Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-9-preview-and-predictions
Body:

It might not look like a marquee weekend in the Pac-12, as only one game will feature two ranked teams, but Week 9 could be one of the biggest of the season out West.

 

Contenders Oregon, USC, Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA are all on the road against teams more than capable of pulling an upset. Stanford and Washington are looking for home cooking to rebound after bad losses while Utah is hoping to continue its surge into the postseason.

 

Buckle up, Pac-12, this weekend is going to be fun.

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


Pac-12 Week 9 Game Power Rankings

 

1. USC (-1) at Utah
10 p.m., FS1

Not only is this one of the most important games of the year in the Pac-12 South, it should also be one of the most intriguing matchups. According to Football Outsiders, USC’s offense is the 11th most efficient unit in the nation. One look at Cody Kessler’s numbers should help support that argument — he’s second nationally with an 18:1 TD:INT ratio. According to the same opponent-adjusted metric, Utah’s defense also is the 11th most efficient unit in the nation. One look at the Utes’ disruptive plays confirms this as well — Utah ranks No. 1 nationally in sacks (33.0) and No. 3 in tackles for a loss (61.0). But while strength-on-strength is always fun for observers, the outcome could hinge on the Trojans' ability to stop Devontae Booker. After giving up 452 yards rushing in a loss to Boston College, USC’s defense held Oregon State, Arizona State and Arizona to 166 total yards on the ground. Booker has been downright impossible to stop over the last few weeks and his success on the ground will be critical for Utah, a team still using two quarterbacks. Lastly, Utah’s near-perfect special teams could be a deciding factor in a game featuring two evenly matched opponents.

 

Listen to the Week 9 predictions podcast:



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2. Arizona St (pk) at Washington
10:45 p.m., ESPN

The offensive-minded Sun Devils are flying high after an unexpected upset over Stanford last weekend. The defensively oriented Huskies limp back home from Eugene after yet another lopsided defeat to Oregon. Chris Petersen’s bunch will face yet another high-powered offense, regardless of who is under center for Todd Graham. Taylor Kelly expects to return to the starting lineup to face one of the more disruptive front sevens in the nation. Part of the reason Washington has lost two of its last three has been the lack of balance on offense. Cyler Miles isn’t asked to post big numbers through the air but has been extremely efficient (66.2%, 10 TD, 1 INT). To beat ASU, however, Miles will need support from his ground game that has been largely non-existent in Pac-12 play, averaging 108.3 yards per game and 2.9 yards per carry in three league contests.

 

3. Oregon (-17.5) at Cal
Fri., 10 p.m., FS1

The Ducks have won five straight over the Bears, including three consecutive blowouts. But Cal is much improved and the last time Oregon visited Berkeley with a national title on the line, the Bears nearly ended the Ducks' BCS National Championship Game hopes (Oregon eked out a 15-13 win) in 2010. Marcus Mariota has been downright filthy all season and his offensive supporting cast appears to be getting healthy. Sonny Dykes' team is improved but his defense has major issues, giving up more than 600 yards per game in five Pac-12 games. Bears QB Jared Goff has done an excellent job taking care of the football but will need to play the best game of his career to keep his porous defense off the field.

 

4. Arizona (-3) at Washington St
5 p.m., P12 Net

Mike Leach’s hopes for making a bowl game are fading rapidly and his defense is flat out terrible. However, the Cougars can put up yards and points and three close losses indicate they can play with most anyone on their schedule. Arizona comes to town after two weeks of prep following the painful home loss to USC. Anu Solomon is fourth nationally in passing (356.0 ypg) and should have plenty of space to distribute the football to his talented collection of receivers and backs. If Rich Rodriguez’ 3-3-5 defense — which has been excellent against spread offenses — can get a few stops, Zona should return home with a key road win.

 

5. Oregon St (+13.5) at Stanford
3:30 p.m., ESPN2

Both teams are coming off losses in which both head coaches were probably stunned. Oregon State lost in double overtime at home and has allowed over 200 yards rushing in two of its last three games. Stanford’s offense has been woeful all year (11th in Pac-12 in yards per game), but the defense struggled for the first time in the road loss to Arizona State, giving up a season-high 26 points. These are the two slowest teams in the Pac-12 on offense (seconds of possession per play, via ESPN) and both teams have struggled to put points on the board. The Cardinal have won four straight in the series and haven’t lost at home to the Beavers since 2006.

 

6. UCLA (-16.5) at Colorado
2 p.m., P12 Net

The Buffaloes have lost six straight Pac-12 games and 20 of their last 21. UCLA barely avoided a third consecutive loss against Cal last weekend in Berkeley. Both teams can move the ball, can score and have struggled mightily on defense. CU quarterback Sefo Luifau has been solid (290.0 ypg, 21 TD, 9 INT) but likely doesn’t have the supporting cast to knock off the more talented Bruins. As long as Brett Hundley doesn’t turn the ball over, UCLA should win easily.

 

Pac-12 Predictions:

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
USC (-1.5) at UtahUtah, 27-24Utah, 26-22Utah, 21-14USC, 27-24
ASU (pk) at Wash.Wash., 30-28ASU, 31-30ASU, 31-21ASU, 30-27
Oregon (-17.5) at CalOre., 40-21Ore., 41-13Ore., 42-28Ore., 48-27
Zona (-3) at WazzuZona, 40-28Zona, 41-33Zona, 41-28Zona, 40-34
Ore. St (+13.5) at Stan.Stan., 20-14Stan., 24-20Stan., 17-14Stan., 27-17
UCLA (-16.5) at Colo.UCLA, 41-28UCLA, 33-6UCLA, 38-28UCLA, 41-27
Last Week:3-24-13-24-1
YTD:41-1645-1244-1341-16

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 2014 Week 9 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/expert-poll-week-8-heisman-trophy-voting
Body:

Athlon Sports has formed a Heisman Trophy committee. Each week, we will ask 13 members of the national college football media to rank their top candidates for the Heisman Trophy.

 

Each voter will rank their top five candidates, with each first-place vote getting five points and each last-place vote getting one point.

 

The Panel:

 

Stewart Mandel, FOX Sports

Dave Revsine, Big Ten Network 

Adam Zucker, CBS Sports

Steven Godfrey, SBNation

Zac Ellis, Sports Illustrated

Bryan Fischer, NFL.com

Tom Dienhart, Big Ten Network

Barrett Sallee, Bleacher Report, B/R Radio

Josh Ward, MrSEC.com

Mitch Light, Athlon Sports

David Fox, Athlon Sports

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports, SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

 PlayerTeamPts1st2nd3rd4th5th
1.Dak Prescott5976---
2.Marcus Mariota5867---
3.Melvin Gordon33--93-
4.Ameer Abdullah12--214
5t.Everett Golson8--113
5t.Jameis Winston8---32
7.Kevin White6---21
8.Amari Cooper4--1-1
9.Tevin Coleman3---11
10t.Bo Wallace2---1-
10t.Shaq Thompson2---1-

Dropped out: Todd Gurley, Bryce Petty

 

Listen to the Week 8 recap podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

The Top 3:

 
1. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi St

Prescott and the Bulldogs were off last weekend and will travel to Lexington to face an improved Kentucky squad. Last year, Prescott completed 23-of-34 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns without an interception as well as 33 yards rushing in a 28-22 win over the Cats in Starkville. Prescott got seven of the 13 first-place votes and six second-place votes.

 

Season Stats: 1,478 yards, 61.5%, 14 TDs, 4 INTs, 576 rush yards, 8 TDs

 

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

The Ducks quarterback was fantastic once again in the face of the strong Washington defensive front. He was 24-of-33 passing (72.7 percent) for 336 yards and two touchdowns without a turnover in the blowout win over the Huskies. He hasn’t thrown an interception in 232 attempts — the second longest streak in Pac-12 history (353, also belonging to Mariota). Oregon and Mariota, who got the other six first-place votes, host Cal this weekend.

 

Season Stats: 1,957 yards, 70.2%, 19 TDs, 0 INTs, 289 rush yards, 5 TDs

 

3. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

Like Prescott, Gordon and the Badgers were off in Week 8. He is leading the nation in rushing at 174.3 yards per game and is third behind Ameer Abdullah (14) and Jarvion Franklin (16) in rushing touchdowns (13). Wisconsin hosts Maryland this weekend.

 

Season Stats: 132 att., 1,046 yards, 7.9 ypc, 13 TDs, 6 rec., 27 yards, TD 

Teaser:
Expert Poll: Week 8 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-2014-week-9
Body:

The original reality TV show is sports. No contrived setting where seven strangers living in a house or one bachelor searching for love can match the excitement the Iron Bowl delivered last fall.

 

The beauty of college football lies in its complete unpredictability and drama. Here are some outrageous predictions for Week 9.

 

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

 

Jared Goff and Marcus Mariota will throw 80 passes without an INT

 

Marcus Mariota is leading the nation with a 19:0 touchdown-interception ratio in 188 attempts. Jared Goff isn’t too far behind with 24 touchdowns and just four interceptions in 273 attempts. When the two meet on Friday evening, neither defense will have much success stopping the opposing signal-caller. Look for two near-perfect days from both quarterbacks.

 

A game in the ACC will be relevant

 

It’s a bad, bad, bad weekend in the ACC. Florida State is off, Notre Dame isn’t on the slate and Clemson plays Syracuse at home. So my outrageous prediction for the ACC is that at least one of these games will matter (at some point) this year. Virginia Tech hosts Miami and Pitt hosts Georgia Tech. One of these could eventually provide a critical tiebreaker in the extremely average Coastal Division. And who knows, maybe even North Carolina-Virginia might matter (to someone... other than me).

 

Listen to the Week 8 recap podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

Nick Marshall will throw for more than 339 yards

 

In 19 career starts at Auburn, Nick Marshall has topped 300 yards passing just once. That came against Mississippi State back in September of 2013 (339). In 16 games since, Marshall has yet to top 250 yards passing. But that will all change this weekend against South Carolina’s inexperienced secondary. The Gamecocks have allowed 511 yards to Kenny Hill and 321 to Shane Carden so look for Marshall to set a career high in passing yards this weekend.

 

Tennessee and Michigan won’t reach the end zone

 

The Vols have scored 12 points in their last two SEC games all on field goals, both losses to Florida and Ole Miss. Now, Alabama comes to town after shutting out Texas A&M 59-0 last weekend. Meanwhile, Michigan hasn’t scored a TD against Michigan State since 2011 and is 104th nationally with just 18 total touchdowns scored all season. Both teams will be kept out of the end zone again this weekend.

 

The Buckeyes will register 10 sacks

 

Ohio State is fourth in the Big Ten and 35th nationally with 2.7 sacks per game on defense. Urban Meyer’s defensive line will feast on one of the worst O-lines in the game when it visits Penn State this weekend. The Nittany Lions are 119th nationally at 3.3 sacks allowed per game and 120th in rushing yards per game (93.2) and yards per carry (2.8).

Teaser:
Outrageous College Football Predictions: 2014 Week 9
Post date: Wednesday, October 22, 2014 - 08:45
Path: /college-football/10-amazing-college-football-stats-week-8-pac-12
Body:

Athlon Sports brings the most intriguing, important, historic and bizarre stats from around the weekend of Pac-12 football action:

 

187.7: Devontae Booker yards per game in the last three games

After three weeks of the season, the junior college transfer had rushed for 179 yards on 31 carries. In the three games since, Booker has rushed for 563 yards (187.7 ypg) and five touchdowns on 89 carries. This includes his 229-yard, 3-TD effort in the double overtime win over Oregon State on the road in Week 8. A performance that was topped with Booker being named Athlon Sports' national player of the week.

 

33.0: Sacks by the Utah defense

It’s not just the offense that has been getting it done for the Utes, however. Utah is one win away from reaching a bowl for the first time since joining the Pac-12 because of a nasty defensive front seven. Kyle Whittingham’s bunch registered five sacks against Oregon State and are leading the nation with 33.0 QB takedowns this fall. The Utes are averaging 5.5 sacks per game, which nearly two more than the next best team in the nation (Virginia Tech, 4.0).

 

25.4: Oregon’s average margin of victory over Washington since 2004

Oregon has won 11 consecutive games against Washington. What’s more impressive is how the Ducks have dominated the Huskies. Following the 45-20 win on Saturday, Oregon has now defeated Washington by an average of 25.4 points per game over the last 11 meetings. The Huskies have lost by 20 or more points in 10 of the those games and have never kept the final outcome within two scores. The average score between these two over the last 11 years is Oregon 43.7, Washington 18.3. That’s 481 to 202.

 

238: Consecutive Marcus Mariota passes without an INT

Marcus Mariota set a Pac-12 record by going 353 attempts without an interception between the end of 2012 and most of '13 (Arizona picked him off twice last year). But since tossing two INTs against Oregon State last year, Mariota has now gone 232 attempts without an INT, including all 188 this season. Those are the two longest streaks without an interception in conference history.

 

72: Consecutive weeks Stanford was ranked in the AP Poll

With a tough road loss to Arizona State over the weekend, Stanford dropped from the AP Poll for the first time since Week 2 of the 2010 season. The Cardinal had been ranked by the AP for a school-record 72 consecutive weeks but fell out of the Top 25 following Saturday night's loss. Speaking of the Sun Devils…

 

1,243: Mike Bercovici passing yards in three starts

After completing 23-of-33 passes for 245 yards and a touchdown in a critical upset win over Stanford’s snarling defense, Arizona State’s backup quarterback now has 1,243 yards passing in three starts. That’s more passing yards than 24 FBS teams have for the entire 2014 season. Taylor Kelly is the starter but Bercovici has been brilliant with huge wins over USC and Stanford and may make Todd Graham’s decision a tough one once Kelly is healthy.

 

Listen to the Week 8 recap podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

7: Cody Kessler’s USC single-game TD record

Matt Barkley owns nearly every major passing record in USC history. But one he no longer holds is the Trojans' single-game record for touchdown passes. Kessler, who backed up Barkley in 2011 and '12, set the new standard with seven touchdown tosses in the win over Colorado. The Trojans' current quarterback is getting overlooked nationally despite ranking 10th in the nation in passer efficiency (162.08) and trailing only Mariota (19:0) with an 18:1 TD:INT ratio.

 

43.9: Jared Goff’s passing efficiency increase from last year

Cal’s Jared Goff completed his first season in Berkeley last year with a passing efficiency mark of 123.4. He finished Week 8 of this season ranked fifth in the nation with a 167.3 rating following a near upset of UCLA. With a passer rating that's currently 43.9 points higher than last season, Goff is the nation's most improved QB with respect to this statistic. Western Michigan’s Zach Terrell is No. 2 (41.2 points higher) and Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott is No. 3 (39.0). 

 

2: Pat Haden sideline altercations

After his bizarre sideline argument with officials against Stanford (who could forget), USC athletic director Pat Haden got into his second in-game dust-up of the year this past Saturday. This time the other party was former Trojans running back LenDale White, who had some choice tweets about defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox (they’re NSFW) during USC's 28-26 victory over then-No. 10 Arizona two weeks ago. Which bring us to Saturday, when Haden and White engaged in conversation, presumably about the former star running back's earlier commentary, as the Trojans were putting the finishing touches on a Homecoming victory over Colorado. The discussion quickly turned from friendly to heated, and White eventually wound up getting a personal escort out of The Coliseum.

 

0: Number of players on USC’s roster from Colorado

USC has players from 19 different states, including Idaho, Massachusetts, South Dakota, Minnesota and Delaware, on its roster but none from the state of Colorado. Meanwhile, the Buffaloes have 55 current players on their roster from the state of California. The Trojans beat the Buffs 56-28 in Los Angeles Saturday night.

Teaser:
10 Amazing College Football Stats from Week 8 in the Pac-12
Post date: Monday, October 20, 2014 - 15:08
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-2014-week-8-recap
Body:

 

Hosts Braden Gall and David Fox recap all of Week 8's action in college football. This week's edition features Florida State's win over Notre Dame, the entertaining Big 12, a Will Muschamp debate, Oregon's return and much more. The fellas also give you their playoff poll as well.


Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall or @DavidFox615 or email [email protected]. The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, iTunes, Stitcher and our podcast RSS feed.

Teaser:
Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: 2014 Week 8 Recap
Post date: Monday, October 20, 2014 - 12:42
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-2014-week-8-picks
Body:

Last week was awful. There is no other way around it.

 

In one group (top picks) I was 1-5. In the “if you must” group, I was 2-2. And in the Top 25, I went a pathetic 3-11-1. My only comfort is that the rest of the Athlon Sports staff failed you as well.

 

So all of that hard work over the last month has gone to waste. It’s time to rebound.

 

Last Week: 3-6

Year-to-Date: 24-23-1

 

Washington (+21) at Oregon

The Ducks are really good and are getting healthier on offense. But Oregon is 2-4 against the number and Washington is surging after crushing Cal as an underdog last weekend. The front seven for the Huskies is dynamic and should pressure Marcus Mariota. Don’t forget Chris Petersen’s ability to game plan against Oregon — something he did very well at Boise State. Prediction: Washington +21

 

Listen to the Week 8 preview podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

Michigan St (-15) at Indiana

Sparty disappointed in a big way last weekend against lowly Purdue. Why go back to the well against a better Indiana team? Because quarterback Nate Sudfeld won’t play. The Hoosiers are 2-4 against the number and Michigan State should be pretty upset after struggling last weekend. Prediction: Michigan State -15

 

Kentucky (+10) at LSU

The Wildcats are much improved and have been great against the number this season, 5-1 against the spread thus far. LSU is getting better but not by as much as many believe. Mark Stoops will have his team ready to play and could pull the upset outright if Les Miles isn’t careful. Prediction: Kentucky +10

 

Tennessee (+16) at Ole Miss

The Rebels are unbeaten this season and unbeaten against the spread as well (5-0-1). Ole Miss could score 17 points and cover this spread as the Vols' horrible OL won’t be able to do much of anything against arguably the best defense in the nation. Beware of the backdoor cover here but Ole Miss should run away with this one. Prediction: Ole Miss -16

 

Temple (+7.5) at Houston

The Cougars used a bunch of turnovers to upset Memphis last week while Temple keeps surging into relevance in the AAC. Matt Rhule has his team ready to compete with anyone and the Owls could win outright against an inconsistent and overrated Houston squad. Prediction: Temple +7.5

 

UAB (-1.5) at MTSU

Both programs have played well this season but Middle Tennessee is a home dog here and it feels like the Blue Raiders should win outright. I like the over here as well. Prediction: MTSU +1.5

 

Iowa (+5) at Maryland

In a game with two hard-nosed coaches, the Hawkeyes look like the better overall team. Yet, somehow, Iowa is an underdog. Call this one a gut feel, but I like the Hawks to win outright against the Terps. Prediction: Iowa +5

 

Iowa St (+12) at Texas

The Longhorns' defense is outstanding and finally the offense showed some signs of life last weekend. Tyrone Swoopes had his best game and shouldn't have much issue with the 'Clones. Take Texas big in a must-win situation. Prediction: Texas -12

 

Georgia (-3.5) at Arkansas

The Hogs have been great against the number all season but this is a terrible matchup for Bret Bielema. The Dawgs' defensive strength is stopping the run and Arkansas’ defense won’t be able to contain the improving Georgia offense. Prediction: Georgia -3.5

 

Kansas State (+7.5) at Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s offense is struggling right now and Bill Snyder has had two weeks to prepare for their trip to Norman with a defense that was good enough to hold Auburn in check a month ago. Snyder is 3-3 in his last three trips to Norman outright, including a win the last time KSU visited Oklahoma. The Cats’ defense keeps them in the game. Prediction: Kansas State +7.5

 

Top 25 Picks ATS:

 

Top 25Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
N. Dame (+10) at Florida St
Tennessee (+16) at Ole Miss
Baylor (-8) at W. Virginia
Texas A&M (+11.5) at Alabama
Mich. St (-15) at Indiana
Washington (+21) at Oregon
Georgia (-3.5) at Arkansas
Kansas St (+7.5) at Oklahoma
Okla. St (+9) at TCU
Rutgers (+19.5) at Ohio St
Stanford (-3) at Ariz. St
Nebraska (-7) at N'Western
Colorado (+19.5) at USC
Clemson (-5) at B. College
Marshall (-21.5) at FIU
Last Week:3-11-13-11-14-10-13-11-1
YTD:51-52-452-51-445-58-451-52-4

 

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: College Football 2014 Week 8 Picks
Post date: Friday, October 17, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-week-8-preview
Body:

 

 

Hosts Braden Gall and Steven Lassan preview the big games of Week 8. The Big 12 takes center stage with five ranked teams in action. Notre Dame visits Florida State in the ACC, Stanford and Oregon highlight key games out West and plenty of SEC contenders are looking to hold off upsets. The guys also offer up some locks of the week against the spread.


Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall or @AthlonSteven or email [email protected]. The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, iTunes, Stitcher and our podcast RSS feed.

Teaser:
Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: Week 8 Preview
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 11:14
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-8-preview-and-predictions
Body:

It’s not a nationally important weekend in the Pac-12 but there are four important and intriguing matchups for both the South and North Division races out West.

 

The North could officially become a two-horse race if Washington cannot overcome 10 years worth of struggles against Oregon. (Especially, if Stanford can handle its business in Tempe.)

 

In the South, UCLA, Arizona State and Utah could be dealt significant title blows with losses OR could find themselves near the top of the heap with key wins.

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


Pac-12 Week 8 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Washington (+21) at Oregon
8 p.m., FS1

One of the most fascinating games within the game takes place this weekend in Eugene. Washington’s front seven is one of the most talented and difficult to move in the nation while Oregon’s offensive line, while healthier, still has major concerns. Despite running for his life, Marcus Mariota has been downright filthy managing his offense (try zero interceptions) but he may be forced to work his magic once again. On the flip side, Cyler Miles has developed into one of the league’s better players and should be able to move the ball against the porous Oregon defense. If the Huskies can slow the Ducks rushing attack and pressure Mariota consistently, Washington should be able to keep it close. If not, history will repeat itself. Washington hasn’t beaten Oregon since 2003 (10 straight) and hasn’t lost by fewer than 17 points. The average score over that span has been 43.6 to 18.2. Only once (2011) has this game been within 20 points.

 

Listen to the Week 8 preview podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

2. Stanford (-3.5) at Arizona State
10:30 p.m., ESPN

The Sun Devils have lost four straight to Stanford including both meetings a year ago. After huge numbers from backup Mike Bercovici at quarterback, Todd Graham is expecting Taylor Kelly to be back under center. He will have an interesting decision to make after Bercovici threw for 998 yards (yes, 998) in two games if Kelly is fully healthy and ready to start. Either way, the ASU signal caller will face one of the nation’s nastiest defenses and will be hard-pressed to produce the same type of numbers against the Cardinal. The key will be the rebuilt ASU defense and how it handles the slowly-but-surely developing Stanford offense. Kevin Hogan had arguably the best game of his career last week but that was against lowly Washington State. Another solid outing from Hogan on the road against in a tough environment against a quality team would prove to doubters that the Cardinal can be a most complete team. A statement win for Stanford could put David Shaw’s bunch right back into championship conversations out West.

 

3. UCLA (-7.5) at Cal
3:30 p.m., ESPN2

It will be a tall order for the Bears reeling defense to stop Brett Hundley and what should be an angry Bruins squad. On defense, Cal is 124th in the nation at 518.2 yards allowed per game but had balanced that out with huge offensive numbers. But Sonny Dykes’ group hit a wall against Washington posting season lows with 368 yards, seven points and 4.3 yards per play. The Bruins are in danger of losing three straight and will be tested on the road but Hundley should have no issue moving the ball against a defense that doesn’t pressure the QB (91st nationally with 10.0 sacks) and doesn’t force turnovers (96th with seven). Jared Goff and company could make things interesting but the Bears’ lack of defense gives UCLA a severe edge.

 

4. Utah (-3) at Oregon State
10 p.m., P12 Net

Kyle Whittingham is playing it coy against Mike Riley. He won’t announce who is playing quarterback after both Kendal Thompson and Travis Wilson took reps during the off weekend. Meanwhile, the Utes head man knows exactly what he’s dealing with in Oregon State’s Sean Mannion. The Oregon State quarterback has had two weeks to get his supporting cast healthy and should be prepared for the brutal test against a tough Utah front seven that is leading the nation in sacks (28.0). This was a thrilling 51-48 win for the Beavers in Salt Lake City last fall in which Mannion threw for 443 yards, five touchdowns and no turnovers. Whittingham’s defense (and elite special teams) will have to play much better this time around to upset Oregon State on the road.

 

5. Colorado (+19.5) at USC
6 p.m., P12 Net

The only game in the league severely lacking in intrigue will take place in Los Angeles. USC is coming off a critical road win over Arizona and sits in control over the Pac-12 South race. That makes this situation a must-win for a team that has proven to be wildly inconsistent. In three Pac-12 games with the Buffs, USC has won all three 139-52, so odds are the Trojans move to 4-1 in the league.

 

Off: Arizona, Washington State

 

Pac-12 Predictions:

 

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Wash. (+21) at OregonOre., 38-30Ore., 40-30Ore., 42-28Ore., 38-27
Stan. (-3.5) at ASUStan., 33-24Stan., 21-17ASU, 21-14Stan., 31-27
UCLA (-7.5) at CalUCLA, 41-31UCLA, 28-20Cal, 28-21UCLA 40-30
Utah (-3) at Ore. StOSU, 30-27Utah, 27-21OSU, 35-28Utah 27-24
Colo. (+19.5) at USCUSC, 40-21USC, 33-14USC, 31-13USC, 41-24
Last Week:3-13-12-22-2
YTD:38-1441-1141-1137-15

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 2014 Week 8 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-week-8-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Few weekends in the Big 12 will be as important and as critical as Week 8.

 

The top ranked team and lone unbeaten in on the road at one of the most difficult places to win in the league. Two of the greatest coaches in Big 12 history will battle in Norman with two ranked teams. And Oklahoma State has its first of many brutal road trips against a ranked TCU squad without its star quarterback.

 

More so than any other weekend thus far, the Big 12 takes center stage nationally in the college football world.

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


Big 12 Week 8 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Kansas State (+8) at Oklahoma
Noon, ESPN

Two of the most successful coaches in Big 12 history square off in an always interesting and important showdown near the top of league. The Wildcats defense has proven it can stop the nation’s best (See: Auburn) and Trevor Knight has been human ever since Katy Perry called him out on Gameday. Knight has struggled and the running game might not be able to help as KSU has allowed a total of 407 yards rushing in five games (81.4 ypg). Meanwhile, Jake Waters has been excellent, be it torching Texas Tech (395 yards, 5 TD) or carrying his team to victory (Iowa State), but will be faced with his toughest task against Eric Striker and Zack Sanchez on the road. Bill Snyder is 3-3 in his last three trips to Norman, including the last visit in 2012 and has had two weeks to prepare. On two evenly matched and similarly built teams coached by equally impressive leaders, the edge generally falls towards the home team.

 

Listen to the Week 8 preview podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

2. Baylor (-8) at West Virginia
Noon, FS1

Strange and bizarre things happen in Morgantown so Baylor better click on all cylinders for all four quarters if it wants to return to Texas unbeaten. Two of the best passing attacks will be on full display when Clint Trickett (367.2 ypg) and Bryce Petty (306.8) do battle in what is one of the highest scoring rivalries in the nation. In two games since joining the Big 12, Baylor and WVU have combined for 248 points as the Mountaineers scored 63 and 42 points in losses. It took a miracle fourth quarter for the Bears to survive at home against TCU last weekend and that won’t work against a West Virginia team that is capable of beating any team in the nation. West Virginia fans need to hope that Dana Holgorsen finally speaking with his kicker hasn’t jinxed a player who has won two games for WVU thus far.

 

3. Oklahoma State (+8) at TCU
4 p.m., FS1

Cowboys defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer is charged with stopping arguably the nation’s most improved player in Trevone Boykin (who will play despite bizarre internet reports on Tuesday). TCU’s quarterback is second in the league at 353.6 yards of total offense per game and is leading the No. 3 scoring offense in the nation (45.8 ppg). The key for Gary Patterson’s balanced squad is how they handled the crushing fourth-quarter defeat at Baylor last weekend. If there is any letdown factor whatsoever, Daxx Garman, Tyreek Hill and the Pokes offense is good enough to walk into a normally not very hostile Amon Carter Stadium and win. While the Frogs have already announced themselves as Big 12 contenders, a win for Mike Gundy would give OSU a 4-0 start in the Big 12 and a sixth consecutive win.

 

4. Iowa State (-12.5) at Texas
8 p.m., LHN

This has become a must-win game for Charlie Strong if his team wants to get to a bowl game and Paul Rhoads certainly hasn’t forgotten about how this controversial game ended last year in Ames. The Horns defense has been excellent and should be able to stop the Cyclones modest attack. The real difference maker should come under center for Texas. Tyrone Swoopes played the best game of his young career against Oklahoma and it’s critically important he continue his positive development. A clear outcome against ISU could be a sign the tide has turned in Austin.

 

5. Kansas (-14.5) at Texas Tech
3:30 p.m.

Much like Texas, Kliff Kingsbury is in desperate need of a Big 12 win after losing eight straight in the league. That losing streak continued last week in painful fashion on a long, last-second field goal but there were signs of hope. After losing the turnover battle in 13 straight games, Tech broke even and Davis Webb had his best game since beating UTEP in Week 2. Penalties and defense are still a major issue and if this team can’t “get healthy” against Kansas, it may not win against the rest of the season.

 

Big 12 Predictions:

 

 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
KSU (+8) at OklaOkla., 28-24Okla., 27-20KSU, 21-17Okla., 30-24
Baylor (-8) at WVUBay., 51-42Bay., 48-40Bay., 63-48Bay., 50-40
Okla St (+8) at TCUTCU, 30-27TCU, 37-21TCU, 31-21TCU, 34-24
ISU (+12.5) at TexasTexas, 24-7Texas, 17-10Texas, 28-17Texas, 31-13
Kansas (+14.5) at TechTech, 38-24Tech, 44-24Tech, 35-21Tech, 44-20
Last Week:5-04-15-05-0
YTD:40-437-741-341-3

 

Teaser:
Big 12 2014 Week 8 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 16, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/expert-poll-week-7-heisman-trophy-voting
Body:

Athlon Sports has formed a Heisman Trophy committee. Each week, we will ask 13 members of the national college football media to rank their top candidates for the Heisman Trophy.

 

Each voter will rank their top five candidates, with each first-place vote getting five points and each last-place vote getting one point.

 

The Panel:

 

Stewart Mandel, FOX Sports

Dave Revsine, Big Ten Network 

Adam Zucker, CBS Sports

Steven Godfrey, SBNation

Zac Ellis, Sports Illustrated

Bryan Fischer, NFL.com

Tom Dienhart, Big Ten Network

Barrett Sallee, Bleacher Report, B/R Radio

Josh Ward, MrSEC.com

Mitch Light, Athlon Sports

David Fox, Athlon Sports

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports, SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

 PlayerTeamPts1st2nd3rd4th5th
1.Dak Prescott62103---
2.Marcus Mariota523811-
3.Melvin Gordon29-1712
4.Bryce Petty18-1232
5.Everett Golson12--222
6.Shaq Thompson7---23
7.Tevin Coleman6---3-
8.Ameer Abdullah5--11-
9t.Todd Gurley1----1
9t.Bo Wallace1----1
9t.Jameis Winston1----1
9t.Amari Cooper1----1

Dropped out: Nick Marshall, Shane Carden, Jared Goff

 

Listen to the Week 7 recap podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

The Top 3:

 
1. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi St

Prescott takes over the top slot after his third consecutive win over a top 10 team. Against Auburn, Prescott sparked an early 21-0 lead and never looked back. He completed 18-of-34 passes for 246 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions while carrying 21 times for 121 yards and two scores on the ground.

 

Season Stats: 1,478 yards, 61.5%, 14 TDs, 4 INTs, 576 rush yards, 8 TDs

 

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Mariota has been brilliant despite a bad offensive line. In a blowout win on the road over UCLA, the Ducks quarterback completed 17-of-27 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns to go with 75 yards rushing and two more scores on the ground. He now has wins over Michigan State and UCLA and has yet to throw an interception.

 

Season Stats: 1,621 yards, 69.7%, 17 TDs, 0 INTs, 290 rush yards, 5 TDs

 

3. Melvin Gordon, RB, Wisconsin

Gordon rushed for 175 yards and four touchdowns in the blowout win over Illinois last weekend. It’s his fourth consecutive game rushing for at least 175 yards and he has scored 12 times over that span. He’s second in the nation in rushing behind only Tevin Coleman.

 

Season Stats: 132 att., 1,046 yards, 7.9 ypc, 13 TDs, 6 rec., 27 yards, TD 

Teaser:
Expert Poll: Week 7 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-2014-week-8
Body:

The original reality TV show is sports. No contrived setting where seven strangers living in a house or one bachelor searching for love can match the excitement the Iron Bowl delivered last fall.

 

The beauty of college football lies in its complete unpredictability and drama. Here are some outrageous predictions for Week 7.

 

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

 
Washington will lose by less than one score

 

Wait, why is it outrageous that a really good Huskies team will play well against Oregon’s depleted offensive line? Because Washington hasn’t beaten Oregon since 2003 (10 straight) and hasn’t lost by fewer than 17 points. The average score of the this important Pac-12 North Division rivalry over the last 10 years is 43.6 to 18.2. Only once (2011) has this game been within 20 points.

 

Everett Golson or Jameis Winston will lose a start

 

Everett Golson and Jameis Winston have had off-the-field issues, to say the least. One has missed an entire season and the other has been buried under salacious headlines ever since winning the Heisman Trophy. However, it’s worth noting that Golson and Winston are a combined 35-1 as starters with the only loss coming against Alabama in the 2012 BCS title game for Golson. Someone WILL, in fact, lose a game as a starter this weekend.

 

Listen to the Week 7 recap podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

Oklahoma State will be in first place next week

 

Should Oklahoma State top TCU on the road, the Pokes would move to 4-0 in the Big 12. If Kansas State can beat Oklahoma in Norman, it would move to 3-0 in the Big 12. And if West Virginia can topple Baylor at home, the Cowboys would be alone atop the Big 12 standings. With five ranked teams in the top 15 of the AP Poll and four of them playing each other, Mike Gundy could be alone in first place after Week 8.

 

Kevin Hogan will throw for 300 yards

 

The Stanford Cardinal offense has been atrocious this fall. At least, until they played Washington State last weekend where Hogan threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns. Hogan has one career 300-yard game (Cal, 2013) in 30 career games but will post his second this weekend. Arizona State has allowed 313.7 yards passing per game and seven touchdowns in three Pac-12 games thus far. Stanford has won four straight in the series and should make it five behind what could be a career game from its QB.

 

A coordinator won’t survive the Alabama-Texas A&M game

 

I’m not sure which one it will be but Nick Saban could attack and destroy one of his coordinators against Texas A&M this weekend. The Tide and Aggies have played very close and entertaining games since becoming conference foes two years ago and this year figures to be the same. Lane Kiffin’s offense has gotten plenty of heat after poor showings against Ole Miss and Arkansas while Kirby Smart’s defense was attacked by Bo Wallace in the loss to the Rebels. Smart’s unit could face serious heat from Kenny Hill and the Aggies passing attack.

Teaser:
Outrageous College Football Predictions: 2014 Week 8
Post date: Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 08:45
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-second-half-predictions-and-midseason-review
Body:

Entering the season, many believed the Big 12 to be a two-horse race between Baylor and Oklahoma. But at the midseason point, the Big 12 has as many teams ranked in the AP Top 15 as any other league in the nation. (Yes, that includes the SEC.)

 

Those five teams ranked in the top 15 all feel like they have a legit shot at winning the Big 12 championship and likely landing one of the coveted four playoff spots. The top five teams in the league have a combined four losses — all of which have come against teams ranked 11th or better in the current AP Poll.

 

Only TCU has faced one of the other five ranked opponents. Needless to say, there is a plenty of ball left to be played in the Heartland.

Midseason Reviews and Second-Half Predictions
ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC

 

2014 Big 12 Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions


Coach of the Year: Gary Patterson, TCU

The Horned Frogs were 4-8 last year and now sit 4-1 and ranked No. 12 in the nation - AFTER playing Oklahoma and Baylor. The Frogs are still facing huge tests on the road against West Virginia and Texas as well as home games with Kansas State and Oklahoma State. But the changes Patterson made on the offensive coaching staff have paid huge dividends in just five games thus far in 2014.

Newcomer of the Year: Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma and Tyreek Hill, AP, Oklahoma State
Perine is third in the league in carries (109), second in the league in rushing (568) and is leading the Big 12 in rushing touchdowns (9). The 240-pound true freshman from Pflugerville, Texas (aka, Mack Brown’s backyard) has been brilliant in place of Keith Ford for Bob Stoops. Oklahoma State’s do-everything dynamo Tyreek Hill deserves mention as well as the junior college playmaker has made a huge impact for Mike Gundy’s squad. Hill is second in the Big 12 in all-purpose yards.

Offensive Player of the Year: Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Dealing with a back injury, Petty performed at his best in the biggest spot of the season thus far. Trailing late in the second half, he rallied the Bears with 24 straight points to stay unbeaten against rival TCU. Petty has thrown for 1,534 yards and scored 18 total touchdowns in just five games (he missed one start) and is poised for another run at the Heisman Trophy.

Defensive Player of the Year: Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor
Shawn Oakman gets the slight nod over Eric Striker or Zack Sanchez in what is a very tight race for top defensive player in this league. Oakman has been a force for the top team in the league, posting 24 tackles, 8.0 for loss, 5.0 sacks and one forced fumble. Striker has 28 tackles, 4.5 sacks while Sanchez has five interceptions and 25 tackles.

Midseason Disappointment: Texas Tech
After a tenuous start to the year in wins over Central Arkansas and UTEP, Kliff Kingsbury’s bunch has lost four straight games in ugly fashion. After it’s first 0-3 conference start since 1990, Texas Tech is staring at eight straight losses in the Big 12. This team has problems with turnovers and penalties and has already changed defensive coordinators.

Midseason Surprise: TCU's offense 
Gary Patterson has found the formula. He brought in Sonny Cumbie and Doug Meacham to run his offense and quarterback Trevone Boykin has flourished. The TCU quarterback has thrown for 292.6 yards per game and scored 14 total times while only throwing two interceptions and rushing for 305 yards. In a league known for offense on a team known for defense, TCU ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 at 45.8 points per game and No. 3 in total offense at 510.0 yards per game.

 

Listen to the Week 7 recap podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Three Things to Watch in Second Half 

1. Can Baylor repeat and does the Big 12 make the playoff?
The trip to Norman in November obviously looms large, but since the league is so much deeper and more balanced than anticipated, the Bears will face plenty of other hurdles en route to a second straight league crown. A road trip to Morgantown as well as games with Oklahoma State and Kansas State still loom. That said, the path to a title still runs through Norman, and the Bears are in control of their own destiny. A second championship for Art Briles puts him alongside the nation's best and likely lands Baylor in the College Football Playoff.

2. Who are the challengers?
TCU, Oklahoma State and Kansas State have all joined the championship conversation and all three have yet to face each other. Both Oklahoma State and K-State have yet to face Baylor or Oklahoma as well. Someone will jump into the title fray — much like TCU already has — and this could become a three- four- or five-team race for the top. Which one of these programs has staying power and can any of these "second-tiered" teams step into contention remains to be seen. Either way, it figures to be an exciting final two months in the middle of the Big 12.

3. Tyrone Swoopes development
The Longhorns have a great defense. But Tyrone Swoopes showed Longhorns fans glimpses of the future with his play against Oklahoma. This offense is in desperate need of a spark and Swoopes might be capable of supplying it. He finished 27-of-44 for 334 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in the close loss to Oklahoma. He added 50 yards rushing on 11 carries and another score on the ground.

Top Five Games in Second Half

 

1. Baylor at Oklahoma (Nov. 8)

The Bears have never won in Norman. Ever. And if Art Briles wants to win another Big 12 title, his squad will have to go up North to Oklahoma and win.

 

2. Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (Dec. 6)

The rivalry aspect gives this game extra juice. Mike Gundy has struggled in this bout but at the season’s end, both teams could still be in the title race.

 

3. Kansas State at Baylor (Dec. 6)

Bill Snyder defense faces Art Briles offense? Yes, please. The Cats could be the top challenger to Oklahoma or Baylor but will have to win some key road games.

 

4. Kansas State at Oklahoma (Oct. 18)

See: Kansas State at Baylor above.

 

5. Kansas State at TCU (Nov. 8)

TCU has already played the two toughest games of its season and it split. Kansas State could be the No. 3 biggest game on the schedule if KSU can upset the Bears or Sooners along the way.

 

Next up: Oklahoma State at Baylor, Oklahoma State at TCU, TCU at Texas, Oklahoma State at Kansas State, Texas at Oklahoma State, Baylor at West Virginia


Projecting the Final 2014 Big 12 Standings
 David
Fox
Braden
Gall
Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.

 

Teaser:
Big 12 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Post date: Monday, October 13, 2014 - 14:10
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-second-half-predictions-and-midseason-review
Body:

There are 11 Big 5 teams left in college football that have yet to lose a conference game and none of them reside in the Pac-12.

 

The talk in the preseason was that the Pac-12 could be the league that was deep enough to challenge the SEC for national conference supremacy. It certainly doesn’t appear that like that talk was accurate, as the SEC is head and shoulders above the rest of the nation.

 

But that doesn’t mean that the Pac-12 isn’t the most entertaining league in the nation.

 

The quarterback play has been as good as advertised with four of the top eight Big 5 quarterbacks in the nation in terms of total offense playing in the Pac-12. And this list doesn't include Marcus Mariota, Brett Hundley, Sean Mannion or Cody Kessler.

 

The quality of coaching is shining in places like Tucson, Seattle, Berkeley and Salt Lake City as every road trip in this league has become extremely difficult no matter the situation.

 

And what other league can boast three successful Hail Marys — two of which came on the final play of the game?

 

Oregon’s win over UCLA has given the Ducks the top spot in the Pac-12 power rankings and likely the best shot at making the College Football Playoff moving forward. But the real story out West is the quality of depth this league can offer. Neither division is even close to being decided, as the North and South each boast four one-loss teams with seven weeks left to play.

 

It may not be the best league in the nation but it’s definitely the most entertaining.

Midseason Reviews and Second-Half Predictions
ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

 

2014 Pac-12 Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions


Coach of the Year: Rich Rodriguez, Arizona

Very few (me) picked Arizona higher than fourth in the Pac-12 South entering the season (I had them at No. 2), so the job Rich Rodriguez has done in Tucson getting his Wildcats to a Top 10 ranking (for one week) has been nothing short of shocking (to some). Despite the loss to USC, Arizona is still right in the mix for the Pac-12 South championship with games looming against UCLA, Arizona State and Utah in the division. The win over Oregon might be the best win for any team in the nation to date.

Newcomer of the Year: Anu Solomon, QB, Arizona
The redshirt freshman has been brilliant in his first six games as a college quarterback. Solomon is third in the nation in total offense at 382.7 yards per game and has thrown 15 touchdown passes. His play in the fourth-quarter comeback against Cal as well as the road win at Oregon would be considered brilliant for a senior much less a freshman. Solomon is a big reason why Zona is in the thick of the Pac-12 South race.

Offensive Player of the Year: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
The stats speak for themselves. Mariota has completed 69.7 percent of his passes for 1,621 yards, 17 touchdowns and no interceptions while running for his life behind a banged-up offensive line. He has added 290 yards rushing and five touchdowns on the ground while leading the nation in passer rating at 193.72. He has been brilliant all season and already has wins over ranked opponents Michigan State and UCLA.   

Defensive Player of the Year: Shaq Thompson, LB, Washington
A defensive player can’t do much else to get himself mentioned in the Heisman Trophy conversation than what Thompson has accomplished in the first half of the season. He is tied for the team lead with five touchdowns — four of which have come on defense — a total that would also pace UCLA, Stanford or Utah. He is top 10 in the league in tackles with 45 and has 220 return yards on his four defensive touchdowns. He has 2.0 tackles for a loss, one sack and two forced fumbles as well.

Midseason Disappointment: Washington State
UCLA’s offensive line might also qualify for this award, but with losses to Nevada, Rutgers and Cal, Mike Leach’s squad is likely to miss a bowl game. After positive growth last season and a clearly improved Conn0r Halliday, a 2-5 start to the season for the Cougars is a major disappointment. Especially, for a team many believed would be playing in the postseason.

Midseason Surprise: Cal 
Arizona would qualify as well, especially, if the Cats go on to win the South. But right now, the most pleasant surprise in the Pac-12 has to be the Cal Golden Bears. This team is one play away from being 3-1 in the league after losing 14 consecutive Pac-12 contests entering this fall. There are a lot of tough games left on the schedule but to be two wins from a bowl game just halfway through the schedule is a huge tip of the cap to Sonny Dykes.

 

Listen to the Week 7 recap podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher


Three Things to Watch in Second Half 

1. Oregon's offensive line
With Jake Fisher back against UCLA, the Ducks' offensive line looked as good as it has since the beginning of the season. Oregon has two huge games looming with Stanford and Washington — two of the best defensive fronts in the nation — and this group will have to be excellent to win those games. If this group stabilizes, Oregon could win the Pac-12 and land in the Playoffs while giving Marcus Mariota a great shot at the Heisman. If not, the Ducks could finish with three losses and another Alamo Bowl bid.

2. South Division upstarts
Arizona, Utah and Arizona State were not supposed to be in the race in the South but all three already have key wins over conference contenders. USC and UCLA still might be the best teams and have the inside track on playing at Levi’s Stadium but the rest of this division is extremely competitive. The Utes, Wildcats and Sun Devils all feel like they belong in the conversation and with wins over UCLA, Oregon and USC respectively, it appears they might be right about that.

3. Connor Halliday's assault on the record book
Halliday already owns the NCAA single-game record for attempts (89) and yards (734) but is charging toward the NCAA single-season passing record as well. With a host of other records on the line, the one bright spot in Pullman this season could be the nation’s leading passer and his chase for more history. Let’s face it, no one makes losing more entertaining than Halliday and the Cougs.

Top Five Games in Second Half

 

1. Stanford at Oregon (Nov. 1)
It's been the biggest game in the Pac-12 for the last half decade and it appears this matchup will fill the bill as far as the rest of the slate goes. A trip to the Pac-12 title game and/or College Football Playoff could be on the line. Stanford has dominated this series of late and its defense should be extremely difficult to move the ball against based on Oregon's offensive line woes.

2. USC at UCLA (Nov. 22)

The Pac-12 South title could be on the line when these two cross-town rivals and historic brands meet on the second to last weekend of the regular season. A win for either team could knock the loser out of the South Division race.

 

3. Stanford at UCLA (Nov. 28)
The Bruins' front line will be tested once again against one of the nastiest defensive fronts in the nation. UCLA might already be out of the race by the final weekend but if not, this game could decide the South Division champion.

4. Washington at Oregon (Oct. 18)

This game got a lot more interesting when the Huskies and Ducks won impressive road games in Week 7 over Cal and UCLA respectively. With a loss to Stanford, Washington's North Division title hopes hang in the balance against Oregon in Eugene.
 

5. UCLA at Washington (Nov. 8)

Most of the big games left for UCLA will come at home with the exception of this road trip north to Seattle. Both teams should still by eyeing a spot in the Pac-12 title game when they meet in Husky Stadium. And two of the best uniforms will be on the same field at the same time.
 

Next up: Arizona State at Arizona, Washington at Arizona, Arizona at UCLA, Notre Dame at USC, Oregon at Utah, Oregon at Oregon State


Projecting the Final 2014 Pac-12 Standings
NorthBraden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
SouthBraden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Champ:
 

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Post date: Monday, October 13, 2014 - 14:09
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-week-7-recap
Body:

 

Hosts Braden Gall and David Fox recap all of Week 7's action in college football. The state of Mississippi once again dominated, Oregon made a huge statement in the Pac-12 and the wide open and wacky Big 12 highlight this week's conversation. The fellas also give you their playoff teams as well.


Send any ideas, questions or comments to @BradenGall or @DavidFox615 or email [email protected]. The podcast can be found on athlonsports.com, iTunes, Stitcher and our podcast RSS feed.

Teaser:
Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: Week 7 Recap
Post date: Monday, October 13, 2014 - 13:50
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-week-7-picks
Body:

At 3-3 last weekend, I feel like a winner considering how much bloodshed there was across the Top 25.

 

In fact, Steven Lassan’s 10-6-1 mark last week in Top 25 games makes him like some sort of Nostradamus to be honest. He’s been on a tear lately against the number, as experts begin to gain a clearer picture of each team.

 

On to what should be another crazy weekend of college football (which is probably why I am going after heavy favorites in the Big 5):

 

Last Week: 3-3

Year-to-Date: 21-17-1

 

Louisville (+9.5) at Clemson

The Cardinals are a solid team but the Tigers are 4-1 against the spread and are playing at home. Clemson's defense should be able to handle Louisville's underachieving offensive line and true freshman quarterback sensation Deshaun Watson is more than capable of scoring points against pretty much anyone. Prediction: Clemson -9.5

 

Listen to the Week 7 preview podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

Michigan State (-21) at Purdue

Purdue played its heart out last week in an upset win over Illinois but it has no shot against Sparty. The Spartans need style points in a race to the Big Ten championship game and College Football Playoff. Look for a big number from MSU. Prediction: Michigan State -21

 

Texas (+14.5) at Oklahoma

Texas can’t score points and the Sooners should be angry for two major reasons. First, they were embarrassed by Oklahoma last year and just got beat by TCU. After last year and last week, fans in Dallas should expect some revenge to be exacted by Bob Stoops. Prediction: Oklahoma -14.5

 

Oklahoma State (-20.5) at Kansas

Kansas is wildly overmatched and is playing for an interim coach. Oklahoma State has found itself right in the heart of a Big 12 race and can’t avoid any letdowns like a trip to Lawrence. The Pokes have scored at least 37 points in each of their last four games (all wins) and Kansas has scored 17 total points in three games against Big 5 teams. Prediction: Oklahoma State -20.5

 

Washington (+3.5) at Cal

The Huskies are rested and facing a Cal team that has allowed 116 points in the last two games — both wins. Look for the physicality and offensive prowess of Chris Petersen’s bunch to show up in a road win outright. Prediction: Washington +3.5

 

North Carolina (+16) at Notre Dame

The Tar Heels are 0-5 against the spread this season and Notre Dame just got done playing Stanford’s defense. Facing this defense will be like practicing against air. Just don’t look ahead Notre Dame. Prediction: Notre Dame -16

 

If you must, take the home dogs:

 

USC (-3) at Arizona

Always a high-scoring, back-and-forth affair. Whichever has the ball last wins. I like the Cats at home.

 

Auburn (-3) at Mississippi State

This isn’t a normal Hail State squad and getting this game at home should help the Bulldogs avoid a letdown. A defensive battle where Dak Prescott makes a play.

 

Georgia (-3) at Missouri

Maty Mauk is rested and will get to attack the Bulldogs' secondary. Mizzou’s defensive front should be able to “slow” down Todd Gurley and shut down Hutson Mason.
 

Oregon (-2.5) at UCLA

Both O-lines are atrocious and while Marcus Mariota has more weapons than Brett Hundley, it’s tough to trust the Ducks' coaching staff.

 

Top 25 Picks ATS:

 

Top 25Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Florida St (-23.5) at Syracuse
Auburn (-3) at Miss. State
Ole Miss (+2) at Texas A&M
TCU (+7.5) at Baylor
N. Carolina (+16) at N. Dame
Alabama (-10) at Arkansas
Mich. St (-21) at Purdue
USC (-3) at Arizona
Texas (+14.5) vs Oklahoma
Oregon (-2.5) at UCLA
Georgia (-3) at Mizzou
Okla. St (-20.5) at Kansas
E. Carolina (-15) USF
Duke (+3) at Georgia Tech
Wash. St (+17) at Stanford
Last Week:7-9-16-10-17-9-110-6-1
YTD:48-41-349-40-341-48-348-41-3

 

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: College Football Week 7 Picks
Post date: Friday, October 10, 2014 - 09:00
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-week-7-preview
Teaser:
Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: Week 7 Preview
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 11:08
Path: /college-football/big-12-2014-week-7-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The Big 12 was a huge part of the mass confusion that took place across the college football landscape last weekend.

 

The conference figures to be in the spotlight once again as two of the nation’s 10 remaining unbeaten teams will battle in Waco. It means that the Red River Shoo… Rivalry isn’t even the biggest game in Texas this weekend.

Week 7 Previews and Predictions:
ACC | Big Ten | Pac-12 | SEC


Big 12 Week 7 Game Power Rankings

 

1. TCU (+8.5) at Baylor
3:30 p.m., ABC

It will be extremely difficult for Gary Patterson to get his team up for a second straight weekend, but a rivalry game against an unbeaten top-five opponent should do the trick. Baylor has won 16 straight games in the state of Texas by an average of five touchdowns, but an eight-loss TCU team nearly upset the Bears last season in Fort Worth. The last loss for Art Briles’ bunch in the Lone Star State came against TCU in 2012. Bryce Petty is coming off the worst performance of his career as a starter (7-of-22, 111 yards) while Trevone Boykin is riding high after the signature performance of his career (318 pass yds., 77 rush yds). Both defensive fronts can wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks, so whichever QB manipulates the defense more effectively will come out on top. That could mean turning to two of the Big 12’s top rushing attacks. Baylor is leading the Big 12 (247.4 ypg) and TCU is third (196.3).

 

Listen to the Week 7 preview podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

2. Texas (+14.5) vs. Oklahoma
Noon, ABC, Dallas

It’s a statement about where Charlie Strong’s program is for this Texas Fair-sized rivalry to be the third most important game in the state this weekend (See above and Ole Miss at Texas A&M). That said, there is always something special about the pageantry and split crowd of the Cotton Bowl early in October. Both teams are coming off of disappointing losses but the onus of victory falls to the heavy underdog to make plays on both sides of the ball. The Texas defense has been excellent, stopping Baylor and Bryce Petty last week with unique schemes and varying formations. It will have to repeat its performance against Trevor Knight and the Sooners if Texas is going to have any chance to win. Knight was knocked around and turned the ball over, but still produced big numbers on offense in the loss to TCU. Weirder things have happened in this game (see last year) but Texas' defense needs to continue its strong play and the offense is going to have to elevate its game significantly if the Horns expect to pull another shocking upset over Oklahoma.

 

3. West Virginia (-6) at Texas Tech
Noon, Fox Sports 1

The longest road trip in the Big 12 features two of the best passing attacks in the nation. The difference is lies with the quarterback executing these offenses and the overall trajectory of the programs. Clint Trickett leads the Big 12’s top passing attack, is coming off an easy win over Kansas, and a victory would match the Mountaineers' win total from a year ago. Davis Webb is averaging 320.6 yards per game, is leading the Big 12 with 16 TDs, but has been wildly inconsistent and also leads the league in interceptions (10). With Texas Tech facing a fourth consecutive loss and a slew of ranked opponents in the second half, Kliff Kingsbury must stress the importance of winnable game like this one, especially at home.

 

4. Oklahoma St (-20.5) at Kansas
4 p.m., Fox Sports 1

Aside from courting Jim Harbaugh, which seems highly unreasonable for too many reasons to count, there isn’t any conversation about this Jayhawks program. That is the problem obviously, as Kansas enters another game as a three-touchdown underdog. In three tries against Big 5 teams, the Jayhawks have scored a total of 17 points and gone 0-3. There is no reason to expect anything different against an Oklahoma State team that has topped 37 points in each outing during its four-game winning streak. Interim coach Clint Bowen’s only shot at victory is to create Daxx Garman turnovers — he’s thrown four interceptions in the last two games. If not, a repeat of last year’s 42-6 score is likely.

 

5. Toledo (+3) at Iowa St
3:30 p.m., Cyclones.tv

No one wants to move forward more than Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard after getting fined for his postgame criticism of the officials last weekend. Win or lose against the Rockets, the officials shouldn’t have anything to do with the outcome. The Cyclones have proven they are good enough to compete with anyone in the Big 12 but haven’t been able to finish games. Toledo has won three straight in the MAC but allowed 107 points in two losses against bigger programs (Missouri, Cincinnati). This is a must-win situation for Paul Rhoads’ squad which likely will be favored to win, at most, one more time the rest of the season (at Kansas).

 

Off: Kansas State

 

Big 12 Predictions:
 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
TCU (+8.5) at BaylorBay., 38-30Bay., 44-34Bay., 42-28Bay., 34-31
Texas (+14.5) vs Okla.Okla., 41-13Okla., 31-20Okla., 35-14Okla., 34-13
W. Virginia (-6) at T. TechWVU, 41-35Tech, 38-36WVU, 49-31WVU, 38-31
Okla. St (-20.5) at KansasOSU, 41-17OSU, 37-20OSU, 31-10OSU, 41-10
Toledo (+3) at Iowa StISU, 34-28ISU, 30-20ISU, 17-10ISU, 34-31
Last Week:4-14-14-14-1
YTD:35-433-636-336-3

 

Teaser:
Big 12 2014 Week 7 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-2014-week-7-preview-and-predictions
Body:

It’s not a huge slate in the Pac-12 with just four games, but the quality of the Week 7 matchups out West is second to none in college football this weekend.

 

A preview of the Pac-12 championship game could take place in the hallowed ground of the Rose Bowl. The only undefeated team is a home underdog to a traditional power. And both Evergreen State schools head to the Bay Area for critical road games in the North Division.

Week 7 Previews and Predictions:
ACC | Big 12 | Big Ten | SEC

 

Pac-12 Week 7 Game Power Rankings

 

1. Oregon (-2.5) at UCLA
3:30 p.m., FOX

Brett Hundley can relate to Marcus Mariota. And vice versa. The two Heisman-caliber quarterbacks have been running for their respective lives this season behind two of the worst offensive lines in the Pac-12. Hundley was sacked 10 times last week in a home loss to Utah, as UCLA ranks last in the Pac-12 with 22.0 sacks allowed. Oregon isn’t much better, ranking ahead of only the Bruins in this category (15.0). Offensive coordinator Scott Frost claimed that Mariota wasn’t fully healthy in the loss to Arizona last week, but the Ducks QB told the media on Tuesday that he is good to go against UCLA. He will need to be at full strength against a dangerous but underachieving Bruins front seven if Oregon wants to avoid losing back-to-back games for the first time since 2007. Despite the offensive line woes, Hundley and Mariota are first and fourth respectively in completion percentage nationally. The dynamic duo has met just once, with Oregon winning 42-14 in Eugene last season, and whomever stays upright longer is likely to come out a winner.

 

Listen to the Week 7 preview podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

2. USC (-2.5) at Arizona
10:30 p.m., ESPN2

Is there any doubt that this won’t be one of the most entertaining games in the Pac-12 this season? These two have played seven consecutive games within one score and are separated by a grand total of 10 points over the last five games (USC 163, Arizona 153). USC has dominated the series overall but Rich Rodriguez has split with the Men of Troy, as the home team has won both games since he took over in Tucson. Arizona enters the game ranked in the top 10, unbeaten and riding high after a huge road win over Oregon. The Trojans limp into the desert after having their hearts ripped out by Mike Bercovici’s Hail Mary. Cody Kessler and Anu Solomon figure to get the headlines under center but both squads are loaded with skill talent on offense and both defensive units will be challenged to stop the efficient and diverse offensive schemes. Last team with the ball wins.

 

3. Washington (+3.5) at Cal
6 p.m., Pac-12 Net

Quick, which team is alone atop the Pac-12 North standings? Sonny Dykes has turned around the Golden Bears program in one quick offseason and is looking to put his stamp on the North Division race with a key win over a rested Huskies squad. Quarterback Jared Goff has been a part of record-setting performances in each of the last two games as he’s thrown for 985 yards and 12 touchdowns. The concern is Dykes needed every inch of that production, as his defense has allowed 56 and 59 points in those wins. The off weekend couldn’t have come at a better time for Chris Petersen’s bunch after getting knocked around by Stanford. Cyler Miles and company shouldn’t have any issue moving the ball so if the Washington defense can get stops, the road upset is well within reach.

 

4. Washington St (+17) at Stanford
Fri., 9 p.m., ESPN

There won’t be a bigger clash of strengths in the nation than Washington State’s record-setting offense and Stanford’s suffocating defense. The Cardinal are No. 2 in the nation in total defense (232.4 ypg) and are leading the nation in yards per play allowed (3.72) and trips into the red zone allowed (7). Mike Leach’s Cougars are leading the nation in passing offense (523.0 ypg) by nearly 100 yards per game (Western Kentucky, 433.0 ypg). Conversely, the Stanford offense is averaging nearly 300 yards fewer per game (229.8) through the air and the Wazzu defense is ranked 92nd nationally at 438.2 yards allowed per game. Nothing about either team indicates that this should be much closer than the 55-17 win for David Shaw’s bunch a year ago. 

 

Off: Colorado, Arizona State, Oregon State, Utah

 

Pac-12 Predictions:
 Braden GallMitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Oregon (-2.5) at UCLAOre., 34-31Ore., 40-30Ore., 31-27UCLA, 34-30
USC (-3) at ArizonaZona, 40-38USC, 35-30Zona, 42-31Zona, 38-34
Wash. (+3.5) at CalWash., 35-33Cal, 40-34Cal, 44-28Wash., 34-31
WSU (+17) at StanfordStan., 31-17Stan., 28-14Stan., 24-10Stan., 34-20
Last Week:2-42-43-32-4
YTD:35-1338-1039-935-13

 

Teaser:
Pac-12 2014 Week 7 Preview and Predictions
Post date: Thursday, October 9, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/expert-poll-week-6-heisman-trophy-voting
Body:

Athlon Sports has formed a Heisman Trophy committee. Each week, we will ask 13 members of the national college football media to rank their top candidates for the Heisman Trophy.

 

Each voter will rank their top five candidates, with each first-place vote getting five points and each last-place vote getting one point.

 

The Panel:

 

Stewart Mandel, FOX Sports

Dave Revsine, Big Ten Network 

Adam Zucker, CBS Sports

Steven Godfrey, SBNation

Zac Ellis, Sports Illustrated

Bryan Fischer, NFL.com

Tom Dienhart, Big Ten Network

Barrett Sallee, Bleacher Report, B/R Radio

Josh Ward, MrSEC.com

Mitch Light, Athlon Sports

David Fox, Athlon Sports

Steven Lassan, Athlon Sports

Braden Gall, Athlon Sports, SiriusXM

 

The Results:

 

 PlayerTeamPts1st2nd3rd4th5th
1.Todd Gurley59841--
2.Dak Prescott55562--
3.Marcus Mariota31-2451
4.Everett Golson13-1122
5.Nick Marshall12--222
6.Melvin Gordon11--213
7.Amari Cooper10--131
8t.Ameer Abdullah1----1
8t.Shaq Thompson1----1
8t.Shane Carden1----1
8t.Jared Goff1----1

Dropped out: Kenny Hill, Taysom Hill, Brett Hundley, Bryce Petty

 

Listen to the Week 6 recap podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

The Top 3:

 
1. Todd Gurley, RB, Georgia

Against an overmatched opponent (Vanderbilt), Gurley rushed for 163 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns. He caught two passes for 24 yards and added a 50-yard completion from the Wildcat formation for good measure. After six weeks, Gurley leads the SEC in rushing (773 yds), yards per game (154.6 ypg), and rushing touchdowns (8), and he is second in yards per carry (8.2). A revenge game against a tough Missouri defensive front in Columbia is key for Gurley’s Heisman chances and Georgia’s SEC East hopes.

 

2. Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State

The biggest mover in the Heisman conversation is Mississippi State’s star quarterback. Prescott completed 20-of-26 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns to go with 23 carries for 77 yards and three scores on the ground in the Bulldogs' convincing 48-31 victory over then-No. 6 Texas A&M. In two wins over top 10 teams in the last two games, Prescott has 527 yards passing, 182 yards rushing and eight total touchdowns. He gets another top 10 team at home this weekend in No. 2 Auburn. He’s leading the SEC in passing efficiency (180.69) and is leading all SEC QBs with 455 yards rushing and six touchdowns.

 

3. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

Mariota still leads the nation in passing efficiency at an absurd clip (202.35) but his loss on Thursday night to Arizona at home was crippling to his Heisman chances. He threw for 276 yards and two touchdowns, but had just one yard rushing on nine carries. For the season, he’s got 1,411 yards passing and 15 touchdowns with no interceptions while rushing for 215 yards and three more scores. His numbers are still spectacular but Oregon likely needs to run the table and win the Pac-12 to get Mariota to New York.

Teaser:
Expert Poll: Week 6 Heisman Trophy Voting
Post date: Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 09:15
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/outrageous-college-football-predictions-2014-week-7
Body:

The original reality TV show is sports. No contrived setting where seven strangers living in a house or one bachelor searching for love can match the excitement the Iron Bowl delivered last fall.

 

The beauty of college football lies in its complete unpredictability and drama. Here are some outrageous predictions for Week 7.

 

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

 
Anyone who beat a top 10 team last week will lose

 

Arizona beat No. 2 Oregon, Ole Miss beat No. 3 Alabama, TCU beat No. 4 Oklahoma and Mississippi State beat No. 6 Texas A&M. (Technically, Utah beat No. 8 UCLA but is on bye this week and therefore cannot lose). But all four teams that won massive games over top 10 opponents will lose this weekend. Ole Miss visits Texas A&M and TCU heads to Baylor. Both Arizona and Mississippi State are at home but both are underdogs to USC and Auburn respectively.

 

Listen to the Week 6 recap podcast:



Subscribe: iTunes | Stitcher

 

Notre Dame will score 60 points

 

The Irish haven't scored 60 points since Nov. 23, 1996 in a 62-0 win over Rutgers. But against North Carolina, fans should expect a huge number from Everett Golson and the Irish offense. The Tar Heels have given up 154 points in the last three games — all losses. North Carolina gave up 70 to East Carolina, 50 to Clemson and 34 to Virginia Tech. Watch out, UNC.

 

Brett Hundley and Marcus Mariota will be sacked 20 times

 

The best two quarterbacks with the two worst offensive lines will face off against each other in Pasadena Saturday afternoon. Brett Hundley is the most-sacked QB in college football the last two seasons and UCLA is ranked 124th in sacks allowed (22.0) after yielding 10 in the loss to Utah. Oregon is ranked 108th in the nation in the same category (15.0). Whichever QB’s jersey is cleaner when the game is over will be the victor.

 

Florida and LSU will combine for more interceptions than completions

 

Jeff Driskel is benched. Treon Harris is suspended indefinitely. Skyler Mornhinweg is getting into fights with a teammate outside The Swamp. And that’s just Florida. For LSU, Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings have been completely inept. The LSU duo completed 8-of-24 passes for 142 yards and no touchdowns in the loss to Auburn last week. Driskel was 11-of-23 passing for 53 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions in the near-loss to Tennessee. The quarterback play in this game may cause momentary blindness.

 

Connor Halliday will be held to less than 200 yards passing

 

The Washington State quarterback is averaging over 500 yards passing per game and is already over 3,000 yards for the season. He set a single-game record with 734 yards passing last weekend (in a loss to Cal). Halliday failed to reach 300 yards passing just four times last season and the only team to keep him under 200 yards was Stanford. The nation’s top defense held the WSU QB to just 184 yards and no touchdowns on 36 attempts in a 55-17 loss.

Teaser:
Outrageous College Football Predictions: 2014 Week 7
Post date: Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - 09:00
Path: /college-football/athlon-sports-cover-2-podcast-week-6-recap
Teaser:
Athlon Sports Cover 2 Podcast: Week 6 Recap
Post date: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 17:05
Path: /college-football/utah-sacks-ucla-creates-wide-open-pac-12-south-race
Body:

Not protecting the quarterback finally caught up with UCLA.

 

Just one week after looking like a national title contender on the road against Arizona State, Brett Hundley was sacked a staggering 10 times by Utah on Saturday night in the disappointing 30-28 home loss.

 

The UCLA quarterback entered this season as the most sacked QB in the nation over the last two years with 87 sacks under Jim Mora. After giving up 10 sacks to the Utes, those issues are still painfully obvious as the Bruins now rank 124th in sacks allowed for the year — 22.0 for 131 lost yards.

 

The home loss capped a month of wondering when UCLA's offensive line woes would cost the Bruins a victory and Utah took advantage.

 

One week after coughing up a big second half league to Washington State at home, Utah's defensive line dominated the line of scrimmage. Nate Orchard tied a school record with 4.0 sacks while setting a personal best with 11 tackles. In all, six different Utes registered a sack against the Bruins Heisman Trophy candidate.

 

It wasn't just the defense that stepped up, however, as backup quarterback Kendal Thompson replaced Travis Wilson just two series into the game. His quickness caused UCLA issues on defense as he led the Utes on the game-winning drive over the final four minutes of play. Thompson finished 10-of-13 passing for 95 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 83 yards on 19 carries.

 

Clearly, Kyle Whittingham is still looking for consistency but road wins over UCLA and Michigan (stop laughing) prove his bunch can play with anyone. Mora, meanwhile, still has major offensive line and playmaker issues surrounding Hundley on offense. Both teams have glaring warts but both teams are capable of beating anyone in the league at anytime.

 

And they are both right in the thick of what should be an entertaining Pac-12 South race over the final two months. A week ago, this battle looked like a two horse race with UCLA and USC poised to collide near the season's end.

 

Seven days later and it looks like a completely different division.

 

Arizona toppled Oregon in impressive fashion and is the lone remaining unbeaten team both in conference (2-0) and overall (5-0) but has yet to play a division game. Arizona State staved off elimination with a final play Hail Mary against USC but still faces a nasty slate of North Division opponents. USC is also in desperate need of consistency but has the easiest schedule of any team in the South. Lastly, Utah, whose special teams and defensive line give it as good a shot as any in the South, now owns the tiebreaker over UCLA.

 

The Bruins are still the frontrunner to get to Levi's Stadium but could easily fall to 1-2 in the league with an angry Oregon team visiting the Rose Bowl this weekend. A three- or four-game hole might be too much to overcome.

 

Especially, if this unit cannot keep Brett Hundley off the turf.

Teaser:
Utah sacks UCLA, creates wide open Pac-12 South race
Post date: Sunday, October 5, 2014 - 15:50
Path: /college-football/connor-halliday-sets-ncaa-passing-record-and-washington-state-loses
Body:

Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday is slowly but surely rewriting the college football record book.

 

The Cougars signal caller threw for an FBS single-game passing record 734 yards against the Cal Golden Bears late on Saturday night, breaking David Klingler's longtime record of 716. Halliday was 49-of-70 passing with six touchdowns and nary an interception. For good measure, he also ran for 17 yards on three carries. He was just two yards shy of the NCAA all-division record of 736 set by Eureka College's Sam Durley against Knox in 2012.

 

This from the same guy who set the NCAA single-game record for pass attempts with 89 against Oregon last season. Halliday has thrown for 3,052 yards and 26 touchdowns in six games this year. He's averaging 508.7 yards per game. (pause to reread that.)

 

Mississippi State has never had a player throw for 3,000 yards in a entire season and Halliday has accomplished it in six games. He is on pace to break B.J. Symons' NCAA single-season record of 5,833 yards set back in 2003. The Wazzu quarterback has improved across the board, too, by limiting his interceptions — he has seven in 369 attempts (52.7 attempts/INT) this fall after 22 in 714 attempts last year (32.5).

 

Symons was, of course, also coached my Mike Leach. For what it's worth, Leach also owns No. 2 on the single-season passing list as he coached Graham Harrell's 5,705-yard 2007 campaign as well.

 

There is one big issue, however. Washington State lost the game. All of the numbers and headlines block the view of the 60-59 home defeat. Cal scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to comeback to win, moving to 2-1 and into sole possession of first place in the North. Quarterback Jared Goff was brilliant opposite Halliday. 

 

Only in the Pac-12 can you throw for 527 yards and five touchdowns on 70 percent passing, not turn the ball over once, score 60 points in a win and still get overshadowed. The duo set an NCAA record with 1,261 combined passing yards. Goff also set the combined single game TD record by teaming with Colorado's Sefo Liufau to throw 14 combined TD passes last week.

 

Washington State appeared to have some momentum after the impressive come from behind win in Salt Lake City last weekend, but this crushing defeat halts any bowl game talk in its tracks.

 

Leach's bunch plays at Stanford, Arizona, USC, at Oregon State, at Arizona State and Washington the rest of the way, needing to win four of those to go bowling. A losing season seems like a foregone conclusion in Pullman after the disappointment at home.

 

The records are prolific but doing it on a losing team certainly takes the shine off the plaque.

Teaser:
Connor Halliday sets NCAA passing record… and Washington State loses
Post date: Sunday, October 5, 2014 - 15:30
Path: /college-football/mike-bercovicis-hail-mary-gives-new-life-arizona-state
Body:

The Sun Devils were literally on their last gasp when a backup quarterback changed the entire complexion of the season for Todd Graham with two throws.

 

Trailing for most of the game, Arizona State's back-up quarterback Mike Bercovici flipped the Pac-12 South on its head with two long touchdown passes, the last of which came on the final play of the game from 46 yards out.

 

USC scored with just over three minutes to go, giving the Trojans a nine-point lead with 3:02 left in the game. Berocvici then led a one-play drive by connecting with Cameron Smith from 73 yards out to answer immediately. 

 

Following a USC three and out, the Sun Devils got the ball back with 23 seconds left and their season hanging in the balance. A loss to USC would have all but knocked Arizona State out of the Pac-12 South race after getting thumped by UCLA last weekend. 

 

Bercovici moved his team to the USC 46 yard line in three plays, facing an obvious Hail Mary situation.

 

For the second time in a few weeks, a school from Arizona was just under 50 yards away from victory trailing a school from California with one play remaining in the game. And exactly like Arizona's 47-yard Hail Mary against Cal, Arizona State's prayer was answered when all-everything wideout Jaelen Strong snatched Bercovici's heave out of mid-air for the game-winning touchdown.

 

The affable and well-spoken Sun Devils back-up signal caller finished with 510 yards and five touchdowns in just his second start after throwing for 488 a week ago against the Bruins.

 

Yes, it was a miracle completion. Yes, it was a historic comeback. Yes, it was an amazing way to cap what turned out to be a wild day in college football. Yes, Arizona State — which threw for 510 yards and ran for 31 — needs to find more balance on offense. But most importantly, it salvaged the Sun Devils season and gave Graham's bunch hope in the Pac-12 race.

 

Arizona State is now 2-1 in the Pac-12 while USC falls to 1-1, essentially a game behind ASU due to the all important tie-breaker. With UCLA also losing in Week 6, the improbable comeback creates a logjam in the South Division. Only Arizona, who has yet to play a division game, is left unbeaten in the conference (2-0) and only Colorado has more than one league loss (0-3).

 

After last weekend, it appeared to be a two-horse race in the South. Seven days later, everyone but Colorado is still very much in the hunt. And the season is just starting to heat up.

 

Hear my interview with Sun Devils star Mike Bercovici:

 

Teaser:
Mike Bercovici's Hail Mary gives new life to Arizona State
Post date: Sunday, October 5, 2014 - 15:10
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, News
Path: /college-football/betting-against-spread-college-football-2014-week-6-picks
Body:

Break out the band, because two straight winning weeks has me surging into the black.

 

I was 4-0-1 in top picks digging deep into C-USA and the Sun Belt for winners. And in the big games, the road dogs went 3-2.

 

Overall, Mitch Light is still leading the way in Top 25 picks with a very sturdy 43-30-2 season mark. That said, both myself (41-32-2) and Steven Lassan (38-35-2) are above the break-even line for Top 25 picks as well. So if the three of us agree on something, it might be time to make a phone call.

 

My advice this weekend would be to stay away from the huge games in the SEC. If you are desperate to jump on the big games in the Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-12, I’d take the favorites.

 

Last Week: 7-2-1

Year-to-Date: 18-14-1

 

Ohio State (-8.5) at Maryland

Ohio State is a significantly better and more talented team than Maryland. While the Terps bounced back nicely on both sides of the ball last weekend, Randy Edsall's bunch won't be able to keep up with a Buckeyes team that is rounding into form on offense. Prediction: Ohio State -8.5
 

Purdue (+8.5) at Illinois

The Illini are at home and Purdue is simply awful. Wes Lunt is back under center for Illinois and that should be enough to roll through what is statistically one of the worst Big 5 teams in the nation. Tim Beckman won one Big Ten game last year and, you guessed it, it came against the Boilermakers. Prediction: Illinois -8.5

 

If you have to go after the big games…

 

Oklahoma (-5) at TCU

TCU scored late in last year's game to make it look closer than it was in Norman but this Sooners team is much better. Trevone Boykin has been great this fall but hasn't faced anything like this OU team. Take the Sooners.

 

Baylor (-14.5) at Texas

Texas will likely have to score 35-40 points to win this game and I'm not sure Tyrone Swoopes has led Texas to 40 points in his three starts combined (okay, it's 47). Baylor rolls big and should cover easily.

 

Nebraska (+7) at Michigan St

Nebraska has one elite player. Michigan State has an elite team. I'll take Sparty to win what is normally a very feisty game in the Big Ten. Mark Dantonio knows he needs style points to reach the playoffs and this is one of the few chances he has left.

 

Arizona State (+11.5) at USC
The Sun Devils defense is still a long way from being rebuilt and the offense is still without star quarterback Taylor Kelly. USC proved last week they are legit on defense (when at home) and Cody Kessler has been brilliant at QB.

 

LSU (+7.5) at Auburn
I don't like the hook but I like this LSU team even less. Auburn lost only once in the regular season last fall and that was in Baton Rouge. Auburn might be better on both sides of the ball and LSU is significantly worse. This is the only SEC game I feel good about. War Eagle.

 

Top 25 Picks ATS:

 

Top 25Braden Gall Mitch LightDavid FoxSteven Lassan
Wake Forest (+38) at Florida St 
Alabama (-6.5) at Ole Miss 
Oklahoma (-5) at TCU 
LSU (+7.5) at Auburn 
Texas A&M (+2) at Miss. St 
Baylor (-14.5) at Texas 
Utah (+13) at UCLA 
Stanford (-1.5) at N. Dame 
Nebraska (+7) at Mich. St 
Vanderbilt (+33.5) at Georgia 
Arizona St (+11.5) at USC 
Wisconsin (-8) at Northwestern 
Utah St (+20.5) at BYU 
Ohio St (-8.5) at Maryland 
Iowa St (+17) at Oklahoma St 
SMU (+40.5) at E. Carolina 
T. Tech (+12.5) at Kansas St 
Last Week:9-6-1 7-8-18-7-110-5-1
YTD:41-32-2 43-30-234-39-238-35-2

 

Teaser:
Betting Against the Spread: College Football 2014 Week 6 Picks
Post date: Friday, October 3, 2014 - 09:00

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