Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /nfl/8-amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-4
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NFL football is the greatest reality TV program of all time. The Giants and Colts made sure of that back in 1958. Each NFL fall weekend is a completely new and original experience for every player, fan and coach alike. New stories, new personalities, new winners and new losers. And new statistics.

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 4 of NFL play:

47: Drew Brees' NFL record consecutive games with a touchdown pass
Not too many records in sports stand for more than 50 years. Hitting streaks and Major championships are the types of things that last more than five decades. That makes what Brees accomplished on Sunday in Green Bay that much more impressive. He tied Johnny Unitas' NFL record for consecutive games played with a touchdown pass that has stood since 1960. In fact, Brees and Unitas are the only two to even crack 40 straight while names like Elway, Montana, Young, Aikman and Eli never even got to 20. Brett Favre, who went 36 straight from 2002-2004, and Tom Brady's active streak are tied at 36 for the third longest string of games with a touchdown pass. Congrats to a fellow Westlake Chaparral. However, the only number on Sunday bigger than Brees' remarkable accomplishment is the Saints 0-4 mark. Anyone still think the punishment for Bounty Gate fit the crime?

2,903: Miles from San Francisco to East Rutherford, N.J.
The San Francisco 49ers traveled roughly 2,900 miles and crossed three times zones to face the NFL's biggest circus (yes, I know, technically, they just never went home). At what was 9:00 AM San Fran time, Jim Harbaugh's bunch picked apart the New York Jets 34-0, making a mockery of the "long journey" theory. The Niners rushed for exactly 100 more yards (245) than the total offense allowed by their defense (145). They forced four turnovers, scored on defense and return the Bay after a long two-week stint away from home at 3-1. I have a better theory for the fans: Great teams roll out of bed ready to win.

Dec. 24, 2011: The date the Vikings won their third game last year
It took until Week 16 for the Minnesota Vikings to win their third game of the year in 2011. They have matched their win total from last fall in just four short weeks and they have done so against two NFC playoff teams. The Vikes gained just 224 total yards and neither Christian Ponder nor Matt Stafford threw a touchdown pass in the 20-13 divisional road win — which snapped his 21 game streak with at least one TD pass. Yes, winning a game on two special teams touchdowns is a bit of a fluke, but through the quarter pole of the season, there is no bigger story than the Minnesota Vikings.

14-0: Matt Ryan's record when he throws at least three touchdown passes
The Falcons moved to 4-0 on the year behind a 369-yard, 3-TD performance from their franchise quarterback. According to the NFL, only Daryle Lamonica had a better record in such 3-TD circumstances (19-0). He also completed 3-of-4 passes on the final drive in which he moved his team from their own one yardline to Carolina's 22, setting up the game-winning field goal, in just 45 seconds. His career starting record as an NFL quarterback is now a remarkable 47-19.

300: Receiving yards for A.J. Green in his last two games
The second-year wide receiver from Georgia is quickly making a case that he is the best wideout in the NFL. In two key road wins for the Bengals, Green has 14 receptions, including two touchdowns, for 300 yards receiving — 183 in Week 3, 117 in Week 4. This team has quietly won three straight since losing to Baltimore on opening weekend due in large part to Green's play. Cincinnati has already played three road games (2-1) and will get four of the next five at home in Paul Brown Stadium. In fact, the Bengals won't leave the state of Ohio again until Week 11 as the only road trip in the next five games is North up 71 a few miles to Cleveland.

Minus-17: Eagles point differential in 2012
Philadelphia is off to a 3-1 start having been outscored by 18 points in four games. It means they have won three extremely close games — by one, one and two points — and were blown out in their loss to Arizona. Most importantly, Michael Vick and the team didn't turn the ball over one time in the big Sunday night win over the rival Giants. After leading the NFL with 12 turnovers through three weeks, the Eagles protected the ball and Vick drove his team for the game-winning field goal. Although, Andy Reid nearly gave the Giants the game by icing the kicker and giving Lawrence Tynes a second shot at a 54-yard field goal. I've never been a fan of the obnoxious end game strategy.

6:52: Total time Houston has trailed since first quarter of the year
The Texans trailed 3-0 after the first quarter of the 2012 season. But once the Texans took the lead over Miami in the second quarter of Week 1, they have trailed a total of 6:52. The Broncos got a safety and a field goal to lead Houston for a few minutes in the first quarter of Week 3. Otherwise, Gary Kubiak's bunch has looked like the class of the league. No t has been more complete thus far and I see no reason to change my 49ers-Texans Super Bowl pick.

7: Penalties needed on MNF to make Dallas the most penalized team
Considering the Cowboys are the only team averaging more than 10 yellow hankies per game, one has to think Dallas will become the most penalized team in the NFL sometime in the third quarter on Monday night. Baltimore and Seattle currently lead the league with 37 total penalties each through four games. Oakland has been the most flagged team in each of the last two seasons, but strangely enough, the Raiders have only 19 penalties through four games. The Atlanta Falcons are actually the least penalized team per game with only 3.5 per contest.

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> 8 Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 4</p>
Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 06:02
Path: /college-football/big-ten-post-week-5-power-rankings
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In what was the best weekend of football the Big Ten has experienced all season, some order appeared to be restored. Iowa and Penn State both posted huge wins in league openers, indicating that the traditional powers both still have much to say about the title race. Northwestern and Nebraska held serve in tough home wins. And Ohio State continues to overcome mistakes and imperfections to stay unbeaten, as evidenced by its gritty performance against Michigan State.

Post-Week 5 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State - He fumbled twice and threw an interception, but Miller was once again the best player on the field. He simply won't allow his team to lose and continues to be one of the toughest leaders in the nation. He ran for 136 yards on 23 carries and added a beautiful game-winning 63-yard scoring strike late in the third.  

2. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska - The Huskers quarterback threw for 176 yards, 0 TD and 3 INTs in the ugly loss to Wisconsin last fall. He got his revenge Saturday night. The league's most efficient passer threw for 187 yards, rushed for 107 and accounted for three touchdowns.

3. Kain Colter, AP, Northwestern - There aren't too many season stat lines like this: 369 yards passing, 2 TD, INT, 59 att., 371 rush yards, 6 TD, 9 rec., 131 receiving yards. He was all over the field on Saturday against Indiana. His teammate Venric Mark deserves a mention as well.


Post-Week 5 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Mike Mauti, LB, Penn State - The Nittany Lion leader posted six total tackles, two interceptions for 105 yards and half a sack in the dominating performance against Illinois.

2. Kawann Short, DL, Purdue - Purdue finished the non-conference slate with a tidy 3-1 mark after Short posted three tackles, a sack, a blocked kick and a forced fumble in the win over Marshall.

3. Will Compton, LB, Nebraska - There are a lot of solid LBs that deserve to be in this slot. This senior posted 10 total tackles, 2.5 tackles for a loss, a sack and got consistent pressure on Wisconsin's quarterbacks.


Post-Week 5 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State - Meyer's team hasn't been perfect on the field, but this team continues to win tough games with clutch play from the most important player in the league.

2. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern - This team consistently over achieves on offense, even with multiple quarterbacks. Coach Fitz is off to a great start, but  the schedule definitely gets tougher from here out for the Wildcats.

3. Bo Pelini, Nebraska - This was a gut-check performance from the Huskers after trailing big in the first half. His team scrapped and clawed its way to a win, setting up a huge trip to Columbus this weekend.


Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

1. Ohio State (5-0, 1-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 5 result: Beat Michigan State 17-16

As long as No. 5 is under center, the Buckeyes will have a chance to run the table. However, staying on the field for the Big Ten POY front runner is looking more and more like a long shot. Braxton Miller had to leave twice due to injury, after another 23 carries took its toll on his body. At the end of the game, however, when Ohio State needed clutch decision making, Miller was there to lead his team to yet another hard-nosed win. So was OSU's defense. They held the league's leading rusher Le'Veon Bell to only 45 yards on 17 carries. This was a physical battle that left both teams battered and bruised. It personified Big Ten football and was a great showcase for a league that needed a good showing.
This week: Nebraska  (4-1)

2. Nebraska (4-1, 1-0)
Previous rank: 4
Week 5 result: Beat Wisconsin 30-27
The Huskers got off to a slow start and fell behind 20-3 in the second quarter. But another efficient performance from quarterback Taylor Martinez gave Nebraska sweet revenge over Wisconsin. T-Mart led four straight second half drives resulting in points that took a 27-10 deficit and turned it into a three-point lead with 9:41 left in the game. The Huskers defense never looked back, holding the Badgers scoreless for the final 25 minutes of play. Will Compton led a unit that knocked starting Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave out of the game and held Montee Ball to 2.8 yards per carry on 32 attempts. This team leads the Big Ten in rushing, scoring, total and pass efficiency offense.
This week: at Ohio State (5-0)

3. Michigan (2-2, 0-0)
Previous rank: 3
Week 5 result: Off
The down time came at just the right time for Michigan. A rough 2-2 start isn't what Brady Hoke planned for this fall, and a breather before starting eight straight weeks of Big Ten play likely helped to recharge the Maize and Blue's batteries. The remaining slate starts off with a tricky road trip to Purdue.
This week: at Purdue (3-1)

4. Michigan State (3-2, 0-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 5 result: Lost to Ohio State 17-16
It was an old school, Mark Dantonio slugfest that nearly went the way of the Spartans. And as many believed going into the game, the difference was quarterback play. Andrew Maxwell continues to struggle, as do his pass-catchers, but this time around he got zero production from the league's top running back. Le'Veon Bell was held in check all day and never provided Maxwell with any support. The defense was stout, physical and opportunistic, but Braxton Miller was simply better. This team can still have something to say in the Legends Division race, but only if Sparty can figure out a way to produce a balanced offense
This week: at Indiana (2-2)

5. Northwestern (5-0, 1-0)
Previous rank: 5
Week 5 result: Beat Indiana 44-29
This Northwestern offense has a chance to be scary if it can continue to run the football like it has of late. Kain Colter rushed for 161 yards and four touchdowns, while Venric Mark added 139 yards and a score in the workman-like win over Indiana. The balanced, two-quarterback offense finished with 394 yards rushing and 310 yards passing to set a school record for total yards (704). To top it off, Colter was the game's leading receiver (9 rec., 131 yards). Mark has gone over the century mark in three of his last four, and with his emergence, the Wildcats offense has posted 82 points in the last two games. Now the hard work comes in the form of back-to-back conference road games.
This week: at Penn State (3-2)

6. Purdue (3-1)
Previous rank: 6
Week 5 result: Beat Marshall 51-41
It was a tale of two halves in the final non-conference game for Purdue. The Boilers won the first half 42-14, while Marshall countered with a 27-point second half. Big plays, record-setting performances, 92 points and 977 total yards of offense top the headlines. Quarterback Caleb TerBush threw four touchdown passes and went toe-to-toe with the Herd's Rakeem Cato — who completed 45 of his 68 passes. In the end, the defense did just enough to hold off the C-USA program to top off a quality first month of the season for a sneaky Purdue team. 
This week: Michigan (2-2)

7. Wisconsin (3-2, 0-1)
Previous rank: 7
Week 5 result: Lost to Nebraska 30-27
The Badgers capitalized on some Nebraska miscues early to jump out to a 20-3 lead. And with a 27-10 edge five minutes into the third quarter, Big Red faithful (of the dairy variety) were feeling very confident. Clearly, this team played up to the competition, looking as good as it has all season for the first 35 minutes. However, Joel Stave was knocked out the game, Montee Ball was held to only 30 yards rushing, and the Nebraska offense used big plays from their star quarterback to simply wear down the Badgers. This team showed fight and was extremely competitive, but Bret Bielema has to feel like he let a crucial win slip through his fingers.
This week: Illinois (2-3)

8. Penn State (3-2, 1-0)
Previous rank: 10
Week 5 result: Beat Illinois 35-7
This one had to be particularly satisfying for head coach Bill O'Brien. After a sensitive summer for the coaching staffs from Penn State and Illinois, the play on the field told the story in the end. The Nittany Lions jumped out to a 21-0 first half lead and never looked back in the dominating win over the Illini. Matt McGloin continues his renaissance by playing efficient and turnover free football, while the running game welcomed Bill Belton back to the line-up after missing the last three contests. And for the second straight week sophomore tailback Zach Zwinak played a big role, this time rushing for 100 yards on 19 carries, including a pair of one-yard touchdown runs. This Penn State team is a few plays from being unbeaten and will have an under-the-radar showdown with unblemished Northwestern on Saturday.

This week: Northwestern (5-0)

9. Iowa (3-2, 1-0)
Previous rank: 11
Week 5 result: Beat Minnesota 31-13
The Floyd of Rosedale returns to Iowa City after two seasons in the Twin Cities. And it could not have come at a better time for Kirk Ferentz. The Hawkeyes used four Golden Gopher turnovers and a 24-0 run to start the game to put away rival Minnesota and earn a huge Big Ten victory for the embattled coach. Walk-on fullback Mark Weisman continues to be one of the better stories in the league, rushing 21 more times for 177 yards and his seventh rushing touchdown in three games. Thanks to him, this team has rediscovered its running game, topping the 180-yard mark for the third straight contest. It appears to have helped quarterback James Vandenberg as well. The senior has struggled most of the year, but had his best game of the season in the Big Ten opener, accounting for two touchdowns, 192 yards passing and no turnovers. He has to regain his 2011 form if the Hawks expect to win more than it loses in the league this fall.
This week: Open Date

10. Minnesota (4-1, 0-1)
Previous rank: 8
Week 5 result: Lost to Iowa 31-13
Backup quarterback Max Shortell, who is playing in place of senior starter MarQueis Gray, didn't fare too well. He threw three interceptions and the offense created only 300 yards of offense — which is less than two different receivers in the Baylor-West Virginia game. However, Gray might not have made any difference. The running game struggled to get anything done as Donnell Kirkwood was held to nearly 60 yards under his per game rushing average (12 att., 33 yards). The straw that broke the Gophers' back was a Shortell interception returned for a touchdown late in the third quarter when they were driving to cut the lead to 10 points. The road trip to Iowa City was easily the toughest game of Goldy's schedule thus far, and Jerry Kill's team forgot to show up. A 24-0 start for Iowa in the first 21 minutes of play says as much.
This week: Open Date

11. Illinois (2-3, 0-1)
Previous rank: 9
Week 5 result: Lost to Penn State 35-7
Year one under Tim Beckman isn't going as fans might have hoped. Nathan Scheelhaase was able to play an entire game, attempting 46 passes, carrying the ball 11 times and ending with 277 yards of total offense. However, it made little difference as a pair of interceptions and the offense's inability to run the ball kept the Illini from being competitive. The defense let Penn State jump out to a 21-0 halftime lead and then couldn't stop the ground game — it allowed 173 yards and four touchdowns rushing. Beckman's team is allowing more points than any other team in the league and is ranked 11th in total offense. Bad offense + bad defense = Ugly 28-point blowouts at home. And things won't get any easier this weekend.

This week: at Wisconsin (3-2)

12. Indiana (2-2, 0-1)
Previous rank: 12
Week 5 result: Lost to Northwestern 44-29
The Hoosiers defensive front was outmatched from the word go, as the Wildcats rushed to a 27-0 lead early in the third quarter. Indiana showed heart, scoring 29 points in the final 26:24 as IU continues to pace the Big Ten in passing offense (311.0 ypg). Kevin Wilson's offense is ranked No. 2 in the league and has been using a third-string quarterback, Nate Sudfeld, to spark slow starts in the last two games. But until something is done about a defense that allowed Northwestern to produce in record fashion, Indiana will have trouble competing in the league.
This week: Michigan State (3-2)


by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 5 Recap

ACC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Pac-12 East Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Post-Week 5 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-post-week-5-power-rankings
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This league seems to get deeper and deeper each Saturday. After another stellar weekend of action out West, six Pac-12 schools now reside in the AP Top 25. Washington and UCLA slide into the rankings, while Arizona State is knocking on the door and Arizona is clearly another solid team. And as strange as it may sound, Cal might be the best 1-4 team in the nation.  

Post-Week 5 Offensive Player of the Year Standings


1. The Running Backs, Oregon - De'Anthony Thomas has the highlight reel big-plays. He scored once and totaled 126 all-purpose yards this weekend. But Kenjon Barner made his statement with 195 yards rushing, 37 yards through the air and four total touchdowns. Good luck picking just three names for this list in a league this deep.

2. Matt Barkley, QB, USC - Your guess is as good as mine, so by default Barkley gets the nod. This league has so much talent at so many positions that odds are the USC quarterback works his way back to the top. Sean Mannion, Taylor Kelly, Ka'Deem Carey and Marquess Wilson all moved up the charts this weekend.

3. Brett Hundley, UCLA - Only Matt Barkley has more touchdown passes (12 to 11) in the Pac-12 and only Matt Scott has more yards passing (1,608 to 1,470). Hundley has added 165 yards rushing and four touchdowns on the ground. He accounted for 295 total yards and four touchdowns in the road win over Colorado.
 

Post-Week 5 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Michael Clay, LB, Oregon - Clay finished with eight total tackles, another sack and a tackle for loss in the win over Washington State — in which the defense once again made big plays.

2. Morgan Breslin, DL, USC - The Trojan defender was on a bye week but still holds the league lead (per game) in sacks with 1.38 sacks per game and tackles for loss at 2.38 per contest.

3. Will Sutton, DL, Arizona State - The junior had a career day in the road win over Cal. He posted eight total tackles, 4.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and a forced fumble. He is tied for the league lead in sacks (6.5) and is tops in tackles for loss (10.0).


Post-Week 5 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Chip Kelly, Oregon - The Cougars made it a game into the third quarter but Kelly's Ducks pulled away and finished with another 51 points, 26 first downs and 469 yards of offense in yet another blowout win.

2. Mike Riley, Oregon State - The Beavers are quickly becoming one the top stories nationally. His resume is as nice as any in the nation with two road conference wins and a victory over Wisconsin at home.

3. Todd Graham, Arizona State  - New coaches in the Pac-12 have been excellent, and Graham now has two impressive Pac-12 wins in a row: A home blowout win over Utah and a road battle against Cal.

Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (5-0, 2-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 5 result: Beat Washington State 51-26
It took maybe a little longer than Ducks fans had hoped, but in the end Oregon simply out-athleted the Cougars by scoring four straight touchdowns in the second half. Kenjon Barner had arguably the best game in his career by touching the ball 23 times for 232 yards and four touchdowns. The defense once again made big plays, providing a game-clinching INT touchdown return and seven sacks. With an offense that leads the league in rushing at over 300 yards per game and scoring over 50 points per game, Oregon's defensive growth makes them the best team in the league and possibly the top challenger to SEC national domination. 
This week: Washington (3-1)

2. USC (3-1, 0-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 5 result: Off
The Men of Troy rested up before they go on three road trips in four games. It begins with a visit to Utah on Thursday night, before USC will head to Washington and Arizona (with a harmless home game against Colorado mixed in).
This week: at Utah (2-2)

3. Oregon State (3-0, 2-0)
Previous rank: 4
Week 5 result: Beat Arizona 38-35
It's almost impossible to think that this team was 3-9 a year ago. Mike Riley has done one of his best coaching jobs in the nation, building as good of a three-game 2012 resume as any team in the nation. And the Beavers are winning in every possible way. This weekend it was a game of runs and nifty play-calling in a shootout road thriller in Tucson. Oregon State started 17-0 before Zona responded with three straight touchdowns to take the lead. Then one of the best games of the year saw six straight lead changes. Sean Mannion, who threw for a career-high 433 yards, went 6-for-6 on the final drive and tossed the game-winning touchdown with just over a minute to play. Wideout Brandin Cooks continues to emerge as one of the league's more dangerous playmakers, adding another nine receptions and 149 yards to his resume. Mannion now has 1,088 yards in three games and is right in the heart of the POY discussion.
This week: Washington State (2-3)

4. Washington (3-1, 1-0)
Previous rank: 7
Week 5 result: 
Beat Stanford 17-13

The improvement was obvious. Justin Wilcox, Peter Sirmon and Tosh Lupoi have instilled a toughness, a physicality and an attitude that has been lacking on the defensive side of the ball in Seattle for years. After allowing a Stanford school-record 446 yards and 65 points in the blowout loss to the Cardinal in 2011, the Huskies held Stanford to 65 yards on 28 carries and no offensive touchdowns. The offensive line is still a major issue that needs to get healthy quickly.
This week: at Oregon (5-0)

5. UCLA (4-1, 1-1)
Previous rank: 5
Week 5 result: Beat Colorado 42-14
Brett Hundley scored four touchdowns, and the Bruins much-improved defensive front made sure this game was never in question. A big part of UCLA's struggles last fall stemmed from the lack of a pass rush and the ineffectiveness of the rushing defense. Datone Jones, Anthony Barr and Damien Holmes have made this one of the most improved units in the league as the Bruins are 10th nationally with 3.4 sacks per game. Colorado was sacked four times and produced just 83 yards rushing on 30 attempts. Johnathan Franklin continues his stellar senior season as he bounced back with 159 yards from scrimmage, 145 of which came in the 21-point first half. Jim Mora's bunch reenters the AP Top 25 with the program's first 4-1 start since 2007.
This week: at Cal (1-4) 

6. Stanford (3-1, 1-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 5 result: Lost to Washington 17-13
Josh Nunes was just a little off the entire game. He missed all types of throws all night long, including a near connection down the sideline in the final minutes. And the ground game didn't help out like many expected. The Cardinal defense chased Keith Price all over the field and scored their own touchdown, however, two second-half breakdowns cost Stanford. One long touchdown run on the final play of the third quarter and one big catch and run by Kasen Williams last in the fourth gave Stanford their first loss of the year. 
This week: Arizona  (3-2)

7. Arizona (3-2, 0-2)
Previous rank: 6
Week 5 result: Lost to Oregon State 38-35
Matt Scott and Ka'Deem Carey are really good. But unfortunately, the Wildcats ran into a pair of offensive buzz saws from The Beaver State to start the conference slate with two losses. For the second week in a row, a high-flying offense from Oregon posted big numbers against the Arizona defense, this time in heart-breaking fashion. The Copper Tops fell behind early but battled back behind another huge day from Carey — 183 yards from scrimmage and two scores. But the defense allowed 613 yards of offense and couldn't get a key stop when it had to late in the game. This was a learning experience for a team that appears to be better than its 0-2 Pac-12 record might indicate.
This week: at Stanford (3-1)

8. Arizona State (4-1, 2-0)
Previous rank: 8
Week 5 result: Beat Cal 27-17
The Sun Devils continue to impress in year one under first year head coach Todd Graham. Quarterback Taylor Kelly completed 26 of his 45 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns without turning the ball over again this weekend. Kelly now leads the league in passing efficiency, while defensive stopper Will Sutton now leads the league in sacks and tackles for loss. This was a barometer test for the young Arizona State team and they passed with flying colors. Graham's bunch now has two excellent wins to start league play, and, without Stanford or Washington on the schedule, has fans in Tempe thinking ASU can challenge for the division crown.
This week: Open Date

9. Utah (2-2, 0-1)
Previous rank: 10
Week 5 result: Off
Entering Week 6 after a bye week against, Utah's season could be hanging in the balance on Thursday night when USC comes to town. This team was destroyed in Tempe two weeks ago and has had a long time to think about it. An 0-2 start in league play would all but end the Utes chances at contending in the South.
This week: USC (3-1)

10. California (1-4, 0-2)
Previous rank: 9
Week 5 result: Lost Arizona State 27-17
After a brutal home loss to Arizona State in which quarterback Zach Maynard completed just 9-of-28 passes, Cal became the best 1-4 team in the nation. Jeff Tedford has lost four times to teams with a combined 16-3 record thus far and could include the best team in the Pac-12, Big Ten and Mountain West. But Tedford knows that his worst start ever as the head coach at Cal is still all about wins and losses. His back is now securely pressed against the wall in Berkeley staring difficult second-half schedule. Five of Cal's seven remaining opponents are ranked, so things are starting to look bleak for the longtime coach of the Golden Bears.
This week: UCLA (4-1)

11. Colorado (1-4, 1-1)
Previous rank: 11
Week 5 result: Lost to UCLA 42-14
Jordan Webb couldn't build on his big performance against Washington State last weekend. He was hounded all day by the improved UCLA front seven, while the Buffaloes defense provided little resistance to the Bruins extremely balanced offensive attack. In the league, The Buffs fell behind quickly and never challenged Jim Mora's squad. Colorado now ranks dead last in scoring offense, scoring defense, total defense and turnover margin. And Jon Embree has two weeks to think about it.
This week: Open Date

12. Washington State (2-3, 0-2)
Previous rank: 12
Week 5 result: Lost to Oregon 51-26
After falling behind quickly, the Cougars battled back to within four points at halftime. Then an onslaught of Oregon big plays put Washington State out of its misery in the third quarter. Connor Halliday and Marquess Wilson continue to build rapport and produce big numbers in the passing game, but this defense and the Pac-12's worst rushing attack have provided little support all season. Mike Leach has a long way to go in Pullman.

This week: at Oregon State  (3-0)

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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ACC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 5 Power
Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings

Pac-12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 5 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Post-Week 5 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 1, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-week-5
Body:

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

2012 Record Against The Spread: 17-14
Last Week: 2-4

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Clemson (-9.5) at Boston College
The Tigers had two double-digit leads in the second half over Florida State on the road, so the only reason this line is so small has to be the “letdown” factor. The Tigers crushed the Eagles 36-14 last fall as Dabo Swinney’s team is vastly superior at basically every position. Boston College has allowed 502 yards rushing in two games against FBS opponents so Andre Ellington and Tajh Boyd should find plenty of space in this one. Prediction: Clemson (-9.5)

Minnesota (+7) at Iowa
The Gophers haven’t won in Iowa City since 1999, but have won the last two in this series. In fact, the one-point win over the Hawkeyes last season kick-started the Jerry Kill era in the Twin Cities. Minnesota has won five straight games and, while the Gophers may not win, they will certainly keep it close against a team that is teetering on the brink of self-destruction. Quarterback play for Iowa has been atrocious as the league’s worst scoring offense has accounted for one passing touchdown all season. Iowa may win, but it will be close — like the four total points separating these two since 2010. Prediction: Minnesota (+7)

Nevada (-19.5) at Texas State
The Wolfpack has scored at least 31 points in all four games and has put up 104 points in the last two games. They are averaging 317.8 yards rushing per game and destroyed Hawaii by 45 points last weekend. While Texas State has been sneaky good, like beating Houston in Week 1, they are still getting acclimated with big boy football. Good luck stopping the Pistol. Prediction: Nevada (-19.5)

Ohio State (+3) at Michigan State
These might be the best two teams in the Big Ten. These might be the best two coaches in the Big Ten. And these might be the best two defenses in the Big Ten. But there is one huge difference between these two teams: Quarterbacks. Braxton Miller has been special, accounting for 14 total TDs and 1,195 yards of offense. Andrew Maxwell has been a liability, accounting for 3 total TDs and 851 yards of offense. Miller is the difference. Prediction: Ohio State (+3)

Texas (-1.5) at Oklahoma State
The Longhorns appear to be motivated this season and the offensive statistics play that out. Texas averaged 28.1 points and 392.5 yards per game on offense last season. This season the 'Horns have posted 49.3 points and 514.3 yards per game through three contests thus far. The play of quarterback David Ash has been the difference. Oklahoma State, while still potent on offense, will be asking a freshman — either JW Walsh or Wes Lunt — to defeat one of the most talented defenses in the land. After two losses at home to Brandon Weeden, the Burnt Orange will be fired up for revenge on Saturday. Prediction: Texas (-1.5)

Indiana (+11) at Northwestern
The Wildcats are 4-0 in the standings and 4-0 against the spread in 2012. This offense is beginning to round into form with a power rushing game now at its disposal. And since Week 1, the defense has shown marked improvement — from 596 total yards allowed in a Week 1 to less than 318 in each of the last three games. Against the Hoosiers last fall, Northwestern won by 21 while scoring 59 points. This fall should feature a similar outcome. Prediction: Northwestern (-11)

Baylor (+11.5) at West Virginia
The Mountaineers have been great on offense and not so great on defense. West Virginia is ranked 74th in total defense and is 52nd in scoring defense — against Marshall, James Madison and Maryland. Meanwhile, Baylor has been just as electric on offense — try 51.3 points per game and 568.7 yards per game — in three games. Look for a high-scoring, close game that WVU wins by one score. After all, this is the Mounties first-ever taste of Big 12 action. Prediction: Baylor (+11.5)

Texas Tech (-3) at Iowa State
The Red Raiders claim the nation’s No. 1 defense at an absurd 160.3 total yards allowed per game. But these numbers are a mirage — they did it against Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico — for a team that allowed 39.3 points per game last season. Iowa State has a salty defense that destroyed Tech 41-7 last year in Lubbock and returns largely intact. This unlikely battle of unbeatens should go the way of the home team. Prediction: Iowa State (+3)

Others I like: 

South Carolina (-20.5) at Kentucky
NC State (+3) at Miami
Wisconsin (+11.5) at Nebraska
Central Michigan (+11.5) at Northern Illinois
San Diego State (+7) at Fresno State

2012 Trends Against the Spread:

4-0 ATS 3-1 ATS 1-3 ATS 0-4 ATS
Arizona St (3-0-1) Akron Auburn Arkansas
Ball St Duke Bowling Green Houston (0-3)
Fresno St Florida Cal Iowa
UL-Monroe (3-0) Georgia Tech Colorado Miami (Ohio)
Northwestern Kansas St Colorado St Southern Miss (0-3)
Oregon St (2-0) Minnesota E. Michigan Virginia (0-3-1)
Purdue (3-0) Ole Miss Idaho Washington St
San Jose St Nebraska Kentucky Wisconsin
Texas Tech (3-0) Notre Dame UMass  
UT-San Antonio (2-0) Ohio Memphis  
Utah St Penn St Michigan  
Western Kentucky South Carolina Michigan St  
  Toledo South Florida  
  Troy USC  
  UCLA Syracuse  
  UNLV Tennessee  
    Utah  
    Virginia Tech  

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Weekend On Tap: Picking the 10 Best Games of Week 5
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Big 12 Week 5 Previews and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 5 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 5 Previews and Predictions

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Teaser:
<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 5</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /nfl/nfl-week-4-under-pressure-michael-vick-chris-johnson-drew-brees
Body:

Each week, Athlon Sports will highlight the three most important names in the NFL. Our editors debate which player must play his best this weekend.

Who needs to step up the most in Week 4: Michael Vick, Chris Johnson or Drew Brees?

Mark Ross, Athlon Sports: Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia
The Eagles are 2-1, so everyone’s happy in The City of Brotherly Love, right? Not so much. The Eagles have been out-scored by 19 points. After posting consecutive one-point victories over the Browns and Ravens to start the season, they got thoroughly out-played by the Cardinals last week, losing 27-6.

What’s more Andy Reid has spent part of this week backtracking/clarifying statements he has made regarding Vick and his job security. That’s what happens when you are currently sporting a 2.3-to-1 turnover-to-touchdown ratio.

At first glance, it appears that Vick, who is third in the NFL in passing yards with 905, is off to a good start throwing the ball. That is until you find out he’s completing just 55.2 percent of his passes (25th in the league), and he’s thrown twice as many interceptions (six) as touchdown passes (three). Add in his three fumbles lost, and he’s responsible for nine of the team’s NFL-worst 12 turnovers. Put it all together and he’s 29th in the league in passer rating at 66.3. Not exactly the type of production you want from your $100-million man, right?

That said, the Eagles can make a huge statement this Sunday when they host the Giants, their division rival and the defending Super Bowl champions. Vick has had his share of success in his career against the G-Men. He holds a 5-2 record, has completed better than 60 percent of his passes and thrown for five touchdowns versus just three interceptions. He’s also rushed for 381 yards (6.8 ypc) and four touchdowns in those games.

To be fair, the offensive line, which has given up nine sacks already, needs to do a better job protecting Vick. Also wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and DeSean Jackson have both either missed games or been limited by injuries early on, so you could say Vick has yet to have his full complement of weapons. Still in the NFL, it all comes down to the quarterback and it’s up to Vick to silence the critics and put an end to any doubts about his status as the starter. Otherwise, it won’t just be his job security that becomes a hot topic of discussion, right Andy?

Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman): Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans
Saints quarterback Drew Brees set a new NFL all-time record with 5,476 passing yards last season to go 46 touchdowns passes, and New Orleans finished with a 13-3 record and an NFC South title. However after an offseason bounty scandal that resulted in the suspension of head coach Sean Payton and others, the Saints have shockingly equaled their loss total of last year. Brees’ 904 passing yards and seven scores are solid numbers through three games, but he has already thrown five interceptions and been sacked seven times. The New Orleans defense and offensive line have had major issues this season, but it will have to be the All-Pro signal caller that leads the team out of its current hole if the Saints are going to salvage the 2012 campaign.

The grind gets tougher this week, as the Saints travel to Lambeau Field to meet the 1-2 Packers. The two NFC stalwarts combined for only four losses during the 2011 regular season but have five defeats this year. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is also under pressure this week, but Brees and the Saints offense must find a way to recapture some of last year’s magic in Wisconsin on Sunday. With weapons like Marques Colston and Lance Moore on the outside and elite tight end Jimmy Graham, New Orleans still has a shot to outscore its opponents. But since 1990, only three teams that started the NFL season 0-3 have made the playoffs. That’s a daunting statistic for Brees and company as they head to Green Bay this weekend.

Braden Gall (@BradenGall): Chris Johnson, RB, Tennessee
On Sept. 1, 2011, the Tennessee Titans made Chris Johnson the highest paid running back on the planet by paying him $53.5 million over four years with $30 million guaranteed. Since being drafted in 2008, Johnson rushed for an NFL-best 4,598 yards on 925 carries, caught 137 passes for 1,008 yards receiving and scored 38 total touchdowns in 47 games. That is 5.0 yards per carry and 119.2 yards from scrimmage per game. The Titans went 13-3 in his rookie season and went 27-21 overall in that span.

In 19 games since the contract was signed, Johnson has rushed for 1,092 yards on 295 carries for an average of 3.7 yards per attempt and has scored four total touchdowns. Clearly, the $50-million man has mailed it in since signing his big contract.

The Titans tailback has been completely uninspired this fall, averaging 1.4 yards per carry (33 att., 45 yards) with nary a trip to paydirt in three games. Jake Locker is the team’s leading rusher currently.

After starting 1-2, the Titans go on the road to face the unbeaten Houston Texans in a huge divisional contest this weekend and Johnson needs to revert to his CJ2K form ASAP. In fact, the Titans will play three of the next four on the road with Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Minnesota coming up after the trip to Texas.

Locker appears to be the long-term solution at quarterback for the Titans, but if this team wants to challenge the Texans in the AFC South, it has to get production from its rushing attack.

@bradengall

Related Content:

2012 Fantasy Football Positional Rankings: Week 4
2012 Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 4

Teaser:
<p> NFL Week 4 Under Pressure: Michael Vick, Chris Johnson, Drew Brees</p>
Post date: Friday, September 28, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-5-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The 2012 season is turning into one of the best fans have seen out West in years and it has a chance to get even better. Oregon State and Arizona State made huge statements last week, but both have huge road tests this weekend that will prove if they belong in conference contention. Otherwise, all eyes across the college football world should be on the Pac-12 this Thursday evening.

Pac-12's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 5:

1. Who wants to challenge Oregon?
Stanford and Washington square-off Thursday evening in a game that will likely decide the No. 2 slot in the Pac-12 North. Both teams have had two weeks to prepare for this one and the winner will be the top challenger to the Oregon Ducks in the North. The Huskies, who have been outscored 106-21 in the last two meetings with the Cardinal, begin a four-week stretch that will determine their entire season. After Stanford, Washington visits Oregon, hosts USC and visits Arizona. Meanwhile, Stanford's run isn't much easier with a home game against 'Zona and a road trip to Notre Dame coming up. As if there wasn't enough already riding on this primetime national TV game. 

2. Oregon State defense vs. Arizona offense
The 2-0 Beavers are likely asking, what about us in the North? Mike Riley's bunch boasts the No. 2 rushing defense in the nation and have allowed a total of 27 points thus far in 2012. Despite what fans saw last week from Arizona, the Matt Scott/Ka'Deem Cary-led Wildcats offense is still one of the nation's best. Scott is still leading the league in total offense and Carey has more than one big play up his sleeve for this weekend. If Oregon State wants to be taken seriously in the North, it will have to come up with its second straight road upset (Arizona is a three-point favorite). This is a classic Letdown Alert situation as the Beavers are coming off of an emotional road upset while 'Zona returns home after being shutout 49-0 against Oregon.

3. Arizona State to face first starting quarterback
Assuming nothing tragic happens to Cal starting quarterback Zach Maynard between now and Saturday afternoon, the Sun Devils will actually have to play against someone else's first-string quarterback. Jordan Wynn was the starting quarterback at Utah but has retired from the game, giving way to Jon Hays. Missouri's James Franklin sat out two weeks ago against Arizona State. Illinois' Nathan Scheelhaase didn't play in Week 2 against ASU. And in Week 1, Todd Graham's guys knocked out Lumberjack starter Cary Grossart early in the game. As a result, the Sun Devils have surrendered more than 150 passing yards only once and have yet to allow a 200-yard passer. Opposing quarterbacks are averaging 139.8 yards per game with eight INTs and only three TD passes. Maynard and his talented trio of pass-catchers — Keenan Allen, Chris Harper and Bryce Treggs — will easily present the toughest test to date for the Sun Devils' secondary.

4. Cal's 1-3 record is very deceiving
All that may matter to Cal boosters and administrators is the win-loss record, but the 1-3 mark in Berkeley likely has no effect on Arizona State head coach Todd Graham. Cal lost in a nail-bitter at home to a very good Nevada team and has losses to USC and Ohio State on the road. This team is much better than its record indicates and brings a host of elite play-makers on offense into a must-win situation at home. And Graham knows his team will have to click on all cylinders to win a tough road test over the Bears. 

5. How will injuries affect Arizona-Oregon State?
Matt Scott is dealing with a hip injury he sustained on the first drive against Oregon. He is starting for sure, but how will the bum hip impact his ability to run the zone-read option? The talented Oregon State backfield of Sean Mannion, Storm Woods and Malcolm Agnew all missed practice on Monday. Mannion was back on the field after dealing with a sore throwing arm. Woods (ankle) and Agnew (calf) both returned to work on Tuesday as well. Will any of these key players experience any lingering effects? Only time will tell.

6. I wouldn't want to be a Buffalo this weekend
UCLA was flying high when the Oregon State Beavers grounded their 3-0 start last weekend in Los Angeles. Johnathan Franklin rushed for 431 yards in the Bruins first two games but has mustered only 155 yards on 37 carries in the last two. The inability to run the ball cost UCLA the win last week, but didn't slow down star quarterback Brett Hundley. The redshirt freshman has three 300-yard efforts in his first four career games and should have this offense back on track this weekend against the lowly Buffs. The three-touchdown underdog will have to get a huge game once again from Jordan Webb (345 yards passing, four total TD last week) to even have a chance to stay with the angry Bruins.

7. What can we learn from the Ducks visit to Seattle?
There is likely to be a heavy Duck contingent in the semi-road game against Washington State in Seattle this weekend. After Wazzu lost to Colorado at home in heart-breaking fashion, it's hard to see the Cougars keeping pace with Oregon. So what can we learn about the Ducks? Chip Kelly flashed a few wrinkles on offense last week against Arizona, namely a tight end turned power back named Colt Lyerla. He fills the only void on an already explosive unit as a short yardage and goal-line specialist. As usual, fans never know what they will see from the Oregon offense.

8. Athlon's Weekly Player of the Year Watch
One POY awards list this week had De'Anthony Thomas listed as the front-runner with Johnathan Franklin, Taylor Kelly and Matt Barkley listed as the top challengers. While those names are all deserving, others like Matt Scott, Ka'Deem Carey, Marcus Mariota, Kenjon Barner, Stepfan Taylor, Brett Hundley, Keith Price, Marqise Lee, Keenan Allen, Robert Woods, Marquess Wilson, Sean Mannion, Brandin Cooks and even Silas Redd aren't too far behind. The point being, it is impossible to narrow this POY race to three names and the depth of offensive play-making skill in the Pac-12 is second to none (not even the SEC).

Week 5 Pac-12 Predictions:

Week 5 Pac-12 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Stanford (-7) at Washington Stanford, 27-21 Stanford, 28-23 Stanford, 27-24 Stanford, 35-24
Arizona St (+2.5) at Cal Cal, 28-24 Cal, 27-24 Arizona St, 31-27 Arizona St, 28-21
UCLA (-20.5) at Colorado UCLA, 38-20 UCLA, 35-21 UCLA, 45-17 UCLA, 38-14
Oregon St (+3) at Arizona Arizona, 30-24 Oregon St, 23-17 Arizona, 31-28 Oregon St, 35-28
Oregon (-29) at Washington St Oregon, 49-21 Oregon, 51-10 Oregon, 55-17 Oregon, 56-10
Last Week: 2-3 3-2 3-2 3-2
Yearly Totals: 28-11 28-11 28-11 26-13

Bye: USC, Utah

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Week 5 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:48
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-5-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The Big Ten is having a rough year. Possibly its worst of the BCS era. But that doesn't mean there isn't great football still left on the schedule. Conference play begins this weekend with a trio of unbeaten teams and at least four juicy match-ups (sorry, Purdue and Indiana). With the entire nation fixed on East Lansing this weekend, the Big Ten needs a showcase performance from the league's top two coaches and what could be the top two players (Braxton Miller, Le'Veon Bell).

Big Ten's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 5:

1. Bring on conference play...please!
The struggles for the Big Ten have been well documented, but a dramatic conference season could make the first four weeks a distant memory. And Week 5 gets Big Ten play kick-started in style. Ohio State and Michigan State could be the best two teams in the league and has the Mark Dantonio, who won a national title at Ohio State, backstory. The corn-fed Big Red will host the dairy-fed Big Red in what should be a fashionable showdown of tailbacks, unique uniforms and revenge. A rivalry trophy is on the line in Iowa City. And two new coaches who don't like each other do battle in Illinois. Let the games begin.

2. Quarterback differential will decide the big game
Braxton Miller has been not only the Big Ten Player of the Year through four weeks but could be considered the top challenger to Geno Smith for the Heisman Trophy (if voting took place today, of course). His ability to complete clutch throws and pick up key first downs with tough runs makes him the best player on the field this weekend in East Lansing. His counterpart is Andrew Maxwell, who ranks 12th in the league in passer efficiency (that's last). Let's compare the numbers:

Miller: 754 yards, 61.2% passing, 14 total TD, 2 INT, 441 yards rushing
Maxwell: 869 yards, 56.6% passing, 3 total TD, 3 INT, minus-18 yards rushing

3. Sparty has to win the battle in the trenches
If it comes down to quarterback play, Ohio State will win. But the Spartans can win if it controls the line of scrimmage. Le'Veon Bell is the Big Ten's top rusher and has single-handedly carried MSU to wins over Boise State and Eastern Michigan. If John Simon and the rest of the Buckeyes' front line of defense can stop Bell, few believe Maxwell can win the game with his arm. Meanwhile, Ohio State's traditional rushing attack has been questionable at best, but it should have its full complement of players for the first time this fall. Jordan Hall, Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith all expect to see action. William Gholston, who has been underwhelming thus far in 2012, might be the most important player on the field. He has to play better to stop Miller and Company.

4. Recruiting-gate: Bill O'Brien vs. Tim Beckman
During the summer months following the announcement of the Penn State sanctions, Tim Beckman openly and actively recruited current Penn State players to come to Illinois. The result of the questionable tactics? One reserve offensive lineman Ryan Nowicki defected from Happy Valley to Champaign. And one frosty relationship developed between the new Leaders Division coaches. And Penn State players haven't forgotten either — Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year candidate Mike Mauti in particular. Beckman was simply trying to improve his team within the framework of the rules, but in the process, he gave O'Brien and the Lions plenty of extra motivation for this weekend's showdown.

5. Floyd of Rosedale Trophy
From 2001 to 2009, the Golden Gophers defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes just once, claiming the famous pork trophy only in 2006. However, the Gophers have won two straight, including a one-point win last Halloween that seems to have jump-started the Jerry Kill era in the Twin Cities. Minnesota enters this weekend undefeated (4-0) while Iowa has struggled mightily through four games. Quarterback MarQueis Gray won't play according to Kill, so a wounded Hawkeye team is very dangerous — especially, considering Minnesota hasn't won in Iowa City since 1999. The wise guys in Vegas know that the records don't count in this one as Iowa is a touchdown favorite.

6. Keep an eye on that first quarter
Ohio State has been a notorious slow starter this season, trailing and being shutout by Miami (Ohio) and UAB after one quarter. Wisconsin has scored a total of five points (no, and it wasn't even a safety) in the first quarter this season and was shutout by both Utah State and Oregon State. Iowa trailed after one against Northern Iowa and Iowa State while trailing at halftime to all three FBS opponents. Illinois was outscored 35-7 in the first by Louisiana Tech and Arizona State. And Michigan State has been shut out in its last two first quarters. Seemingly bucking the trend, however, is the Nittany Lions. They have outscored four teams 35-0 in the first quarter and 55-9 in the first half. 

7. Revenge a dish best served Big Red
It was a night game in Madison on Oct. 1, 2011. That was the first time Nebraska played a Big Ten football game. And it wasn't pretty. Wisconsin rushed for 231 yards and scored seven offensive touchdowns while Taylor Martinez threw three interceptions in the 48-17 destruction of the Cornhuskers. Welcome to the Big Ten, right? Well, the tables have turned rather quickly. Martinez is the league's best quarterback currently, the offense is the best in the league and a struggling, injured Badgers team limps into one of the most hostile environments in the nation. This one could get ugly quickly — and should make soon-to-be retired Nebraska legend Tom Osbourne smile. 

8. College GameDay comes to Big Ten country
The last time ESPN brought its flagship Saturday morning program to the Big Ten, Michigan State defeated Wisconsin on a Hail Mary in arguably the best game played anywhere last fall. This is the sixth time Gameday has been in East Lansing and Sparty is 2-3 in those games. Each of the last four has been a one-score game with an average margin of 4.3 points. This bodes well for fans of both teams, fans of the Big Ten and the national TV audience that will likely be tuned in.

9. Northwestern could be only team left unbeaten
The Wildcats are a double-digit favorite over Indiana and are at home. So assuming Northwestern begins the year 5-0 with a win, there is a very good chance they are the lone team left unblemished in a down Big Ten. If Iowa and Michigan State can win at home, Pat Fitzgerald's bunch will be the only team in the league left without a loss with road trips to Penn State and Minnesota looming.

10. Unsung tailbacks could turn into heroes
Mark Weisman has rushed for six touchdowns and 334 yards on 51 carries in his last two games. If Iowa wants to hurt the improving Minnesota defense, the walk-on fullback will have to be effective again. Venric Mark has been on a tear for Northwestern and should be heavily involved in Northwestern's quest for 5-0. Giving Mark the ball will keep the league's No. 1 passing attack (yes, that's Indiana) off the field. Rod Smith has been worked back into the Ohio State rotation of late and could be a big factor against the Spartans front seven. In Lincoln, fans can expect five or six running backs to get the ball with third-string names like Melvin Gordon and Imani Cross potentially playing big roles. And Bill Belton could be back for Penn State this weekend.

Week 5 Big Ten Predictions:

Week 5 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Indiana (+10.5) at Northwestern N'Western, 31-20 N'Western, 28-7 N'Western, 34-17 N'Western, 28-7
Penn State (+2) at Illinois Penn St, 20-14 Penn St, 21-10 Illinois, 24-20 Penn St, 21-10
Minnesota (+7.5) at Iowa Iowa, 24-21 Minnesota, 28-21 Iowa, 27-24 Minnesota, 28-21
Marshall (+17) at Purdue Purdue, 27-14 Purdue, 35-14 Purdue, 31-27 Purdue, 35-14
Ohio St (+3) at Michigan St Ohio St, 24-17 Ohio St, 24-21 Ohio St, 23-20 Ohio St, 24-21
Wisconsin (+12.5) at Nebraska Nebraska, 34-21 Nebraska, 35-17 Nebraska, 27-20 Nebraska, 35-17
Last Week: 6-4 8-2 7-3 8-2
Yearly Totals: 46-12 45-13 49-9 47-11

Bye Week: Michigan

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Week 5 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 27, 2012 - 05:46
Path: /college-football/college-football-big-ten-facing-worst-season-bcs-era
Body:

The Big Ten has two non-conference games remaining on the schedule: Marshall will visit Purdue this weekend, and Indiana will visit Navy on Oct. 20. Otherwise, Big Ten may breathe a sigh of relief with conference play beginning this weekend.

The non-conference performance by the great Midwestern football league has been nightmarish so far and the case could be made this is the worst edition of Big Ten football during the BCS era.

Here's why:

Big Ten vs. the big boys

The Big Ten went 0-3 against Notre Dame as the Irish steamrolled through conference and divisional contenders Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue by a combined score of 53-26. This includes nine total points allowed to the pair of Big Ten title hopefuls from the state of Michigan. To add insult to injury, the Irish opted out of its rivalry game with Michigan beginning in 2014. It is the end of an era as Notre Dame begins its football agreement with the ACC, with the series with Michigan as an apparent casualty.

Against other BCS automatic-qualifying conferences, the resume is just as bad. The league went 6-9 against AQ programs (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Pac-12, SEC and Notre Dame) with a 1-3 mark against Rose Bowl rival Pac-12. The best win of the bunch is Ohio State’s home victory over 1-3 Cal. And that one went down to the wire.

The Big Ten’s non-conference BCS wins include Temple, Boston College, Vanderbilt and Syracuse twice. Those six AQ wins for the Big Ten have come against teams with a combined record of 6-16.

Additionally, the league lost three home games to the MAC — Ohio over Penn State, Central Michigan over Iowa, Ball State over Indiana — and Illinois got crushed at home by Louisiana Tech.

Yes, the mighty SEC only has four AQ wins in 2012, however, those victories came over Michigan, Washington, Arizona State and NC State. The Big 12 is 5-1 against AQ leagues with wins over Iowa, Miami, Maryland, Virginia and Ole Miss. Even the Big East has marquee AQ wins over Arkansas (Rutgers), Virginia Tech (Pitt), Maryland (UConn), North Carolina and Kentucky (Louisville).

In short, the Big Ten has failed miserably against the nation’s top competition.

Big Ten in the Associated Press rankings

No. 14 Ohio State, No. 20 Michigan State and No. 22 Nebraska are the only ranked Big Ten teams after four weeks of play. If Boise State, which will join the Big East next year, counts as a Big East team, only the ACC’s two (Florida State and Clemson) are worse than the Big Ten’s trio. And the Seminoles are poised to make a run at a national championship with their No. 4 ranking. With Ohio State facing a postseason ban (and thus ineligible for the coaches' poll and BCS rankings), technically only two eligible top 25 teams reside in the Big Ten.

By comparison, the SEC has four of the top six, five of the top 11 and six overall in the AP top 25. The Big 12 claims five of the top 16 and six overall, which does not include defending conference champion Oklahoma State. The Pac-12 has three of the top 13 and four teams overall with UCLA and Arizona falling out of the poll last weekend.

Michigan State’s season-opening 17-13 home win over Boise State is the league’s best win to date — and its only win over an AP top 25 team.

Already eliminated from the national title hunt?

Only four weeks into the season, the Big Ten appears to be eliminated from the national championship race. Ohio State, Minnesota and Northwestern are the only teams left unbeaten as conference contenders Nebraska, Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin have a combined five losses already.

The Buckeyes could finish 12-0 and it wouldn’t matter as far as the BCS is concerned. And with all due respect to great coaching jobs by Pat Fitzgerald and Jerry Kill thus far, the Gophers or Wildcats going undefeated appears to be a long shot. Northwestern at Minnesota on Oct. 13 for a trip to Miami Gardens? Not likely.

Could Nebraska or Michigan State work their ways back into national title contention with unblemished Big Ten conference records? Possibly. But to jump one-loss teams like USC, the loser of Alabama-LSU or any conference champ from the Big 12 appears virtually impossible. The winner of the Louisville-Rutgers season finale may be higher in the polls than a one-loss Big Ten champ. And Notre Dame already has proven it might be the best team in Big Ten country already.

On the Heisman front, Montee Ball and Denard Robinson have been unofficially eliminated from contention as well. Ball lost his first fumble of the season this weekend and has been a shell of his 2011 self. Robinson has two terrible performances in losses to national contenders, including a five-turnover loss to Notre Dame in what was his worst game as a starter last weekend.

The numbers rarely lie

Last year, the Big Ten’s potent rushing attacks featured three of the top-15 ground games nationally. This year, only one Big Ten team (Nebraska) is ranked in the top 23. In 2011, three of the top 19 individual rushers hailed from the Big Ten. In 2012, only one running back, Le’Veon Bell, is ranked in the top 25 in rushing.

Last year, Wisconsin led the league in scoring (No. 6 nationally) and Michigan State was No. 3. Both averaged more than 31 points per game, and the duo matched-up in the Big Ten title game. Both could show up in Indianapolis again this fall, but the game could be a considerably lower scoring game. Both are  ranked outside of the top 100 in scoring. Additionally, Iowa and Penn State are ranked 97th or worse in scoring offense as well.

Nebraska and Indiana are the only two teams ranked in the top 25 nationally in total offense while only the Hoosiers claim a passing attack ranked in the top 45 nationally. Penn State wideout Allen Robinson is the only receiver in the Big Ten ranked in the top 60 nationally in receiving yards per game.

Defensively, six Big Ten teams finished in the top 20 nationally in total defense last season. This year, only three Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 25 (Michigan State, Purdue and Minnesota) with only the Spartans, at No. 6, residing in the top 15 nationally. Last fall, seven of the top 18 pass defenses played football in the Big Ten. This year, only two of the top 20 passing defenses are from the Big Ten.

History isn’t on the Big Ten’s side

The Big Ten won its first four BCS bowl appearances from 1998 to 1999 and then claimed the national championship in 2002. However, since that win, the big bowl games have been a blood bath for the Big Ten.

The league is 7-11 in BCS bowls since the league’s last national title in 2002 with a 1-7 mark in the Rose Bowl and 0-2 record in the BCS National Championship Game. Two of those seven wins have since been vacated — Penn State in 2006 and Ohio State in 2010 — and the Buckeyes are the only Big Ten team with a winning record in BCS bowl games all-time (6-3).

Can the Big Ten work its way back into national relevance with a stellar conference slate? Of course. But with two major powers ineligible to complete for bowl games or conference titles and traditionally strong programs like Wisconsin and Michigan State having major quarterback issues, the Big Ten could be facing its worst year of play since the advent of the BCS.

Bring on the playoff.

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> College Football: Big Ten Facing Worst Season of BCS Era</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-contenders-post-week-4
Body:

Each week, the Athlon editors vote on the most prestigious award in all of college football. A nine-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports voted this week for their top Heisman Trophy candidates. The votes will be tallied and the result will be posted as the Athlon Sports Heisman Watch List every week of the regular season.

Voting: Each first-place vote receives 10 points. A second-place vote receives nine points. So on and so forth with a 10th-place vote receiving one point.

At the quarter pole of the 2012 season, the haves and have-nots are beginning to separate themselves. Last week, 22 different players received Heisman votes from Athlon Sports. Following Week 4, only 18 got votes this time around. Unofficially, Denard Robinson and Montee Ball are out of the running. Quarterbacks Tyler Wilson, Tajh Boyd and Landry Jones likely joined them this weekend as well.

Meanwhile, Collin Klein and EJ Manuel won the two biggest games of the weekend and are leading their respective teams into national contention. Defensive dynamos Jarvis Jones and Manti Te'o are leading two of the nation's best units with big plays and leadership. Electric playmakers Braxton Miller and De'Anthony Thomas are wowing fans at every step.

And Geno Smith continues to torch defenses.

1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia (eight first-place votes)
Season Stats: 
96-118, 1,072 yards, 12 TD, 0 INT, 16 att., 67 yards, TD
Just another day in the life of a Dana Holgorsen quarterback. Smith was 30-of-43 for 338 yards — his fourth straight 300-yard effort — and three touchdowns in the win over Maryland. He has yet to turn the ball over and is No. 2 nationally in total offense (379.7 ypg) and passer efficiency (191.23). Things will start to get interesting this weekend as Big 12 play opens up for the first time in Mountaineer history. Next game: Baylor

  Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. Geno Smith QB W. Virginia 89/90 8 1 - - - 9/9
2. De'Anthony Thomas AP Oregon 64/90 1 2 1 - 3 9/9
3. Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 62/90 - 2 2 2 1 9/9
4. Collin Klein QB Kansas St 51/90 - 2 - 1 2 8/9
5. EJ Manuel QB Florida St 49/90 - - 2 2 1 9/9
6. Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame 29/90 - - 2 - - 6/9
7. Matt Barkley QB USC 26/90 - 1 - 1 1 4/9
8. Stepfan Taylor RB Stanford 22/90 - - - 1 1 6/9
9. Marcus Lattimore RB S. Carolina 21/90 - - 1 - - 4/9
10. Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 15/90 - - - 1 - 5/9
11. Aaron Murray QB Georgia 13/90 - 1 - - - 3/9
12. AJ McCarron QB Alabama 12/90 - - 1 - - 3/9
13. Le'Veon Bell RB Michigan St 11/90 - - - 1 - 2/9
14. Johnathan Franklin RB UCLA 11/90 - - - - - 5/9
15. Marqise Lee WR USC 9/90 - - - - - 4/9
16. Barrett Jones OL Alabama 5/90 - - - - - 2/9
17. Kolton Browning QB UL Monroe 5/90 - - - - - 1/9
18. Tajh Boyd QB Clemson 1/90 - - - - - 1/9

2. De’Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon
Season Stats: 25 att., 276 yards, 4 TD, 13 rec., 165 yards, 3 TD, 8 PR, 131 PR yards
Thomas was given a career-high 12 rushing attempts this weekend to go with a pair of receptions. And for the most part, DAT was kept under wraps with 59 total yards from scrimmage and (gasp!) no trips to paydirt. That said, Thomas still might have made the biggest play of the game. It was 13-0 halfway through the third quarter when his 38-yard punt return into Arizona territory set up the first score of the second half three plays later. His big play signaled the beginning of the end for the Wildcats. Next Game: at Washington State

3. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Season Stats: 
60-98, 754 yards, 7 TD, 2 INT, 67 att., 441 yards, 7 TD
The story is getting awfully familiar. Ohio State struggles in the first half, turns to its star quarterback to carry the team to victory and No. 5 delivers in a big way in the second half to keep the Buckeyes undefeated. Miller, behind clutch passes and gritty runs, scored his sixth and seventh rushing touchdowns while not turning the ball over in the closer-than-expected win against UAB. The OSU quarterback is No. 2 in the Big Ten in rushing (110.3 ypg), No. 2 in total offense (298.8 ypg), and he is leading the league in scoring (11.5 ppg). Next Game: at Michigan State

4. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Season Stats:
 56-80, 758 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT, 63 att., 289 yards, 5 TD
He didn't stuff the stat sheet with gaudy passing or rushing numbers — he finished with 149 yards passing and one overall touchdown — but his team pulled-off the biggest win of the Week 4 slate in Norman, Okla., over the Sooners on Saturday night. Klein didn't turn the ball over and rushed 17 times for 79 yards while his offense executed to perfection in the first home loss to a ranked opponent for Bob Stoops. CK7 is a truly great young person that does things the right way. Now, his team is in the driver's seat for a Big 12 title. Next Game: Bye Week

5. EJ Manuel, QB, Florida State
Season Stats: 69-94, 905 yards, 8 TD, 1 INT, 24 att., 188 yards, TD
Manuel's come-from-behind win over Clemson was on par with Kansas State as the biggest win of the weekend and it has dropped the Seminoles signal caller right into the middle of the Heisman race. Manuel posted career highs in passing (380) and rushing yards (102) and led Florida State to 28 straight points as the game moved into the fourth quarter. Overcoming multiple double-digit deficits in the second half? Check. Beating the reigning ACC champs in an Atlantic Division de facto title game? Check. Posting the single best statistical performance of your career in the process? Check. Next Game: at South Florida

6. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Season Stats: 17 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, INT, 3 FF, 2 PBU
The Notre Dame tackler should be the leader for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. The Irish allowed 26 total points and went 3-0 against the B1G on the back of 30 tackles, two INTs and a fumble recovery in those three games by their senior stalwart. Next Game: Bye Week

7. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Season Stats: 88-143, 1,005 yards, 12 TD, 5 INT, 11 att., minus-61 yards
For the second week in a row, it wasn't a vintage performance by Barkley. He threw for 192 yards and two scores in the win over Cal, but also threw two interceptions. So after posting one multi-interception performance in 14 games, the USC quarterback now has had back-to-back such games. Next game: at Utah

8. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
Season Stats: 67 att., 338 yards, 3 TD, 10 rec., 89 yards, TD
Stanford was on bye but Taylor maintains a presence in the top 10 in the continuing afterglow of the Cardinal's huge win over USC. He has another national primetime slot this week in a key Pac-12 North showdown on Thursday night against the Huskies. Next Game: at Washington

9. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Season Stats: 
48 att., 235 yards, 4 TD, 6 rec., 33 yards
The most underrated Heisman contender (third on my ballot) posted 145 yards from scrimmage and two more touchdowns in the easy win over Mizzou. He had 28 touches, including seven receptions, and has scored four times in two SEC East wins. Next game: at Kentucky

10. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
Season Stats: 24 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 4.5 sacks, INT, 3 FF, 2 PBU
Few players had as big of an impact in last week's games than the junior linebacker from Georgia. After sitting out last weekend against FAU, Jones posted seven total tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss and a sack in the destruction of SEC East rival Vanderbilt. Next Game: Tennessee

11. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Season Stats: 69-104, 1,092 yards, 10 TD, 2 INT, 19 att., 1 yards, 3 TD
Next Game: Tennessee

12. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Season Stats: 
51-81, 819 yards, 10 TD, 0 INT, 15 att., minus-39 yards
Next Game: Ole Miss

13. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State
Season Stats: 117 att., 610 yards, 5 TD, 12 rec., 67 yards
Next Game: Ohio State

14. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
Season Stats: 78 att., 586 yards, 3 TD, 9 rec., 132 yards, TD
Next Game: at Colorado

15. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Season Stats: 29 rec., 391 yards, 3 TD, 6 KR, 200 kickoff return yards, TD
Next Game: at Utah

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 4 Recap

ACC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Pac-12 East Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Contenders: Post-Week 4</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 05:59
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/roger-goodell-time-end-nfls-replacement-referee-debacle
Body:

I don’t blame the replacement referees. I don’t blame the angry coaches who are getting fined by the day. I don’t blame the fans. And I don’t blame the actual NFL refs who are holding out for fair market compensation.

I blame Roger Goodell and the owners entirely for an NFL product that is bordering on unwatchable. As the old cliché goes, heavy is the head that wears the crown.

The Ravens-Patriots game Sunday evening should have been a tale of two AFC contenders and their star quarterbacks battling in a playoff atmosphere. It should have been about 900 yards of offense and six lead changes in a game steeped in postseason implications.

It should have been about Torrey Smith.

But instead, the replacement refs stole the spotlight with 24 combined penalties, 218 penalty yards and Bill Belichick’s illegal contact with an official following the loss.

Things only got worse Monday evening in Seattle as 24 more yellow flags for 245 more penalty yards stole the show once again.

Green Bay and Seattle battled in front of a frenzied crowd in a game that could carry heavy NFC playoff importance. And instead of a hard-fought road win for the Packers, Mike McCarthy watched as the refs inexplicably snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

There were many questionable calls that had Jon Gruden ready to jump out of the booth in the fourth quarter. How about a phantom pass interference call on 1st and 25 or a roughing the passer call that overturns a game-clinching turnover? But the game’s final play, a Hail Mary heave to the corner of the end zone, featured not only one but two horrendous calls.

In fact, the enduring image of Referee Lockout Gate will be two officials staring directly at each other standing two yards from the play signaling two totally different outcomes simultaneously. And it cost Green Bay the win.

Don't be angry at the replacement refs. They are simply doing the best they can. They are not prepared or qualified to take on this type of responsibility. They get no respect from coaches or players and have lost control of the game. And, on more than one occasion, I have seen with my own eyes coaches intentionally try to trick a replacement ref into making the wrong call (looking at you Mike Shanahan).

The inmates are running the asylum and enough is enough.

It’s time for Roger Goodell and the NFL owners to step up to the plate and end this nonsense. In a recent Forbes valuation, 20 of the 32 NFL franchises are worth more than $1 billion. The Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams were tied for last in the NFL with $231 million in revenue while the Cowboys led the way with $500 million. The NFL’s current TV contract is a combined $20.4 billion per the deal that run out in 2013.

The NFL isn’t big business, it’s huge business. And clearly, the real NFL refs were not given enough respect for the job they do each and every Sunday. The importance of quality officiating has been dramatically undervalued and its compensation needs to catch up with the rest of football’s wealthy moneymakers.

These NFL fat cats could reach into last night’s suit and use pocket change to close the $50 million gap that supposedly exists at the negotiating table.

What will it take? A severe injury to a marquee player? Another botched call at the end of a game that costs a team a postseason berth? Hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for coaches? Better yet, how about the fans simply just stop watching the garbage product the NFL is putting on the field.

So come on Roger, get it done.

-by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related NFL Content:

The Most Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 3
Green Bay Packers Robbed by Refs
The 15 Worst Officiating Moments in Sports History
 

Teaser:
<p> Roger Goodell: Time to end NFL's replacement referee debacle</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 25, 2012 - 12:42
All taxonomy terms: Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, NFL
Path: /nfl/amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-3
Body:

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

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 3 of NFL play: 

24: Total penalties in the Baltimore-New England showdown
On a Sunday with multiple overtime games and crazy endings across the league, the Patriots and Ravens previewed the AFC playoffs in rare fashion. There were 899 combined yards of total offense, 61 combined first downs, six lead changes, a game-winning field goal and one finable illegal contact penalty. The reason Bill Belichick decided to clutch and grab a referee following the loss? An extremely questionable performance by the replacement officials leading to 10 penalties for New England, 14 for Baltimore and a combined 218 yellow flag yards. A great atmosphere between two rivals, a last-second victory and a gut-wrenching, but memorable moment for Torrey Smith should be the reason fans are talking about Sunday night's showdown around the water cooler this week. However, the replacement officials seemed to lack control, waffled on questionable calls and eventually became the top story. Enough is enough, Roger.

332.8: average passing yards from AFC North quarterbacks in Week 3
Who says those North Division are black-and-blue, defensive clouds of dust? Big Ben (384), Joe Flacco (382) and Andy Dalton (328) had the first, second and fifth-best passing days of the week in the NFL through Sunday, while all three teams scored at least 30 points. Brandon Weeden added 237 of his own yards as well to what turned out to be huge day through the air in the AFC North.

4.0: Eagles turnovers per game
This one was a lay-up. Michael Vick was beaten all to hell in the desert on Sunday and his team turned the ball over three more times in the ugly loss to the Cardinals. The Eagles' 12 giveaways leads the NFL by a wide margin and the team is lucky to be 2-1. Meanwhile, Vick is lucky to be walking after Arizona teed-off on him all afternoon, sacking him five times and allowing six total points. This offense has a lot of big-play speed, but will it last the entire 16-game slate? Not if they keep giving the football to the other team four times per game.

43: Ken Whisenhunt career wins as Arizona Cardinals head coach
With the dominant win over the Eagles on Sunday, Whisenhunt became the all-time winningest coach in Cardinals franchise history. Three games into his sixth season with the organization, he has passed the great Don Coryell (42). The Cards are 3-0 for the first time since 1974 and have marquee wins over New England, Philadelphia and Seattle. Currently, Arizona has its second-longest home winning streak in team history with seven straight wins — and is currently in position to claim a bye week and home-field advantage. It's never too early to starting looking ahead because, with that defense, the Cardinals have tremendous staying power. Oh, and Larry Fitzgerald became the youngest player to ever catch 700 passes. Including that dude named Rice.

0: Total combined turnovers and sacks for Christian Ponder
The surprise story of the day has to be the performance of the developing Vikings quarterback against arguably the league's nastiest and toughest defense. Ponder led an incredibly efficient Minnesota squad in the huge upset win over the San Francisco 49ers. Not only did he not turn the ball over or get sacked, but he converted on both redzone attempts, his only fourth down attempt, 7-of-14 third downs and the Vikes had just one team penalty. Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers couldn't beat the Niners, but Ponder did — with a career-high 89.9 QB rating. The loss now puts Atlanta and Arizona one game up in the race for the NFC bye week.

2,092: Total yards of combined offense for Ponder, Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker
The other three guys in the 2011 first-round QB class combined for 194 yards of total offense through three weeks of play last fall. All of it was Gabbert's as Locker and Ponder hadn't even taken an NFL snap at this stage of last season. Ponder (251.3 ypg) and Gabbert (163.3 ypg) have yet to throw an interception this year while Locker (282.7 ypg) provided the Titans with 413 yards of total offense in their first win of the year. There have been many doubters of this class of signal callers, some of which has to be tied directly to poor surrounding casts, but these three youngsters are beginning to acquit themselves rather well in relatively short order. Just for reference, their 2,092 yards of total offense is more than Phillip Rivers, Jay Cutler and Sam Bradford combined (2,051).

18: Seconds it took Detroit to score two touchdowns to tie the game
A three-yard touchdown pass from Shaun Hill to Calvin Johnson cut the Tennessee Titans lead from to seven points with 18 seconds remaining. Detroit recovered the onside kick and two plays later connected on a Hill-to-Titus Young Hail Mary from the Titans 46-yard line as time expired. After a Titans field goal in overtime, all the Lions had to do was match with three of their own to keep the game going. But on a bizarre 4th-and-1 QB sneak call on the Tennessee seven-yard line, Hill was stopped well short and the game was over. As a bonus amazing stat, the Titans became the first team in NFL history to score five touchdowns of at least 60 yards or more (AP).

230: Difference in yards rushing from Week 2 to Week 3 for Jamaal Charles
The former Texas Longhorn has played in 52 career NFL games and his three yards rushing last weekend in the loss to Buffalo was his worst career showing as a professional. Charles bounced back in a big way with his second-best rushing day of his career with 233 yards in the road win over New Orleans. His 91-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter not only sparked the victory but turned out to be the longest play in franchise history. Most importantly, Kansas City avoids an 0-3 start while putting the embattled Saints in the nearly impossible position of being winless after three games.

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> Amazing Stats From NFL Sunday: Week 3</p>
Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 06:40
Path: /college-football/big-ten-post-week-4-power-rankings
Body:

Big Ten fans have to be ecstatic that conference play is beginning this weekend. This has been a non-conference season from hell that can't end fast enough for most Midwestern college football fans. The league has two non-conference games left — Marshall at Purdue this weekend and Indiana at Navy on Oct. 20 — and its out of conference record includes a season sweep by Notre Dame (0-3), a 1-3 record against the archrival Pac-12 and three bad losses to the MAC. The Big Ten has a total of six wins over fellow AQ leagues, with Cal being the signature victory of a group that includes Temple, Vanderbilt, Boston College and Syracuse twice.

That said, 2012 has the makings of one the most dramatic Big Ten seasons in recent memory. Round robins in both divisions should be extremely competitive and virtually impossible to predict as conference play begins this weekend. 

Post-Week 4 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State - Stop me when you've heard this before. Ohio State starts slow against inferior competition until the best player on the field takes over the game and leads OSU to victory? He rushed for 64 yards and two more scores to go with 143 yards passing and no turnovers. He has accounted for 14 total touchdowns, thrown only two interceptions and is No. 2 in the Big Ten in rushing.

2. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska - The Big Ten's most efficient passer (180.93 rating, 9 TD, 1 INT) led his team to 73 points this weekend on 9-of-13 passing for 165 yards and two scores. Nebraska boasts the league's No. 1 scoring offense, No. 1 total offense and No. 1 rushing offense.

3. Le'Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State - The formula seems to be pretty clear. Give the ball to Bell as much as possible and Michigan State wins. He posted a career-high 253 yards on 36 attempts (No. 2 in his career) and his fifth score of the season in the win over Eastern Michigan. 


Post-Week 4 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Mike Mauti, LB, Penn State - He didn't play like an elite talent in the first two games and PSU lost. But he has taken his game to a new level to get the Nittany Lions back to .500. He posted nine solo tackles and a forced fumble in the win over Temple and now is No. 2 in the league in tackles.  

2. Kawann Short, DL, Purdue - By process of elimination, Short is No. 2 without playing a game last weekend. He is still No. 2 in the league in sacks on what has been a solid Boilermakers front line. 

3. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame - Yes, Will Compton, D.L. Wilhite, Ryan Shazier, Mike Taylor or Max Bullough could be listed here. But Big Ten fans need to bow to the most influential defensive player in the Big Ten thus far. Te'o posted 30 tackles, two interceptions, a fumble recovery, 2.0 tackles for loss, two passes defended and led his Irish defense to low-scoring wins over Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue, in what could be the best three-game stretch of his decorated career.

 

Post-Week 4 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State - Meyer has the best resume of the Big Ten unbeatens. He has the best player in the league and a chance to prove it all this weekend.

2. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern - Can you really blame Coach Fitz for playing at least one cupcake? There is no such thing as a bad 4-0 record in Evanston. Ill.

3. Bo Pelini, Nebraska - Nebraska is leading the league in scoring, rushing and total offense. They are leading the league sacks, tackles for loss and kickoff returns. This might be the best bowl-eligible team in the league.

 

Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

1. Ohio State (4-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 4 result: Beat UAB 29-15

UAB had more total yards, more first downs, was better on third downs and controlled the time of possession but lost the only stat that matters. Ohio State continues to show its warts, especially in the first quarter, as it took until the 6:31 mark of the second period to put points on the board. And then the story gets awfully familiar. Braxton Miller led Ohio State on a 21-3 scoring run in the second half to pull away and keep their perfect record intact. He has willed his team to victory with clutch throws and tough runs on more than one occasion this fall. But can he do the same thing against much more physical Big Ten defenses?
This week: at Michigan State (3-1)

2. Michigan State (3-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 4 result: Beat Eastern Michigan 23-7
The first weekend of Big Ten play will feature the top two teams in the Athlon Sports' Big Ten power rankings when Ohio State and College Gameday visit East Lansing on Saturday. Like the Bucks, Michigan State has to iron out some kinks. The offense is entirely too one-dimensional as Bell accounted for 253 of the 428 total yards of offense against Eastern Michigan. Quarterback play is still a big question mark, and Andrew Maxwell will be forced to beat the good teams in conference play as defenses stack the box against Bell. Otherwise, Sparty's defense should keep them in every game, as Mark Dantonio's unit leads the league in rushing defense, scoring defense and total defense.  
This week: Ohio State (4-0) 

3. Michigan (2-2)
Previous rank: 2
Week 4 result: Lost to Notre Dame 13-6
The Notre Dame defense is as good advertised. Just ask Denard Robinson. The star quarterback turned the ball over five times in what was arguably his worst game as a starting quarterback at Michigan. He couldn't get his team into the end zone and totaled just 228 total yards of offense in the loss. So does the bye week come at exactly the right time or precisely the wrong time? Does Robinson and Michigan need to get back onto the field to remove the horrible memory of this loss, or will the extra time help this team prepare for a grueling Big Ten slate that begins with a road trip to Purdue? Only time will tell.
This week: Open Date

4. Nebraska (3-1)
Previous rank: 4
Week 4 result: Beat Idaho State 73-7
Welcome back, Rex Burkhead (119 yards and two TDs). And Bo Pelini too for that matter. Certainly, it was a perfect storm for the poor Bengals of Idaho State and little was learned about the Cornhuskers in the lopsided victory. Taylor Martinez continues to blossom into one of the most efficient and dynamic passers in the country. The running game looks downright nasty with No. 22 atop a depth chart that also includes names like Abdullah, Heard and Cross. And the defense, while allowing yards, is starting to get its mojo back by leading the league in sacks and tackles for loss through four weeks. This team's big picture success has always been tied directly to Martinez' ability to play consistent football through the air. If he finishes the year as the Big Ten's top passer, odds are Nebraska is playing in Indianapolis.
This week: Wisconsin (3-1)

5. Northwestern (4-0)
Previous rank: 5
Week 4 result: Beat South Dakota 38-7 
Much like Nebraska, not much was learned about Northwestern in its win this weekend. The Wildcats breezed to an easy victory without turning the ball over, holding South Dakota to 240 total yards and putting the game out of question early on (28-0 at halftime). Perhaps the most important lesson to be gleaned from the one-sided win is the emergence of tailback Venric Mark. He scored his three touchdowns and 97 of 117 yards came in first half, giving Pat Fitzgerald what could be his first traditional running threat since Tyrell Sutton. A 5-0 start is likely for the purple Cats of Chicago.
This week: Indiana (2-1)

6. Purdue (2-1)
Previous rank: 6
Week 4 result: Off
After a bye in Week 4, the Boilers will play one of two remaining Big Ten non-conference games against Marshall this weekend. Additionally, for what it is worth, Purdue played Notre Dame the toughest of the three Big Ten teams. 
This week: Marshall (2-2)

7. Wisconsin (3-1)
Previous rank: 7
Week 4 result: Beat UTEP 37-26
The Badgers offense looked much different this week, as it welcomed new starting quarterback Joel Stave and star wide receiver Jared Abbrederis to the starting lineup. Abbrederis was out last week, while Stave was making his first career start as a redshirt freshman former walk-on. And did it make a difference. After 207 total yards in the loss to Oregon State and 234 in the nail-bitter over Utah State, Wisconsin posted a season-high 423 yards of offense and a season-high 213 yards rushing. Most of which came without star tailback Montee Ball. While Stave played consistent football and Abbrederis immediately stretched the field, Ball was lost near the end of the second quarter with a head injury. Melvin Gordon and James White, however, filled in admirably by carrying 23 times for 177 yards and three touchdowns. This team is a far cry from last year's championship squad, but if the offense stabilizes, UW will push for a division crown, albeit by default.
This week: at Nebraska (3-1)

8. Minnesota (4-0)
Previous rank: 11
Week 4 result: Beat Syracuse 17-10
Fans of Minnesota who are clamoring for respect are getting closer and closer to getting it. A great defensive effort and newly discovered running game helped the Golden Gophers defeat what is clearly their toughest opponent to date. D.L. Wilhite and Ra'Shede Hageman applied pressure all night long to an offense that had been scoring over 32 points per game with the nation's No. 3-rated passing offense. On offense, Max Shortell was adequate in place of the injured MarQueis Gray, but Donnell Kirkwood was the workhorse, carrying 28 times for 99 yards and accounting for both Minnesota touchdowns. This was the first real test for Minnesota and it looks as though it will be nearly impossible to keep Goldy out of the postseason.
This week: at Iowa (2-2)

9. Illinois (2-2)
Previous rank: 8
Week 4 result: Lost to Louisiana Tech 52-24
This wasn't how Illinois wanted to welcome quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase back to the starting lineup. In fact, this loss not only epitomizes the Big Ten's poor showing out of conference this fall, but encapsulates Scheelhaase's career as well. He got his team out to a 7-0 lead with a scoring strike. But then the offense stalled, due in part to turnovers from Scheelhaase, and he left the game for good. The Bulldogs then went on to score three first quarter touchdowns and finished the game on a 52-17 run. The Illini turned the ball over six times and now lead the Big Ten in that category with 11 turnovers lost. A loss to a defending conference champion who averages 56 points per game wouldn't have been the end of the world. But getting destroyed at home in this fashion is completely unacceptable.

This week: Penn State (2-2)

10. Penn State (2-2)
Previous rank: 10
Week 4 result: Beat Temple 24-13
The Nittany Lions began the year with two brutal, heart-breaking losses to Ohio and Virginia. But this team, and quarterback Matt McGloin in particular, have shown obvious improvement under the leadership of Bill O'Brien. The junior under center has looked like an actual college quarterback, throwing for a career high 318 yards and accounting for all three PSU touchdowns in one of the league's five wins over an AQ school. This offense lacks playmakers but if the signal caller can rally the troops, this defense should be good enough to keep the Lions in most games. Don't sleep on Penn State University.

This week: at Illinois (2-2)

11. Iowa (2-2)
Previous rank: 9
Week 4 result: Lost to Central Michigan 32-31
James Vandenberg connected with Kevonte Martin-Manley just 2:28 seconds into the game for the Hawkeyes first touchdown pass of 2012. For the next 57 minutes, however, Kinnick Stadium sat and watched its team choke away another win. Onside kicks, personal foul penalties, failed third downs and the play of Central Michigan gave the Big Ten one of its worst losses of the year. The crazy ending — nine CMU points in the final 45 seconds — overshadowed what should be one of the better stories in the league this year: walk-on Mark Weisman's 217 yards and fourth, fifth and sixth rushing touchdowns in two weeks. Kirk Ferentz needs to start winning games immediately.
This week: Minnesota (4-0)

12. Indiana (2-1)
Previous rank: 12
Week 4 result: Off
One has to wonder if two weeks to think about that loss to Ball State is good or bad for Kevin Wilson's bunch. 
This week: at Northwestern (4-0)


by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 4 Recap

ACC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
Pac-12 East Post-Week 4 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 4 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Post-Week 4 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-post-week-4-power-rankings
Body:

Oregon and USC used stellar defensive performances to get key home conference wins. Oregon State and Mike Riley shocked the country once again with an upset win over a ranked opponent — this time on the road — as the Beavers have added their name to the crowded North Division race. The Colorado Buffaloes got what could be its first and only win of the 2012 season in stunning fashion. But the most startling performance of the weekend has to go to Todd Graham and the Arizona State Sun Devils. The one-sided win over Utah was the most impressive showing by any one team this weekend, as the South Division race continues to get more interesting by the day.

Post-Week 4 Offensive Player of the Year Standings


1. De'Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon - Thomas got a career-high 12 rushing attempts in the big win over Arizona, but it was a 38-yard punt return that kickstarted the Ducks offense in a then-close contest. He is first in the league in scoring, second in punt returns and seventh in rushing...for the best team in the league.

2. Marqise Lee, WR, USC - There are too many options in this league (and on this team) to list just three, but Lee is leading the league in all-purpose yards (197.0 ypg), receiving yards (391) and receptions (9.7 rec./game). He caught 11 passes for 94 yards and two more touchdowns in the win over Cal. 

3. Brett Hundley, UCLA - Taylor Kelly, Marcus Mariota, Stepfan Taylor, Matt Barkley and Sean Mannion could all be listed here. But Hundley gets the nod after starting his career with three 300-yard efforts in his first four games. He is six passing yards behind Matt Scott for the league lead and has accounted for 11 total touchdowns. He is the reason UCLA has quickly returned to relevance.
 

Post-Week 4 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Michael Clay, LB, Oregon - There were a lot of deserving performances this weekend, but the heart and soul leader of the Ducks unit was the best. He posted 13 total tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble, as Oregon pitched a shutout against a team averaging 46 points per game.

2. Morgan Breslin, DL, USC - The Trojans got back on the winning track due in large part to a fantastic effort from the junior lineman. Breslin totaled six tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks as USC completely manhandled the Cal offense. Breslin is No. 2 in the Pac-12 with 5.0 sacks.

3. Scott Crichton, DL, Oregon State - The most-improved unit in the league might be the Oregon State defense. Against the league's No. 1 offense and the nation's leading rusher, the sophomore defensive lineman was the star. He had six tackles, 3.0 tackles for a loss and 2.0 sacks in the road win over UCLA.


Post-Week 4 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Chip Kelly, Oregon - The Ducks' defense decided it wanted in on the scoring fest that has been Oregon's 2012 season. A 49-0 whitewashing of Arizona is as impressive as any other win in the league this season. Yes, even Stanford's over USC.

2. David Shaw, Stanford - No one has ever lost to "BYE WEEK," so Shaw is still very much the top contender to Kelly for COY. His team will face another tough primetime test this weekend against Washington on the road on Thursday night.

3. Mike Riley, Oregon State - Jim Mora and Rich Rodriguez both experienced hard first losses of the season, with UCLA's coming at the hands of Coach Riley. The Oregon State coach won his school record-tying 74th game has two wins over ranked opponents thus far in two games.


Post-Week 4 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (4-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 4 result: Beat Arizona 49-0 
On a team known for its big-play, quick-strike offense, it was the underrated Ducks' defense that did the job in Eugene. Well, until the offense finally got rolling. Nick Aliotti's 3-4 scheme pitched Oregon's first conference shutout since 2003, as the Ducks won a key Pac-12 opener. They forced five turnovers, scoring two of their own touchdowns on interception returns in the fourth quarter. They continually stopped the vaunted Wildcats no-huddle attack in the redzone, holding Arizona's offense to nearly 300 yards fewer than its average. Marcus Mariota was solid under center, while tight end Colt Lyerla added a new power element to the ground game (7 att., 63 yards, TD). Alabama is the only team that has looked better through four weeks of action.
This week: at Washington State (2-2)

2. Stanford (3-0)
Previous rank: 2
Week 4 result: Bye Week
The Cardinal didn't play this week and will face a Washington team in primetime on Thursday night. Both teams should be well rested and well prepared for the short week.
This week: at Washington (2-1)

3. USC (3-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 4 result: Beat Cal 27-9
It wasn't a vintage Matt Barkley performance (192 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT), but the Trojans got back on track in impressive fashion this week against Cal. USC ran the ball 40 times for 296 yards and the game's first touchdown as all-everything center Khaled Holmes returned to the lineup. Both Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd topped the century mark, and the defense did the rest, holding Cal to just 77 yards rushing on 36 attempts and just three field goals. The Trojans registered seven sacks, two interceptions and just 250 total yards of offense allowed. It was an all-around effort from the Men of Troy and it got Lane Kiffin's squad back on the Pac-12 championship tracks. Even it Barkley had his second-straight multi-interception performance.
This week: Open Date

4. Oregon State (2-0)
Previous rank: 8
Week 4 result: Beat UCLA 27-20
Mike Riley has opened the season with arguably the best tandem of wins in the nation, a home victory over ranked Wisconsin and a road upset over ranked UCLA. Sophomore quarterback Sean Mannion threw two long touchdowns and finished with 379 yards, while the Beavers defense was once again the story. The much-improved unit held the powerful Bruins' rushing attack to 72 yards on 28 attempts, limiting the nation's leading rusher - Johnathan Franklin - to 45 yards on 12 carries. Unblemished Oregon State and its suddenly stingy defense has another tough road test this weekend against Rich Rodriguez.
This week: at Arizona (3-1)

5. UCLA (3-1)
Previous rank: 4
Week 4 result: Lost Oregon State 27-20
Brett Hundley threw for a career-high 372 yards and rallied the Bruins to within one score of Oregon State, but the lack of a consistent running game cost UCLA its perfect record. Johnathan Franklin had been averaging 180.3 yards per game through three weeks but was completely shutdown by the revamped OSU defense. Hundley, who could be the best UCLA quarterback in over a decade, now has three straight 300-yard efforts in four career games, but will have to get his ground support back if Jim Mora expects to compete in the South. The same goes for a defense that entered the weekend as the Pac-12's No. 2 pass efficiency defense. It allowed the Beavers' Sean Mannion to throw for a career-high in yards to go with an 172.7 passer rating. UCLA isn't all the way back just yet.
This week: at Colorado (1-3) 

6. Arizona (3-1)
Previous rank: 5
Week 4 result: Lost to Oregon 49-0
Yes, the score was 13-0 Oregon with seven minutes to go in the third quarter. Yes, the Wildcat defense played solid against one of the nation's top offenses. But at the end of the day, a 49-0 loss is as demoralizing as it gets. Not many expected this type of blowout but if Arizona wants to be taken seriously nationally, it will have to do a better job in the redzone. Six times Matt Scott led his team into the scoring zone and each time his team came away without any points. Four turnovers, a blocked field goal and a turnover on downs sealed the Cats fate in Eugene. Much like UCLA, this team is vastly improved under the new coach. and much like the Bruins, it still has a long way to go.
This week: Oregon State (2-0)


7. Washington (2-1)
Previous rank: 6
Week 4 result:
Bye Week

See Stanford above.
This week: Stanford (3-0)

8. Arizona State (3-1)
Previous rank: 10
Week 4 result: Beat Utah 37-7
Taylor Kelly had a career day throwing for a personal best 326 yards and three touchdowns to go with no turnovers, as Arizona State made the biggest statement of the weekend out West. Kelly and his versatile backfield jumped to a 21-0 first quarter lead and led 31-7 before the defense shutdown the Utes in the second half. While Kelly's efficiency and a stout defense won the game, Todd Graham's ability to get the football into many different hands is worth noting. Cameron Marshall touched the ball 10 times and scored twice. Both quarterbacks ran the ball seven times each. Speedster dynamo DJ Foster led the team with 70 rushing yards. Marion Grice caught a touchdown pass. And even returner/receiver Jamal Miles was given a handful of carries. The depth and versatility of Graham's running game is what could be the difference between a bowl game and conference contention.
This week: at Cal (1-3)

9. California (1-3)
Previous rank: 9
Week 4 result: Lost USC 27-9
Quarterback Zach Maynard was running for his life all day long and Cal failed to reach the endzone because of it. The Golden Bears surrendered seven sacks, turned the ball over twice, converted only 3-of-14 third downs and totaled 250 yards of offense. The Bears also couldn't get stops on defense, allowing USC to use its power rushing attack to wear down the Cal front seven. Cal is now 87th nationally in total defense at 430.3 yards allowed per game. With the surging Sun Devils and UCLA next on the schedule, a 1-5 start for Jeff Tedford is very much a possibility. 
This week: Arizona State (3-1)

10. Utah (2-2)
Previous rank: 7
Week 4 result: Beat Lost to Arizona State 37-7
In a week with plenty of disappointing performances — Arizona's offense, UCLA's rushing attack, Washington State at home — the Utes' lackluster butt-kicking suffered at the hands of Arizona State has to be the most discouraging. A defense that was lights out against BYU watched Sun Devils' quarterback Taylor Kelly torch its secondary, while the offense was downright pathetic. Jon Hays threw for 117 yards while John White rushed 14 times for 18 yards. Utah's offense finished with only 10 first downs, went 4-of-14 on third downs and finished with a paltry 209 yards of total offense (117 passing, 92 rushing). This team was one win against Colorado away from playing for the Pac-12 title last year. Now, it appears destined for fifth in the South Division. The off week couldn't come at a better time.
This week: Open Date

11. Colorado (1-3)
Previous rank: 12
Week 4 result: Beat Washington State 35-34
Colorado won't finish the year winless after an improbable fourth quarter road rally in Pullman. The fans at Martin Stadium watched Jordan Webb lead the Buffaloes offense to three touchdowns in the final seven minutes of play to cap-off the unlikely victory for Jon Embree. Webb was the star of the day, completing 29-of-42 passes for 345 yards and four total touchdowns — the last of which was a game-winning four-yard dash into the endzone with nine seconds remaining on the clock. For a team that is 0-2 against the Mountain West and has lost to an FCS program, a road Pac-12 win cannot be overstated.
This week: at UCLA (3-1)

12. Washington State (2-2)
Previous rank: 11
Week 4 result: Lost to Colorado 35-34
There really is no excuse for the fourth-quarter performance Mike Leach's team put together this weekend. Connor Halliday threw for 401 yards and four touchdowns but that didn't mean anything when the game was on the line on Saturday. The Cougars defense couldn't get any stops late in the game and it led to one of the worst collapses of the year. Despite the success in the passing game and the 28-14 lead entering the final frame, Wazzu watched Jordan Webb and the Buffs go up and down the field to stun the crowd at Martin Stadium. Leach's team was outgained on the ground 186 to 50 and the lack of a consistent rushing attack will be a major issue for Washington State all season long.
This week: Oregon  (4-0)

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Post-Week 4 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, September 24, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-week-4
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Every Friday for entertainment purposes only, I will bring you my top college football picks against the spread. I do not condone, approve or encourage gambling on sports in any way. But if you are a fan of football — college or pro — and you don't think gambling has played a huge role in the growth and popularity of the sport, then you are simply being ignorant. And behind closed doors, the powers that be understand the impact betting has had on the game of football.

2012 Record Against The Spread: 15-10
Last Week: 5-3

I bounced back last week, despite possibly the worst pick of the season (thank you, Virginia Tech). We are going to try to keep the positive momentum rolling by adding a year Against The Spread rankings below my picks. Do with them what you may. Now, on to Week 4...

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Baylor (-7.5) at UL Monroe
The glass slipper won’t fit anymore. After using every ounce of fight to defeat Arkansas and nearly upset Auburn, Baylor catches ULM at the right time on a short week. The Bears have scored 107 points in two games and haven’t missed much of a beat since Robert Griffin III departed. Art Briles and Nick Florence have this offense rolling, so the clock should strike midnight on this mid-major Cinderella. Prediction: Baylor (-7.5)

Missouri (+10) at South Carolina
Three straight tough tests for Mizzou will prove to be too much for a team in transition. James Franklin will play but isn’t 100 percent and the same could be said for Connor Show. However, on the road in a physical contest against a massive SEC front seven? This seems like a tall order for Gary Pinkel’s bunch. Georgia’s offensive and defensive lines wore down the Tigers and eventually made the game a three-touchdown difference. Much of the same should be expected in this one. Prediction: South Carolina (-10)

Louisville (-13.5) at FIU
Where is T.Y. Hilton when you need him? Duke and UCF both defeated FIU with relative ease and the Panthers' only win thus far is a home overtime win over lowly Akron. Louisville, meanwhile is staring an unblemished 2012 record right in the face — with the added and all-important “revenge factor” after losing to FIU at home last season. Look for Teddy Bridgewater to continue his efficient play and for Charlie Strong to leave little doubt. Prediction: Louisville (-13.5)

LSU (-20.5) at Auburn
The road team in this series is normally not the pick. And Auburn has been strong at home in SEC games as the underdog (8-3 in last 11). So taking that all into consideration, there is no logical reason to pick Auburn here. The Yellowhammer Tigers are 0-3 against the spread this fall and haven't scored an offensive touchdown in SEC play in 171 minutes of action. LSU is way too strong and has a huge talent advantage at every position on the field. The embattled Auburn coaching staff will need to coach the best game of their lives to keep this one close. Auburn won’t be able to run and won’t be able to stop the run. This one will get ugly quick. Prediction: LSU (-20.5)

Miami (+14) at Georgia Tech
Tech is 3-0 against the spread this season and should stay unbeaten this weekend. Miami has been terrible on defense against FBS programs (32 points to Boston College, 52 points to Kansas State) and there is no reason to think it will slow down Tech. The Canes won a shocker last season and Paul Johnson hasn’t forgotten. He will lay the triple-option lumber on the young Miami team. Prediction: Georgia Tech (-14)

Army (+6.5) at Wake Forest
This one feels like classic market over-correction. Army was destroyed in Week 1 by San Diego State 42-7 and lost to Northern Illinois last weekend. Wake Forest was also destroyed, but by a motivated, angry, out-for-revenge Florida State team that could be in the BCS Championship game come January. The Demon Deacons have played two of the better teams in the ACC already and Jim Grobe should have his team ready to play its best game of the year thus far. Prediction: Wake Forest (-6.5)

BONUS ROUND: Road dogs I like…

Clemson (+14.5) at Florida State
The Noles are awesome on defense but the Tigers offense is first real test.

Utah (+7.5) at Arizona State
Defense is salty and Jon Hays might surprise some people with win outright.

Michigan (+5) at Notre Dame
Denard Robinson has never lost to the Irish and this game is always tight.

3-0 Against the Spread in 2012 0-3 Against The Spread in 2012
Ball State Arkansas
Fresno State Auburn
Georgia Tech Colorado
Northwestern Eastern Michigan
Purdue Houston
San Jose State Iowa
Texas Tech Miami, Ohio
Toledo Oregon
UCLA Virginia Tech
Utah State Washington St
Western Kentucky Wisconsin

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Teaser:
<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 4</p>
Post date: Friday, September 21, 2012 - 06:20
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-4-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Purdue, Iowa and Penn State all bounced back in Week 3 with wins. The problem, however, is that Utah State was the best win of the bunch and it took a missed field goal as time expired for the Badgers to hold on to the win. 

Otherwise, the tragic story continues for the Big Ten as Michigan State got man-handled against Notre Dame in the marquee showdown of the weekend. It wasn't pretty and to top it all off, Ball State defeated Indiana to wrap up the week of action. 

This weekend does not offer a large slate of compelling games either as all but one team is at home and all but one is favored to win over middling competition. That one road team, however, is in for a nationally televised battle in the final noteworthy non-conference game of the year for the Big Ten.

Big Ten's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 4:

1. Denard Robinson vs. Notre Dame's front seven
Brian Kelly has clearly reinvented the Irish defense. Notre Dame enters the game ranked eighth nationally in scoring defense at 10.0 points per game allowed and has already held three solid opponents to less than 300 yards of offense per game (288.7 ypg, 18th nationally). Meanwhile, Robinson has bounced back from the loss to Alabama in fine fashion with 324 yards rushing and eight total touchdowns in two wins. Shoelace is 3-0 against ND (2-0 as a starter) and should be the best player on the field Saturday night. But staying on the field against that big, physical, nasty Irish front seven might be easier said than done. This is where the game figures to be won or lost.

2. Enjoy this great rivalry while you can
We all remember the way the this game finished last season. Robinson capped a miraculous final quarter with an improbable game-winning touchdown heave that made the 2011 edition of Michigan-Notre Dame one of the greats in the series' illustrious history. But for how much longer will these two Midwest rivals square off? The Irish recently joined the ACC in all of its other sports and could be playing its five-team ACC football schedule as soon as 2014. This could mean the end of Big Ten-ND play. This series is set to play until 2017 before a break — which could become a permanent one — to one of the great rivalries in college football. So enjoy it while you can.

3. Rex Burkhead returns to the field
Nebraska fans could not be more excited to welcome back starting tailback Rex Burkhead. He was back at practice on Monday and should get some snaps this weekend against lowly Idaho State. But don't expect a heavy workload as Bo Pelini, who also returns to the sidelines this weekend, will likely ease his running back into action. Get him some contact, maybe get him into the endzone, and then turn it over to the capable hands of Ameer Abdullah and Braylon Heard.

4. Who will start at quarterback?
Pick a Big Ten town, any Big Ten town. Wisconsin watched Danny O'Brien un-inspire his way to the bench and Joel Stave has taken the majority of first-team reps this week. Neither was good last week, but Stave has more upside and could kick-start the lethargic Badgers offense. Down in Chicago, Trevor Siemian and Kain Colter are having the opposite time under center than up in Madison. Both Northwestern signal callers have been productive and both are still battling for time. An MRI on Minnesota's MarQueis Gray's left leg revealed no damage to the knee but a high ankle sprain could press Max Shortell into action this week. He actually ignited the offense last week and should be able to find space in the Orange secondary. Finally, down at Illinois...

5. Nathan Scheelhaase expects to play 
If it were up to him, he would be the starting quarterback against "as good a team as we've seen." The quarterback hasn't played since Week 1 and is giving Louisiana Tech a healthy amount of respect. As he should with a team that has scored 112 points in two games. Head coach Tim Beckman hasn't announced who will start as of Thursday morning but he has admitted that his starting QB is "close to 100%." This is a tricky game for Illinois' defense and the Fighting Illini need No. 2 under center if they wish to emerge victorious against the defending WAC champs.

6. What is wrong with the Wisconsin offense?
Certainly, quarterback play has been less than adequate. Matt Canada's switch to Stave hopefully will help. But the offensive line has been as big, if not a bigger, issue for this unit. Bret Bielema made a switch after two games, firing Mike Markuson and elevating 27-year old Bart Miller to the position. The line was slightly better against Utah State than it was against Oregon State — but not by much. Four times this team failed to convert on third-and-2 or less and had four penalties (three holding, one false start). This defense has been solid, but dead last in the Big Ten in scoring (113th nationally) and total offense (276.0 ypg) is completely unacceptable in Madtown.

6. Big Ten tries to improve BCS record
The league's record against AQ teams and Notre Dame hasn't been pretty. Against BCS conference teams and the Irish, the Big Ten is a well-documented 4-8. And while Week 4 isn't a huge weekend in the Big Ten, there are some key match-ups that Big Ten faithful need to help them sleep. Illinois will be pushed to the limit by La. Tech, Penn State can't lose to Temple for the first time since 1941 and Minnesota will have its toughest test with Syracuse coming to town. And by the way, Michigan heads to South Bend. A 4-0 mark in those games would stabilize a league teetering on the brink of obscurity this fall.

7. Lots of work for Ohio State in final tune-up
The Bucks open up Big Ten play in Week 5 with a road trip to East Lansing before welcoming Nebraska to the Horseshoe the following week. This means that Urban Meyer needs to iron out several kinks this weekend against UAB. Jordan Hall and the running game has to get more consistent. The pass rush and secondary needs to build on its six-sack performance last weekend. And the defense has to tackle better. All of these issues will come to light in conference play, so this Saturday is the final chance to correct these problems. One thing Meyer doesn't have to fix? His quarterback. Braxton Miller refuses to allow the Buckeyes to lose.

8. Weisman for Heisman!
How can you resist not screaming that at the top of your lungs if you are in the stands at Kinnick Stadium this weekend? He pushed Iowa to victory last week by scoring three touchdowns — two more than any other Hawkeye this season... combined. The passing game is completely inept with no touchdown tosses in three games, and so the offense will likely lean once again on the ground game this weekend. The big fullback had two career rushing attempts before carrying the load 23 times for 113 yards in the win over Northern Iowa and should once again get plenty of touches even with Damon Bullock and Greg Garmon set to return from injury. Heck, three more touchdowns this week and this rhyme may not be that far-fetched.

Week 4 Big Ten Predictions:

Week 4 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
UTEP (+17.5) at Wisconsin Wisconsin, 30-20 Wisconsin, 24-10 Wisconsin, 38-13 Wisconsin, 21-10
C. Michigan (+16) at Iowa Iowa, 28-10 Iowa, 38-10 Iowa, 34-10 Iowa, 24-9
UAB (+37) at Ohio St Ohio St, 45-10 Ohio St, 44-3 Ohio St, 45-7 Ohio St, 42-14
S. Dakota at Northwestern N'Western, 45-10 N'Western, 41-13 N'Western, 41-7 N'Western, 35-10
Temple (+9) at Penn St Penn St, 21-14 Penn St, 24-13 Penn St, 24-20 Penn St, 28-17
Idaho St at Nebraska Nebraska, 41-7 Nebraska, 51-3 Nebraska, 51-7 Nebraska, 38-7
E. Michigan (+33) at Michigan St Mich. St, 41-10 Mich. St, 30-10 Mich. St, 45-13 Mich. St, 28-10
Michigan (+5.5) at Notre Dame Michigan, 28-27 Notre Dame, 24-21 Notre Dame, 27-24 Notre Dame, 35-28
Syracuse (+2) at Minnesota Syracuse, 34-28 Syracuse, 41-39 Syracuse, 31-27 Syracuse, 31-17
Louisiana Tech (off) at Illinois Illinois, 27-21 La. Tech, 31-23 Illinois, 27-24 La. Tech, 35-27
Last Week: 10-2 9-3 11-1 10-2
Yearly Totals: 40-8 37-11 42-6 39-9

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Week 4 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-4-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The Pac-12 is a really good football league. And while Arizona State and Cal barely missed huge upset wins on the road in the SEC and Big Ten respectively, the league is still nipping at the heels of the SEC for national supremacy.

But things are about to get real out West. Conference play is only one game old and it was an instant classic (unless you live in L.A.) and the rest of the Pac-12 opens up conference play across the board this weekend. It is a small slate of action as two teams are off this week (Washington, Stanford), but teams like Oregon State, Utah and Arizona will be thrown into the league fire this weekend.

Pac-12's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 4:

1. Is Arizona ready for big time college football?
The Wildcats are 3-0 and have been humming on offense under the leadership of Matt Scott and Rich Rodriguez. Even the defense has played improved football the last two weeks, slowing Oklahoma State enough to win and shutting out an FCS opponent last week. But this trip to Eugene is a totally different monster. Arizona hasn't come close to proving that it belongs with the league's elite, despite two quality wins over Toledo and the Pokes, and this weekend is a great chance to do that, even if it's simply a moral victory. It's difficult to see a scenario where Arizona walks in Autzen Stadium and hands the Ducks only their second home conference loss since 2007. 

2. Utah's quarterback play will be the difference this weekend
The Utes will face their third straight tough game and they better get used to it as the schedule doesn't appear to get any easier. Arizona State is markedly improved under Todd Graham, but home wins over Illinois and Northern Arizona leave much to be desired. Utah played extremely well last weekend against BYU and will have to get another huge performance from Star Lotulelei if it expects to stop the deep and versatile ASU backfield. That said, a key road win in the Pac-12 South race will likely fall to the Utah quarterback. Travis Wilson should get some reps under center as a change of pace, but Jon Hays played efficient against the Cougars and it led to an upset win. He tossed two scores and no interceptions and will have to continue his quality play to beat the Sun Devils. Of course, a better performance on the ground would help to — Utah rushed for 49 yards on 35 carries against BYU.

3. Beavers weird schedule heads to SoCal
Oregon State got its first game suspended in Week 1. Then the Beavers defeated No. 12 Wisconsin at home in what many believe to be the biggest non-conference home-win in program history (well, as long as UW doesn't implode). And then Mike Riley's squad road the pine again during a bye week last Saturday. So while UCLA will be playing its fourth game this weekend, the Beavers will only be playing their second game. Will the lack of field time negatively impact Riley's chances of going into Los Angeles and pulling off the upset? Only time will tell. This OSU defense could be the best UCLA has faced all season — it held Wisconsin to 207 total yards — and Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley has to have a rough game at some point. The bottom line in this game? If Oregon State can control the nation's leading rusher Johnathan Franklin like it did to Montee Ball, and force Hundley to beat them (and star covercorner Jordan Poyer), then this game will be much closer than Vegas believes. If not, it could be a long night for the Beavs.

4. Former Fresno State quarterbacks battle in The Coliseum
Cal is a tough-luck 1-2, but a losing record is a losing record — especially, for a embattled coach. USC is coming off the biggest loss of the year nationally through three weeks of play. Thus, the stakes could not be higher for either team or coach — two guys who both played quarterback at Fresno State. Jeff Tedford was under center for the Bulldogs from 1981-1982 and eventually took his first coaching job in 1992 at Fresno. Lane Kiffin was a quarterback at FSU from 1994-1996 and took his first job at his alma mater immediately following graduation. The Bears have expended a lot of energy in the first three weeks of the year and one can bet USC will be out for blood. 

5. How do you handicap the Offensive Player of the Year race?
De'Anthony Thomas, Stepfan Taylor or Johnathan Franklin? How about Brett Hundley, Marcus Mariota, Matt Scott or Matt Barkley? Robert Woods, Keenan Allen, Marquess Wilson or Marqise Lee? Oh, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins could be the best tight end in the nation. It is virtually impossible to peg who will be the top finalists for the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year by the end of the season. It's a testament to the level of athlete out west and indicator of the depth of the league this fall. Kick back and enjoy the show folks.

6. What would a 3-1 start mean for Washington State?
Mike Leach's team looked horrible on opening night against BYU, but has bounced back with two "solid" wins. But after starting 3-1 a year ago only to finish 1-7, a home game against the worst AQ team in the country is a must-win. This program hasn't had a winning program since 2003, hasn't even been .500 since 2006 and won a total five games in previous regime's first three seasons. The schedule gets much tougher, but if this team can win against Colorado and pull a couple of upsets along the way (Cal, UCLA, Washington at home, let's say), a five-win season is within reach. Leach is the reason fans in Pullman are excited about football again, and rightly so, he will win games. But if it to be a quick turn around, there is no space for error this weekend.

7. Eugene's race to 100
This week's highest total is Arizona-Oregon at 77.5 — give or take a half of a point. These are the top two scoring offenses in the Pac-12 and sit at No. 5 (Oregon) and No. 12 (Arizona) nationally. Through three games, they have combined to score 301 points — or more than 100 points per game (100.3 ppg). Temple-Penn State, in stark contrast, is the week's lowest total at 43. This should be quite an explosive way to wrap-up the fourth Saturday of the season.

Week 4 Pac-12 Predictions:

Week 4 Pac-12 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Oregon St (+9.5) at UCLA UCLA, 27-20 UCLA, 34-21 UCLA, 38-23 UCLA, 28-21
Colorado (+19) at Washington St Wazzu, 34-14 Wazzu, 41-10 Wazzu, 55-20 Wazzu, 35-10
Cal (+15.5) at USC USC, 31-17 USC, 30-20 USC, 38-20 USC, 38-14
Utah (+7) at Arizona St Utah, 24-21 Arizona St, 24-17 Arizona St, 31-24 Arizona St, 31-21
Arizona (+23.5) at Oregon Oregon, 49-31 Oregon, 48-23 Oregon, 56-30 Oregon, 56-38
Last Week: 9-1 8-2 8-2 8-2
Yearly Totals: 26-8 25-9 25-9 23-11

Bye: Stanford, Washington

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Big East Week 4 Previews and Predictions

Big Ten Week 4 Previews and Predictions

Big 12 Week 4 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 4 Previews and Predictions

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Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections

Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Week 4 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 20, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-contenders-post-week-3
Body:

Each week, the Athlon editors vote on the most prestigious award in all of college football. A nine-man conglomerate of college football gurus from Athlon Sports voted this week for their top Heisman Trophy candidates. The votes will be tallied and the result will be posted as the Athlon Sports Heisman Watch List every week of the regular season.

Voting: Each first-place vote receives 10 points. A second-place vote receives nine points. So on and so forth with a 10th-place vote receiving one point.

USC's Matt Barkley has fallen off of the top slot. After no touchdowns for the first time since 2010 and a loss to Stanford, the Trojans signal caller is no longer the front runner. Barkley was left off of only one ballot this week — direct your complaints/praise to @AthlonSnowman — but stayed safely in the top five. Only three players appeared on all nine ballots and 22 different players received votes.

I have been voting Geno Smith No. 1 each week, and now, the rest of the Athlon staff has seen the light. The West Virginia quarterback is now the top vote-getter for the stiff-armed trophy with seven of nine first-place votes.

Meanwhile, the rest of the nation has closed the gap across the board. There are dynamic quarterbacks like Braxton Miller, explosive running backs like De'Anthony Thomas and a few defenders like Jarvis Jones getting plenty of attention now that the race is wide open. Having said that, the blond-headed gunslinger from Southern California will still have plenty to say in the race to New York. 

1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia (seven first-place votes)
Season Stats: 
66-75, 734 yards, 9 TD, 0 INT, 10 att., 83 yards, TD
West Virginia still hasn't been tested by any quality competition, but its hard to do what Smith has done against air in practice. He is leading the nation in total offense at 422.7 yards per game and is No. 2 in passing efficiency at 209.81 (Casey Pachall, 242.37). The numbers are downright insane — he has as many touchdown passes as he does incompletions — and the level of competition will only continue to get better. West Virginia will play 10 BCS AQ teams the rest of the way. Next game: Maryland

  Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. Geno Smith QB W. Virgina 87/90 7 1 1 - - 9/9
2. De'Anthony Thomas AP Oregon 69/90 1 2 2 2 1 9/9
3. Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 65/90 - 2 3 1 2 9/9
4. Johnathan Franklin RB UCLA 59/60 1 2 1 2 1 8/9
5. Matt Barkley QB USC 40/90 - 1 1 1 1 8/9
6. Stepfan Taylor RB Stanford 26/90 - - - - 2 8/9
7. Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 25/90 - - - 1 - 5/9
8. Collin Klein QB Kansas St 19/90 - - - - 1 4/9
9. AJ McCarron QB Alabama 18/90 - 1 - - - 5/9
10. Marcus Lattimore RB S. Carolina 13/90 - - - 1 - 4/9
11. Le'Veon Bell RB Mich. St 11/90 - - - - - 3/9
12. Kolton Browning QB UL Monroe 10/90 - - - 1 - 2/9
13. Barrett Jones OL Alabama 9/90 - - - - 1 2/9
14. Tajh Boyd QB Clemson 9/90 - - - - - 2/9
15. Aaron Murray QB Georgia 8/90 - - 1 - - 1/9

Also receiving votes: 16. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame, 17. Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville, 18. Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson, 19. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska, 20. Marqise Lee, WR, USC, 21. Matt Scott, QB, Arizona, 22. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan

2. De’Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon
Season Stats: 
13 att., 228 yards, 4 TD, 11 rec., 154 yards, 3 TD, 93 PR yards
Another six offensive touches and another 12 points on the scoreboard. He finished with 135 yards from scrimmage and 87 yards on four punt returns against Tennessee Tech. Through three games, Thomas has scored seven touchdowns on 24 total offensive touches. And while the level of competition has been fairly weak, Thomas has done all of his damage in the first half as Oregon's starters have been on the bench for the second half. Imagine what his numbers would be like if he received 20 touches per game for two halves of football? Of course, that could all change this weekend against Rich Rodriguez' squad. Next Game: Arizona

3. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Season Stats: 
48-78, 611 yards, 7 TD, 2 INT, 56 att., 377 yards, 5 TD
Miller might be the most important player in the nation through three weeks of play. Without his gritty, explosive runs and clutch, big-play passes, Ohio State could be 1-2. The dynamic sophomore led the Buckeyes on two key fourth-quarter drives to give the OSU the lead both times, the last of which ended with a 72-yard game-winning touchdown strike with less than four minutes to play. He totaled 324 yards of offense and five total touchdowns in the win over Cal. There is one more cupcake left for Miller to pad the stats before things get really serious in East Lansing on Sept. 29. Next Game: UAB

4. Johnathan Franklin, RB, UCLA
Season Stats: 66 att., 541 yards, 3 TD, 8 rec., 121 yards, TD
The Bruins are arguably the most improved team in the nation and Franklin's performance is a huge part of it. With help from new star quarterback Brett Hundley, Franklin is leading the nation in rushing (180.3 ypg) and all-purpose yards (222.3 ypg) — a stat normally reserved for players who also play a big role on special teams. In the 37-6 payback win over Houston, Franklin posted a "paltry" 168 yards from scrimmage and has now gone two games without scoring a rushing touchdown. Things will get much more difficult for the Bruins as Pac-12 play begins this weekend. Next Game: Oregon State

5. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Season Stats: 66-109, 818 yards, 10 TD, 3 INT, 8 att., minus-51 yards
Give credit to David Shaw and his staff for a tremendous gameplan against arguably the top passing attack in the nation. Barkley was held without a touchdown for the first time since getting banged-up against Oregon State late in 2010. The Trojans Golden Boy faced pressure all day from a defense targeting a Khaled Holmes-less offensive line, sacking Barkley four times and intercepting him twice. The USC passer will get back on track this weekend — and a little help from his offensive and defensive lines would be nice. Next game: Cal

6. Stepfan Taylor, RB, Stanford
Season Stats: 67 att., 338 yards, 3 TD, 10 rec., 89 yards, TD
The senior tailback was arguably the most valuable player of Week 3 nationally. He carried the ball, caught passes and scored two huge touchdowns in the marquee upset win over USC. He finished with 153 yards rushing on 27 carries and 60 yards receiving on five receptions and was featured heavily in the fourth quarter, wearing down the defense to clinch the win in the final minutes. Next Game: Open Date

7. Jarvis Jones, LB, Georgia
Season Stats: 17 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, INT, 3 FF, 2 PBU
Jones didn't play against Florida Atlantic as a precautionary measure, but head coach Mark Richt is optimistic about his star linebacker's chances to play this week against Vanderbilt. He was the best player on the field against Mizzou and did it with a bad groin. Richt knows he needs Jones for the stretch run and resting him against FAU didn't help his Heisman campaign in the short term, but if it means an SEC title for the Dawgs, he is just fine with that. Next Game: Vanderbilt

8. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Season Stats:
 43-59, 609 yards, 5 TD, 2 INT, 46 att., 210 yards, 4 TD
Few players are easier to root for than CK7 from The Little Apple. He threw for 230 yards and rushed for 85, scoring three total times, in the win over North Texas. He is a gritty leader who gets another shot at his Heisman moment this weekend. An upset over Oklahoma — a team that beat KSU 58-17 last year — would vault Klein to the top of many Heisman ballots. Next Game: at Oklahoma

9. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Season Stats: 
36-56, 607 yards, 7 TD, 0 INT, 13 att., minus-42 yards
McCarron will never have the stats to compare to the rest of the Heisman vote-getters. However, he plays the most important position on the best team in the nation and he does it at an elite level. He is No. 3 nationally in passing efficiency and has led his team to easy wins over Michigan and Arkansas already. Next Game: FAU

10. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina
Season Stats:
48 att., 235 yards, 4 TD, 6 rec., 33 yards
The most talented runner in the nation hasn't been needed the last two weeks in easy wins for the Gamecocks. That will all change this weekend. Lattimore carried 23 times in a key SEC road win in Week 1 and has totaled 25 carries in two games since. Steve Spurrier is saving him, rightly so, for games like this weekend. Next game: Missouri

11. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Michigan State
Season Stats: 81 att., 357 yards, 4 TD, 11 rec., 75 yards

12. Kolton Browning, UL Monroe
Season Stats: 70-113, 649 yards, 6 TD, 1 INT, 30 att., 127 yards, 2 TD

13. Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama
Season Stats (Alabama offense): 42.7 ppg, 399.0 total ypg, 186.7 rush ypg

14. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Season Stats:
63-86, 747 yards, 6 TD, 1 INT, 27 att., 75 yards

15. Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Season Stats:
51-80, 842 yards, 8 TD, 2 INT, 15 att., minus-4 yards, 2 TD

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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ACC Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Pac-12 East Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 3 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Voting: Post-Week 3</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, NFL
Path: /nfl/giants-tom-coughlin-bucs-greg-schiano-who-was-right
Body:

The NFL isn't college football, or baseball for that matter. It's grown men playing a physical game for millions of dollars. There was a dust-up at the end of the Giants-Bucs game in Week 2 that made some national news. Greg Schiano asked his team to go after the football on an Eli Manning kneel down to end the game. And Tom Coughlin didn't like it all that much. So we put it to the Athlon editors and Ralph Vacchiano, who covers the New York Giants for the NY Daily News,: Who was right in Kneel Down-gate?

Debate: Should you adhere to the unwritten rules of the victory formation or is it okay for your team to play hard until the game is over?

Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoNYDN)
If you’re not going to play by the unwritten rules that everyone plays by, then you better let someone know you’ve changed them. The Giants had every right to expect that the Bucs would honor that. As a result, they were essentially in a defenseless position and their linemen or quarterback could’ve gotten seriously injured. What they did simply doesn’t happen in the NFL. Schiano’s actions reeked of a punk kid who shows up in a new class and thinks he knows better than everybody else and wants to teach them how they did things in his neighborhood. What he did was throw a sucker punch thrown just after the bell.

 

Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
This might be a strange answer, and it’s not a cop-out, but neither coach is right and neither is wrong. Well, sort of. I don’t think Schiano should have his players diving at the knees of the opponent’s offensive line and quarterback, while Coughlin has to understand the Buccaneers have to do everything they can to win the game. There’s a middle ground here to find, as Schiano’s teams need to compete to the final snap but not to the extent where a serious injury could occur. I can’t fault Coughlin for being ticked, but I also have a hard time complaining at Schiano for making sure his team gives a full 60-minute effort every week.

 

Nathan Rush
Just because Greg Schiano was coaching in New Jersey against the Giants doesn't mean he should be excused for behaving as if he were still at Rutgers. Knocking down Eli Manning in the Victory Formation was a Little League move. It wasn't a "never say die" strategic play, it was an act of frustrated desperation by a sore loser -- who also happens to be a rookie squaring off against the defending champions. After taking a 27-13 lead in the third quarter, the young Bucs were outscored 28-7 by the G-Men down the stretch, before suffering an embarrassing 41-34 loss. Put the petty in perspective: Schiano has as many NFL games coached as Tom Coughlin has Super Bowl rings. It showed on Sunday.

 

Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
I have no issue whatsoever with what Greg Schiano did and here is why. First, it was a one-score game and if there is a 1000th percent of a chance you can get the ball back, you do what it takes to win the game. If the lead had been two or three scores, I would be against it. Second, I also have an issue with Tom Coughlin, in particular, bitching about a little extra shoving. This isn't baseball, it's a big boy sport and the Giants coach is an abrasive, harsh, disciplinarian who grinds out wins and apologizes for nothing. He isn't going to hold hands and sing kumbaya with his wife and kids much less another head coach. The complaints ring hollow from a coach like him. I was taught to play the game until the final whistle and if the Giants weren't prepared for that, shame on them. "Hey man, you knocked Eli Manning over!" Come on, Tom. That said, if this is the strategy Schiano is going to employ, he better prepare his team to experience the same type of action in return.

 

Mark Ross
Let's see, a rookie coaching just his second career NFL game or a 17-year veteran with more than 140 wins and two Super Bowl rings on his resume. Which one are you going to side with in a battle of he said/he said? In the end, it doesn't really matter if Schiano was right or not in instructing his team to fight until the game is over, there's no way he's winning the battle of public opinion in this one. He can talk about that's the way he coached his players to play while he's at Rutgers, but that's the Big East and this is the NFL. It's football, sure, but you are kidding yourself if you don't think the rules are different when it comes to college and pro. It doesn't help Schano's case to say that "I don't know if that's not something that's not done in the National Football League," even if he is just two games into his professional coaching tenure. For now, I'm willing to chalk this up as a rookie mistake, especially considering Schiano could do little but watch as his team gave up a 14-point third quarter lead prior to the game-ending incident. The key will be how he handles losing, and how he instructs his team to do the same, moving forward.



Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
I side with Tom Coughlin on the debate of rushing hard and/or low into a victory formation, although it hardly seems like a controversy. Greg Schiano and his Buccaneers were simply frustrated from blowing a big lead and giving up 25 fourth-quarter points, so they lost composure and were too aggressive on the last play. Schiano came up with some juvenile “play the full 60 minutes” reasoning right after the game, but that will change after cooling off. You can keep fouling while down 15 points in the last minute of a basketball game, but that doesn’t equal playing hard or a no-quit attitude. It just means you’re stubborn or stupid. This is the NFL, so accept your loss like a man when the other team is in victory formation.

 

Rob Doster (@AthlonDoster)
The neutering of the NFL continues unabated, as supposed tough guy Tom Coughlin called out Greg Schiano and the Bucs for playing contact football. That’s right — the Giants had their delicate feelings bruised because the Bucs hoped to force a turnover down by one score, and poor Eli Manning ended up on his backside. These objections, by the way, come from the franchise that gave us Joe Pisarcik and the Miracle in the Meadowlands, Exhibit A for the fact that a game isn’t over until it’s over. I have an idea: Let’s take all the NFL’s unwritten rules and either write them down or throw them out, starting with the notion that a tackle football game is somehow less than 60 minutes long. 

Related NFL Content:

Athlon Builds the Ultimate Quarterback
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Sunday Stunners: A look back at the Week 2

Teaser:
<p> Who was right: The Bucs' Greg Schiano or Giants' Tom Coughlin?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime
Path: /overtime/dick-vitales-weirdest-summer-tweets-2012
Body:

Dick Vitale is one weird dude. He tweets about 1,000 times per day and has lots to say. He has done loads of great work in support of the fight against cancer, loves his Tampa Bay Rays, Notre Dame football and, obviously, college hoops. 

But occasionally, the crazy train goes off the tracks, culminating in some very weird (and sometimes awesome) tweets. In fact, today he tweeted this random rant against one misunderstood Hollywood youth:

Sept. 18: The strangest Dickie-V tweet I've seen in months was today's random obsession with protecting the people of Southern Cal from the tortures of a Hollywood actress by the name of Amanda Bynes, who is a stunning 26-year-old beauty who has (apparently) acted a little weird of late. But isn't that part of living in Los Angeles?

 

Sept. 16: We know Mike Greenberg is a Jets fan, but NFL analysis packaged with celebrity dating insight combined with smack talk is priceless:

 

 

Aug: 24: The hoops legend is apparently starting his own dating service. And equally concerning, he is hanging out at Chili's:

 

Aug 23: I think many of us were sick to our stomachs when we read about this horrific story. Yet, sending your heart out to someone who is already passed on seems a bit odd. Am I wrong?

 

Sept. 16: Vitale is a man who likes a woman with a great...personality:

 

 

Aug 29: The old coach longing for swim trunks and acting like a pre-teen:

 

 

Sept. 11: Tweeting about the Rays is nothing special, but this is the only one that talked about a spoiled Italian dish: 

 

Sept. 6: This is our first known documentation of Dick Vitale's apparent obsession with Amanda Bynes — and the people of Southern California:

 

Aug 31: Dick Vitale complaing about money is like Jennifer Anniston complaing about aging well. It just doesn't work in my book: 

 

Aug 31: So glad he cleared this up for me, cause I thought for sure he was talking about What I Did Last Summer. Wait, am I thinking about Scream 1, 2, 3 or 4? Also, Wazzu should be 3-1 after this weekend. 

 

Aug 29: There is no chance THIS guy has ever been THIS club while there were other living beings inside. Just imagine DV at Aria in Vegas? Yup, made me laugh too:

 

Aug. 16: Dickie-V is jaded just like the rest of us with politics. However, nominating himself for President is a bit much for this American voter to take:

 

Aug 15: His take on domestic abuse is spot on. But as a man who has never resorted to physical violence towards women, I am not sure what "system" he is talking about. Unless, of course, he is talking about spending lots of time and money to impress women with nothing expected in return:

 

Aug 3: Uh, I have no idea what to tell you here:

 

June 8: From my count, Dickie V wished Magic Johnson and maybe one or two other people happy birthday this summer. Also on that list? The oft-troubled rapper/producer Kanye West — who has a long list of legal trouble:

Teaser:
Post date: Tuesday, September 18, 2012 - 14:00
Path: /college-football/big-ten-post-week-3-power-rankings
Body:

After two concerning weeks of play in the Big Ten, the league watched many of its teams bounce back with easy wins. It finished 10-2 this week with losses to Notre Dame and Ball State, but what was the top win of Week 3? Ohio State inching past Cal? Wisconsin luckily topping Utah State? Or Nebraska over Arkansas State? The point being, it wasn't exactly a marquee slate and Michigan State failed the one national test the league was facing against the Irish. The truth of the matter is there is no BCS national title contender in the B1G this season. That much is obvious.

However, it doesn't mean there won't be plenty of excitement and drama. Both divisions appear to be wide open with at least legit contenders in each one. And quarterback play looks like it will be the key to success. Indiana has lost Tre Roberson. Illinois has been without Nathan Scheelhaase now for two weeks. Purdue looks to have lost Robert Marve (which could be a blessing). And now, both Minnesota and Wisconsin are makings switches — for two very different reasons.

Post-Week 3 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State - Is there anything this kid cannot do? Miller threw for 249 yards and four touchdowns, including two huge fourth-quarter strikes that won the game for the Buckeyes. He added another 75 yards rushing and his fifth touchdown on the ground as well. That's 12 total TDs thus far in three games.

2. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan - The competition was pretty weak, but Robinson was up to his old tricks. He threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns while topping the century mark in rushing (106) and scoring again on the ground. These two dual-threats should battle for POY all season.

3. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska - The junior QB bounced back from the loss to UCLA in excellent fashion. He completed 13-of-14 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns to go with 54 yards rushing and another score. He leads the league in passing yards and is No. 2 in efficiency to go with 176 yards rushing and two more scores.

 

Post-Week 3 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Will Compton, LB, Nebraska -
The Huskers defense got off the mat and played well in a bounce-back performance against a solid Arkansas State offense (286 total yards allowed). Compton posted seven tackles and another tackle for loss. He now leads NU in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks. 

2. Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin - The Badgers struggled to defeat a solid Utah State team but Taylor was the main reason they held on to win. He was all over the field against the dynamic USU option attack. He is now second in the league in tackles after a 15-stop performance this week.

3. Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State - The speedy Buckeye tackler stood out all day in the win over Cal. He made bone-crushing hits, posted 13 total tackles, two tackles for a loss and one of the Bucks' six sacks. He has all the skills needed to be the next great OSU linebacker.

 

Post-Week 3 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State - The Buckeyes' head man gets the nod because A) His team hasn't lost yet B) He has the best team in the league C) And there are no other clear candidates for COY.

2. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern - Most of the coaches in the Big Ten are dealing with major adversity, so an unbeaten record against three consecutive BCS AQ teams makes Fitz a prime candidate (today, at least) for COY.

3. Pick a Name, State U - Mark Dantonio's team got man-handled (again) by Notre Dame. Jerry Kill is 3-0, but who have they beaten? Brady Hoke's team is going to be good but has some major weaknesses. There is no clearcut No. 3 candidate, but I have a feeling Bo Pelini will be back on this list after recovering from a health scare this weekend.

 

Post-Week 3 Power Rankings

1. Ohio State (3-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 3 result: Beat Cal 35-28

The Buckeyes welcomed back starting tailback Jordan Hall and got six sacks from six different players in a game that was much tighter than expected. After taking a 20-7 commanding lead in the first half on the dynamic play-making ability of star quarterback Braxton Miller, Cal dominated the third period of play. It out-gained Ohio State 190-10 and eventually took the lead 21-20 a few minutes into the fourth quarter. But time after time, the Buckeyes turned to Miller to overcome the big-play punches by the Golden Bears. The star dual-threat QB led two long scoring drives to give OSU the lead twice in the final frame, the last of which ended on a game-winning 72-yard touchdown pass in which Miller scrambled right and found a wide open Devin Smith. After another 324 yards of total offense and five total touchdowns, Miller has placed himself squarely in the Heisman race with key completions and gritty runs. He has seven passing touchdowns and five rushing touchdowns on the season. Despite the play of Miller, Urban Meyer knows his team still has some issues. The running game got a boost from Hall (17 att., 87 yards), but was still lackluster. While his pass rush was clearly improved, the tackling was an issue all day as the defense allowed big plays in the running game that nearly cost OSU the win. There are plenty of kinks that need ironing out with one cupcake left to go before the Big Ten season begins in East Lansing.
This week: UAB (1-1)

2. Michigan (2-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 3 result: Beat UMass 63-13
The Wolverines entered this weekend ranked 113th nationally against the run and Brady Hoke was undoubtedly hoping to rebuild those stats against lowly UMass. And while 112 yards isn't exactly what he was hoping for, it was 139 yards fewer than his team had been allowing. Otherwise, Denard Robinson and company got their reps in against a team that had no chance to win the game. Shoelace finished with four total touchdowns and 397 yards of total offense (291 pass, 106 rush) in a warm-up for what should be a monster game next weekend against Notre Dame. He will need his rushing attack against that Irish front seven and it showed up in Week 3 to the tune of 294 yards and six touchdowns on the ground in the win over the Minutemen. See the Michigan State Spartans to know exactly what the Maize and Blue will be facing next week against the Golden Domers.
This week: at Notre Dame (3-0)

3. Michigan State (2-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 3 result: Lost to Notre Dame 20-3
For the second straight season Michigan State got physically dominated by Notre Dame. Le'Veon Bell found no room to run (19 att., 77 yards), Andrew Maxwell was uninspiring (23-of-45, 187 yards, 0 TD) and the vaunted Spartans defense could not make the key play against a freshman quarterback. A combined score of 51-16 over the last two seasons clearly give the Irish's Brian Kelly an advantage over Mark Dantonio. It was a deflating performance that highlighted the weaknesses of a one-dimensional offense in East Lansing. The great news, however, is that Michigan State lost to ND last fall in ugly fashion and then went on to win the Legends Division. Sparty is still very much a top contender for the wide open Big Ten championship. 
This week: Eastern Michigan (0-3) 

4. Nebraska (2-1)
Previous rank: 4
Week 3 result: Beat Arkansas State 42-13

Nebraska took a 28-3 lead into halftime at Memorial Stadium, but when it came out to play the second half, Bo Pelini wasn't in the building. The head coach was taken by ambulance to Bryant West Hospital for precautionary reasons after falling ill in the first half. Huskers athletic director Tom Osbourne released a statement that Pelini is "doing fine" and "looks as though he's in pretty good shape." Arkansas State put together its rally in the third, cutting the lead to 28-13 before Taylor Martinez and Ameer Abdullah willed their team to victory for "interim coach" and current DC John Papuchis. Martinez was brilliant, completing 13-of-14 passes and accounting for three touchdowns, while Abdullah was the workhorse Nebraska needed with Rex Burkhead sitting on the sidelines once again. The sophomore runner carried 30 times and caught two passes for 206 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns. The defense also bounced back from its poor Week 2 showing by holding Ryan Aplin and Arkansas State to only 286 total yards. The four turnovers are concerning for NU, but this was an incredibly efficient performance by the Big Red: 10-of-13 on third down, 13-of-14 passing, 5.9 yards per carry and only four penalties. The head coach and star tailback likely won't be needed to defeat Idaho State next weekend, but a healthy Pelini and Burkhead would be a welcome sight for Nebraska fans.
This week: Idaho State (1-1)

5. Northwestern (3-0)
Previous rank: 6
Week 3 result: Beat Boston College 22-13
It was frustrating at times for Northwestern but a win is a win, and now the Wildcats are the only team in the nation with three wins over BCS AQ teams. Pat Fitzgerald's offense drove into the redzone numerous times throughout this game but simply could not convert, settling for a career-high five field goals from Jeff Budzien. The ground game was the big difference for NW as three different players got at least 15 carries and the team nearly rushed for 300 yards. Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian continue to split reps and both were effective this week. Will Coach Fitz have to pick one or can he continue to rotate passers deep into the Big Ten schedule? That remains to be seen. Meanwhile, the once-maligned Wildcats defense continues to show slight improvement, holding BC to 25 yards rushing on 21 carries while keeping them 20 points below their scoring average (33 ppg coming in). With South Dakota and Indiana up next, a 5-0 start is likely for a team that appears to have plenty of mental toughness. 
This week: South Dakota (1-1)

6. Purdue (2-1)
Previous rank: 9
Week 3 result: Beat Eastern Michigan 54-16
With just over nine minutes to go in the second quarter, Eastern Michigan kicked a field goal to cut the lead to four points at 13-9. Purdue then scored five straight touchdowns and outscored EMU 41-7 the rest of the way to win the first of a four-game home stand. Without having to look over his shoulder at Robert Marve, Caleb TerBush spread the wealth all over the field in West Lafayette. Six different Boilermakers scored seven offensive touchdowns and four players rushed for at least 47 yards. In fact, of Purdue's 576 total yards of offense, 392 came on the ground on an absurd per carry average of 9.3 yards. With a bye week coming next Saturday and stability under center, this rushing attack should have the Boilermakers 3-1 when Michigan heads to town on Oct. 6.
This week: Open Date

7. Wisconsin (2-1)
Previous rank: 5
Week 3 result: Beat Utah State 16-14
The Badger faithful need to head into Week 4 extremely thankful to be 2-1. After making a coaching change along the offensive line, Wisconsin's once-vaunted power rushing attack continues to be a shell of its former self (3.5 yards per carry on 45 attempts). It did show improvement from last week, and when needed, the Badgers drove the ball on the ground giving the football to Montee Ball six straight times for the go-ahead touchdown. That said, it took a huge third-quarter special teams touchdown from Kenzel Doe and a missed 37-yard yard field goal from Utah State as time expired to beat the Aggies. The biggest issue? Play-calling and quarterback play. Matt Canada continues to be lackluster as the architect and Danny O'Brien was so lost in the first half against a WAC team that he was benched at halftime. Joel Stave, a big 6-foot-5, 220-pound youngster, played the entire second half and showed a nice arm. But he wasn't asked to do much of anything (2-of-6 passing, 15 yards) and there are serious doubts about this passing game being able to complete big plays in key spots late in games. This team is nowhere near what it was last fall and games against Purdue, Illinois and Penn State are now complete toss ups in the race for the Leaders Division crown.
This week: UTEP (1-2)

8. Illinois (2-1)
Previous rank: 7
Week 3 result: Beat Charleston Southern 44-0
Starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase sat out his second straight game, but this time around Reilly O'Toole was near perfect. And the defense did the rest. The back-up signal caller completed his first 10 passes for 106 yards and two scores to kickstart the Illini offense and he finished 26-of-31 for 333 yards and five touchdowns in the blowout win. The defense whitewashed the overmatched Buccaneers with relative ease as CSU finished 0-of-13 on third downs and totaled 125 yards of offense. It was a much-needed breather after the ugly West Coast trip to Arizona State last week. And in this league, any easy win is welcomed with open arms. Scheelhaase is questionable for the tricky test with the defending WAC champion Bulldogs next weekend.
This week: Louisiana Tech (2-0)

9. Iowa (2-1)
Previous rank: 8
Week 3 result: Beat Northern Iowa 27-16
The Hawkeyes needed to find offense from somewhere, but I doubt many believe walk-on fullback Mark Weisman would be the guy. He carried the ball 23 times for 113 yards and three short touchdown runs in place of the injured Damon Bullock and Greg Garmon. Weisman's three scores were three time the total number of touchdowns scored all season by the entire Iowa team in its first two games. Quarterback James Vandenberg played his best game as the Hawks battled with in-state upstart Northern Iowa for three quarters before eventually shutting out UNI in the final frame. The offense was better (429 total yards), but this team still does not have a passing touchdown on the season and played a third-straight tight game. Can I? Should I? Okay, why not: Weisman for Heisman!
This week: Central Michigan (1-1)

10. Penn State (1-2)
Previous rank: 10
Week 3 result: Beat Navy 34-7
Finally, Nittany Lion nation can breathe a sigh of relief. Bill O'Brien's team showed marked improvement from Week 1 to Week 2, but simply couldn't close the deal against Virginia in heart-breaking fashion. This Saturday, he made sure his team left no doubt as they rolled through the Naval Academy with relative ease. Without either of his top two tailbacks, quarterback Matt McGloin had the best games of his career (231 yards, 4 TD) in leading his team to a 34-0 lead before the Midshipmen finally got on the board for the first time with 10 minutes to go in the game. Wideout Allen Robinson continues to shine with another great game: 5 rec., 136 yards, 3 TD. There are few wins this weekend that mean as much and feel as good as Penn State's did Saturday as this program was in dire need of something positive to rally behind. And who knows, in this year's Big Ten Leaders Division that appears to be completely wide open, maybe the Nits will be a factor after all.
This week: Temple (0-2)

11. Minnesota (3-0)
Previous rank: 11
Week 3 result: Beat Western Michigan 28-23
The Gophers were trailing 10-7 with four minutes to go in the second quarter when Marqueis Gray hurt his left ankle and leg. The Big Ten's most efficient passer after two weeks (yes, you read that right) was carted off the field and never returned. Never fear, however, as back-up Max Shortell reenergized the sputtering passing attack by completing 5-of-6 passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns in the final minutes of the first half to give the Gophers a 21-10 halftime lead. The Broncos made it interesting in the final few minutes with a late touchdown but Minnesota held on for its first 3-0 start since 2008. Tailback Donnell Kirkwood helped his young quarterback by rushing for a career-high 123 yards on 23 attempts, including one key 26-yard run late in the game that all but sealed the win. Jerry Kill's three wins this year have already matched the win total in each of the previous two seasons in the Twin Cities.
This week: Syracuse (1-2)

12. Indiana (2-1)
Previous rank: 12
Week 3 result: Lost to Ball State 41-39
In what was likely the most entertaining game of the Big Ten Week 3 slate, Indiana lost a heart-breaking affair for the second straight season to Ball State. Without star quarterback Tre Roberson, the Hoosiers saw the lead change hands seven times including twice in the final 49 seconds. Cameron Coffman, in his first career start, threw for 251 yards and two scores before being pulled for true freshman Nate Sudfield. And in one quarter trailing by 13, Sudfield rallied Indiana with one big 70-yard touchdown throw and another 77-yard drive to take the lead with less than a minute left. He finished 13-of-20 for 172 yards and two scores. However, Ball State QB Keith Wenning was masterful in guiding his team on yet another scoring drive in the final 49 seconds to set up the game-winning 42-yard field goal. Unfortunately, Kevin Wilson's bunch might be done winning games in 2012.
This week: Open Date


by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 3 Recap

ACC Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Pac-12 East Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 3 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Post-Week 3 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, September 17, 2012 - 06:01
Path: /college-football/pac-12-post-week-3-power-rankings
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The Pac-12 continues to show its depth as the second-best league in the country. But it might have cost them a national championship contender. And Stanford was the culprit that both illustrates the strength of the league while also potentially knocking USC out of the BCS title game. The run the Cardinal are on against the Trojans is remarkable and will only make the North Division race that much more interesting. Meanwhile, the South Division just got extremely intriguing. UCLA and Arizona are clicking on an unprecedented number of cylinders while Utah won a key non-conference game against a very solid BYU team. Oh, and USC is trailing all of them in the division standings currently.

Post-Week 3 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Matt Scott, QB, Arizona - The opponent leaves much to be desired, but Scott has simply been unstoppable. He completed 30-of-36 passes for 288 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions while rushing nine times for 61 yards and another score on the ground. His 395.0 yards of total offense per game is fourth nationally and leads the Pac-12.

2. De'Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon - There is no more dangerous and explosive player in the nation. Thomas carried three times for 62 yards and a TD. He caught three passes for a team-leading 72 yards and a touchdown. And he returned four punts for 87 yards. That is seven total TDs in 24 offensive touches in three games (really, just three first halves).

3. Brett Hundley and Johnathan Franklin, UCLA -  Hundley threw for his second-straight 300-yard effort and has eight passing touchdowns in three games. He leads the league's top offense as UCLA trails only Oklahoma State nationally in yards per game (622 ypg). Franklin's 168 yards from scrimmage (110 rushing) and no scores seems so paltry compared to his first two games, but still gives him the lead nationally in rushing (180.3 ypg).

Note: Don't worry, Matt Barkley will be back in the top three shortly, so I thought I would throw a bone to the rest of the loaded Pac-12

Post-Week 3 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Star Lotulelei, DL, Utah - The Utes totally shutdown the BYU Cougars for three quarters. He posted seven tackles, one tackle for loss and blocked the game-tying 51-yard field goal attempt with no time left on the clock. He is arguably the best defensive player in the league and was on full display Saturday night in one of the best rivalries in college football.

2. Jake Fischer, LB, Arizona - The Pac-12's leading tackler (11.0 per game) posted another six stops and a tackle for loss as the leader of a defense that pitched its first shutout in four seasons and allowed 154 total yards of offense.

3. Jordan Richards, DB, Stanford - Really the Defensive Human of the Week is Stanford DC Derek Mason, but Richards had a huge game against the best passing attack in the nation. He posted two interceptions, four tackles, a tackle for loss and four passes defensed — which gives him a Pac-12-best nine on the year.

Post-Week 3 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Chip Kelly, Oregon - The Ducks have been so dominant that few of Kelly's starters have gotten any playing time in the second half. His offense is arguably the best in the nation and, now, he will be ranked ahead of a one-loss USC in the polls. His defense will get a test this weekend from Rich Rodriguez' Wildcats.

2. David Shaw, Stanford - Shaw's coaching staff deserves loads of credit for the game plan against Matt Barkley, both offensively and defensively. Shaw has never lost to Lane Kiffin and now is doing it without all-universe quarterback Andrew Luck. No doubt, Shaw is the national coach of the week this weekend.

3. Jim Mora Jr., UCLA - Few teams in the nation have shown more improvement than UCLA and after another 567 total yards, 98 plays and 37 points, the Bruins are 3-0 and poised to challenge in the South. Is this the same team that lost eight games last fall?

Post-Week 3 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (3-0)
Previous rank: 2
Week 3 result: Beat Tennessee Tech 63-14
Former Tennessee wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers caught a touchdown pass for Tennessee Tech to make the score 7-0. Oregon then scored seven straight touchdowns and that was that for Chip Kelly. Most of the starters were out of the game by halftime as the high-flying offense continued its mastery of college football. Marcus Mariota threw four touchdown passes, De'Anthony Thomas touched the ball six times and scored twice and the defense allowed a total of 177 yards. This offense is such a machine that stud recruit Byron Marshall was the most used weapon, carrying 13 times for a game-high 125 yards and the Ducks' final touchdown. Tennessee Tech is obviously no challenge and the schedule only gets tougher for Oregon from here on out, however, Alabama might be the only team that has looked better than Kelly's bunch. This team has scored 162 points in three games with 125 coming in the first half — when the starters have been playing.  
This week: Arizona (3-0)

2. Stanford (3-0)
Previous rank: 4
Week 3 result: Beat USC 21-14
The numbers are well reported. It is the fourth straight win for Stanford and the fifth in sixth years over USC. But this win, without Andrew Luck or Jim Harbaugh, has to be the most satisfying. Not only were the Trojans ranked No. 2 in the nation, but some of the David Shaw/Josh Nunes doubters have to pipe down for the time being. The defensive game plan from coordinator Derek Mason was brilliant as it shut down one of the nation's premiere offensive attacks. He attacked the Khaled Holmes-less offensive line up the gut and it knocked Matt Barkley completely out of rhythm. Then Nunes delivered on a handful of big passes and the power rushing attack took over the game. The underrated Stepfan Taylor carried the offense, rushing 27 times for 153 yards and a score on the ground to go with five receptions for 60 yards and another score through the air. Fans of other teams from around the Pac-12 can thank the Cardinal and Shaw for executing the precise blueprint for success over USC. Slow the game down and be physical. Stanford gets a well-desreved rest this weekend and it comes at a great time as the upcoming schedule doesn't get much easier: at Washington, Arizona, at Notre Dame and at Cal.
This week: Open Date

3. USC (2-1)
Previous rank: 1
Week 3 result: Lost to Stanford 21-14
Star center Khaled Holmes didn't play and the void left in the middle of the USC offensive line was likely the difference between an unbeaten season, and now, a vicious battle for the Pac-12 South title. Matt Barkley had little time to throw and the Trojans ground game had little space to run as Stanford consistently attacked the heart of the USC offense. The Heisman frontrunner is now a very Peyton Manning-esque 0-4 against Stanford for his career and won't get another shot unless the two squads rmeet again in the Pac-12 title game. He finished 20-of-41 for 253 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns for the first time since getting hurt against Oregon State two seasons ago. The dynamic wideout tandem of Robert Woods and Marqise Lee posted 37 receptions, 398 yards and eight touchdowns combined through two games. They caught no touchdowns and combined for 138 yards Saturday night. Lane Kiffin is now 0-2 against David Shaw and USC has lost four straight for the first time in the history of this rivalry. A conference crown and national title are still very much within reach and losing early isn't the worst thing that could happen to the Men of Troy. If they win out, there is still a good chance they land in the national title game. But make no mistake, the worst fears of Trojan supporters were realized: USC could have trouble stopping a power rushing attack in big games. Stanford out-rushed the Trojans 200 to 23 yards and Monte Kiffin's defense couldn't get any key stops in the fourth quarter.
This week: Cal (1-2)

4. UCLA (3-0)
Previous rank: 3
Week 3 result: Beat Houston 37-6
Houston defeated UCLA 38-34 last season in Houston and what a difference a year makes. Both teams have changed coaches and quarterbacks, and this time around, UCLA completely crushed the C-USA power. The No. 1 offense in the Pac-12 rolled-up 247 yards rushing and 320 yards passing and 37 points in the third straight win for the Bruins under Jim Mora. Eleven different players caught a Brett Hundley pass, including defensive line standout Datone Jones, who caught a touchdown pass to go with his four tackles and three tackles for loss. Led by Jones, the defense also played well, holding the once-stellar Cougar offense to zero points for the first 55 minutes of play. The statistical improvement from last year has been remarkable for UCLA. This team was 72nd in total offense last year nationally and sits at No. 2 nationally in 2012. This team was 88th in scoring at 23.1 points per game and are now scoring 40.7 per game this year. This team was 92nd in scoring defense at 31.4 points per game last fall and are now 40th at 20.0 per game this time around. This week: Oregon State (1-0) 

5. Arizona (3-0)
Previous rank: 5
Week 3 result: Beat South Carolina State 59-0
There was little to learn about Arizona against SCSU this weekend, but sandwiched around national games against Oklahoma State in Week 2 and a trip north to Oregon next weekend, the Wildcats had to take of business in Week 3. And take care of business was exactly what RichRod's team did. The defense pitched a shutout and allowed only 154 yards of total offense, stopping SCSU on all but two of its 13 third-down attempts. On offense, Matt Scott continued his brilliance. His offense ran 102 plays for 689 yards and registered 43 first downs in the blowout win. Ka'Deem Carey also scored his sixth touchdown of the season. This team is good, but how good won't be known until it attempts to head north to Eugene this weekend. There should be plenty of points, but is Zona ready for the big time? A 3-1 start is still good, right?
This week: at Oregon (3-0)


6. Washington (2-1)
Previous rank: 6
Week 3 result: Beat Portland State 52-13
Consider the wounds officially licked. However, the Huskies better rest up during the bye week because their journey only gets worse. After a brutal thrashing at the hands of LSU, and with Stanford, Oregon and USC the next three games, Portland State was exactly what Washington needed. Keith Price was effective and spread the ball around to his big-play receivers on the outside.  The running game was reestablished behind a great afternoon from Bishop Sankey. And the defense got third-down stops and the turned the ball over to its offense. It was a great confidence boost heading into arguably the toughest three-game stretch any team in the Pac-12 will play all season. Ideally, the trip to Baton Rouge was a learning experience because this league appears much deeper than believed.
This week: Open Date


7. Utah (2-1)
Previous rank: 10
Week 3 result: Beat BYU 24-20
The 12-year winning streak over Utah State that was snapped last week, and combined with the retirement of starting quarterback Jordan Wynn, fans in Salt Lake City were very nervous about The Holy War. Well, just because the Utes have issues on offense, doesn't mean the defense isn't still one of the league's best. Led by Star Lotulelei and a game-changing defensive touchdown, Utah won a quirky rivalry game to save its season. Late in the third quarter, BYU had a first down on the Utah 25 trailing 10-7. A bad snap and subsequent fumble was scooped up by Mo Lee and returned for a touchdown, capping a 17-point quarter. BYU came back with two fourth-quarter touchdowns but Lotulelei delivered the final blow, blocking a potential game-tying 51-yard field goal attempt as time expired. Quarterback play will be an issue for this team going foward — and the rushing game struggled against a quality defense — but this defense should keep the Utes in most games they play from here on out. Kyle Whittingham's bunch is still a major factor in the suddenly very interesting Pac-12 South race.
This week: at Arizona State (2-1)

8. Oregon State (1-0)
Previous rank: 7
Week 3 result: Bye Week
With two open dates in the first three weeks, intentionally or not, Oregon State now looks at 11 straight weeks of play. At least Mike Riley's bunch should be rested as they will play three of the next four on the road: at UCLA, at Arizona, Washington State and at BYU.
This week: at UCLA (3-0)

9. California (1-2)
Previous rank: 9
Week 3 result: Lost to Ohio State 35-28
Coaches will never claim a moral victory but Cal fans have to be very pleased with the way their team played this weekend in the Horseshoe. After falling behind 20-7 at halftime, Cal dominated the third quarter 190-10 in yardage and eventually took the lead early in the fourth quarter. Behind big plays from freshman tailback Brendan Bigelow, Cal battled back into the game and nearly pulled off the upset. The Bears out-gained the Buckeyes by 100 yards (512 to 412) but Ohio State's star quarterback Braxton Miller and angry pass rush was too much to overcome on the road. Miller was unstoppable in the final frame making clutch throws and gritty runs on two huge scoring drives. The key breakdown coming on a 72-yard touchdown pass in which Cal allowed Devin Smith to stroll wide open down the right sideline. Zack Maynard and brother Keenan Allen played valiantly but could not overcome six sacks (Cal had none on defense) and eventually fell to the Big Ten power. Jeff Tedford, who seems to be getting some unfair levels of heat in Berkeley, now faces USC, Arizona State and UCLA in his next three. So while he criticism might be somewhat unwarranted, a 1-5 start to the season would likely be unacceptable.
This week: at USC (2-0)

10. Arizona State (2-1)
Previous rank: 8
Week 3 result: Lost to Missouri 24-20
The Sun Devils put themselves in a big hole, trailing 24-7 entering the fourth quarter. But Todd Graham's guys showed some fight and clawed back to within four and nearly overcame four turnovers on offense to defeat a James Franklin-less Missouri team. Quarterback Taylor Kelly has played well this season and led ASU on two fourth-quarter scoring drives which ended in two Marion Grice touchdown runs. However, a botched extra point attempt on the final score likely cost the Sun Devils a chance to send the game into overtime. Arizona State got the ball back with 1:58 left in the game in field goal range at the Mizzou 21. Three plays later, Kelly tossed his second interception in the endzone to thwart the comeback effort. Had the extra point not been missed, an ASU field goal could have tied the game. A bowl pecking order contest with Utah is not on tap for the Sun Devils.
This week: Utah (2-1)

11. Washington State (2-1)
Previous rank: 11
Week 3 result: Beat UNLV 35-27
Back-up quarterback Connor Halliday is making a serious case to be the starting quarterback at Washington State. He made his second career start Friday night, throwing for four first-half touchdowns and 378 yards in a key road win for the Cougars. He already has two freshman passing records — 494 yards and four touchdowns coming off the bench to beat Arizona State last year — to his credit and starter Jeff Tuel has been unable to stay on the field for any extended period of time. These two factors alone could make Mike Leach's coming decision on who should start a bit more difficult. In the win over UNLV, the Air Raid offense looked its best thus far this season and receivers Marquess Wilson and Gabe Marks got on track, catching two long scoring strikes as Wilson finally looked like the preseason All-American experts believed him to be. Yet, there is still cause for concern. Wazzu allowed 460 yards of offense, needed a stop in its own territory as time expired to hold on for the win and lost the time of possession battle by more than 11 minutes (35:32 to 24:28). Not being able to run the football (83 yards on Friday) or convert on third down (5-of-14) or keep the flags off the field (12 penalties for 128 yards) against a team as bad as the 0-3 Rebels is a warning sign that this team might not be ready for postseason play just yet.
This week: Colorado (0-3)

12. Colorado (0-3)
Previous rank: 12
Week 3 result: Lost to Fresno State 69-14
At this point, there isn't much to say. The Buffs are off to arguably the worst start in school history with losses to two "mid-majors" and an FCS program. But at least the first two were extremely competitive. That was not the case against Fresno State. Derek Carr led his team to a 35-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. The first quarter. The Bulldogs out-gained the Buffaloes 665 yards to 278 and forced four Colorado turnovers in the lop-sided victory. An 0-12 season is very much a possibility.
This week: at Washington State (2-1)

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 3 Recap

ACC Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 3 Power
Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 3 Power Rankings

Pac-12 Post-Week 3 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 3 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Post-Week 3 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, September 17, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /nfl/most-important-stats-nfl-sunday-week-2
Body:

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

Here are the most important, most intriguing and most bizarre statistics from Week 2 of NFL play: 

Nov. 18, 2001: The last time the New England Patriots lost at home to an NFC West team
The last time New England lost at home to an NFC West team, the NFL only had six divisions. The St. Louis Rams were the last such team to go into the Pats' home stadium and win. It puts into perspective what the Arizona Cardinals accomplished on Sunday in their 20-18 win in Foxborough. In fact, only once since 2002 has any NFC team gone into Gillette Stadium and won — the 2011 Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. The Green Bay Packers in '02 were the last NFC team before last year's Giants to win in New England. 

75: Total points allowed in two games by the New Orleans Saints
Against two teams that combined for a 11-21 record last fall, Washington and Carolina, the Saints allowed 40 and then 35 points in two bad losses to start 2012. The 75 total points allowed is worst in the NFL as the defense has allowed a league-worst 922 total yards of offense to start the year. Not having the leadership of Sean Payton has clearly had an impact on the Saints' playoff chances. A visit from the equally defensively inept Kansas City Chiefs should help in Week 3, but a trip to Green Bay and a home game against San Diego loom large before the bye week. The Chiefs are tied for last in the league with the Saints in points allowed, so there should be plenty of offense in the Superdome. Having said all of that, have no fear Who Dat? Nation because...

12%: The number of 0-2 teams that will make the playoffs
Since 1990, 12 percent of teams that begin the season 0-2 have gone on to make the playoffs. That is roughly one out of eight. The Saints are actually the only NFC team without a win thus far while the AFC claims the Titans, Jaguars, Browns, Raiders and Chiefs. There is obviously a chance none of those winless teams makes the postseason, but it seems pretty fair to assume that one and only one of those six will land in the promised land. And let's be honest, none of those other five teams appear capable of making any sort of playoff push, so if this year features an 0-2 playoff team, odds are it will be the Saints.

43:17: A Texans franchise record for time of possession
Houston held the ball for a franchise record 43:17 in the dominating 27-7 win over Jacksonville. The Texans also set a team record for total offensive plays with 83 and rushing attempts with 48. The 28 first downs were No. 2 all-time in team history. The defense set a few records for Jacksonville as well, by allowing a Jaguars team only 117 yards of total offense and a pathetic 16:43 minutes time of possession. While New England fell to Arizona, the Texans flexed some serious muscle on both sides of the ball. After two weeks of play, the Texans look like the best team in the AFC.

26-to-5: Alex Smith's TD-to-INT ratio under Jim Harbaugh
Smith has played 20 total games under Jim Harbaugh's leadership in San Francisco including the playoffs. He is 16-4 as the starter, with one of those losses coming in the NFC Championship game against the eventual champions last year. He hasn't throw an interception in a franchise-record 216 consecutive passes and has the 49ers 2-0 against two playoff hopefuls from the NFC North. To put these numbers into perspective, consider his win-loss record and TD:INT ratio prior to Harbaugh's arrival. Smith was 19-31 as a starter with 41 touchdowns and 53 interceptions. Now, under the tutelage of the QB Whisperer, Smith hasn't missed a start and is the leader of the best team in the NFL.

1: Total interceptions thrown by the five rookie quarterbacks
The five rookie quarterbacks making their debut in Week 1 combined to throw 11 interceptions and only four touchdowns in their first taste of NFL football. They went 1-4 as starters with Robert Griffin III and the Redskins getting the only win. This week, the quintet was dramatically improved, throwing only one interception (RG3) and accounting for 10 total touchdowns. The group improved to 3-2 as starters and three of the five now have a career 300-yard passing game as Brandon Weeden joined Griffin III and Andrew Luck with 322 yards against the Bengals.

12: NFL-record first-half receptions by Rams Danny Amendola
The stars of what was likely the best game of the day were certainly Sam Bradford and Robert Griffin III — and possibly the replacement refs, but that is for an entirely different reason. But the little St. Louis wideout tied an NFL record by catching 12 passes in the first half of the huge 31-28 over the Redskins. Bradford finished with 26 completions, 15 of which went to the former Texas Tech receiver, which tied a franchise record for catches in a game with Isaac Bruce and Willie Anderson (who went for a team-record 336 yards on his 15 receptions). Amendola finished with 160 yards and one touchdown after catching five total passes in 2011.

364: C.J. Spiller's total yards from scrimmage in two games
The NFL's leading rusher by a mile (292 yards) is the Bills third-year running back from Clemson. The all-purpose dynamo's 364 yards from scrimmage is the third-best two-game start to a season in Buffalo history (ESPN.com). Thurman Thomas (410, 1991) and O.J. Simpson (405, 1975) are the only other players in franchise history to gain more yards in the team's first two games. That is pretty good company for Spiller. He has topped 100-yards in both games and has scored three times — tied for the NFL lead in touchdowns with three others (Arian Foster, Vernon Davis, Nelson Rosario). Most importantly, the Bills got the win in Week 2.

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> Most Important Stats From NFL Sunday: Week 2</p>
Post date: Monday, September 17, 2012 - 05:59
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-week-3
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Every Friday for entertainment purposes only, I will bring you my top college football picks against the spread. I do not condone, approve or encourage gambling on sports in any way. But if you are a fan of football — college or pro — and you don't think gambling has played a huge role in the growth and popularity of the sport, then you are simply being ignorant. And behind closed doors, the powers that be understand the impact betting has had on the game of football.

2012 Record Against The Spread: 10-7
Last Week: 3-5

Let's just say, Week 2 was not my finest hour. Games that I decided not to include in the final minutes? Western Kentucky +40, Maryland +10, UCLA +5.5, Mississippi State -3 and Florida +2.5. Clearly, I made some bad decisions, but there is no rest for the weary and Week 3 features plenty of chances to bounce back.

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Virginia Tech (-10) at Pitt
No, Pitt isn't as bad as its 0-2 record suggests. But the reason the Panthers have played so poorly is due to lack of locker room cohesion and commitment. With four different coaches in three seasons, the players clearly lack identity. The Hokies, on the flip side, are a team built on 26 years of Frank Beamer's identity. And Logan Thomas has Va. Tech off to a hot start — something that Beamer and company rarely seem to enjoy at the start of the season. Defensively, the Panthers will find sledding extremely tough as some believe this could be the best Bud Foster unit ever. This one should get ugly very quickly and the line seems considerably off-base. Prediction: Virginia Tech (-10)

Western Michigan (+2.5) at Minnesota
Jerry Kill knows all about Western Michigan when he beat them twice while at Northern Illinois. Now he has a balanced Big Ten attack that rushes for 224.5 yards per game and passes for 220.5 yards per game. The Gophers are 2-0 behind key plays at key times from senior leader Marqueis Gray. He is fourth in the Big Ten in total offense at 273.0 yards per game and is leading the league in passing efficiency. The Broncos played better in Week 2 against Eastern Illinois after rushing for minus-6 yards against Illinois in the season opener. Kill has the Gophers playing better than they have in years, and while Alex Carder could keep WMU in the game, Gray and company should pull away in the fourth. Prediction: Minnesota (-2.5)

Houston (+16) at UCLA
The Bruins are one of the best stories in college football thus far and have been equally effective against the number (2-0). Houston beat UCLA last fall and revenge will absolutely be on the mind of Johnathan Franklin and company. Quarterback Brett Hundley has been near perfect in two career games, Franklin is leading the nation in rushing and this unit is playing with a toughness on defense fans haven't seen in Westwood in years. The Cougars, on the other hand, are 0-2, have allowed 86 total points and give up 521 yards of offense per game. If UCLA could toss 653 yards up on the Black Shirts of Nebraska, imagine what they could do this weekend? Predictions: UCLA (-16)

Texas A&M (-12) at SMU
The Mustangs allowed Baylor to roll-up 613 yards of total offense and 59 points two weeks ago in the opener, 220 of that came on the ground. Texas A&M might boast the best running game SMU will face all season and the TAMU offensive line should have its way with the over-matched Mustang front seven. The Aggies and new head coach Kevin Sumlin lost a gritty battle with Florida and this game should feel like practice after having to block the Gators defenders for sixty minutes. In search of his first win, Sumlin will allow his offense to make a statement. Prediction: Texas A&M (-12)

Boston College (+3.5) at Northwestern
The defensive performance by the Wildcats last week against Vanderbilt was one of the more surprising performances of the entire Week 2 slate. After getting destroyed on that side of the ball by Syracuse in Week 1, Pat Fitzgerald's bunch held the Dores completely in check. It also made Northwestern the only team in the nation with two BCS conference wins thus far. The purple Cats are 2-0 against the number as well and Boston College isn't in a position to challenge for the win on the road. Northwestern has played two totally different games thus far and this one should be somewhere in the middle. Prediction: Northwestern (-3.5)

Texas (-9) at Ole Miss
Had this game been played in Week 1, the Longhorns could have been a three touchdown favorite. Two relatively easy wins over bad competition for Ole Miss has brought this number down under 10. The issue, however, is that Texas has been better than anticipated as well. David Ash isn't turning the ball over, the defense is downright salty (shutting out New Mexico last week) and a host of elite play-makers on offense has Mack Brown's squad thinking Big 12 title. Keep a keen eye locked on freshman No. 27 Daje Johnson. In his first game of his college career, he touched the ball four times for 70 yards and a score. He will be used in a variety of ways and has special big-play talent. Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace has played well to start his Rebel career, but has never seen anything like this Texas defensive front. Prediction: Texas (-9)

USC (-8) at Stanford
The Cardinal have won three straight and four out of five, but Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck are both gone. But Matt Barkley nearly upset the Luck-led Stanford team last fall and there isn't a defensive back on the team who can cover Robert Woods or Marqise Lee. Josh Nunes played better and Shayne Skov's returns is a big boost to the defense. But one team is a national title contender and the other may struggle to win eight games this year. This was a bizarre cover last year for Stanford with a two-point conversion in overtime giving the Cardinal the win outright and against the number. It shouldn't be that close this time around. Prediction: USC (-8)

Mississippi State (-16) at Troy
The Trojans of Alabama have had an impossible time getting stops on defense. Against UAB and UL Lafayette, Troy has allowed at least 29 points and 424.0 yards of offense per game. The Bulldogs have been extremely impressive in two easy wins, one of which came against Auburn last weekend. Tyler Russell is playing well, the defense is fundamentally sound and this team sees and opportunity to move up in the SEC West with Arkansas, Auburn and Texas A&M stumbling out of the gate. Hail State will roll big. Prediction: Mississippi State (-16)

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Teaser:
<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 3</p>
Post date: Friday, September 14, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-3-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Week 2 wasn't any better than Week 1 for Big Ten fans. In fact, it was much worse. As stated in the weekly Big Ten recap, the league is 2-7 against BCS conference teams and Notre Dame. Those two wins are Northwestern's victories over Syracuse and Vanderbilt.

The bruised Midwestern egos are hanging in the balance this Saturday, and for many, redemption is a must. Wisconsin, Penn State and Iowa all lost and all face tricky tests this weekend against teams they should beat. Don't be surprised if one trips up again. 

The best medicine for the Big Ten, though, would be a great showing from Michigan State against Notre Dame...

Big Ten's Top 10 Storylines to Watch in Week 3:

1. Which Andrew Maxwell shows up this weekend?
If Michigan State is going to pull the upset over Notre Dame, its junior quarterback is going to have to play efficient and consistent football. That means the player who threw for 275 yards, two scores and no interceptions in Week 2 needs to be under center. Not the guy who threw three interceptions and no touchdowns in Week 1. Certainly, Boise State had something to do with his struggles, but Mark Dantonio is going to have to get big plays - and not turnovers - from Maxwell in order to beat a Notre Dame team that has allowed three touchdowns all season. Don't forget that Notre Dame handled the Spartans with relative ease last season, winning 31-13. This game features two of the best front-sevens in football and which first-year starter under center plays the most mistake-free football will likely win. 

2. Bret Bielema and staff need to look in the mirror
Everyone knew losing offensive coordinator Paul Chryst was going to be extremely difficult for Wisconsin to overcome. But many glossed over the fact that Bielema had to completely rebuild his coaching staff this offseason as a total of six assistants left for jobs elsewhere. The UW staff didn't waste much time evaluating the new hires either. After the pathetic showing against Oregon State last weekend, Bielema replaced offensive line coach Mike Markuson. While two games doesn't feel like the right amount of time to accurately judge his staff, one thing is certain, offensive coordinator Matt Canada has been overmatched. His gameplans have lacked creativity and the numbers have been startling. Try 207 total yards from the Big Ten's most potent offense a year ago against Oregon State. However, it's not just one guy's fault. The offensive line needs to play better, Montee Ball has looked uninspired and Danny O'Brien looks nothing like the player he was as a freshman at Maryland. There is no need to panic (Oregon State is a much improved team this year and UW was closer to an 8-4 team anyway), but the schedule is only getting tougher and a visit from upstart 2-0 Utah State isn't what the doctor ordered. Two non-conference wins before heading to Nebraska to begin Big Ten play is essential for the once-powerful Big Red of Madison.

3. Kirk Ferentz is coaching for his job every weekend
One could make the case Iowa should be 0-2 heading into its Week 3 showdown with Northern Iowa. Wait, a game against an FCS opponent and a Big Ten power is a "showdown?" With the way the Hawkeyes offense has played in two games — 24 total points, 112th in total offense (286.0 ypg) and six sacks allowed — the answer is most assuredly yes. James Vandenberg is a shell of his 2011 self, the offensive line isn't blocking and the skill players aren't making plays. And no one will forget how Northern Iowa nearly beat Wisconsin in Week 1 — or the last time these two met. In 2009, Iowa barely defeated its upstart in-state competition 17-16. Do not overlook the fact that a majority of the Northern Iowa roster likely grew up wishing for a chance to play for the Hawkeyes. Ferentz' job security seems tenuous and every week is important. A loss this Saturday could be nearly impossible to overcome.

4. Weekly Rex Burkhead injury update
The star tailback's injured knee will be one of the biggest storylines of the year if he cannot return soon. This week, he won't be needed against Arkansas State, but he was certainly missed in last week's upset loss to UCLA. Ameer Abdullah has been playing well enough that the Huskers should roll over the Red Wolves this weekend, but head coach Bo Pelini has been hush-hush about his stud running back. He is day-to-day and even if he does return, the plan should be to ease him back into action. Upcoming conference games with Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State are all vastly more important than Saturday's contest versus Arkansas State. Look for Pelini to do the right thing here and make sure No. 22 is fully healthy before bringing him back onto the field. He can claim all he wants that Burkhead's absence didn't cost Nebraska the UCLA game, but it is hard to believe the All-American running back isn't worth at least six points.

5. Bill O'Brien still looking for first win of his career
Penn State played well last weekend against a well-coached Virginia team. The Nittany Lions were/are shorthanded and they played well above their heads in the heart-breaking loss. If O'Brien wants to galvanize the fan base and notch a few wins this fall, he needs to do some damage over the next month, starting with Navy at home on Saturday. The betting public has its reservations, however, as the line opened at 8.5 in favor of PSU over the Midshipmen, but has since dropped to 5.5. With Temple coming up next weekend, the Lions have a chance to equal their record at 2-2, but a win over Navy is imperative for the psyche of this program.

6. Big Ten bounces back in a big way
Okay, so "big" might be pushing it. However, anytime six teams in a 12-team league lose non-conference games like the league did last week, any victory is big. Purdue lost a heart-breaker and one of its quarterbacks to Notre Dame. Wisconsin, Nebraska and Illinois all return home from the West Coast with their tails between their legs and mid-major programs coming to town. Penn State's chances of winning this weekend have been documented above and Iowa is in complete disarray at the moment. All 12 Big Ten teams are at home this weekend and all 12 are favored to win. A 12-0 week would be just what Jim Delany needs to cure his heartburn.

7. 3-0 against BCS competition
Northwestern faces Boston College at home this weekend. The Wildcats are the only Big Ten team with two wins over BCS conference competition thus far and would obviously be the only team with three such wins if Pat Fitzgerald's bunch can topple the Eagles. No, none of the wins are marquee victories over top 25 competition, but beating an SEC bowl team, an ACC team and Big East team to start the season for a team of Northwestern's stature is nothing to overlook. The defense showed massive improvement from Week 1 to Week 2 and Coach Fitz' squad should be able to handle BC at home. 

8. How will Ohio State's secondary play against Cal's passing attack
The cross-country trip to Columbus has Cal more than a two-touchdown underdog to Ohio State. But if there is one area of concern for Urban Meyer this Saturday, it will come on the arm of Zach Maynard and the Golden Bears' passing attack. Through two games, the Buckeyes are ranked 96th nationally against the pass (281.0 ypg). Some of that can be attributed to the two teams trailing in both games, but UCF and Miami (Ohio) aren't exactly world beaters. Cal has a trio of pass-catchers that will stretch the field vertically as Keenan Allen, Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper are talented and over-looked in a league loaded with receiving talent. This might be Cal's only hope to pull off a miraculous upset over Ohio State. Because that Braxton Miller guy could easily run for another 150-plus yards and score four more times.

9. Could it be? Minnesota and Indiana a combined 6-0?
The Gophers and Hoosiers won a combined four games last fall, and through two weeks, they have already matched that total. And there are no signs that anything will change this weekend as Minnesota hosts Western Michigan and Indiana hosts Ball State. However, both of these MAC teams are more than capable of competing, so if both coaches expect to prove to the rest of the league that their starts are less fluke and more sustained growth, these are two games they have to win. This will be much tougher for IU now that starting quarterback Tre Roberson is expected to miss most, if not all, of the season after breaking his leg last weekend. The injury could not have come at a worst time and the Hoosiers must move forward with Cameron Coffman as their starter.

10. Michigan's Achilles Heel is pretty obvious
It won't mean much this weekend against the dramatically overmatched UMass Minutemen, but the yardage being surrendered by the Wolverines' front seven is concerning. Alabama and Air Force took whatever they wanted in the first two weeks and it nearly resulted in an 0-2 start for predicted Big Ten frontrunner Michigan. Certainly, the triple-option will skew stats but 261.0 yards rushing allowed per game is atrocious. Again, it won't play a role in what should be a blowout win over UMass, but this is easily the storyline to track for Brady Hoke's bunch in Week 3.

Week 3 Big Ten Predictions:

Week 3 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
W. Michigan (+2.5) at Minnesota Minnesota, 31-20 Minnesota, 28-20 Minnesota 31-27 Minnesota, 21-17
Arkansas St (+24.5) at Nebraska Nebraska, 41-24 Nebraska, 37-20 Nebraska 40-24 Nebraska, 35-28
Cal (+17) at Ohio St Ohio St, 45-24 Ohio St, 28-14 Ohio St 34-20 Ohio St, 28-14
E. Michigan (+24) at Purdue Purdue, 31-10 Purdue, 37-15 Purdue 38-13 Purdue, 21-10
Charl. Southern at Illinois Illinois, 34-10 Illinois, 41-10 Illinois 45-7 Illinois, 31-14
Navy (+5.5) at Penn St Penn St, 17-14 Penn St, 17-13 Penn State 27-20 Penn St, 28-14
UMass (+46.5) at Michigan Michigan, 45-10 Michigan, 51-0 Michigan 52-7 Michigan, 42-7
N. Iowa at Iowa Iowa, 21-17 Iowa, 20-17 Iowa 27-20 Iowa, 21-14
BC (+3.5) at Northwestern N'Western, 30-20 N'Western, 30-21 N'Western 31-24 N'Western, 31-17
Ball St (+2.5) at Indiana Indiana, 24-20 Indiana, 21-20 Ball State 31-27 Indiana, 24-17
Utah St (+14) at Wisconsin Wisconsin, 30-21 Utah St, 24-23 Wisconsin 34-27 Wisconsin, 35-21
Notre Dame (+6) at Michigan State Mich. St, 21-14 Mich. St, 23-21 Mich. St 24-20 Mich. St, 28-21
Last Week: 9-3 9-3 8-4 8-4
Yearly Totals: 20-4 19-5 20-4 19-5

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Teaser:
<p> Athlon previews the coming week of gridiron action in the Big Ten Conference.</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 05:59
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-3-preview-and-predictions
Body:

After two weeks of action, it has become clear that the Pac-12 is much better than originally believed. Week 2 featured landmark victories over major powers from the Big Ten (Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois) and Big 12 (Oklahoma State) as well as victories over the ACC (Duke) and Big East (Syracuse). However, the same couldn't be said for Pac-12 contender wanna-be's Washington and Utah — both of whom now need to pick themselves off the mat after crushing defeats.

Pac-12's Top 10 Storylines to Watch in Week 3:

1. Can USC clear first real hurdle?
Stanford, under Jim Harbaugh, was a thorn in the side of USC. The Cardinal have won three straight over the Trojans and four of the last five. Harbaugh is now coaching what might be the best football team on the planet across the bay and Andrew Luck is a Colt. Lane Kiffin's group made a long trip East to New Jersey last week and were sluggish at times in the win over Syracuse. Meanwhile, Stanford welcomed back defensive leader Shayne Skov and showed marked improvement from Week 1. But can Josh Nunes play turnover-free, efficient enough football to hang with the SoCal powerhouse? Can the offensive line open up holes for Stepfan Taylor therefore keeping Matt Barkley on the sideline? Can Skov, and the secondary in particular, slow down the dynamic duo of Robert Woods and Marqise Lee — a tandem who scored five touchdowns last week? The Farm needs to be a factor as well if Stanford expects to pull the upset at home over the nation's preseason No. 1.

2. The Holy War's extra implications
It might be the best-named rivalry game in all of college football and, unfortunately, fans will be without an annual BYU-Utah tilt for the near future. The longtime in-state rivals are scheduled to play in 2013 in Provo, but after that they are not slated to not meet again until 2016. Beyond that, the future of this intense battle is completely up in the air. Will BYU join a conference and how would that impact scheduling? Does the nine-game 
conference slate of the Pac-12 spoil what is one of the nation's top rivalries? To top it all off, Utah is reeling and needs a win bad while the Cougars have looked very impressive on both sides of the ball in two wins. What is worse, Utah will be without its starting quarterback for the rest of the season.

3. Familiar quarterback concerns at Utah, Washington State
The Utes will battle with BYU this weekend in desperate need of a win and will be doing so without Jordan Wynn. The oft-injured passer who created balance in Week 1 for the Utes announced his retirement from the game after a serious injury to his left shoulder. Jon Hays, who was rather ineffective as a passer but went 6-3 in place of Wynn last season, will likely battle with rising star Travis Wilson for the right to quarterback this team. Hays brings experience and a veteran resume while Wilson has outstanding raw athletic ability and obvious upside. Kyle Whittingham will likely play both, but Wilson is clearly the future of this team. Up in Pullman, another familiar story dotted the boxscore last week: Jeff Tuel left the game with an injury. Tuel had a brace on his knee while watching practice this week and it appears he won't be ready to go for the UNLV game. Expect Connor Halliday — who threw for almost 800 yards in two starts last season — to get the nod in the Cougars' final non-conference tilt of the season.

4. Is Arizona State for real?
A win is a win. But Arizona State's 2-0 record and 108 total points scored will be brought into focus this weekend when the Sun Devils head to Missouri. The 45-14 win over Illinois was impressive, but the Illini were without starting quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase and ASU took advantage. The backfield for Todd Graham has been stellar with two quarterbacks and three runners all playing well to this point. But Mizzou will easily be the toughest test of the year for Arizona State and fans will have a much clearer picture of what this team really is after this weekend. If Graham can lead his team into Columbia and pull off the upset, all bets are off on this team's potential. If the Tigers, who are coming off one of their worst fourth quarters in recent memory against Georgia, roll up another 501 yards of offense and 30 points like they did against ASU last year, the Devils will return to the desert with their first loss of the year.

5. Is this Colorado's last chance for a win in 2012?
The Buffs have gotten off to one of the worst starts in program history and arguably the worst start of any BCS conference team in the nation. A loss to the Mountain West and FCS doesn't bode well for Jon Embree's chances at improvement this fall. Now, Colorado is a two-touchdown underdog to Fresno State — and it might be the best chance it has to get a win in 2012. That's right, CU faces nine Pac-12 opponents the rest of the way and won't be close to being favored in any of them. A road trip to Washington State next week is the only game fans can point to with any confidence at all. The Buffaloes will host UCLA, Arizona State, Stanford, Washington and Utah while visiting USC, Oregon and Arizona. An 0-12 season is a definite possibility.

6. Can Cal's passing attack take advantage of Ohio State's secondary?
The cross-country trip to Columbus has Cal more than a touchdown underdog to Ohio State. But if there is one chance for the Golden Bears to keep the game within reach, it will come on the arm of Zach Maynard. Through two games, the Buckeyes are ranked 96th nationally against the pass (281.0 ypg). Some of that can be attributed to teams trailing in both games, but Maynard has a trio of pass-catchers that will stretch the field vertically. Keenan Allen, Bryce Treggs and Chris Harper are talented and over-looked in a league loaded with receiving talent and they might be Cal's only hope to pull off a miraculous upset over Ohio State.

7. Surging Bruins are looking for revenge
Houston compiled 469 total yards of offense in the 38-34 win over UCLA last fall. Gone is Kevin Sumlin, gone is Case Keenum and gone is the Cougars' competitive edge. This team is 0-2 with ugly losses to Texas State and Louisiana Tech thus far while UCLA has been one of the more improved teams in the nation through two weeks. And even though Jim Mora Jr., his coaching staff and quarterback Brett Hundley weren't a part of last year's season-opening defeat to UH, fans can bet that Johnathan Franklin, the nation's leading rusher at 215.5 yards per game, hasn't forgotten. Look for the Bruins to roll up a big number against the Cougs and continue their early season success.

8. Cupcake City comes at right time
Playing Tennessee Tech really serves no purpose for Chip Kelly and Oregon whatsoever, but Washington and Arizona need the "break" this week. The Huskies returned from Baton Rouge to lick their wounds after LSU dominated the Dawgs 41-3. Keith Price was beaten up and had little time to do anything. Portland State should offer no such trouble and will give Price and company a chance to get right. Meanwhile, Arizona is coming off a big upset over Oklahoma State and is in prime let-down alert position. However, Arizona should have no such issues with South Carolina State this weekend.

9. The Beavers get rare unlucky bye week
After having their first game against Nicholls State postponed until the final week of the regular season, Oregon State won a massive game over a top-15 team in Wisconsin in Week 2. So with an open date this week, Mike Riley's team will enter Week 4 having played one game. It will be interesting to see if it helps or hurts OSU's momentum heading into back-to-back road games against UCLA and Arizona.

10. Heisman Trophy Tracker off the charts in Pac-12
USC has three legitimate Heisman candidates in Barkley, Lee and Woods. Oregon has three legit contenders in Kenjon Barner, De'Anthony Thomas and Marcus Mariota. UCLA has the best new quarterback in the nation in Hundley and the country's top rusher in Franklin. The explosive offensive talent in this league is extraordinary and Heisman voters need to make sure they are staying up late on Saturdays. And I didn't even mention Keith Price, John White, Keenan Allen, Marquess Wilson or Stepfan Taylor. There is a reason five of the top 20 scoring teams in the nation through two weeks hail from the Pac-12.

Week 3 Pac-12 Predictions:

Week 3 Pac-12 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Washington St (-8.5) at UNLV Wazzu, 24-17 Wazzu, 27-13 Wazzu 38-13 Wazzu, 28-14
Cal (+17) at Ohio St Ohio St, 45-24 Ohio St, 28-14 Ohio St 34-20 Ohio St, 28-14
Tennessee Tech at Oregon Oregon, 56-10 Oregon, 54-10 Oregon 62-10 Oregon, 70-7
Portland St at Washington Wash., 45-7 Wash., 41-10 Wash. 45-10 Wash., 42-17
Arizona St (+6.5) at Missouri Mizzou, 34-24 Mizzou, 32-24 Mizzou 34-27 Mizzou, 31-17
USC (-7.5) at Stanford USC, 35-21 USC, 38-24 USC 38-20 USC, 35-21
Colorado (+14) at Fresno St Fresno, 31-20 Fresno, 30-17 Fresno 34-17 Fresno, 21-14
BYU (-4) at Utah Utah, 21-20 BYU, 24-14 BYU 30-17 BYU, 35-21
South Carolina St at Arizona Arizona, 45-13 Arizona, 44-10 Arizona 55-7 Arizona, 56-10
Houston (+17) at UCLA UCLA, 41-17 UCLA, 38-24 UCLA 48-27 UCLA, 38-21
Last Week: 8-4 7-5 7-5 6-6
Yearly Totals: 17-7 17-7 17-7 15-9

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

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Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Week 3 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 13, 2012 - 05:50

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