Articles By Braden Gall

All taxonomy terms: College Football, Big Ten
Path: /college-football/2013-big-ten-week-6-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Big Ten conference play really opens up across the league this Saturday after a teaser last weekend. Ohio State is in commanding early position in the Leaders Division but has another huge test on Saturday — this time on the road. All eyes will once again be on the Buckeyes.

However, unlike last weekend, the rest of the conference — except Wisconsin and Purdue, who are on bye — will be tangled up in big-time divisional matchups. Let the race for the Roses begin.

Week 6 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12Pac-12 | SEC

Big Ten Week 6 Game Power Rankings:

1. Ohio State (-6.5) at Northwestern (8 p.m. ET, ABC)
College Gameday is making just its second appearance in Evanston and its first since Pat Fitzgerald was a player in 1995. Ohio State welcomed back Braxton Miller in style last weekend in an emotional, hard-fought home win over a quality Wisconsin team. Urban Meyer now has to get his team ready for an equally talented but totally different Wildcats squad. Coach Fitz is hoping to get running back Venric Mark, a key cog in his spread option offense, back on the field for the first time since Week 1. Mark helps the Cats' two-quarterback spread system to flourish but how healthy will he be? This is the most talented Northwestern team ever assembled with Big Ten championship aspirations but must battle history this weekend. The Wildcats have beaten Ohio State just once in the last 29 tries and is hoping to shake up the Big Ten with the entire college football world watching on Saturday night.

2. Michigan State (+1.5) at Iowa (Noon, ESPN2)
This game got a lot more interesting with Iowa’s convincing and somewhat shockingly easy road win over Minnesota. These two teams are built in similar fashions as each will play physical defense and pound the football on offense. Normally, home field offers an advantage but, in this series, the road team has won three of the last four meetings. Quarterback play will be a major issue for both: Iowa is 94th in passing offense and 63rd in passing efficiency nationally while the Spartans are even worse ranking 115th in passing offense and 109th in efficiency. This will be a throwback, bruising, Big Ten slugfest and whichever defensive line holds its ground the best will escape with a hard-earned victory.

3. Penn State (-4.5) at Indiana (Noon, BTN)
This was targeted as a critical pecking order game in the Leaders Division and both teams had two weeks to prepare. Kevin Wilson enters Big Ten play with two losses and can’t afford not to hold serve at home in winnable games. However, the Hoosiers have never beaten the Nittany Lions in 16 tries and have only stayed within one score once in the last five meetings. These are two of the top three passing attacks in the league so fans should expect plenty of aerial fireworks, but the ground game may be the deciding factor. Indiana couldn’t run the ball against Missouri in the blowout loss two weeks ago while the Lions are coming off a 287-yard, 3-TD performance against Kent State. Penn State has a significant talent advantage but the team that can be more balanced on offense will come away with a significant win.

4. Illinois (+10.5) at Nebraska (Noon, ESPNU)
Taylor Martinez is listed as questionable for Nebraska’s first-ever Big Ten meeting with Illinois. The Huskers are 7-2-1 against the Illini as non-conference foes and haven’t met since back-to-back Nebraska drubbings in 1985-86. This one could be much tighter than those Big Red blowouts as quarterback play appears to be huge for both teams. Nathan Scheelhaase has been a revelation as a senior under Bill Cubit, completing 67.2-percent of his passes for nearly 300 yards per game, 12 TDs and just three interceptions. Bo Pelini, however, could be without Martinez, his star quarterback, once again. The senior signal-caller hasn’t practiced yet this week and it doesn’t sound like he will play much, if at all, this weekend. That leaves freshman Tommy Armstrong and senior Ron Kellogg III to split time under center. If Scheelhaase doesn’t turn the ball over, the Illini have a chance to hang around against a questionable Black Shirts defense.

5. Minnesota (+20) at Michigan (3:30 p.m., ABC/ESPN)
The Gophers were surprisingly inept in all phases of the game in the one-sided home loss to Iowa in Week 5 and things don’t appear to be getting any better for Jerry Kill in the Battle for the Little Brown Jug. Quarterback Philip Nelson returned to the starting lineup for Minnesota but played his worst game of the year. Meanwhile, Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner has had two weeks to stew over his below average play (seven turnovers) against Akron and UConn. Look for both teams to get their reeling running games back on track, but a win for the Gophers over the nation’s No. 6-rated rushing defense seems unlikely. Minnesota has only won the Jug once since 1986, however, that memorable win came in Ann Arbor in 2005.

Big Ten Week 6 Pivotal Players

1. Tyler Scott, DE, Northwestern
The 6-foot-4, 265-pound senior will be under a microscope this weekend. He leads the Wildcats in tackles for a loss (4.0) and sacks (3.0) but will be in for his toughest challenge this weekend against Braxton Miller. It goes without saying the goal for Scott and the Cats defensive line will be to contain Miller in the pocket but, moreover, they need to punish the oft-injured Buckeye star every chance they get. The more physical the game gets, the better chance Northwestern has at an upset.

2. Corey Brown, S, Ohio State
In theory, both Corey Brown’s will play a pivotal role in Ohio State’s trip to Northwestern. But the senior safety Brown is stepping in for injured safety Christian Bryant. He has plenty of experience after starting the opener in place of C.J. Barnett and is fifth on the team in tackles (4.2 pg). But Brown is now charged with manning the safety spot for the rest of the year and it starts on the road against the diverse and complex Northwestern spread that welcomes back its star tailback this weekend.

3. Jake Rudock, QB, Iowa
Yards will be tough to come by on the ground in the Spartans-Hawkeyes boxing match this weekend and it falls to Rudock to make things happen. In a game with elite linebackers on both sides, two great running games and very little scoring, anything Rudock or Michigan State’s Connor Cook can provide in the passing game will make a significant impact. Quarterback is the one area Iowa may have a significant advantage over Sparty and Rudock needs to provide a second offensive dimension.

4. Indiana’s Front Seven
After a pathetic showing in the season opener against Syracuse (38 att., 57 yards, 0 TD), the Penn State running game has exploded. The Lions have averaged 244.7 yards per game over their past three contests with 11 rushing touchdowns. It falls to a Hoosiers front seven that allowed 280 yards and three scores to Missouri the last time out to stop the Lions' physical rushing attack. If not, PSU will move to 17-0 all-time against IU.

5. Tommy Armstrong/Ron Kellogg III, QB, Nebraska
Illinois is much improved but if Bo Pelini can get anything out of his backup quarterback duo, the Huskers should win going away. Both Armstrong (12-of-15, 169 yards, TD) and Kellogg (8-of-9, 136 yards, TD) were solid against South Dakota State but battling Jonathan Brown and the Illini is a totally different task. Another 335 yards rushing would go a long way in helping the quarterback tandem play efficient football. If these two protect the ball, Nebraska should begin its Big Ten slate with a win.

Big Ten Week 6 Prediction Grid:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Ohio St (-6.5) at NorthwesternN'Western, 34-31 Ohio St, 27-23Ohio St, 34-27Ohio St, 38-24
Michigan St (+1.5) at IowaMich. St, 20-17Iowa, 13-10Mich. St, 24-20Iowa, 21-17
Penn St (-4.5) at IndianaPenn St, 38-30Indiana, 31-30Penn St, 34-31Penn St, 35-21
Illinois (+10.5) at NebraskaNebraska, 34-24Nebraska, 37-30Nebraska, 38-31Illinois, 28-24
Minnesota (+20) at MichiganMichigan, 34-20Michigan, 41-17Michigan, 34-17Michigan, 27-14
Last Week:3-14-04-03-1
Year-to-date:43-744-645-542-8

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Pac 12
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-6-preview-and-predictions-2013
Body:

Last weekend was an eventful one out West. Stanford made another big statement in the Pac-12 North, Sean Mannion has the Beavers turned around, Washington got a big home win and, oh by the way, USC fired Lane Kiffin.

The stories emanating from Heritage Hall has drowned out the rest of the news in the Pac-12 — which is plentiful. UCLA should be on upset alert, Arizona State is trying to do something no team in NCAA history has ever done and the Huskies-Cardinal game carries major championship import.

It’s just another weekend in the nation’s second-best league. 

Week 6 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

Pac-12 Week 6 Game Power Rankings

1. Washington (+7) at Stanford (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
The last time these two hooked up, the Huskies pulled a physical and surprising upset at home on a Thursday night last season. However, the last time these two hooked up in Palo Alto, the Cardinal dropped 65 points on an extremely uncompetitive Washington squad. These two defenses have been two of the nation’s best thus far in 2013 and fans can bet this will be as physical a game as the Pac-12 sees all season. The onus of victory then falls to the offensive lines and quarterback play. Kevin Hogan and Keith Price aren’t posting the same monster numbers of others in the league, but they are leading offenses averaging roughly 40 points per game and have great running games to lean on. The loser will find it hard to win the North, so this showdown is a de facto divisional elimination game.

2. Arizona State (-5) vs. Notre Dame (7:30 p.m., NBC, Arlington)
No team in NCAA history has ever defeated USC and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks. Eleven teams have tried and all 11 have failed. That said, the Sun Devils have a great shot at making history. After scoring 62 on the Trojans last week, Taylor Kelly and Marion Grice, the nation’s leading scorer, are riding a wave of renewed confidence against a defense lacking in killer instinct. The fast track in AT&T Stadium gives the Devils a speed edge on Saturday. The Irish were embarrassed at home by Oklahoma and quarterback Tommy Rees appears to be losing his grip on the starting job. He has five interceptions in losses to Michigan and Notre Dame and none in Notre Dame’s three wins. Rees has to take care of the ball if the Irish want to have a chance of pulling the upset.

3. UCLA (-4.5) at Utah (Thurs., 10 p.m., FS1)
The Utes have only beaten the Bruins twice in 11 tries but both came in the last two visits from UCLA. In fact, the Bruins haven’t even been competitive in SLC, losing by a combined 75-12. That said, last year’s meeting was a 21-14 victory for UCLA in Los Angeles. Look for both offenses to excel in this mid-week meeting as two of the best in the nation are spearheaded by elite signal-callers. Utah’s Travis Wilson is seventh nationally in total offense (342.3 ypg) while UCLA’s Brett Hundley is 11th (335.0 ypg). The difference will be Jim Mora’s defense. UCLA hasn’t allowed more than 353 yards in any game this year while Utah is giving up 473.7 yards per game against FBS opponents (three games). The Bruins need to be on serious upset alert but can prove themselves as the South Division front-runner with a convincing road win.

4. Washington State (pk) at Cal (4 p.m., FS1)
Cal is leading the league in plays at a ridiculous 95.0 snaps per game on offense. Washington State is third in the league with 349 offensive snaps in 2013. Yet, both offenses have struggled to score relative to the rest of the Pac-12 — they rank 10th and 11th in scoring offense. This might be in part to questions at quarterback. After an electric start to his career, Cal’s Jared Goff was benched last week after just seven attempts against Oregon. He split time with touted redshirt Zach Kline in practice this week and both will likely see snaps. Meanwhile, Connor Halliday was beaten and bruised by Stanford last weekend but is apparently ready to go against the Bears. Whichever offense has the ball last gets the win.

5. Oregon (-38) at Colorado (6 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
Mike MacIntrye is a well respected rising star in the coaching ranks but the Buffaloes are in over their heads in this one. The Ducks are clicking on all cylinders despite the loss of electric running back De’Anthony Thomas to an ankle injury. Thomas won’t play this weekend in an effort to be healthy for a large trip to Seattle next weekend. The Ducks haven’t scored fewer than 55 points this year and haven’t lost to Colorado since 1998. The Marcus Mariota Heisman freight train will roll through Boulder with little opposition this weekend.

Pac-12 Week 6 Pivotal Players:

1. Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford
Hogan’s ability to move around both inside and out of the pocket is what coach David Shaw thinks will be the difference. The Cardinal offense, led by Josh Nunes at the time, mustered just 13 points and 238 total yards — the lowest yardage output of the Shaw era — against UW last season. Hogan is coming off his best game of the year after 286 yards passing, 34 yards rushing and three touchdowns against Washington State. Against one of the nation’s nastiest defenses, the Stanford quarterback will have to make plays in all phases of the game. Hogan is 9-0 as the starter for Stanford.

2. Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
On the other side of the ball, Steve Sarkisian’s balanced offensive attack will put major pressure on Stanford’s extremely talented linebacking corps, led by its senior anchor on the inside. The Washington offensive line was decimated last year and Stanford took advantage with three sacks and seven tackles for a loss. This unit is much healthier this time around and has been churning out yards on the ground and protecting Keith Price. Skov will literally go head-to-head with Bishop Sankey, who broke a game-changing 61-yard touchdown run last year on the final play of the third quarter, in what could be one of the most physical games of the year.

3. Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
Stopping a 6-foot-6, 240-pound quarterback is a daunting task — even for a freakish 6-foot-4, 245-pound outside linebacker like Barr. Wilson has been dynamic for Utah, rushing for 251 yards and five touchdowns to go with his 279.5 yards passing per game. Barr has the quickness, power and athletic ability to mirror Wilson everywhere he goes. This could be one of the best individual matchups of the entire weekend.

4. Arizona State’s offensive line
Running back Marion Grice is leading the nation in scoring with 12 touchdowns. Jaelen Strong is developing into one of the nation’s best wideouts. And Taylor Kelly has thrown for at least 300 yards in all four games. Against Notre Dame’s struggling but talented defensive line, the onus of paving the way, protecting and providing time for those ASU stars will be the Sun Devils' offensive line. The Irish have just four sacks in five games and Todd Graham needs that trend to continue this weekend if he wants to make history in Jerry's World.

5. UCLA’s offensive line
The Bruins have been average up front along the offensive line as two young tackles are learning by fire. This team is 62nd nationally in sacks allowed per game (1.67) and 86th in tackles for a loss allowed per game (6.3). Utah has been excellent at disrupting the line of scrimmage, ranking fifth nationally in sacks per game (3.8) and 14th in tackles for a loss (7.8 pg). If the Utes can control the line of scrimmage they will make life miserable for Brett Hundley in a hostile environment.

Pac-12 Week 6 Predictions:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Washington (+7) at StanfordStanford, 27-20Stanford, 27-17 Stanford, 30-20Stanford, 35-21
Arizona St (-5) at Notre DameAriz. St, 31-24Ariz. St, 28-20 Ariz. St, 31-24Ariz. St, 31-21
UCLA (-4.5) at UtahUCLA, 34-31UCLA, 30-17UCLA, 38-27UCLA, 35-24
Washington St (pk) at CalCal, 38-31Cal, 38-30Wazzu, 34-31Cal, 41-35 
Oregon (-38) at ColoradoOregon, 51-17Oregon, 51-10Oregon, 58-17Oregon, 63-14 
Last Week: 5-05-05-05-0
Year-to-date:40-740-740-738-9

 

Teaser:
Post date: Thursday, October 3, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/8-outrageous-college-football-predictions-week-6
Body:

The beauty of sports, in particular college football, lies in their complete unpredictability and reality TV-like drama. Week 5 was a huge weekend of action across the nation. Lessons were learned in Athens, Tuscaloosa, Tempe, Columbus and South Bend to name a few. Ole Miss did lose by more than three touchdowns and Zach Mettenberger did out-pass Aaron Murray as I predicted last week. Arkansas topped 200 yards rushing and lost and Brandin Cooks had a monster game for Oregon State. In a week without a marquee showdown and lots of quality conference matchups, Week 6 could be equally as entertaining.

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

Either Texas or UCLA will lose on Thursday
Strange things happen in Ames, Iowa and Salt Lake City, Utah. Especially, in October. Just ask Oklahoma State about traveling to Ames. The Cyclones and Utes will host NCAA blue bloods Texas and UCLA on Thursday evening and one of them will pull an upset. Texas is clearly a questionable team at best despite a win over Kansas State at home two weeks ago. Utah is a far superior opponent than Iowa State with Travis Wilson running Dennis Erickson’s offense to near perfection. After an off weekend, Utah is just a 4.5-point underdog and could easily pull the home upset.

Every SEC favorite will win
Alabama and South Carolina are big favorites over Georgia State and Kentucky but LSU, Florida and Georgia are all picked by Vegas to win by roughly 10 points each over Mississippi State, Arkansas and Tennessee respectively. LSU and Georgia, fresh off an emotional showdown last weekend, have to go on the road. The two real swing games are Ole Miss (-2.5) at Auburn and Missouri at Vanderbilt (-1.5). There won’t be a single upset in the nation’s best conference this weekend. And as a side outrageous prediction, Ole Miss will do something it hasn’t done since 1952 — beat Auburn in two straight seasons.

Wake Forest will finish the week as the only 0-3 BCS team in conference
Heading into Week 6, there are four teams in one of the “BCS” conferences that sit at 0-2. Vanderbilt, Duke, Southern Cal and Wake Forest are the only teams with two conference losses already. Both Duke and USC are off this weekend, and since I’m picking Vanderbilt to win at home over Missouri, that leaves the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest is a 10-point underdog at home against NC State this weekend. With a loss and a Vandy win, Wake would become the nation’s first automatic qualifier to start the year 0-3 in league play. 

The first team to 14 points will win the Stanford-Washington game
Yards, first downs and points will be tough to come by in this key Pac-12 North game in Palo Alto between the Cardinal and Huskies. Washington is leading the league in yards allowed per game (288.8 ypg), yards per play allowed (3.8 ypp), passing defense (156.8 ypg) and, most importantly, scoring defense (10.8 ppg). The Huskies are fourth nationally in points allowed per game and Stanford isn’t too far behind at 19.5 per game (34th nationally). Stanford’s defense is fresh off of a crushing performance against Washington State on the road and appears to have finally settled into form. The first team (if any) to score a second touchdown should win this one.

Baylor and West Virginia won’t score 19 touchdowns
The Bears and Mountaineers combined for 1,237 passing yards, 270 rushing yards and 19 total touchdowns in the 70-63 West Virginia win last season in Morgantown. While Art Briles has inserted Bryce Petty at quarterback and not missed a beat at Baylor, Dana Holgorsen has had much less success under center. In fact, his team has fewer passing yards (1,196) in five games this season than the Baylor-WVU game featured last year. (Okay, picking two teams to score less than 19 TDs in a game isn’t that outrageous, after all).

Bonus Prediction: Lache Seatrunk will register his nation's-best eighth straight 100-yard rushing effort.

Arizona State will become the first team to beat USC and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks
Only 12 times has a team ever played USC and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks and Arizona State in 2013 is one of them. Of those 12 only three, including the Sun Devils, have won the first leg of the historic double-dip. South Carolina in 1983 and Michigan State in 1987 are the only other teams to win the front end of the two-game stretch over USC before both getting crushed by Notre Dame. ASU demolished USC last weekend and is a 5.5-point favorite over the Irish in Arlington, Texas, this weekend.

Northwestern will beat Ohio State for the second time ever
Ohio State is 28-1 all-time against Northwestern with the only win coming in Evanston in 2004 under the late Randy Walker. This is the most talented Northwestern team ever assembled, Ohio State is coming off of an emotionally draining effort against Wisconsin and College Gameday is going to be in Evanston for the first time since 1995 (just its second such appearance on campus). Venric Mark could return to the field for Pat Fitzgerald, giving him his full complement of weapons for the first time all season. The Cats have been extremely competitive against upper level Big Ten teams of late and now is the time for them to break through on the national stage.

Neither Jameis Winston or C.J. Brown will throw a TD pass
Winston and Brown are nipping at Tajh Boyd’s heels for ACC Player of the Year but both will be slowed this weekend by excellent defenses. Winston has been a star for FSU but is facing a Terps defense that is leading the nation with just one passing TD allowed. Florida State is fourth in the nation in passing defense by allowing a measly 136.0 yards per game. Look for both defenses to shine in this ACC Atlantic showdown. For the record, Maryland has never won in Tallahassee and it likely won’t this weekend either.

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, LSU Tigers
Path: /college-football/10-stats-you-need-know-about-georgia-vs-lsu-2013
Body:

No. 6 LSU visits No. 9 Georgia on Saturday in what is the biggest game of college football's Week 5 slate. Each team has national championship aspirations, and this is a critical game for both teams moving towards Atlanta. Les Miles and Mark Richt are two of the winningest active SEC coaches, and this weekend their paths will cross in a big way. 

Here are the 10 stats you need to know about the matchup:

2-2: Les Miles and Mark Richt head-to-head record
Miles and Richt have faced each other just four times in their esteemed careers, all four of which coming in the SEC. The two have met twice in the regular season with Richt winning a shootout 52-38 in Baton Rouge in 2008 and LSU returning the favor 20-13 in Athens in '09. The other two meetings took place in Atlanta in the SEC Championship game. Richt and the Dawgs won the 2005 SEC title with ease 34-14 while Miles’ Tigers dominated 42-10 to win the conference title in '11. This is clearly a rubber match of sorts for these two quality coaches.

9-7: Les Miles' record against the SEC East
Miles is 48-17 all-time in SEC play, including the win over Auburn last weekend. Seven of those 17 losses have come against the SEC East. Under Miles, LSU is 4-4 against the Florida Gators, split with Kentucky and Georgia (1-1), beat South Carolina once and is 2-1 against the Tennessee Volunteers. On top of his 9-7 record with the East in the regular season, Miles is 2-1 in SEC Championship Games against the East (2005, '07, '11).

16-12-1: LSU’s all-time series lead over Georgia
LSU leads the all-time series with Georgia, winning 16 times to the Bulldogs 12 with one 13-13 tie in 1950. These two have played just six times in the regular season since the divisional split in 1992 with UGA winning four of those six. Strangely, these two played just twice (1978-79) between 1953 and 1986 — a void that will never happen again between two conference foes.

55th: Highest-rated offense LSU has faced this year
The LSU defense has always been salty under Miles and John Chavis’ leadership. The Tigers are ranked 24th nationally with 310.0 yards allowed per game at a tidy 4.6 yards per play. That said, Auburn’s 55th-ranked offense is the best unit the Bayou Bengals have faced in 2013. UAB currently ranks 69th in total offense, TCU is 94th and Kent State is 120th. It is safe to say that Aaron Murray and Georgia will easily be the toughest offense LSU has faced all season. More on that in a second…

7.8: Offensive yards per play by Georgia
The Dawgs are sixth in the nation — trailing only Texas A&M in the SEC — with 574 yards of offense per game. They rank seventh nationally at 7.8 yards per play this season after leading the nation in yards per play in 2012 (7.1 ypp). Georgia averaged 7.8 yards per play against Clemson (70 plays, 545 yards) and 7.1 yards per play against South Carolina (76 plays, 536 yards). Both of those would have led the nation a year ago.

7.5: Offensive yards per play by LSU
Georgia’s offense is outstanding but LSU’s unit has been nearly as effective through the first month of the season. LSU ranks just 33rd in total offense (480.3 ypg) but is nearly as efficient as the Bulldogs per play, averaging 7.5 yards per snap this fall. That is ninth nationally and well ahead of offensive teams like UCLA, Ohio State, and Oklahoma State.

116.6: Zach Mettenberger's passer rating in conference play in 2012
The biggest turn around for LSU this season will be the development of quarterback Zach Mettenberger. He was 84th nationally among all quarterbacks in conference play with a 116.6 rating last season. He was ahead of only Missouri’s James Franklin in SEC play with a 54.9-percent completion rate, 205.3 yards passing per game and just five touchdowns in eight SEC games. After four games (one SEC) under the tutelage of Cam Cameron, Mettenberger is sixth nationally in passing efficiency (193.6) with a 64.8 completion percentage and 256.5 yards per game. That said, his only interception of the season came last week against Auburn and he posted his lowest yardage total (229) of the year.

197.5: All-purpose yards per game by Odell Beckham Jr.
A big reason why Mettenberger and Cameron have been successful through the air has been the play of LSU’s wide receivers. Odell Beckham Jr., in particular, has been dynamic for the Tigers by leading the SEC in all-purpose yards with nearly 200 yards per game. He has 389 receiving yards, 33 rushing yards, 78 punt return yards and 190 kick return yards with five total touchdowns in four games. Packaged with Jarvis Landry, who has 24 catches for 364 yards and six touchdowns, the Bayou Bengals may boast the best WR tandem in the SEC. No one else on the team has more than three catches.

242.7: Rushing yards per game for Todd Gurley and Jeremy Hill
Todd Gurley ranks first in the SEC and 11th nationally with 125.7 yards rushing per game. Jeremy Hill ranks third in the SEC and 18th nationally with 117.0 yards rushing per game. Even more impressive, Gurley is averaging a healthy 6.0 yards per carry while Hill is posting an astounding 8.4-yard clip. The duo might be the two of the most physically gifted runners in the nation and have combined for 11 total touchdowns in 2013.

39.2%: Georgia’s third-down conversion rate
For all of their offensive prowess and one big play to Justin Scott-Wesley, the Bulldogs have not been very good on third downs this fall. Georgia has converted just 16-of-41 attempts, ranking 76th nationally and 11th in the SEC — the 16 third-down conversions rank 96th nationally. LSU has been much better on the critical down, ranking 10th nationally with a 56.6-percent rate on third downs (26-of-46).

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 08:01
Path: /college-football/7-outrageous-college-football-predictions-week-5
Body:

The beauty of sports, in particular college football, lies in their complete unpredictability and reality TV-like drama.

With a horrid week of action behind us, college football fans can look forward to a Week 5 that features a dozen great matchups. Huge divisional games in the Pac-12 South, Big Ten Leaders, SEC West and ACC Coastal highlight what could be the best weekend of the year. And then there's that exciting (maybe, too exciting) game going down in Athens, Ga. Kick back and enjoy, folks.

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

Ole Miss will lose by more than three touchdowns
The Rebels have beaten Alabama only twice since 1988 and are 16.5-point underdogs to the Crimson Tide. Suggesting that the No. 1 team in the nation will win at home over a team barely ranked in the top 25 isn’t close to outrageous. However, Ole Miss is much improved and appears better suited to battle with Nick Saban than ever before. That said, the Rebels have lost the last four meetings — since Saban won his first BCS title at Bama — by an average of 24 points per game (130-34).

Arkansas will rush for 300 yards and lose
Under Bret Bielema, the Razorbacks have quickly become one of the nation’s best running teams. The Hogs rank third in the SEC and 24th nationally at 246.0 yards per game,and feature the SEC’s No. 2 rusher in freshman Alex Collins. Meanwhile, Texas A&M is dead last in the league in total defense after allowing 475.3 yards per game over the first four contests. Arkansas will run the ball effectively this weekend but it won’t matter because it won’t be able to stop Johnny Manziel. He torched the Hogs defense for 453 yards passing and 104 yards rushing in last year’s 58-10 loss.

Cal and Oregon will run 200 offensive plays
Sonny Dykes’ Golden Bears are No. 2 in the nation in offensive plays per game with 94.6 snaps per game. The Ducks have been in the top 11 nationally in total plays run in each of the last three seasons. In 2013, Oregon has run 72.0 plays per game without being tested in three games. This game features two of the nation's most productive quarterbacks in Jared Goff (428.0 ypg, No. 1) and Marcus Mariota (383.7 ypg, No. 5). Needless to say, both defenses better be in shape.

Zach Mettenberger will be more efficient than Aaron Murray
The former teammates in Athens will face each other for the first time since standing on the same Georgia practice field in 2009. Murray, as expected, has been excellent this season, ranking first in the SEC in passer rating (201.78). But the LSU signal-caller has been a huge surprise as the SEC’s No. 2 (193.61) passer. Mettenberger, who transferred to LSU from UGA by way of junior college, has fewer interceptions and more touchdowns in roughly the same amount of pass attempts (91 to Murray’s 82). And it’s the Bulldogs defense that has some question marks, not LSU’s.

Jameis Winston will not throw an incompletion
Through three career games, Winston has tossed just 14 incompletions and accounted for 10 total touchdowns. On the road against a Boston College defense that made USC's Cody Kessler look like Joe Montana, Winston may not see any of his passes hit the ground. The Seminoles' signal-caller is second nationally in passing efficiency (210.49) while the Eagles sit at 91st in pass efficiency defense.

Washington State will rush for negative yards
If you are a Cougars fan, you have heard those words entirely too much. Sixteen times an FBS team rushed for negative yardage last year and Wazzu was responsible for four of them (and one other game in which it gained one yard). Meanwhile, the two best defensive performances against the run last year came from Stanford — minus-21 yards against Colorado and minus-18 yards against, you guessed it, Washington State. Mike Leach’s team has improved only mildly from last year, ranking 121st nationally in rushing offense thus far in 2013 (63.0 yards per game). Three weeks ago, Washington State rushed for seven yards on 22 carries against USC.

Paul Richardson and Brandin Cooks will catch 30 passes
Four players in the nation are averaging more than 10 receptions per game, and two will be on the same field in Corvallis on Saturday. Oregon State’s Cooks is leading the nation by a wide margin with 43 receptions (10.8/game) while Colorado’s Richardson is No. 2 with 10.5 receptions per game. Only Fresno State’s Devante Adams (10.3) and SMU’s Darius Joseph (10.3) top the double-digit reception mark each game. To top it all off, Richardson and Cooks are No. 1 (208.5 ypg) and No. 2 (159.8 ypg) in receiving yards per game as well. Both quarterbacks should have a field day in this one, so take the over (60.5).

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - 08:00
All taxonomy terms: Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, NFL
Path: /nfl/10-amazing-stats-nfls-week-1
Body:

Numbers and statistics are unquestionably a huge part of sports. While baseball has long carried the mantle for statistical analysis and overall nerdiness, the NFL appears to be turning more to numbers than ever before. Stat-driven decision-making and overall efficiency ratings are a much bigger part of game plans on the gridiron than ever before.

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

With that in mind, Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the NFL through Sunday night's action:

6: Players with 7 TD passes in one game
It feels like ages ago since it happened on Thursday night, but Peyton Manning was the star of the NFL's Opening Weekend because he did something that hasn't been done in over 40 years. He became just the sixth player in NFL history to tie the single-game record of seven touchdown passes when he crushed the defending champion Ravens in Denver. He joined Chicago's Sid Luckman (1943), Philadelphia's Adrian Burke (1954), Houston's George Blanda (1961), New York's Y.A. Tittle (1962) and Minnesota's Joe Kapp (1969) in this prestigious club.

745: Combined passing yards from Colin Kaepernick and Aaron Rodgers
The Packers' final image of the 2012 season was Colin Kaepernick streaking all over the field setting an NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 181 in the NFC Divisional Round. The 49ers' new franchise quarterback torched the Pack once again but did so through the air this time. He completed 27-of-39 passes for 412 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Most of those passes — 13 for 208 yards and two scores to be exact — went to Anquan Boldin in his SanFran debut. Aaron Rodgers did his best to keep up with Kaepernick with 333 yards of his own through the air and three touchdown passes. Kaepernick rushed just seven times for only 22 yards but the result was the Packers began this season the same way they ended the last, by losing to the Niners.

9: Danny Amendola receptions that went for first downs
The newest member of the Patriots' receiving corps had a big debut in Buffalo. The oft-injured Danny Amendola was excellent in his first game with New England, catching 10 passes for 104 yards in the win over the Bills. More importantly, nine of those 10 catches went for first downs — something Wes Welker only did twice for Tom Brady since 2008 (77 games). The former Ram needs to prove he can stay healthy long-term to be considered a viable replacement for Welker, but so far so good for Amendola.

163: Cam Newton's career-low yards of total offense
The third-year quarterback's previous career-worst tally for total offense in a game was 183 yards last October in a 16-12 loss to Seattle. He set a new personal low on Sunday after posting a career-low 125 yards passing and only 38 yards rushing in yet another ugly loss to the Seahawks, this one 12-7. These two losses were the former No. 1 overall pick's worst two passing games of his career as well — 141 and 125 yards respectively. Meanwhile, Russell Wilson posted his first career 300-yard passing game with 320 yards on 25-of-33 passing.

8: Career game-winning, fourth-quarter drives for Andrew Luck
Since the start of last season, no quarterback in the league has more fourth-quarter, game-winning drives than the Colts' Andrew Luck. After completing his first 11 passes of the 2013 season, the Colts trailed late in the final frame against the upstart Raiders. Luck marched his offense 80 yards on 11 plays in 5:49, capping his afternoon with a game-winning 19-yard touchdown scramble. That's eight comebacks in 17 starts for Indianapolis' emerging superstar.

537: Marques Colston's New Orleans franchise record for career receptions
After five receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown, Colston passed Eric Martin as the Saints' all-time leading receiver (receptions). He has 537 catches and counting to go with his Saints' franchise-record 59 touchdown receptions. Martin still owns the yardage record with 7,854 career yards but that benchmark should fall in a few weeks with Colston now at 7,462 career yards. More importantly, the Saints defeated NFC South division rival Atlanta for the first time in seven tries in season openers.

34: Seconds left on the clock when the Jets got the ball
Tampa Bay drove the ball 61 yards on nine plays in 1:40 to kick what appeared to be a game-winning field goal in the New Meadowlands with just 34 seconds left on the clock. Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith in his first career start worked the ball 50 yards in 32 seconds on five plays to the Bucs' 30-yard line, aided in large part by a 15-yard personal foul penalty on Lavonte David's late hit. Nick Folk drilled a 48-yard field goal as time expired and Smith earned his first NFL win on a fourth-quarter comeback.

19: Adrian Peterson's career games with at least two rushing TDs
The Vikings' star tailback scored three total touchdowns, including two rushing scores, in Sunday's loss to the Lions. It was his 19th career game with at least two rushing touchdowns, which leads the NFL by a wide margin since Peterson entered the league in 2007. Unfortunately, the Vikes moved to 13-6 in those 19 games as Reggie Bush stole the running back spotlight from the reigning MVP. Bush totaled 191 yards from scrimmage on 25 offensive touches (21 att., 90 yards, 4 rec., 101 yards, TD) and it was the Lions who started the season with a win.

0.9: Yards per carry for the Dolphins
The Dolphins began the season with a big road win over the Browns but did so with little help from the ground game. As a team, the Dolphins rushed for 20 yards on 23 carries — or 0.9 yards per carry. In fact, neither team could move the ball successfully on the ground as the Browns didn't fare much better. Cleveland mustered only 47 yards on 13 carries, making these the worst and third-worst (Pittsburgh ran for 32 yards) Week 1 rushing performances prior to the two "Monday Night Football" games.

11: Bryan Anger's Jaguars single-game record for punts
The Jaguars didn't do much of anything in Sunday's pathetic 28-2 showing against the Chiefs. The Jags completed 19-of-41 passes and rushed for 71 yards as a team, failed to convert on 14 third-down attempts and didn't score a single offensive point. This led to Jacksonville punter Bryan Anger setting a new franchise record for punts in a single game with 11 boots.

Rapid Fire:

2: Plays run in Kansas City territory by Jacksonville prior to the final drive of the game.

0-5: The Browns record when its quarterback throws at least 50 passes after Brandon Weeden attempted a career-high 53 passes.

6: Turnovers (3 fumbles, 3 INTs) forced by Dallas in Sunday night's win against the New York Giants. The Cowboys had a total of 16 takeaways all of last season.

9: Consecutive season-opening losses for the Cleveland Browns
17: Tony Gonzalez became one of just three players in history to catch a TD in 17 separate seasons (Jerry Rice, 19; Irving Fryar, 17)

35: Quarterbacks with 30,000 yards. Ben Roethlisberger joined the 30K club today.

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, September 9, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/amazing-college-football-stats-week-2
Body:

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

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

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

421.3: Aaron Murray's pass efficiency rating on third downs
Murray was brilliant in Athens, completing 17 of 23 passes for 309 yards and four touchdowns without turning the ball over. But he saved his best play for the most critical moments by dominating on third downs. He completed 6 of 7 third-down passes for 139 yards, two touchdowns and five first downs for a 421.3 pass efficiency rating, according to PrimeComputing.com. Murray made the biggest play of the game on a 3rd-and-13 with 13:00 minutes to go in the fourth quarter on his own 15-yard line and leading by just four points. He rolled to his left, avoided Jadeveon Clowney, and found a wide open Justin Scott-Wesley for an 85-yard game-clinching touchdown pass. It could end up a career-defining moment for the Dawgs' senior quarterback.

71.2 seconds: Average length of Baylor's TD drives
Through two weeks of the regular season, Art Briles offense looks as dangerous as ever with new quarterback Bryce Petty running the show. According to David Fox, Baylor has scored 17 touchdowns in an average of 1:11 of game time — or 71.2 seconds. Against Buffalo, Petty was 13-of-16 for 338 yards and two touchdowns for an average of 21.1 yards per attempt. The passing game has been aided by the consistency of star tailback Lache Seastrunk, who rushed for his sixth consecutive 100-yard game (150 yards, 3 TD) against the Bulls. It is the longest active steak of 100-yard games in the nation.

935: Nation-leading passing yards by Cal's Jared Goff
Goff has played in two career games, and he already put himself in the Cal record books. The redshirt freshman threw for 450 yards in Week 1 against Northwestern in his debut. He topped himself this weekend with 485 yards, finishing just 18 yards shy of breaking Cal's single-game passing record of 503 yards (Pat Barnes). Goff also became just the second Cal player ever to post back-to-back 400-yard passing efforts (also Barnes). He leads the nation in passing yards by a wide margin with Oregon State's Sean Mannion a distance second after two weeks (794).

9-13: Louisville's opponents 2013 win-loss record
Teddy Bridgewater has been unstoppable in two games for the Cardinals, throwing for another 397 yards and four touchdowns in the easy win over Eastern Kentucky. He will have to keep it up as Louisville needs to crush opponents, however, if it wants BCS national championship consideration. The Cards' schedule has been heavily criticized for a reason as its 12 opponents have started the season a combined 9-13. Houston and UCF are the only teams left on the slate without a loss while UConn, FIU, Temple, South Florida and Memphis have yet to win this year. Cincinnati might be the best team on the schedule and the Bearcats just got smoked by a team that won two games last year (Illinois).

115,109: NCAA attendance record set by Michigan
The Big House in Ann Arbor has long been ahead of its time in terms of seating capacity and it set a new benchmark this weekend against Notre Dame. Brian Kelly can downplay the rivalry all he wants, but the fans in Michigan showed the nation how important this game was to them by showing up in force. The 115,109 that showed up saw Devin Gardner make his case for the Heisman Trophy with a performance that matched the size of the crowd. The old record (114,804) was also held by Michigan when it hosted, shockingly, Notre Dame in 2011.

550: Rushing yards allowed by Texas
BYU bounced back from a Week 1 upset in big way in its home opener this weekend by embarrassing  Texas. The Cougars ran the ball 72 times for a school-record 550 yards and four touchdowns, setting a new school record for rushing yards allowed by Texas in the process. BYU quarterback Taysom Hill led the way with 259 yards and three scores on 17 attempts, nearly breaking the five-decade-old single-game BYU rushing record of 272 yards set by Eldon Fortie in 1962.

26.1: Marcus Mariota's yards per carry in 2013
He is the most effortless player in the nation and, for my money, the most entertaining quarterback in the country. Not two minutes into the game with Virginia, Mariota took the ball 71 yards for the game's first score. He finished with 122 yards on four carries after rushing for 113 yards on just five carries last week. The Oregon signal-caller is 21st in the nation in rushing (235 yards) — just behind the likes Todd Gurley (286), Lache Seastrunk (261), De'Anthony Thomas (252) and Duke Johnson (245). He has three rushing touchdowns, three passing touchdowns and no turnovers in two games.

20: Wins over major-conference teams by Navy since 2003
Since 2003, no team from outside of a BCS automatic-qualifying conference has won more games over AQ opponents than Navy. The Midshipmen topped Indiana for the second consecutive season, this time 41-35 in Bloomington. The Middies rushed for 444 yards, didn't have punt and didn't turn the ball over. Navy needed just two pass completions to defeat the Big Ten squad.

54: Yards passing by USC
Lane Kiffin was booed for a reason this weekend as Washington State gave USC a loss in the home opener for the first time since 1997. Not only did USC lose to the Cougars — a team that failed to score an offensive touchdown — they nearly redefined ineptitude on offense. The 54 passing yards from Cody Kessler (8 of 13, 41 yards, INT) and Max Wittek (3 of 8, 13 yards, INT) was the worst Trojan total since totaling just 23 yards against Florida State in 1998.

5: Consecutive series with turnover for Western Kentucky
And it only took six plays for Tennessee to steal the ball away five times in the first quarter. If not for a three-yard run by Keshawn Simpson, it would have been five consecutive plays with a turnover. The NCAA record for consecutive series with a turnover is seven when Florida forced four fumbles and three interceptions against Florida State in 1972. The Hilltoppers finished with seven total turnovers. Here is what their drive chart looked like from Saturday:

 

 

Teaser:
Post date: Monday, September 9, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/2013-big-ten-post-week-2-power-rankings
Body:

No MCL in Big Ten history will be more closely watched than Braxton Miller's this week. The star Ohio State quarterback left the Week 2 match with San Diego State just a few series into the game with a left MCL issue in his knee. The Heisman Trophy candidate never returned to the game after being carted off the field.

So while the league posted an admirable 7-0 record this weekend — including a huge rivalry win by Michigan over Notre Dame — the biggest storyline in the B1G this week will be Miller's left knee.

Early reports are Miller could have returned to action but Urban Meyer didn't want to risk it. All signs point to Miller returning to the starting line-up next weekend in Berkeley. And with an excellent back-up plan in Kenny Guiton, Ohio State still sits atop the Big Ten power rankings.

More Post-Week 2 Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

Big Ten Post-Week 2 Power Rankings:

 TeamLWAnalysis 
1.(1)Ohio State (2-0, 0-0): Scarlet and Gray nation can collectively exhale. Braxton Miller's left knee wasn't seriously injured and he should be ready to go in short order. Additionally, Kenny Guiton isn't a bad back-up option, after throwing for 152 yards, rushing for 83 and scoring three times. The win over San Diego State was a much more complete effort from OSU and Urban Meyer should be pleased with his team heading into a long West Coast road trip this weekend. Next Week: at Cal 
2.
 
(2)Michigan (1-0, 0-0): The Wolverines posted its higcomes to town this weekend. Next Week: Akron 
3.
 
(3)Nebraska (2-0, 0-0): More will be learned about Nebraska's defense next week when UCLA comes to town but, for now, the Black Shirts rebounded in a big way this weekend. Nebraska forced four turnovers, returning two interceptions for touchdowns, and allowed just 284 yards of offense to Southern Miss. Taylor Martinez and Ameer Abdullah had typically outstanding offensive days as the Huskers rolled big, setting up a huge visit from the Bruins in Week 3. Next Week: UCLA 
4.
 
(4)Northwestern (2-0, 0-0): Kain Colter returned to the line-up in a big way while star tailback Venric Mark could only watch from the sidelines. Both were injured last week in the opener but it was Colter took center stage this weekend. He led the team in rushing and complete 15-of-18 passes while scoring twice. Partnered with Trevor Siemian (259 yards, 3 TD), Northwestern rolled to an impressive and easy win over Syracuse. Next Week: Western Michigan 
5.
 
(5)Wisconsin (2-0, 0-0): So far, so good for Gary Andersen. The Badgers have yet allow a point in 2013 after another dominating performance against an inferior opponent. Wisconsin has had three 100-yard backs in each of the first two games and Joel Stave has accounted for six total touchdowns. That trend will have to continue if UW expects to go into Tempe and beat a very impressive — and high-scoring — Sun Devils team.  Next Week: at Arizona State 
6.
 
(6)Penn State (2-0, 0-0): Christian Hackenberg started slowly but finished in grand fashion, setting a school freshman passing record with 313 yards. More importantly, the defense and running game looked improved from a week ago. The Lions rushed for 251 yards and allowed just 183 yards and no offensive points to Eastern Michigan. Next Week: UCF 
7.
 
(7)Michigan State (2-0, 0-0): Mark Dantonio has major issues on offense after netting just 265 yards and seven offensive points in the win over USF this weekend. Just about every QB on the roster has seen time and none seem to be the answer (is it time for Damion Terry?). But the defense should be one of the nation's best. The Spartans defense scored two more touchdowns this weekend, bringing its two-game total to four. The offense has two. Next Week: Youngstown State 
8.
 
(8)Minnesota (1-0, 0-0): The all-iring three times. Next Week: Western Illinois 
9.
 
(9)Indiana (1-1, 0-0): Kevin Wilson was out for revenge and his second straight 2-0 start to the season but Navy had other plans. Wilson gave Nate Sudfeld the reins to the offense and he produced (355 yards, 4 TD) but the defense couldn't stop the vaunted triple option. The Hoosiers allowed 444 yards rushing and 41 points without forcing a turnover or a punt. Navy completed just two passes. Next Week: Bowling Green 
10.
 
(10)Iowa (1-1, 0-0): Kirk Ferentz didn't mess around with Missouri State as his gameplan was ground and pound from the outset. The Hawkeyes rushed for 296 yards and four TDs behind a tremendous effort from burly running back Mark Weisman (180 yards, 2 TD). Other than two late scores, Iowa's defense was stifling, as expected against an Missouri Valley team. Next Week: at Iowa State 
11.
 
(11)Purdue (1-1, 0-0): Well, the Boilermakers won, but that's about all you can say about the 20-14 win over Indiana State. Rob Henry wasn't much better and has yet to throw a TD pass through two games. The running game was held under three yards per carry and the Sycamores out-gained Purdue. A win is a win is a win, but this team has serious issues on both sides of the ball. Next Week: Notre Dame 
12.
 
(12)Illinois (2-0, 0-0): After a sluggish start to the season in Week 1, Tim Beckman's bunch played excellent football in a big upset win over Cincinnati. Nathan Scheelhaase, who had four total TD passes last year, had four scoring strikes in the win. The embattled quarterback is finally regaining his form after back-to-back 300-yard games at over 70-percent passing to start the season. Next Week: Washington* 

* -nuetral field

Big Ten Week 2 Awards and Superlatives:

Offensive Player of the Week: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
The Wisconsin running backs were outstanding, Braxton was Braxton, so was Taylor Martinez and, I can't believe I'm saying this, but Nathan Scheelhaase led his team to victory. But it's about time the nation looked at Allen Robinson as one of the game's best. Bill O'Brien suspended the star wideout for the first half of the neutral field bout with Syracuse without so much as a peep out of the locker room as to why. His absence was felt in a big way as PSU managed only 89 passing yards and a slim 6-3 edge at the half. Robinson caught the first pass of the second half for a first down and the second for a 51-yard touchdown. He was all over the field and turned a true freshman quarterback into a veteran signal caller by catching seven passes for 133 yards entirely in the second half of the 23-17 win. Penn State finished with 296 yards of passing offense, which would've ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten a year ago.

Defensive Player of the Week: Collin Ellis, LB, Northwestern
They may have been on tipped passes but when you score two defensive touchdowns, you are the P.O.W. The first came at a critical time late in the third quarter with Northwestern down by four, when Ellis took a Jared Goff pass 59 yards to paydirt to give the Wildcats the lead. Then again, this time up by three with eight minutes to go in the game, Ellis plucked another Cal throw out of the air and went 40 yards for six points to essentially end the game. This was the best win of the weekend for the league — and for more on that...

Team of the Week: Northwestern
Most of the Big Ten either won easily against over-matched opponents or was disappointed by poor play — and, in Iowa and Purdue cases, lost. But Northwestern lost Kain Colter to an "upper body" injury (it looked like a shoulder to us) on the game's first series and managed to defeat Cal in Berkeley 44-30. Yes, the Cats allowed more than 500 yards of offense but this game was supposed to be much tougher than the 2012 records indicated. Credit Pat Fitzgerald, and possibly one questionable targeting penalty, for the way Northwestern battled adversity in a home opener for a Golden Bears team flush with energy behind head coach Sonny Dykes' debut. This was an important win and likely the best in the conference this weekend.

Coordinator of the Week: Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State
The Spartans defensive coordinator is one of the nation's best and few assistants nationally mean as much to their team's success as Narduzzi. Michigan State has what appears to be an anemic offense once again this fall and wins will have to come by way of the defense. Against Western Michigan in Week 1, Narduzzi's bunch pitched a gem. His unit allowed 204 total yards, 4-of-20 third down conversions, forced four turnovers and, oh by the way, scored more touchdowns (2) than the Spartans offense (1). This defense will be nasty once again, but one has to wonder if Sparty can contend in the Legends Division against offensively minded teams like Michigan, Nebraska and Northwestern with little to no support from the offense?

Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
By the time it is all said and done, this award might be renamed The Hackenberg. In his first career start in his first career game as a true freshman, Hackenberg led his team to a win over a BCS team in Syracuse (in a pseudo-road environment). He looked, at times, like a freshman, but his overall ability is way too impressive to ignore. He finished 22-of-31 for 278 yards, two key second-half touchdowns and two interceptions. The touted freshman has special upside and has already justified his lofty recruiting status.

5th Down
The Indiana Hoosiers are looking to make it to the postseason for just the second time since 1993 and it was obvious in Week 1 that it's a distinct possibility. Indiana set a school record with 45 first-half points, a Memorial Stadium record with 73 points — just three shy of an all-time school record — and did so with three different quarterbacks. Tre Roberson started the game, threw six passes, carried the ball five times and scored twice. Nate Sudfeld then stepped in to attempt 17 passes, four of which went for touchdowns. And Cam Coffman got seven attempts. Kevin Wilson has a wealth of options under center and a host of talented skill players surrounding them. It appears the quarterback race in Bloomington will be fascinating to watch all season long.

Teaser:
2013 Big Ten Post-Week 2 Power Rankings
Post date: Monday, September 9, 2013 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-2-recap-and-awards
Body:

It began with blowouts in Minneapolis and Bloomington on Thursday night. Saturday got started with more one-sided affairs in Madison, Columbus and Ann 

Here are the Big Ten's Week 2 Superlatives:

Offensive Player of the Week: 

Nathan Scheelhaase, QB, Illinois: 26/37, 312 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT, 8 att., 24 yds

Defensive Player of the Week: Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State
Maybe Heisman voters had the wrong defensive end this summer when talking about if a defensive player could win the coveted stiff-armed award. Because the Spartans emerging star at end has already scored three defensive touchdowns after scoring on a four-yard fumble return and a 56-yard interception return this weekend in the 21-6 win over South Florida. Calhoun finished the game with three tackles, two for loss, a sack and those two huge plays after scoring last weekend on a 16-yard fumble return touchdown as well. He has quickly become a front-runner for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.

Team of the Week:

likely the best in the conference this weekend.

Coordinator of the Week:
Pat Narduzzi, DC, Michigan State
Bill Cubit, OC, Illinois

Freshman of the Week:
Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State: 23/33, 311, TD, INT

5th Down

Michigan State defense scored 4th TD of the season. The offense has 2.
Rob Henry has 0 TD, 2 INT in two games for Purdue
Kenny Guiton is 20-for-29 for 173 yards, 3 TD, INT with 10 att., 89 yards, TD rushing
Wisconsin has had back-to-back games with 3 100-yard rushers
Mark Weisman rushed for 180 yards and 2 TD, leads league

Teaser:
Big Ten Week 2 Recap and Awards
Post date: Sunday, September 8, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-2-recap-and-awards
Body:

Fans need to prepare for a wild season out west if the first weekend was any indication. Sure, division contenders Stanford and Arizona State were on bye while Oregon, UCLA and Arizona rolled to typically one-sided wins against over-matched opponents.

Here are your Pac-12 Week 2 Awards and Superlatives: 

Offensive Player of the Week:
Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon: 14/28, 199 yds, 2 TD, 4 att., 122 yards, TD
Taylor Kelly, QB, Arizona State: 23/31, 300 yards, 5 TD, 6 att., 25 yards
Travis Wilson, QB, Utah: 14/19, 264 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT, 3 att., 93 yards, 2 TD

Defensive Player of the Week:
Mike Honeycutt, Utah: FF, FR, TD
Tenny Polepoi, DL, Utah: 1.5 sacks, 2.5 TFL

Team of the Week:
Utah, Oregon, ASU

Coordinator of the Week:
Dennis Erickson, Utah

Freshman of the Week: Jared Goff, QB, Cal

After throwing for 450 yards in the opener against Northwestern, Goff chucked it around for 485 yards in earning new coach Sonny Dykes' first win at Cal. Goff is the second quarterback in school history to top 400 yards in back-to-back games and was just 18 yards shy of setting an all-time single-game Cal passing record (Pat Barnes, 503). He accounted for three total touchdowns and appears to be a perfect fit in Dykes wide open offensive attack. For those counting at home, that's 114 attempts, 935 yards and five total touchdowns for Goff in his first two collegiate games.

5th Down

Utah scored 70 points, most since 1973 (82 against UTEP) and set school record with 35 second-quarter points. The win pushed Utes record against Big Sky to 36-0.

Oregon has now won 16 straight on the road, the longest streak in the nation.

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 Week 2 Recap and Awards
Post date: Saturday, September 7, 2013 - 14:45
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-week-2-picks
Body:

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

My big underdogs to watch — Ohio, UL Monroe, UL Lafayette and Toledo — went 1-3 against the spread last week. But my Top Picks of the Weeks delivered in a big way, winning on four of the five. Week 2 of the college football season will always offer some over-corrections as some opening weekend performances were flukes. The key is knowing which ones, like say, Virginia, were flukes and which ones were legitimate.

2013 Record Against the Spread: 4-1 (4-1 last week)

Week 2 Picks of the Week:

Western Kentucky (+14) at Tennessee
The Hilltoppers were up 35-20 on Kentucky with less than 10 minutes to go last weekend. A couple of late scores made the score look closer than the game actually was because Western Kentucky was simply the better team by a wide margin. Tennessee crushed a bad OVC team in Austin Peay but played its starters barely more than a quarter. The Vols will likely win a close one by leaning on the ground game but Bobby Petrino is simply THAT good on game day. If Big Orange nation isn’t careful, the Toppers could win this game outright. Pick: Western Kentucky +14 

Arizona (-10) at UNLV
Arizona won 35-0 without star tailback Ka’Deem Carey last weekend while UNLV allowed 51 points to Minnesota. Carey returns to the lineup this weekend and forms a nasty tailback duo with Daniel Jenkins, who rushed for 139 yards on a 11.6-yard clip. Rich Rodriguez is still ironing out his quarterback situation but this offensive scheme is too strong for the Rebels to stop. UNLV allowed 5.8 yards per carry to the Gophers last weekend, whose backfield has been hit hard with injuries. Something seems off with this line. Pick: Arizona -10

Oregon (-21.5) at Virginia
This might be a classic Week 1 over-correction. Virginia unexpectedly beat BYU in Week 1 and that seems to have skewed this point-spread in a big way. The Cavaliers totaled 223 yards of offense, ranking dead last among BCS teams with 3.0 yards per play. The game was played in a monsoon, delayed for two hours and Virginia needed a blocked punt and turnover to even possess the ball in BYU's red zone. Conversely, Oregon scored 66 points (covering the 59-point spread) on 772 yards of offense despite having the ball on offense for less than 20 minutes. This is going to be ugly. Pick: Oregon -21.5

Florida (-3) at Miami
There are a lot of reasons to jump on the Miami bandwagon in 2013. Stephen Morris is a great quarterback, Al Golden is a rising coaching star and the defense showed improvement in Week 1 against FAU. Yet, Florida is still the big dog on the Sunshine State block after a dominating defensive performance last week. Toledo is a solid offense that averaged over 6.0 yards per play last year. The Gators totally shutdown the Rockets in the opener: Six points, 50 plays, 205 yards of offense and 3.8 yards per play. The Gators will control the line of scrimmage and impose their physical will upon Miami’s defense — that was ranked 120th nationally at 486.4 yards allowed per game last season. Pick: Florida -3

Texas (-7) at BYU
With two minutes to go in the second quarter, New Mexico State was up 7-0 on Texas last weekend. Over the next 8:37 of game time, the Longhorns scored five touchdowns to take a 35-7 lead. The new-look Horns offense finished with a school-record 715 yards and covered the 42-point spread. BYU lost in a bit of an aforementioned fluky performance against Virginia, deflating this game’s balloon to some degree. The Cougars are much better on defense than New Mexico State but the slow start last week should have the Horns on edge this weekend. Pick: Texas -7

Cincinnati (-7.5) at Illinois
The Bearcats are a far superior team in all aspects and they proved that by drubbing Purdue 42-7 last week. Illinois needed a goal-line stand in the waning moments of their opener with Southern Illinois. Cincy brings a balanced attack while Illinois struggled to move the ball whatsoever on the ground last week. Look for Cincinnati to go 2-0 against the Big Ten Leaders division out of the gate. Pick: Cincinnati -7.5

Week 2 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

Top 25 Picks Against the Spread:

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

Top 25 GamesMitch LightBraden GallSteven LassanDavid Fox
No. 2 Oregon (-21.5) at Virginia
San Diego State (+27.5) at No. 3 Ohio State
San Jose State (+26.5) at No. 5 Stanford
No. 6 South Carolina (+3) at No. 11 Georgia
UAB (+35) at No. 9 LSU
No. 10 Florida (-3) at Miami
No. 13 Oklahoma St (-26.5) at UTSA
No. 14 Notre Dame (+4.5) at No. 17 Michigan
No. 15 Texas (-7) at BYU
West Virginia (+20.5) at No. 16 Oklahoma
Syracuse (+12) at No. 19 Northwestern
Southern Miss (+28.5) at No. 22 Nebraska
Buffalo (+27) at No. 23 Baylor
Washington St (+15) at No. 25 USC
Last Week:11-77-1110-811-7
Year-To-Date:11-77-1110-811-7

 

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 2 Picks
Post date: Friday, September 6, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-pac-12-week-2-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The first weekend of action was mostly positive for Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott. Mostly.

Washington might have been the most impressive team in the nation after a huge performance against regional rival Boise State. Utah, behind developing quarterback Travis Wilson, clinched an important in-state rivalry win over Utah State. Mark Helfrich and Mike MacIntyre debuted with solid wins. And even in losses, Washington State and Cal appeared to be improved teams from a year ago.

However, Oregon State completely dropped the ball in a head-scratching loss to Eastern Washington at home. The good news for the Beavers and the Pac-12 is that the only game it will lose in Week 2 is a conference game with itself (Wazzu at USC).

UCLA and Washington will get to rest this weekend while fans at Stanford and Arizona State finally get their season started.

Week 2 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

Pac-12 Week 2 Game Power Rankings

1. Washington State (+15) at USC (10:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)
In a not-so-marquee weekend out West, the first Pac-12 conference game of the 2013 season takes center stage. As usual, quarterback play will be key as Connor Halliday must be given time to throw for Washington State while someone in a USC uniform needs to complete forward passes. USC’s defense looks much improved and will keep the score down so Lane Kiffin should only need the smallest amount of offense to win the Trojans’ ninth in a row over Wazzu.

2. Oregon (-23.5) at Virginia (3:30 p.m., ABC)
Virginia used some inclement weather to pull an unexpected upset over BYU last week at home. Facing Marcus Mariota and the Ducks' offense is battling literally a bird of a different feather and the Cavs might need more than a monsoon to hang with Oregon. Helfrich and company rolled-up 772 yards of offense and is leading the nation at 10.9 yards per play after one week. And despite winning the game, the Wahoos mustered just 223 yards of offense on a pathetic 3.0 yards per play (116th nationally). Keep an eye on star freshman Thomas Tyner, who will make his NCAA debut after missing last week with an injury.

3. San Jose State (+26.5) at Stanford (10 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
The Cardinal begin their Pac-12 title defense by hosting David Fales and the Spartans after sitting on the sidelines last weekend. Fales is a highly touted passing prospect and was solid but uninspiring in his season debut last weekend (16-of-32, 225 yards, 2 TD). He should be handled by what could be the best non-SEC defense in the nation while Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan could make the statement that he is actually the best signal-caller in this game.

4. Hawaii (+26.5) at Oregon State (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
No team in this league needs a win more in Week 2 than Mike Riley’s Beavers. The defensive performance from Oregon State last week against an FCS foe was utterly bizarre as OSU ranked last among BCS conference teams with 625 yards allowed in Week 1. That unit has to improve against a struggling Hawaii offense that mustered just 3.2 yards per play against USC. Quarterback Sean Mannion was a bright spot for a Beavers offense that has plenty of playmakers (See Brandin Cooks). Oregon State should be able to quickly turn its season around in Corvallis this Saturday.

5. Arizona (-10) at UNLV (10:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network)
One team won 35-0 and the other allowed 51 points to Minnesota in Week 1, so why does Vegas think this game will be so close? Well, UNLV actually out-gained the Gophers 419 yards to 320 last week and Arizona’s complete team effort came against Northern Arizona. Look for Rich Rodriguez to welcome back star tailback Ka’Deem Carey in a big way by feeding him (and backup Daniel Jenkins) the ball in an effort to take pressure of his quarterbacks. The Wildcats should win easily but should be on upset alert.

6. Sacramento State (+37) at Arizona State (Thurs., 10 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
Taylor Kelly and Chaz Sutton make their 2013 premiere against a vastly overmatched opponent. Arizona State has a difficult schedule with marquee non-conference games looming large on the horizon, so an easy win should come as a welcome treat for the team picked by Athlon Sports to win the Pac-12 South. Look for complete and utter domination from the Sun Devils.

7. Central Arkansas (+14.5) at Colorado (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
Central Arkansas won last week 58-7 over… the University of the Incarnate Word? (It’s in San Antonio, in case you were wondering.) But that strong showing has the Sugar Bears as just a two-touchdown underdog to the Buffaloes. MacIntrye became just the second Colorado coach since the 1930s to win his first game and should be poised for a 2-0 start — which would already top CU’s 2012 win total.

8. Weber State (+23) at Utah (2 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
New co-offensive coordinator Dennis Erickson had an immediate impact on Travis Wilson and the Utah offense. This unit scored on two long drives in the waning moments of a huge win over Utah State and Wilson appears to be poised for a big season in Salt Lake City. Kyle Whittingham needs to get his team back to the postseason and any win is a good one for the Utes — even a gimme over the Wildcats of Weber State.

9. Portland State (+27.5) at Cal (5 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
Sure, the Bears allowed 508 yards of offense and 44 points in the Week 1 loss to Northwestern. But there was plenty to like about Sonny Dykes' debut in Berkeley, namely quarterback Jared Goff. This team has plenty of playmakers but needed a quarterback to make the offense move and Goff delivered in a big way. Portland State should pose little threat and Dykes should get his first win at Cal.

Pac-12 Week 2 Pivotal Players:

1. Washington State’s offensive line
It’s just one week but the USC Trojans are leading the nation in sacks after registering 7.0 against Hawaii last week. So the spotlight is on the Wazzu offensive line this weekend. The Cougars played well on the road against a very talented Auburn defensive line last week by rushing for 120 yards on 5.2 yards per carry. Protecting Connor Halliday and moving the chains on the ground might be Mike Leach’s only chance at a victory in the Cougars' ’13 Pac-12 debut.

2. Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, QB, USC
On the flip side, USC has to get better quarterback play to be considered a contender in the Pac-12. Neither Kessler (10-of-19) nor Wittek (5-of-10) were very efficient last week against Hawaii and neither topped 100 yards passing. Until one of these two highly touted signal-callers separates himself on the field, the Trojans won’t be anything but a fringe Top 25 team.

3. Ed Reynolds, S, Stanford
The Stanford safety is one of the nation’s best players and he will get an interesting test in the Cardinal’s season debut. David Fales is one of the more talented signal-callers in the nation after a monster 2012 campaign and solid ’13 opener (225 yards, 2 TD). The chess match between Reynolds and Fales should be fun to watch this weekend.

4. Oregon’s backfield
Yes, Marcus Mariota is important. Duh. So is De’Anthony Thomas. But after Virginia played much better than anticipated in an upset win over BYU, there is more of a spotlight on this unit than expected. Byron Marshall topped 100 yards last week and uber-recruit Thomas Tyner will make his Oregon debut. The Cavaliers allowed 144 yards to Cougars tailback Jamaal Williams and 42 yards and a score to quarterback Taysom Hill. The Ducks' backfield will likely show the nation that the Cavs' win last week was a bit of a fluke.

5. Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
The star running back was suspended last week for the easy win over Northern Arizona. Daniel Jenkins filled the void adequately with 139 yards on 12 carries but should take a backseat this weekend to Carey. On the road, the powers that be in Las Vegas seem to think the Arizona-UNLV game will be closer than the experts are predicting. This, and a fluid quarterback situation, puts pressure on Carey to perform at the highest level in his first game of the season. 

Pac-12 Week 2 Predictions:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Washington St (+15) at USCUSC, 31-21USC, 27-13USC, 34-17USC, 35-28
Oregon (-23.5) at VirginiaOregon, 45-17Oregon, 28-6Oregon, 41-20Oregon, 49-14
San Jose St (+26.5) at StanfordStanford, 51-13Stanford, 31-14Stanford, 38-17Stanford, 35-17
Hawaii (+26.5) at Oregon StOregon St, 45-20Oregon St, 33-14Oregon St, 38-13Oregon St, 35-10
Arizona (-10) at UNLVArizona, 38-17Arizona, 41-17Arizona, 41-20Arizona, 35-21
Sacramento St (+37) at Arizona StArizona St, 52-3Arizona St, 44-6Arizona St, 48-14Arizona St, 42-10
Central Ark. (+14.5) at ColoradoColorado, 31-10Colorado, 41-20Colorado, 45-20Colorado, 28-14
Weber St (+23) at UtahUtah, 34-10Utah, 31-13Utah, 48-13Utah, 31-14
Portland St (+27.5) at CalCal, 44-17Cal, 41-20Cal, 50-17Cal, 49-17
Last Week: 9-17-38-26-4
Year-to-date:9-17-38-26-4

 

Teaser:
2013 Pac-12 Week 2 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-big-ten-week-2-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Northwestern and Indiana have interesting tests this weekend. Illinois is facing an uphill battle against Cincinnati. But, for the most part, the Big Ten should be business as usual in Week 2.

That is, of course, except in Ann Arbor. Notre Dame and Michigan are two of the most historic and tradition-rich programs in the nation and a minor verbal sparring match between the two blue-collar, rough-around-the-edges coaches has only added to the hype of this game.

With College Gameday in town, all eyes nationally should fall upon The Big House Saturday night.

Week 2 Previews and Predictions: ACC | Big 12Pac-12 | SEC

Big Ten Week 2 Game Power Rankings:

1. Notre Dame (+3.5) at Michigan (8 p.m., ESPN)
Whether Brian Kelly believes this is a “historic, traditional” rivalry game or not, fans of both should settle in for one of weekend’s best matchups. Michigan has won three of the last four and five of the last seven but Notre Dame won 13-6 a year ago in the lowest scoring meeting since 1909. Kelly and Brady Hoke have split their two meetings with the home team taking both while the Wolverines are currently riding a 15-game home winning streak overall. Both quarterbacks will take center stage as Tommy Rees is coming off the best showing of his career and Devin Gardner dropped a 59-spot on Central Michigan last week. Look for the Irish’s defensive line to be a potential game-changer. If Louis Nix and company can keep Gardner in the pocket, the Irish have a chance to pull the road upset in what could be the final meeting in years between two of the three winningest programs in NCAA history.

2. Syracuse (+12) at Northwestern (6 p.m., BTN)
Kain Colter is still being listed as “day-to-day” and it has forced Syracuse to prepare as such. Don’t be shocked, however, if Pat Fitzgerald plays it safe with his dynamic playmaker because he has an excellent “backup” plan in Trevor Siemian. Siemian didn’t play his best game last week — 276 yards, TD, 2 INT — but led his team to a victory on the road against an improved Cal squad. Some help from star tailback Venric Mark (11 att., 29 yards) would be nice because the Wildcats can’t count on two defensive touchdowns every Saturday to win games.

3. Navy (+12.5) at Indiana (6 p.m., BTN)
The Hoosiers should have revenge on the mind when the Midshipmen come to town this weekend. This was an epic 31-30 road loss for Kevin Wilson’s squad last season in a game that featured a combined 430 yards rushing and seven touchdowns on the ground. The two combined for just 340 yards, one TD and two INTs through the air. Expect the Big Ten’s top passing offense to be more effective now with Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfeld back on the field. Coming off a record-setting performance in Week 1, Wilson is looking for his second consecutive 2-0 start at Indiana.

4. Cincinnati (-8) at Illinois (Noon, ESPN2)
The Bearcats are looking to go 2-0 against the Big Ten Leaders Division after thoroughly dismantling Purdue last week. The Illini, on the other hand, needed a last-minute, goal-line stand to sneak past FCS foe Southern Illinois. Cincinnati brings tremendous balance into the game on offense after topping 200 yards on the ground and through the air last week while Illinois was anything but balanced. Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 416 yards but the ground game added just 49 yards on 30 attempts. If Tim Beckman wants to pull the upset at home, his offense will need to be more balanced.

5. San Diego State (+28) at Ohio State (3:30 p.m., ABC)
Buffalo hung around longer than expected against the Buckeyes last week and, although OSU was shorthanded due to suspensions, Urban Meyer likely had a field day with the game tape. The struggles for Ohio State, however, pale in comparison to the way the Aztecs got their season started last week. Eastern Illinois crushed San Diego State 40-19 behind 533 yards of offense on the road. The four-touchdown spread says it all.

6. South Florida (+23.5) at Michigan State (Noon, ESPNU)
The Spartans were bad on offense last week, be it Andrew Maxwell or Connor Cook running the offense, as it scored just one touchdown and mustered just 297 yards. That said, South Florida was worse. McNeese State set NCAA records for points scored and margin of victory by an FCS team over an FBS opponent (53-21). Sparty wins big — and take the under.

7. Southern Miss (+28.5) at Nebraska (6 p.m., BTN)
After allowing 602 yards and 35 first downs to Wyoming last weekend, the Black Shirts desperately need to get back on track. And despite a shocking loss to Texas State in Week 1, Southern Miss could provide an interesting test. The Cornhuskers offense is a proven commodity but USM quarterback Allan Bridgeford, who threw for 377 yards last week, could push Big Red’s defense. Was Brett Smith simply that good? Or are there much bigger issues in Lincoln than originally expected?

8. Minnesota (-16) at New Mexico State (8 p.m.)
The only team in the league playing on the road this weekend will be the Golden Gophers. New Mexico State gave Texas a first-half scare last weekend before allowing a billion yards to David Ash and the Longhorns over the final 32 minutes. Jerry Kill can’t expect three non-offensive touchdowns each week and his backfield is depleted, so all eyes turn once again to sophomore quarterback Philip Nelson.

9. Eastern Michigan (+23.5) at Penn State (Noon, BTN)
Christian Hackenberg is always worth the price of admission, so this one is worth checking out. Otherwise, Ron English and the Eagles are vastly over-matched and should pose little threat to the Nittany Lions beginning the year 2-0. Especially since Allen Robinson should play from the opening kickoff this week.

10. Missouri State (+24.5) at Iowa (Noon, BTN)
Kirk Ferentz has to be happy to see a Missouri Valley team on the schedule in Week 2. His tenuous coaching tenure took a major blow last week against Northern Illinois and fans can expect the Hawkeyes to roll up a big number in their second game. Jake Rudock will look to build on his adequate Week 1 performance.

11. Indiana State (+17) at Purdue (Noon, BTN)
Darrell Hazell could not have debuted in any uglier fashion than the 42-7 drubbing he took at the hands of Cincinnati last week. The Sycamores allowed Indiana to break all types of records on offense last week. Hazell’s team needs to eliminate mistakes and play efficient football in what could be their only win in the first two months of the season.

12. Tennessee Tech (+44.5) at Wisconsin (Noon, BTN)
Three different Badgers topped 100 yards rushing and Joel Stave returned to the starting lineup last week in the 45-point win over UMass. And the point spread was 44.5 last weekend too. A second-straight 45-0 win for Gary Andersen sounds about right.

Big Ten Week 2 Pivotal Players:

1. Taylor Lewan, OL, Michigan
Lewan and his cohorts along the Michigan offensive line must protect The Big House to win Saturday night. And that means protecting star quarterback Devin Gardner and his running backs from one of the saltiest defensive lines in the nation. Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt are future NFL Draft picks and should play better this weekend than they did in their season debut against Temple. Who wins the line of scrimmage battle when the Wolverines have the ball will likely determine who wins this monumental showdown.

2. Trevor Siemian, QB, Northwestern
Northwestern wasn’t at its best — or healthiest — last week against Cal but still managed an impressive road win. Should Kain Colter not play against Syracuse, the offensive onus will fall to Siemian to lead the Wildcats in their home debut. He is a different player than Colter and shouldn’t try to make the same type of plays, so there is added pressure on his supporting cast as well. A litany of talented skill players, especially Venric Mark, need to step up and allow Siemian the opportunity to distribute the football efficiently.

3. Indiana’s front seven
The Middies from the Naval Academy are an absolute nightmare to prepare for and scheme against. Stopping a triple option offense begins and ends with assignment football, gap control and discipline. This is what the Indiana front seven will have to deal with this weekend. Navy ran for 257 yards and two scores on 57 attempts last year in the 31-30 home win over the Hoosiers.

4. Nebraska's secondary
Wyoming’s Brett Smith torched this unit last weekend to the tune of 383 yards and four touchdowns on 29 completions. Southern Miss' Allan Bridgeford, albeit in a loss, posted similar numbers a week ago. The Huskers have to improve in the secondary against the pass if they expect to compete with teams like UCLA, Michigan, Northwestern and potentially Ohio State this fall.

5. Josh Ferguson and Donovonn Young, RB, Illinois
The Illini were completely one-sided in their win over Southern Illinois last weekend and it falls to these two ball-carriers to fix that problem. Illinois ran the ball 30 times for 49 yards with Ferguson (nine att.) and Young (eight att.) getting the majority of the work. If these two (and the O-line) aren’t more productive, it will be a long day against Cincy.

Big Ten Week 2 Prediction Grid:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Notre Dame (+3.5) at MichiganMichigan, 20-17 Michigan, 24-20Michigan, 24-20Michigan, 28-17
Syracuse (+12) at NorthwesternN'Western, 34-20N'Western, 33-24N'Western, 34-20N'Western, 35-14
Navy (+12.5) at IndianaIndiana, 38-20Indiana, 38-24Indiana, 38-31Indiana, 42-24
Cincinnati (-8) at IllinoisCincy, 38-20Cincy, 20-10Cincy, 34-20Cincy, 35-17
San Diego St (+28) at Ohio StOhio St, 49-14Ohio St, 41-10Ohio St, 40-17Ohio St, 38-14
USF (+23.5) at Michigan StMich. St, 21-13Mich. St, 31-14Mich. St, 31-13Mich. St, 17-10
So. Miss (+28.5) at NebraskaNebraska, 42-21Nebraska, 38-8Nebraska, 45-14Nebraska, 49-14
Minnesota (-16) at NMSUMinn., 41-21Minn., 33-17Minn., 38-17Minn., 24-14
E. Michigan (+23.5) at Penn StPenn St, 31-3Penn St, 28-6Penn St, 45-14Penn St, 28-7
Missouri St (+24.5) at IowaIowa, 30-10Iowa, 27-10Iowa, 41-7Iowa, 21-7
Indiana St (+17) at PurduePurdue, 24-7Purdue, 34-10Purdue, 38-13Purdue, 28-17
Tenn. Tech (+44.5) at WisconsinWisc., 51-7Wisc., 47-0Wisc., 55-3Wisc., 52-3
Last Week:11-111-111-112-0
Year-to-date:11-111-111-112-0

 

Teaser:
2013 Big Ten Week 2 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, September 5, 2013 - 07:14
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/ranking-best-and-worst-nfl-logos-2013
Body:

Brand equity. Brand awareness. Brand image. These are all economic terms that overlap, exist in a nebulous world and don’t directly impact the bean-counters. But as the media world has grown over the last half century, so has the understanding and belief in things like advertising, marketing and, of course, branding. Business executives figured out early on that separating oneself, especially in a saturated marketplace, could be the difference between success and failure.

And so things like tag lines — “I’m loving it” or “We pick you up” — and brand logos are born. Volvo being known for having safe cars or Chick-Fil-A known for it’s Sunday beliefs have been interwoven into the fabric of those corporate cultures.

But a company’s logo is still the most recognizable, most direct way to separate yourself from your competitors. The NFL is no different. And since Athlon Sports has been producing the best looking magazine on newsstands for the better part of five decades, we feel qualified to analyze all 32 NFL team logos for 2013.

And I turned our graphic design guru and Art Director Matt Taliaferro loose on the current roster of NFL logos and here is what he came up with:
 

 TeamLogoAnalysis
1.DallasWhat other franchise, company or corporate entity in general has gotten more mileage out of a simple star? If it ain't broke (and if it's immediately identifiable) ...
2.Green BayQuite frankly, I don't care whether the universities of Georgia or Grambling or the NFL's Titletown bunch was the first to it (so save me your history lesson), the classic oblong "G" is timeless regardless of team.
3.Kansas CityThe brilliance of this logo lies in how it combines the arrowhead with a rather unique, yet vinatage, font (as logos go, anyway). These "old school" logos fit well with the proud, "old school" fanbases.
4.IndianapolisThe most successful NFL brands are represented by a singular, unmistakably unambiguous logo. The horseshoe personifies that.
5.San FranciscoSan Fran's old "circle logo" needed some refreshing, and when that came to pass a few years ago it was handled with as much elegance as I can imagine. Yeah, I just used the word "elegance" in relation to a football team.
6.ChicagoEver notice the Cincinnati Reds have basically the same logo? The differing color schemes help mask that truth. Hey, go with what works.
7.New OrleansThe fleur-de-lis encapsulates what the city of New Orleans — and the franchise name "Saints" — is all about. An otherwise simple design that marries a team to a region is typically a winner.
8.NY GiantsBold, block lettering portrays the idea of "giant" without getting literal. I'm a sucker for their unis, too.
9.HoustonIs there another logo that incorporates the feel of a fanchise's locale better than Houston's? And with such direct simplicity? The steer, the star, just the right amount of "mod." Answer: I don't think so.
10.OaklandThe marriage of logo and fanbase is no stronger anywhere in the NFL as it is in Oakland ... and in the end that's the most important thing, right?
11.PittsburghAn historic logo whose significance lies as much in the industrial world as the sporting realm. That in itself makes up for the rather bland imagery.
12.DetroitDetroit's lion was redesigned by using just the right amount of contemporary touch. No overdoing things here. Well done.
13.NY JetsWhen the Jets '80s-fied" their logo the look lasted about as long as those of the parachute pants that the designer wore at the time. A case study in why not to jump on the trendy bandwagon when branding is involved.
14.AtlantaAn aggressive logo whose subtle use of angles and simple, aerodynamic curves fit well with the "Falcons" moniker. A sure favorite of the avant-garde amonst us.
15.DenverRemember prior to the '97 season when Denver changed uniforms and logos? Then it was radical, now it's common. This logo beats the hell out of the alternate "bucking bronco" mark. Don't bother Googling it; I gotcha.
16.San DiegoSubtle color changes aside, the Chargers have enjoyed a successful 50-plus year run with a lightning bolt. Ironically, there's nothing "flashy" about it, yet in the overall theme, it has worked quite well.
17.New England"Flying Elvis" quips aside, New England's logo design encapsulates the Minuteman/Revolutionary/Patriot theme in a smart, tidy way.
18.WashingtonLove the feathers. If (when?) this franchise makes a complete overhaul, keeping those around in some form would be wise.
19.SeattleSeattle sports are doing a nice job of unifying their themes. Its NFL franchise has done a solid job of going radical with a new look, while not indulging in some of the gaudiness that has come to define sports in the Great Northwest (looking at you, UO).
20.MiamiIt was time, Miami. This logo tweak has been handled with class ... the Marlins could take a lesson. As could a couple of the NFL franchises on this list.
21.BuffaloI mean, how are you gonna make a buffalo look cool? They've done a lot with a little. And it tramples the old "standing bison" look.
22.St. LouisWe're wading into "over-Illustrator'd" logo territory, now. I love the color scheme (St. Louis calls it "Millenium Blue" and "New Century Gold"); the mark could use ... something, but I can't put my pen tool on it.
23.ArizonaA more fearsome cardinal has helped Arizona's mark. Still, it's a bit underwhelming.
24.Tampa BayIt's a nice little package that the Bucs have put together here. And certainly more marketable than "Buccanneer Bruce."
25.CincinnatiA stylized "B" with tiger stripes. Could be better, could be worse. Much like the on-field product.
26.MinnesotaThe simple horns on Minnesota's helmet work better than He-Man over there. Braided hair in a football logo seldom works (that's why no one else does it).
27.Tennessee"The Flaming Thumbtack" has elements that work: the three stars that are reflected on the state flag and the Greek theme, tying in Nashville's billing as the "Athens of the South." A quirky logo that far outdistances the team's ghastly uniforms.
28.ClevelandTechnically, Cleveland's logo is the helmet, making placing a logo on the helmet impossible. Talk about minimalistic.
29.MiamiA somewhat cartoonish representation of a bald eagle, this works in a late-90s sort of way. That, however, was 15 years ago.
30.CarolinaCarolina is another relatively new franchise that seems to have struggled to find its identity. That is reflected in the logo, which just received a slight adjustment to solidify it's Arena League-esque quality.
31.JacksonvilleI'm not going anywhere near the atrocious gold-to-black helmet gradient, so as to the logo: Yes, it looks like a jaguar. With a blue tongue. Now please move along quickly.
32.BaltimoreBaltimore has seriously struggled in the logo department since stealing Cleveland's Browns adopting the Ravens. I mean, purple and black? Let's just call them the Baltimore Bruises and be done with it.

 

Teaser:
Ranking the Best and Worst NFL Logos in 2013
Post date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 16:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-post-week-1-heisman-trophy-voting
Body:

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

College football watched a whole new batch of superstars debut this weekend. Freshman all over the nation joined the party, in particular, at Florida State with Jameis Winston, Penn State with Christian Hackenberg, Oklahoma with Trevor Knight and Texas Tech with Baker Mayfield. This foursome of first-year quarterbacks combined for 1,133 yards passing and 13 touchdowns through the air while adding 132 combined yards on the ground and two more scores. And Winston has quickly found his way into the hearts and minds of Heisman voters.

That said, Week 1's biggest Heisman winner came from the week's biggest team in the week's biggest win. Clemson's Tajh Boyd is now your Athlon Sports Heisman Trophy front-runner.

Post-Week 1 Voting Results:

 LWPlayerPos.TeamPts1st2nd3rd4th5th
1.(6)Tajh BoydQBClemson52/658121-
2t.(1)Braxton MillerQBOhio St351343-
2t.(3)Marcus MariotaQBOregon35332-2
4.(7)Teddy BridgewaterQBLouisville23-314-
5.(2)Johnny ManzielQBTexas A&M1711113
6.(ur)Jameis WinstonQBFlorida St12-1113
7t.(4)Jadeveon ClowneyDESouth Carolina7-1-11
7t.(ur)Todd GurleyRBGeorgia7--2-1
9.(ur)Brett HundleyQBUCLA3---11
10.(5)AJ McCarronQBAlabama2---1-
11t.(ur)Duke JohnsonRBMiami1----1
11t.(ur)Keith PriceQBWashington1----1

Heisman Headlines:

Clowney disrespected: After being fourth in the Athlon preseason voting last week and following a workman-like 27-10 win over North Carolina, Clowney has been dropped completely off Heisman ballots by all but three voters. Clowney was visibly tired and claimed a stomach virus slowed him down last week but the Cocks still won a key game with relative ease due to the play of the defense. He was on nine of the 13 ballots last week, but after just three total tackles, is on just three ballots this week (one was mine, for the record). So one middling game has completely changed the perception of the nation’s best player?

Famous Jameis: After just one game, Florida State’s Jameis Winston has catapulted into the middle of the Heisman race by landing on six of Athlon’s 13 ballots. He was remarkable against Pitt — 25-of-27, 356 yards, 5 total TDs — and has an extremely bright future at Florida State. But, should a guy with 60 minutes of career playing time be ahead of the clear-cut best player in the nation, Jadeveon Clowney? Only time will tell.

Love him or hate him: For better or worse, Johnny Manziel crammed a whole lot of stuff into just 30 minutes of football. He had some typical “JFF” scrambles and scored three touchdowns but also was penalized for taunting and offered a signature hand gesture for one special Rice Owl. He was No. 2 in the voting last week with five first-place votes but got just one first-place vote this time around and was left off six ballots. He will post some big numbers this season but most of his candidacy will hinge on his play against Alabama and LSU. 

Murray, Lee, Martinez Disappear: Aaron Murray didn’t play poorly at all but watched Clemson claim the first marquee win of the season. He moved to 1-10 against Top 15-ranked teams and was dropped completely off all 13 Heisman ballots. Marqise Lee, Kevin Hogan and Taylor Martinez all failed to get a single vote as well after being among the 11 vote-getters last week.

East Coast Bias: Marcus Mariota got three first-place votes this week after a stellar showing against lowly Nicholls State. But is there an East Coast bias? While Lee and Hogan disappeared from ballots, Bishop Sankey and De’Anthony Thomas also didn't get a single vote despite huge performances in Week 1. Ka'Deem Carey, who was suspended in Week 1, hasn't received a single vote in two weeks either. That said, Pac-12 quarterbacks Keith Price and Brett Hundley showed up. Price looked more like his 2011 former self in a huge win over Boise State while Hundley's stellar showing against Nevada continues to prove why he might be one of the nation’s most underrated players.

The Voting Panel (click name for twitter accounts):

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

 

Teaser:
College Football: Post-Week 1 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 07:20
Path: /college-football/big-ten-post-week-1-power-rankings-2013
Body:

It began with blowouts in Minneapolis and Bloomington on Thursday night. Saturday got started with more one-sided affairs in Madison, Columbus and Ann Arbor. It all ended with an thoroughly entertaining Week 1 finale in Berkeley. And in between, there was heart-break in Iowa City and West Lafayette.

The Big Ten went 10-2 with wins over the Pac-12, ACC and Mountain West (twice). However, Darrell Hazell debuted at Purdue in atrocious fashion against the American Athletic Conference (Cincinnati) while the embattled Kirk Ferentz watched his team choke away an important win against the MAC (Northern Illinois).

More Post-Week 1 Power Rankings: ACC | Big 12 | Pac-12 | SEC

 

Big Ten Post-Week 1 Power Rankings:

 TeamLWAnalysis 
1.-Ohio State (1-0, 0-0): Urban Meyer should be ecstatic after Week 1. His team won fairly easily by nearly three touchdowns but also struggled just enough to offer his staff plenty of coaching points. Ohio State allowed Buffalo to hang around for most of the game, had nine penalties and lost the turnover battle. That said, the Buckeyes extended the nation's longest winning streak to 13 games. Next Week: San Diego State 
2.
 
-Michigan (1-0, 0-0): The Wolverines posted its highest-scoring opener since 1905 by crushing Central Michigan. Devin Gardner made a few mistakes but was solid, and Brady Hoke was able to get plenty of key freshmen plenty of experience in the blowout. Michigan will need it when Notre Dame comes to town this weekend. Next Week: Notre Dame 
3.
 
-Nebraska (1-0, 0-0): Fans in Lincoln better hope that the scare Wyoming gave them wasn't a sign of things to come but rather a wake-up call. This team neeeds to develop toughness and killer instinct on defense after allowing more than 600 yards of offense to the Cowboys. Taylor Martinez is excellent, and his supporting cast on offense is outstanding. However, this team has to improve quickly on defense. Next Week: Southern Miss 
4.
 
-Northwestern (1-0, 0-0): Kain Colter may have to sit out a game or two due to a concussion, but the good news is Trevor Siemian is completely capable. Pat Fitzgerald has some work to do on defense but his squad delivered in an important status win for the program on the road. Next Week: Syracuse 
5.
 
-Wisconsin (1-0, 0-0): The Gary Andersen Era got underway in impressive fashion and the Badgers looked a lot like what fans in Madison have watched for the last few decades. The Badgers pounded the football on the ground and played stingy defense in the easy win over UMass. More importantly, quarterback Joel Stave returned to action by accounting for three touchdowns. Next Week: Tennessee Tech 
6.
 
-Penn State (1-0, 0-0): Christian Hackenberg is officially a Big Ten quarterback. And he is 1-0 as a starter. The true freshman phenom was more than adequate as the Lions outlasted a physical Syracuse team. Allen Robinson sat out the first half on a coach's decision and exploded for 133 yards and a TD in the second half. Next Week: Eastern Michigan 
7.
 
-Michigan State (1-0, 0-0): Michigan State looks a lot like Michigan State after one week. The defense is nasty — it scored twice against Western Michigan — and the offense looks mediocre at best — it scored one offensive touchdown. Andrew Maxwell (21 att.) and Connor Cook (16 att.) split time so the QB battle in East Lansing is far from over. Next Week: USF 
8.
 
-Minnesota (1-0, 0-0): The all-important third year of the Jerry Kill era began slowly but ended in impressive fashion. Thanks to three combined defensive and special teams touchdowns, the Gophers pulled away in the second half against UNLV. Quarterback Philip Nelson began his first full season as the starter by scoring three times. Next Week: at New Mexico State 
9.
 
-Indiana (1-0, 0-0): Eventually, Kevin Wilson will have to pick a quarterback, but for now, his offense is just fine. Tre Roberson got the start but both Nate Sudfeld and Cam Coffman saw snaps as the trio combined for six touchdown passes. The Hoosiers set a Memorial Stadium record with 73 points, which was just three shy of the all-time school record of 76. Next Week: Navy 
10.
 
-Iowa (0-1, 0-0): The Hawkeyes had never lost to Northern Illinois in eight tries but the heartbreaking last-second loss to the Huskies is a horrible omen for embattled head coach Kirk Ferentz. Jake Rudock played well in his first start but threw a costly interception that cost Iowa the game. Next Week: Missouri State 
11.
 
-Purdue (0-1, 0-0): This was as bad a coaching debut as could have been expected for Darrell Hazell. The Boilermakers were sloppy, unproductive, inefficient and didn't belong on the same field as the Bearcats. And their schedule includes three BCS bowl teams in the next four weeks. Next Week: Indiana State 
12.
 
-Illinois (1-0, 0-0): It wasn't pretty and it was much closer than Tim Beckman would have liked but Illinois got an important win over Southern Illinois. The Illini needed a goal line stand in the final minute to beat the Missouri Valley foe, due in large part to an offense that lack any semblance of balance (415 yards passing, 49 yards rushing). The Orange Crush has to be better on the ground if it expects to improve in 2013 Next Week: Cincinnati 

Big Ten Week 1 Awards and Superlatives:

Offensive Player of the Week: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
The Wisconsin running backs were outstanding, Braxton was Braxton, so was Taylor Martinez and, I can't believe I'm saying this, but Nathan Scheelhaase led his team to victory. But it's about time the nation looked at Allen Robinson as one of the game's best. Bill O'Brien suspended the star wideout for the first half of the neutral field bout with Syracuse without so much as a peep out of the locker room as to why. His absence was felt in a big way as PSU managed only 89 passing yards and a slim 6-3 edge at the half. Robinson caught the first pass of the second half for a first down and the second for a 51-yard touchdown. He was all over the field and turned a true freshman quarterback into a veteran signal caller by catching seven passes for 133 yards entirely in the second half of the 23-17 win. Penn State finished with 296 yards of passing offense, which would've ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten a year ago.

Defensive Player of the Week: Collin Ellis, LB, Northwestern
They may have been on tipped passes but when you score two defensive touchdowns, you are the P.O.W. The first came at a critical time late in the third quarter with Northwestern down by four, when Ellis took a Jared Goff pass 59 yards to paydirt to give the Wildcats the lead. Then again, this time up by three with eight minutes to go in the game, Ellis plucked another Cal throw out of the air and went 40 yards for six points to essentially end the game. This was the best win of the weekend for the league — and for more on that...

Team of the Week: Northwestern
Most of the Big Ten either won easily against over-matched opponents or was disappointed by poor play — and, in Iowa and Purdue cases, lost. But Northwestern lost Kain Colter to an "upper body" injury (it looked like a shoulder to us) on the game's first series and managed to defeat Cal in Berkeley 44-30. Yes, the Cats allowed more than 500 yards of offense but this game was supposed to be much tougher than the 2012 records indicated. Credit Pat Fitzgerald, and possibly one questionable targeting penalty, for the way Northwestern battled adversity in a home opener for a Golden Bears team flush with energy behind head coach Sonny Dykes' debut. This was an important win and likely the best in the conference this weekend.

Coordinator of the Week: Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State
The Spartans defensive coordinator is one of the nation's best and few assistants nationally mean as much to their team's success as Narduzzi. Michigan State has what appears to be an anemic offense once again this fall and wins will have to come by way of the defense. Against Western Michigan in Week 1, Narduzzi's bunch pitched a gem. His unit allowed 204 total yards, 4-of-20 third down conversions, forced four turnovers and, oh by the way, scored more touchdowns (2) than the Spartans offense (1). This defense will be nasty once again, but one has to wonder if Sparty can contend in the Legends Division against offensively minded teams like Michigan, Nebraska and Northwestern with little to no support from the offense?

Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State
By the time it is all said and done, this award might be renamed The Hackenberg. In his first career start in his first career game as a true freshman, Hackenberg led his team to a win over a BCS team in Syracuse (in a pseudo-road environment). He looked, at times, like a freshman, but his overall ability is way too impressive to ignore. He finished 22-of-31 for 278 yards, two key second-half touchdowns and two interceptions. The touted freshman has special upside and has already justified his lofty recruiting status.

5th Down
The Indiana Hoosiers are looking to make it to the postseason for just the second time since 1993 and it was obvious in Week 1 that it's a distinct possibility. Indiana set a school record with 45 first-half points, a Memorial Stadium record with 73 points — just three shy of an all-time school record — and did so with three different quarterbacks. Tre Roberson started the game, threw six passes, carried the ball five times and scored twice. Nate Sudfeld then stepped in to attempt 17 passes, four of which went for touchdowns. And Cam Coffman got seven attempts. Kevin Wilson has a wealth of options under center and a host of talented skill players surrounding them. It appears the quarterback race in Bloomington will be fascinating to watch all season long.

Teaser:
Big Ten Post-Week 1 Power Rankings 2013
Post date: Tuesday, September 3, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/amazing-college-football-stats-week-1
Body:

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

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

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

40:14: Nicholls State time of possession
Nicholls State more than doubled the time of possession battle with the mighty Oregon Ducks (19:46). Yet, somehow the Ducks managed to not only defeat the Colonels but cover the absurd 59-point spread in the 66-3 debut of Mark Helfrich. The Ducks posted 772 yards of offense and averaged over 11 yards per carry on 45 attempts (500 yards) while never possessing the ball for more than 2:34 seconds.

1-10: Aaron Murray against Top 15 ranked teams
Big game Aaron Murray has been anything but in big games against elite competition. He lost to Arkansas (No. 12) and Auburn (No. 2) in 2010 as a freshman. Murray lost to Boise State (No. 5), South Carolina (No. 12), LSU (No. 1) and Michigan State (No. 12) as a sophomore in 2011. And he lost to South Carolina (No. 6) and Alabama (No. 1) a year ago. His lone win against a top 15 team came last year against No. 3 Florida in the Cocktail Party. And even in that win, Murray wasn't very good: 12-of-24 for 150 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in that game.

93.8%: NCAA record completion percentage for Corey Robinson
Troy's quarterback Corey Robinson set the new NCAA benchmark (min. 30 att.) for efficient passing this weekend. In a key 34-31 overtime win over UAB, Robinson completed 30 of his 32 passes for 319 yards and a touchdown. That's a tidy 93.8-percent clip, besting the previous NCAA record held by current Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian. Coach Sark set the record by completing 91.2-percent of his passes for Fresno State in 1995. He was 31-of-34.

15-15: New head coach's records in Week 1
There were 31 new FBS college coaches in college football this fall. All but one, UTEP's Sean Kugler, was in action this weekend. That said, the BCS coaches fared much better, going 10-5, including Temple's loss to Notre Dame. The SEC went 3-1, the ACC 2-1, the Big Ten 1-1 while the Pac-12 and Big 12 combined to go 3-0. The AAC went 0-2.

2: Players who scored on a punt return, kick return and on offense in the same game
Derek Abney, a do-everything dynamo for the Kentucky Wildcats, is believed (according to Kentucky's official bio) to be the only player in NCAA history to have scored a touchdown on a punt return, kick return and pass reception (2002). That is, until Christian Jones did it for Alabama this weekend against Virginia Tech. A 72-yard punt return began the scoring in the game, continued it with a 94-yard kick return touchdown and put the game out of reach with a beautiful 38-yard touchdown strike from A.J. McCarron late in the third.

833: Combined passing yards for Vernon Adams and Sean Mannion
Eastern Washington and its famous Red Inferno football field pulled one of the biggest upsets of the weekend over Oregon State on the road. Quarterback Vernon Adams was the star of the show as he threw for 411 yards through the air while adding 107 yards rushing and two more scores on the ground. On the other sideline, not to be outdone, Sean Mannion threw for 422 yards and three touchdowns in the losing effort. There were six lead changes in the final 20 minutes of play, 61 first downs, 1,157 yards of total offense and 97 combined points.

5: FCS teams defeating major conference teams
To put it in perspective: No more than four FCS teams have defeated major conference teams in a season since 1985, according to footballgeography.com, much less one weekend. The action started Thursday when Towson defeated Connecticut 33-18 for the most lopsided FCS-over-FBS win since 2000. That mark was crushed Saturday when McNeese State defeated USF 53-21. The margin of victory and total points scored were an NCAA record for an FCS opponent over an FBS team. Two-time FCS champion North Dakota State defeated Kansas State 24-21 on Friday, Eastern Washington defeated Oregon State 49-46, and Northern Iowa defeated Iowa State 28-20.

14: NCAA record for career forced fumbles
Wisconsin's Chris Borland jarred the ball loose from a UMass Minuteman early in the game this Saturday. It was his 14th career forced fumble, tying an NCAA record. Borland has been a big-play machine, blocking kicks and punts, creating turnovers and disrupting the offense behind the line of scrimmage his entire career. He now shares the NCAA record with five other players: Cincinnati's Antwan Peek, Arizona State's Terrell Suggs, USC's Kenechi Udeze, Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan and Southern Miss' Cordarro Law.

2,080: Cornelius Greene's school rushing record by a QB
Cornelius Greene was the first African-American starting quarterback for Ohio State in the early 1970s. He also is the all-time leading rusher for the Ohio State Buckeyes as a quarterback. After 77 yards rushing in the season opener against Buffalo, Braxton Miller pushed his career rushing total to 2,063 yards just one game into his junior season. By the end of the first quarter in Week 2, MIller should be become the all-time leading rusher by a quarterback for one of the most historic and prestigious programs in NCAA history.

 

Teaser:
Amazing Week 1 College Football Stats
Post date: Monday, September 2, 2013 - 08:00
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-1-recap-and-awards
Body:

It began with blowouts in Minneapolis and Bloomington on Thursday night. Saturday got started with more one-sided affairs in Madison, Columbus and Ann Arbor. It all ended with an thoroughly entertaining Week 1 finale in Berkeley. And in between, there was heartbreak in Iowa City and West Lafayette.

The Big Ten went 10-2 with wins over the Pac-12, ACC and Mountain West (twice). However, Darrell Hazell debuted at Purdue in atrocious fashion against the American Athletic Conference (Cincinnati) while the embattled Kirk Ferentz watched his team choke away an important win against the MAC (Northern Illinois).

Here are the Big Ten's Week 1 Superlatives:

Offensive Player of the Week: Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State

The Wisconsin running backs were outstanding, Braxton was Braxton, so was Taylor Martinez and, I can't believe I'm saying this, but Nathan Scheelhaase led his team to victory. But it's about time the nation looked at Allen Robinson as one of the game's best. Bill O'Brien suspended the star wideout for the first half of the neutral field bout with Syracuse without so much as a peep out of the locker room as to why. His absence was felt in a big way as PSU managed just 89 passing yards and a slim 6-3 edge at the half. Robinson caught the first pass of the second half for a first down and the second for a 51-yard touchdown. He was all over the field and turned a true freshman quarterback into a veteran signal caller by catching seven passes for 133 yards entirely in the second half of the 23-17 win. Penn State finished with 296 yards of passing offense, which would've ranked No. 2 in the Big Ten a year ago.

Defensive Player of the Week: Collin Ellis, LB, Northwestern

They may have been on tipped passes but when you score two defensive touchdowns, you are the P.O.W. The first came at a critical time late in the third quarter with Northwestern down by four, when Ellis took a Jared Goff pass 59 yards to paydirt to give the Wildcats the lead. Then again, this time up by three with eight minutes to go in the game, Ellis plucked another Cal throw out of the air and went 40 yards for six points to essentially end the game. This was the best win of the weekend for the league — and for more on that...

Team of the Week: Northwestern

Most of the Big Ten either won easily against over-matched opponents or was disappointed by poor play — and, in Iowa and Purdue cases, lost. But Northwestern lost Kain Colter to a concussion on the game's first series and managed to defeat Cal in Berkeley 44-30. Yes, the Cats allowed more than 500 yards of offense, but this game was supposed to be much tougher than the 2012 records indicated. Credit Pat Fitzgerald, and possibly one questionable targeting penalty, for the way Northwestern battled adversity in a home opener for a Golden Bears team flush with energy behind head coach Sonny Dykes' debut. This was an important win and likely the best in the conference this weekend.

Coordinator of the Week: Pat Narduzzi, Michigan State

The Spartans defensive coordinator is one of the nation's best and few assistants nationally mean as much to their team's success as Narduzzi. Michigan State has what appears to be an anemic offense once again this fall and wins will have to come by way of the defense. Against Western Michigan in Week 1, Narduzzi's bunch pitched a gem. His unit allowed 204 total yards, 4-of-20 third down conversions, forced four turnovers and, oh by the way, scored more touchdowns (2) than the Spartans offense (1). This defense will be nasty once again, but one has to wonder if Sparty can contend in the Legends Division against offensively minded teams like Michigan, Nebraska and Northwestern with little to no support from the offense?

Freshman of the Week: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State

By the time it is all said and done, this award might be renamed The Hackenberg. In his first career start in his first career game as a true freshman, Hackenberg led his team to a win over a BCS team in Syracuse (in a pseudo-road environment). He looked, at times, like a freshman, but his overall ability is way too impressive to ignore. He finished 22-of-31 for 278 yards, two key second-half touchdowns and two interceptions. The touted freshman has special upside and has already justified his lofty recruiting status.

5th Down

The Indiana Hoosiers are looking to make it to the postseason for just the second time since 1993 and it was obvious in Week 1 that it's a distinct possibility. Indiana set a school record with 45 first-half points, a Memorial Stadium record with 73 points — just three shy of an all-time school record — and did so with three different quarterbacks. Tre Roberson started the game, threw six passes, carried the ball five times and scored twice. Nate Sudfeld then stepped in to attempt 17 passes, four of which went for touchdowns. And Cam Coffman got seven attempts. Kevin Wilson has a wealth of options under center and a host of talented skill players surrounding them. It appears the quarterback race in Bloomington will be fascinating to watch all season long.

Teaser:
Big Ten Week 1 Recap and Awards
Post date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 13:29
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-1-recap-and-awards
Body:

Fans need to prepare for a wild season out west if the first weekend was any indication. Sure, division contenders Stanford and Arizona State were on bye while Oregon, UCLA and Arizona rolled to typically one-sided wins against over-matched opponents. But the rest of the league was in a dog fight.

Cal lost a tough one to Northwestern. Oregon State got upset at home against regional FCS opponent Eastern Washington. Utah barely scraped by an in-state rival. Washington State showed marked improvement on the road against an SEC blueblood. And the Washington Huskies made a bold statement that the rest of the Pac-12 better take notice of. Welcome back, college football.

Here are your Pac-12 Week 1 Awards and Superlatives: 

Offensive Player of the Week: Marcus Mariota, Oregon

The Oregon quarterback might be the most enjoyable player to watch in the entire nation. He is simply effortless in all that he does. Yes, Keith Price and Travis Wilson posted equally impressive numbers against tougher competition but Mariota is the leader of the Pac-12 front-runner and he was brilliant on Saturday. He completed 12-of-21 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown while rushing five times for 113 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. That's a 22.6 yards per carry average. His offense totaled 772 yards and scored 66 points for Mark Helfrich in his head coaching debut.

 

Defensive Player of the Week: Dion Bailey, USC

 

Dion Bailey moved from undersized linebacker to head-hunting safety this off-season and the move paid off in a big way in week one. New coordinator Clancy Pendergast watched his unit stifle former coordinator Norm Chow's offense all night led in large part by Bailey. He led the Trojans in tackles with seven and added both a sack and an interception to his stat sheet. The Trojans allowed just 231 yards of offense and only 32 yards rushing in the 30-13 win over Hawaii.

 

Team of the Week: Washington

 

Many thought Washington could pull the slight upset over the ranked Broncos but few saw this type of domination coming for the Huskies. As new Husky Stadium was christened in style by handing Boise State their worst loss since 2005 (48-13, Georgia). Both side of the ball looked excellent as Keith Price threw for over 300 yards while Bishop Sankey rushed for 161, each scoring two touchdowns along the way. The defense held Boise State to three points in each half and kept the Broncos out of the endzone all night long. This might have been the most impressive win nationally (other than maybe Clemson) and it could not have come at a more critical time for Steve Sarkisian.

 

Coordinator of the Week: Justin Wilcox, Washington

 

Chris Petersen doesn't know what the Woodshed looks like but he found out in a large way against one of his own. Wilcox coached under Petersen as the defensive coordinator of the Broncos from 2006-09 before moving to Seattle by way of Tennessee. Well, the pupil taught the master a few things late on Saturday night as the Huskies defense dominated the game. The six points were the fewest scored by Boise State since being shutout in 1997 by Washington State and it was just the third time since that blanking that Boise State failed to reach at least 10 points in a game. Needless to say, what Wilcox accomplished Saturday night doesn't happen very often.

 

Freshman of the Week: Andy Phillips, K, Utah

 

Kickers won't get this award often but Utah's redshirt placekicker deserves a nod for his work against rival Utah State. The former apline skier had never played football before taking the field in a crucial Thursday night game with the Aggies and he was basically perfect. He nailed all three field-goal attempts, including two clutch fourth-quarter kicks, made all three extra points and flipped the momentum of the game with a elegantly placed successful onside kick. Welcome to the world of football Mr. Phillips.

 

5th Down

 

How times does any team on any level produce over 500 yards of offense, convert on 50-percent of third downs, not turn the ball over a single time and get beat? That is what happened to Oregon State this weekend when it lost in heart-breaking fashion to lower-tier power Eastern Washington. To fans outside of Corvallis, it was a game to remember featuring six lead changes in the final 20 minutes of game time. A big tip of the cap to EWU starting quarterback Vernon Adams who had the game of his life time. He threw for 411 yards and four touchdowns while running for 107 yards and two more touchdowns. Those numbers would be sick against lower level competition but in Reser Stadium against a Top 25 opponent? Oregon State has some flaws it needs to work through and after one weekend, it appears Washington might be the top challenger to Oregon/Stanford Pac-12 North supremacy, not the Beavers.

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 Week 1 Recap and Awards
Post date: Sunday, September 1, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-week-1-picks
Body:

Like it or not, Las Vegas rarely gets it wrong, so tracking betting lines should always be a big part of each football weekend — even if there are no bets on the line.

Whether you condone gambling or not, think of it as becoming a more informed fan.

Week 1 of the college football season offers some unique opportunities, however, as the lines will be further “off” this weekend than at any other point of the season. This is the weekend to make moves — if done correctly.

Here are my top picks of the week as well as our editorial staff’s picks for every single Top 25 game of the weekend.

More Week 1 Previews: ACCBig 12 Big Ten Pac-12 SEC

2013 Record Against the Spread: 0-0

Week 1 Picks of the Week:

Florida State (-10) at Pitt
The Noles are breaking in a new quarterback in redshirt freshman Jameis Winston in primetime on Labor Day night. He will make mistakes, but this defense is BCS national title good and the skill around Winston on offense is elite. Pitt is headed in the right direction but Florida State is not just a cut above the Panthers, but maybe two or three tiers better. Take the Noles and end your weekend with victory. Pick: Florida State -10

Alabama (-19.5) vs. Virginia Tech
If your favorite team has a quarterback who is desperately lacking in confidence, an offensive line that is totally reworked, it lacks a true running game and has reworked the offensive coaching staff, what is the last thing you’d want to do on opening night? Yup, play the Alabama defense as the Crimson Tide begin to defend both of their BCS National Championships. Good luck, Hokies. Pick: Alabama -19.5

LSU (-4) vs. TCU
TCU might be the best-coached team in the Big 12. It might have the best quarterback in the Big 12. And it has the best defense in the Big 12. But that doesn’t mean it can compete with one of the SEC’s most physical and talented squads. And without the best player in its league, defensive end Davonte Fields, TCU will be hard-pressed to compete in the trenches for four quarters. This one is close for 45 minutes with LSU’s physicality extending the score in the final frame. Pick: LSU -4

Washington State (+14.5) at Auburn
Auburn was dead last in plays per game on offense last year nationally and fans can expect a huge increase with Gus Malzahn running the show now. Washington State struggles to run the ball and, while they should be improved across the board, will be badly outmatched in always-hostile Jordan-Hare Stadium. Look for Nick Marshall to have a coming out party against one of the Pac-12’s worst defenses. Pick: Auburn -14.5

FIU (+21) at Maryland
The Terps showed marked improvement last year in Randy Edsall's second season — and that was with their fifth-string QB starting. This team should be healthier and dramatically improved on both sides of the ball this year. FIU is missing some key playmakers and is picked to finish last in the C-USA East. Take the Terps to roll big. Pick: Maryland -21

Underdogs I like this weekend:

Ohio (+21) at Louisville
UL Monroe (+21) at Oklahoma

Toledo (+23) at Florida
UL Lafayette (+10.5) at Arkansas

Top 25 Picks Against the Spread:

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

Top 25 GamesMitch LightBraden GallSteven LassanDavid Fox
No. 1 Alabama (-18.5) vs. Virginia Tech*
Buffalo (+34.5) at No. 2 Ohio State
No. 5 Georgia (-1.5) at (8) Clemson
Rice (+26.5) at No. 7 Texas A&M
Ohio (+21) at No. 9 Louisville
Toledo (+23.5) at No. 10 Florida
No. 11 Florida State (-10) at Pitt
No. 12 LSU (-4) vs. No. 20 TCU*
Mississippi St (+13) vs. No. 13 Oklahoma St*
Temple (+29.5) at No. 14 Notre Dame
New Mexico St (+42) at No. 15 Texas
UL Monroe (+21) at No. 16 Oklahoma
Central Michigan (+31) at No. 17 Michigan
Wyoming (+29) at No. 18 Nebraska
No. 19 Boise St (+3.5) at Washington
Nevada (+21) at No. 21 UCLA
No. 22 Northwestern (-5.5) at Cal
UMass (+44.5) at No. 23 Wisconsin
Last Week:0-00-00-00-0
Year-To-Date:0-00-00-00-0

* - neutral field

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 1 Picks
Post date: Friday, August 30, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-big-ten-week-1-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The painfully long offseason is in the past and football is here.

The Big Ten will begin in familiar fashion as most of its conference contenders — Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska — should have little problem dispatching much-lesser opponents. However, Northwestern and Penn State expect to win more than they lose this fall and both will begin with difficult games away from home.

Elsewhere, Jerry Kill and Kevin Wilson look to continue developing their programs as Year No. 3 begins at Minnesota and Indiana respectively while a new head coach at Purdue is just beginning that very same process.

Finally, two embattled coaches at Iowa and Illinois start what could be make-or-break seasons with must-win games in Week 1. Let the madness begin.

Big Ten Week 1 Game Power Rankings:

1. Northwestern (-5.5) at Cal (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Pat Fitzgerald knows a Legends Division title and subsequent Big Ten title is next on his to-do list and a win on the road against a Pac-12 team would be a bold first statement. Both teams are stacked with explosive offensive playmakers and this game should be one of the more entertaining affairs nationally this weekend. But to suggest that this is anything but a coin flip would be overlooking what should be a much-improved Golden Bears squad.

2. Syracuse (+8.5) vs. Penn State (3:30 p.m., ABC, East Rutherford)
Bill O’Brien gets his second season underway with an intriguing BCS conference test at a neutral site. Neither team has announced who will start at quarterback publicly but odds are uber-recruit Christian Hackenberg won’t be on the Nittany Lions' bench very long. He is a special player who needs to gain experience quickly on a team with a veteran offensive supporting cast and consistently high aspirations.

3. Central Michigan (+31) at Michigan (3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network)
Devin Gardner has spent the entire offseason as the starter and now it is his time to shine. The Chips should provide little push-back against the Wolverines so look for Brady Hoke to establish a ground game in an effort to get an extended look at his running back stable. The youthful and emerging defensive front needs to take advantage of the rebuilt CMU offensive line.

4. Buffalo (+34.5) at Ohio State (Noon, ESPN2)
Much like Michigan, Urban Meyer expects to get a long look at his talented underclassmen in this one-sided opener. The defensive line is breaking in four new starters and Braxton Miller needs names to step up around him on offense. One highly touted true freshman to watch in what should be an easy win for OSU will be all-purpose dynamo Dontre Wilson.

5. Purdue (+10.5) at Cincinnati (Noon, ESPNU)
Not too many Big Ten teams begin the year as a double-digit underdog to an American Athletic Conference team with a new head coach. However, that is exactly what first-year head coach Darrell Hazell is facing in his B1G debut this weekend. Rob Henry will start at quarterback but it will have to be a complete team effort to upset the Bearcats on the road in just the second-ever meeting between the two programs.

6. Northern Illinois (+3) at Iowa (3:30 p.m., Big Ten Network)
Kirk Ferentz enters a critical year with his hands full in Week 1. The defending MAC champs and Orange Bowl participants will come to town unfazed by the bright lights of Kinnick Stadium led by superstar dual-threat quarterback Jordan Lynch. Iowa is 8-0 all-time against the Huskies but barely held off NIU last year 18-17 in Soldier Field.

7. UNLV (+14) at Minnesota (Thurs., 7 p.m., Big Ten Network)
The Gophers' opener marks the first time in the five-year history of TCF Bank Stadium that Minnesota will begin the year at home. UNLV won just two games last year and will be facing an uphill battle against a Minnesota team that is very young but more talented than perceived.

8. Indiana State (+24) at Indiana (Thurs., 7 p.m., Big Ten Network)
Kevin Wilson begins his third year at the helm in Bloomington with a bowl bid in his sights. Therefore, every win is critical, especially against an in-state rival in which his team is favored by more than three touchdowns. Indiana will welcome back potential star quarterback Tre Roberson, who will rotate with Cam Coffman and Nate Sudfeld in Week 1.

9. Wyoming (+29) at Nebraska (8 p.m., Big Ten Network)
The No. 1 offense in the Big Ten has its sights set on a return trip to the Big Ten championship game. However, it will likely be the defense that will determine if the Huskers have what it takes to win the Legends Division. Wyoming’s talented dual-threat quarterback Brett Smith led the Mountain West in passing efficiency last year and will be a sneaky good test for a developing Black Shirts defense.

10. Western Michigan (+27.5) at Michigan State (Fri., 8 p.m., Big Ten Network)
The Spartans will look extremely familiar on Friday night as the punishing, physical defense won’t be pressed by this middling MAC offense. However, all eyes will be on what could be tentative quarterback play and an inexperienced set of skill players. Mark Dantonio could use upwards of four different quarterbacks. Watch for talented true freshman Damion Terry.

11. UMass (+44.5) at Wisconsin (Noon, Big Ten Network)
The Gary Andersen Era in Madison should get underway with minimal fanfare. The students will be slow to enter Camp Randall as the Badgers should face little resistance from the Minutemen. Both Joel Stave, the tall statuesque passer, and Curt Phillips, the resilient and athletic, yet oft-injured, dual-threat, are listed as co-starters and both will see plenty of snaps.

12. Southern Illinois (+17) at Illinois (Noon, Big Ten Network)
In just one season Tim Beckman has found himself squarely on the hot seat. Illinois was 119th in total and scoring offense a year ago and won’t improve on its 2-10 record if that side of the ball doesn’t improve. Nathan Scheelhaase is still under center and is charged with reigniting the Illini attack. The Salukis may offer one of only a few chances for victory in 2013.

Big Ten Week 1 Pivotal Players:

1. Northwestern’s secondary
Nick VanHoose and company are extremely talented and have plenty of experience but these Wildcats will have their hands full with Cal’s offensive skill players. Running back Brandon Bigelow and wide receivers Bryce Treggs, Kenny Lawler and Chris Harper are difficult matchups and are impossible to tackle one-on-one. This group must be steady in the open field against the Bears' playmakers.

2. Deion Barnes, DE, Penn State
With Penn State losing leadership and production from the front seven in the form of Mike Mauti and Gerald Hodges, it will fall to the reigning Big Ten Defensive Freshman of the Year to pressure whoever is under center for Syracuse. The secondary should be able to contain the vertical passing game, so it is up to Barnes to control the line of scrimmage.

3. Iowa's linebackers
One of the best games-within-the-game to watch this weekend will be Iowa's Butkus candidates James Morris, Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey against Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch. He completed just 6-of-16 passes for 54 yards in last year’s one-point loss to Iowa but rushed for 119 yards and a TD on the ground. Lynch will put enormous pressure on the Hawkeyes' loaded linebacking corps — and it should be fun to watch.

4. Ryan Russell, DE, Purdue
The only way the Boilermakers can pull off the upset against Cincinnati is if the front line holds its own against a team that led the Big East in rushing last year. Russell and fellow D-liner Bruce Gaston must pick up where Kawann Short left off if Purdue expects to win this weekend.

5. Philip Nelson, QB, Minnesota
The Gophers should win their opener against the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV. But more importantly is how Nelson plays. He could be the difference between a second straight bowl game or yet another losing season in the Twin Cities. The local product needs to get off to a hot start.

Big Ten Week 1 Prediction Grid:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Northwestern (-5.5) at CalN'western, 31-21 N'western, 27-24N'western, 34-24N'western, 28-17
Syracuse (+8.5) vs. Penn StPenn St, 24-17Penn St, 20-10Penn St, 24-17Penn St, 17-7
Purdue (+10.5) at CincinnatiCincinnati, 31-21Cincinnati, 21-14Cincinnati, 27-24Cincinnati, 27-17
C. Michigan (+31) at MichiganMichigan, 41-13Michigan, 42-14Michigan, 41-17Michigan, 42-10
Buffalo (+34.5) at Ohio StOhio St, 38-10Ohio St, 31-0Ohio St, 48-20Ohio St, 49-13
N. Illinois (+3) at IowaIowa, 20-17Iowa, 29-24Iowa, 27-24N. Illinois, 21-14
UNLV (+14) at MinnesotaMinnesota, 31-14Minnesota, 31-14Minnesota, 31-17Minnesota, 28-10
Indiana State (+24) at IndianaIndiana, 41-10Indiana, 31-7Indiana, 41-17Indiana, 35-21
Wyoming (+29) at NebraskaNebraska, 49-13Nebraska, 42-14Nebraska, 45-20Nebraska, 42-17
W. Michigan (+27.5) at Michigan StMich. St, 27-7Mich. St, 27-13Mich. St, 30-13Mich. St, 21-10
UMass (+44.5) at WisconsinWisconsin, 44-10Wisconsin, 47-0Wisconsin, 45-7Wisconsin, 35-7
Southern Illinois (+17) at IllinoisIllinois, 27-13Illinois, 23-10Illinois, 34-17Illinois, 27-14
Year-to-date:0-00-00-00-0

 

Teaser:
Big Ten Week 1 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 07:15
Path: /college-football/2013-pac-12-week-1-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Week One of the season is generally reserved for warm-up tests with cream-puffs so that new coaches and new quarterbacks can ease their way into the schedule.

That won’t be the case in the Pac-12 in 2013. Cal, Washington State and Colorado are underdogs to start the season while Washington, Utah and those same Buffaloes will open things with important regional rivalry games. And the double whammy of new coach-new QB will be on display in both Berkeley (Cal) and Denver (Colorado).

Sure, there should be some routs in Eugene, Tucson, Corvallis and Los Angeles, but this is no ordinary Week 1 for the Pac-12. Seven or eight wins in the 10-game Pac-12 slate this weekend would be considered a huge success.

Pac-12 Week 1 Game Power Rankings:

1. Boise State (+3.5) at Washington (10:00 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1)
After an 18-month hiatus from Husky Stadium, the fans in the Pacific Northwest get to test out their new toy. The beautiful new building will be broken in with style when Chris Petersen and his Broncos come to town in Week 1. These two will be facing each other for the second consecutive game after Boise State slipped past U of W 28-26 in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas to end last year. Petersen has made a career of winning huge Week 1 BCS tests but Washington is 8-1 in its last nine home openers. Boise is targeting an unbeaten season and the Huskies want to compete in the stacked Pac-12 North, so both need the statement win right out of the gate.

2. Northwestern (-5.5) at Cal (10:30 p.m., ESPN2)
There will be no shortage of big plays and highlight-reel moments with these two offensive-minded BCS teams. The Wildcats are loaded with skill players while new Golden Bears coach Sonny Dykes brings some explosive weapons and a great offensive system to the table as well. One team won 10 games a year ago and the other lost nine, but these two will look much more even than those records indicate. The key will be the play of Cal's first-year starting quarterback Jared Goff, because talented redshirt freshman Zach Kline is waiting in the wings.

3. Utah State (+2.5) at Utah (Thurs., 8 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
The in-state round robin between Utah, BYU and Utah State is wildly underrated nationally and will be critical for both programs this fall. Utah State and star quarterback Chuckie Keeton are breaking in a new head coach in Matt Wells while Kyle Whittingham is trying to get Utah back to a bowl game after missing the postseason last year for the first time since 2002. This was a 27-20 overtime home win for the Aggies last year.

4. Washington State (+15.5) at Auburn (7 p.m., ESPNU)
Mike Leach begins his second tour with a key non-conference road game against the nation’s best conference. This team played 17 freshmen a year ago and need those younger players to develop quickly as Wazzu opens in one of the nastiest road environments in the nation. That, or the biggest storyline of opening weekend for the Cougars will be the 131st consecutive flag appearance on ESPN's "College Gameday."

5. USC (-23) at Hawaii (Thurs., 11 p.m., CBS Sports)
Lane Kiffin will play both Cody Kessler and Max Wittek at quarterback while Silas Redd stays back in California working on his surgically repaired knee. Both Kiffin and Hawaii’s Norm Chow, a former Trojans’ assistant, are entering critical seasons on the sidelines. USC’s primary goal should be to return to the mainland fully healthy and with an easy road win.

6. Nicholls State (+59) at Oregon (4 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
This one should get ugly very quickly in new coach Mark Helfrich’s debut. His job is to make sure the No. 2-ranked scoring offense (49.5 ppg) and No. 5-ranked total offense (537.4 ypg) maintains its Chip Kelly-level of production. The Colonels, who were 1-10 last year, won’t put up much of a fight.

7. Colorado (+3) vs. Colorado State (Sun., 6 p.m., CBS Sports, Denver)
The Rocky Mountain Showdown will feature the debut of Colorado’s new head coach Mike MacIntyre. Only one other Buffaloes coach since 1931 — Rick Neuheisel in 1995 — has won his first game and having to face the in-state rival Rams won’t make it easy on MacIntyre.

8. Nevada (+21) at UCLA (10 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
There are freshmen everywhere on the rebuilt UCLA defense and they will be tested by the signature pistol offense and Nevada’s explosive quarterback Cody Fajardo. That said, star quarterback Brett Hundley should have his way with the Wolf Pack defense. Look for a young offensive line and young defense to get its feet wet for the Bruins in what should be an easy win.

9. Eastern Washington (+27) at Oregon State (6 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
Sean Mannion (rightly so) was named the starting quarterback this week in what should be a workman-like ‘13 debut. The Beavers are breaking in a bunch of new defensive pieces in what should be a relatively easy win. In the world of bizarre stats, Oregon State’s best two seasons, 2000 and '04, began with wins over Eastern Washington.

10. Northern Arizona (+35) at Arizona (10 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
The lone Friday night affair should be a big learning experience for the Wildcats' quarterbacks. B.J. Denker should be the starter and has the most experience but there are a lot of talented and hungry players nipping at his heels. When, not if, the game gets out of hand, Rich Rodriguez should be freed up to play his backups in an effort to see what he’s got. 

Pac-12 Week 1 Pivotal Players:

1. Washington’s offensive line
The Huskies' offense was atrocious last year, stemming largely from an injury-riddled offensive line. Those guys are all back and need to give quarterback Keith Price and running back Bishop Sankey room to maneuver against a normally very strong Boise State front seven if Washington wants to win this weekend.

2. Jared Goff, QB, Cal
Goff unexpectedly beat out Zach Kline for the starting gig in Dykes' QB-friendly offense and he should have plenty of support around him. If he wants to pull the potential upset in Week 1, he needs to limit mistakes and get the ball to guys like Brandon Bigelow and Bryce Treggs.

3. Utah’s front seven
The Utes had to replace four of this unit’s seven starters in the offseason, including All-American nose tackle Star Lotulelei. It gave up 302 yards of total offense to Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton last year and will have to be better this time around to start ’13 with a win.

4. Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, QB, USC
Kiffin wants Wittek, but most acknowledge Kessler has been the better player. He lacks the big-time arm strength that Wittek has and that is why Kiffin has been so stubborn about naming a starter. Both will play this weekend and Kessler could end the discussion with a great game right out of the gate.

5. Anthony Barr, LB, UCLA
He might be the most talented defensive player in the conference and he will be tested by a feisty Nevada offense led by star dual-threat quarterback Cody Fajardo. The Bruins' secondary could feature four freshmen, so it’s on the front seven to develop quickly and contain Fajardo.

Pac-12 Week 1 Prediction Grid:

GameBraden GallMitch LightSteven LassanDavid Fox
Boise St (+3.5) at WashingtonWashington, 24-21Boise St, 24-21Boise St, 27-24Boise St, 27-24
Northwestern (-5.5) at CalN'western, 31-21N'western, 27-24N'western, 34-24N'western, 28-17
Utah St (+2.5) at UtahUtah, 20-17Utah St, 21-20Utah, 27-24Utah St, 35-28
Washington St (+15.5) at AuburnAuburn, 35-20Auburn, 30-13Auburn, 38-20Auburn, 24-14
USC (-23) at HawaiiUSC, 38-14USC, 44-13USC, 45-10USC, 49-7
Nicholls St (+59) at OregonOregon, 59-13Oregon, 60-10Oregon, 62-7Oregon, 63-10
Colorado (+3) vs. Colorado StColorado, 23-20Colorado, 35-31Colorado, 24-20Colorado St, 17-14
Nevada (+21) at UCLAUCLA, 38-21UCLA, 27-10UCLA, 34-24UCLA, 35-21
E. Washington (+27) at Oregon StOregon St, 34-7Oregon St, 35-7Oregon St, 38-17Oregon St, 49-14
Northern Arizona (+35) at ArizonaArizona, 42-17Arizona, 44-14Arizona, 48-17Arizona, 38-10
Year-to-date:0-00-00-00-0

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 Week 1 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, August 29, 2013 - 07:11
Path: /college-football/college-football-pre-week-1-heisman-voting
Body:

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

Johnny Manziel is the defending Heisman winner but the odds are stacked against him. Tim Tebow, Matt Leinart, Sam Bradford and Mark Ingram all returned to try to defend their stiff-armed trophies and failed. Only 1-in-77 players has ever won the award a second time, that being, of course, the legendary Ohio State tailback Archie Griffin. Manziel will have to repeat arguably the greatest season in history in the toughest division in football with a giant bulls-eye on his back, from both opposing defenses and the NCAA. And while there appears to be a Heisman revolution developing, the majority of the initial vote-getters were, in fact, quarterbacks.

So without further ado, here is our 13-member Heisman Trophy panel and how the votes look heading into the first week of the regular season:

Pre-Week 1 Results:

 PlayerPos.TeamTot. Pts1st2nd3rd4th5th
1.Braxton MillerQBOhio St42/6552211
2.Johnny ManzielQBTexas A&M385211-
3.Marcus MariotaQBOregon3323221
4.Jadeveon ClowneyDESouth Carolina2812411
5.AJ McCarronQBAlabama22-2224
6.Tajh BoydQBClemson11--14-
7.Teddy BridgewaterQBLouisville7-1--3
8.Marqise LeeWRUSC6-1-1-
9.Aaron MurrayQBGeorgia5--1-2
10.Kevin HoganQBStanford2---1-
11.Taylor MartinezQBNebraska1----1

 

The Voting Panel (click name for twitter accounts):

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

 

Teaser:
College Football: Pre-Week 1 Heisman Voting
Post date: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 - 07:15
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/ranking-all-32-nfl-head-coaches-2013
Body:

Ranking a coach isn’t just about the number of wins. It’s about consistency, longevity, level of competition, support, championships and how that all compares to history. Yes, a Super Bowl ring puts a coach into an elite fraternity and is the benchmark with which every coach is judged. But it’s not the only way to evaluate a coach, after all, only seven active NFL coaches have led their team to capturing the Lombardi Trophy.

For example, winning with the Saints has proven to be much more difficult than winning with the Giants. Winning under Jerry Jones, Bud Adams or Dan Snyder is much different than working for Green Bay Packers, Inc. Winning with the support of the Rooney family and Steeler Nation is likely easier than, say, the support and fans of Jacksonville.

All things must be considered when trying to rank the 32 NFL coaches in 2013. The new faces haven’t proven anything and, almost by default, find themselves near the bottom of the rankings. That said, it doesn’t take long to prove oneself in the cut-throat world of professional football. Will Marc Trestman or Chip Kelly be able to bring innovative offenses from the CFL and college and make them successful in the NFL? Only time will tell.

Here is how Athlon Sports ranks all 32 NFL coaches entering the 2013 season:

1. Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco
Record: 24-7-1 Playoffs: 3-2 Age: 49

Harbaugh went 22-2 in his last two seasons at San Diego University, winning back-to-back Pioneer League Championships in 2005-06. He built a perennial loser into a BCS bowl winner in just four seasons at Stanford. And the former NFL quarterback is 24-7-1 in his first two seasons with the 49ers, leading them to their first two playoff appearances since 2002. He was five yards away from winning the Super Bowl in February — the powerhouse franchise’s first such appearance in the game since 1994 — and is the leader of the team labeled by many as the front-runner to win the Lombardi Trophy this season.

2. Bill Belichick, New England
Record: 187-101 Playoffs: 18-8 Age: 61

Only Tom Landry (20) and Don Shula (19) have more career postseason wins than Belichick. He has three Super Bowl rings and two other appearances in the game to lead all active coaches in both categories. Yet, his last title came nine years ago and his franchise has become more of a punch line than Super Bowl champ. That said, the Pats have won at least 10 games in 10 straight seasons and there is no reason to think this team won’t run away with the AFC East for the 13th time in 14 seasons.

3. Mike McCarthy, Green Bay
Record: 74-38 Playoffs: 6-4 Age: 49

In seven years as a head coach, McCarthy has one losing season (2008, 6-10), three NFC North titles, one Super Bowl, helped his quarterback win a MVP trophy and he still hasn’t reached the age of 50. He’s made the playoffs four years in a row and five of the last six years, and only 24 coaches in NFL history have more than his six career postseason wins. A second Super Bowl is well within reach and his consistent performance in the NFL Draft makes him one of the best sideline generals in the league. His career winning percentage (66.1) trails only Mike Smith and the Harbaugh brothers among active NFL coaches.

4. Sean Payton, New Orleans
Record: 62-34 Playoffs: 5-3 Age: 49

The Saints' 7-9 record last season might be all the data we need to evaluate Payton. The Saints were 37-11 in the three seasons prior to Payton being suspended. The bottom line is New Orleans had one playoff win in five total postseason trips in four decades prior to his arrival in 2006. He has led this team to the playoffs four times in six seasons and last year’s 7-9 record was the team’s first losing record since 2007. He has a Super Bowl title, ranks sixth in the league among active coaches in winning percentage (64.6) and isn’t yet 50 years old.

5. Tom Coughlin, New York Giants
Record: 151-121 Playoffs: 12-7 Age: 66

The hard-nosed Coughlin has two Super Bowl championships and is seventh all-time with 12 career postseason wins. He is the oldest coach in the league, and after 17 seasons, won’t be around for too much longer. He has seven total division titles in his career but has won 10 or more games just once in the last four years. He may never be viewed as one of the league’s greatest but he is consistent and has overcome plenty of adversity.

6. John Harbaugh, Baltimore
Record: 54-26 Playoffs: 9-4 Age: 50

The Ravens coach supplemented himself as one of the league’s elite coaching talents with a Super Bowl championship in just his sixth season. He’s never missed the playoffs, never posted a losing record, won three AFC North titles and is one playoff win away from becoming just the 16th NFL coach in history with 10 postseason victories. He trails only Mike Smith and Jim Harbaugh in career winning percentage (67.5).

7. Mike Smith, Atlanta
Record: 56-24 Playoffs: 1-4 Age: 54

Other than Jim Harbaugh, who hasn’t coached enough games to technically qualify, no active coach wins at a higher rate than the Falcons leader. He is currently fifth all-time behind John Madden, Vince Lombardi, George Allen and Guy Chamberlin with a 70.0-percent winning clip. He finally got his first playoff win but still needs to prove himself amongst the league’s best by finishing a season by competing for the Lombardi Trophy. He’s never had a losing season and is 36-12 over the last three years.

8. Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh
Record: 63-33 Playoffs: 5-3 Age: 41

One of the younger coaches in the league, Tomlin won a Super Bowl championship in just his second season as a 36-year old. He got back to the big game in his fourth season at the age of 38 but lost to the Packers. He has never had a losing season and has four AFC North titles in six years. He is coming off of his worst year as a coach last fall (8-8). So despite all his past success, Tomlin is facing pressure to return his team to the postseason this fall as the rest of the Steelers' divisional foes wins championships and improves.

9. Jeff Fisher, St. Louis
Record: 149-128-1 Playoffs: 5-6 Age: 55

His 149 wins rank 19th all-time and is fourth among active coaches. He has won four division titles and took the Oilers/Titans franchise to its one and only Super Bowl — which they fell one yard short of winning. He is a no-nonsense guy who was run out town by a meddling owner in Nashville before landing in St. Louis. He appears to be rebuilding a once dormant franchise by bringing his signature physicality to every aspect of the team. From 1996-2008, Fisher had just three losing seasons.

10. Mike Shanahan, Washington
Record: 167-125 Playoffs: 8-6 Age: 60

Shanny’s first two seasons in D.C. were rough as he went 11-21 before finally reaching the postseason last year due in large part to Robert Griffin III. He is the second winningest active coach with 167 wins, which is good for 12th all-time in NFL history, and is one of 13 coaches to claim two Super Bowl titles. Shanahan posted one losing season from 1996-2005 but has just one 10-win season since 2006 and has to prove last year was the rule rather than the exception.

11. Andy Reid, Kansas City
Record: 130-93-1 Playoffs: 10-9 Age: 55

From 1961 to 1998, when Reid was hired in Philadelphia, the Eagles made 10 postseason appearances. Under Reid, the Eagles went to the playoffs nine times in an 11-year span. The divorce between Reid and the Eagles, however, was an amicable one for both as the 55-year old coach quickly landed back in the league with the Chiefs. If he can turn a two-win team around in short order, it will only help validate his 130 regular season wins and 10 postseason victories.

12. Gary Kubiak, Houston
Record: 59-53 Playoffs: 2-2 Age: 52

How many franchises have just two head coaches in team history? After Dom Capers posted four straight losing seasons in the Texans' first four years, Kubiak was hired and in just his second year, set a franchise record for wins (8). He has continued to build this team and has a winning record in three of the last four years. He has led the Texans to back-to-back playoff appearances and back-to-back seasons with at least one playoff win. The next step is finishing in the postseason.

13. John Fox, Denver
Record: 94-82 Playoffs: 6-5 Age: 58

The proud and normally dominant AFC franchise had fallen on hard times, winning no more than nine games in any season from 2006-11. Enter Fox, who has returned the Broncos to the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. Originally, he took over the Panthers in 2002 and immediately built a winner by taking Carolina to its only Super Bowl in just his second year. He lacks the consistency of the game’s elite and has one glaring black-eye — his 2-14 2010 campaign. But he also has four seasons with at least 11 wins, five division titles and just four career losing seasons. He is a hard-nosed coach that we will learn more about once Peyton Manning retires.

14. Pete Carroll, Seattle
Record: 58-54 Playoffs: 3-4 Age: 61

As a college coach, he is a Hall of Famer who completely dominated the West Coast for the better part of a decade. As an NFL coach, his final legacy is still left to be decided. He had two winning seasons as the Patriots' head coach (1996-98) after one bad year in New York (Jets, 1994). It has taken three years but he has Seattle poised to be a Super Bowl contender this season. Will his laid-back, players-first attitude last in the grind-it-out NFL world?

15. Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati
Record: 79-80-1 Playoffs: 0-4 Age: 54

Lewis is a bit of an enigma. He is one of the longest tenured coaches in the NFL as he enters his 11th season in Cincinnati. He has taken a franchise used to playing the role of whipping boy and turned them into a playoff contender. He has been in the postseason three of the last four years and has just three losing seasons as a head coach. His overall record is still under .500 and he has yet to win a playoff game. Should that all change in 2013, he could find himself as a top-10 NFL coach in short order.

16. Leslie Frazier, Minnesota
Record: 16-22 Playoffs: 0-1 Age: 54

After three seasons, Frazier is still a big unknown as an NFL coaching commodity. He has two full seasons under his belt with one utter 3-13 failure and one mild 10-6 playoff success. He did an excellent job last year and has done good work in the draft to rebuild his aging defense, but 2013 is a critical year for both Frazier and his starting quarterback Christian Ponder — who he hand-picked to run his team.

17. Greg Schiano, Tampa Bay
Record: 7-9 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 47

Many look at the Bucs as a downtrodden NFC doormat, however, the Bucs have had three winning seasons in the last six years and made the playoffs seven times since 1997. The flip side of this is that Tampa Bay hasn’t been to the postseason since 2007, something Schiano aims to rectify this fall. He is largely responsible for building Rutgers from an also-ran to a league contender in college and took a 4-12 Bucs team and improved them by three games (7-9). Will his tough-nosed style work for a team that is starting to stockpile a deep and talented roster?

18. Jason Garrett, Dallas
Record: 21-19 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 47

No coach will be under more scrutiny this fall than Garrett but that comes with the territory as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. He has produced back-to-back 8-8 seasons after his predecessor, Wade Phillips, posted three winning seasons in four years. And each of the past two seasons have ended with losses in games in which a win would have sent Dallas to the postseason. This franchise has a meddling owner and has won one playoff game since 1996, so Garrett is on an extremely short leash.

19. Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis
Record: 2-2 Playoffs: 0-1 Age: 52

Pagano isn’t the first former Ravens defensive coordinator to land a big-time NFL coaching job. He dealt with a cancer scare during his first season and only registered five total games on the sidelines in 2012. His two wins did come against playoff teams (Houston and Minnesota), but Pagano also lost his first postseason game. His coaching staff has been rebuilt but he is leading a great organization with a future Hall of Famer under center.

20. Joe Philbin, Miami
Record: 7-9 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 52

The Fish have made the playoffs just one time since 2001 and fans in South Florida are hoping Philbin is the answer. He helped the Packers win a Super Bowl, go 15-1 and coached an Aaron Rodgers-powered offense from 2007-12. The Dolphins had some impressive wins over Cincinnati and Seattle last year en route to a respectable 7-9 season. With a team lacking in upside talent, Philbin deserves credit for a solid first year. That means expectation levels might be higher in Year 2.

21. Rex Ryan, New York Jets
Record: 34-30 Playoffs: 4-2 Age: 50

There aren’t too many NFL coaches with Rex Ryan’s resume.  He has a winning record after four seasons with two trips to the AFC Championship game. But his locker room has more crazies than "One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest," he is in the NFL’s biggest media market and has a quarterback situation that is a punch line for the second straight season. Many believe he is a lame duck in 2013.

22. Mike Munchak, Tennessee
Record: 15-17 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 53

Munchak is a lifer for the Oilers-Titans organization. He was a Hall of Fame offensive lineman and hasn’t coached for another organization since retiring in 1993. He took a slight step back in year two, going from nine wins in 2011 to six wins last year, and made changes on his coaching staff. Much of his potential will be tied to the health and productivity of Jake Locker. Is he simply a company man who was given the job almost by default or a legitimate long-term head coach? 

23. Bruce Arians, Arizona
Record: 9-3 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 60

He won AP Coach of the Year last fall after filling in for Pagano during his battle with leukemia, going 9-3. He has won two Super Bowls as an assistant with Pittsburgh and has had his hands on some great quarterbacks (Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck). He is a solid offensive mind but is one of the older new coaches in the league.

24. Marc Trestman, Chicago
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 57

Trestman comes to the NFL after winning two Grey Cup titles in the Canadian Football League. He hasn’t been in the NFL since 2004 and there is concern about his ability to unite a locker room. However, his offenses have been incredibly successful and early reports are that the players are enjoying his leadership thus far.

25. Chip Kelly, Philadelphia
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 49

In just seven years Kelly has gone from offensive coordinator at New Hampshire to OC at Oregon to head coach at Oregon to head coach of the Eagles. His innovative and unapologetic style is why he went 46-7 in four seasons as the head coach in Eugene. But it remains to be seen if his offense can be successful at the NFL level.

26. Doug Marrone, Buffalo
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 49

Opponents of Syracuse came away battered and bruised no matter the outcome. He built a physical brand of football at the Cuse and is bringing that — and an up-tempo offense — to Buffalo. He has a solid track record as an NFL assistant and is a native of New York. But there is a reason the Bills haven’t made the playoffs since 1999.

27. Mike McCoy, San Diego
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 41

McCoy makes the intradivisional jump from OC of the Broncos to head man in San Diego. He has shown adaptability with both Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning running his offenses in the postseason the last two seasons. He is the second-youngest coach in the league and should be able to improve on the previous regime.

28. Jim Schwartz, Detroit
Record: 22-42 Playoffs: 0-1 Age: 47

The 2011 season featured big numbers on offense, 10 wins and a trip to the postseason. The other three seasons, Schwartz is 12-36 as a head coach. This team has weapons and should show improvement or Schwartz will find himself a defensive coordinator once again.

29. Rob Chudzinski, Cleveland
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 45

The Browns have new ownership and plenty of new faces on the roster. That includes Coach Chud, a 45-year old making his head-coaching debut at any level. Pat Shurmur was fired after just two years (9-23) for an organization that has made the playoffs just once (2002) since returning to the NFL.

30. Dennis Allen, Oakland
Record: 4-12 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 40

It is virtually impossible to accurately rate Allen’s job in an organization in such disarray. This team has no quarterback, finished 26th on offense and 28th on defense last year. He won’t last long in Oakland but it’s impossible to see his tenure with the Raiders as a fair measuring stick.

31. Ron Rivera, Carolina
Record: 13-19 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 51

His long slow rise culminated when he got his first head coaching job for Carolina as a 49-year old two seasons ago. He drafted Cam Newton and has won six and seven games respectively. He needs to win in Year 3 to keep his job.

32. Gus Bradley, Jacksonville
Record: 0-0 Playoffs: 0-0 Age: 47

The Minnesota native made his NFL coaching debut in 2006 as the Bucs linebackers coach. He has quickly moved through the ranks, by way of defensive coordinator in Seattle, to his first head-coaching job. Best of luck in Jacksonville.

Teaser:
Ranking All 32 NFL Head Coaches in 2013
Post date: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 07:45
Path: /college-football/patience-virtue-10-teams-need-lower-expectations-2013
Body:

College football is back, folks. Fans should be giddy with excitement from Coral Gables to Lake Washington.

Teams in Columbus, Eugene, Palo Alto, Austin, Louisville and basically every college town in the SEC are preparing for a run at the final BCS National Championship. Others in Madison, Berkeley and Lubbock are delirious with anticipation of exciting new head coaches.

“Hope springs eternal,” “everyone is undefeated,” and “anything can happen on any given Saturday” can be heard all over the place. And rightly so. There is no more anticipated time of the year than when the calendar flips from August to September.

That doesn’t mean that certain teams don’t need to take a deep breath and rethink reality. Everyone has a right to be excited about their team but only one can claim the national championship, only 10 will win a conference championship and only 12 will land in a BCS bowl.

That leaves a lot of disappointed fan bases come December. And since self-awareness is one of the most underrated aspects of being a sports fan, I thought I’d let a few teams down easy on the front end.

Here are 10 teams that are highly combustible and should lower expectations. Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean the teams below will have “bad” seasons. It means, relative to expectations, fans might want to be prepared for some degree of disappointment.

UCLA
Jim Mora has one season of college coaching under his belt and a great quarterback in Brett Hundley. But he also has no offensive skill players returning, an extremely young offensive line and a completely rebuilt secondary. This team is talented but has to play four games on the road against preseason ranked AP teams — Nebraska, Stanford, Oregon and USC. UCLA also has to play Washington and Arizona State at home. The media picked the Bruins to win the Pac-12 South Division for the third straight season but this team will be lucky to win eight games this fall.

Louisville
Here is the deal with the Cardinals. They have elite, long-term leadership at key positions, namely athletic director Tom Jurich and head coach Charlie Strong, and will move into a much better league next year. Teddy Bridgewater is an elite quarterback, the defense returns largely intact and the schedule is extremely manageable. But there is a good chance that even with a perfect 12-0 season, that the Cardinals will be left out of the BCS title game. With a razor-thin margin of error, fans in Louisville should be prepared for a potential snub at year’s end.

Clemson
The Tigers are the clear-cut front-runner to win the ACC championship this fall. But this team has won a league title just once in the last 21 seasons despite consistently having one of the most talented rosters in the league. Clemson faces No. 5 Georgia, No. 6 South Carolina and No. 11 Florida State as well as typically tricky (for Clemson, at least) road games with NC State and Maryland. This team is stacked on offense and talented as usual everywhere else. But questions still loom large for a defense that ranked 63rd and 71st nationally in total defense the last two seasons. Would anyone really be that shocked if Clemson finished the year with at least three losses?

Vanderbilt
James Franklin has elevated the expectation levels at Vanderbilt in just two seasons. He has posted the two best seasons in school history and appears to have assembled the most talented roster in school history. But this program is still struggling to sell tickets and has had to deal with a community-shaking rape investigation that could cost the team as many as five scholarship players. Top it off with four games against top-10 preseason AP teams as well as games with Ole Miss, Tennessee and Missouri. An unprecedented third bowl game is certainly possible but another nine-win season is highly unlikely. Credit the coaching staff for growing expectations but the 2013 team could quickly become a victim of its own success.

TCU
The Frogs are probably the best-coached team in the Big 12, have easily the best defense and might boast the best quarterback. That said, the Frogs hadn’t lost a conference game since November 2008 (24-0) before it dropped five of nine Big 12 tests last year. Gary Patterson’s bunch will face four teams ranked in the preseason top 16 and have a daunting road slate: at Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Kansas State. And that doesn’t include the Frogs' sneaky good arch rival from Waco. There is a lot to like about this team but it's hard to see TCU winning the Big 12.

Texas A&M
This team is going to be really, really good if Kevin Sumlin can continue to recruit over the next half decade like he has in his first 18 months on the job. One great player can pull a historic upset on any given Saturday as the nation saw last year, but it takes an entire team stacked with elite players to win an SEC title. The schedule isn’t all that daunting but the defense has major holes and key road games with LSU and Ole Miss will be challenging. Johnny Manziel can handle the pressure of his off-the-field behavior and it won’t impact his play, but the same cannot be said for the other 84 guys on scholarship. The word championship shouldn’t be in the mix for a team that needs more time to develop into an SEC power.

LSU
Les Miles has consistently fielded a roster that can compete for the BCS National Championship and a fan base that expects excellence. But with one of the toughest schedules in the nation and mediocre quarterback play, this team clearly won’t be one of his best. There is tons of young talent on defense that should develop into one of the nation’s best units… in 2014. And while the O-line is outstanding and the wideouts are explosive, Zach Mettenberger threw an atrocious five touchdown passes in eight SEC games last year. There is no way the Tigers can beat Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia and Florida with that type of offensive production. This team might finish second in the West but won’t be near the BCS conversations like in years past.

Texas
This is the most talented roster in the Big 12. It has a veteran quarterback who is entering his third season as the starter. It has a head coach who has led his team to two BCS National Championship Games, including one win for the ages. But this team is soft and the 11-15 Big 12 record over the last three years proves it. Rivalry games are a great indicator of effort, coaching and commitment and the Longhorns have quit by the end of the first quarter in each of the last two losses to Oklahoma. The Sooners have embarrassed the Horns 118-38 the last two years.

USC
The starting 22 for USC is as talented as any in the nation, including the two-time defending BCS champs. But from 23-85, the Trojans have major issues. Depth will always be a concern for a team with reduced scholarships, but few saw the six-loss debacle of last year coming. This team is once again ranked in the preseason and Lane Kiffin is beginning to feel the heat beneath his rear end. A quarterback battle that could rage through the first half of the season only adds to the uncertainty. Missing Oregon helps and this team should be improved but 10 wins feels out of the question, despite playing 13 regular season games this fall.

Ole Miss
At Vanderbilt, Texas, Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State. Texas A&M, LSU, Arkansas and Missouri at home. That is what Hugh Freeze and his extremely young Rebels face in 2013. Even a veteran SEC team would struggle with that slate. If fans in The Grove are expecting to challenge the big boys in the West, they got another thing coming. If Freeze can repeat his recruiting performance from last cycle a few more times, however, that narrative will change in a hurry.

Related: College Football's Best New Rivalries

Other teams that need to pump the brakes this fall:

Arkansas
The roster is seriously depleted and the Hogs will finish right where they are predicted: Last in the SEC West.

UCF
The Knights are taking a major step up in competition and some are predicting big things in 2013. That’s a mistake.

Kentucky
Mark Stoops has things pointed in the right direction, but hold your horses Big Blue Nation. This one will take time.

The State of Oklahoma
How many starting quarterbacks are there exactly in this state? Questions on defense also should be concerning for Sooner and Cowboy fans.

The Mountain West
Fresno State and Boise State are awesome but an unbeaten champ will get snubbed. Mark it down.

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College Football's All-Name Team for 2013
College Football's Top 10 Underrated Quarterbacks

Teaser:
10 College Football Teams That Need To Lower Expectations in 2013
Post date: Monday, August 26, 2013 - 07:14

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