Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /news/what-if-heisman-was-awarded-after-national-championship
Body:

The Heisman Trophy is an inherently flawed award. That’s the bad news.

The great news is we the fans have the power to change it. Just six years ago, underclassmen weren’t really considered viable options, but Tim Tebow ended that discussion and now another second-year player could win the trophy this year. Charles Woodson is the only true defensive player to ever win the award back in 1997, but a linebacker could walk away a winner this Saturday. In fact, Manti Te’o is the third defensive Heisman finalist in the last four years (Tyrann Mathieu, Ndamukong Suh).

The voting for the Heisman is utterly counterintuitive as well. Hell, even CBS analyst Gary Danielson gave up his vote years ago because he can’t stand the voting structure. With only three names on each ballot, regional and personal agendas become over-amplified. If you have a bias against Manziel or Te’o it would be easy to leave them off of your ballot to have more of an impact on the voting.

Most importantly, however, the timing of the vote makes no sense.

The NFL awards its MVP for regular season play, but a team could play four games in the postseason. College football features a maximum of one postseason game (for now) per team. It makes no sense for the Heisman Trophy voting to take place before the BCS National Championship Game.

In just 15 seasons under the BCS system, there are a handful of Heisman winners who might not be winners had voting taken place after the national title game. This theory might be no more obvious than this season with Manti Te’o and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Johnny Manziel, Collin Klein and the Irish linebacker are all extremely deserving Heisman finalists. And Te’o could easily win the award this Saturday. But let’s say Manziel or Klein takes home the stiff-armed trophy and then Te’o dominates Alabama to win Notre Dame’s first national title in 25 years? If he posts 10 tackles and a sack, for example, against Bama’s other-worldly offensive line in a win over the Crimson Tide in the national title game, there would be no legitimate argument against Te’o as college football’s most outstanding player. Sorry, Aggies (either one), you would have no legs to stand on. There would be no hole on Te’o's Heisman resume — not even statistically.

And if the Irish get beaten into submission by Alabama, either Manziel or Klein would be the more deserving candidate.

Related: Athlon Sports 2012 Final Heisman voting: The Winner is...

But Te’o wouldn’t be the first player who lost the award because voters didn’t get to see them in the brightest and only spotlight that matters.

2005: Vince Young, QB, Texas
Reggie Bush won the 2005 Heisman Trophy, end of story. I don’t care what has happened since; Bush will always be ’05’s “Most Outstanding Player.” So the investigation and stripped award has nothing to do with the fact Vince Young deserved the trophy. His performance in the Rose Bowl — a game many believe is the greatest ever played on a college gridiron — was the most dominant performance the college game has ever seen. Young in 2005 was the most unstoppable force I’ve ever seen in college football. He finished third in the nation in passing efficiency, rushed for over 1,000 yards and led an offense that was the highest scoring (652 points) in the history of the sport. Bush was magical that year, but Young was better and should have his name on the great bronze statue.

2000: Josh Heupel, QB, Oklahoma
Chris Weinke was coming off of a national championship and led the No. 1 team to an unbeaten record and a third-straight trip to the BCS title game. His performance earned him the Heisman in 2000. Heupel finished No. 2 in the voting on his own unbeaten Oklahoma team. These two squared off in the BCS championship game and Weinke was completely shutdown. He threw 26 incompletions, was 1-of-15 on third down, threw two interceptions and the 'Noles' offense scored zero points in the loss to the Sooners. Heupel wasn’t dominant, but he completed 25-of-39 passes for 214 yards and finished as an undefeated national champion.

2008: Tim Tebow, QB, Florida
A trio of quarterbacks finished 1-2-3 in the Heisman voting in 2008. Sam Bradford was the winner on an unbeaten Oklahoma team destined for the national title game. Colt McCoy actually finished second, but it was reigning Heisman winner Tim Tebow who got the most first-place votes (309 to 300). Bradford and Tebow squared off in Miami for the BCS national championship and the Gators passer was the better player. He finished with 231 yards passing, 109 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the 24-14 win. Bradford finished with 256 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.

2001: Ken Dorsey, QB, Miami
Dorsey was a fairly non-descript player on a loaded roster, but he finished third in the Heisman voting to Eric Crouch and Rex Grossman. The voting was extremely tight and the BCS MVP performance from Dorsey in a crushing win over Crouch means he likely would have won the trophy had voting taken place after the game. Dorsey was 22-of-35 passing for 362 yards with three first-half touchdowns and improved to 26-1 as the starter. Meanwhile, Crouch rushed for 114 yards on 22 carries and completed just 5-of-15 passes for 62 yards with no touchdowns and three sacks in the 37-14 loss. In fact, a case could be made that Grossman, who threw for 248 yards and four touchdowns in the Orange Bowl win over Maryland, was also more deserving following the title game.

1999: Michael Vick, QB, Virginia Tech
Ron Dayne was a run-away Heisman winner with 2,042 points to Joe Hamilton’s 994 and Michael Vick’s 319. Dayne had just become the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher on a team that eventually won the Rose Bowl behind his record-setting MVP performance against Stanford. But when it came to electricity on the field, few players matched Vick’s talents. He led Virginia Tech to its lone title game appearance that year in a matchup with the powerful Florida State Seminoles. After trailing 28-7 late in the second quarter, his dynamic play-making ability led four consecutive scoring drives to take a 29-28 lead as the game headed to the fourth quarter. The Noles scored 18 unanswered points in the fourth to put the game away, but Vick’s greatness was cemented in the Superdome that night. He rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown while throwing for 225 yards, no interceptions and another score in the air. Dayne was extremely deserving and proved it in Pasadena as the Big Ten's only back-to-back Rose Bowl MVP, but a strong case could be made for the Hokies' quarterback after his showcase in New Orleans.

Teaser:
<p> What if the Heisman was awarded after the National Championship?</p>
Post date: Thursday, December 6, 2012 - 05:15
Path: /college-football/20-best-college-football-stats-2012
Body:

Single-game, single-season and career records. School, conference and national benchmarks. Remarkable performances and embarrassing moments. The good, bad and ugly makes college football the great sport that it is today. Here are the 20 most intriguing, most important and most interesting college football stats of the 2012 season: 

0: First quarter TD allowed by Notre Dame
The Irish led the nation in scoring defense at 10.3 points per game. Five separate times, Notre Dame allowed less than a touchdown in a game — against programs likes Michigan, Michigan State and Miami. The Irish defense allowed nine offensive touchdowns all season, (2 rush, 7 pass) and the rushing defense finished fourth nationally at 92.4 yards per game. Needless to say, there is a reason they finished the season unbeaten.

54.7: Yardage difference in Alabama’s nation’s leading defense from 2011 to 2012
Alabama led the nation once again in total defense, allowing a paltry 246.0 yards per game in 2012. However, it was 54.7 more yards per game than the Crimson Tide’s No. 1-rated defense allowed a year ago. Although the 2012 numbers aren't bad, it puts into perspective just how dominant the 2011 Alabama defense was when it allowed just 191.3 yards and 8.8 points per game.

300: Yards receiving in a single-game by four separate players
Before this year, only 15 times had a wide receiver caught at least 300 yards in a single game and never before had it happened more than twice in a season. In 2012, it happened four times — three times on the same day. West Virginia’s Stedman Bailey (303) and Baylor’s Terrance Williams (314) did it in the same game as Arkansas’ Cobi Hamilton (303) did it in a loss to Rutgers on the same day. USC’s Marqise Lee (345) did it a month later against Arizona.

4: Times Washington State rushed for negative yards in a game
A team rushed for negative yards in a game 14 separate times in 2012 and four of them came from Washington State. Colorado posted the single-game low for rushing yards in a game with minus-21 against Stanford on Nov. 3, but Washington State takes the rushing cake by finishing with less than zero yards rushing against Stanford (-18), Oregon (-8), BYU (-5) and Utah (-4). Needless to say, the Cougars finished last in the nation in rushing (120th) with 29.1 yards per game.

214.3: Yards per game Auburn was outgained in SEC play
The Auburn Tigers averaged only 235.1 yards per game in eight SEC games. They allowed 449.4 yards per game on defense in those eight contests. The winless conference record was the first 0-8 SEC record on the Plains in the history of the storied Southern powerhouse. Mississippi State (216), LSU (183), Vanderbilt (212) and Ole Miss (213) posted SEC lows in yards allowed against Auburn, while Arkansas (321) and Georgia (238) posted their second-best defensive efforts of the year against Auburn. Hence, the hiring of offensive guru Gus Malzahn.

2045: Ka'Deem Carey's nation-best yards from scrimmage 
No player gained more yards from scrimmage than the Arizona running back this season. He led the nation in rushing at 146.4 yards per game, while setting the single-season school record for rushing yards at 1,757. His 366 yards against Colorado were a single-game Pac-12 record as well. He caught 33 passes for 288 yards for a team that went from four wins to seven. His nine 100-yard rushing efforts were second only to…

12: Nation’s best 100-yard rushing games from Jordan Lynch
The Huskies of NIU are the first MAC team to ever land a BCS bowl bid. The play of quarterback Jordan Lynch is the primary reason DeKalb, Ill., was celebrating with Oranges this Christmas. He led the nation by topping the 100-yard mark 12 times and scored 19 rushing touchdowns en route to a nation’s best 1,771 rushing yards and MAC Championship. The dynamic junior also threw for 2,962 yards, 24 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

82 and 76: NCAA all-time record for total TDs and rushing TD by Montee Ball
Wisconsin tailback Montee Ball took over as the starter in Madison with five games left in his sophomore season. He scored eight total touchdowns in his first 21 games as a Badger. In his final 32 games, Ball scored 74 times for an average of 2.3 touchdowns per game. His 82 total touchdowns and 76 rushing touchdowns are both NCAA all-time records, as his team has played in the Rose Bowl three straight seasons. He is the NCAA’s active leading rusher with 5,040 yards and has one passing touchdown on his resume as well (which doesn’t count towards his totals). However, how long will his record stand? Because…

28: NCAA freshman TD record set by Kenneth Dixon
Louisiana Tech tailback Kenneth Dixon broke Marshall Faulk's (1991) freshman scoring record by reaching paydirt 28 times this fall. He led the nation in total touchdowns and is setting himself up for a run at Ball’s all-time records. But that wasn’t the only remarkable accomplishment in the Bulldogs loaded backfield this fall…

444: Colby Cameron’s NCAA record pass attempts without an interception
The Bulldogs quarterback went 444 attempts without throwing an interception, breaking Russell Wilson’s previous mark of 379. Utah State’s Will Davis intercepted a Cameron pass in what turned out to be a de facto WAC championship game win over Louisiana Tech in overtime (48-41). The 9-3 Bulldogs lost twice to end the year, ironically, on the back of five Cameron interceptions. He finished with 4,171 yards and 31 touchdowns to go with those five picks.

3: BCS conference teams to go unbeaten and not play in the BCS championship game
Before this season, Auburn (2004) and Cincinnati (2009) were the only two BCS conference teams to finish a regular season unbeaten and not earn a bid into the national title showdown. The Ohio State Buckeyes became the third this season, as it will sit at home due to NCAA postseason sanctions. However, the Bearcats got hammered by the Gators in the Sugar Bowl, while Auburn edged out Virginia Tech in the same game. That leaves the Tigers and Buckeyes as the only unbeaten BCS conference teams in the final polls, leaving fans in Columbus and on the Plains wondering what-if.

71: Landry Jones career-high pass attempts against Oklahoma State
Jones chucked the football around 71 times in the crazy 51-48 overtime Bedlam Series win over Oklahoma State. He attempted more passes in that one game than the Sooners entire 1976 (63), 1975 (69) and 1953 (61) offenses posted for the entire season. It was a career-high in attempts for the OU passer - topping the 62 he threw in 2010 - also against the Cowboys. In fact, Jones attempted 220 passes in four games against the Pokes during his career, more than any other team he faced. Jones ended his career with 16,368 yards passing, 122 touchdowns, 51 interceptions and minus-368 yards rushing. David Piland of Houston was the only player to attempt more passes in a game this season with 77 against Louisiana Tech.

4.3: Career rushes per touchdown for Blake Bell
The Bell-dozer will be a junior next year and is expected to take over for Jones in Norman under center. However, his resume doesn’t look like that of a traditional quarterback. He scored 11 rushing touchdowns on 58 carries this year and has 24 rushing touchdowns on 102 career attempts. He should become the starter next fall for Oklahoma without a touchdown pass on 19 career passes.

175.94: Marcus Mariota’s nation’s leading road passer rating
The Ducks were 5-0 on the road due in large part to Mariota’s stable play away from Eugene. He completed 75.2-percent of his passes for 1,036 yards, 13 touchdowns and only two interceptions in his five games away from Autzen Stadium this season. He also rushed for 414 of his 690 yards and three of his four touchdowns on the road as well. And he did all of this as a freshman against the likes of USC, Oregon State, Arizona State, Wazzu and Cal. Clemson’s Tajh Boyd (172.87) was the No. 2-rated road passer. Speaking of…

8: Tajh Boyd’s ACC single-game touchdown
Boyd completed 30-of-44 passes for 426 yards, rushing 18 times for 103 yards and scored an ACC record eight total touchdowns in the win over the Wolfpack. The Tigers' offense set a school-record with 102 offensive plays and finished two yards shy (754) of a school record for total offense.

38: Tennessee was first SEC team to allow at least 38 points in seven straight games
When Missouri scored 51 points in a win over Tennessee in Neyland Stadium on Nov. 10, it marked the first time in history an SEC team had allowed at least 38 points in six straight games. Then the Vols allowed 41 points to Vanderbilt in a loss that signaled the end of the Derek Dooley era in Knoxville. Tennessee allowed an SEC-worst 35.7 points and 471.3 yards per game in 2012.

572: Big 12 single-game all-purpose yards record set by Tavon Austin
Austin has done everything for the Mountaineers in his amazing career in Morgantown. He has scored 29 receiving touchdowns, five return touchdowns and six rushing scores. He owns the single-season and career return yards marks and numerous receiving records. But he also set the WVU single-game rushing record with 344 yards on just 21 carries against Oklahoma. His 572 all-purpose yards in the close loss to the Sooners were six shy of the NCAA single-game record set by Emmett White of Utah State (against New Mexico State). It might have been the most dominate single-game performance by any player at any position ever. Additionally, Antonio Andrews of Western Kentucky (2,977 yards) needs 274 all-purpose yards in the bowl game to break Barry Sanders’ single-season record set in 1988 (3,251).

80,000: 17 programs averaged at least 80K in attendance this fall
Thirteen of those 17 hail from either the Big Ten or the SEC. In fact, 10 of the top 12, 15 of the top 21 and 17 of the top 24 come from the two most powerful and lucrative leagues in America.

4: SEC wins by at least 23 points in the last two seasons by Vanderbilt
From 1957 to 2010, the Commodores won four SEC games by at least 23 points. In the last two seasons, Vandy has matched the total with four wins over Tennessee, Ole Miss and Kentucky (twice). Tailback Zac Stacy also became the school’s all-time leading rusher at 3,036 yards.

5,000 and 2,000: Career totals topped by Taylor Martinez before his senior year
Only three players have ever passed for at least 5,000 yards and rushed for 2,000 yards prior to entering their senior season. Missouri’s Brad Smith and Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick were the only two in the club before Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez crossed those benchmarks this season. T-Mart has 6,387 yards passing (44 TD, 25 INT) and 2,812 yards rushing (31 TD) in just three seasons. 

Teaser:
<p> The 20 Best College Football Stats of 2012</p>
Post date: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-final-voting-winner
Body:

Each week, the Athlon editors and others who closely follow college football vote on the most prestigious award in the sport. A 13-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports and other publications cast their votes for their top Heisman Trophy candidates. The votes will be tallied and the results will be posted as the Athlon Sports Heisman Watch List every week of the regular season.

Voting: Each first-place vote receives 10 points. A second-place vote receives nine points. So on and so forth with a 10th-place vote receiving one point. Here are Athlon's guest voters:

Barrett Sallee: Bleacher Report SEC Lead Writer (@BarrettSallee)
Jim Young: ACCSports.com (@ACCSports)
Blair Kerkhoff: Kansas City Star (@BlairKerkhoff)
Chris Level: RedRaiderSports.com (@ChrisLevel)

And the winner is...

1. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame (six first-place votes, 121 points)
Stats: 103 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 7 INT, 1.5 sack, FR, 4 PBU
Te'o tied with Manziel for the most first-place votes and won a razor-thin Athlon Sports Heisman vote due to more second place votes (five to three). Judging by our own exercise, the second- and third-place votes may play as strong a role in the award than the first-place. Notre Dame is unbeaten and playing Alabama for the BCS title after playing one of the toughest schedules in the nation, and Te'o was arguably the most consistent performer through the season of the finalists. He has a golden reputation as a leader and in his off-field actions. On the field, he finished second in the nation in interceptions and put on marquee performances against Oklahoma and USC. His defense led the nation in fewest points allowed. Should the Irish defeat the Crimson Tide in Miami, Te'o could make the case he easily deserved the award.

2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (six first-place votes, 119 points)
Stats: 273-400, 3,419 yards, 24 TD, 8 INT, 184 att., 1,181 yards, 19 TD
The arguement for Johnny Manziel is his competition (the best in the nation) and the "wow" factor. He made plays few in the nation can make. His statistical production was record-setting and his signature performance against No. 1 Alabama will go down in college football history as one of the greats. Yet, his team lost two games — including a home game to LSU in which his three interceptions cost Texas A&M an SEC West championship and a shot at a national title.

3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State (one first-place vote, 110 points)
Stats:
 180-272, 2,490 yards, 15 TD, 7 INT, 194 att., 890 yards, 22 TD
Klein finished his stellar K-State career with a convincing win over Texas to clinch a Big 12 championship and Fiesta Bowl bid. He was a higher-rated passer than Manziel, both in and out of conference play. He rushed for more touchdowns (especially, in conference) and his team won more games. His heart and toughness is unmatched by anyone (except maybe Te'o) and his off-the-field character is second to none.

Comparing the two quarterbacks in conference play:

  G Comp. Att. % Yards TD INT QB Rat Att. Yards TD Pts/Gm
Johnny Manziel 6-2 200 284 70.4 2,289 11 6 146.67 128 698 10 7.5
Collin Klein 8-1 137 213 64.3 1,886 10 5 149.49 148 685 18 12.0\

How the final voting turned out:
 
  Last Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. (2) Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame 121/130 6 5 2 - - 13/13
2. (1) Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M 119/130 6 3 4 - - 13/13
3. (3) Collin Klein QB Kansas St 110/130 1 5 6 1 - 13/13
4. (4) Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 89/130 - - 1 9 3 13/13
5. (6) Marqise Lee WR USC 59/130 - - - 1 3 13/13
6. (5) Marcus Mariota QB Oregon 51/130 - - - 1 1 11/13
7. (9) Kenjon Barner RB Oregon 32/130 - - - 1 1 8/13
8. (7) Ka'Deem Carey RB Arizona 30/130 - - - - 2 8/13
9. (10) Jordan Lynch QB N. Illinois 23/130 - - - - 3 7/13
10. (8) Tavon Austin WR W. Virginia 16/130 - - - - - 4/13
11. (8) Tajh Boyd QB Clemson 12/130 - - - - - 6/13
12. (14) Stepfan Taylor RB Stanford 11/130 - - - - - 3/13
13. (20) Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 9/130 - - - - - 3/13
14. (13) Jadeveon Clowney DE S. Carolina 8/130 - - - - - 3/13
15t. (ur) Montee Ball RB Wisconsin 5/130 - - - - - 2/13
15t. (14) AJ McCarron QB Alabama 5/130 - - - - - 2/13
17t. (14) Giovani Bernard RB N. Caroliona 3/130 - - - - - 2/13
17t. (17) Landry Jones QB Oklahoma 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
17t. (17) Damontre Moore DE Texas A&M 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
17t. (ur) Aaron Murray QB Georgia 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
21t. (19) Barrett Jones OL Alabama 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
21t. (ur) Johnathan Franklin RB UCLA 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
 
The best of the rest:
 
4. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State (12-0)
Stats: 
148-254, 2,039 yards, 15 TD, 6 INT, 227 att., 1,271 yards, 13 TD
 
5. Marqise Lee, WR, USC (7-5)
Stats: 112 rec., 1,680 yards, 14 TD, 28 KR, 802 yards, TD, 106 yards rushing 
 
6. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon (11-1)
Stats: 
218-312, 2,511 yards, 30 TD, 6 INT, 98 att., 690 yards, 4 TD
 
7. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon (11-1)
Stats: 248 att., 1,624 yards, 21 TD, 19 rec., 232 yards, TD
 
8. Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona (7-5)
Stats: 275 att., 1,757 yards, 20 TD, 33 rec., 288 yards, TD
 
9. Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois (12-1)
Stats: 222-353, 2,962 yards, 24 TD, 5 INT, 271 att., 1,771 yards, 19 TD

10. Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
Stats: 110 rec., 1,259 yards, 12 TD, 61 att., 598 yards, 3 TD, 28 KR, 738 yards, TD, 15 PR, 165 yards, TD
Teaser:
<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Final Voting: And the winner is...</p>
Post date: Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /college-football/15-bcs-championship-match-ups-should-have-happened
Body:

Argument reigned supreme last season when one-loss Alabama got the nod to rematch with LSU over Oklahoma State in the BCS Championship game. Had the Cowboys simply beaten Iowa State two weeks earlier, there would have been no room for discussion. Since there is no playoff (yet) and a hodge-podge of very qualified one-loss teams — Oregon, Florida, Kansas State namely — are looking up at Alabama/Georgia in the BCS standings, it got me wondering, what if?

What national championship games could have, would have, should have, almost took place over the last 15 seasons? Some are justified, some are not. But all would have been intriguing and many would have completely rewritten the history books — like last season, for example. It goes to show that one bounce of the ball, one missed tackle, one injury can change the entire perception of a team, coach or player. Imagine how we would view at LSU and Les Miles historically if they had defeated Mike Gundy and the Pokes instead of losing to Alabama?

1. Auburn vs. USC, 2004
There has been no other team in the BCS era more worthy of playing for the national title without being invited to the big game than the 2004 Auburn Tigers. The Cincinnati Bearcats of 2009 are the only other BCS conference team to go undefeated and not play for the BCS National Championship. Jason Campbell, Cadillac Williams, Ronnie Brown, Marcus McNeil and an athletic alphabet soup at wide receiver (Aromashodu and Obomanu) made this offense as talented as any in War Eagle history. Carlos Rogers and Jay Ratliff led a stacked defense that stifled ranked opponents LSU, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia Tech to a total 38 points. This team would be a heavy underdog to the USC powerhouse that crushed Oklahoma in the BCS title game that year, however, it is clear in hindsight that Auburn at least deserved a shot at the mighty Trojans.

2. USC vs. LSU, 2003
USC ended the 2003 season at No. 1 in both the AP and Coach’s Poll, but was third in the final BCS poll due to an early season overtime road loss to an eight-win Cal team. Oklahoma and LSU both lost as well, the Sooners in embarrassing 35-7 fashion to Kansas State in the Big 12 title game. Yet, they still finished No. 1 in the BCS. The Trojans ended up handling Michigan in the Rose Bowl with relative ease and split the National Championship with LSU. There were 52 NFL players on the ’03 USC roster and it’s fairly obvious they deserved to play in the official BCS national title game. Other than Cal, only one other regular season game was played with 20 points (a 35-18 win over BYU).

3. Ohio State vs. Notre Dame, 2012
Certainly, I would pick Alabama, Georgia or Florida to beat Ohio State if they were to match-up in a National Championship this winter. That doesn’t mean they would win the game and fans seem to have totally forgotten there are actually two unbeaten teams in the nation this season. If it were eligible, Ohio State would deserve to play Notre Dame for the national championship this season. The Buckeyes have a Heisman caliber quarterback, a two-time National Champion (in the SEC, I might add) head coach and a solid defense. Until the playoff is put in place in 2014, the current system is built to award unbeaten teams from power conferences. This year’s title game should be a historic match-up between two of college football blue-blood programs (even if you think Bama or Georgia is the best team).

4. Ohio State vs. Tennessee, 1998
Speaking of Ohio State, the Buckeyes and Vols were the best two teams in the nation back in the inaugural BCS season. After starting the year No. 1 and crushing their first eight opponents, a turnover-filled upset against Michigan State on Nov. 7 cost the Buckeyes a trip to the title game. This was a loaded OSU team that beat five ranked opponents and likely would have been favored over a Florida State team that got beat by 17 points to NC State and didn’t have it’s starting quarterback. But because the Noles loss came in Week 2, they had time to work their way back into the title game. Tennessee-Ohio State would have been a battle for the ages as many Buckeyes fans believe this was the best OSU team of the last 20 years.

5. West Virginia vs. Ohio State, 2007
Major Harris and the 1988 Mountaineers finished the regular season unbeaten and No. 3 in the polls. Had it beaten unblemished No. 1 Notre Dame in the bowl game, it likely would have won the school’s first and only national championship. In eerily similar fashion, WVU lost starting quarterback Pat White to an injury at Pitt on the final weekend of the 2007 regular season. The Panthers won 13-7 and eliminated the No. 2-rated Mounties from the BCS championship game. Had they won that game, Rich Rodriguez, White and Steve Slaton would have faced Ohio State in the title game with as good a shot to upset the Buckeyes as the two-loss LSU Tigers. Those two seasons are the closest WVU has ever come to winning a national title.

6. Oklahoma State vs. LSU, 2011
The debate over Oklahoma State and Alabama getting the right to face LSU was ended in abrupt fashion when the Tide crushed LSU in New Orleans last winter. However, that doesn’t mean the Cowboys didn’t deserve the opportunity to prove itself in the championship setting. One of the most productive (and talented) offenses ever assembled against one of the most productive and talented defenses (either Alabama or LSU) ever assembled would have been a tremendous showdown. Brandon Weeden vs. Eric Reid. Joseph Randle against the lawfirm of Mingo, Montgomery and Logan. How about Justin Blackmon and Morris Claiborne? And finally, Jordan Jefferson against the defense that forced more turnover (44) than anyone in the nation. Sign me up. Of course, had the Pokes not lost in double ovetime to Iowa State on the road in the penultimate game of the season, this would have been the match-up and the nation would have a new 2011 champion.

7. USC/Texas vs. Florida, 2008
The Trojans lost on a Thursday night on the road to a nine-win Oregon State team 27-21 in Week 3. They were not challenged the rest of the season, pitching three shutouts and holding three other teams to seven points or fewer. USC, which finished 12-1, led the nation in scoring defense (9.0 ppg allowed), passing defense and finished No. 2 in total defense. Oklahoma lost to Texas by 10 in the Red River Shootout but stayed ahead of the Horns and Trojans for the right to play Florida. Texas lost to Texas Tech in the Blake Gideon-Michael Crabtree thriller in Lubbock and finished in a three-way tie atop the Big 12 South. The Sooners got the nod based on BCS ranking. In fact, Utah and Boise State were the only unbeatens left after the regular season as Texas, Alabama, Penn State and Texas Tech all finished the regular season with one loss. Since Penn State lost to USC and Bama lost to Florida, a USC (or Texas) and Florida match-up might have actually been the most compelling.

8. Florida vs. Alabama, 2009
“Rematch” is a taboo word these days, but the 2009 SEC championship game decided the national championship game. Both teams entered the final weekend unbeaten and No. 1 Florida lost convincingly in the Georgia Dome 32-13 (we all remember Tim Tebow on the sidelines). The Gators were the defending national champs and had been No. 1 all season, so the question is who was the better team: Texas or Florida? Obviously, we will never know, but watching a Colt McCoy-less Longhorns teams fail to compete with the Tide while Tebow torched the unbeaten Bearcats didn’t help. A best out of three between these two would be just fine with me.

9. Tennessee vs. Miami, 2001
The Vols lost in heart-breaking fashion to Georgia 26-24 (I know, I was there) in the hob-nailed boot game early in 2001. However, after a huge win at No. 2 Florida to win the East in a game that was postponed due to 9/11, Tennessee worked its way back to the No. 2 spot in the BCS. All it had to do was defeat No. 21 LSU in the SEC championship game. Well, the Tigers (with a back-up QB) won a game that signified Nick Saban’s arrival in the SEC while the Volunteers were relegated to the Citrus Bowl. The Big Orange would have been crushed by the Hurricanes — arguably the best college football team ever assembled — so the end result likely wouldn’t have been any different. But one has to think Tennessee would have given The U a better battle than a Cornhuskers team that allowed 99 points in its final two games of the year.

10. Michigan vs. Ohio State, 2006
It might have been the best Ohio State-Michigan game ever played. The Buckeyes were ranked No. 1 and the Wolverines were ranked No. 2 and the game ended in a 42-39 win for Ohio State. Both were unbeaten and the eye-ball test indicated they were the best two teams in the nation. Florida backed its way into the game and proved that theory wrong in hindsight. However, if a rematch is good for the SEC, it’s good for the Big Ten as well. Much like Florida-Alabama in 2009 or LSU-Alabama in 2011, a best out of three would have been extraordinary for all parties involved.

11. Georgia vs. Ohio State/LSU, 2007
LSU lost twice en route to its national title in 2007 but never had to face the 11-2 Bulldogs. One could make the case that the Dawgs were the best team in the SEC that year, but a road loss to the Vols sent Tennessee to Atlanta to face LSU. I guess we’ll never know.

12. Oregon vs. Florida, 2012
Oregon is the best team not playing in the national championship game this fall. A one-loss Florida team also deserves to be mentioned amongst the nation’s elite as well. Of course, a playoff would have solved this issue.

13. Boise State vs. Alabama, 2009
The 2006 Boise State team was more memorable but the 2009 version was likely the best. Five teams finished the regular season unbeaten but TCU, who lost to Boise, Cincinnati and Texas lost in bowl games. Boise State and Alabama were the lone unbeatens that year.

14. Boise State vs. Ohio State, 2006
One thing we can all agree on is that Boise State-Ohio State would have been a much more entertaining national title than the one we got. The only thing that would have made the memorable Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma better is if it had come against Ohio State in the national title game.

15. TCU vs. Auburn, 2010
Oregon and Auburn were clearly the best two teams in the nation, but after an excellent performance against Wisconsin in a Rose Bowl win, TCU finished 13-0. Gary Patterson’s defense against Cam Newton would be fun to watch.

There are plenty of others out there I have failed to mention but would have loved to have seen played out. Here a few others I would have enjoyed:

Stanford vs. Alabama, 2011
UCLA vs. Tennessee, 1998
Oregon vs. Notre Dame, 2012
Oregon vs. Kansas State, 2012
Utah vs. USC, 2004
Stanford vs. Auburn, 2010
Wisconsin vs. Ohio State, 1998
Oklahoma State vs. Alabama, 2011
Penn State vs. Ohio State, 2005

Teaser:
<p> 15 BCS Championship Match-ups that should have happened</p>
Post date: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - 05:16
Path: /college-basketball/weekly-tip-dec-3-college-hoops-stats-matter
Body:

There are 347 division-I college basketball teams. Following college hoops these days can be overwhelming. Let Athlon Sports start your college basketball week each Monday with a look at some of the most intriuging, most important and most interesting stats from around the world of college basketball:

517: Career wins by the late Rick Majerus
The former coach at Marquette (1983-86), Ball State (1987-89), Utah (1989-2004) and Saint Louis (2007-12) died Saturday after a long battle with heart disease. Stories of the coach and broadcaster who impacted lives for more than four decades flooded the internet and airwaves, each encapsulating his gracious and gregarious personality. He won five Coach of the Year Awards in the WAC, seven regular season conference championships and led Utah to the Final Four in 1998.

23: Combined margin of defeat for Kentucky last week
Kentucky had lost back-to-back games only once under John Calipari — road games against Ole Miss and Florida back in 2010-11. The Wildcats’ worst loss under Cal was by 17 to UConn that same year. But after seven games, Kentucky (4-3) lost to Notre Dame and Baylor last week for two of the four worst losses under Calipari. The 14-point loss to the Irish was the second-worst loss of the Calipari era. The nine-point loss on Saturday to Baylor was tied for the third-worst defeat. Keep in mind: Kentucky rolled through Baylor in the Elite Eight last season en route to the national title. The loss to the Bears was the first home loss under Calipari at Kentucky, snapping the nation’s longest home winning streak at 55 games.

81: Mason Plumlee’s free throw percent against top-five teams
Entering his final season at Duke, big man Mason Plumlee was a 50.5 percent free throw shooter. But through the first eight games of his senior year, he is shooting 76.1 percent from the stripe. Against three top-five teams, Ohio State (9 of 12), Louisville (4 of 4) and Kentucky (4 of 5), he has missed only four freebies in 21 attempts. His play — 19.6 points, 1 rebounds — is a big reason Duke is still unbeaten.

18.8: UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett’s points per game
Marcus Thornton of William & Mary is the top scoring freshman in the country at 19 points per game in seven games, but UNLV’s Bennett is nipping at his heels after his first six games at 18.8 points per game. Bennett is shooting 55.4 percent from the floor and adding 7.8 rebounds per game for the 5-1 Rebels. UNLV’s postseason potential is built around veteran Mike Moser, an Athlon preseason first-team All-American, but Bennett’s development over the course of the season could be the difference between an early Tournament exit or deep postseason run.

219: SMU’s RPI in 2011-12
Larry Brown’s Mustangs are one of the top stories early in the season. SMU was 13-19 last season and hasn’t had a winning overall record since 2002-03 (17-13). After an 8-1 start with wins over Pac-12 (Utah) and Big 12 (TCU) programs, the nation is starting to take notice. SMU is No. 37 in Yahoo’s preliminary RPI, ahead of programs like North Carolina and Michigan State, and is poised for its best season in over a decade. Keep en eye on the cagey Brown and his intriguing ‘Stangs.
 

Teaser:
<p> Weekly Tip-off Dec. 3: College Hoops Stats that Matter</p>
Post date: Monday, December 3, 2012 - 13:53
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-13
Body:

NFL football is the greatest reality TV program of all time. The Giants and Colts made sure of that back in 1958. Each NFL fall weekend is a completely new and original experience for every player, fan and coach alike. New stories, new personalities, new winners and new losers. And new statistics.

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 13 of NFL play:

299.7: Andrew Luck yards passing per game
Luck threw for 391 yards and scored two touchdowns in the final 2:39 seconds of the improbable come-from-behind win over Detroit on Sunday. It was his sixth 300-yard passing effort in 12 career games and he now has 3,596 yards in his first season. If he continues at his current pace, not only would he set the single-season NFL rookie passing record — set by Cam Newton last fall at 4,051 yards — he would shatter it by over 700 yards. Luck is on pace for 4,794 yards in his first season. And oh by the way, he also has 216 yards rushing and five touchdowns on the ground. His eight wins are the most by a quarterback drafted No. 1 overall in NFL history. There is nothing lucky about No. 12 in white and blue.

162: Russell Wilson's total offense on Seattle's final two drives
Wilson got the ball on his own three-yard line with 3:40 left to go in the game trailing the Bears by four points in Soldier Field. He completed 6-of-9 passes for 77 yards, rushed twice for 19 yards and finished the 12-play, 97-yard drive with a go-ahead touchdown pass to Golden Tate (who made a great play to get into the end zone). After a miraculous Jay Cutler-Brandon Marshall 56-yard completion that allowed Chicago to send the game into overtime, Wilson was asked to win the game again. He was masterful on yet another 12-play drive — this time 80 yards — to lead his team to a huge road victory. He was 3-of-3 for 38 yards, rushed for 28 yards on three carries and connected with Sidney Rice on the game-winning touchdown pass with 7:33 left in overtime. On his final two drives he accounted for 115 of his 293 passing yards and 47 of his 71 rushing yards and connected on his final seven passes. He didn't turn the ball over once. I mentioned this was against the Bears in Chicago, right?

3: NFL-worst rushing TDs by Green Bay
With 2:12 left in the third quarter and trailing the Vikings at home, James Starks ran off right tackle around the Minnesota defense and into the end zone for the go-ahead and eventual game-winning touchdown. It was the just the third rushing touchdown of the season for the Packers. The ability to run the football effectively will make this team more dangerous come playoff time and it was the difference in the crucial divisional win over the Vikes. The Packers rushed 36 times for 152 yards as Starks set the pace with 66 yards. Oakland and St. Louis are tied with Green Bay with only three rushing touchdowns on the season as well. Aaron Rodgers won his 49th career start on what was his 29th birthday.

149:34: Minutes the 49ers and Rams played this season
The most amount of time any two teams could possibly play in the regular season under the current NFL rule book is 150 minutes exactly. The first time the Rams and Niners met this season, the game ended in a tie. It was the first tie in the NFL since 2008. On Sunday, these two played a second overtime game and came 26 seconds shy of tying for the second time. The Rams' Greg Zuerlein kicked a 54-yard field goal with 26 seconds left in OT to give the Rams the home victory. After 149 minutes and 34 seconds of gameplay, these two had decided absolutely nothing until the kick sailed through the uprights with just seconds remaining.

45: Philip Rivers turnovers the last two seasons
The San Diego quarterback threw an interception and lost a fumble in a close home loss to Cincinnati on Sunday. He failed to throw a touchdown pass and the Chargers lost their eighth game of the season. Rivers has turned the ball over 20 times this season (15 INT, 5 FL) after turning it over 25 times last season (20 INT, 5 FL). He has thrown exactly 45 touchdown passes over that span (with one rushing score) to match his 45 giveaways. He is 12-16 as the starter the last two seasons and is only 8-15 in his last 23 games. This organization has folded and many believe changes in the front office and on the sideline are coming. But maybe it's time to look at a new name under center as well? Just as a frame of reference, Aaron Rodgers has thrown 74 touchdowns passes, only 13 interceptions, lost two fumbles, scored three rushing touchdowns and is 22-5 in one less game as a starter over that same time span.

119.0: Calvin Johnson's receiving yards per game
Megatron caught 13 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown in the brutal loss to the Colts this weekend. However, he now has 1,428 yards receiving through 12 games for an average of 119.0 yards per game. Jerry Rice's single-season receiving record set back in 1995 (1,848 yards) is in major danger of being surpassed by Johnson. If the Lions' wide receiver continues on his pace, he will finish as the only player in history to top 1,900 yards receiving in a single year (1,904). Only four players have ever topped 1,700 yards in a single season and Johnson's career high of 1,681 in 2011 currently ranks seventh all-time. Isaac Bruce is second all-time with 1,781 — also in 1995.

Game 6, 2013: When Tom Brady would set NFL record for consecutive games with a TD
Drew Brees threw five interceptions in the loss to Atlanta on Thursday night. He failed to throw a touchdown, snapping his NFL record for consecutive games with at least one touchdown pass at 53. After throwing one touchdown in the win over Miami on Sunday, Tom Brady owns the top active streak with 44 straight games with a TD toss. Brady would pass Johnny Unitas (47) for second all-time in Week 17 this year and would pass Brees in game six of the 2013 season. The win over the Dolphins clinched the AFC East Championship for the Patriots and gives Brady an NFL-record 10 division titles. 

798: Days since Charlie Batch threw a TD pass
It had been 798 days since Steelers starter Charlie Batch last threw a touchdown pass in the NFL. He tossed three touchdowns in a win over Tampa Bay on Sept. 26, 2010. In fact, those three scores were his only touchdowns since Dec. 30, 2007. That is, until he connected with Heath Miller on a game-tying seven-yard touchdown pass with 7:24 left in the game at M&T Bank Stadium. He finished 25-of-36 for 276 yards, that key touchdown and an interception in a massive road win over the AFC North-leading and rival Ravens.

Teaser:
<p> Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 13</p>
Post date: Monday, December 3, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/big-ten-championship-preview-and-prediction-nebraska-cornhuskers-vs-wisconsin-badge
Body:

The second annual Big Ten Championship game features two of the Midwest’s football powers at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. The corn-fed Big Red from Lincoln will battle with the dairy-fed Big Red from Madison, but only one team actually won their division.

These two met back in October in the Big Ten opener at Memorial Stadium — remember those polarizing adidas uniforms? — and Nebraska came away with its first big comeback win of the year. The 30-27 win propelled the Huskers to a 7-1 mark in league play and a Legends Division crown. Dating back to 2009, this is Bo Pelini’s third conference championship game in four seasons, but a win would be the Cornhuskers' first league title since 1999. It would also send Nebraska to Pasadena for the first time since 2002 when it lost to Miami in the BCS National Championship Game.

The Badgers, after losing six assistant coaches, started slowly on offense this fall before finding their stride in mid-season. However, Wisconsin’s schedule toughened up in the final month of play and it lost three of its last four. Bret Bielema’s squad finished 4-4 in the league with losses in the division to Ohio State and Penn State — the two teams that actually finished ahead of the Badgers in the Leaders Division standings. That said, all five of Wisconsin’s losses were by seven points or less this fall, including three overtime defeats. A win for the Badgers would give UW its third consecutive Big Ten championship and third straight trip to the Rose Bowl — the first Big Ten school to do so since Michigan from 1977-79.

Either way this one goes, a historic Big Red program will invade Pasadena. And the best broadcast team in the business, FOX’ Gus Johnson and Charles Davis, will bring fans the call at 8:17 p.m. Eastern on Saturday. 

Other Championship Game Previews
ACC
| Pac-12 | SEC

Conference Previews
Big 12
| Big East

When Wisconsin has the ball

The Badgers' offense lost their renowned offensive coordinator, the best QB in the history of the program and three first-team All-Big Ten lineman from 2011. It showed early on with major struggles coming against Northern Iowa, Oregon State and Utah State. After an offensive line coaching move and quarterback switch, the UW offense flourished. Redshirt freshman quarterback Joel Stave and Heisman finalist Montee Ball finally gave the Badgers a two-dimensional offense. However, late in the Michigan State game, Stave was lost for the year to a broken collarbone and eventually fifth-year senior Curt Phillips got the nod under center.

Phillips has limitations throwing the football, but has proven to be clutch, throwing game-tying touchdown strikes with seconds left on the clock against both Ohio State and Penn State in his last two games. He is obviously at his best when Ball and the Badgers’ traditional power running game are effective. This team has averaged over 240 yards rushing per game three seasons in a row and Ball has scored seven times in two games against Nebraska. The star tailback is one rushing touchdown from setting the all-time NCAA record (73) and he’s already the all-time total touchdown leader in NCAA history (79).

The Huskers' defense has had its deficiencies over the past few seasons, but first-year coordinator John Papuchis — who is the youngest solo defensive coordinator in the nation — has fostered marked improvement this season. His team leads the nation in passing defense and has been able to pressure the quarterback with more regularity. Linebacker Will Compton and defensive end Eric Martin headline a defense that is much stronger at the point of attack than it was a year ago and coverman Ciante Evans is developing quickly into a star on the back end. Phillips will be tested mightily by the nation’s top passing defense, so the offense will once again run through its deep stable of running backs that features not only Ball but also James White (693 yards, 8 TD) and Melvin Gordon (354 yards, 2 TD).

When Nebraska has the ball

The Nebraska offense starts and ends with Taylor Martinez. The redshirt junior quarterback led the Big Ten in passing efficiency and total offense while steering the league’s No. 1 offense. He has been masterful in the second half, leading his team from behind against Wisconsin, Northwestern, Michigan State and Penn State with big plays on the ground and efficient passing. T-Mart completed 17-of-29 passes for 181 yards, rushed for 107 yards on 13 attempts and scored three times in the 17-point second-half comeback against Wisconsin in October.

The league’s top rushing attack isn’t just Martinez, however. Rex Burkhead returned to the lineup in the season finale after dealing with major knee issues all season to lead his team to victory over Iowa. His valiant performance in the second half pushed the Huskers into the title game and provides the offense with another ball carrier. Ameer Abdullah (1,071 yards, 8 TD) and Imani Cross (289 yards, 6 TD) have filled in admirably throughout the year and now Pelini finds himself with a glut of talent in the backfield.

He might need as many bodies as he can find against the Badgers' No. 12-rated rushing defense (111.3 ypg). Linebackers Mike Taylor, who is the nation’s leading tackler over the last two seasons, and Chris Borland, who missed the last two games with injury, are expected to be at full strength for this title bout. The rest of the non-descript Wisconsin defense is fundamentally sound and well coached but not overtly talented. Look for Martinez’ ability to break contain with his legs to be the deciding factor once again. 

Final Analysis

One team has better players, has a better record and won the first meeting of the year. The other is missing its starting quarterback and has lost three of its last four. Pelini has won 10 games and played in a conference championship game in three of the last four years. However, his team has also lost four games in each of his four seasons in Lincoln. This weekend’s showdown would end all of those streaks and send the Huskers to Pasadena for only the third time in school history and would give Pelini his first championship. There are no excuses for Nebraska this time around.

Predictions

Athlon Editor Championship Prediction YTD Big Ten Record
Braden Gall Nebraska 30, Wisconsin 20 80-16
Mitch Light Nebraska 24, Wisconsin 14 76-20
Steven Lassan Nebraska 27, Wisconsin 24 79-17
David Fox Nebraska 28, Wisconsin 14 77-19

Related Championship Weekend Content:

Heisman Comparison: Johnny Manziel vs. Collin Klein
Athlon Sports Post-Week 13 Heisman Voting

Big East Week 14 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 14 Preview and Predictions

ACC Championship Game Preview: Florida State vs. Georgia Tech
Pac-12 Championship Game Preview: UCLA vs. Stanford

SEC Championship Game Preview: Alabama vs. Georgia

Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Championship Preview and Prediction: Nebraska Cornhuskers vs. Wisconsin Badgers</p>
Post date: Friday, November 30, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-championship-preview-and-prediction-ucla-bruins-vs-stanford-cardinal
Body:

The second annual Pac-12 Championship game isn't exactly what fans were expecting to see entering this season. Oregon and USC were overwhelming favorites to win their respective divisions and potentially battle on Nov. 30 for more than just West Coast supremacy. Best laid plans, right?

Jim Mora instantly instilled toughness at UCLA and his squad finished the regular season 9-3 overall and 6-3 in the league. Most importantly, the Bruins posted a perfect 5-0 mark in the South Division, including a revenge home win over USC to clinch the division crown. 

Stanford, meanwhile, keeps on chugging under Pac-12 Coach of the Year David Shaw. Even though Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener, David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin all departed for the NFL and had to be replaced on offense, he led the Cardinal to an identical 8-1 mark in league play this fall. This time with a division-clinching win over Oregon.

The old saying goes familiarity breeds contempt and these two might be the most familiar opponents in the history of the sport. For the second time in six days, the Cardinal and Bruins will battle, but this time, it's for a trip to the Rose Bowl. It marks the first time in college football history two teams have ever played in a season finale and then again in the conference title game.

And Gus Johnson and Charles Davis will be there to call the game at 8 p.m. ET on FOX on Friday night.

Other Championship Game Previews
ACC
| Big Ten | SEC

Conference Previews
Big 12
| Big East

When Stanford has the ball

Not too many championship teams make quarterback switches two-thirds of the way through the season. But that is exactly what David Shaw did when, five passes into the game against Colorado, he put Kevin Hogan under center in place of Josh Nunes. All Hogan did in his first three career starts was topple three consecutive ranked opponents to clinch the North Division championship. He completed 72.8 percent of his passes (80-110) for 809 yards and eight touchdowns in the four games in which he led the Cardinal offense. He also rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown on the ground as well. Hogan’s emergence has given this offense a second dimension.

Hogan will face a Bruins' pass rush that has improved infinitely from a year ago under their new head coach. This defensive front finished 110th in the nation in sacks and 81st in rushing defense a year ago, but behind improved play from Anthony Barr and Datone Jones, UCLA ranked 5th in the country in sacks (3.33 spg) and 53rd in rushing defense this fall. If the Bruins expect to close the 35-17 gap from last weekend, it will have to pressure Hogan (15-of-22 last week, 0 INT) and stop the running game (49 att., 221 yards, 3 TD).

While Hogan has stabilized one dimension of the offense, Shaw hasn’t had to worry about his other dimension. Stepfan Taylor is one of the most complete backs in the nation after his second straight 1,300-yard, 10-TD season (1,364 and 11). He ended the season with three consectuive 100-yard efforts against ranked teams, scoring four times in those contests. Taylor has touched the ball 828 times on offense the last three years (38 games, 21.8/game), so expect Shaw to wear out his workhorse tailback in the last regular season game of his career. Especially, considering Taylor needs just 35 yards to break Stanford’s all-time rushing record held by Darrin Nelson (4,169).

When UCLA has the ball

Seven sacks, 7-of-19 on third downs, two turnovers and 334 total yards of offense is what the Stanford defense held UCLA’s high-flying offense to a week ago. Much like the defense, the Bruins have shown marked improvement under the new coaching regime, totaling 475.7 yards per game of offense and 36.0 points per contest. Yet, redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley and star tailback Johnathan Franklin will have to play better this weekend if UCLA expects to win its first conference crown since 1998.

The dynamic backfield duo has been outstanding this fall but the offensive line will have to play its best game of the year if it expects to beat Stanford. The O-Line ranks 118th nationally in sacks allowed per game (3.6/game) and is facing the No. 1 pass rush (4.4/game), the No. 1 rushing defense (71.3 ypg) and the No. 11 scoring defense (16.9 ppg) in the nation. Stanford has four players with at least 5.5 sacks, so trying to stop the versatile front should prove difficult once again.

Hundley and Franklin are closing in on more than one UCLA record. Hundley (3,516 yards total offense, 3,234 yards passing) should easily break Cade McNown’s 1998 single-season record for total offense (3,652) and passing yards (3,470) even with just an average outing Friday night. Franklin needs just 18 all-purpose yards to take over as UCLA’s all-time leader (Maurice Jones-Drew) and just 66 yards rushing to top Karim Abdul-Jabbar’s single-season school record. Additionally, one more win for Mora would give him the most wins by a Bruins first-year coach in program history.

Final Analysis

Stanford’s senior class has won at least 10 games for the third consecutive season but have yet to claim a league championship or play in the Rose Bowl. With a 24-2 home record, this group has added motivation to close out this season with a resounding victory. Look for the Cardinal defensive front to dominate the Bruins up front and give Shaw’s Cardinal their first outright Pac-12 crown since 1999. 

Predictions

Athlon Editor Championship Prediction YTD Pac-12 Record
Braden Gall Stanford 34, UCLA 17 64-20
Mitch Light Stanford 34, UCLA 27 64-20
Steven Lassan Stanford 24, UCLA 20 63-21
David Fox Stanford 35, UCLA 21 60-24

Related Championship Weekend Content:

Heisman Comparison: Johnny Manziel vs. Collin Klein
Athlon Sports Post-Week 13 Heisman Voting

Big East Week 14 Preview and Predictions

Big 12 Week 14 Preview and Predictions

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Championship Preview and Prediction: UCLA Bruins vs. Stanford Cardinal</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 29, 2012 - 05:10
Path: /college-football/heisman-comparison-johnny-manziel-vs-collin-klein
Body:

The 2012 Heisman winner will likely be debated and argued about for years to come. There are a half-a-dozen candidates any of whom would be extremely qualified to take home the stiff-armed trophy. The hodge-podge of contenders this year includes freshmen, defensive players, ineligible teams and a host of record-setting stars.

The most heated debate, however, appears to come between Kansas State’s Collin Klein and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel. Both have been truly transcendent talents who have led their teams to unexpected seasons of greatness. Heisman beauty is certainly in the eye of the beholder. Do voters value stats, wins, championships, level of competition, wow factor or even age? Ideally, all factors are considered when making a decision on who is the “Most Outstanding College Football Player” in 2012.

Related: Athlon Sports Heisman Trophy Voting: Week 13

So how do Manziel and Klein stack up against each other?

Note: Keep in mind Kansas State still has one game to play before the Heisman Trophy will be awarded.

Statistical Production:
Johnny Manziel leads the SEC in rushing as a quarterback at 98.4 yards per game. He leads the SEC in total offense at 383.3 yards per game. He also leads the SEC in scoring at 9.5 points per game. He owns the SEC’s total offense single-season (4,600 yards) and single-game (576 yards) records. Collin Klein was fifth in the Big 12 in rushing (71.5 ypg) and averaged more points per game (10.9 ppg) than Manziel.

  G Comp. Att. % Yards TD INT QB Rat Att. Yards TD Pts/Gm
Johnny Manziel 10-2 273 400 68.3 3,419 24 8 155.85 184 1,181 19 9.5
Collin Klein 10-1 172 258 66.7 2,306 14 6 155.00 171 787 20 10.9

Heisman Edge: Manziel

In-Conference Production:
Klein was masterful in Big 12 play for the second straight season. He has scored 16 of his 20 rushing touchdowns in league play, including huge road performances at West Virginia, Oklahoma, Iowa State and TCU. He avenged both losses to Oklahoma schools last fall with big showings against the Sooners and Cowboys. Manziel has been much more up and down in SEC play. He had a huge performance against Alabama and Mississippi State, struggled against Florida, LSU and somewhat against Ole Miss while torching bad teams like Arkansas, Auburn and Missouri. Manziel’s out-of-conference numbers are much more inflated than Klein’s. Of Manziel’s 43 total touchdowns, 22 came in four games against South Carolina State, Sam Houston State, SMU and Louisiana Tech. 

  G Comp. Att. % Yards TD INT QB Rat Att. Yards TD Pts/Gm
Johnny Manziel 6-2 200 284 70.4 2,289 11 6 146.67 128 698 10 7.5
Collin Klein 7-1 129 199 64.8 1,702 9 4 147.58 125 582 16 12.0

Heisman Edge: Tie

Level of Competition:
The SEC is better than the Big 12. At the top, in the middle and on defense, the SEC gets the nod over the Big 12. Manziel faced the No. 2, No. 4 and No. 7 teams in the nation as well as Mississippi State. But he went 2-2 in those games and gets plenty of credit for playing his first collegiate game against the Gators' defense despite his struggles and the loss. Klein has faced No. 11 and No. 23 and will face No. 18 Texas this weekend. His dominating performance over Miami (Fla.) deserves note, however, as the Canes won the ACC's Coastal Division this season.

Heisman Edge: Manziel

Offensive System:
Kevin Sumlin’s offense has been arguably the best passing attack to ever grace the college football gridiron. His Houston offense essentially owns every major passing NCAA record in the books. His Texas A&M offense ran 959 plays (11th nationally) for an average of 6.9 yards per play (5th nationally). Bill Snyder’s offense is totally different, ranking 120th nationally with only 712 plays. However, the Wildcats have been equally effective at 6.4 yards per play (19th nationally). Both offenses have produced at a similar rate all year, so that means Klein has produced his stats on 247 fewer offensive snaps. 

Heisman Edge: Klein

Supporting Cast:
This one is no contest. Manziel has an infinitely better supporting cast than Klein at Kansas State. Texas A&M has an average national team recruiting ranking of 20.3 over the last four classes and has finished no lower than 27th (2011) in the team rankings. Kansas State has an average national team ranking of 70.1 over the same span. The best class Manhattan has seen in four years was 2012’s 58th-rated class. With two potential first-round picks blocking for him, multiple five-star tailbacks, and a senior All-SEC wide receiver at his disposal, Manziel has by far the best supporting cast of the two. And it’s really not even close.

Heisman Edge: Klein

Highlight Moments:
Manziel is the more explosive player and had his Heisman moment by making clutch throws down the field in the road win over No. 1 Alabama. He finished with 253 yards passing and 92 yards rushing with two touchdowns and no interceptions. That said, it was a goal-line stand by the Aggies defense that ultimately won the game for Texas A&M. Manziel also struggled mightily against LSU at home, throwing three interceptions in a loss that actually cost Texas A&M a shot at a national championship. Klein has been equally clutch against big-time competition. He was dominant on the road against West Virginia and Oklahoma and at home against Oklahoma State and Miami. Much like Manziel, however, Klein also has one big wart on his resume with three interceptions in the loss to Baylor. Klein is more workmanlike where Manziel has had more eye-opening plays that make voters' jaws drop. 

Heisman Edge: Manziel

Team Success:
Kevin Sumlin could be the SEC Coach of the Year and the Aggies won 10 game in their first trip through the best league in America. Bill Snyder could be the national coach of the year and is one win away from winning the Big 12 championship. Should Kansas State defeat Texas this weekend, Klein will have led his team to the Big 12 championship and a BCS Bowl berth. And had there been a four-team playoff, his team would have a great case to be included in that mix. With two losses, A&M cannot make those claims. This, due in large part to Manziel’s three interceptions against LSU. If Kansas State loses to the Longhorns, this argument goes out the window for Klein. Think about this: Had Texas A&M beaten LSU, they would have won the West and would be facing Georgia in Atlanta for a trip to the National Championship. But Manziel had his worst game of the season: 29-of-56, 276 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT, 17 carries for 27 yards, 0 TD. Klein did the same against Baylor: 286 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT, 39 yards rushing, TD.

Heisman Edge: Klein

Off The Field Character:
This is a small factor but Klein is one of the most respected, most upstanding young people this game has ever seen. He is Tim Tebow off of the field as well as Tebow in the huddle and locker room. Manziel was arrested this summer for getting into a fight with a 47-year old man and carrying multiple false IDs. Is Manziel simply a young kid enjoying the trappings of young fame (SEE: Halloween pictures)? Of course, but Klein would never get into a fight with someone nearly 30 years older than himself.

Heisman Edge: Klein

Nickname:
“Johnny Football” versus “Optimus Klein.” I am sorry, but this one isn’t even close. Johnny Football is one of the lamest, most unimaginative nicknames I have ever heard. And as a kid who grew up loving the Transformers, my vote goes to Klein. This one is easy and heavily in favor of the Kansas State Wildcat. It's a good thing a nickname has absolutely nothing to do with the Heisman.

Heisman Edge: Klein

Not counting the nickname, the race to New York is as follows: Manziel gets the nod on statistical production, level of competition and wow factor in big moments. Klein gets the edge as a champion with much less talent around him with relatively equal production and a Golden Boy image off of the field. Even after analyzing every possible angle of the Klein vs. Manziel Heisman debate, there is no clear-cut winner. That is what makes this particular race for the most coveted trophy in sports the most intriguing in decades. 

And it's why Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o will win the 2012 Heisman Trophy.

Related: Klein, Manziel aren't only pieces of historic Heisman field

Teaser:
<p> Johnny Manziel vs. Collin Klein: Comparing the Heisman Contenders</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-contenders-post-week-13
Body:

Each week, the Athlon editors and others who closely follow college football vote on the most prestigious award in the sport. A 13-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports and other publications cast their votes for their top Heisman Trophy candidates. The votes will be tallied and the results will be posted as the Athlon Sports Heisman Watch List every week of the regular season.

Voting: Each first-place vote receives 10 points. A second-place vote receives nine points. So on and so forth with a 10th-place vote receiving one point. Here are Athlon's guest voters:

Barrett Sallee: Bleacher Report SEC Lead Writer (@BarrettSallee)
Jim Young: ACCSports.com (@ACCSports)
Blair Kerkhoff: Kansas City Star (@BlairKerkhoff)
Chris Level: RedRaiderSports.com (@ChrisLevel)

1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (8 first-place votes)
Stats: 273-400, 3,419 yards, 24 TD, 8 INT, 184 att., 1,181 yards, 19 TD
The record-setting quarterback did his usual work against Mizzou in the season finale. He threw for 372 yards, rushed for 67 and scored five total touchdowns in the Aggies' 10th win of the season. He led the SEC in rushing and total offense, setting SEC benchmarks for total yards in a season and total offense in a game (twice). Right or wrong, he will be knocked for his age, but it is hard to argue with his electric play this fall. 
Next Week: None

Related: Heisman Comparison: Johnny Manziel vs. Collin Klein

  Last Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. (1) Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M 123/130 8 3 2 - - 13/13
2. (3) Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame 119/130 4 7 2 - - 13/13
3. (2) Collin Klein QB Kansas St 104/130 1 3 7 1 1 13/13
4. (4) Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 87/130 - - 1 8 3 13/13
5. (5) Marcus Mariota QB Oregon 54/130 - - - 2 4 10/13
6. (6) Marqise Lee WR USC 54/130 - - - 1 3 13/13
7. (9) Ka'Deem Carey QB Arizona 36/130 - - - - - 10/13
8. (7) Tajh Boyd QB Clemson 29/130 - - - - - 8/13
9. (8) Kenjon Barner RB Oregon 29/130 - - 1 - 1 8/13
10. (10) Jordan Lynch QB N. Illinois 20/130 - - - 1 1 6/13
11. (20) Tavon Austin WR W. Virginia 14/130 - - - - - 5/13
12. (11) Taylor Martinez QB Nebraska 12/130 - - - - - 4/13
13. (ur) Jadeveon Clowney DE S. Carolina 11/130 - - - - - 3/13
14t. (12) Giovani Bernard RB N. Carolina 4/130 - - - - - 2/13
14t. (14) AJ McCarron QB Alabama 4/130 - - - - - 3/13
14t. (16) Stepfan Taylor RB Stanford 4/130 - - - - - 1/13
17t. (ur) Landry Jones QB Oklahoma 3/130 - - - - - 2/13
17t. (19) Damontre Moore DL Texas A&M 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
19. (20) Barrett Jones OL Alabama 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
20. (15) Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 1/130 - - - - - 1/13

2. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame (4 first-place votes)
Stats: 103 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 7 INT, 1.5 sack, FR, 4 PBU
Te'o is the consummate leader who has elevated a once-dormant program to an unbeaten season and berth in the National Championship game. He is the best defensive player in the nation and if he can't win this award, then it needs to be officially labeled an Offensive Trophy. He posted five tackles and his seventh interception of the season in the road win over USC. Next Week: None

3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State (1 first-place vote)
Stats:
 172-258, 2,306 yards, 14 TD, 6 INT, 171 att., 787 yards, 20 TD
Klein was on bye last week and will face the Texas Longhorns this weekend with the Big 12 championship hanging in the balance. His only chance to win the Heisman will be to post big numbers in a big win over Texas to clinch a BCS bowl for a team predicted to finish sixth in the league. He is the only offensive player who has been as equally impressive as Manziel. A loss to Texas and he is out of the race. Next Week: Texas

4. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Stats: 
148-254, 2,039 yards, 15 TD, 6 INT, 227 att., 1,271 yards, 13 TD
Miller finished with an unbeaten season by defeating the hated Wolverines in exciting fashion. He completed 14-of-18 passes for 189 yards and rushed 20 times for 57 yards and scored one big touchdown. He finished his sophomore season fifth in the Big Ten in rushing, second in total offense and third in passing efficiency. He is an electric talent who is overlooked because of Ohio State's sanctions and will be on the preseason Heisman frontrunner list next summer. Next Week: None
 
5. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Stats: 
218-312, 2,511 yards, 30 TD, 6 INT, 98 att., 690 yards, 4 TD
The redshirt freshman capped his fantastic first year under center in a big way. He completed 17-of-24 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown with 85 yards rushing on eight carries and another score in the huge road win over rival Oregon State He finished as the league's most efficient passer and was fifth in total offense. Mariota is the best quarterback Oregon has had under Chip Kelly. Next Week: None

6. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Stats: 112 rec., 1,680 yards, 14 TD, 28 KR, 802 yards, TD, 106 yards rushing 
Next Week: None

7. Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Stats: 275 att., 1,757 yards, 20 TD, 33 rec., 288 yards, TD
Next Week: None
 
8. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Stats: 251-377, 3,550 yards, 34 TD, 13 INT, 157 att., 492 yards, 9 TD
Next Week: None

9. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Stats: 248 att., 1,624 yards, 21 TD, 19 rec., 232 yards, TD
Next Week: None

10. Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois
Stats: 203-319, 2,750 yards, 23 TD, 4 INT, 235 att., 1,611 yards, 16 TD
Next Week: Kent State (MAC Championship)

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Contenders: Post-Week 13</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-football/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-quarterbacks
Body:

It is never too early to begin looking ahead to next year's NFL Draft. Each year a unique set of prospects enters the professional ranks with a chance to make an immediate impact on the country's most powerful sport. The 2013 NFL Draft won’t be any different.

Today, we rank college football's best quarterbacks prospects with the help of 2006 BCS National Championship Game MVP for the Florida Gators Chris Leak. You can follow @CLQB12 or hear him on SiriusXM College Sports Nation's Coast-to-Coast nightly radio show from 7-10 PM ET with Chris Childers. 

1. Geno Smith, West Virginia (6-3, 220, Sr.)
Smith may have the biggest arm of any prospect in the class with the possible exception of Tyler Bray. He is poised, lightning quick in his release and decision-making and has posted some huge numbers. He topped 4,300 yards as a junior and could top 4,000 yards again this fall. He could easily reach 70 touchdown passes in his final two seasons and has a sterling 66.9 percent completion rate. He will be knocked for his bad second half of 2012 and that his numbers have been inflated by the shotgun, no-huddle spread attack at West Virginia. If he can prove he can play from under center and in a pro-style attack, Smith possesses all the elite tools to be an excellent quarterback on Sundays. Comparison: Matthew Stafford

Chris Leak's Scouting Report: Elite passer at CFB level. Student of the game with high football I.Q. Field general that can have immediate impact on an NFL franchise.

2. Matt Barkley, USC (6-2, 230, Sr.)
Barkley isn't nearly as big as his listed numbers indicate. He will be lucky to measure 6-foot-1 and will have to battle the "short" moniker. His numbers have been huge —12,327 yards and 116 TD passes — and he is an upstanding member of any locker room. He is a 64.0 percent career passer and has produced big numbers in the face of NCAA sanctions. He has a big arm and plays in a pro-style offense, but overcoming his late-season injury this fall will take some effort. There is little downside to Barkley as a professional as there are no questions about his work ethic, commitment, dedication to winning and being a leader. Comparison: Andy Dalton

Leak's Scouting Report: Intelligent QB who does so many of the little things well. Fundamentally sound and solid mechanics will allow immediate success at next level.

3. AJ McCarron, Alabama (6-4, 210, Jr.)
The Alabama Heisman candidate won't wow scouts with any one talent, but he has every piece of the puzzle to be a very successful NFL quarterback. He is a champion who has done anything his coaching staff has asked. He has an excellent frame and plenty of arm to make all the throws. He is an unquestioned leader who takes his work extremely seriously. He is wildly efficient as a career 66.5 percent passer and rarely turns the ball over. He will also set multiple career and single-season Alabama passing records. Look for his poise, intelligence and work ethic to move him slowly up draft boards come next spring — if he decides to leave early. Comparison: Matt Ryan

Leak's Scouting Report: Successful QB that shows poise and courage in the pocket against top SEC competition. Has ability to ignore oncoming defenders and still get off an accurate pass.

4. Tyler Bray, Tennessee (6-5, 215, Jr.)
Bray has a first-round arm, a first-round frame and has played against first-round competition. But he currently has a seventh-round head on his shoulders. He can make every throw in the book, but he hasn't proven he can protect the football, stay healthy, lead an offensive huddle or win football games. Scouts will love his raw skills but will have major doubts about his mental make-up, maturity and dedication. He is a 58.5 percent career passer in college and will post career highs with an SEC-best 3,612 yards and 34 touchdowns in 2012. Comparison: Philip Rivers

Leak's Scouting Report: Gunslinger with great height to scan entire field. Great feel on downfield throws. Needs to improve accuracy on intermediate throws.

5. Tyler Wilson, Arkansas (6-2, 218, Sr.)
Wilson was highly thought of by college and pro personnel alike until this fall. His offensive production was clearly not the same without Bobby Petrino and it will raise questions about Wilson's long-term upside. He has a solid arm, displays incredible toughness (just ask his OL) and has adequate size for an NFL pocket. His team went from 11 wins to four in one year and his numbers plummeted in his senior season (3,638 yards, 24 TD, 6 INT in 2011 and 3,387 yards, 21 TD, 13 INT in 2012). He is a career 62.7 percent passer and will need to prove his accuracy during the combine circuit this offseason. Comparison: Mark Sanchez

Leak's Scouting Report: Possesses a strong arm, and has ability to fit passes through tight windows. Didn't progress as a senior however.

6. Mike Glennon, NC State (6-6, 235, Sr.)
There isn't much left to learn about Glennon. He has a massive frame that is perfect for an NFL pocket passer. He is not an athlete who will run around, so his big frame and big arm are well-suited for the pass-happy NFL. He has played with little elite athletic ability around him on offense and the running game has been non-existent over the last two seasons. He has turned the ball over a bit too much (26 INTs in last two seasons) and has completed just under 60 percent of his passes for his career. But he also finished with 6,702 yards and 61 TDs in his final two seasons. Scouts will love his size and arm strength, however, and that could push him up draft boards. Comparison: Joe Flacco

Leak's Scouting Report: Has ideal size and arm strength for the next level, but needs to continue and improve his technique. Unpolished with his footwork and needs to refine the details of the position.

7. EJ Manuel, Florida State (6-4, 240, Sr.)
Manuel might be the most intriguing prospect on this entire list. He entered college as an elite prospect and took three full seasons to develop into the star he is today. He has a great frame and big arm to make all of the throws. He is an excellent member of the community who will take his work extremely seriously on the next level. He also has above average athletic ability to keep plays alive and move the chains with his legs. However, he is unrefined as a true pocket passer and will need work developing his motion and release. As a career 67.1 percent passer, he has been efficient in the college game and scouts will wonder if that translates. He also has dealt with some injury issues in his past, especially in big games like Oklahoma in 2011 and the second half of the Florida game this fall. The upside is massive with Manuel, who has his team poised to win the ACC for the first time in nearly a decade, but he has some major question marks. He finished with 7,311 yards passing, 752 yards rushing and 56 total touchdowns. Comparison: Carson Palmer

Leak's Scouting Report: Ideal height with the arm strength to push the ball downfield. Has ability to extend and make plays with his legs. Intriguing NFL prospect because of his raw physical tools and athletic ability.

8. Derek Carr, Fresno State (6-3, 210, Jr.)
Older brother flop of a draft pick (David) aside, Carr has put together two big seasons in a row in two different systems. He has thrown only 14 interceptions in 903 attempts in the last two seasons with 62 touchdown passes. He is a career 65 percent passer and has led his team from a 4-9 record in the WAC in 2011 to a potential 10-win season and a share of the Mountain West championship in 2012. He takes care of the football and posts big numbers — try 3,742 yards and 36 TD with only five picks as a senior — with big-time talent. He will fly under the draft radars until scouts get a better look at him. His stock could soar late in the process. Comparison: Matt Schaub

Leak's Scouting Report: Strong arm with great feel on sideline throws, possesses a great deal of natural arm talent and is confident in his ability to fit the ball between tight windows. Very quick release but doesn't fully take advantage of his height due to 3/4 release point.

9. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech (6-5, 260, Jr.)
Few players have the size and athleticism that Thomas can offer the scouts in the NFL. He also has been a walking turnover this season and the Hokies have produced their worst season in nearly a decade. He has an okay arm, but not elite. His major strengths are his massive frame, strength and athleticism. He lacks accuracy — he is a 56.3 percent passer and has nearly as many INT as he has had passing TD over his two-year stint as the starter. Someone will fall in love with his size and athletic ability but his inefficiency, turnovers and lack of arm strength make him a high-risk prospect. Comparison: Josh Freeman

Leak's Scouting Report: Has combination of size, mobility and arm strength for next level. Very gifted athlete with raw mechanics and will need to improve accuracy and mental part of his game.

10. Landry Jones, Oklahoma (6-4, 220, Sr.)
Few players have ever been as productive as Jones in college. He will finish with more than 16,000 passing yards and over 120 total touchdowns. Yet, he has struggled with turnovers (nearly 50 INTs) and has struggled to win big games — on the road or at home. He has good size and a great arm as a potential pocket-passer, but will have to overcome the dreaded "system" mantra as Oklahoma has elite wideouts, a big-time OL and faces mediocre defenses in the Big 12. Jones will be an intriguing prospect to watch as the offseason moves along. Comparison: Sam Bradford

Leak's Scouting Report: Very accurate passer in the pocket but not as much on the move. Can lead receivers down the field and on crossing routes, places throws where only his man can make a play. Ideal size and athletic ability for the next level.

11. Tajh Boyd, Clemson (6-1, 220, Jr.)
Undersized but very tough. Has a big arm and above-average athletic ability. Sneaky good potential. He finished his junior season with 3,550 yards passing, 490 yards rushing, 43 overall touchdowns and 10 wins. 

Leak's Scouting Report: Excellent dual-threat QB. Consistent accurate passer on the move. Ability to freeze safeties by looking one direction and passing the other.

12. Aaron Murray, Georgia (6-0, 215, Jr.)
A winner who plays with great toughness and moxie. Gunslinger who is very undersized and will be hurt in the draft by his lack of height. He will remind scouts of a less efficient version of Russell Wilson with a similar skillset to that of Drew Brees. 

Leak's Scouting Report: Successful SEC QB, possessing plenty of arm strength to handle the jump to the NFL despite his lack of preferred height. Decision making will be key for jump to elite status.

12. Bryn Renner, North Carolina (6-3, 215, Jr.)
Big arm and a pro-style passer who has dealt with loads of turmoil in the locker room. Has played with elite receivers, running backs and offensive lines, so he has much to prove on the next level.

Leak's Scouting Report: A traditional drop back passer and looks the part with a tall, filled out frame. Has above-average arm to make all the throws and does a nice job working through his progressions to find the open target.

14. Zac Dysert, Miami-Ohio (6-3, 230, Sr.)
Experienced leader who has thrown a ton of passes. Does he have NFL passing talent?

Leak's Scouting Report: Displays an obvious understanding of the game of football, with great size and height with the arm strength to stretch defenses from sideline to sideline. Can be a statue at times in the pocket but shows confidence in arm and throwing with accuracy.

15. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse (6-2, 230, Sr.)
Has posted big numbers on a bad team. Has shown significant growth over his time as the starter.

Leak's Scouting Report: Has good arm strength and is very accurate throwing on the run. Shows toughness and is a gamer with a lot of potential.

The Best of the Rest:

16. Brad Sorensen, Southern Utah (6-4, 235, Sr.)
17. Collin Klein, Kansas State (6-5, 225, Sr.)
18. Sean Renfree, Duke (6-4, 225, Sr.)
19. Keith Price, Washington (6-1, 200, Jr.)
20. Matt McGloin, Penn State (6-1, 220, Sr.)
21. Alex Carder, Western Michigan (6-2, 225, Sr.)
22. Seth Doege, Texas Tech (6-1, 200, Sr.)
23. Jeff Tuel, Washington State (6-3, 225, Sr.)
24. Jordan Rodgers, Vanderbilt (6-0, 205, Sr.)
25. Dayne Crist, Kansas (6-4, 230, Sr.)

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

2013 NFL Draft: Running Backs
2013 NFL Draft: Tight Ends
2013 NFL Draft: Safeties

2013 NFL Draft: Defensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers

2013 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Inside Linebackers

2013 NFL Draft: Cornerbacks

2013 NFL Draft: Guards and Centers

2013 NFL Draft: Outside Linebackers
2013 NFL Draft: Quarterbacks

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Quarterbacks</p>
Post date: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /nfl/8-amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-12
Body:

NFL football is the greatest reality TV program of all time. The Giants and Colts made sure of that back in 1958. Each NFL fall weekend is a completely new and original experience for every player, fan and coach alike. New stories, new personalities, new winners and new losers. And new statistics.

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 12 of NFL play:

15-0: Divisional record for four AFC division leaders
New England (8-3) is 4-0 in the AFC East after a dominating performance against the Jets on Thanksgiving night. The Patriots still have two games left with the pesky Miami Dolphins (5-6). The Denver Broncos (8-3) also moved to 4-0 in the AFC West with their win over lowly Kansas City. A road trip to Oakland and the Chiefs at home is what still awaits Peyton Manning, who already has a four-game lead in the West. Baltimore (9-2) is 4-0 in the AFC North, and after a Pittsburgh (6-5) loss to Cleveland (3-8), the Ravens have a three-game lead over both the Bengals and Steelers. They still have to face Pittsburgh at home and finish the season with a tricky road trip to Cincinnati (6-5). Finally, the Houston Texans (10-1) have a 3-0 mark in the South with two remaining against the Colts (7-4) and one with the Titans (4-7). The top four seeds are all but locked into place in the AFC.

10:0: Andy Dalton's TD:Turnover ratio in Bengals three-game winning streak
Through eight games, Andy Dalton had thrown at least one interception in every game, had turned the ball over a total of 13 times and the Bengals were 3-5 in the standings. Since then, the second-year quarterback out of TCU has led his team to three straight wins and has Cincinnati tied with Pittsburgh for the final Wild Card playoff spot currently. He has accounted for 10 total touchdowns without a single turnover of any kind during the winning streak, including nary an interception in 89 pass attempts. The red-headed quarterback has scored 25 total touchdowns already this season (23 pass, 2 rush) which is four more than his 21 as a rookie (20 pass, 1 rush).

7: Ryan Lindley became the seventh rookie QB to start a game in 2012
Eleven quarterbacks were taken in the 2012 NFL Draft. The four first-round picks — Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill and Brandon Weeden — have been starting since Week 1. Luck and Griffin have lived up to their billing and then some. Russell Wilson was taken in the third round and has been more than impressive in Seattle. Nick Foles was taken in the third round as well and has replaced Michael Vick (concussion) as the starter in Philadelphia. And now Ryan Lindley got his first career start for Arizona this Sunday after being drafted in the sixth round out of San Diego State. He threw for 312 yards on 52 attempts in his debut, but also tossed four interceptions. Additionally, Kirk Cousins threw a go-ahead second-half 77-yard touchdown pass against the Falcons in spot duty for RG3 earlier this season. Brock Osweiler and BJ Coleman both play behind Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers whom rarely take a snap off. That leaves Mr. Irrelevant Chandler Harnish as the final QB taken in the 2012 class by the Colts.

4th and 29: Game-saving conversion with 1:59 left for the Ravens
With 1:59 left in the fourth quarter in San Diego, Joe Flacco and the Ravens faced a 4th and 29 trailing by three points. He checked down to Ray Rice to his right before the star tailback cut back all the way across the field and powered forward to pick up one more yard than was needed. The improbable conversion on the final drive of the game led to a game-tying field goal. Once in overtime, the Ravens got a stop and then put together a 12-play, 58-yard game-winning drive that ended in a Justin Tucker field goal. The win give the Ravens a commanding three-game AFC North lead and could have sealed Norv Turner's fate as the head coach in San Diego.

30.5: Aldon Smith's career sacks in first two seasons
Reggie White owns the NFL record for sacks in the first years of a player's career with 30 (13.0 and 18.0) back in 1985 and 1986. Aldon Smith posted 1.5 sacks in the big road win over New Orleans this Sunday, bringing his total to a league-leading 16.5 QB takedowns. After 14.0 as a rookie, Smith is poised to shatter White's all-time mark through two seasons. He has 12.0 sacks in his last five games and is on pace for 24.0 this fall — which would also break the NFL single-season record set by Michael Strahan (22.5) in 2001.

200: Eli Manning's Giants franchise record for passing TDs
The Giants stopped one of the hottest teams dead in its tracks with their Sunday night thumping of the Green Bay Packers. Eli Manning completed 16-of-30 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns in the big home win. With those three passing strikes, Manning has now thrown more touchdown passes than any New York Giant in history. Phil Simms held the previous record with 199.

56: Marques Colston's Saints franchise record for TDs scored
Running back Deuce McAllister scored 55 total touchdowns (49 rushing, 5 receiving, 1 fumble recovery) in his 97-game, eight-year New Orleans Saints career. Marques Colston, in not even seven full seasons but also his 97th career game as a Saint, scored his 56th touchdown to pass McAllister on the New Orleans all-time touchdowns list. Colston's 6,997 receiving yards are third all-time behind Eric Martin (7,854) and he is third all-time in receptions with 504 behind only Martin's 532. He should own both of these records in the very near future.

Teaser:
<p> 7 Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 12</p>
Post date: Monday, November 26, 2012 - 06:05
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2012-season-recap-and-awards
Body:

Please raise your hand if you had UCLA at Stanford in the 2012 Pac-12 championship game? I am still waiting. Oregon and USC were overwhelming favorites to win their respective divisions out west this fall and neither was able to reach the promised land. Oregon is still the highest-rated team in the league and should land in a BCS bowl game, while USC took a very different route to disappointment this fall. That said, a host of new coaches and freshmen quarterbacks have this league poised for a run at the mighty SEC over the next few seasons.

Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona – The Arizona sophomore led the nation in rushing at 146.4 yards per game and he scored 21 total touchdowns (second in the Pac-12). He set a Pac-12 single-game rushing record with 366 yards and set the Arizona single-season rushing record with 1,757.

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon – Mariota might be the best quarterback Chip Kelly has ever coached and he is just a freshman. The Oregon quarterback led the best offense in the league to an 11-1 mark and was the Pac-12's top-rated passer (165.36). All of this while rushing for 690 yards and four scores on the ground as well. He is going to be a good one.

3. Marqise Lee, WR, USC – It might be weird to see Lee at No. 3, but a wide receiver on a five-loss team can't be as important as a guy who touched the ball 308 times (Carey) and the league's best quarterback on the top-rated team. That said, Lee was unreal in 2012, leading the league in receptions, receiving yards, kickoff returns and all-purpose yards. 
 

Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford – His defense led the league in total defense, rushing defense and scoring defense and is poised to win the Pac-12 championship behind his leadership. He posted 61 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, one interception and one forced fumble.

2. Will Sutton, DL, Arizona State – The versatile inside-outside talent posted 58 tackles, a league-leading 20.0 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks to go with three forced fumbles and five passes deflected.

3. Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State – He posted 44 total tackles, 4.0 tackles for a loss, a sack, six interceptions, returned eight punts and deflected six passes. He led a massive turnaround in defense production in Corvallis this fall.
 

Coach of the Year Standings

1. Mike Riley, Oregon State – One of the better guys in all of college football did a masterful job in a key season for the Oregon State Beavers. This team was 3-9 last year and finished dead last in the Pac-12 in rushing offense, rushing defense and turnover margin. The rushing defense was third to only Stanford and Utah this season as Oregon State stares at a potential 10-win season. 

3. David Shaw, Stanford – The Stanford coach has proven his success wasn't just Jim Harbaugh or Andrew Luck. His team led the nation in rushing defense and led the league in total defense and scoring defense. He will host the league title game — all with quarterback issues for most of the season. 

2. Jim Mora, UCLA – Clearly, the Bruins' roster has loads of elite talent. But Mora took a bunch of underachievers and got big-time results by winning the South. A win over Shaw in the title game moves him to No. 2 on my ballot.


10 Things We Learned From the Pac-12 in 2012

1. The Ducks' offseason could be anything but smooth
The Oregon Ducks are the top-rated team in this league in the polls but won't even win its division. It could be the best team in the nation not playing in the BCS National Championship game. So after what could be a great season trimmed with disappointment, fans in Eugene might need to brace for what could be a very anxious offseason. Chip Kelly has long been rumored to have lustful eyes for the NFL and could easily jump at the chance to coach well-stocked offensive cupboards in San Diego or Philadelphia. The NCAA will also be investigating the Willie Lyles scandal and could be ruling sometime this spring. Maybe the NCAA finds nothing (which seems highly unlikely) and maybe Kelly returns for another season. But after dominating the West Coast for the last half-decade, the Ducks could be dealing with NCAA sanctions and a coaching search in the same offseason.

2. David Shaw might not be in Palo Alto too much longer
Be it in the SEC where fans in Knoxville, Auburn and Fayetteville are pining for Shaw, or more likely in the NFL, Shaw proved this season that he belongs amongst football's coaching elite. Without Andrew Luck, an NFL tight end and two All-American blockers, Stanford still won 10 games and is hosting the conference championship game. More importantly, it is the toughness and physicality that Shaw has instilled in his program that has been the most impressive. His team led the nation in rushing defense and sacks while leading the league total defense and scoring defense. Their only two losses came against Notre Dame on a questionable goal-line stand and an early season road trip to Washington in which they led late. Certainly, Jim Harbaugh gets loads of credit for building the Cardinal brand nationally on the recruiting trail, but so does Shaw. Much like Harbaugh, his teams play great defense and pound the ball on offense. There is a chance that big dollars and commitment could keep Shaw at his alma mater, but much like Harbaugh, the call of the NFL could be too much for Shaw to resist.

3. No league has as much offensive talent
Marqise Lee could be a Heisman finalist and may not even be deserving of Offensive Player of the Year honors in the Pac-12. The quarterback position was deep with both seniors (Matt Barkley, Matt Scott) and a host of talented youngsters set to return (Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, Taylor Kelly, Sean Mannion, Kevin Hogan, Travis Wilson). Carey led the nation in rushing while Kenjon Barner (4th), Johnathan Franklin (9th) and Stepfan Taylor (14th) all finished in the top 15 nationally as well. Then there is De'Anthony Thomas, Bishop Sankey, John White and a trio of talented Arizona State backs. Lee was the top wide receiver in the nation, but Brandin Crooks, Markus Wheaton and Austin Hill landed in the top 13 nationally in receiving yards too. Marquess Wilson (quit), Keenan Allen (injury), Robert Woods (nagging injuries) and Kasen Williams (QB play) are all elite wideouts as well. Add the nation's top two tight ends in Zach Ertz and Austin Seferian-Jenkins and no league in the country can match the level of athlete playing the skill positions in the Pac-12.

4. Monte Kiffin might not be cut-out for the college game
Lane Kiffin won't get the benefit of the doubt from fans across the country. He has used some sophomoric behaviors that have opened him up for criticism. Hiring his father to coach the defense, however, has never been viewed as anything but a great move. It worked in the SEC against NFL pro-style attacks where his deceiving blitz schemes are effective. In the wide open, spread-heavy Pac-12, Kiffin has failed to adjust. Yes, depth on this roster became a major issue and likely cost USC a couple of wins. While the NCAA sanctions have nothing to do with either Kiffin, they obviously played a major role in 2012. A change on the defensive side of the ball could be coming soon at Heritage Hall. Imagine having to call your father into your office to tell him that he is fired? I couldn't do it.

5. More people need to Be Like Mike...Riley, that is
Certainly, the old phrase about the greatest hoops star of all-time was more about his on the court play than his off-the-court lifestyle. And while Mike Riley doesn't have six championship rings on the field, he is one of the better people in college football off of it. Oregon State had 26 straight losing seasons before Riley's first stint in Corvallis in 1997, and after 12 years at the helm, he is the Beavers' all-time winningest coach. And he has done so with class, grace and respect. Few coaches are thought of as highly off of the field as Riley is amongst his coaching peers and student athletes. He has always been genuine, thoughtful and gracious with his time whenever I have interviewed him. I don't root for too many individual coaches in college football because, generally speaking, they are abrasive, distant and disingenuous (for obvious reasons). But it's easy to get behind a guy like Mike Riley, even if you are a fan in Eugene.

6. The previous regime at UCLA was entirely too laid back
Jim Mora instilled a level of toughness and work ethic that Bruins fans hadn't seen in years in just a few short months. Which certainly wasn't the case under former
laissez-faire head coach Rick Neuheisel. The previous regime recruited extremely well, so the cupboard wasn't bare, but Slick Rick obviously failed to develop talent in Westwood. Mora and his well-assembled coaching staff not only got the most out of their talent, they did so in style with one of the league's top offenses. UCLA far exceeded expectations by winning the South Division championship, and with star quarterback Brett Hundley returning next fall for only his sophomore (redshirt) season, the expectation level has now officially been raised in Los Angeles.

7. Rich Rodriguez got a bad rap at Michigan
The boosters, administration and fan base never really got behind Rich Rodriguez. His teams missed bowl games and had losing records — which isn't allowed in Ann Arbor. But much of the blame for those issues has to go to Lloyd Carr. No, RichRod's aggressive nature and spread offense didn't really fit at Michigan, but he is a quality football coach who was a bit of a scapegoat for the Maize and Blue-bloods. At Arizona, he took a 4-8 team that failed to compete against good teams to an 8-4 record that features the nation's leading rusher. Matt Scott won't be back next year, but Ka'Deem Carey, the country's most underrated running back, will be. And fans can bet he won't be underrated next fall.

8. Washington fixed its defensive problems
Justin Wilcox was hired as the defensive coordinator. Peter Sirmon and Tosh Lupoi were also brought on as defensive assistants and star recruiters. A fourth-quarter choke against Washington State notwithstanding, the changes made by Steve Sarkisian on the defensive side of the ball clearly worked. In 2011, Washington finished 11th in the Pac-12 and 106th nationally in total defense by allowing 453.3 yards per game. It also ranked 11th in the Pac-12 and 108th nationally in scoring defense at 35.9 points allowed per game. The Huskies allowed exactly 100 fewer yards per game (353.3) and nearly two touchdowns less per game (23.8 ppg). The offense took a step back without Chris Polk and Jermaine Kearse and a long list of major injuries to the offensive line, but the defense has been elevated to a championship level. The next step for Coach Sark is to put it all together — like in 2013 with a glut of talented defenders and a senior quarterback.

9. Cal is better suited to win under a new regime
Jeff Tedford is arguably the most successful coach in Golden Bears history. He led Cal to its first conference championship (2006) since 1975, has won more games (79) than any coach in program history and has the highest winning percentage (62 percent) since Pappy Waldorf in the late 40s. He also should be given direct credit for the massive upgrades in facilities in Berkeley. Yet, after losing star coaches and recruits this offseason, an extremely uncompetitive 3-9 mark forced the administration's hand. Whoever is hired at Cal is much better suited to win quickly, however, due to the decade-long growth of the program under Tedford. 

10. Mike Leach has a long way to go in Pullman
Year number one at Washington State didn't exactly go the way Leach planned. Locker room turmoil, a star defection, no ability whatsoever to run the football are just a few of the issues this team dealt with in 2012. Yet, the season finished on a high note with a huge fourth-quarter comeback in The Apple Cup — and it might have been just the boost Leach needed to kick start his offseason. The win not only came against a bitter rival, but it gave Leach his first career Pac-12 win. In a year marred with poor performances, Washington State understands it needs to improve across the board in every way if it expects to compete in the stacked North Division. 

Related Championship Week Content

ACC 2012 Season Recap and Awards
Big East 2012 Season Recap and Awards

Big Ten 2012 Season Recap and Awards

Big 12 2012 Season Recap and Awards

Pac-12 2012 Season Recap and Awards

SEC 2012 Season Recap and Awards

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Post date: Monday, November 26, 2012 - 05:25
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Bizarre might be the best word to describe the 2012 edition of Big Ten football. The best teams with the best player and the best coach won't be playing for a championship of any kind after finishing the season as one of only two undefeated teams in the nation. The non-conference performance by the league as a whole was fairly atrocious as a road win over Syracuse might be the best out-of-league win this season. What about the emotional roller coaster fans in Happy Valley have been on for over a year?

Yet, there is room for optimism. Nebraska appears to be back competing for league titles, Montee Ball broke a historic all-time NCAA record, the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry is officially back and, by the way, the league will be at 14 teams in a matter of months.

Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State – Much like Michigan's Denard Robinson, Miller spends a lot of time writhing in pain. But when he is upright, he is the most gifted, most electric player in the league. And his team never lost this fall. He finished No. 2 in total offense (275.8 ypg), No. 3 in passing efficiency (140.46) and No. 5 in rushing (105.9 ypg). He accounted for 28 touchdowns (15 pass, 13 rush) with only six interceptions while completing 58.3 percent of his passes.

2. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska – Martinez had a slightly better statistical year than Miller, but his team lost twice, including a blowout at the hands of Miller and the Buckeyes. If the voting for this award took place after the title game, Ohio State was eligible and T-Mart defeated Miller to win the Big Ten crown? Things would be different. But without that win, the league's leading passer (148.34 rating) and total producer (276.3 ypg) trails Miller.

3. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin – The Wisconsin Badgers' record-setting running back led the league in touchdowns (18) and finished second in rushing with 1,528 yards. He set the all-time NCAA record for total touchdowns scored with 79 and is currently tied for the NCAA mark of 73 rushing TD. He and the Badgers will attempt to avenge one of their close losses against Nebraska in Indianapolis this weekend. 
 

Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Mike Mauti, LB, Penn State – The numbers are good, but no player might have meant more to his team than Mauti. Even as an innocent bystander in the season finale he impacted the game. He posted 96 tackles, three interceptions, three forced fumbles, 4.0 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.

2. John Simon, DL, Ohio State – He lost the award by not being able to play against Michigan likely. But Simon was the star he was expected to be this season. He posted 44 total tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks for the best team in the league. He never quits and makes everyone around him better.

3. Will Compton, LB, Nebraska – One of the nation's best, Compton registered 98 tackles, 5.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, one interceptions and seven passes deflected for the team that will likely earn the Big Ten crown.
 

Coach of the Year Standings

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State – To lead his team to a perfect record in the face of NCAA sanctions and bowl ineligibility in his first season is nothing short of amazing. This team lost seven games last year and the 12-0 mark was Meyer's first undefeated BCS team.

2. Bill O'Brien, Penn State – The job BoB did in Happy Valley was also remarkable. His sanctions were worse and his roster wasn't nearly as talented. But he totally revamped a stagnant PSU offense and won eight games in a city reeling from the worst scandal in NCAA history.

3. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern – This is a two-horse race but Coach Fitz deserves a nod. As does Bo Pelini. No one gets more out of less than Pat Fitzgerald, but more on that in a moment...


10 Things We Learned From the Big Ten in 2012

1. Brady Hoke vs. Urban Meyer could save the Big Ten
The Big Ten had a down year in 2012. There is no arguing that. But they also had an undefeated team, a potential Heisman trophy candidate, one of the most productive players in the history of the game (Denard Robinson) and two elite coaches on the same field this Saturday. Ohio State and Michigan have a chance to save the most lucrative league in college football. If Hoke and Meyer continue to set the Big Ten standard of excellence and success, the rest of the league will have no choice but to elevate themselves to the same level of commitment. After a back-and-forth affair in Columbus that was as enjoyable as any meeting in the long history of the rivalry, the nation once again must pay attention to the Buckeyes-Wolverines showdown. The spread offenses may not remind fans of Bo and Woody, but the throwback coaches and national importance certainly will. The Big Ten will return to national prominence at some point — e.g., competing for national championships — and it will happen because these two coaches have begun another 10-year war.

2. The Buckeyes are a national title contender in 2013
There will be plenty of holes to fill on defense, but this team has to be considered the frontrunner in the Big Ten next fall. And that should put them in the preseason Top 10 with relative ease. As long as Braxton Miller and Urban Meyer are together on offense, this team has a chance to win every game it plays. Miller is a transcendent talent who fits Meyer's system perfectly and will make another serious run at Ohio State's eighth Heisman Trophy. But after a year of great success with no payoff, expectations will soar down the banks of the Olentangy. Handling the constant offseason pressure to win — which Kansas State and Oregon couldn't handle for one week — will be Meyer's tallest order this spring.

3. Brady Hoke is going to be just fine in Ann Arbor
Michigan isn't "back" yet, but they are getting awfully close. Four losses indicate this program is still a couple of more Hoke recruiting classes away from being a national contender. But those four losses came to four teams with a combined record of 45-3 (Notre Dame, Alabama, Ohio State and Nebraska). Denard Robinson is an amazing player who has a long highlight reel loaded with eye-popping runs and won't soon be forgotten by Wolverine faithful. But he doesn't possess the skillset Hoke wants from his quarterback and fans saw a glimpse of the future with Devin Gardner late in the year. Hoke has pulled the Maize and Blue out of the Lloyd Carr-RichRod hole and is as old-school as old-school can get (SEE: short sleeves in snow). He is building towards a long run at Big Ten championships, Rose Bowls and possibly more.

4. The Big Ten is still an extremely attractive place to be
The oldest conference in America is easily the richest and most lucrative league in all of college football. That is why Maryland, against the wishes of many outspoken alumni, and Rutgers jumped at the chance to collect a Big Ten paycheck. Jim Delany may not be the nicest guy in the world, but he is one of the smartest and one of the shrewdest. The fact that the announcement of Maryland and Rutgers joining the league didn't leak until the day before the official vote and press conference indicates Delany's air-tight grasp on Big Ten operations. He has called Mike Slive's expansion raise and is staring directly at the biggest payday in college football history in the form of the conference's next (2017) TV contracts. Aside from a program like North Carolina (who would never leave) or Louisville (which lacks the TV and academic requirements), no teams were more attractive and have more potential than the Terps and Scarlet Knights. The onus of competition now falls to those two schools putting the right leaders in the right places.

5. Bill O'Brien is a pretty sharp dude
No one in the history of college football has taken over a program with more swirling turmoil than O'Brien at Penn State. The scandal that shook the college football world didn't shake the seniors on this football team, and Coach BoB deserves much of the credit for keeping this team together. He began his tenure watching as a dozen key contributors walked away from his program after unprecedented heavy-handed NCAA sanctions — all before playing a single game. But somehow, O'Brien turned an unimaginative, lethargic offense into an exciting, creative product that won eight games. He will have his hands full rebuilding the Nittany Lions brand name on the recruiting trail and depth will be a major issue for the next few years. But if the emotion and excitement in Beaver Stadium for Senior Day in the win over Wisconsin was any indication, the Nittany Lions won't be down for long.

6. Taylor Martinez quieted the doubters and is poised for a huge 2013
As a freshman, Martinez displayed a lack of mental toughness and maturity. He also was banged up down the stretch. As a sophomore, he developed as a leader within the huddle and the locker room. The question about his third season under center at Nebraska was going to be his ability to throw the football efficiently. As it turns out, he is pretty good. He led the league in passing efficiency while consistently leading his team back from second-half deficits. He has developed into one of the most complete quarterbacks in the nation and has a chance to win a Big Ten championship with one more win.

7. Michigan State doesn't reload, they rebuild
Kirk Cousins was just one of many key departures from the Spartans' back-to-back 11-win teams. The off-season question surrounding Mark Dantonio's team was if Michigan State had grown into a program that simply reloads instead of having to rebuild. There is a fine line between the two and fans in East Lansing were given a definitive and resounding "no." The offense was one-dimensional and predictable without Cousins and this team failed to finish close games all season. Dantonio is an excellent coach and the Spartans will be back soon enough, but many young players were forced into key roles this fall and it cost MSU in a big way.

8. Does anyone get more from less than Pat Fitzgerald?
His coaching ability and style may not work at a place like Ohio State or Michigan, but there is no better person to lead the Northwestern Wildcats than Pat Fitzgerald. He has never finished higher than 9th in the Big Ten in the recruiting rankings and consistently produces a winner on the field. He has averaged nearly eight wins per season over the last five seasons (7.8) and with a bowl win, the Wildcats would post their first 10-win season since Coach Fitz' 1995 Rose Bowl team. That said, his team could have had a special season this fall had they simply held onto a lead or two. Northwestern gave up second-half leads to Nebraska, Michigan State and Michigan, leaving Coach Fitz to wonder "what if?"

9. Iowa deserves better from a $39 million coach
Kirk Ferentz makes roughly $4 million per season and is the sixth highest paid coach in the nation. The math isn't difficult to follow for fans in Iowa City. One million per win isn't getting the job done. Ferentz isn't going anywhere this season, and more coaching staff changes might be expected. The hires he made last season — Greg Davis on offense and Phil Parker on defense — will be heavily scrutinized this off-season. Parker has the name and a long tenure on Ferentz staff, so a move on that side isn't likely. Davis, however, is in danger. His offense lacked creativity as quarterback James Vandenberg and the passing game took a major step back this season. It may not be justified to cut Davis loose after just one season, but he may not have a choice as the pressure will be on Ferentz to shake things up. Four wins at Iowa isn't acceptable.

10. This league might have the best coaches in the nation
Iowa's struggles this year aside, Ferentz has been one of the Hawkeyes' most successful coaches. Bret Bielema did an excellent job this fall with a very non-descript Badgers team and could earn a third straight trip to Pasadena. Bo Pelini is poised to win Nebraska's first conference title since 1999. Pat Fitzgerald's exploits in Evanston are well documented. New coaches hired in the last two years at Michigan, Ohio State, Indiana and Penn State all appear to be great hires. Jerry Kill has the Golden Gophers back in a bowl game. And Mark Dantonio is as respected a coach as there is in the nation. The jury is still out on Tim Beckman, but unlike most leagues, the Big Ten won't see any turnover on the sidelines this fall. This is why Purdue, after two bowl games in a row, might be the only coaching vacancy in the league this winter.

Related Championship Week Content

ACC 2012 Season Recap and Awards
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Big Ten 2012 Season Recap and Awards

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SEC 2012 Season Recap and Awards

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<p> Big Ten 2012 Season Recap and Awards</p>
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Every Friday for entertainment purposes only, I will bring you my top college football picks against the spread. I do not condone, approve or encourage gambling on sports in any way. But if you are a fan of football — college or pro — and you don't think gambling has played a huge role in the growth and popularity of the sport, then you are simply being ignorant. And behind closed doors, the powers that be understand the impact betting has had on the game of football.

2012 Record Against The Spread: 52-31
Last Week: 3-2

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Ball State (-7.5) at Miami, Ohio
The Cardinals have won five straight and are 9-2 against the spread. The Redhawks have lost three straight and are 2-8-1 against the number this fall. This seems like easy money. Prediction: Ball State -7.5

Arizona State (+2.5) at Arizona
The Wildcats offense is on cruise control and appears to be fully healthy. The Sun Devils defense has been on life support for over a month (despite a strong showing against lowly Washington State). Arizona is a far superior team and could roll big. Prediction: Arizona -2.5

Washington (-13.5) at Washington State
Normally, in potentially bad weather on the road in a rivalry, I would recommend betters stay away. But Washington State is horrible and the Huskies are surging. Take Coach Sark and his Woof Gang. Prediction: Washington -13.5

Northwestern (-19) at Illinois
Pat Fitzgerald's team has only lost once this year against the spread and Illinois has done nothing to prove it will hang around in this one. Why shouldn't this one get ugly? Prediction: Northwestern -19

Florida (+7) at Florida State
Call is SEC hubris, but the Gators getting seven points against anyone feels like a smart bet. Yes, Florida State has been strong against Florida over the last two, and I still like the Noles to win, but a blowout feels highly unlikely. Prediction: Florida +7

One to watch for fun:

Idaho (+38) at Utah State
The Aggies are the only unbeaten team in the nation against the spread this year. And Idaho has been terrible in Vegas, going 2-9 against the spread. So why not lay 38 points, right? Prediction: Utah State -38

2012 Trends Against the Spread:

  Best Teams Against the Spread   Worst Teams Against the Spread
1. Utah State (11-0) 1. Virginia (1-8-2)
2t. Fresno State (10-1) 2t. Arkansas (2-9)
2t. Northwestern (10-1) 2t. Colorado (2-9)
4t. Ball State (9-2) 2t. Idaho (2-9)
4t. Kent State (9-2) 2t. Iowa (2-9)
4t. San Jose State (9-2) 2t. Nevada (2-9)
7. Kansas State (8-2-1) 7. Miami, Ohio (2-8-1)
8. Penn State (8-2-1)    

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<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 13</p>
Post date: Friday, November 23, 2012 - 09:00
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Wisconsin is in and waiting for either Nebraska or Michigan in the Big Ten Championship game. Senior day will take place all across the Midwest, including what should be a very emotional day in Happy Valley. Michigan and Ohio State renew arguably the greatest rivalry in all of college football. And, oh by the way, the Big Ten is no longer at 12 teams as Maryland and Rutgers have officially been added to the league. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Big Ten's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 13:

1. Brady Hoke vs. Urban Meyer, Part 1
There are many who believe that this rivalry has a chance to reach a new level now that both programs apparently have long-term stability at the head coaching position. These are two old-school coaches with old-school philosophies and old-school personalities who understand the old-school tradition inherent in this matchup. Urban Meyer is completely obsessed with beating Michigan, while Brady Hoke has never lost to That School from Down South in his short stint as coach at That School from Up North. The 10-Year War has a chance to be revived with these two leaders in place — and this Saturday at noon in Columbus, Ohio, they will face each other for the first time. Here's hoping the ghosts of Woody and Bo enjoy what they see.

2. Ohio State, Braxton Miller's 2012 legacy
The Buckeyes would be no lower than third in the BCS standings — and more likely second — if they weren't ineligible. Braxton Miller should end up in New York but won't win the Heisman Trophy due to NCAA sanctions. However, a win over hated Michigan would give Meyer his first unbeaten season as a BCS head coach and would send the Heisman hype around Miller soaring into the offseason (which might be a terrible thing if you are a Buckeye, considering the preseason favorite never seems to win). Should Nebraska somehow lose to Iowa, the Wolverines would be playing for a spot in the Big Ten game. Knocking the Maize and Blue out of the Big Ten Championship game would completely out-weigh the what-ifs that would swirl in Bucknuts' heads for eternity about what this 12-0 team could have done had it been eligible to compete for a national championship.

3. Better yet, what is Denard Robinson's legacy?
Shoelace was used almost exclusively as a runner last weekend, rushing 13 times for 98 yards, catching a few passes and attempting no passes. Devin Gardner, meanwhile, dissected the Hawkeyes with six touchdowns with his arm (3 TD) and his legs (3 TD). Robinson deserves kudos for taking his role in stride, especially considering what he was able to do last fall in this rivalry. He got the Wolverines into the win column against their bitter rival for the first time since 2003 and has weeks of highlight reel performances over three years of starting games with that famed winged helmet on. He is one of the most productive players in the history of college football, but he never won a championship and it will feel weird watching him take hand-offs and catch passes from someone else in what could be his final Big Ten football game. Just imagine what a big play or two in an upset win over unbeaten Ohio State would mean to his legacy as a Wolverine?

4. Conduct business in Iowa City
Kirk Ferentz has major issues at Iowa. His team is going to have its first losing season since 2001 — which is simultaneously both a credit and debit on his resume — and these Hawkeyes should pose little threat to the Nebraska Cornhuskers title run. With a win, Bo Pelini will have led the Big Red to the Big Ten championship game in only its second season in the league. Taylor Martinez, who could push Braxton Miller for Player of the Year honors should Ohio State lose to Michigan, should have no issue carving up a Hawks defense that has looked anything but what a Ferentz-coached defense normally looks like. SEE: Devin Gardner's stat line from last week. This should be a corn-onation of sorts for Pelini and Martinez.

5. Michigan State's bowl eligibility
The question this summer about Michigan State was whether Mark Dantonio built the Spartans into a "reload" program or would they have to "rebuild" after losing so many key players. After the school's greatest quarterback and all-time leading receiver moved on, it certainly appeared as though Sparty was rebuilding this season. The defense has been stout, even without Jerel Worthy, but the offense has struggled to find balance all season. And now, after back-to-back 11-win seasons, Dantonio is faced with a must-win situation against Minnesota just to keep from having a losing campaign. Look for Le'Veon Bell to get upwards of 40 carries if that is what it takes to demoralize the underrated Minnesota defensive line and get Michigan State to the postseason.

6. Montee Ball's TD records
The Wisconsin tailback is tied with Travis Prentice for the NCAA's all-time lead in total touchdowns with 78. With one more score, he will have reached paydirt more than anyone else in the history of the game. It's quite a statement for a player who really has only started for two-and-a-half seasons. Additionally, Ball is one rushing touchdown behind Prentice's all-time NCAA mark for rushing scores with 73.

7. Emotional senior day in Beaver Stadium
No matter which side of the Wisconsin-Penn State rivalry you may land on, everyone will be cheering for Nittany Lions' senior linebacker Michael Mauti on Saturday. His career in Happy Valley came to an end last weekend when he was carted off the field with a knee injury. This is the same knee that needed ACL surgery in 2011 and, right or wrong, his draft stock is undoubtedly slipping. This was supposed to be his final home game in front of a fanbase that understands and appreciates first-hand what Mauti and the rest of the seniors sacrificed the last 12 months. Mauti, Matt McGloin and the rest of this class have set a tremendous example of how to overcome adversity and what it means to commit to something larger than the individual. Win or lose, both teams should applaud how a collection of young people performed in the face of unthinkable atrocities.

8. Can Danny Hope save his job with a win?
The rumblings from West Lafayette are getting louder by the day. Even on a two-game winning streak that has Danny Hope poised to make his second-straight bowl game, there are those that feel a change is needed atop the Boilermakers program. A loss for Hope in the in-state Battle for the Old Oaken Bucket would effectively end his head coaching career at Purdue. Unfortunately, a win might not help much either. 

Week 13 Big Ten Predictions:

Week 13 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Nebraska at Iowa Nebraska, 34-10 Nebraska, 30-10 Nebraska, 31-14 Nebraska, 35-10
Illinois at Northwestern Northwestern, 35-17 Northwestern, 31-17 Northwestern, 38-13 Northwestern, 28-14
Indiana at Purdue Purdue, 34-31 Indiana, 34-17  Indiana, 34-31 Purdue, 17-10
Michigan at Ohio St Ohio St, 41-31 Ohio St, 30-17 Ohio St, 31-28 Ohio St, 28-14
Michigan St at Minnesota Michigan St, 28-7 Michigan St, 20-17 Michigan St, 27-17 Michigan St, 14-7
Wisconsin at Penn St Penn St, 24-20 Penn St, 24-17 Wisconsin, 27-24 Penn St, 21-14
Last Week: 5-1 6-0 5-1 6-0
Yearly Totals: 74-16 71-19 75-15 71-19

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This could be one of the truly great season finales in Pac-12 history. And this comes from a league that consistently plays its best rivalries on the final weekend of the year. The Civil War. The Apple Cup. The Duel in the Desert. Notre Dame and USC. And, oh by the way, Stanford visits UCLA with a trip to the Pac-12 championship game on the line.

Additionally, it's worth nothing that Colorado will play Utah.

Pac-12's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 13:

1. Will USC upset the national landscape?
Max Wittek has already gone on radio in Los Angeles and all but guaranteed victory. That's a pretty bold statement for someone making their first career start against the first No. 1-rated Notre Dame Fighting Irish team in the history of the BCS. The funny thing is? The Trojans have the weapons on the edge and in the vertical passing game to attack an area of vulnerability. If the 6-foot-4, 235-pound four-star prep All-American can simply get the football out of his hands quickly, USC has a chance to keep it close. Considering how No. 1 teams have fared in big games thus far in 2012, a win would allow Oregon, Florida State, Georgia, Florida or even Kansas State back into the National Championship mix. If the USC offensive line fails to hold up and Wittek cannot get rid of the football, then Notre Dame will play for its first BCS title. Either way, history will likely be made in The Coliseum.

2. This is the most important Civil War showdown since...
Ever? These two teams enter the regular season finale both ranked in the top 15 of the BCS and have a combined three losses (two of which came against Stanford, I might add). Oregon has to win to keep its Pac-12 and national title chances alive. Oregon State still has its sights set on a 10- or 11-win season. The Beavers have played great defense this fall and are coming off a dominating performance against Cal. Sean Mannion finally looked 100-percent healthy, and the ground game was effective. But it will be the Beavers defense that will have to play well at home if it expects to get a win in the Civil War for the first time in five years.

3. The rushing defense will be on display in Corvallis
The Beavers used to own the Civil War at home, winning five straight from 1998-2006. Oregon, obviously, has since dominated the rivalry no matter where the game has been played. This is due in large part to Chip Kelly's vaunted rushing attack. After topping the 400-yard mark rushing in three straight games, the Ducks have failed to reach the 200-yard plateau in each of the last two games leading into this weekend. It didn't matter against Cal, but against Stanford, and more importantly Oregon State, it most certainly will. The Beavers have faced elite runners all season and won't be phased by Kenjon Barner. Montee Ball (61 yards), Johnathan Franklin (45), Ka'Deem Carey (115), John White (68), Bishop Sankey (92) and Stepfan Taylor (114) have all been held in (relative) check for Mike Riley's 14th-rated rushing defense. Fans on both sides are expecting this one to live up to the hype.

4. Should UCLA intentionally lose?
The Bruins essentially get to pick who they want to play in the Pac-12 championship. UCLA clinched the South with its win over USC last weekend and now plays a meaningless game — as it pertains to the standings in the South — against the Cardinal. So Jim Mora has to ask his coaching staff: Do we want to face Stanford for the second time in six days or try to stop Oregon? While David Shaw's bunch defeated Oregon last weekend, the conventional wisdom would lean away from having to face Oregon. But can a coach actually ask their players to lay down against a top 10 team at home? Hardly. Momentum is fleeting in college football and there is no way Mora can NOT try to win this game. Even if it means the Ducks hang 50 on them in the title game.

5. The not-so-much Duel in the Desert
Arizona has won four out of five games, has its star quarterback back under center healthy, the nation's leading rusher behind him in the backfield and is playing at home. Arizona State, prior to last week's win over lowly Washington State, had lost four straight games with little-to-no defense to speak of. Ka'Deem Carey might be the nation's most underrated player and has been on an absolute tear of late, rushing for 570 yards and six touchdowns in his last two games — yes, that is 285 yards and 3 TD per game. There is nothing on paper that indicates the Sun Devils will be able to slow an offense that averages over 520 yards and 37 points per game. It's a good thing for Todd Graham that games aren't played on paper, so should ASU pull the upset, it will be because of coaching.

6. Statement time for the Washington Huskies
Mike Leach isn't this bad of a coach. His team won't always be this bad. But if Steve Sarkisian wants to continue feeding his budding Pacific Northwestern powerhouse, he needs to keep his foot on his arch-rival's neck. Coach Sark completely renovated his defense, has re-established the running game in a big way and has his team poised for a shot at nine wins. But a loss to a team with locker room turmoil and nine losses would be absolutely devastating to the overall growth of his program. The weather could be bad and strange things happen in rivalry games on the road, so Washington must take nothing for granted and dominate Leach's first Apple Cup.

7. There is one reason to watch the Utes and Buffs
And his name is Travis Wilson. The young freshman quarterback played poorly against Washington on the road two weeks ago — a place where most have struggled, admittedly. However, he rebounded last weekend against Arizona with the best performance of his young career. The touted passer set career highs in completions (28), attempts (40), yards (311) and touchdowns (2) despite the loss to the Wildcats. If he is the future of the Utah's quarterback position, then No. 7 in red will be unstoppable against the dreadful Colorado Buffaloes. 

Week 13 Pac-12 Predictions:

Week 13 Pac-12 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Utah at Colorado Utah, 35-7 Utah, 41-7 Utah, 34-10 Utah, 35-10
Washington at Washington St Washington, 31-10 Washington, 37-10 Washington, 34-17 Washington, 38-14
Arizona St at Arizona Arizona, 41-28 Arizona, 41-27 Arizona, 38-34 Arizona, 38-31
Oregon at Oregon St Oregon, 31-24 Oregon, 44-37 Oregon, 34-31 Oregon, 35-17
Stanford at UCLA UCLA, 23-20 UCLA, 28-20 UCLA, 27-24 Stanford, 24-20
Notre Dame at USC Notre Dame, 30-17 Notre Dame, 24-17 Notre Dame, 31-13 Notre Dame, 28-14
Last Week: 4-2 4-2 4-2 6-0
Yearly Totals: 61-17 61-17 60-18 56-22

Bye Week: Cal

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ACC Week 13 Previews and Predictions
Big East Week 13 Previews and Predictions

Big Ten Week 13 Previews and Predictions

Big 12 Week 13 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 13 Previews and Predictions

College Football Week 13 Upset Predictions

Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections

Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Week 13 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 05:20
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-contenders-post-week-12
Body:

Each week, the Athlon editors and others who closely follow college football vote on the most prestigious award in the sport. A 13-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports and other publications cast their votes for their top Heisman Trophy candidates. The votes will be tallied and the results will be posted as the Athlon Sports Heisman Watch List every week of the regular season.

Voting: Each first-place vote receives 10 points. A second-place vote receives nine points. So on and so forth with a 10th-place vote receiving one point. Here are Athlon's guest voters:

Barrett Sallee: Bleacher Report SEC Lead Writer (@BarrettSallee)
Jim Young: ACCSports.com (@ACCSports)
Blair Kerkhoff: Kansas City Star (@BlairKerkhoff)
Chris Level: RedRaiderSports.com (@ChrisLevel)

1. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (7 first-place votes)
Stats: 241-356, 3,047 yards, 21 TD, 7 INT, 172 att., 1,114 yards, 17 TD
Sam Houston State is far from a Heisman barometer, but Manziel kept his stat-train rolling. He rushed for his sixth 100-yard game and two touchdowns to go with 267 yards passing and three scores in the air. He is leading the SEC in rushing and total offense and has the Aggies poised to go 10-2 in their first season in the country's most powerful league.
Next Week: Missouri

  Last Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. (2) Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M 117/130 7 2 1 3 - 13/13
2. (1) Collin Klein QB Kansas St 111/130 2 5 5 - 1 13/13
3. (3) Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame 110/130 2 5 3 3 - 13/13
4. (4) Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 95/130 2 1 3 3 1 13/13
5. (5) Marcus Mariota QB Oregon 59/130 - - - 2 3 12/13
6. (6) Marqise Lee WR USC 57/130 - - - - 5 13/13
7. (10) Tajh Boyd QB Clemson 37/130 - - - - 1 10/13
8. (7) Kenjon Barner RB Oregon 28/130 - - 1 - 1 6/13
9. (11) Ka'Deem Carey RB Arizona 23/130 - - - - - 7/13
10. (13) Jordan Lynch QB N. Illinois 14/130 - - - 1 1 3/13
11. (15) Taylor Martinez QB Nebraska 13/130 - - - - - 6/13
12. (9) Giovani Bernard RB N. Carolina 9/130 - - - - - 3/13
13. (ur) Johnathan Franklin RB UCLA 9/130 - - - 1 - 2/13
14. (8) A.J. McCarron QB Alabama 8/130 - - - - - 4/13
15. (14) Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 7/130 - - - - - 3/13
16. (ur) Stepfan Taylor RB Stanford 6/130 - - - - - 2/13
17. (11) Aaron Murray QB Georgia 5/130 - - - - - 2/13
18. (15) Geno Smith QB W. Virginia 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
19. (18) Damontre Moore DE Texas A&M 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
20t. (20) Barrett Jones OL Alabama 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
20t. (ur) Tavon Austin WR W. Virginia 1/130 - - - - - 1/13

2. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State (2 first-place votes)
Stats:
 145-208, 2,020 yards, 12 TD, 3 INT, 154 att., 748 yards, 19 TD
Klein has thrown six interceptions all season and three of them took place in the shocking loss to Baylor (52-24) this weekend. He finished with 286 yards passing and 39 yards rushing and three total touchdowns in the loss. He is still very much in the mix and could easily lead his team to a Big 12 title (or more if craziness ensues). CK7 had this award locked up with an undefeated regular season and his team couldn't get it done in Waco. Next Game: Texas (Dec. 1)

 
3. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame (2 first-place votes)
Stats: 98 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 6 INT, 1.5 sack, FR, 4 PBU
Te'o and the Notre Dame defense shutout Wake Forest in the easy win and the game marked the fifth time the Irish allowed less than a touchdown this fall. Te'o made six total tackles in the game and now leads the No. 1 team in the nation and the No. 1 scoring defense in the nation. With a win over USC, Te'o likely books a trip to New York as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Next Game: at USC

4. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State (2 first-place votes)
Stats: 
134-236, 1,850 yards, 14 TD, 6 INT, 207 att., 1,214 yards, 13 TD
Miller didn't post huge numbers against Wisconsin, but he led his team to yet another victory. This one coming against arguably the best defense in the Big Ten on the road. He rushed 23 times and completed 10-of-18 passes as Ohio State stayed unbeaten with the overtime win. Next Game: Michigan
 
5. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Stats: 
201-288, 2,371 yards, 29 TD, 6 INT, 90 att., 605 yards, 3 TD
Mariota threw for 207 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 89 yards on 12 carries against what is turning out to be one of the best defenses in the nation. However, he couldn't keep his team unbeaten as the Cardinal gave Oregon their first loss of the year in overtime. He is still leading the Pac-12 in passing efficiency. Next Game: at Oregon State

6. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Stats: 107 rec., 1,605 yards, 14 TD, 24 KR, 704 yards, TD, 107 yards rushing 
Next Game: Notre Dame
 
7. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Stats: 210-309, 2,941 yards, 28 TD, 9 INT, 122 att., 363 yards, 5 TD
Next game: South Carolina

8. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Stats: 220 att., 1,426 yards, 19 TD, 19 rec., 232 yards, TD
Next Game: at Oregon State
 
9. Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Stats: 250 att., 1,585 yards, 19 TD, 32 rec., 289 yards, TD
Next Game: Arizona State

10. Jordan Lynch, QB, Northern Illinois
Stats: 187-294, 2,582 yards, 22 TD, 4 INT, 215 att., 1,504 yards, 16 TD
Next Game: at Eastern Michigan

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Three and Out: Week 12 Recap

ACC Post-Week 12 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 12 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 12 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 12 Power Rankings
Pac-12 East Post-Week 12 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 12 Power Rankings

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Contenders: Post-Week 12</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-football/top-25-rivalries-college-football
Body:

Pep bands, cheerleaders, tailgating, student sections, cornhole and especially rivalries. All of which makes college football the greatest sport on the planet. The Athlon Sports editorial staff put its collective heads together and ranked the Top 25 rivalries in college football:

1. Michigan-Ohio State (Michigan leads 58-44-6)
Some think the story is a tall tale, but others swear it’s true. After his Ohio State team scored its final touchdown late in a 50–14 rout of Michigan at the end of the 1968 season, Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes elected to go for two points, instead of kicking the PAT. When asked afterward why he did that, Hayes reportedly said, “Because they ­wouldn’t let me go for three.” Hayes’ hatred for “that team up north,” as he referred to Michigan, was legendary. Rest assured that Wolverine fans harbor no affection for the Buckeyes, either. The schools have met every year but five (1913-17) since 1900 — the teams’ first game was in 1897 — and their contests have become appointment viewing for much of the country, late in November, usually under gun-metal gray skies with a hint of winter in the air. More important, Big Ten primacy is usually at stake, especially since Bo Schembechler took over in Ann Arbor in 1969 to turn the U-M fortunes around and provide an irascible counterbalance to the cantankerous Hayes. Since that point, Michigan-Ohio State has been the nation’s most consistently competitive and heated rivalry. Because the games have so much significance and occur at season’s end, a loss can be doubly haunting. Not only does the vanquished team lose to a hated foe, but its season can be destroyed also. For that reason, Michigan-Ohio State tops the rivalry list. There may be games that match these schools’ animosity for each other, and there may be contests that are as consistently important. But none combines the two into such a volatile package.

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

3. Army-Navy (Navy leads 56-49-7)
Go ahead and try to attend this game without experiencing a surge of patriotism. If the Super Hornets’ flyover doesn’t get you, the Army paratroopers will. If you miss the parades of Cadets and Midshipmen, then the non-stop spirit videos on the big board will stir your senses. By game’s end, no matter what the score, America wins. That may seem hokey to some, but they haven’t been there. Trust us, Army-Navy is college football in its purest state. Today, that’s something worth celebrating. Fans of the teams thirst for victory, and so do the players, who are truly playing for their fellow students. Afterward, they rejoin their classmates in preparation for military service, not an NFL career. For 364 days of the year, Army and Navy are on the same team. For three hours on a chilled December afternoon, they represent every soldier or sailor who has ever donned a uniform, walked a post or sailed into the dark of night. The football has been pretty good over the years, too. Five Heisman winners have participated in the rivalry, and dozens of Hall of Famers have taken the field representing the academies. Though Navy has dominated the scoreboard over the past decade, the game remains a huge draw and a still thrills fans across the country. Most important, it pits future military and government leaders against each other as they fight for their Academies and provide the country with an afternoon of prideful competition.

4. Oklahoma-Texas (Texas leads 59-43-5)
One of the most unique characteristics about Dallas’ Cotton Bowl is that the teams’ locker rooms empty into a common corridor, so that players take the field through the same tunnel. On more than one occasion, as Texas and Oklahoma have prepared to charge onto the hallowed stadium’s turf, they have encountered each other in a highly charged, emotional moment that could have ignited an inferno. Instead, they decided to enjoin the fight on the gridiron, in front of 95,000-plus fans divided evenly into crimson and burnt orange enclaves. Rarely has the flame from the ensuing collision failed to heat the passions of all in attendance. While the Texas State Fair rollicks on around them, and vendors offer to fry anything that doesn’t move — and some things that do — the Longhorns and Sooners offer a mid-season football feast that dates back to 1900, when Oklahoma wasn’t even a state and Texas was just beginning to tap into the huge oil reserves deep below its surface. The neighbors harbor a significant dislike for each other, and tempers have boiled over many times on nights before the game. It doesn’t help that many OU grads now live in Texas, lured south by jobs in the petroleum industry. And plenty of Lone Star football talent has headed north to Norman, especially when Barry Switzer was pillaging the state’s top programs for all-stars. The action on the field rarely disappoints. Although there have been several blowouts over the years, including 2011’s 55–17 Sooner wipeout, the action is usually taut and has national implications. Though the game is played in October, several championship runs have been spawned by a victory in Dallas, and several high hopes have been dashed.

5. USC-Notre Dame (Notre Dame leads 43-23-5)
The nation’s top intersectional rivalry owes a debt of gratitude to some unfriendly residents of Lincoln, Neb., and Bonnie Rockne’s love of warm California weather. At a time when traditional gridiron matchups are being torn asunder by the whirling conference kaleidoscope, Notre Dame and USC continue their annual hostilities, treating the nation to a classic matchup of iconic programs. The schools almost didn’t get together. But in 1925, after ND dropped a 17–0 decision at Nebraska, before an inhospitable crowd of Cornhusker fans, coach Knute Rockne and his wife were joined on the train back to Chicago by USC athletic director Gwynn Wilson and his wife, Marion. While Wilson tried to convince Rockne to ditch the burgeoning rivalry with Nebraska for an annual trip west, Marion Wilson and Bonnie Rockne became fast friends in another train compartment. Rockne resisted Wilson’s entreaties, but his wife was enthralled with the idea of Los Angeles in the late fall. She later convinced her husband to play the Trojans. The resulting rivalry has lasted 85 years and has filled the college football history books with dozens of classic tales. More Heisman winners have played in the Notre Dame-USC game than in any other rivalry, and many a national championship hope has been validated with a victory in the game. Though the teams alternate between their home sites, playing in late November in L.A. and mid-October in South Bend, the game retains a glamour that defines it and is a product of two of college football’s most storied programs.

6. Georgia-Florida (Georgia leads 48-40-2)
The party begins at “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” around Tuesday, when the big boats start cruising up the St. John’s River in Jacksonville. By gametime, everybody is in a festive mood – except the players. The Bulldogs and Gators have engaged in some classics over the years, from Georgia’s thrilling comeback in 1980 to Florida’s soggy 1993 triumph. Cheers!

7. Miami-Florida State (Miami leads 31-26)
For a while there during the 1990s, there was more talent on the field when the ‘Canes and ‘Noles met up than in some NFL stadiums. And everybody wanted to put on a show. This matchup lacks the tradition and history of other rivalries, but the hostility is just as high. And there have been some classics. FSU fans still wince when they hear the words “Wide Right,” while Miami backers still cringe at the 34-3 beating their heroes absorbed in ’84.

8. Harvard-Yale (Yale leads 65-56-8)
The Crimson and Bulldogs may not have played the first-ever college football game, but both schools had hands in how the game developed into what we have today. The late-November meeting between the schools is a history lesson wrapped in a high-class tailgate party. Harvard and Yale no longer compete at college football’s highest level, but they remain forever linked to the sport’s earliest days.

9. Florida-Florida State (Florida leads 33-21-2)
For years, this was a big brother/little brother battle, with the establishment Gators looking down on the upstart Seminoles. Then, FSU started to win games – a lot of games – and things changed. This may lack the in-state hate of Auburn-Alabama, but don’t worry; the two sides harbor plenty of dislike for each other. During the past three decades, as both have competed for national laurels, their games have become more than just neighborhood brawls.

10. Cal-Stanford (Stanford leads 58-46-11)
To some, The Big Game is the province of the wine-and-cheese crowd, and the schools’ NoCal addresses reinforce that. But there can be no denying that these schools thirst to defeat each other. It’s a classic battle of private (Stanford) against public (Cal), and bragging rights go well beyond which side brings the best pinot to the pre-game party. Plus, what other rivalry can boast a game with a crazy ending as the 1982 contest: “The band is on the field!”

11. Pittsburgh-West Virginia (Pitt leads 61-40-3)
Only 75 miles separates the two combatants in the Backyard Brawl. This rivalry is on hold after Pittsburgh moved to the ACC and West Virginia relocated to the Big 12.

12. Texas-Texas A&M (Texas leads 76-37-5)
This Thanksgiving weekend tradition is in jeopardy with the Aggies’ move to the SEC.

13. Oregon-Oregon State (Oregon leads 59-46-10)
The Civil War has come a long way since the Ducks and Beavers played to a 0–0 tie in 1983.

14. BYU-Utah (Utah leads 56-34-4)
The Holy War might be the best name for any rivalry in the nation.

15. UCLA-USC (USC leads 44-29-7)
The Southern California showdown was dominated by UCLA from 1991-98, but the Bruins have only won once since, in 2006.

16. Alabama-Tennessee (Alabama leads 49-38-7)
The Third Saturday in October means only one thing to people in the South: Alabama vs. Tennessee.

17. Oklahoma-Oklahoma State (Oklahoma leads 82-17-7)
T. Boone Pickens’ interest in the Oklahoma State program was piqued after the Pokes, 3–7 at the time, knocked OU out of the 2001 national title game with a 16–13 win.

18. Clemson-South Carolina (Clemson leads 65-40-4)
These two schools were bitter rivals well before they started playing football in the 1890s. South Carolina has won two straight, but Clemson holds a 65–39–4 advantage in the all-time series.

19. Mississippi State-Ole Miss (Ole Miss leads 60-42-6)
The Egg Bowl is often the only way to salvage a season for these two programs that have struggled to win consistently in the SEC.

20. Michigan-Michigan State (Michigan leads 68-32-5)
It pains MSU fans that Michigan’s biggest rival is Ohio State, but the “Little Brothers” from East Lansing have won the last four in the series.

21. Auburn-Georgia (Auburn leads 54-53-8)
It’s the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry and it dates back to 1892. Auburn holds the slimmest of margins, with a 54–52–8 edge in the series.

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

23. Georgia-Georgia Tech (Georgia leads 62-39-5)
You know it’s a good rivalry when the book about the series is called Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate.

24. Minnesota-Wisconsin (Minnesota leads 59-55-8)
The winner of the Gophers vs. Badgers showdown takes home the prized Paul Bunyan Axe. It’s the most played rivalry in FBS football, dating back to 1890.

25. Lafayette-Lehigh (Lafayette leads 76-67-5)
The Rivalry, as it’s called, pits two small private schools located 17 miles apart in Eastern Pennsylvania. Lafayette and Lehigh have met 146 times, including every year since 1897.

Teaser:
<p> The Top 25 Rivalries in College Football</p>
Post date: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - 05:22
Path: /college-football/big-ten-expansion-and-why-maryland-terrapins-makes-sense
Body:

College football expansion has taken over the hearts and minds of college football junkies everywhere.

The sky is falling, rivalries are dead and the future of college football is in great peril. I am here to tell you that this just simply isn’t the case. Conference realignment has been taking place for more than a century and it won’t stop anytime soon. Teams have been switching leagues, conferences have been created out of thin air and college football has powered through all the criticism and into the playoff era.

Programs rise and fall due to a variety of factors and become more or less attractive to conferences over time. In the 1980s, it was Florida State, Miami and Colorado. In the 1990s, it was Florida, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech and Kansas State. In the 2000s, it was Oregon, TCU, Boise State and Utah.

For a variety of reasons – coaching, support, media exposure, recruiting base – each of these programs blossomed into the full-throated college football monsters that we see every Saturday.

The point is, college football is a completely fluid situation, and programs rise and fall like European Empires of centuries past. It is about finding the right coach at the right time in the right situation. So as college football enters another era of conference upheaval, mega-television contracts, 7-on-7 national recruiting showcases, weekly uniform changes and a heightened countrywide awareness, the question becomes: Which program are best situated to elevate themselves into national prominence over the next decade and continue the athletic, academic and finacial growth of the Big Ten? This is what Jim Delany cares about.

But before I make the case for Maryland as a perfect fit for the Big Ten, here is a quick timeline of the history of Big Ten expansion:

The Big Ten Conference Timeline:

1896: The Big Ten is formed as the first major collegiate conference of universities. Purdue president James Smart is credited with spearheading the decision to regulate and control intercollegiate athletics. The seven founding members were the Univeristy of Chicago, Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin. Lake Forest College attended the 1895 meeting that eventually spawned what was then referred to as the Western Conference, but it did not join the league.

1899: Iowa and Indiana both join the Big Ten Conference three years after it’s inception. It was then commonly called the Big Nine.

1900: Both Iowa and Indiana would begin athletic competition the following year. Interestingly enough, Nebraska petitioned to join the league the same year (and would again request an invitation in 1911 to no avail).

1908: Michigan was voted out of the conference due to rules issues. The Wolverines failed to adhere to league-wide regulations and were subsequently ruled inactive.

1912: Ohio State joins the league.

1917: When Michigan was finally allowed back into the conference after the decade-long hiatus, the term Big Ten became an instantly popular way to refer to the conference.

1946: Due to the on-going World War in Europe, the University of Chicago had de-emphasized athletics in 1939 in a severe manner by discontinuing its football program. By 1946, Chicago withdrew from the league. The Big Ten went back to being referred to as the Big Nine.

1950: Michigan State is invited to join the Big Nine and does so to return the total number of league institutions to ten. The term Big Ten was re-adopted at this point. It would begin athletic competition in 1953.

1982: Penn State, currently an independent institution, asked to join the Big East but was denied inclusion in what was considered a basketball-centric league at the time.

1987: Technically, the league had been named the “Intercollegiate Conference of Faculty Representatives.” But since ICFR doesn’t roll off the tongue, the league officially changed its name to The Big Ten when it was incorporated as a not-for-profit business entity.

1990: After remaining unchanged for nearly exactly four decades of success, the Big Ten voted to expand to 11 schools and asked Penn State to join. The Nittany Lions were happy to oblige. It would begin Big Ten athletic competition in 1993.

2011: Nebraska played its first Big Ten conference schedule and the league splits into two divisions to accommodate the Cornhuskers. The Big Ten plays its first league championship game in Indianapolis. 

Why the Maryland Terrapins makes sense:

If you are looking for the next edition of the Oregon Ducks, look no further than College Park, Maryland. There is a lot of room for upward growth, and good coaches have proven that winning big is well within reach. The Terps have won a National Championship in hoops and had a good stretch in football for years. The Terps have a giant booster in Kevin Plank who, like Phil Knight at Oregon, is willing to funnel his Under Armour money – and his own intriguing sense of fashion – into the program he dearly loves.

The Big Ten is the most lucrative league in college football and is second only to the SEC in long-term stability. The Big Ten will get a record $24.6 million in shared revenue that is only sure to increase when an expanded footprint helps TV negotiations in 2017 when the new contract is signed. Maryland also lies in an incredibly rich area of the country for talent, both football and basketball, and would allow the Big Ten to dip into Virginia, DC, Pennsylvania and New Jersey for players on a yearly basis. And the truth of the matter is that upward movement within the league would involve leap-frogging programs Illinois, Iowa, Northwestern or Purdue. Very doable should things fall into place.

Randy Edsall proved at UConn that he could work minor miracles with mediocre ingredients. Now, he has a full-sized athletic department budget (that needs some overhaul), a great recruiting base and support from a powerful, high-profile booster who has created a connection with a certain 15-18 year-old male demographic with edgy advertising campaigns and creative uniforms.

Whether Edsall is the final answer for Maryland remains to be seen, but with the right person steering the program, the future appears to be very bright for the Terps. Rutgers brings the New York-New Jersey market while the Terps bring the Beltway — and a long history of competitive athletics. Add to it millions in increased revenue from not only the Big Ten coffers but also from increased interest in home football games with former rival Penn State, Ohio State, Nebraska, Michigan and Wisconsin, and Maryland has all the pieces in place to be a big part of the Big Ten's future. 

The History of the Big Ten:

Special thanks to Wikipedia.com for the above image. Please help keep Wikipedia free for all by donating here.

Big Ten Conference BCS Bowl History:

Notes: Year is representative of the fall football season, not the actual date of the bowl
(#) = final national BCS ranking

1998 Sugar: (4) Ohio State 24, (6) Texas A&M 14
1998 Rose: (9) Wisconsin 38, (5) UCLA 31
1999 Orange: (8) Michigan 35, (4) Alabama 34
1999 Rose: (7) Wisconsin 17, (ur) Stanford 9
2000 Rose: (4) Washington 34, (ur) Purdue 24
2001 Sugar: (13) LSU 47, (8) Illinois 34
2002 Fiesta (NCG): (2) Ohio State 31, (1) Miami 24 (2 OT)
2002 Orange: (4) USC 38, (5) Iowa 17
2003 Fiesta: (5) Ohio State 35, (10) Kansas State 28
2003 Rose: (3) USC 28, (4) Michigan 14
2004 Rose: (4) Texas 38, (13) Michigan 37
2005 Fiesta: (4) Ohio State 34, (6) Notre Dame 20
2005 Orange: (3) Penn State 26,* (22) Florida State 23
2006 NCG: (2) Florida 41, (1) Ohio State 14
2006 Rose: (5) USC 32, (3) Michigan 18
2007 NCG: (2) LSU 38, (1) Ohio State 24
2007 Rose: (7) USC 49, (13) Illinois 17
2008 Fiesta: (3) Texas 24, (10) Ohio State 21
2008 Rose: (5) USC 38, (8) Penn State 24
2009 Rose: (8) Ohio State 26, (7) Oregon 16
2009 Orange: (10) Iowa 24, (9) Georgia Tech 14
2010 Sugar: (6) Ohio State 31,* (8) Arkansas 26
2010 Rose: (3) TCU 21, (5) Wisconsin 19
2011 Sugar: (13) Michigan 23, (11) Virginia Tech 20 (OT)
2011 Rose: (5) Oregon 45, (10) Wisconsin 38

* - later vacated

Overall Record: 12-13
National Championships: 1-2

Teaser:
<p> History of Big Ten Expansion and Why Maryland Terrapins makes sense</p>
Post date: Monday, November 19, 2012 - 10:58
Path: /nfl/8-amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-11
Body:

NFL football is the greatest reality TV program of all time. The Giants and Colts made sure of that back in 1958. Each NFL fall weekend is a completely new and original experience for every player, fan and coach alike. New stories, new personalities, new winners and new losers. And new statistics.

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 11 of NFL play:

7: Return touchdowns allowed by Detroit, the most in the NFL
The Lions lost in heart-breaking fashion to the rival Packers due in large part to a big momentum swing on a Matthew Stafford interception. With the Packers trailing in the third quarter, M.D. Jennings picked off the Lions' quarterback and returned it 72 yards for a touchdown and the lead. The INT return for a touchdown was the second such return of the year and an NFL-high seventh total return TD — two punt returns, two kick returns, two interceptions returns and one fumble return — against the Lions. Stafford was sacked five times and his offense turned the ball over four times. The Lions own the worst division record in the NFL thus far at 0-4 against NFC North teams.

Sept. 24, 1967: Last time a QB threw 5 INT and 0 TD in a win
Matt Ryan completed 28-of-46 passes for 301 yards, no touchdowns and five interceptions. But since the inept Arizona offense couldn't score touchdowns either, Atlanta won the game despite Ryan's 0:5 TD:INT ratio. When was the last time a quarterback threw at least five interceptions and no touchdowns in a win you ask? Bart Starr went 10-of-19 for 113 yards, no scores and five picks in a 13-10 win over the Bears on Sept. 24, 1967. In case Falcons fans didn't know, Green Bay won the Super Bowl that year as well.

1: Incompletions thrown by Robert Griffin III
The 4-6 Redskins kept their slim playoff lights flickering with a dominant performance against Andy Reid and his reeling Eagles. RG3 was 14-of-15 for 200 yards and four touchdown passes, one in each quarter, in the 31-6 division win. He also rushed for 84 yards on 12 carries. Rookie quarterback Nick Foles struggled for the Eagles in place of Michael Vick and Washington snapped a bizarre losing streak. The Skins had lost eight straight games to rookie quarterbacks dating back to 2006.

273: Career-high yards receiving for Andre Johnson
This one is a lay-up. The great Andre Johnson caught a personal-best 14 passes for a personal-best 273 yards and the game-winning 48-yard touchdown catch and run. It was his 41st 100-yard receiving game in his illustrious Texans career. He has 766 catches for 10,526 yards and 55 touchdowns in his career. Imagine what his numbers would be if he hadn't missed 21 games over the last seven seasons. Matt Schaub's 527 yards passing were second all-time in a single game behind only Norm Van Brocklin's 554 yards in 1951. He tied Warren Moon's 527-yard performance from 1990. Schaub also set a Texans' record with 43 completions.

0.88: Rob Gronkowski's career touchdowns per game
The big Patriots tight end has been a touchdown machine since entering the league three seasons ago. He was targeted seven times in the win over the Colts and he caught all seven Tom Brady offerings for 137 yards and two more touchdowns. He now has 10 on the season and at least 10 in all three of his NFL seasons. That gives him 37 touchdown catches in 42 career games, for an average of 0.88 TD/game. Jerry Rice caught an NFL-record 197 TD in 303 games for an average rate of 0.65 TD/game. Randy Moss's 155 TD are No. 2 all-time and his TD rate was 0.73 per game. Terrell Owens is No. 3 all-time with 153 touchdowns in 219 games, or an 0.69 average. Gronkowski is on pace to get to 100 touchdowns — something only eight players have ever done — in just 114 games, or just a few weeks into his seventh NFL season. The Patriots' 59 points scored against Indianapolis tied a franchise record. Unfortunately, The Gronk also suffered a broken forearm and will likely miss 3-6 weeks.

11+ Points: Leads Cleveland, Jacksonville and Carolina gave up
With six minutes to go in the game, Cam Newton and the Panthers led Tampa Bay by 11 points. With 12:33 left to go in the game, Jacksonville had a 14-point lead on Houston. And the Dallas Cowboys trailed 13-0 to Cleveland with a few minutes left in the third quarter when they finally got onto the scoreboard with a field goal. All three teams choked away a double-digit second-half lead on Sunday. That is why these three teams have a combined record of 5-25 on the year and why they have one combined playoff win since 2005. The Browns set a franchise record with their 12th consecutive road loss.

423: Peyton Manning career touchdown passes
With three more touchdown passes in a key division win over San Diego, Manning has moved past Dan Marino for second all-time in passing touchdowns. Since a horrible first quarter in Atlanta back in Week 2 in which he threw three interceptions, Manning has 22 touchdown passes and only four interceptions. Denver has won five out of seven since the loss to Atlanta and the Broncos have taken a commanding three-game lead in the division. Manning is second only to Brett Favre's 508 touchdown passes. Manning also tied his boss, Broncos' Executive VP of Football Operations John Elway, for second place on the all-time list for victories in the regular season with No. 148. He needs 39 wins to break Favre's record of 186.

4-1: Joe Flacco's record against the Steelers in his last five
He has been often scrutinized, but Joe Flacco could be taking the next step in his development. He continues to show improved numbers year after year, he takes his team to the playoffs, has won five postseason games in four years and is now beating the Steelers on a regular basis. At least in the regular season. Flacco has won four of the last five meetings and five of the last seven with the arch-rival Steelers. He has also won three straight in the Steel City. No, Ben Roethlisberger didn't play and, no, Flacco hasn't beaten Pittsburgh in the playoffs yet (0-2). But this three-week stretch is likely going to determine the final AFC North standings as these two rivals will face-off twice. What's more, round one has gone the way of Flacco and the Ravens — giving Baltimore a commanding two-game lead in the division.

Teaser:
<p> 8 Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 11</p>
Post date: Monday, November 19, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-post-week-12-power-rankings
Body:

So much for a Oregon-USC rematch in the Pac-12 title game. UCLA not only knocked Matt Barkley out of the game, the Bruins knocked the Trojans out of the title race for good. UCLA has clinched its second straight bid to the conference championship game — and they may have to face the same team in six days. Should Stanford win in the Rose Bowl this weekend, these two teams will meet again in Palo Alto for the right to play in the Rose Bowl against the Big Ten champ. Which, coincidentally, could also be a rematch between Nebraska and UCLA. 

Should Stanford win next weekend against UCLA, Oregon will have gone from a potential spot in the BCS National Championship game to not even winning the North in a two-week span. 

Post-Week 12 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona - Carey led Zona to its seventh win of the year with a 204-yard performance on the road against Utah. He is leading the nation in rushing and has scored 20 total touchdowns. He has touched the ball 282 times on offense this fall.

2. Marqise Lee, WR, USC - Lee has been incredible all season. He caught nine passes for 158 yards a score in the loss to UCLA. He is now third in the nation in all-purpose yards at 219.6 yards per game. 

3. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - There is still a chance Oregon plays for the Pac-12 crown, and should that happen, the quarterback from Eugene will be right back atop the list. Brett Hundley of UCLA deserves honorable mention as well.

 

Post-Week 12 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford - His defense did it again. They held mighty Oregon to a season-low 14 points and 405 yards of offense. In Autzen Stadium. With the Pac-12 North title hanging in the balance.

2. Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State - He intercepted his league-leading sixth pass of the year to go with six total tackles in the win over Cal. His fate as the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year will likely be determined against Oregon coming up this Saturday.

3. Anthony Barr, DL, UCLA - The talented pass-rusher posted three total tackles, one for a loss, his Pac-12-leading 12th sack and knocked down a couple of passes in the big win over USC.


Post-Week 12 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Mike Riley, Oregon State - This is a close battle with many qualified candidates, but Riley's team was in by far the worst shape last fall. This team could still win 11 games this year. 

2. Jim Mora, UCLA  - The fact the previous regime recruited extremely well and this team played in the title game last fall indicates there was much less work to be done in Westwood. That gives Riley the slight edge.

3. David Shaw, Stanford - Shaw has done a great job replacing his star quarterback and big-time offensive blockers this season. Should he win next weekend at UCLA, he jumps right into the mix with Mora and Riley.
 

Post-Week 12 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (10-1, 7-1)
Previous rank: 1
Week 12 result: Lost to Stanford 17-14 (OT)
The Ducks were held to season lows in total yards (405) and were held to fewer than 30 points for the first time since Week 1 of 2011. Oregon must now win at arch-rival Oregon State this weekend and hope that UCLA can defeat Stanford in Los Angeles to win the North Division. All of which is still very much possible. However, should Stanford top the Bruins, Chip Kelly will have gone from potentially playing in the national championship game to not even winning his division in the span of four quarters against the Cardinal. The Ducks were 4-of-17 on third downs and simply couldn't possess the football.
This week: at Oregon State (8-2)

2. Stanford (9-2, 7-1)
Previous rank:
2


Week 12 result:
 Beat Oregon 17-14 (OT)
David Shaw has built what is easily the best defense in a league loaded with offensive firepower. And after changing quarterbacks late in the season, he is two wins away from winning the Pac-12 title. Kevin Hogan made just his second start, completing 25-of-36 passes for 211 yards and scored two total touchdowns in the road win over Oregon. The defense did the rest holding the Ducks to the fewest points they have scored since 2010.


This week: at UCLA (9-2)

 

3. Oregon State (8-2, 6-2)
Previous rank: 3
Week 12 result: Beat Cal 62-14
The Beavers played their best game in a month, crushing Cal at home by 48 points. Not surprisingly, Sean Mannion also looked the best he has since injuring his knee by throwing for 325 yards and four touchdowns. The ground game chipped in with a 200-yard effort and the defense forced four turnovers. The Beavers still have much to play for as the Ducks come into town this weekend. A win and a Stanford loss would create a three-way tie atop the North Division. 
This week: Oregon (10-1)

4. UCLA (9-2, 6-2)
Previous rank: 4
Week 12 result: Beat USC 38-28
Seriously, what happened in Berkley on October 6? This Bruins team has rattled off six straight wins and has clinched the South Division title after a 43-17 loss to 3-9 Cal. Jim Mora once again watched his dynamic backfield duo of Brett Hundley and Johnathan Franklin churn out yards. Hundley completed 22-of-30 passes for 234 yards and accounted for three touchdowns without throwing an interception. He trails only Johnny Manziel nationally in total offense by a freshman. Franklin continues to add to his record-setting resume with 171 yards and two touchdowns in the win. 
This week: Stanford (9-2) 

5. Arizona (7-4, 4-4)
Previous rank: 6
Week 12 result: Beat Utah 34-24
Matt Scott returned to the lineup but Rich Rodriguez turned to star workhorse Ka'Deem Carey in the big road win over Utah. Scott was a bit rusty (12-of-27) so Carey picked up the slack, rushing for 204 yards on 26 carries. The win gives RichRod his fourth in five games and should Arizona topple its arch-rival next weekend in Tucson, he will have taken a team that won four games a year ago to a bowl game and nine potential wins. 
This week: Arizona State (6-5)

6. Washington (7-4, 5-3)
Previous rank: 7
Week 12 result: 
Beat Colorado 38-3 

The Huskies are assured their third consecutive winning season after a fourth straight victory and their most complete performance of the 2012 season against lowly Colorado. Quarterback Keith Price played his best game of the season, completing 22-of-29 passes for 248 yards and five touchdowns. The massively improved defense allowed 141 total yards of offense to the Buffaloes as Justin Wilcox and company continue to do great work on that side of the ball. A win in the Apple Cup gives Washington its first eight-win season since 2001. 
This week: at Washington State (2-9)

7. USC (7-4, 5-4)
Previous rank: 5
Week 12 result: Lost to UCLA 38-28
It was the same old story for the Trojans. Matt Barkley threw the ball to Marqise Lee a bunch (nine completions) and threw it to the opposing team at least twice for the fourth straight game. It cost the Trojans again as both interceptions led directly to UCLA touchdowns. It was Barkley's sixth game with at least two picks this season after doing that only nine times in his first 36 career games. The preseason No. 1 team in the nation has now lost four conference games this year and won't be playing for much of anything following the season finale with Notre Dame. And Barkley may not play against the Irish, whose own national title hopes will be on the line, after the Bruins knocked him out of the game late with a shoulder injury. It's not exactly how he planned to end his final season at USC.
This week: Notre Dame (11-0)

8. Arizona State (6-5, 4-4)
Previous rank: 8
Week 12 result: Beat Washington State 46-7
In a must-win situation, Todd Graham got his team to bowl eligibility in his first year by pummeling Washington State. His offense was balanced, throwing for 301 yards and five scores while the ground game totaled 260 yards on 61 attempts. Since ASU faces a brutal road trip to Arizona next weekend, the Sun Devils had to defeat Wazzu to get to a bowl game. And 6-6 is extremely acceptable for Coach Graham's first season in Tempe. 
This week: at Arizona (7-4)

9. Utah (4-7, 2-6)
Previous rank: 
9
Week 12 result: Lost to Arizona 34-24
Young quarterback Travis Wilson showed why fans should be excited about the future of the position in Salt Lake City — even in a loss. He set career highs in attempts (40), completions (28), yards (311) and tied a career high with two scoring passes. That said, the Utes won't go bowling this season for the first time in 10 seasons after the home loss. Kyle Whittingham couldn't overcome the numerous key injuries.

This week: at Colorado (1-10)

10. California (3-9, 2-7)
Previous rank: 10
Week 12 result: Lost to Oregon State 62-14
This certainly isn't what Cal fans expected in 2012. A three-win season has Jeff Tedford hanging by a thread in Berkeley, but to finish the year with a 48-point home loss to a team that itself won only three games last season is unacceptable. Cal posted its worst record since a 1-10 mark in Tom Holmoe's final season in 2001. The facilities have been upgraded based on all that Tedford has accomplished in his very successful tenure, but the divorce proceedings may have already begun on Tight Wad Hill.
This week: None

11. Colorado (1-10, 1-7)
Previous rank: 11
Week 12 result: Lost to Washington 38-3
This is getting absurd as Colorado failed to put a competitive product on the field once again. The Buffs totaled 10 first downs and 141 yards of total offense against the Huskies. Colorado is the lowest scoring offense in the nation and has the worst scoring defense in the nation. Pretty hard to win games when you score 30 fewer points (16.7 ppg) than you give up every single weekend (46.3 ppg). 
This week: Utah (4-7)

12. Washington State (2-9, 0-8)
Previous rank: 12
Week 12 result: Lost to Arizona State 46-7
Things are going to get ugly in Pullman. The unrest in the locker room will only get worse if the Cougars play like they did against the Sun Devils again this weekend against rival Washington. The Apple Cup is one final chance to redeem what has otherwise been a horrific season of football. The Cougs rushed for one yard on the game — which was actually better than four other outputs this fall. They have rushed for a total of 330 yards and three touchdowns on the year. 

This week: Washington (7-4)

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 12 Recap

ACC Post-Week 12 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 12 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 12 Power
Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 12 Power Rankings

Pac-12 Post-Week 12 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 12 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Post-Week 12 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, November 19, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-football/big-ten-post-week-12-power-rankings
Body:

The Ohio State Buckeyes will finish the regular season with the best overall record in the Big Ten after an exciting overtime win in Madison. But what really mattered most was a 24-point home romp by the Nebraska Cornhuskers over Minnesota. The win moves Nebraska into a commanding position in the Legends Division, needing only a win over Iowa on the road or a Michigan loss to Ohio State in the Horseshoe to ensure a trip to Indianapolis and the Big Ten title game where they would face Wisconsin. There could be a lot of red in Indy in two weekends.

Post-Week 12 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State - Miller wasn't his usual electric self, but he made big plays and got his team into the end zone in overtime. A great game plan by UW limited his numbers, but Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year is all but his now.

2. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska - He is making a serious Heisman push late in the season. He threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns to go with 22 yards rushing in the key win over the Gophers. He is leading the Big Ten in passing efficiency and total offense.

3. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin - The record isn't his yet, but he is awfully close. Ball rushed for 191 yards on 39 carries and scored his NCAA record-tying 78th career TD.


Post-Week 12 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. John Simon, DL, Ohio State - The senior defensive end was at his best in a huge road win over Wisconsin. He posted six total tackles, four tackles for a loss and four sacks. He was all over the field and now leads the Big Ten in sacks and TFLs.

2. Mike Mauti, LB, Penn State - He was carted off of the field in the first quarter of the easy win over Indiana. One has to wonder if missing essentially the final two games while Ohio State goes undefeated could cost Mauti the D.P.O.Y. award. He will, and should, get plenty of feel-good votes.

3. Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin - Taylor leads the league's No. 1 rushing defense and No. 2 overall defense in tackles and tackles for loss. He is fourth in the Big Ten in tackles and helped contain Braxton Miller to his lowest offensive output of the year (145 total yards).


Post-Week 12 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State - Ohio State has clinched the best overall record in the league but has eyes on an undefeated season. This team would likely be No. 2 in the BCS standings after seven losses a year ago.

2. Bill O'Brien, Penn State - After an easy win over Indiana, Penn State fans are staring directly at an eight-win season. Considering what this community has been through, it's a remarkable performance from the new coaching staff. 

3. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern/Bo Pelini, Nebraska - Finally, his Wildcats broke through with a big win over Michigan State, giving him a shot at nine wins this season. Bo Pelini doesn't feel like a Coach of the Year candidate, but winning the championship game has to count for something, right?


Post-Week 12 Power Rankings

1. Ohio State (11-0, 7-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 12 result: Beat Wisconsin 21-14 (OT)

Two of the better programs in the Big Ten played a thriller in Madison. Eventually, Ohio State got a key fourth-down stop in overtime and moved to within one win of a perfect season. Michigan will come to town next weekend and the Buckeyes are not only shooting for an unbeaten season but a win would officially eliminate the Maize and Blue from Big Ten title contention. Braxton Miller didn't post huge numbers, but he has won every game he has started this season and is just as electric as any player in the nation. How much the postseason ban hurts his Heisman chances remains to be seen.
This week: Michigan (8-3)

2. Nebraska (9-2, 6-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 12 result: Beat Minnesota 38-14 
Taylor Martinez played another excellent day as the Big Red rolled over Minnesota on Senior Day in Lincoln. Unfortunately, fan favorite and senior Rex Burkhead missed his fourth game in a row and the sixth of the season. But having him healthy for a potential Big Ten championship game would justify not seeing No. 22 in red out there in the 24-point win. T-Mart totaled 330 yards of offense and two touchdowns without an interception. A win over Iowa next weekend sends embattled and temperamental coach Bo Pelini to Indianapolis with a very good shot at the Rose Bowl.
This week: at Iowa (4-7)

3. Michigan (8-3, 6-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 12 result: Beat Iowa 42-17
Devin Gardner is making a serious case as a force to be reckoned with next fall as Michigan's quarterback. He completed 18-of-23 passes for 314 yards, rushed for 39 yards on eight carries and accounted for all six Michigan touchdowns. Denard Robinson played, but was lined up as running back, rushing 13 times for 98 yards and catching two passes. Look for an interesting game plan from Brady Hoke with his athletic quarterback duo as he faces Urban Meyer for the first time as a part of the storied Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. Should Nebraska lose, the Wolverines could still win their way to Pasadena.
This week: at Ohio State (11-0)

4. Penn State (7-4, 5-2)
Previous rank: 5
Week 12 result: Beat Indiana 45-22
Matt McGloin threw for a career-high 395 yards and four first-half touchdown passes. It was his third 300-yard effort in four games, his fourth of the season and sixth of his career. The running game and defense did the rest of the damage, out-rushing Indiana 151 to 24. The defense lost emotional leader Mike Mauti early in the game and it appears that his Penn State career is over. An eighth win next weekend would be an a tremendous way to cap what has been an extremely emotional season in Happy Valley.

This week: Wisconsin (7-4)

5. Wisconsin (7-4, 4-3)
Previous rank: 4
Week 12 result: Lost to Ohio State 21-14 (OT)
It would have been an unbelievable feel-good story for Curt Phillips and his three ACL tears had his final drive in regulation (5-for-5, TD) not just tied the score, but won the game for the Badgers. However, the fairy-tale ending wasn't meant to be for the star-struck quarterback from Kingsport, Tenn. After Ohio State scored on its first overtime possession, Phillips failed to answer as the Badgers were unable to pick up a first down and his pass on fourth-down was knocked down, handing UW its fourth loss of the season. All four losses have come within one touchdown and this was the first loss by more than three points all season. This weekend's trip to Happy Valley could give Wisconsin a shot at 10 wins — or a shot at seven losses. 
This week: at Penn State (7-4)

6. Northwestern (8-3, 4-3)
Previous rank: 6
Week 12 result: Beat Michigan State 23-20
This was a big win for Pat Fitzgerald. With a win over Illinois next week and a bowl win, Coach Fitz could lead Northwestern to its first 10-win season since he played on the Wildcats' magical 1995 Rose Bowl team. This was a hard-fought road win over a well-coached team with more raw talent. Give Coach Fitz a lot of credit for what he has accomplished this season. Unfortunately, star tailback Venric Mark left the game very early on with an "upper extremity" injury and his status for next week's game is up in the air. 
This week: Illinois (2-9)

7. Michigan State (5-6, 2-5)
Previous rank: 7
Week 12 result: Lost to Northwestern 23-20
The Spartans have failed to finish drives all season and the result was yet another crippling loss. Mark Dantonio's bunch lost for the fourth time in five games and lost by three points or less for the fourth time in Big Ten play. So after back-to-back 11-win seasons, the Spartans have to go on the road and defeat Minnesota next weekend in order to reach the postseason this winter. Kirk Cousins really was that good.
This week: at Minnesota (6-5)

8. Minnesota (6-5, 2-5)
Previous rank: 8
Week 12 result: Lost to Nebraska 38-14 
The Golden Gophers are still a good ways from competing for a division title. Minnesota trailed 38-0 before two late fourth quarter touchdowns got Jerry Kill's bunch on the board. They finished with 177 total yards of offense. Minny beats the bad teams it faces and has lost to the good ones. A win over Michigan State at home not only guarantees a winning record but redefines the perception of this team. It would be the best win of the year for a team whose current best win is against Syracuse.
This week: Michigan State (5-6)

9. Indiana (4-7, 2-5)
Previous rank: 9
Week 12 result: Lost to Penn State 45-22
After an unheard of two-game Big Ten winning streak, Wisconsin and then Penn State established some normalcy in the Leaders Division with physical, easy wins over the Hoosiers. Indiana couldn't stop Matt McGloin and couldn't run the football, and is now assured its fifth losing season in a row and its 16th in 17 seasons. Still, this team is much more competitive than last year's squad and a win over Purdue gives Kevin Wilson a solid five-win showing in a make or break season.
This week: at Purdue (5-6)

10. Purdue (5-6, 2-5)
Previous rank: 10
Week 12 result: Beat Illinois 20-17

Robert Marve was just good enough and the running game was effective in yet another big win for Danny Hope. After starting the year 0-5 in Big Ten play, Purdue rushed to its second straight win and is still eyeing a bowl game. The team gained 207 yards on 37 carries for a robust 5.6 yards per carry clip. The Boilermakers will face Indiana at home in a very winnable finale with a shot at the postseason within their reach. Hope has to thankful that his final three games of the year have come against the three worst teams in the Big Ten.
This week: Indiana (4-7)

11. Iowa (4-7, 2-5)
Previous rank: 11
Week 12 result: Lost to Michigan 42-17
The 2-0 start to Big Ten play has to feel like years ago for those in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes lost their fifth consecutive game in embarrassing fashion. It allowed three passing and three rushing touchdowns to wide receiver turned backup quarterback Devin Gardner. This unimaginative and uncompetitive group has no chance to battle with Nebraska next weekend and that leaves Black and Gold fans staring at a 4-8 season. That's more than $1 million per win for Kirk Ferentz.  
This week: Nebraska (9-2)

12. Illinois (2-9, 0-7)
Previous rank: 12
Week 12 result: Lost to Purdue 20-17
That was the Illini's last chance at a Big Ten win. If this team can't beat Purdue and wasn't really competitive against Indiana or Minnesota, what makes anyone think it will defeat a quality Northwestern team on the road? In just one season, obviously Tim Beckman can't really do anything on the field to lose his job. However, he will enter his second season after losing 10 games in his debut and will be under a powerful microscope from now on.
This week: at Northwestern (7-3)

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 12 Recap

ACC Post-Week 12 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 12 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 12 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 12 Power Rankings
Pac-12 East Post-Week 12 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 12 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Post-Week 12 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, November 19, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-week-12
Body:

Every Friday for entertainment purposes only, I will bring you my top college football picks against the spread. I do not condone, approve or encourage gambling on sports in any way. But if you are a fan of football — college or pro — and you don't think gambling has played a huge role in the growth and popularity of the sport, then you are simply being ignorant. And behind closed doors, the powers that be understand the impact betting has had on the game of football.

2012 Record Against The Spread: 49-29
Last Week: 4-1

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Washington (-20) at Colorado
The Huskies have turned a corner after a dominant win over Utah. Washington has won three straight games on the road and Bishop Sankey is turning into a bona fide workhorse with career highs in carries in each of the last three games. Colorado is statistically one of the worst BCS conference teams in recent memory. The Buffaloes are dead last nationally in scoring defense at 47.2 points allowed per game and last in the Pac-12 in rushing, passing efficiency defense and total defense. The Buffs are 2-8 against the spread this fall as well. Prediction: Washington -20

Ole Miss (+19) at LSU
The LSU Tigers have won four SEC games by a combined 29 points this year. And Ole Miss might have the second-best offense of any of the Tigers' opponents behind only Texas A&M. The Rebels are coming off of a heart-breaking defeat to Vandy and should be able to keep it close. Remember, Ole Miss has played very well in Baton Rouge of late. Prediction: Ole Miss +19

Virginia Tech (-10) at Boston College
Other than a strange home win over a decimated Maryland team, Boston College hasn’t even been competitive since a 34-3 win over Maine in Week 2. The Eagles have lost by an average of 23.3 points in their last four defeats — to Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame and Florida State. The Hokies played great against the Noles last week and have to win their final two to get to a bowl game. Frank Beamer will have his team ready to face a BC team that is 2-8 against the spread this season. Prediction: Virginia Tech -10

Kansas State (-12.5) at Baylor
Baylor's defense has been horrible this fall, ranking last in the Big 12 in total defense, 96th nationally against the run and 115th in scoring defense. How will Art Briles stop Collin Klein and that KSU rushing attack? Bill Snyder’s bunch is playing for a national championship, and while Baylor might score a few points, they won’t be able to keep pace. Prediction: Kansas State -12.5

Kent State (+3) at Bowling Green
Both of these teams are on a roll. Kent State has won eight straight games and Bowling Green has won six straight. The Falcons bring the top-rated defense in the league while the Flashes boast the No. 2-rated offense, scoring over 35 points per game. This was a 12-point win for Kent State last season and BG could be in for a letdown after the big win over Ohio two Wednesdays ago. Look for Kent, who is 8-2 against the spread this fall, to win outright. Prediction: Kent State +3

2012 Trends Against the Spread:

Undefeated ATS: Utah St (10-0)
Winless ATS: None

One Loss ATS: Fresno St (10-1), Kansas St (8-1-1), Northwestern (9-1)
One Win ATS: Virginia (1-7-2)

Two Losses ATS: Ball St (8-2), Clemson (8-2), FAU (8-2), Kent St (8-2), N. Illinois (8-2), Penn St (7-2-1), San Jose St (8-2)

Two Wins ATS: Arkansas (2-8), Colorado (2-8), Hawaii (2-7), Idaho (2-8), Illinois (2-8), Iowa (2-8), Kentucky (2-8), Miami-OH (2-7-1), Nevada (2-7), Southern Miss (2-8), West Virginia (2-7)

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Teaser:
<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 12</p>
Post date: Friday, November 16, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-12-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The Oregon-USC rematch Pac-12 championship game has felt like a foregone conclusion for much of the 2012 calendar year. However, it's very possible both teams could lose this weekend — and that would essentially put Stanford and UCLA into the championship game. What a twist that would be in Week 12, right? Those are two of the best games of the year in the Pac-12 and are two of the marquee showdowns nationally this weekend. Sit back and enjoy.

Pac-12's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 12:

1. Can Kevin Hogan score enough to keep up with Oregon?
The Ducks' defense has allowed some yards this year — 377.7 per game — and some points — 22.3 per game. Now, most of those yards and points have come in the second half with reserves getting a majority of the snaps. However, the Ducks' defense makes big plays. It has forced 29 turnovers, one away from the national lead, and has scored half a dozen defensive and special teams touchdowns. Stanford’s sophomore quarterback Kevin Hogan is making just his second career start after throwing two interceptions in his first start last weekend. Needless to say, he will have to play flawless football against the swarming Ducks defense if the Cardinal expect to keep it close, much less win.

2. Will nagging injuries in Oregon’s backfield be a factor?
Both Marcus Mariota (shoulder) and Kenjon Barner (hand/wrist) left the game last weekend with what appeared to be minor injuries. They both returned to the game and, Mariota in particular, finished with a huge performance. There isn’t a more physical defensive front west of the Mississippi and Chip Kelly can bet that David Shaw has instructed his law firm of Murphy, Thomas and Shov to be extra physical with those diminutive Duck ball-handlers. Because if they are fully healthy, there isn't a defense in America than can actually stop Oregon.

3. Has UCLA's offense closed the 50-point gap?
USC crushed the Bruins in the most demoralizing way possible last fall: 50-0. But this UCLA team isn’t the same group that mailed in the last two months of the 2011 season. The Bruins have a new coach, the elite talent in the defensive front is finally developing and redshirt freshman quarterback Brett Hundley has supercharged the offense — an offense that ranked 10th in scoring and 11th in passing in the Pac-12 last year. This fall, Hundley trails only Johnny Manziel nationally for total offense by a freshman (301.1 ypg) and has accounted for 13 touchdowns against only two interceptions during UCLA’s four-game winning streak. This offense, which is scoring 15 more points per game and ranks 3rd overall in the league, will have to be balanced and efficient to keep pace with USC.

4. Can the UCLA front seven get enough pressure on Matt Barkley?
UCLA was 112th nationally and 11th in the Pac-12 in sacks in 2011. It was 11th in rushing defense at 190.7 yards per game. This season, UCLA ranks fourth nationally in sacks at nearly four per game and is fourth in the Pac-12 in rushing defense (144.6 ypg). This is due in large part to Jim Mora’s new staff instilling toughness and physicality in a group of former four- and five-star recruits. Anthony Barr has developed into a premiere pass rusher, Eric Kendricks is playing like his older brother Mychal who won Pac-12 defensive player of the year last fall at Cal and names like Datone Jones and Cassius Marsh are beginning to live up to their lofty recruiting status. This front seven must slow the USC rushing attack and must pressure Matt Barkley to keep the Bruins in the game.

5. The mystery of Matt Scott and what it could mean
The Wildcats' offense scored 56 points and rolled up 574 yards last week without Matt Scott under center. However, that was Colorado. And while Utah has had its struggles at times, it is still a proud team fighting for bowl eligibility at home. The Utes had bounced back to win two straight but were totally stymied last week on offense in Seattle. Moving the football shouldn’t be a problem against the Cats, so Arizona backup B.J. Denker — should Scott not be able to play — will have to be as efficient as he was last weekend (12-14, 136 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT). It would help if record-setting star tailback Ka’Deem Carey gets more than the five total offensive touches he got in last year’s 31-24 home loss to Utah.

6. QB controversy in Corvallis?
It appears that Mike Riley brought Sean Mannion back too quickly two weeks ago when he threw four interceptions in the season’s first loss to Washington. Cody Vaz had proven to be more than capable, and last week, nearly pulled off the win over Stanford. But a late injury at an inopportune time forced Mannion back into action, and now, fans have no clue who will be under center against Cal. Now, it shouldn’t matter who starts this weekend as Cal has all but given up on 2012. But for a top 20 team who still has to play its undefeated archrival, quarterback issues is the worst thing Riley could be dealing with at this stage of the season.

7. Arizona State eyes bowl eligibility
Four weeks ago, the Sun Devils were 5-1 and boasted the league’s No. 1 total defense. After allowing 162 points and 452.8 yards per game (and no fewer than 424), this team is 5-5 and could end up home for the holidays if it cannot win this weekend. A road win at Arizona in the season-ending rivalry game seems unlikely, so allowing a Washington State team entrenched in locker room turmoil win in Sun Devil Stadium would be completely unacceptable. Look for Taylor Kelly and the defense to get back on track against the teetering Cougars.

8. What the hell is happening in Pullman?
Seriously? What is going on? Is Marquess Wilson simply a disgruntled over-pampered baby with an axe to grind after quitting on his team? Or is Mike Leach a hard-nosed, abrasive coach who has a track record of abusing his players in an unprofessional manner? My opinion? The truth lies somewhere in the middle. I have a tough time believing a wide receiver who has quit on his friends and teammates to publicly narc on his coaching staff and university. However, Leach has also dealt with strange doings at Texas Tech as well. Only time will tell about what is taking place in Pullman. One thing I do know, a 0-9 Pac-12 season will fray a lot of nerves.

Week 12 Pac-12 Predictions:

Week 12 Pac-12 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Washington at Colorado Washington, 38-14 Washington, 41-7 Washington, 45-17 Washington, 42-17
Washington St at Arizona St Arizona St, 31-20 Arizona St, 34-17 Arizona St, 44-17 Arizona St, 35-17
USC at UCLA USC, 41-38 USC, 41-34 USC, 38-34 UCLA, 35-31
Stanford at Oregon Oregon, 38-21 Oregon, 48-28 Oregon, 41-24 Stanford, 31-28
Arizona at Utah Arizona, 31-27 Arizona, 31-17 Arizona, 27-24 Arizona, 28-21
Cal at Oregon St Oregon St, 30-13 Oregon St, 31-17 Oregon St, 27-10 Oregon St, 35-14
Last Week: 6-0 6-0 6-0 6-0
Yearly Totals: 57-15 57-15 56-16 51-21

Bye: None

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Week 12 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 05:06

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