with the only win coming against Arkansas. State has won four straight in the series overall against the Wildcats.

Teaser:
Outrageous College Football Predictions: Week 9
Post date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/9-amazing-stats-nfls-week-7
Body:

A rookie quarterback is quickly establishing himself as a star in a massive media market. An embattled Lone Star gunslinger may finally be winning over his fan base. The next generation in Indianapolis showed the old generation how it’s done. A former Heisman winner and No. 1 overall pick is lost for the year — for the third time in his career. And a few NFL records highlight an exciting Week 7 weekend of action.

With that in mind, here are the most important, interesting, historic and bizarre statistics from Week 7 of the NFL:

27,485: Tony Romo's NFL record for passing yards in first 100 career games
Dallas quarterback Tony Romo might be the most maligned player in the NFL and it has bordered on inappropriate at times. Romo made his 100th career start this weekend in Philadelphia and passed for 317 yards in the 17-3 critical road divisional game. Romo has passed for 27,485 yards in those 100 starts, setting an NFL record for the most passing yards by a player in his first 100 career starts. Dallas sits one game up in the NFC East.

17-1: 49ers', Seahawks' and Broncos' combined record against teams other than the Colts
Andrew Luck accounted for four total touchdowns as the Colts knocked off the previously unbeaten Broncos in Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis. Luck has now led his team to wins over San Francisco in Week 3, Seattle in Week 5 and Denver on Sunday night. Luck accounted for seven total touchdowns and no turnovers in those three wins as his Colts sit two games ahead in the AFC South. What’s more impressive, the 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos are a combined 17-1 against all other teams not named the Colts.

2: Players to ever top 100 yards from scrimmage and score a TD in the first 7 games of a season
Kansas City’s Jamaal Charles rushed for 86 yards , posted 37 yards receiving and scored a touchdown in the Chiefs win over Houston. Charles has topped 100 yards from scrimmage and scored a touchdown in each of the first seven games in this season. He is just the second player in NFL history to accomplish this feat. O.J. Simpson is the only other player to top 100 yards from scrimmage and score a touchdown in each of his team’s first seven games when he did it in 1975 for the Bills. Charles has rushed for 561 yards and caught 36 passes for 337 yards with eight total touchdowns in seven games.

25: Games Sam Bradford will have missed over the last five season by the end of 2013
Few players are as unlucky or injury-prone as the Rams' Sam Bradford. He tore his ACL this weekend in the 30-15 loss to Carolina on the road and will be lost for the rest of the season. Bradford will miss the final nine games of the season and it will give him 25 missed starts over the last five seasons, dating back to his final collegiate campaign. In 2009, his final year at Oklahoma, Bradford missed 10 of the Sooners' 13 games with a major shoulder injury after winning the Heisman Trophy the previous year. Then in 2011, Bradford missed six games due a serious high ankle sprain. And now, he will miss nine more games in 2013. By the year’s end, Bradford will have missed 25 of his last 77 starts.

4: Geno Smith's game-winning, fourth-quarter or overtime drives
The second-round pick from West Virginia has had his ups and downs in his brief NFL career. But it’s safe to say the rookie is comfortable in the waning moments of games. On Sunday, the Jets' quarterback threw for 233 yards, scored two touchdowns and led his team on the game-winning drive in overtime over Tom Brady and the Patriots. Smith has now led four game-winning, fourth-quarter or overtime drives in his first seven starts — becoming the first player to accomplish the feat since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

20: Devin Hester's NFL record for career return touchdowns
The great Hall of Famer Deion Sanders returned an NFL record 19 punts and kicks for touchdowns in his illustrious 13-year career. Hester returned a punt 81 yards in the Bears shootout loss to Washington this weekend, giving him 20 return touchdowns for his career. He also extended his own NFL record with 13 punt-return touchdowns. This is just Hester’s eighth NFL season and he could easily put the record out of reach with a few more big plays. Especially, considering the direction the league is heading when it comes to kickoff returns.

158: Jay Cutler’s Bears franchise record for being sacked
Jim Harbaugh played for the Bears 1987-93 and was sacked 157 times. Jay Cutler came into this weekend’s game with the Redskins tied with Harbaugh as the most sacked quarterback in Chicago franchise history. In the second quarter, Washington sacked Cutler to move him past Harbuargh in this dubious distinction. But it also was a costly sack for the team, as Cutler left the game with a groin injury and will be out at least four weeks while it heals. Washington won 45-41 as the Bears dropped to 4-3 and into a second-place tie in the NFC North with Detroit.

11: Points scored at home by Jacksonville this year
The Jaguars are 0-7 on the season and 0-3 at home after losing 24-6 to San Diego this weekend. Jacksonville scored two points in the 28-2 loss to Kansas City in Week 1, scored just three points against Indianapolis in Week 4 and then six points against the Chargers. That’s a safety and three field goals in three games at home this fall with a combined 89-11 margin of defeat for the fans in Jacksonville.

3-8: Texans' record in their last 11 regular-season games
Case Keenum started this weekend in place of the injured Matt Schaub against the unbeaten Chiefs on the road. The Texans fought hard but lost, mustering just three points in the second half in Arrowhead Stadium. It was Houston’s fifth consecutive loss this season and its eighth overall in the regular season during a stretch that goes back to Week 14 of last season. After starting the 2012 season 11-1, the Texans dropped three of their last four to end the season and sit at 2-5 in 2013 ahead of only Jacksonville in the AFC South.

Teaser:
9 Amazing Stats from the NFL's Week 7
Post date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/10-worst-nfl-teams-expansion-2002
Body:

The Seattle Seahawks own the 16-game NFL record for fewest points scored with 140 in 1992. Seattle also owns the all-time mark for fewest yards in a game when it totaled minus-7 against the L.A. Rams in 1979. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers set the modern NFL mark for worst point differential by being outscored by 287 points in 1976. The Baltimore Colts allowed an NFL-record 533 points back in 1981. The Houston Oilers claim the NFL mark for most interceptions thrown in a single season with 48 picks tossed in 1962. And the Philadelphia Eagles own the NFL’s single-season sacks allowed mark with 104 back in 1986.

Needless to say, there are many ways to measure NFL ineptitude. But the Jacksonville Jaguars might be redefining the term. The Jaguars lost 24-6 at home to the Chargers on Sunday to move to 0-7 in this season. What's worse, is how this team is losing. Jacksonville has scored 11 total points in three home games. It scored just a safety against Kansas City in a 28-2 defeat at home. It mustered three points in a 37-3 home loss to the Colts. So relatively speaking, Sunday's two field goals against the Chargers were a relative offensive explosion for the home team at EverBank Stadium.

Jacksonville is last in the NFL in yards per play (4.5), has thrown the fewest passing touchdowns (3) and are last in the league in rushing offense (63.0). The Jags might win a game somewhere along the way, but this team is making a strong case as one of — if not THE — worst NFL team during the expansion era. That won't be decided until after this season is over, however. Here is the current roster of the worst NFL teams since expansion in 2002.

1. 2008 Detroit Lions (0-16)
Point Differential: -249 (268 PF, 517 PA)
Offense (total, scoring): 30th (268.3 ypg), 27th (16.8 ppg)
Defense (total, scoring): 32nd (404.4 ypg), 32nd (32.3 ppg)

No other team has ever gone winless in the modern NFL era (16-game regular season), which means the Detroit Lions must be considered the worst team due in large part to the massive "0" in the win column. Winning is all that really matters in sports and the Lions failed in truly epic fashion. Top it off with the worst defense of the expansion era, as this team fell just 16 points shy of setting an NFL record for points allowed (533). This team posted an NFL-worst four interceptions on defense, was next to last in sacks allowed (52.0) and finished 14th in the NFC in turnover differential. Dan Orlovsky led a five-man QB platoon that featured 18 touchdowns and 19 interceptions and a combined 71.3 QB rating.

2. 2009 St. Louis Rams (1-15)
Point Differential: -261 (175 PF, 436 PA)
Offense: 29th (279.4 ypg), 32nd (10.9 ppg)
Defense: 29th (372.8 ypg), 31st (27.3 ppg)

This team redefined the term offensive struggles as its 175 points were only 35 away from the NFL mark set by Seattle (140) in 1992. It is the all-time low for a Rams team that played 16 games while the 261-point differential is the worst in franchise history as well. Marc Bulger was the leading passer with 1,469 yards, 5 TDs and 6 INTs. The team itself finished with 12 total TD passes and 21 INTs and a collective passer rating of 64.0. The Rams were shutout twice and scored 10 or fewer points in nine games. St. Louis also finished 31st in the NFL in turnover margin (-13) and 30th in team sacks (25.0). Steven Jackson was the lone bright spot on a team that won only once — against Detroit. The Rams were one of only three teams since 2002 to win one or fewer games.

3. 2009 Detroit Lions (2-14)
Point Differential: -232 (262 PF, 494 PA)
Offense: 26th (299.0 ypg), 27th (16.4 ppg)
Defense: 32nd (392.1 ypg), 32nd (30.9 ppg)

While the '09 Rams set offensive football back two decades, the '09 Lions continued to show its lack of defensive prowess. The Rams did defeat the Lions (17-10) that year, but for the season, Detroit scored nearly 100 more points and won twice as many games (over Washington and Cleveland). This Lions team also finished dead last in turnover margin (-18) and No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford missed the final six games of the season. The Lions went 0-6 after Stafford was lost. 

4. 2007 Miami Dolphins (1-15)
Point Differential: -170 (267 PF, 437 PA)
Offense: 28th (287.5 ypg), 26th (16.7 ppg)
Defense: 23rd (342.2 ypg), 30th (27.3 ppg)

This version of the Fish lost the first 13 games of the season before winning their only game of the year over Baltimore. Cleo Lemon was 1-6 as the starter, John Beck went 0-4 and Trent Green was 0-5. The trio combined to throw 12 touchdown passes, 16 fewer than the opposition. Ronnie Brown led the team in rushing after playing only seven games (602 yards) while Jesse Chatman actually got the most carries (128). The only shot Cam Cameron has had to be a head coach in the NFL was his one-win season at the helm of the Dolphins.

5. 2008 St. Louis Rams (2-14)
Point Differential:
-233 (232 PF, 465 PA)
Offense: 27th (287.3 ypg), 31st (14.5 ppg)
Defense: 28th (371.9 ypg), 31st (29.1 ppg)

The 233-point scoring differential was a franchise record at the time and would still be the Rams' worst-ever scoring season had it not been for the 2009 team that came along the next year. This team lost the final 10 games of the year and scored only 19 offensive touchdowns all season (11 pass, 8 rush). In fact, this offense was the most scored upon OFFENSE in the NFL. That is right, the Rams offense had seven turnovers returned for touchdowns, a number that tied for the league lead.

6. 2011 St. Louis Rams (2-14)
Point Differential:
-214 (193, 407)
Offense: 31st, (283.6 ypg), 32nd (12.1 ppg)
Defense: 22nd (358.4 ypg), 26th (25.4 ppg)

If not for the 2008 and '09 teams, this team would have been the most outscored Rams team in history. The 193 total points scored are the second-worst in team history for one that played 16 games. Losing Sam Bradford to an injury after 10 games certainly didn't help the offense as the team finished with nine touchdown passes and a paltry 53.2 percent completion rate. St. Louis also led the league in sacks allowed with 55.0 while the rushing attack contributed only seven scores of its own. The 28.1 percent third-down rate was the worst ratio in the NFL as well.

7. 2010 Carolina Panthers (2-14)
Point Differential:
-212 (196 PF, 408 PA)
Offense: 32nd (12.3 ypg), 32nd (258.4 ppg)
Defense: 18th (335.9 ypg), 26th (25.5 ppg)

The offense did little to contribute to this football team whatsoever. Not only were the 196 total points scored the worst in the 17-year history of the franchise, but this season also was the only time the Panthers failed to reach 250 points. Jimmy Clausen (1-9), Matt Moore (1-4) and Brian St. Pierre (0-1) combined for a nasty 9:21 TD:INT ratio while finishing 30th in 3rd downs (30.4 percent) and 25th in turnover margin. To top it off, the 408 points allowed were third worst in franchise history on the defensive side of the ball.

8. 2011 Indianapolis Colts (2-14)
Point Differential: -212 (196 PF, 408 PA)
Offense: 32nd (12.3 ypg), 32nd (258.4 ppg)
Defense: 18th (335.9 ypg), 26th (25.5 ppg)

Obviously, without Peyton Manning, the Colts experienced its worst season since 1998, No. 18's rookie year. If not for a torrid 2-1 finish to the year, the Colts were in danger of challenging the Lions of 2008. In the first 13 losses, Indy allowed less than 23 points only one time. The total points scored, which included only 14 total touchdown passes (or 12 less than Manning's career low), and point differential were the worst numbers for the Colts since the 1993 season. The top ball carrier, Donald Brown, led the team in rushing despite making just two starts all year (645 yards).

9. 2004 San Francisco 49ers (2-14)
Point Differential:
-193 (259, 452)
Offense: 26th (286.6 ypg), 30th (16.2 ppg)
Defense: 24th (342.6 ypg), 32nd (28.3 ppg) 

San Francisco was two games worse than every other team in the NFL that year, and, technically, the 49ers were winless in regulation as both wins came in overtime. The Niners were 30th in the NFL in points scored and dead last in points allowed while finishing 31st in turnover margin (-19). Tim Rattay (1-8) and Ken Dorsey (1-6) were equally ineffective, throwing for 16 touchdowns against 21 interceptions and completing only 57.9 percent of their passes. The ground game was led by the great Kevan Barlow, who rushed for 822 yards at 3.4 yards per clip. The Niners finished 30th in the NFL in rushing at just over 90 yards per game. The 452 points allowed were one point shy of the franchise record set in 1999 (453) and the 193-point differential was an organizational record.

10. 2005 Houston Texans (2-14)
Point Differential: -171 (260, 431)
Offense: 30th (253.3 ypg), 26th (16.3 ppg)
Defense: 31st (364.0 ypg), 32nd (26.9 ppg)

There were some bad Texans team and David Carr paid a big price. After getting sacked a league-worst 76 times as a rookie, Houston once again led the league in sacks allowed in 2005 with 68. This franchise will be playing in just its 12th season this fall, but the '05 team set the benchmark for fewest wins, points allowed and point differential, all of which led to the firing of Dom Capers. Carr started every game and averaged a pathetic 155.5 yards passing per game, threw only 14 touchdowns to go with 11 interceptions and fumbled 17 times.

The...Worst of the Rest?

2012 Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14)
This team was outscored by nearly 200 points (minus-189), yet beat the Tennessee Titans as well as a shocking early season upset of the Colts. This team ranked 29th in total offense and 30th in total defense in 2012.

2004 Cleveland Browns (4-12)
Began 3-3 before losing nine straight in which they scored more than 15 points only one time. Trailed only the Niners for worst record. The offense was led by Jeff Garcia for 10 games, Luke McCown for four and Kelly Holcomb for two.

2002 Houston Texans (4-12)
The lowest scoring team in franchise history (213 pts) finished last in total offense as well as sacks allowed with 76. The first year of the Texans was salvaged by two strange wins over playoff teams (NYG, PIT) and is the only thing keeping this team out of the top ten.

2011 Tampa Bay Bucs (4-12)
The Bucs led the league in turnovers (40) and posted the worst turnover margin (-16) in 2011. After starting 4-2, Tampa Bay crumbled down the stretch with 10 straight losses and set a franchise mark with 494 points allowed (keep in mind, that is a BUCCANEERS franchise record).

2008 Kansas City Chiefs (2-14)
This team couldn't get off the field in 2008 as it was the worst 3rd down team in the league (47.4 percent) and dead last in sacks (10). It finished 31st in total defense and the 440 points allowed and -149-point differential are Chiefs single-season records.

2006 Oakland Raiders (2-14)
The Silver and Black defense was good enough to keep them out of the top ten, but the offense was nearly historic in its struggles. The 168 points scored were 28 away from the all-time NFL mark, these Raiders finished dead last in sacks allowed (72), turnover margin (-20) and both scoring and total offense. Oakland was also 31st in the league with 23 interceptions thrown.

Teaser:
Yes, the Jacksonville Jaguars will probably make the list at season's end.
Post date: Monday, October 21, 2013 - 20:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/amazing-college-football-stats-week-8
Body:

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

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

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

369: Jeremy Gallon Big Ten single-game receiving record
The Michigan Wolverines topped the Indiana Hoosiers 63-47 in Ann Arbor this weekend in remarkable fashion. Jeremy Gallon caught 14 passes for a school and Big Ten record 369 yards and two touchdowns. The 369 receiving yards is No. 2 all time in NCAA history behind only Louisiana Tech's Troy Edwards 405 yards in 1998. Quarterback Devin Gardner set a Michigan record with 504 yards passing and 584 yards of total offense and five total touchdowns. Gardner was two yards shy of tying the Big Ten's all-time single-game total offense record set by Illinois' David Wilson (586) in 1980. Michigan set a school record with 751 yards of offense.

36: Combined straight losses to ranked teams by Tennessee and Vanderbilt 
Tennessee had lost 19 consecutive games to ranked opponents dating back to 2009 when it defeated No. 21 South Carolina 31-13 at home on Halloween. Vanderbilt had lost 17 consecutive games to ranked foes dating back to 2008 when the Commodores beat No. 13 Auburn 14-13 at home. Both dreadful streaks came to an end this weekend. The Vols topped No. 11 South Carolina and the Dores upset No. 15 Georgia. Both games were thrillers as both UT and Vandy needed final minute drives to defeat a ranked team. The losses by the Dawgs and Cocks within the division have tossed the SEC East into complete chaos.

349: Yard differential between Mizzou and Florida
The Gators had not allowed more than 327 yards in any game in 2012. It hadn't allowed 400 yards of offense in a game since Furman posted 446 yards in 2011 and hadn't allowed 500 yards since the 2008 Capital One Bowl against Michigan (524). But Maty Mauk, in his first career start for Missouri, led his offense to 500 yards of total offense, the worst allowed under Will Muschamp during his time in Gainesville. On the flip side, the Gators totaled just 151 yards of offense against the nasty Tigers defense. This means that Mizzou outgained the Gators by 349 yards, more than the Gators had allowed in any game this season.

89: Connor Halliday NCAA record for pass attempts
Purdue's Drew Brees threw the ball an NCAA record 83 times against Wisconsin in 1998. Against an Oregon team with a big lead for most of the night, Washington State's Connor Halliday threw the ball an NCAA record 89 times. Halliday also tied the NCAA mark for completions with 58 (Andy Schmitt, Eastern Michigan) and set the Pac-12 single-game passing benchmark with 557 yards (Andrew Walter, 536). And much like Brees that night back in '98, Wazzu lost in part because of multiple interceptions. Halliday threw four interceptions to go with his four touchdowns in the 62-38 loss to the Ducks.

316: NCAA single-game rushing record for a quarterback

The best single-game rushing performance by a quarterback in NCAA history belonged to Northern Illinois' Stacey Robinson set in 1990. So it's appropriate that another Huskies quarterback set a new rushing record when Jordan Lynch totaled 316 yards on the ground in NIU's win over Central Michigan. Lynch is fourth in the nation in rushing with 932 yards and seven touchdowns in seven games after finishing fourth nationally in rushing a year ago with 1,815 yards.

Nov. 21, 2009: The last time LSU lost to an unranked opponent
The Ole Miss Rebels finally won a home game against a marquee opponent when it took down LSU 27-24 in dramatic fashion with a game-winning field goal. Les Miles and the Tigers had won 23 straight games over unranked opponents, last losing on Nov. 21, 2009 to, you guessed it, the Ole Miss Rebels. The 25-23 loss in Oxford was highlighted by Miles' bizarre end-game gaffes. It may not have impacted the outcome of this battle, but Miles once again handled the final 30 seconds in strange fashion, electing to wait until three seconds left to call a timeout instead of saving the final half minute.

Minus-5: Rushing yards by Washington
The Huskies were one of the bigger stories in college football during the first month. But after getting trounced by Arizona State 53-24 on the road this weekend, the Huskies are embroiled in a very disappointing three-game Pac-12 losing streak. A big reason for the UW's struggles this weekend was its lack of rushing offense. Bishop Sankey came into the weekend leading the nation in rushing at 149.8 yards per game and was held to just 22 yards on 13 carries. On the day, Washington rushed for minus-5 yards on 25 carries, including seven sacks by the Sun Devils.

13-plays, 75-yards, 3:46 of time: Auburn's game-winning drive
Auburn got the ball back with 5:05 left on the clock and trailing Johnny Manziel and No. 7 Texas A&M by three points. Nick Marshall, who was brilliant all game long, led a 13-play, 75-yards drive that covered 3:46 worth of time. Guz Malzahn and Marshall stuck with the Tigers' bread and butter, running the ball on 10 of the 13 plays en route the game-winning touchdown. After going 0-8 in the SEC a year ago, Auburn is 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the SEC.

16: Consecutive Big Ten losses for Illinois
The 2011 Fighting Illini, then coached by Ron Zook, began the season 6-0. Illinois hasn't won a Big Ten game since in 16 tries, however. The Orange Crush lost the final six games of conference play that year and fired Zook after the season. Tim Beckman stepped in and promptly went 0-8 in the Big Ten in his first year, going 2-10 overall. And while this team has shown some improvement, already topping its overall win total from a year ago (3-3), an unimpressive 56-32 loss to Wisconsin at home gives Illinois an 0-2 start in the league and its 16 consecutive Big Ten loss.

Teaser:
Amazing College Football Stats from Week 8
Post date: Monday, October 21, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/2013-sec-post-week-8-power-rankings
Body:

It was not a good week to be a frontrunner in the SEC. Five teams — all of whom were favored to win in Week 8 — were ranked in the top 15 and lost. That includes wins by Tennessee and Vanderbilt over ranked opponents for the first time in 20 and 17 games, respectively.

Meanwhile, Alabama looks like it is getting better each week, and Mizzou proved it could handle the loss of a star quarterback. With all of the talk surrounding the SEC about elite offenses, it's worth noting that the two unbeatens and division leaders are two teams who boast the best defenses in the conference.

More Post-Week 8 Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12  

RankTeamLWAnalysis
1.(1)

Alabama (7-0, 4-0): While the rest of the top SEC teams dropped like flies in Week 8, Alabama cruised to an 11th straight win. AJ McCarron was efficient (15-of-21, 180 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions) and didn't play past the halfway point of the third quarter. The running game was unstoppable: T.J. Yeldon (88 yards, one touchdown), Kenyan Drake (104 yards, two touchdowns) and Derrick Henry (111 yards, touchdown) led a rushing attack that averaged nealy 10 yards per carry on 37 attempts (352 yards). Defensively, the Tide suffocated the Hogs to the tune of zero points, 256 yards and three turnovers. Next Week: Tennessee

2.(4)Missouri (7-0, 3-0): Maty Mauk got his first career start in place of the injured James Franklin, and he was nothing short of brilliant. He threw for nearly 300 yards and acounted for two touchdowns. Mizzou's front line was dominant all afternoon, pressuring Florida's Tyler Murphy and holding the Gators to 59 yards on 31 attempts (1.9 yards per carry). Henry Josey was brilliant in his own right, rushing for 136 yards and a third-quarter touchdown in the win. The Tigers outgained the Gators 500-151. Gary Pinkel has now defeated Georgia and Florida in back-to-back weeks with South Carolina and Tennesse coming to town in the next two games. The Tigers are in clear control of the SEC East. Next Week: South Carolina
3.(2)

LSU (6-2, 3-2): LSU was outgained 525 yards to 388 and quarterback Zach Mettenberger threw three interceptions as the Tigers were toppled by Ole Miss on the road this weekend. The Bayou Bengals averaged just 3.3 yards per carry on 35 attempts as the Rebels were able to get just enough stops on defense to pull the upset. Mettenberger led the Tigers down the field to tie the game with minutes left on the clock, but the defense wasn't able to keep Ole Miss from driving into field goal range and drilling the game-winner as time expired. Next Week: Furman

4.(8)Auburn (6-1, 3-1): Nick Marshall did his best Johnny Manziel impersonation by throwing for 236 yards and two scores as well as rushing for 100 yards and two touchdowns in the thrilling road win over Texas A&M. No team in the nation has turned its fortunes around quicker than the Tigers. After going winless in the SEC a year ago, Gus Malzahn has Auburn pointed toward competing for an SEC West championship in just one season. His team rolled up 615 yards of offense in College Station and was able to drive the ball 75 yards in the final minutes to take a four point lead with just over a minute to play. A defensive redzone stand against Manziel capped the back-and-forth affair in "instant classic" fashion. Malzahn needs to be mentioned in the National Coach of the Year discussion. Next Week: Florida Atlantic
5.(4)South Carolina (5-2, 3-2): After the most complete performance of the year against Arkansas, Steve Spurrier watched his offense stub its toe all afternoon long in Neyland Stadium. Gritty quarterback Connor Shaw, who threw his first interception of the season, left the game with a left knee sprain. However, the worst is expected as he left the stadium on crutches and in an aircast. And Carolina's SEC East title hopes might have left with him. The Cocks have two losses and will travel to face unbeaten Mizzou in Week 9 in a battle of backup quarterbacks in Columbia. Next Week: at Missouri
6.(3)Texas A&M (5-2, 3-2): Despite more than 500 yards of offense and five touchdowns from Manziel, the Aggies defense couldn't get a stop. The defense allowed 379 yards rushing and 6.3 yards per carry to Auburn, including a 13-play, 75-yard run-heavy drive to win the game. Manziel, who hurt his throwing shoulder in the second half, led the Aggies down the field and was poised to perform yet another miracle but was sacked on back-to-back plays to end the game. The Aggies get three straight games at home before heading on the road against LSU and Missouri to finish the season. Next Week: Vanderbilt
7.(6)Florida (4-3, 3-2): For the second straight week, the Gators offense struggled to score points or move the ball consistently in a road conference loss. In fact, Kelvin Taylor's first career touchdown run in the third quarter was the first offensive touchdown for Florida since the 4:47 mark of the Arkansas game three weeks ago. Will Muschamp's team gained just 151 yards of offense, turned the ball over three times, had just 11 first downs and was penalized eight times. If Tyler Murphy cannot improve his decision-making, the Gators could be in for a rough second half of the season. Next Week: Bye
8.(7)Georgia (4-3, 3-2): Aaron Murray's lack of supporting cast dictated another outcome for a snake-bit Georgia team. A second critical late-game Brenden Douglas fumble packaged with a fumbled snap on a punt led to 17 unanswered points for Vanderbilt in the fourth quarter. Georgia has now lost two in a row in the division and will get a much-needed off weekend to rest and get healthy before it faces Florida in the Cocktail Party in two weeks. Next: Bye
9.(9)Ole Miss (4-3, 2-3): The Rebels limped to the finish of the toughest portion of their schedule with a 1-3 mark, but with a win nonetheless. Ole Miss took advantage of bad throws by LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger by intercepting the Tigers three times. The Rebs missed a golden opportunity to put the game away and had to watch LSU march the length of the field to tie the game with just minutes left on the clock. Bo Wallace was up to the challenge, however, as he worked Mississippi into position to kick the game-winning field goal as time expired. Next Week: Idaho
10.(10)Tennessee (4-3, 1-2): The Volunteers had lost 19 consecutive games against ranked opponents since it defeated South Carolina in 2009. That streak ended when Tennessee kicked a game-winning field goal as time expired in front of a jubilant Neyland Stadium. The defense was solid, allowing just 325 yards of total offense and forcing two critical turnovers, but Marquez North was the star of the day. His aerial acrobatics were on full display all afternoon but he saved his best for the game's final drive. His electric one-handed catch down the left sideline put UT into field goal range. This still isn't a great team but it certainly competes at a high level week in and week out. Next Week: at Alabama
11.(11)Vanderbilt (4-3, 1-3): The Commodores hadn't beat a ranked opponent in six seasons and hadn't topped Georgia at home since 1991. Both of those streaks were snapped when the Dores capitalized on more Bulldogs special teams errors by outscoring Georgia 17-0 in the final quarter. Like the rest of the SEC East, Vandy suffered a key injury when it lost starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels in the second quarter. The resilient Vandy offense rallied around replacement Patton Robinette, and the Dores eventually persevered for their first win over a ranked opponent in 16 tries. Next Week: at Texas A&M 
12.(13)

Mississippi State (3-3, 0-2): Dan Mullen's bunch watched the mayhem in the SEC from the couch this weekend as the Bulldogs were on bye. The maligned coaching staff begins a critical second half with a must-win home game against the Wildcats. Next Week: Kentucky

13.(12)Arkansas (3-5, 0-4): Bret Bielema's Hogs lost for the fifth week in a row. More important, the Razorbacks weren't even competitive for the second straight week. After South Carolina topped Arkansas 52-7 a week ago, Bielema's team fell to the two-time defending champions in similarly ugly fashion. The lack of depth on the roster and experience on the coaching staff has led to an 0-4 SEC start to Bielema's tenure. Next Week: Bye
14.(14)Kentucky (3-4, 0-4): The Wildcats were off in Week 8, allowing some key injuries to heal up for first-year head coach Mark Stoops. Kentucky will play six straight weekends and will have plenty of chances for upsets against beatable teams. Next Week: at Mississippi State

SEC Week 8 Recap and Awards

Offensive Player of the Week: Tre Mason, Auburn
Mason was one of the bright spots for Auburn during a dismal 2012 season, rushing for 1,002 yards and eight touchdowns on a healthy 5.9-yard average. Mason is once again having a fine season, but his play is being overshadowed by his team’s first-year coach (Gus Malzahn) and starting quarterback (Nick Marshall). On Saturday, Mason rushed for a career-high 178 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries to lead Auburn to a thrilling 45-41 win at Texas A&M. Mason’s lone touchdown, on a 5-yard run, put Auburn on top for good with 1:48 remaining.

Defensive Player of the Week: Michael Sam, Missouri
Missouri beat Florida 36-17 in Maty Mauk’s first start at quarterback, but the story of the day was the Tigers’ surprisingly dominant defense. Defensive end Michael Sam recorded three sacks — to increase his SEC-leading total to 9.0 — to spearhead a Mizzou defense that limited Florida to 151 yards of offense. Sam also leads the SEC with 13.0 tackles for a loss.

Team of the Week: Tennessee
After flirting with a breakthrough win two weeks against Georgia, Tennessee rallied to beat South Carolina in Knoxville, giving first-year coach Butch Jones his first signature win. The Vols’ offense struggled for much of the day — UT only averaged 4.2 yards per play — but they made a big play at the right time (see MarQuez North below) to win the game. Tennessee’s defense held South Carolina to 384 yards and three touchdowns, one week after the Gamecocks had 537 yards in a 52-7 win at Arkansas.

Coordinator of the Week: Bob Shoop, Vanderbilt
Yes, Georgia was short-handed due to injury, but Vanderbilt deserves credit for holding the Bulldogs to 221 yards of offense — their fewest since gaining 200 in a loss to Virginia Tech in the 2006 Chik-fil-A Bowl — and two offensive touchdowns in a 31-27 win in Nashville. The Commodores had allowed an average of 530.3 yards in their previous three SEC games. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who averaged 287.7 yards in his first three games against Vanderbilt, was held to 114 yards — the second-fewest of his career — on 28 attempts.

Freshman of the Week: Marquez North, Tennessee
Sometimes a game comes down to one player making a great play. And that’s what North did in Tennessee’s 23-21 win over South Carolina. With the Vols trailing 21-20 and facing a 3rd-and-10 from their own 35-yard line with under three minutes to go, North made a spectacular 48-yard catch (with one hand) down the sideline that set Tennessee up for the game-winning field goal. North, a true freshman, caught three passes for 102 yards — the first 100-yard game of his career.

Fifth Down

• Alabama has allowed one touchdown or less in five of seven games this season and in 40 of 61 games dating back to the beginning of the 2009 season.

• Last year, Auburn had a total of 1,881 yards in eight SEC games (235.5 ypg). This season, under first-year coach Gus Malzahn, the Tigers have 1,886 yards in four SEC games (471.5 ypg).

• LSU’s Zach Mettenberger threw three interceptions in the first half against Ole Miss; he had thrown a total of two in his first seven games.

• Florida averaged 2.5 yards per snap in its 36–17 loss at Missouri. The Gators have had seven games with under 4.0 yards per snap in Will Muschamp’s two-plus seasons as the head coach. They had three such games in 2010, Urban Meyer’s final season, and none from 2007-09.

• Bo Wallace threw for 346 yards in Ole Miss’ 27-24 win over LSU, and, more important, did not throw an interception in 39 attempts. Last year, Wallace threw for 310 yards but was intercepted three times in the Rebels’ 41-35 loss in Baton Rouge.

Teaser:
2013 SEC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Post date: Monday, October 21, 2013 - 07:16
Path: /college-football/2013-big-ten-post-week-8-power-rankings
Body:

It wasn't supposed to be a big weekend of action in the Big Ten. No team was favored by single digits and only Wisconsin was a road favorite. That, however, didn't stop the league from generating plenty of excitement.
Iowa put quite a scare into the Buckeyes on the road. Michigan and Indiana set all types of records. Wisconsin cruised in a traditionally difficult rivalry game. And Minnesota won a game in Evanston that changed the complexion of the Legends Division race.

More Post-Week 8 Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

Big Ten Post-Week 8 Power Rankings:

 TeamLWAnalysis 
1.(1)Ohio State (7-0, 3-0): The Horseshoe was nervous deep into the second half, but Ohio State extended its nation's longest winning streak to 19 games with a 10-point win over Iowa. Braxton Miller played his best game of the season by completing 22-of-27 passes for 222 yards, rushing for 102 yards and leading four second-half scoring drives. Carlos Hyde was his usual physical self, rushing for 149 yards and two scores as well. The name of the game for OSU is survive and advance, and that is exactly what Urban Meyer's bunch had to do against an upstart Hawkeyes squad this weekend. Next Week: Penn State 
2.
 
(2)Nebraska (5-1, 2-0): The Huskers are quietly in command of the Big Ten Legends Division and needed an extra week off to get star quarterback Taylor Martinez healthy. He will be needed against a Gophers team on the road coming off an upset of Northwestern. Next Week: at Minnesota 
3.
 
(3)Wisconsin (5-2, 3-1): The Badgers jumped out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and never looked back. Wisconsin's balanced offense rushed for 289 yards, spreaheaded by Big Ten leading rushing Melvin Gordon (142 yards, three touchdowns). Not to be outdone, quarterback Joel Stave threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns without turning the ball over in the road win. The defense continues to play extremely well, forcing two turnovers and holding Illinois to just 72 yards rushing on 29 attemtps (2.5). With winnable games every stop the rest of the way, UW has an outside chance to sneak into BCS bowl contention. Next Week: Bye 
4.
 
(4)Michigan (6-1, 2-1): Devin Gardner threw for a school-record 503 yards and accounted for a school-record five total touchdowns (two passing, three rushing) in a shootout win over Indiana. The Wolverines needed every one of the school-record 751 total yards of offense to top a Hoosiers team that scored 47 points. Jeremy Gallon rewrote the Big Ten receiving record book by catching 14 passes for 369 yards and two touchdowns. Michigan is wildly inconsistent on both sides of the ball, but Saturday was one of the greatest offensive performances in school history for the Maize and Blue. It was the 19th straight win at home and the 18th straight victory over Indiana. Next Week: Bye 
5.
 
 
(6)Michigan State (6-1, 3-0): The offense wasn't very impressive against Purdue, but the defense was up to its old tricks. Denicos Allen scored yet another Spartans defensive touchdown as quarterback Connor Cook struggled in a big way. Jeremy Langford was solid in the backfield but the offense clearly wasn't as effective as it has been in MSU's first two Big Ten games. The defense was perfect though, holding the Boilermakers to just 226 yards of total offense and 1.9 yards per carry in the shutout. Next Week: at Illinois 
6.
 
 
(7)Penn State (4-2, 1-1): The off week came at a perfect time for Penn State. Following an emotional win at home over Michigan in four overtimes, Bill O'Brien's staff will get two weeks to recover and prepare for a trip to Columbus to face the league's best team. Next Week: at Ohio State 
7.
 
(8)

Minnesota (5-2, 1-2): It wasn't from the sideline but Gophers head coach Jerry Kill was able to enjoy his team's victory over Northwestern from a private suite. Minnesota had fewer first downs, fewer yards, fewer offensive points and less efficient on third down, but it decisively won the turnover battle 3-0, including a critical 24-yard interception return by James Manuel. The defense held on for dear life.  Next Week: Nebraska

 
8.
 
 
(5)Northwestern (4-3, 0-3): Three critical turnovers by quarterback Trevor Siemian and the wheels have fallen off the Wildcats' 2013 season. After physical losses to superior opponents, Pat Fitzgerald's team couldn't come from behind at home against a Minnesota team without its head coach. The Cats outgained Minnesota in nearly every category except turnovers. With a brutal schedule looming ahead for Northwestern — at Iowa, at Nebraska, Michigan, Michigan State, at Illinois — the home loss to the Gophers crippled any Big Ten title hopes. Next Week: at Iowa 
9.
 
(9)Indiana (3-4, 1-2): Not many teams lose when scoring 47 points and racking up 572 total yards of offense, but that is what happened to Indiana on Saturday. Kevin Wilson's offense wasn't the issue. The defense couldn't stop Michigan's Devin Gardner or wideout Jeremy Gallon. The Hoosiers allowed over 750 yards of offense and allowed the Wolverines to reach the end zone nine times in the loss. After back-to-back losses in the state of MIchigan, IU gets a much-needed off weekend.  Next Week: Bye 
10.
 
(10)Iowa (4-3, 1-2): Moral victories are one of the most hated philosophies by football coaches, but that is all Iowa can claim after losing by 10 to Ohio State in Columbus. Jake Rudock played well, the ground game averaged nearly five yards per carry and the defense held its own for the better part of three quarters against the No. 4 Buckeyes. But the final frame belonged to the Buckeyes, and Kirk Ferentz watched the more powerful team pull away in the final moments. Next Week: Northwestern 
11.
 
 
(11)Illinois (3-3, 0-2): The Illini were never really in contention against Wisconsin. It spotted the Badgers a 21-0 first quarter lead and cut it to 11 twice before the power running game of UW put the game out of reach. The Illini allowed 478 yards of offense and let Wisconsin score eight touchdowns in yet another Big Ten loss. Illinois has lost 16 straight conference games. Next Week: Michigan State 
12.
 
(12)Purdue (1-6, 0-3): Darrell Hazell's defense held the Spartans to one offensive score and just 294 yards of offense. However, both lines of scrimmage were controlled by the Spartans. Quarterback Danny Etling was ineffective, and the Michigan State power rushing attack (182 yards) was just enough to give Purdue its sixth loss of the season. A much-needed off weekend is on the docket for Hazell and the Boilermakers. Next Week: Bye 

Big Ten Week 8 Awards and Superlatives:


Offensive Players of the Week: Devin Gardner and Jeremy Gallon, Michigan
Gardner set Michigan records with 584 yards of total offense, 503 yards passing and five total touchdowns in the win over Indiana. Jeremy Gallon set a Big Ten record with 369 yards receiving on 14 catches, two of which went for touchdowns. His 369 yards are No. 2 in FBS history behind Louisiana Tech's Troy Edwards 405 yards in 1998. Michigan rolled up a school-record 751 yards of offense and scored nine touchdowns. Gardner came up two yards shy of a Big Ten record for total offense (Illinois' David Wilson, 585, 1980).

Defensive Players of the Week: Max Bullough and Denicos Allen, Michigan State
The other school in Michigan wins games in a completely different style and fashion than the Wolverines. The Spartans linebackers played well all afternoon and combined on one huge play to give the Spartans the lead for good early in the tigher-than-expected win over Purdue. Bullough finished with 10 tackles, two for a loss and a forced a fumble on a sack that was scooped up by Allen and returned 45 yards for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. Allen finished with eight tackles and the Spartans fifth defensive touchdown on the season.

Team of the Week: Minnesota
Without their head coach, the Gophers were a near two-touchdown underdog on the road against Northwestern. But with Jerry Kill watching from a private suite at Ryan Field, Minnesota proceeded to knock off the division rival Wildcats with an excellent defensive performance. The Gophers controlled time of possession, won the turnover battle (3-0), registered three sacks and held on for the three-point win. The victory was Minnesota's first conference win of the season and puts the Gophers one win away from getting bowl eligible.

Coordinator of the Week: Tracy Claeys, Minnesota

The defensive coordinator-turned-interim head coach deserves a ton of credit for what the Gophers accomplished on Saturday. Minnesota allowed just 328 yards of offense to Northwestern and forced three huge turnovers, including an interception that was returned for a touchdown late in the third quarter that gave the Gophers the lead for good. Everyone is rooting for head coach Jerry Kill to get healthy and a win like this on the road over a good Wildcats team is something this fan base dearly needed.

Freshman of the Week: T.J. Simmons, Indiana
The freshman linebacker from Lakeland (Fla.) posted his fifth game of his career with at least seven tackles by making eight stops, two for a loss, a sack and a QB hurry against Michigan. Simmons is tied for 13th in the Big Ten in tackles and is leading all Big Ten freshman (49 total tackles, seven per game).

 

 

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Big Ten Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
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Stanford lost in an un-Stanford-like performance against Utah two weeks ago, but the Cardinal returned to form Saturday against UCLA. Stanford may have trouble getting back into the national title race, but David Shaw's team went back to relying on a stellar defense and power run game in defeating the upstart Bruins.

The Cardinal are outliers in the league, though, as we saw late in the evening as Washington State set one passing record and Oregon State continued to march to its own season-long quest to rewrite the record book.
Here are your Pac-12 Week 8 Awards and Superlatives: 

Offensive Player of the Week: Tyler Gaffney, Stanford
In a time of need, Stanford coach David Shaw turned to his power rushing attack to get his team back on track against No. 9 UCLA. And the senior tailback rewarded his coach in a big way by rushing 36 times for 171 yards and two critical second-half touchdowns. Stanford is still in control of its own destiny, and Kevin Hogan got excellent production from his entire supporting cast on offense against the Bruins.

Defensive Player of the Week: Jordan Richards, Stanford
The Cardinal defense was physical and disruptive all afternoon against Brett Hundley and the Bruins. The junior defensive back intercepted the all-everything quarterback twice to help lead Stanford to a big win. Richards added 10 tackles and another pass break up to his stat sheet as well. 

Team of the Week: Stanford

The Cardinal bounced back in a big way after falling to Utah last weekend by getting back to basics against previously unbeaten UCLA. The defense was suffocating and the offense ran the football with aggressiveness and physicality. It was a typical Cardinal performance and the in re-establishes Oregon and Stanford are still the top two teams out West.

Coordinator of the Week: Derek Mason, Stanford

UCLA's Heisman-contending quarterback Brett Hundley came into the game 11th in the nation in passing efficiency (165.0) and eighth nationally in total offense (345.8 yards per game). The Bruins were fifth nationally in total offense (547.0 yards per game) and seventh in scoring offense (45.8). Mason's physical defense held UCLA to just 10 points and 266 yards of offense, and, in particular, made life miserable for Hundley. The Bruins quarterback threw two interceptions, was sacked four times and mustered just 219 yards of offense.

Freshman of the Week: Michael Adkins II, Colorado
The Buffaloes haven't had many chances at wins, but Mike MacIntyre's bunch took advantage by topping an unbeaten Charleston Southern with relative ease. Adkins has seen his work load increase over the last few weeks and he had his best performance against the Buccaneers. He rushed for 137 yards and four touchdowns in Colorado's third win of the season.
 

Fifth Down

• Bishop Sankey, the nation's leading rusher entering Week 8, was held to a season-low 22 yards on 13 carries by Arizona State. It dropped him to eighth nationally in rushing. As a team, Washington rushed for minus-5 yards against the Sun Devils.


• Arizona State's Marion Grice, the nation's leading scorer at 15.0 points per game entering Week 8, extended his lead by scoring three touchdowns in the win over Washington. He carried 21 times for 158 yards and caught four passes for 37 yards.


• Washington State's Connor Halliday set an NCAA record with 89 attempts, passing Drew Brees' previous records of 83 set in 1998. His 58 completions tied an NCAA mark he now shares with Andy Schmitt of Eastern Michigan (2008). Halliday also threw for a Pac-12 record 557 yards, breaking Andrew Walter's mark of 536 yards set in 2002.


• Sean Mannion (481 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions) gets most of the headlines but wide receiver Brandin Cooks is the best player no one knows about. He caught 13 passes for 232 yards and his 12th touchdown of the season. His 76 receptions are nine ahead of No. 2 nationally (Justin Hardy, 67), his 1,176 yards are 152 yards ahead of No. 2 nationally (Mike Evans, 1,024) and his 12 receiving touchdowns lead the nation as well. 


• Utah's Travis Wilson injured his right hand late in the first half in the road loss to Arizona. His replacement Adam Shulz threw for 142 yards and a TD.


• Arizona's Ka'Deem Carey rushed 40 times for 236 yards and a game-clinching 44-yard touchdown over Utah.


• Oregon State has won six straight games and is 4-0 in the Pac-12 since losing to Eastern Washington at home after crushing Cal 49-17 on the road.


• Oregon's Marcus Mariota threw another 32 passes and scored another three times without throwing an interception. Mariota has scored 28 total touchdowns without an interception in 2013.

• USC lost in South Bend for the first time since 2001 after winning five straight over Notre Dame on the road. The two teams didn't a score a point in the final 31 minutes of action.

 

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Pac-12 Week 8 Recap and Awards
Post date: Sunday, October 20, 2013 - 11:41
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It wasn't supposed to be a big weekend of action in the Big Ten. No team was favored by single digits and only Wisconsin was a road favorite. That, however, didn't stop the league from generating plenty of excitement.

Iowa put quite a scare into the Buckeyes on the road. Michigan and Indiana set all types of records. Wisconsin cruised in a traditionally difficult rivalry game. And Minnesota won a game in Evanston that changed the complexion of the Legends Division race.

Here are the Big Ten's Week 8 Superlatives:

Offensive Players of the Week: Devin Gardner and Jeremy Gallon, Michigan
Gardner set Michigan records with 584 yards of total offense, 503 yards passing and five total touchdowns in the win over Indiana. Jeremy Gallon set a Big Ten record with 369 yards receiving on 14 catches, two of which went for touchdowns. His 369 yards are No. 2 in FBS history behind Louisiana Tech's Troy Edwards 405 yards in 1998. Michigan rolled up a school-record 751 yards of offense and scored nine touchdowns. Gardner came up two yards shy of a Big Ten record for total offense (Illinois' David Wilson, 585, 1980).

Defensive Players of the Week: Max Bullough and Denicos Allen, Michigan State
The other school in Michigan wins games in a completely different style and fashion than the Wolverines. The Spartans linebackers played well all afternoon and combined on one huge play to give the Spartans the lead for good early in the tigher-than-expected win over Purdue. Bullough finished with 10 tackles, two for a loss and a forced a fumble on a sack that was scooped up by Allen and returned 45 yards for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown. Allen finished with eight tackles and the Spartans fifth defensive touchdown on the season.

Team of the Week: Minnesota
Without their head coach, the Gophers were a near two-touchdown underdog on the road against Northwestern. But with Jerry Kill watching from a private suite at Ryan Field, Minnesota proceeded to knock off the division rival Wildcats with an excellent defensive performance. The Gophers controlled time of possession, won the turnover battle (3-0), registered three sacks and held on for the three-point win. The victory was Minnesota's first conference win of the season and puts the Gophers one win away from getting bowl eligible.

Coordinator of the Week: Tracy Claeys, Minnesota

The defensive coordinator-turned-interim head coach deserves a ton of credit for what the Gophers accomplished on Saturday. Minnesota allowed just 328 yards of offense to Northwestern and forced three huge turnovers, including an interception that was returned for a touchdown late in the third quarter that gave the Gophers the lead for good. Everyone is rooting for head coach Jerry Kill to get healthy and a win like this on the road over a good Wildcats team is something this fan base dearly needed.

Freshman of the Week: T.J. Simmons, Indiana
The freshman linebacker from Lakeland (Fla.) posted his fifth game of his career with at least seven tackles by making eight stops, two for a loss, a sack and a QB hurry against Michigan. Simmons is tied for 13th in the Big Ten in tackles and is leading all Big Ten freshman (49 total tackles, seven per game).

Fifth Down

• Ohio State pushed the nation's longest winning streak to 19 games with the win over Iowa.

• Brady Hoke has yet to lose a home game as the head coach at Michigan, winning his 19th straight in the Big House this weekend. It was also Michigan's 18th straight victory over Indiana.

• Northwestern's Lou Groza candidate Jeff Budzien set a Big Ten record with his 127th consecutive converted extra point.

• Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon rushed for 142 yards and three touchdowns in the road win over Illinois. Gordon is third nationally with 144.6 yards rushing per game, second with 1,012 yards rushing and trails only Arizona State's Marion Grice and Boise State's Jay Ajayi for the nation's lead in rushing TDs (12).

• The Badgers rushed for 289 yards on 46 carries against the Illini. It was the fifth time UW topped 280 yards rushing this year and the fifth time it rushed for more than 6.0 yards per carry in a game (6.3). As a team, it leads the Big Ten with 24 rushing touchdowns.

• Dueces were wild for Ohio State's Braxton Miller. He completed 22 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. He also carried 18 times for 102 yards on the ground. He had just five incomplete passes and didn't turn the ball over.

• Carlos Hyde chipped in with 149 yards and two rushing touchdowns for Ohio State on 24 carries in the win over Iowa.

• Iowa entered the weekend as the only team in the nation to have yet to allow a rushing TD. It gave up two to Ohio State in second half.

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Big Ten Week 8 Recap and Awards
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Like it or not, Las Vegas rarely gets it wrong, so tracking betting lines should always be a big part of each football weekend — even if there are no bets on the line. Whether you condone gambling or not, think of it as becoming a more informed fan.

After a shocking week of action, most gamblers are probably anxious to get back on the field this weekend. Conference play is in full swing and that means less predictability on the whole. So stay away from sucker lines (Baylor -33.5 against Iowa State), reactionary spreads (Arizona State -3 against Washington) and normally unpredictable rivalries (Wisconsin at Illinois).

2013 Record Against the Spread: 22-16-1 (3-2 last week)

Week 8 Picks of the Week:

Florida State (-3) at Clemson
It's too big of a game to avoid. These are two evenly matched teams with even levels of talent, even coaching and equally impressive stars under center. One has a senior quarterback playing at home while the other has a freshman coming into one of the toughest environments in college football. Look for the crowd and Death Valley to play a big role and the Tigers' defensive line to make just enough plays for the Tigers to win outright. The home team has won the last six games between these two so take the points and run. Prediction: Clemson +3

Iowa (+17) at Ohio State
The Hawkeyes and Buckeyes both had an extra week to prepare for this one. Iowa hasn’t won in the Horseshoe since 1991 and has only won one of the last 13 meetings overall. Ohio State is 4-1-1 against the spread this year and should improve that total against a team that will be dramatically outmatched on both sides of the ball. Prediction: Ohio State -17

Georgia (-7.5) at Vanderbilt
Both defenses have been atrocious this fall and both offenses can score points. The Dores have played well at home against Georgia in recent years and are well rested after the bye week. The Bulldogs are 1-4-1 against the spread this year and James Franklin’s bunch is desperate to get an SEC win and avoid an 0-4 SEC start. Look for a potential outright upset. Prediction: Vanderbilt +7.5

Oregon State (-10.5) at Cal
The Bears are 0-5-1 against the spread and Oregon State is coming off an impressive fourth-quarter showing against Washington State. Sean Mannion is the nation’s top passer and should have no issues with a Cal defense that is allowing more than 500 yards per game. The Beavers are undervalued after winning five straight and should easily make it six here. Prediction: Oregon State -10.5

BYU (-9.5) at Houston
The Cougars are unbeaten and have taken care of the ball all season. But Houston has yet to play a team like BYU. This is a physical, powerful team on both sides of the ball and quarterback Taysom Hill is finding his stride of late. These two teams aren't in the same category of talent, coaching or physicality. Take the Cougs on the road. Prediction: BYU -9.5

Auburn (+13) at Texas A&M
Auburn won't win the game as long as No. 2 is playing quarterback for the Aggies, but Guz Malzahn has this Tigers team pointed in the right direction and is poised to make some noise in the SEC West. Texas A&M can't stop anybody on defense and Nick Marshall is back under center for Auburn. Take the over and the Tigers to keep it close all night long — at least, before Johnny Manziel dances around for some sort of game-winning touchdown. Prediction: Auburn +13

Week 8 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC

Top 25 Picks Against the Spread:

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

Top 25 GamesMitch LightBraden GallSteven LassanDavid Fox
Arkansas (+28) at No. 1 Alabama
Wazzu (+39) at No. 2 Oregon
No. 5 Florida St (-3) at No. 3 Clemson
Iowa (+17) at No. 4 Ohio St 
No. 6 LSU (-9) at Ole Miss
No. 24 Auburn (+13) at No. 7 Texas A&M
UCF (+12.5) at No. 7 Louisville
No. 9 UCLA (+6) at No. 13 Stanford
No. 11 South Carolina (-7.5) at Tennessee
Iowa St (+33.5) at No. 12 Baylor
No. 22 Florida (-3) at No. 14 Mizzou
No. 15 Georgia (-7.5) at Vanderbilt
No. 16 Texas Tech (-6) at West Virginia
UNLV (+24.5) at No. 17 Fresno St
No. 18 Oklahoma (-23) at Kansas
No. 20 Washington (+3) at Arizona St
TCU (+8) at No. 21 Oklahoma St
No. 23 N. Illinois (-16) at C. Michigan
No. 25 Wisconsin (-13.5) at Illinois
Last Week:3-137-93-136-10
Year-To-Date:57-52-353-56-350-59-362-47-3

 

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Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 8 Picks
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Wisconsin made a big statement last weekend while both Michigan and Northwestern lost key crossover games. The door in the Legends Division is wide open for any and all of the teams in the division. In fact, the round-robin in that half of the Big Ten should be one of the most dramatic races in college football.

Just don’t expect any excitement in Week 8. Not one game in the Big Ten features a single-digit point-spread and all but one favorite is at home. So holding serve will be the theme in the Big Ten this weekend.

Penn State and Nebraska are off.

Week 8 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12Pac-12 | SEC

Big Ten Week 8 Game Power Rankings:

1. Wisconsin (-11.5) at Illinois (8 p.m. ET, BTN)
The all-time series between these two is tied at 36-36-7 but the Badgers have owned this rivalry of late. Wisconsin has won seven of the last eight but the games always seem to be closer than anticipated, as four of the last five have been decided by 10 points or less. The only “blowout” was a 31-14 UW win last year in Madison. The Illini are 11th in the Big Ten in total defense and will find it difficult to slow down the powerful and surprisingly balanced Badgers offense. Therefore it falls to veteran quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (259.4 ypg, 12 TD, 4 INT) to keep his team in the mix on offense. This one should be closer than the experts think.

2. Indiana (+10) at Michigan (3:30 p.m., BTN)
Michigan is the far superior team when it comes to recruiting and overall talent, but the Wolverines are playing below average football. The Hoosiers had the top-rated offense in the league before visiting Michigan State last weekend, as they dropped to No. 2 after their worst output of the season (351 yards). Michigan and turnover-prone quarterback Devin Gardner (10 INT, 3 FL) is a much different team at home than it is on the road. In the Big House, Michigan is averaging 42.5 points and 424 yards per game. Indiana fans should expect another week of quality first-half football followed by a second-half blitzkrieg from a team in Michigan.

3. Iowa (+16.5) at Ohio State (3:30 p.m., ESPN2)
Urban Meyer’s quest for 25-0 continues this weekend as the nation’s longest winning streak goes back on the line. That said, the Buckeyes are well rested after the off weekend and haven’t lost to Iowa at home since 1991. In fact, Ohio State has dominated this matchup, winning 12 of the last 13 meetings. The Hawkeyes, who are also rested after the bye, were completely stymied by Michigan State two weeks ago and will be facing a similar task in the Horseshoe. Look for Braxton Miller and the running game to run right at the talented Iowa linebackers.

4. Minnesota (+12.5) at Northwestern (Noon, ESPN2)
The Wildcats are beaten up and are in desperate need of their first Big Ten win after falling to Ohio State and Wisconsin. Minnesota is coming off a bye weekend after two of its own conference losses and is missing its head coach. So for two struggling teams, getting back to basics should be expected for both — and that means the running game. Northwestern has proven to be extremely vulnerable against the run after allowing 248 yards to the Buckeyes and 286 to Wisconsin while struggling to move the pile on offense (138 yards combined in the last two games). The Gophers are in an identical situation after rushing for 282.3 yards per game in their four wins to start the year and just 166 total rushing yards in their two losses. With injuries continuing to hinder Venric Mark and Kain Colter, Trevor Siemian needs to step into a bigger role.

5. Purdue (+26) at Michigan State (Noon, BTN)
The odds of the 121st offense in the nation moving the football and putting up enough points to win against the nation’s No. 1 total defense on the road is virtually none. But that is what Purdue is facing this weekend in East Lansing. The Spartans have won four straight in the series and haven’t lost to the Boilermakers since 2006. Look for a complete effort from Michigan State.

Big Ten Week 8 Pivotal Players


Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox break down the big questions for each conference for the second half of the season in this week's Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
1. Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois
The Illini quarterback has saved his best season for last as he struggled mightily in 2011 and '12. That said, the last time Scheelhaase was on the field he looked a lot more like the Scheelhaase of old. Against Nebraska, he completed just 50 percent of his passes for 135 yards and no touchdowns with one interception. He wasn’t great through the air last year against Wisconsin (178 yards, TD, INT) but was dynamic on the ground, rushing for 84 yards and a score. Look for more of a dual-threat game plan against UW this week, as efficient play from Illinois’ quarterback is the only chance for an upset.

2. Jonathan Brown, LB, Illinois
On defense for Illinois, the Big Ten’s top tackler (60 total, 12.0 per game) will be faced with one of the most difficult tasks a linebacker in this league can face. Wisconsin’s offense is No. 1 in the league because of its traditionally powerful and deep running game. Wisconsin boasts the league’s No. 1 (Melvin Gordon), No. 4 (James White) and No. 10 (Corey Clement) rushers. Brown may have 20 tackles in this game but if they are all six yards down the field, it will be a long day for Illinois.

3. Nate Sudfeld, QB, Indiana
The sophomore quarterback is No. 2 in the Big Ten in passing (267.3 ypg) but has been inconsistent in conference play. He torched Penn State for 321 yards and two scores but was completely shut down by Michigan State (137 yards, 0 TD). On the road against Michigan, Sudfeld will be called upon to carry the offense in the second half — especially, if the ground game continues to struggle (98 yards against Mizzou, 92 yards against Michigan State).

4. Trevor Siemian, QB, Northwestern
With Kain Colter and Venric Mark day-to-day with ankle injuries, Siemian may be called upon to handle more of the offense for Pat Fitzgerald. And simply put, he has to be better throwing the football than he was last weekend against Wisconsin. Completing 38.2 percent (13-of-34) of your passes won’t win too many games in any league. Look for the Northwestern offense to bounce back at home against Minnesota because a third straight loss to start conference play would be crippling.

5. Fitzgerald Toussaint, RB, Michigan
The best way to help a turnover-prone quarterback is to run the football and that responsibility to falls mostly to Toussaint. He rushed for 397 yards and seven touchdowns in the first five games but was completely ineffective against Penn State. He rushed for 1.0 yards per carry on 27 attempts, and the ground game should be the focus against an Indiana team that has allowed 238 yards rushing to Michigan State, 280 yards to Missouri and 444 yards to Navy.

Big Ten Week 8 Prediction Grid:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Wisconsin (-11.5) at IllinoisWisconsin, 31-27Wisconsin, 31-10Wisconsin, 38-20Wisconsin, 42-21
Indiana (+10) at MichiganMichigan, 34-21Michigan, 34-30Michigan, 38-27Indiana, 35-31
Iowa (+16.5) at Ohio StOhio St, 42-20Ohio St, 27-17Ohio St, 38-17Ohio St, 41-14
Minnesota (+12.5) at NorthwesternN'Western, 31-17N'Western, 33-14N'Western, 34-17N'Western, 31-24
Purdue (+26) at Michigan StMich. St, 31-7Mich. St, 34-0Mich. St, 41-10Mich. St, 28-3
Last Week:4-03-13-13-1
Year-to-date:50-951-852-749-10

 

Teaser:
2013 Big Ten Week 8 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 07:16
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Things are starting to fall into place out West. Washington was humbled the last two weeks but has no chance to rest. Stanford found out first-hand how deep the South Division might be, but also has to regroup quickly. And Sean Mannion continues his assault on the record books.

Week 8 is a deep and intriguing weekend of action for the Pac-12. A rematch of last season's Pac-12 Championship game, a historic rivalry, a critical crossover elimination game and a big South Division showdown highlight what will be yet another exciting weekend of action West of the Rockies.

Week 8 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

Pac-12 Week 8 Game Power Rankings

1. UCLA (+4.5) at Stanford (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
The unbeaten Bruins get the unenviable task of facing Stanford for the third time in less than a year. The Cardinal topped UCLA 35-17 in the season finale last year before beating them again a week later in the Pac-12 title game 27-24. The Bruins have lost five straight in the series and Stanford hasn’t lost at home in 12 straight or in back-to-back weeks since October 2009. Utah toppled Stanford last week in Salt Lake City and that should have David Shaw’s bunch fired up and focused. And they will need to be to stop Brett Hundley, who threw for a career-high 410 yards last week, the third-highest total in UCLA history. Hundley’s worst career game came in the first loss to Stanford last year (177 yards, INT) but he showed marked improvement the next weekend (329 yards, 3 TD). With a young and banged-up offensive line on the road against a nasty front seven, Jim Mora’s bunch will only stay unbeaten if Hundley has a special afternoon.

2. Washington (+3) at Arizona State (6 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
The Sun Devils have owned this series and the Huskies are teetering in Pac-12 play. Arizona State has won seven straight over Washington and U of W is coming off emotional and physical losses to Stanford and Oregon. The Sun Devils played their most complete game last week against Colorado by scoring 54 points, rolling up 532 yards and holding Colorado to just 268 yards. Despite out-gaining Stanford by a significant margin, Keith Price’s Huskies moved to 3-9 in true road games over the last three seasons when they lost their only true road game of the year thus far two weeks ago in Palo Alto. This showdown will feature the nation’s leading rusher in Bishop Sankey (149.8 ypg) and the nation’s leading scorer in Marion Grice (15.0 ppg). It falls to the bruised Huskies defense to stop quarterback Taylor Kelly (327.5 ypg) on the road.

3. USC (+3) at Notre Dame (7:30 p.m., NBC)
One of college football’s most heated and historic rivalries will be on display in South Bend for the 85th time in history. After USC won eight straight from 2002-09, Notre Dame has won two of the last three. Both teams enter this game surging to some degree after Ed Orgeron won his coaching debut against Arizona last week and the Irish topped Arizona State in Dallas in impressive fashion. Both teams will have extra rest after neither played on Saturday last weekend and that is good news for two inconsistent quarterbacks. Tommy Rees and Cody Kessler have both turned the ball over too much, but both have shown signs of life in the last few weeks. Kessler has set career highs in yards in each of his last two games with four touchdowns while Rees tossed three touchdowns against ASU. Whichever quarterback plays the best against two very stingy defenses will likely win the the historic rivalry game — one that is taking place nearly eight years to the day from the famed “Bush Push” (Oct. 15, 2005).

4. Utah (+5) at Arizona (10 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
The first couple of seasons in the Pac-12 were rough for Utah, going 7-11 in the league. And while the Utes already have two losses, they are clearly improved and heading in the right direction, culminating in a huge upset over Stanford last weekend. Arizona never really challenged USC last Thursday night despite 508 yards of offense and a flurry of late scoring. Dual-threat quarterbacks will be on display as Travis Wilson (283 yards, 5 TD) and B.J. Denker (273 yards, 6 TD) are the league’s No. 2 and No. 3 most productive rushing quarterbacks. Both teams have eyes on a bowl game and whoever losses will leave Week 8 with three Pac-12 losses. The road team has won both Pac-12 meetings between these two.

5. Oregon State (-10.5) at Cal (10:30 p.m., ESPN2)
Any game with Sean Mannion and Sonny Dykes should be extremely entertaining. The football won’t be handed off too much in this one as Cal is No. 3 nationally with 318 pass attempts and Oregon State is No. 4 with 301 attempts. The Beavers have won 11 of the last 14 meetings, including a 62-14 drubbing in Corvallis last season. Mannion threw for 325 yards and four scores in that game as he returned to the lineup after a major knee injury. Look for him to air it out again against a Golden Bears defense that is 123rd nationally at 518 yards allowed per game. In fact, don’t be surprised if the Oregon State quarterback sets the Pac-12 single-game passing record.

6. Washington State (+38) at Oregon (10 p.m., FS1)
The Cougars are much improved and have a chance to pull a few upsets this year in the Pac-12 — like, say, against USC. But defeating Oregon in Eugene won’t be one of them. The Ducks are favored by more than five touchdowns for a reason. Quarterback Marcus Mariota might be the best player in the nation and Wazzu hasn’t allowed fewer than 43 points to Oregon since 2006.

7. Charleston Southern at Colorado (2 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
The Buffaloes don’t have too many more chances at wins this season so a win against a FCS opponent is a must. However, the Buccaneers are 7-0 and are looking for an opportunity to make a statement. This game wasn’t scheduled until Sept. 30 and Southern was the only team willing to come to Boulder on this weekend. Colorado’s game against Fresno State was canceled last month due to weather-related circumstances. The once high-flying CU offense needs to get on track after struggling mightily in Pac-12 play this year.

Pac-12 Week 8 Pivotal Players:


Listen to Athlon Sports writers Braden Gall and David Fox break down the big questions for each conference for the second half of the season in this week's Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast.
1. Brett Hundley, QB, UCLA
There may be no more important player in the nation this weekend than Hundley. He struggled against the Cardinal in his first meeting last year but learned from the experience and played well in the Pac-12 title game. With a developing supporting cast and electric dual-threat ability, he has the talent to take over a game at any point (ask Bo Pelini). Against a Stanford front seven that is among the nation's best, he will have to play with great toughness to pull the upset.

2. Osahon Irabor, CB, Arizona State
The senior defensive back is no ordinary cornerback. Certainly, he is excellent in coverage as his two interceptions and return touchdown have shown. But he also plays well around the line of scrimmage and is disruptive in the backfield as his 4.5 tackles for a loss and one sack indicate. Against the Huskies' balanced and talented backfield duo, Irabor's ability to wreak havoc in the box on defense could be huge for Arizona State.

3. Cody Kessler, QB, USC
The USC quarterback might be finally rounding into form after setting a career high in passing yards each of the last two games. He threw for 297 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the big Thursday night win over Arizona but completed only 50 percent of his passes. On the road against a developing Irish defense, Kessler needs to be efficient and distribute the ball to his deep supporting cast.

4. Arizona's linebackers
This is a critical game for Rich Rodriguez and he has to be concerned with the trend in his defensive statistics. His team defense has allowed more yards every week than the week before for five straight games, culminating in 546 yards allowed to USC. Veterans Marquis Flowers and Jake Fischer as well as freshman Scooby Wright will be under pressure to contain Utah star dual-threat Travis Wilson and his 6-foot-6, 245-pound frame.

5. Sean Mannion, QB, Oregon State
He may deserve mention every week for the rest of the year as long as his assault on the Pac-12 record books continues. Cal has been downright atrocious on defense this year and the Beavers quarterback is lapping the field nationally in terms of passing production, while also leading the nation in yards and touchdowns by wide margins. There is a chance, after throwing for 493 yards last week, that he could threaten Andrew Walter's Pac-12 single-game passing record of 536 yards from 2002 this weekend.

Pac-12 Week 8 Predictions:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
UCLA (+4.5) at StanfordStanford, 24-20UCLA, 28-24Stanford, 31-27UCLA, 28-27
Washington (+3) at Arizona StAriz. St, 38-35Wash., 31-30 Ariz. St, 38-34Ariz. St, 28-24
USC (+3) at Notre DameN. Dame, 24-21USC, 20-17N. Dame, 27-24 N. Dame, 27-21
Utah (+5) at ArizonaArizona, 30-27Arizona, 30-20Arizona, 30-27Utah, 31-14
Oregon St (-10.5) at CalOre. St, 49-28Ore. St, 41-14Ore. St, 51-24Ore. St, 49-28 
Washington St (+38) at OregonOregon, 51-13Oregon, 51-14Oregon, 58-20Oregon, 56-10
Charleston So. at ColoradoColo., 38-31Colo., 34-10Colo., 45-17Colo., 31-27
Last Week: 3-35-15-15-1
Year-to-date:46-1248-1049-946-12

 

Teaser:
2013 Pac-12 Week 8 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 07:16
Path: /college-football/2013-bcs-standings-historic-and-statistical-analysis
Body:

The BCS was implemented in 1998 and has worked to near perfection for 15 seasons.

Wait, what?

That’s right, the BCS worked to near perfection. Prior to the construction of the Bowl Championship Series, fans and experts alike were left to argue about multiple unbeatens who played irrelevant bowl games against grandfathered-in bowl opponents.

How quickly we forget that there were three split National Championships between 1990-97 and another year Penn State fans won't ever let anyone forget (1994). How absurd is the idea of a split national title? The BCS featured one such split title since going into effect in ’98 (2003) and has worked to near perfection.

The goal of the BCS was to pit the top two teams in the nation in a winner-take-all championship showdown. And it worked brilliantly when compared to the previous championship structure. Only twice in 15 seasons has a “BCS” conference (or automatic qualifying or Big 6 or power conference or whatever else you want to call it) team gone undefeated and not played for the national championship.

Those two teams were Auburn in 2004 and Cincinnati in '09. And since the Bearcats don’t really apply to this discussion, the '04 Tigers are really the only team with a legitimate gripe about being left out of the title game. Are there plenty of other teams who feel like they deserved a shot? Georgia in 2007? Ohio State in 1998? Texas in 2008? Yes, but had each of those teams not lost certain games, they too, would have played for the national title.

The final debut of the BCS standings is set to take place this weekend following monumental showdowns in Death Valley and Palo Alto. There will be upsets, shockers, butt-whippings and plenty of movement up and down the rankings between now and the final BCS standings in history — which are set to be released Sunday, Dec. 8.

So as the BCS is set to end, here are some historical facts to consider. Who has been ranked the least and the most during the BCS Era? Who has had the longest BCS droughts? And who could break through in the final season of BCS football?

There are some concerning and seriously long BCS droughts currently ongoing. Only three power conference teams have never made an appearance in the BCS at any point during the 15-year run: Vanderbilt, Indiana and Duke. However, other than those three, there are some once proud programs yearning for BCS recognition. 

Syracuse has the longest ongoing BCS drought in the automatic qualifying leagues. It hasn’t been ranked since Nov. 12, 2001. Syracuse has a long and storied tradition, as its 699 wins entering this season were the most among current ACC teams and 15th all-time (per NCAA), but it’s been over a decade since the Orange were relevant in college football.

Purdue is No. 2 on the BCS waiting list but hasn’t waited nearly as long. The Boilermakers last made an appearance on Oct. 25, 2004. From 1997-2004, Purdue went to eight straight bowl games. But since its last appearance in the BCS, it has been to just four bowls in nine seasons and is on its third head coach.

Boston College hasn’t been ranked since Nov. 22, 2004. The Eagles have consistently overachieved during the BCS era, however, having gone to a bowl game every year from 1999-2010. But this once proud program has fallen on hard times of late, going 9-21 since — although, Steve Addazio may be the answer.

A pair of Pac-12 programs in Colorado (Nov. 7, 2005) and Washington State (Oct. 29, 2006) round out the top five longest BCS droughts in college football’s major conferences. The Buffaloes won a share of the national championship less than 25 years ago but haven't had a winning season since 2005. Wazzu went to two Rose Bowls between 1997-2002 but haven’t had a winning season since '03. Both have found excellent coaches and both could break through in the near future.

Kentucky (Nov. 11, 2007) has only been ranked four times in the BCS and all four came from the memorable 2007 squad that pulled off the Bluegrass Miracle. The Wildcats have the sixth longest absence.

Virginia and Tennessee are tied, having last appeared in the BCS standings on Dec. 2, 2007. Both programs won at a high level in the '90s but have struggled to win games of late. In particular, the Vols’ absence is notable having won a national championship during the BCS era and ranking eighth all-time with 799 wins (prior to this season). Big Orange Nation is yearning for competitive football.

Minnesota and UConn round out of the top 10 BCS droughts having last appeared on Oct. 26, 2008. The other BCS deficiencies that likely won't come to an end in the system's final season come from North Carolina (14th-longest, Nov. 22, 2009), Cal (16th, Nov. 29, 2009), Pitt (17th, Dec. 6, 2009) and Iowa (21st, Nov. 21, 2010).

Who has a chance to end their drought this season? Maryland owns the 12th longest drought (Nov. 16, 2008) and could break through in the BCS’ final year. Ole Miss is 15th (Nov. 22, 2009) and has an outside chance to land in the rankings at some point this year. BYU is tied with Pitt at 17th (Dec. 6, 2009) and could land in the rankings if Taysom Hill continues to develop.

Miami is the lone top 20 BCS drought that will end on Sunday when the first BCS rankings of the 2013 season come out.

Fewest BCS Appearances* Most BCS Appearances* 
 TeamTotalLast  TeamTotalNo. 1's 
1.Vanderbilt0-|1.Texas1023 
1.Duke0-|2t.Florida927 
1.Indiana0-|2t.Oklahoma9220 
4.Iowa State1Oct. 24, 2012|4t.LSU8110 
5.Kentucky4Nov. 11, 2007|4t.Virginia Tech81- 
6.North Carolina5Nov. 22, 2009|6.Oregon774 
7.NC State5Nov. 21, 2010|7.Ohio State7615 
8.Syracuse5Nov. 12, 2001|8.Michigan75- 
9.Baylor7Dec. 4, 2011|9.Florida State727 
10.UConn7Oct. 26, 2008|10.USC7015 
11.Wake Forest8Nov. 9, 2008|11.Georgia69- 
12.Ole Miss9Nov. 22, 2009|12.Wisconsin65- 
13.South Florida10Nov. 8, 2009|13.Boise State64- 
14.Kansas10Oct. 18, 2009|14.Nebraska625 
15.Illinois11Oct. 16, 2011|15.Miami607 
16.Colorado13Nov. 7, 2005|16.Alabama5810 
17.Maryland13Nov. 16, 2008|17.Tennessee525 
18.Rutgers13Nov. 18, 2012|18t.Oklahoma State51- 
19.Northwestern13Dec. 2, 2012|18t.Penn State51- 
20.Purdue14Oct. 24, 2004|20.TCU50- 
21.Minnesota14Oct. 26, 2008|21.Kansas State491 
22.Washington17Nov. 18, 2012|22.Notre Dame483 
23.Arizona State18Oct. 30, 2011|23.West Virginia46- 
24.Mississippi State19Nov. 4, 2012|24.Auburn453 
25.Pitt20Dec. 6, 2009|25t.Texas A&M38- 
26.Cincinnati20Oct. 14, 2012|25t.Georgia Tech38- 

* - Does not include Temple, Memphis, SMU, Houston, UCF

Most Appearances By "Mid-Majors"
 TeamTimesLast
1.Boise State64Dec. 2, 2012
2.BYU29Dec. 6, 2009
3.Hawaii10Dec. 5, 2010
4.Bowling Green9Nov. 22, 2004
5.Southern Miss8Dec. 4, 2011
6.Ball State8Dec. 7, 2008
7.Northern Illinois7Dec. 2, 2012
8.Nevada7Dec. 5, 2010
9.Miami, Ohio7Dec. 7, 2003
10.Tulane7Dec. 6, 1998

 

Teaser:
2013 BCS Standings: A Historic and Statistical Analysis
Post date: Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-7-heisman-trophy-voting
Body:

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

The race for the Heisman Trophy should get extremely interesting over the next few weekends. UCLA will play both Stanford and Oregon. Clemson hosts Florida State. LSU has to play Ole Miss, Alabama and Texas A&M. Baylor still has battles with Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas and Oklahoma State. But for now, the award is Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota's to lose. He got 11 first-place votes (of 13) this week for the highest point total of the season in Athlon's voting.

Post-Week 7 Voting Results:

 LWPlayerPos.TeamPts1st2nd3rd4th5th
1.(1)Marcus MariotaQBOregon63112---
2.(3)Johnny ManzielQBTexas A&M4828111
3.(2)Tajh BoydQBClemson32-2711
4.(5)Jameis WinstonQBFlorida St22--361
5t.(8)AJ McCarronQBAlabama6--1-3
5t.(9)Sean MannionQBOregon St6--1-3
5t.(6)Bryce PettyQBBaylor6-1--2
8.(7)Teddy BridgewaterQBLouisville4---2-
9t.(4)Aaron MurrayQBGeorgia2---1-
9t.(ur)Bishop SankeyRBWashington2---1-
9t.(ur)Anthony BarrLBUCLA2---1-
12t.(ur)Brett HundleyQBUCLA1----1
12t.(11)Zach MettenbergerQBLSU1----1

Heisman Headlines:

More Mariota, Please. After seven touchdowns against Colorado and four touchdowns with over 450 yards of offense on the road against Washington, the nation has finally acknowledged Mariota might be the best player in the country. Having said that, he will have a chance to prove it. Washington State, UCLA and Stanford are Oregon’s next three opponents and there is a chance that every one of the Ducks’ final six games could feature a team heading to a bowl game.

Boyd vs. Winston. Tajh Boyd was excellent in the final quarter against Boston College, as the Tigers' signal-caller finished with nearly 400 yards of offense and two critical touchdowns. While Boyd and Clemson struggled with BC, Florida State and Jameis Winston sat at home and rested. It sets up the next Game of the Century as the Seminoles head down to Death Valley on Saturday. Both QBs are good enough for this not to be a Heisman elimination game, but it will be hard for either player to lose this game and still win the stiff-armed trophy.

Manziel’s Magic. He made a few bad throws throughout the course of the game in Oxford. But the Ole Miss Rebels had no answer for the reigning Heisman winner in the final quarter. Manziel led three long scoring drives to bring his team from behind twice, and ultimately, set up the game-winning field goal. He posted his sixth career 300-yard game, ninth career 100-yard rushing game and ninth game with at least 400 yards of total offense. Watch out for Manziel as A&M gets four very winnable games at home in a row before finally visiting Baton Rouge. Auburn this weekend might be the best of the bunch actually.

Who is Sean Mannion? The Oregon State Beavers were supposed to have had a QB battle this summer but Mannion is making a mockery of that basic premise. Other than a bizarre opening weekend loss to Eastern Washington, Mannion’s Beavers have been perfect. He leads the nation in passing (418.5 ypg) and passing TDs (25) by a wide margin and is poised to set school and Pac-12 records in short order. That said, his Heisman candidacy hinges on marquee showdowns (and wins). Oregon State faces Stanford, USC, Arizona State, Washington and Oregon in the final five weeks of the year. Stay tuned.

Bruins Dynamic Duo. The leader of the Bruins offense is quarterback Brett Hundley. The leader of the Bruins defense is Anthony Barr. They might be the best offensive-defense tandem in the nation and both entered the Heisman mix this weekend. Will it last? Voters won’t have to wait long as UCLA travels to Stanford and Oregon over the next two weeks. Barr might be the best defensive player in the nation but he will have his work cut out for him over the next two weekends.

Dropped Out. Only Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk dropped from the Heisman ranks this week. He failed to reach 100 yards for the first time in nine games in what was Baylor’s worst performance (and still a win) against Kansas State.

What to Watch. Florida State at Clemson? UCLA at Stanford? Auburn at Texas A&M? LSU at Ole Miss?  Those are all electric games to watch, but keep an eye on UCF at Louisville Friday evening. It might be Teddy Bridgewater’s toughest test of the year. Some Heisman contenders could fall this weekend.

The Voting Panel:

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

 

Teaser:
College Football: Post-Week 7 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-week-8
Body:

The beauty of sports, in particular college football, lies in their complete unpredictability and reality TV-like drama. And Week 7 was the first upset-filled Saturday of action as Stanford, Oklahoma and Michigan fell from the ranks of unbeatens despite being favored by a combined 26 points. Things are only getting cranked up on the college gridiron, however, as huge showdowns this weekend highlight what should be a fantastic next month of action. Here's what might happen in Week 8.

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

Sean Mannion will set the single-game Pac-12 passing record
Arizona State’s Andrew Walter set the single-game passing record with 536 yards against No. 6 Oregon on Oct. 19, 2002. Mannion is lapping the nation when it comes to passing after 493 yards against Washington State — his fourth 400-yard game of the season. He is leading the nation at 418.5 yards per game and six more TD passes (25) than anyone else in the country. Against the 123rd ranked defense in the nation, Cal (518.0 ypg), there is a good chance Mannion sets the conference single-game passing record.

Texas A&M will score 60 points
Auburn is dramatically improved on both sides of the ball. It’s allowing just 18.8 points per game after allowing 28.3 last year. The offense is much better as well and should be able to move the ball against a porous Texas A&M defense. However, Auburn is still allowing roughly 400 yards per game on defense and Johnny Manziel still plays quarterback for the Aggies. Ole Miss did everything but win the game last week against TAMU but, still, Manziel won the day. The Aggies have scored at least 40 points in nine straight games and hung 63 on Auburn last year… on the road. Take the over, folks.

Three ranked SEC teams will lose on the road
No. 24 Auburn isn’t the only ranked SEC team playing on the road this weekend. No. 6 LSU visits Ole Miss, No. 11 South Carolina heads to Tennessee, No. 22 Florida goes to No. 14 Mizzou and No. 15 Georgia visits Vanderbilt. The Dawgs and Gators have been decimated by injuries and could easily fall to Eastern Division foes. The Gamecocks and Vols always play tough and Ole Miss might be the best home team of the bunch. Look for at least two upsets on the road this weekend to go with Auburn’s loss.

No one will watch the Big Ten
I don’t know what the TV ratings look like for an entire conference week-by-week, but I am willing to bet the viewership for the Big Ten this weekend will be as low as it’s ever been. Two major brands, Penn State and Nebraska, are on bye this week and not one of the five games in the league features a single-digit point spread. Indiana is a 10-point dog to Michigan and that might be the best game of the weekend in the Midwest. Or is it Wisconsin’s road trip to Illinois? Minnesota at Northwestern? Iowa at Ohio State? Purdue at Michigan State? I rest my case.

Stanford will lose back-to-back games for the first time since 2009
The Cardinal haven’t lost back-to-back games since losing at Oregon State and Arizona in October 2009. Stanford is 44-8 since that time and hasn’t lost two games in a row over that span. After falling to a quality Utah team on the road last weekend, Stanford hosts No. 9 UCLA and Heisman candidates Brett Hundley and Anthony Barr. The Cardinal’s offense hasn’t been nearly as strong as anticipated and UCLA has quickly rebuilt its skill positions. Look for UCLA to avenge both 2012 losses to Stanford by toppling the mighty Cardinal this weekend.

Ed Orgeron will get in a fight with The Leprechaun
Let’s be honest, everybody wants their mascot to fight the Notre Dame Leprechaun. But few would want their head coach to come to blows with the other team’s mascot. USC might be the exception. The infamously short-tempered Orgeron watched his team nearly cough up a 21-point fourth-quarter lead last Thursday against Arizona and one can only imagine what the locker room was like following the win. The excitable and bizarre defensive coordinator-turned-head coach doesn’t take too kindly to losing and/or taunting. In a heated rivalry game with Notre Dame, fans should expect the unexpected from Coach O. Or, at least, a guy can hope.

The State of Texas won’t lose
There are 12 FBS programs in Texas. Texas-San Antonio, UTEP and Texas are not playing this weekend, but the other nine will go unbeaten. Texas A&M and Baylor are heavy home favorites over Auburn and Iowa State. Texas Tech visits West Virginia. Rice plays at 0-6 New Mexico State, SMU visits 1-4 Memphis, Texas State hosts winless Georgia State and North Texas visits 2-4 Louisiana Tech. If TCU can somehow pull the upset over a beatable Oklahoma State team and unbeaten Houston can hold serve at home against an improving BYU team, the Lone Star State could go 9-0 this weekend.

Teaser:
Outrageous College Football Predictions: Week 8
Post date: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/amazing-stats-nfls-week-6
Body:

Certainly, no one expected the Jacksonville Jaguars to be any good in 2013, so their 0-6 record isn't very startling. But four combined wins and 18 combined losses for Houston, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and the Giants? No one saw that coming. This is what makes the NFL so unpredictable... and popular.

With that in mind, here are the most important, interesting, historic and bizarre statistics from Week 6 of the NFL:

1934: Last time two teams in the same division started 6-0
Since the expansion of the NFL playoff structure in 1990, 27 of the 29 teams — or 93.1-percent — to start 6-0 in the NFL have made the playoffs. While the Saints went down in historic fashion to the Patriots, the Broncos and Chiefs stayed unbeaten with wins over Jacksonville and Oakland. It marks just the second time since the divisional structure was implemented in 1933 that two teams in the same division started 6-0. In 1934, the Lions and Bears both started 10-0.

1:13: Time left when the Patriots got the ball
Drew Brees led an impressive 10-play, 81-yard touchdown drive that ended with 3:29 left on the clock to take a one-point lead over the Patriots. After two wasted possessions by the Pats, the Saints kicked a field goal to take a four-point lead. Tom Brady finally got the ball back with 1:13 left on the clock on his own 30-yard line. Brady worked deftly down the field on his own 8-play, 70-yard drive that culminated in a brilliant game-winning 17-yard touchdown pass to rookie Kenbrell Thompkins with just five ticks left on the clock. The scoring strike was Brady’s 342nd of his career, tying him with Fran Tarkenton for fourth all-time in NFL history.

24-0: Lions outscored the Browns in the second half
The Lions had seven possessions in the first half against the Browns on Sunday. Five of them ended in punts — three of which were three-and-out — one was a Matthew Stafford kneel down and one was a 58-yard touchdown drive. The Browns had six possessions and scored three times to take a commanding 17-7 halftime lead. Stafford and the Lions made some serious halftime adjustments and went on to outscore the Browns 24-0 in the second half. It was Stafford’s 13th game with at least three touchdown passes, setting a Lions team record (Bobby Layne, 12). Rookie tight end Joseph Fauria was the first player since 2005 to finish a game with three receptions and three touchdown catches.

98: Longest INT returned for a TD by a LB in NFL history
The Houston Texans are amidst one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history. And St. Louis rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree put a stamp on the Rams' 38-13 win by returning a T.J. Yates pass 98 yards for a touchdown. It ties Tampa Bay’s Shelton Quarles for the longest INT return for a TD by a linebacker in NFL history (Oct. 7, 2001). It was the longest such return ever by a rookie linebacker, and Houston has now thrown a pick-six in five consecutive games. The Texans are 2-4 this year and are 3-7 in their last 10 regular season games.

24.1: Chiefs' NFL-leading third-down defense
Kansas City is unbeaten because of its defense. The Chiefs lead the NFL with a +12 turnover margin, rank fifth in the league at 306.3 yards allowed per game and are allowing an NFL-best 10.8 points per game. More importantly, no team in the NFL gets off of the field better than KC. It has allowed just 20-of-83 third-down conversions on defense through six games, leading the league with a sterling 24.1 percent rate.

0: Steelers total takeaways entering Week 6
Pittsburgh was winless and takeaway-less entering a huge Week 6 contest with the Jets. The Steelers were the only team in the league that had yet to force a turnover. Ryan Clark and Lawrence Timmons each intercepted New York rookie quarterback Geno Smith in the Steelers' first win of the season. Longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is now 16-2 against rookie quarterbacks after forcing Smith into an ugly quarterback rating of 48.8.

143.3: Cam Newton's career-high passer rating
Cam Newton played arguably his best game as an NFL passer in the convincing 35-10 road win over the Vikings. He completed 20-of-26 passes (76.9 percent) for 242 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions and a career-high 143.4 QB rating. It was only the fifth time he has thrown for three scores in a game and fifth time he had completed better than 70 percent of is passes in his 37-game career. Newton also added 30 yards rushing and a TD on the ground.

3.1: Yards per carry for Chris Johnson
There are only five players in the NFL who have gotten more rushing attempts than Tennessee’s Chris Johnson (106). However, the Titans back has no room to run and therefore has been incredibly ineffective. He is averaging a career-worst 3.1 yards per carry and hasn’t scored a rushing touchdown all season. He rushed 12 times for 33 yards (2.8 ypc) in the loss against Seattle this weekend. Through six games in 2013, Johnson has posted the fifth-worst (17 yards against Kansas City), eighth-worst (21 yards against NY Jets) and 15th-worst (33 yards against Seattle) rushing totals of his 85-game career.

23: Turnovers by the Giants
Houston and Arizona have both turned the ball over 15 times in 2013 and are tied for second-to-last in giveaways this season. They’ve lost a combined seven games, but pale in comparison to what the Giants have done in the giveaway category. After three more interceptions from Eli Manning, the Giants dropped to 0-6 after the loss to Chicago on Thursday night. The 23 turnovers lead the league by a wide margin and Manning’s 15 interceptions are as many as he threw in all of 2012. The G-Men are on pace for 61 turnovers this season, which would be two shy of the current NFL record of 63 held by the 1978 San Francisco 49ers.

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The talk all summer long about the Big Ten was Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State. At the midway point, it’s already obvious that the Buckeyes are the best team in the league and are the only true national contender in the Big Ten. And despite two losses, it’s also clear that Gary Andersen was the right guy for the job in Madison.

What else have we learned, however? Embattled coaches across the league are still very much dealing with pressure situations to get to the postseason and need to win critical games in the second half to ensure future employment. Meanwhile, and more importantly, the Legends Division is completely wide open. Four teams have a legitimate chance to face Ohio State in the championship game — and none of them have played each other yet.

Buckle up, folks.

Midseason Awards and Second-Half Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Pac-12 SEC

2013 Big Ten Midseason Awards and Second-Half Predictions

Coach of the Year: Urban Meyer, Ohio State
Almost by default, Meyer has to be the pick here. Bill O’Brien has a few nice wins, Gary Andersen has done an excellent job in his first season, Bo Pelini is winning without Taylor Martinez, and Mark Dantonio appears to have rejuvenated his offense. But Meyer’s team is clearly the best in the league and is the only unbeaten squad left in the Big Ten. Let’s face it, until Meyer losses a game at Ohio State, he is the Coach of the Year. He’s 18-0 thus far.

Offensive Player of the Year: Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin
With Braxton Miller and Taylor Martinez dealing with injuries, Gordon appears to be the clear-cut frontrunner for Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. He is leading the Big Ten in rushing and is third nationally at 145.0 yards per game. He is tied for the Big Ten lead with eight rushing touchdowns and is fourth nationally among running backs with an absurd 9.7 yards per carry average. Wisconsin might be the second-best team in the league and will continue to ride what might be the most talented running back to play in Madison.

Defensive Player of the Year: Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier (47 tackles, 8.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 2 FF) will battle with Borland for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors but no one has meant more to his team than the Badgers' linebacker. Borland is third in the league with 9.3 tackles per game, has 3.0 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks and even completed a pass on a fake punt for 23 yards. Borland, who is tied for the NCAA’s all-time lead in fumbles forced, is the reason the Badgers defense is leading the league in points allowed (13.2 ppg) and is fifth nationally in total defense (267.3 ypg).

Newcomer of the Year: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
The five-star all-everything recruit has quickly lived up to his lofty recruiting status as one of the most-touted signal callers to ever sign with the Big Ten. He has three 300-yard games in his first six career starts and is leading the Big Ten in passing with 278.7 yards per game. He is also asked to do more for his offense than any other quarterback, as he leads the league in completions (132) and attempts (226).

Midseason Disappointment: Devin Gardner, QB, Michigan
Gardner is leading the Big Ten in total offense per game (285.8 ypg) and his team is 5-1. But most have to agree that his play has been a big disappointment thus far. He has thrown four more interceptions (10) than anyone else in the league and is leading the Big Ten in fumbles lost (3). Gardner has made big plays but has also made too many mistakes. With huge games looming in the Legends Division as well as Ohio State, he has plenty of time to turn his early season slump around.

Midseason Surprise: Michigan State’s offense
At first it looked like the Spartans would have yet another ugly season on offense. While 374.7 yards per game may not look like much at this point, Michigan State is looking much more like a balanced team than expected - one that could win the Legends Division. The Spartans are averaging over 30 points per game, and quarterback Connor Cook has elevated his play in the Big Ten. The Spartans just posted more yards (474) and points (40) in a win over Indiana than it had in a Big Ten game since 2010 (yards) and 2011 (points). With the No. 1 defense in the nation, all Cook has to do on offense is be respectable and Sparty could find itself in the title game again.

Three Things to Watch in the Second Half

Ohio State’s Quest for 25-0
After a 12-0 perfect season in Urban Meyer’s probated first year, the Buckeyes have yet to lose in 2013. And with two big hurdles already cleared in the form of Wisconsin and Northwestern, there is little left on the Buckeyes schedule. Penn State at home on Oct. 26 and a much anticipated road trip to Ann Arbor in the season finale appear to be the only two potential stumbling blocks. Should Ohio State finish the regular season unbeaten, it would be a Big Ten Championship Game win away from a perfect 25-0 start to Meyer’s Buckeyes career. It might also mean a fourth BCS National Championship game bid in 11 years. USC in 2004-05 was the last team to go unbeaten in back-to-back regular seasons.

Legends Division Round Robin
Ohio State has all but locked up the Leaders Division and one half of the Big Ten Championship Game. But to suggest that the Legends Division is anything by wide open would be foolish. Michigan (1-1), Michigan State (2-0), Nebraska (2-0) and Northwestern (0-2) have yet to play each other and all four will face the other three in the coming weeks. Nebraska might be in the best situation, as both Northwestern and Michigan State come to Lincoln, and the Huskers avoid Wisconsin and Ohio State altogether. Northwestern gets both Michigan and Michigan State at home but has three road games left with Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois and sits two games back already. The Wolverines still have three nasty road trips, as well as home games with the Huskers and Buckeyes. The Spartans also avoid Wisconsin and Ohio State but must visit Nebraska, Northwestern and Illinois. This should be a fun second half.

Bowl Eligibility
Indiana (3-3) has been to one bowl game (2007) since 1993. Illinois (3-2) has been to just two bowls since 2007. Iowa (4-2) hasn’t missed the postseason in back-to-back seasons since 1999-00. And Minnesota (4-2) is without its head coach for the indefinite future. All four could make it to a bowl game but all four will have to pull upsets to do so. Kevin Wilson, Tim Beckman and Kirk Ferentz are all sitting on warm coaching seats and all three desperately need to get to the postseason or post a winning record. The Hoosiers might be the best of the trio but will have to win games against the Gophers and Illini at home to have a chance.

Games to Watch

Ohio State at Michigan (Nov. 30)
It’s the best rivalry in college football and more could be on the line in this year’s edition than ever before. A trip to the Big Ten Championship game for Michigan could be hanging in the balance in the season finale. But for Ohio State that will likely already have clinched the Leaders Division, a second straight perfect season and potential trip to the BCS National Championship game will be at stake.

Nebraska at Michigan (Nov. 9)
These two have met just twice in the regular season since the 1960s, and the home team has won both contests. As conference foes, Michigan won two years ago in Ann Arbor in convincing fashion, while the Huskers handled the Wolverines with ease in Lincoln last fall. There is a very real chance Nebraska is 4-0 in Big Ten play when they head North to battle Michigan the second weekend in November.

Michigan at Michigan State (Nov. 2)
An in-state rivalry once dominated by the Maize and Blue has recently swung in the favor of the Spartans. Mark Dantonio won four straight in the matchup before Brady Hoke broke through with a hard-fought 12-10 win last year in Ann Arbor. This is a must-win game for both teams if either wants to keep pace and top Nebraska in the Leaders Division.

Michigan State at Nebraska (Nov. 16)
These two teams combined for 551 yards rushing in a thrilling come-from-behind win for Nebraska in East Lansing last season. Should both teams survive the above tests with Michigan (and Northwestern, in Nebraska’s case) to get to this point, it would likely feature two unbeaten teams in Big Ten play — in which case, the division crown will be at stake.

Northwestern at Nebraska (Nov. 2)
The Wildcats get both Michigan and Michigan State at home in the month of November. But before facing either, the Wildcats will have to visit Nebraska to start the month. A loss would give Northwestern a minimum of three conference losses and no chance at a division crown. This was an epic 29-28 thriller in Evanston last year, and Huskers fans certainly haven’t forgotten about what happened the last time Pat Fitzgerald’s bunch came to Lincoln — the Cats scored 21 second-half points to win.
 

Big Ten 2013 Second-Half Predictions

(Logos are of projected winner for each game)
 

Leaders Division


1. Ohio State

IowaPenn Stateat Purdueat IllinoisIndianaat MichiganFinal Record
12-0


2. Wisconsin

at Illinoisat IowaBYUIndianaat MinnesotaPSUFinal Record
10-2


3. Penn State

at Ohio StateIllinoisat MinnesotaPurdueNebraskaat WisconsinFinal Record
8-4


4. Indiana

at MichiganMinnesotaIllinoisat Wisconsinat OSUPurdueFinal Record
6-6


5. Illinois

WisconsinMich. Stateat PSUat IndianaOSUat PurdueNWFinal Record
4-8


6. Purdue

at Mich. StateOSUIowaat Penn StateIllinoisat IndianaFinal Record
1-11

 

Legends Division

1. Nebraska

at MinnesotaNWat MichiganMich. Stateat PSUIowaFinal Record
9-3


2. Michigan State

Purdueat IllinoisMichiganat Nebraskaat NWMinnesotaFinal Record
9-3


3. Michigan

Indianaat Mich. StateNebraskaat NWat IowaOSUFinal Record
9-3


4. Northwestern

Minnesotaat Iowaat NebraskaMichiganMich. Stateat IllinoisFinal Record
7-5


5. Iowa

at OSUNWWisconsinat PurdueMichiganat NebraskaFinal Record
6-6


6. Minnesota

at NWNebraskaat IndianaPSUWisconsinat Mich. StateFinal Record
4-8

 

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