Articles By Braden Gall

All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-cornerbacks
Body:

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

Today, we rank college football's best cornerback prospects:

1. Dee Milliner, Alabama (6-1, 199, Jr.)
The only lock to be taken in the first round should be this Crimson Tider. The former five-star prospect has developed into one of the most complete prospects in the nation. He can cover, has excellent overall athleticism, can tackle, play physical football and has been extremely well-coached. He has the size and speed to be an elite player. Is he as good as Morris Claiborne? Probably not, but he is close.

2. Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State (6-1, 185, Sr.)
Banks, who has a great length to his frame, is just a great all-around football player. He could remind scouts of a poor-man’s Antoine Winfield in his ability to make open field tackles and fill against the run. He has a nose for the football and makes big plays for a defense that puts him on an island. He needs to add some bulk and toughness, but he has the frame to be an NFL regular. Otherwise, he has little to no weaknesses to his game.

3. Xavier Rhodes, Florida State (6-2, 215, Jr.)
When it comes to size and experience, few players top Rhodes’ resume. He has elite size for a corner. In fact, his frame may prompt a move to safety much like an Antrel Rolle or Patrick Peterson. But scouts know what coaches do: You can’t throw at him. He is a leader for Florida State and has outlasted names that fans expected to be better, like a Greg Reid. His eventual upside may be tied to his ability to stick at corner.

4. Jordan Poyer, Oregon State (6-0, 190, Sr.)
The Beavers' star defender is a great competitor – on defense and special teams. He has created turnovers, led a defensive renaissance in Corvallis in 2012, and has been a big-play machine in the return game. He may not be an elite talent at any one thing, but he is really solid at everything. He is a tremendous member of any locker room and will be a contributor on the next level in a variety of ways. Poyer is the front-runner for 2012 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

5. David Amerson, NC State (6-3, 185, Jr.)
The Wolfpacker began the year as the nation’s top coverman after leading the nation and setting an ACC record for interceptions last fall. After a few poor performances in big games against elite wideouts, Amerson has dropped down the big board a few slots. He has a long, rangy frame that NFL scouts will crave and his agility and speed will test fine. Yet, the performance straight up against names like Justin Hunter have hurt his stock. He can help himself and his draft stock a lot during the combine season.

6. Terry Hawthorne, Illinois (6-0, 190, Sr.)
The speedster is a converted wide receiver so he should have excellent ball skills. He has outstanding overall athletic ability, speed, agility and quickness. He has progressed nicely at the position over time and should only continue to get better as he continues to learn the nuances of playing cornerback at the next level. Overcoming a serious head injury sustained in 2012 will be key.

7. Nickell Robey, USC (5-8, 170, Jr.)
This smallish Trojan is similar to dismissed defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. The biggest differences between the two? Robey can cover wide receivers and he hasn’t been kicked off his team for repeatedly breaking team rules. The Trojan is much smaller than typical NFL covermen, but he plays bigger, consistently is around the football and can make an impact on special teams as a return man. Look for Robey, who is one of the best pure covermen in the nation, to sneak up draft boards based on his effort and toughness despite his overall lack of size.

8. Tharold Simon, LSU (6-2, 190, Jr.)
One guy that isn’t lacking for elite NFL size is Simon. He was used in 2011 as a coverman as Mathieu was pushed into a nickel role on passing downs. He has a huge frame that is long and extremely athletic. He will need plenty of polish before he can start on the next level, but make no mistake about the Bayou Bengal's tremendous raw upside. Few players have more athleticism and size than LSU’s top coverman.

9. Carrington Byndom, Texas (6-0, 180, Jr.)
The Texas defensive backfield was supposedly loaded with elite talent like Kenny Vacarro and Quandre Diggs. But many believe that Byndom is the top coverman of the group. He is charged with stopping the top targets of the Big 12 — which are elite in their own respects. And no, the defense in Austin hasn’t played well in 2012. However, Byndom has the size, speed and overall athleticism to be a quality pro prospect.

10. Sanders Commings, Georgia (6-2, 215, Sr.)
Brandon Smith was the name getting all the preseason buzz this summer, but in a league with massive down the field wide receivers, Commings' rangy frame will undoubtedbly appeal to scouts. He is one of the biggest corners in the nation and will need to prove he has the quickness, burst and speed to hang with NFL pass catchers.

11. Aaron Colvin, Oklahoma (6-0, 181, Jr.)
12. Leon McFadden, San Diego State (5-10, 190, Sr.)
13. Blidi Wreh-Wilson, UConn (6-2, 190, Sr.)
14. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech (6-0, 190, Jr.)
15. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State (6-0, 195, Jr.)
16. Johnny Adams, Michigan State (5-11, 180, Sr.)
17. Desmond Trufant, Washington (6-0, 185, Sr.)
18. Logan Ryan, Rutgers (6-0, 190, Jr.)
19. Micah Hyde, Iowa (6-1, 185, Sr.)
20. Rod Sweeting, Georgia Tech (6-0, 190, Sr.)

Best of the Rest:

Darius Slay, Mississippi State (6-1, 190, Sr.)
Demontre Hurst, Oklahoma (5-10, 185, Sr.)
Nigel Malone, Kansas State (5-10, 185, Sr.)
EJ Gaines, Missouri (5-10, 195, Jr.)
Travis Howard, Ohio State (6-1, 195, Sr.)
Branden Smith, Georgia (5-11, 185, Sr.)
Melvin White, UL-Lafayette (6-3, 190, Sr.)
Adrian Buchell, Louisville (5-11, 185, Sr.)
BW Webb, William & Mary (5-11, 180, Sr.)
Marc Anthony, Cal (6-0, 200, Sr.) 

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

2013 NFL Draft: Running Backs

2013 NFL Draft: Tight Ends
2013 NFL Draft: Safeties

2013 NFL Draft: Defensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers

2013 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Inside Linebackers

2013 NFL Draft: Cornerbacks

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Cornerbacks</p>
Post date: Friday, November 2, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: Alabama Crimson Tide, College Football, NFL
Path: /college-football/alabama-crimson-tide-could-never-beat-nfl-team
Body:

The Alabama Crimson Tide is the best team in college football.

In fact, this Alabama team might be Nick Saban’s best since arriving in Tuscaloosa. Considering he has two BCS National Championships in the last three seasons, that is quite a statement. Yet, this is his first team constructed entirely of players he has recruited. This roster is his and his alone — and they are clearly the best team in the nation. Some believe this is one of the deepest college football rosters ever assembled.

And Alabama would still get crushed by any team in the NFL.

So when Steve Spurrier said on "The Dan Patrick Show" that Alabama might be favored over a couple of NFL teams this week, he was sorely mistaken — or talking with an agenda, as is the case most of the time with the Ol’ Ball Coach.

Those in Vegas have reported that Alabama would be a 24-point underdog to both the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Kansas City Chiefs if they played on a neutral field today.

I would lay the points.

Both NFL teams would win by more than five touchdowns. Or worse.

The talent differential is simply too vast. Take into consideration the Crimson Tide’s remarkable performance in the NFL Draft the last three seasons. Saban has had 19 players drafted off of his team over the last three seasons, 10 of which were taken in the first round. So on what many consider to be the best defense ever assembled in college football — the 2011 Alabama Crimson Tide — six are now playing in the NFL.

What about the other 40 defensive players on that team who will never sniff an NFL roster?

So while Alabama might be the most talented team in the nation with the most NFL players of any team in the nation, they still pale in comparison to an ACTUAL NFL team. One is full of teenage children going to ECON 201 classes learning about Supply and Demand for the first time. And the other is grown adult men paying their mortgages with a six- or seven-figure paycheck.

It’s simple math. If he’s lucky, 20 percent of Saban’s roster would be constructed of NFL players. The Chiefs, who have yet to hold a lead in regulation in any game this season, are constructed of 100 percent NFL players.

So even if the Chiefs are the worst team in the league with the worst roster in the league, most every player on the team would start for Alabama.

With the possible exception of Matt Cassel.

-by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> Alabama Crimson Tide Could Never Beat an NFL Team</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 12:41
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-10-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The Little Brown Jug. A battle of bests in East Lansing with a championship on the line. Ohio State's continued pursuit of perfection. And the Indiana Hoosiers are favored at home over Iowa? Yes, those Hoosiers could actually be a factor in the Big Ten title race. No, I am not kidding around.

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

1. Can Nebraska handle the driver’s seat?
Whether Denard Robinson played the entire game or not, Nebraska emerged from last weekend’s tilt with Michigan as the frontrunner in the Legends Division. There is no rest for the weary, however, as the Huskers travel to East Lansing this weekend to take on Michigan State. The Spartans are an enigmatic team that went on the road and beat Wisconsin last weekend with little to no offensive production from the quarterback position. Bo Pelini can work himself into a frenzy on the sidelines at times and he will need to portray an image of calm, cool and collected this weekend. A potential return trip to Pasadena is in the cards if they can handle the pressure of being the hunted on the road this weekend.

2. The league’s best offense vs. the league’s best defense
Taylor Martinez and the Huskers are leading the Big Ten in scoring offense (39.3 ppg), total offense (489.1 ypg) and rushing (264.1 ypg). Michigan State and William Gholston are leading the Big Ten in total defense (267.4 ypg), scoring defense (15.0 ppg) and rushing defense (91.2 ypg). Talk about strength on strength. Something will have to give on Saturday night and if Nebraska wants to be taken seriously as a Big Ten title contender under Bo Pelini, this is a game it has to win.

3. The Battle for the Little Brown Jug
The earthenware jug originally used by Michigan’s Fielding Yost is what is up for grabs each time Minnesota and Michigan get together on the football field. The Wolverines hold a commanding 67-22-3 record in the series, including winning 20 of the last 21 meetings. Strangely enough, the Gophers' last two wins over Michigan have come in Ann Arbor with their last home win in the series coming in 1977. This Michigan team is still very much alive for the conference championship and a win over Minnesota is a must for a team with Ohio State still looming on the schedule. Of course, that would be much easier if…

4. Denard Robinson plays the entire game
The re-aggravation of the nerve injury in his throwing elbow cost Robinson and Michigan any chance of competing with Nebraska last weekend. Shoelace is expected to play and start this weekend for Brady Hoke but how long will he last? Devin Gardner — a former elite high school quarterback prospect turned wide receiver — has been taking most of the reps in practice. This is a change from what took place last weekend when Russell Bellomy was called into duty when Robinson got hurt. Needless to say, the Bellomy experiment didn’t work. Gardner gives this team the best chance to win should Robinson miss any time. Ideally, however, Gardner will just be catching passes this weekend and not throwing them.

5. Could Indiana actually be a Division contender?
No, I can’t believe I just wrote that. And no, I am not kidding (on either statement, really). Indiana has Iowa and Wisconsin at home over the next two weekends before road trips to Penn State and Purdue to finish the year. A win over Iowa this weekend gets the Hoosiers to two wins with destiny firmly in hand. Wisconsin lost its starting quarterback Joel Stave for the season and still must face Ohio State and Penn State as well. Is it all that crazy to think Indiana wins two of the next four to get to 3-5? And should one of those wins come over the depleted Badgers at home, they would own the tiebreaker. Am I picking Indiana to win the division at this point? Of course not. But in the immortal words of Lloyd Christmas, I'm just saying there’s a chance.

6. Division road test for Penn State
After rattling off five straight wins, Penn State was put in its place last weekend by Braxton Miller and the Ohio State Buckeyes. To rebound, Bill O’Brien must take his team on the road within the division. Normally, that would be a scary task but with the way Purdue is playing, a loss to the Boilermakers would be a tremendous disappointment. Look for the running game, which was completely dormant against Ohio State (32 yards on 28 carries), to bounce back nicely this weekend. Purdue has lost four straight games and has allowed 283.8 yards rushing per game over that span. Another performance like that this weekend from Purdue and…

7. Danny Hope could be looking for employment after this weekend
No, Hope won’t get fired this weekend, even if Purdue gets crushed by Penn State. But this team has completely crumbled under Hope’s leadership and despite a bowl appearance last fall, things appear headed in the wrong direction. The good news is the schedule lightens up for the Boilers with Illinois and Indiana to finish the year. But irreparable damage could be already be done by then as the Nittany Lions come to town this weekend before Purdue heads to Iowa on Nov. 10. 

8. Braxton and the Buckeyes pursuit of perfection
Illinois is the worst team in the league and Ohio State is the best. There is a reason the Buckeyes are favored by four touchdowns. But there is still plenty to watch in Columbus as Braxton Miller continues to build his Heisman resume and Urban Meyer is pursuing an unblemished record — something he failed to accomplish at Florida despite two national championships. His only unbeaten season as a head coach took place in 2004 when an Alex Smith-led Utah squad finished 12-0.  

Week 10 Big Ten Predictions:

Week 10 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Michigan (-12) at Minnesota Michigan, 34-21 Michigan, 31-20 Michigan, 34-20 Michigan, 28-17
Iowa (+1.5) at Indiana Indiana, 30-27 Indiana, 27-24 Iowa, 27-24 Indiana, 28-21
Illinois (+27.5) at Ohio State Ohio St, 42-14 Ohio St, 44-7 Ohio St, 45-10 Ohio St, 52-14
Penn St (-3.5) at Purdue Penn St, 31-14 Penn St, 31-24 Penn St, 31-17 Penn St, 35-14
Nebraska (-2) at Michigan St Nebraska, 24-21 Nebraska, 20-13 Nebraska, 24-20 Nebraska, 21-17
Last Week: 4-2 4-2 5-1 4-2
Yearly Totals: 60-14 56-18 62-12 56-18

Bye Week: Wisconsin, Northwestern

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 10 Previews and Predictions
Big East Week 10 Previews and Predictions

Big 12 Week 10 Previews and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 10 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 10 Previews and Predictions

College Football Week 10 Upset Predictions

Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections

Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Week 10 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 06:04
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-10-preview-and-predictions
Body:

It's here! November 3 has been a day circled by many West coast football fans since the season ended last January. And had Arizona not gone and screwed everything up, this Oregon-USC showdown would still carry national title implications for both teams. Instead, there's a national title hanging in the balance for just one team. The Oregon Ducks. All eyes will be focused on The Coliseum, but Pac-12 fans have a full holiday menu this Saturday. There will be plenty of tricks and treats for some (Utah? Washington? Oregon State?) and freakish ghouls for others (Cal? Arizona State? Colorado?).

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

1. Oregon’s National Championship is on the line
The SEC has its own Game of the Year in Baton Rouge, but the West Coast's version has just as much intrigue. And plenty more fireworks. While Alabama and LSU play for the right to represent the SEC West in Atlanta with what should be little to no offensive production, Chip Kelly and Lane Kiffin will duke it out in Los Angeles armed with two of the most explosive offenses in the nation. And a chance to host the Pac-12 title game is on the line for USC (or just play in the title game). The stakes are slightly higher for the Ducks as they sit (disrespectfully) at No. 4 in the polls. A road win over USC, as well as three more, should push Oregon to No. 2 regardless of what happens in Manhattan, Kan., or South Bend, Ind., from here on out. I wonder who Larry Scott is rooting for?

2. Matt Barkley could still play in the Rose Bowl
USC still has to be considered the favorite to win the South — but by a much slimmer margin now than last week. That said, three wins to end the year over Oregon, Arizona State and UCLA and the Trojans would land in the Pac-12 title game. In fact, even with a loss to Oregon this weekend, USC could still play for the league crown. All Barkley needs is a chance. If he can get to the Pac-12 Championship Game, his team will have a chance to play in the ever-elusive Rose Bowl. Barkley has played in one bowl game during his tenure at Heritage Hall — an Emerald Bowl win over Boston College — but a trip to Pasadena would likely justify his decision to return to college for his senior year.

3. Will Arizona-UCLA decide the Pac-12 South?
The Trojans likely hold a slight edge in the current race for the South Division title, but Arizona’s visit to UCLA could determine who USC’s chief rival will be down the stretch. Assume a USC loss to Oregon this weekend, Arizona then controls its own destiny. But a loss to UCLA gives the Wildcats a fourth conference loss and likely knocks them out of the race. A win and Rich Rodriguez could be playing for a championship in year one. Jim Mora could say the same thing this weekend with a win — and UCLA doesn’t need any help. A win over Arizona at home puts the Bruins in control of the South with a home date with USC still looming on Nov. 17. Should UCLA defeat Arizona this weekend, the crosstown City of Lights winner will claim the South. 

4. Backfield duos will win the day in L.A.
Matt Scott and Ka’Deem Carey have been electric all season for RichRod. But so has Brett Hundley and Johnathan Franklin for Jim Mora. The UCLA combo is slightly more traditional but has been no less effective. Scott and Hundley are first and second in the league in total offense while Franklin and Carey are first and third in rushing. Both defenses will have their hands full with these two backfields come Saturday afternoon. Arizona must put an end to its road woes this weekend if it wants to stay in the South race. The Cats are 0-2 on the road this fall and have allowed at least 49 points in both games. The defense must step up this weekend or the Wildcats will limp home to the desert with a fourth conference loss.

5. Cody Vaz is back under center for Oregon State
The junior from Lodi, Calif., hadn’t started a game since high school when he took over for the injured Sean Mannion three weeks ago. He was more than effective, throwing for 332 yards in the relatively easy road win over BYU and 174 yards in the equally easy home win over Utah. However, Mike Riley went back to Mannion for last week’s visit to Washington and the sophomore might have been rushed back into action. Mannion threw four interceptions and the Beavers lost their first game of the year. With Arizona State coming to town this weekend, Riley has gone back to Vaz. The junior will get his third collegiate start as Mannion will watch from the sidelines. The best thing for Vaz? If Oregon State can turn to the ground game against an Arizona State defense that has allowed 618 yards rushing over the last two weekends. Speaking of…

6. Arizona State’s hot start will come crashing down
The ASU defense was ranked No. 1 in the Pac-12 two weeks ago, but 88 points allowed and two losses later, the Sun Devils are staring at a second-half collapse. Okay, so “collapse” might be a bit harsh for a team that dramatically overachieved during the first half. But there is a good chance Arizona State finishes the year on a 1-5 losing streak as three of the four will be on the road against Oregon State, USC and Arizona. Washington State at home should be a win, but otherwise, there could be little to like about this squad over the final month.

7. Homecoming highlights Washington's road trip
The Huskies played arguably the toughest five-week stretch of any team in the nation. Road trips to Eugene and Tucson sandwiched between home games with Stanford, USC and Oregon State made Washington’s first-half slate virtually impossible (not to mention a visit to Death Valley). But the Huskies emerged with home wins over the Cardinal and Beavers. The next step for Steve Sarkisian’s improved defense is to take that tenacity on the road. To Berkeley, more specifically. There should be plenty of motivation on both sides as prized recruiter and defensive line dynamo Tosh Lupoi returns to his alma mater. He was lured from Cal to Seattle by Coach Sark this offseason and the move paid instant dividends on the recruiting trail and along the defensive front. The egos on both sides haven’t forgotten.

8. Does a loss end Jeff Tedford’s tenure at Cal
A loss to Washington at home would be painful enough. But the loss would come at the hands of a former assistant and would push the Bears’ record to 3-7. Needless to say, an amicable divorce is pending should the Bears fall at home to U of W. 

9. Wait, Utah can still make it to a bowl game?
Yes, it is true. Somehow the Utes can still go bowling this fall. With a very favorable schedule left — Washington State, at Washington, Arizona at Colorado — Utah needs to finish 3-1 in its final four to get to bowl eligibility for the 10th consecutive season. That makes a win over Wazzu at home this weekend imperative. Take care of the Cougars and people around Salt Lake City will begin to believe. 

Week 10 Pac-12 Predictions:

Week 10 Pac-12 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Washington (+4.5) at Cal Washington, 20-17 Cal, 24-20 Washington, 31-24 Washington, 24-17
Stanford (-28) at Colorado Stanford, 38-10 Stanford, 38-10 Stanford, 41-10 Stanford, 42-10
Washington St (+11.5) at Utah Utah, 30-24 Utah, 24-17 Utah, 31-17 Wazzu, 24-21
Oregon (-7.5) at USC Oregon, 40-34 Oregon, 44-30 Oregon, 41-34 Oregon, 42-21
Arizona (+3.5) at UCLA UCLA, 35-31 UCLA, 41-37 UCLA, 38-35 Arizona, 38-31
Arizona St (+4) at Oregon St Oregon St, 30-20 Oregon St, 27-21 Oregon St, 30-27 Oregon St, 24-7
Last Week: 5-0 5-0 4-1 5-0
Yearly Totals: 45-15 46-14 44-16 41-19

Bye: None

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 10 Previews and Predictions
Big East Week 10 Previews and Predictions

Big Ten Week 10 Previews and Predictions

Big 12 Week 10 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 10 Previews and Predictions

College Football Week 10 Upset Predictions

Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections

Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Week 10 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 1, 2012 - 06:03
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Heisman Trophy
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-contenders-post-week-9
Body:

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

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

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

1. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State (12 first place votes)
Season Stats:
 117-165, 1,630 yards, 12 TD, 2 INT, 122 att., 634 yards, 16 TD
For the third time in four games, Klein led his team to at least 55 points against a ranked opponent. The KSU quarterback scored four total touchdowns, passed for 233 yards and rushed for 83 yards. He has now rushed for at least two scores in four straight games and hasn't thrown an interception since Week 3. CK7 is the No. 2-rated passer in the nation at 175.47, trailing only A.J. McCarron. Next Game: Oklahoma State

  Last Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. (1) Collin Klein QB Kansas St 129/130 12 1 - - - 13/13
2. (3) Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame 108/130 1 6 3 2 1 13/13
3. (2) Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 101/130 - 3 6 2 2 13/13
4. (6) A.J. McCarron QB Alabama 82/130 - 1 2 5 2 12/13
5. (4) Geno Smith QB W. Virginia 64/130 - 1 - 2 3 12/13
6. (5) Kenjon Barner RB Oregon 54/130 - 1 1 2 1 10/13
7. (10) Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M 49/130 - - - - - 12/13
8. (7) Matt Barkley QB USC 21/130 - - - - 1 6/13
9t. (ur) Marcus Mariota QB Oregon 20/130 - - 1 - - 5/13
9t. (ur) Marqise Lee WR USC 20/130 - - - - - 8/13
11. (12) Giovani Bernard RB N. Carolina 19/130 - - - - 2 4/13
12. (9) Barrett Jones OL Alabama 13/130 - - - - 1 4/13
13. (14) De'Anthony Thomas AP Oregon 7/130 - - - - - 2/13
14t. (8) Seth Doege QB Texas Tech 5/130 - - - - - 3/13
14t. (22) Jordan Lynch QB N. Illinois 5/130 - - - - - 3/13
16t. (ur) Matt Scott QB Arizona 4/130 - - - - - 2/13
16t. (17) Aaron Murray QB Georgia 4/130 - - - - - 1/13
18t. (15) Jadeveon Clowney DE S. Carolina 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
18t. (ur) Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 3/130 - - - - - 2/13
20t. (12) DeAndre Hopkins WR Clemson 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
20t. (17) E.J. Manuel QB Florida St 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
20t. (ur) Colby Cameron QB Louisiana Tech 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
20t. (17) Damontre Moore DE Texas A&M 1/130 - - - - - 1/13

2. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame (1 first place vote)
Season Stats: 80 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 5 INT, 1 sack, FR, 3 PBU
The Irish held the Sooners to their lowest scoring (13 points) and yardage (379) outputs of the season. And Te'o played a huge role. In fact, should Te'o win the stiff-armed trophy, it will be his performance in the spotlight on the road against Oklahoma that won him the award. He posted 11 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, one monster sack, and one outstanding, diving, game-clinching interception. There is much left to be accomplished in South Bend, but this was a signature performance from the star linebacker. Next Game: Pitt

3. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Season Stats: 
112-198, 1,527 yards, 12 TD, 6 INT, 166 att., 1,093 yards, 12 TD
After a huge hit that cost him the fourth quarter against Purdue and resulted in a trip to the hospital, Miller was up to his old tricks again this weekend. He rushed for 134 yards and two touchdowns in the easy win over Penn State and the Ohio State quarterback now leads the Big Ten in rushing (121.4 ypg). It was his sixth 100-yard effort of the season. He also threw for 143 yards and another touchdown through the air as well. Next Game: Illinois

4. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Season Stats: 122-177, 1,684 yards, 18 TD, 0 INT, 31 att., minus-51 yards
McCarron continues to play flawless football. Against unbeaten Mississippi State who was leading the nation in turnover margin, the Bama quarterback kept his record-setting interception-less streak intact. He completed 16-of-23 passes for 208 yards and two touchdowns in the 38-7 win over the Bull-puppies. He is leading the nation in passing efficiency at 182.40 and has his team poised for its second straight national title. A win on the road against LSU would likely lock McCarron into a trip to NYC at season's end. Next Game: at LSU

5. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Season Stats: 
216-291, 2,414 yards, 26 TD, 2 INT, 35 att., 56 yards, TD
The numbers are still elite level for the Mountaineers' passer and hopefully the bye week gave Smith and company some time to regroup and rebuild their lost confidence. There is still much to play for with five conference games remaining. Next game: TCU

6. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Season Stats: 141 att., 974 yards, 14 TD, 13 rec., 158 yards, TD
Next Game: at USC

7. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Season Stats: 173-269, 2,216 yards, 16 TD, 6 INT, 117 att., 793 yards, 13 TD
Next Week: at Mississippi State

8. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Season Stats: 
171-262, 2,266 yards, 25 TD, 8 INT, 27 att., minus-56 yards
Next game: Oregon

9. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
Season Stats: 
133-194, 1,483 yards, 18 TD, 5 INT, 57 att., 378 yards, 3 TD
Next Game: at USC

10. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Season Stats: 76 rec., 1,129 yards, 10 TD, 15 KR, 426 yards, TD, 44 yards rushing 
Next Game: Oregon


by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 9 Recap

ACC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Pac-12 East Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Contenders: Post-Week 9</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-middle-linebackers
Body:

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

Today, we rank college football's best middle linebackers prospects:

1. Manti Te’o, Notre Dame (6-2, 245, Sr.)
This guy pretty much sells himself as the best player at his position in the 2013 Draft — even in a draft class that is extremely deep at the position. He was likely a first-round pick last year and has put together a Heisman-caliber season as a senior. He also dropped a few pounds for 2012, which has given him elite quickness and burst to go with tremendous strength, tackling skill, physicality, intangibles, leadership and size. He is a sure-fire NFL prospect who will likely start right away.

2. Alec Ogletree, Georgia (6-3, 235, Jr.)
Physical. Explosive. Can play in any system. Has faced the nation’s top programs. Ogletree has had some issues off the field but they have been relatively minor and shouldn’t keep him out of the first round. The raw upside on Ogletree makes him one of the most intriguing players in the upcoming draft at any position. If he stays clean off the field, his speed, instincts and overall productivity should make him a first rounder.

3. Kevin Minter, LSU (6-2, 240, Jr.)
On a team with little depth and talent around him at linebacker, Minter has played excellent football in 2012. He has good size, is the leader of the LSU defense, makes plays all over the field and has elite level toughness. He has played behind elite defensive lineman, so scouts will want to see him in traffic more often. The good news for Minter is he has saved his best season for his last and it will help him come Draft Day.

4. Shayne Skov, Stanford (6-3, 242, Sr.)
Off the field issues — injuries and a DUI — have slowed Skov’s career over the last few seasons. Yet, his impact was immediate when he stepped on campus. He leads one of the best front sevens in the game with elite size and physicality. He is an extremely tough player with tremendous instincts and tackling ability. If healthy and focused, he might be one of the most talented players in the nation at his position.

5. CJ Mosley, Alabama (6-2, 235, Jr.)
Mosley could easily end up as an outside linebacker, but for now, he is one of the nation’s elite interior tacklers. He plays well in space and on the inside and continually makes plays against both the run and the pass. He has one national title ring and is the leader of one of the nastiest defenses in the nation this fall. He has speed, power, toughness and fundamentals. Look for Mosley to grade out highly at either outside or inside linebacker.

6. Kevin Reddick, North Carolina (6-3, 240, Sr.)
A slow senior season has cost Reddick some money this fall. He still has excellent size, speed and strength for the interior of any defense. He possesses NFL speed and size,  but hasn’t made enough big plays to be considered an elite prospect. However, he has the skills needed to be a productive player at the next level.

7. Michael Mauti, Penn State (6-2, 235, Sr.)
The steady veteran has all but locked up Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2012 with stellar leadership this fall. Especially considering what Penn State has gone through this season. He isn’t overly talented at any one thing but is extremely consistent and physical. Think Sean Lee, Dan Connor or a slightly less talented version of Paul Posluszny.

8. Nico Johnson, Alabama (6-3, 245, Sr.)
There is a lot to like about this senior’s resume. He has two national championships already and has been a big part of one of the nation’s top defenses. He is excellent against the run and can play inside or out. Yet, he has had long stretches of relatively quiet play. Is that a sign of steady production no matter the situation or a sign of less than elite consistency?

9. Jon Bostic, Florida (6-1, 245, Sr.)
In the midst of a semi-disappointing senior year (from an NFL scouting standpoint), Bostic has become a focal point and leader for one of the nation’s elite defenses. He is a tough hitter and can make big plays from all over the field. He has the size and toughness to start inside on the NFL level, but will need to prove his overall talent before the draft.

10. Chris Borland, Wisconsin (5-11, 245, Jr.)
The original Honey Badger is an elite competitor. He has a motor that never quits and he can be used in a variety of ways. He has played inside, outside and exclusively as a pass rusher on third downs this fall. He consistently makes big plays (blocked kicks, forced fumbles, sacks, tackles for loss) and will remind many scouts of Cleveland's D'Qwell Jackson — short but stout.

11. Jonathan Brown, Illinois (6-1, 235, Jr.)
12. Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech (6-2, 245, Sr.)
13. A.J. Klein, Iowa State (6-2, 245, Sr.)
14. Kiko Alonso, Oregon (6-3, 245, Sr.)
15. Tom Wort, Oklahoma (6-0, 235, Jr.)
16. Kenny Demens, Michigan (6-1, 240, Sr.)
17. Steve Beauharnais, Rutgers (6-2, 230, Sr.)
18. Uona Kaveinga, BYU (5-11, 235, Sr.)
19. Andrew Jackson, Western Kentucky (6-1, 260, Jr.)
20. Will Compton, Nebraska (6-2, 230, Sr.)
21. James Morris, Iowa (6-2, 230, Jr.)
22. Christian Robinson, Georgia (6-2, 235, Sr.)
23. Steve Greer, Virginia (6-2, 235, Sr.)
24. Vince Williams, Florida State (6-0, 240, Sr.)
25. Shaq Wilson, South Carolina (5-11, 225, Sr.)

Other names to watch:

Doug Rippy, Colorado (6-3, 245, Sr.)
Jake Johnson, South Alabama (6-1, 240, Sr.)
Dwayne Beckford, Purdue (6-1, 235, Sr.)
Herman Lathers, Tennessee (6-0, 230, Sr.)
Kenny Cain, TCU (6-1, 225, Sr.)
Tenarius Wright, Arkansas (6-1, 250, Sr.)
Tanner Brock, TCU (6-3, 250, Sr.) 

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

2013 NFL Draft: Running Backs

2013 NFL Draft: Tight Ends
2013 NFL Draft: Safeties

2013 NFL Draft: Defensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers

2013 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Inside Linebackers

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Middle Linebackers</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/big-ten-post-week-9-power-rankings
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Michigan and Wisconsin entered the weekend as the odd-on favorites to play in the Big Ten title game at season's end. After two huge injuries to both programs' starting quarterbacks, each left Week 9 with a loss. The Badgers would have to lose out (including to Indiana) in order to miss the trip to Indianapolis from the Leaders Division. However, the Wolverines' loss to Nebraska has thrown the Legends Division into complete upheaval. It should make for a fun final month in the Midwest.

Post-Week 9 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State - Just seven days after visiting the hospital for a scary head and neck injury against Purdue, Miller was up to his old tricks in Happy Valley. He threw for 143 yards and one touchdown while rushing for 134 yards and two more scores while keeping Ohio State unbeaten. He is now leading the Big Ten in rushing and total offense.

2. Matt McGloin, QB, Penn State - The Nittany Lions were outmatched against unbeaten Ohio State, but McGloin posted some big numbers. He threw for a personal best 327 yards and two touchdowns in PSU's first Big Ten loss of the year.  

3. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska - He wasn't elite — 166 yards, TD, INT passing and 58 yards rushing on 14 attempts — but he was good enough to beat the Wolverines on a bad wheel. This might have gone from a two-horse race to a one-horse race. It's Miller's award to lose at this point.


Post-Week 9 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Mike Mauti, LB, Penn State - Mauti posted 13 total tackles against the most dynamic player in the league. Even though Penn State lost and couldn't really keep up with the Buckeyes, Mauti will be tough to beat here. He is No. 3 in the league in tackling to go with three interceptions and 2.5 sacks.

2. Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin - Taylor led a defense that kept Michigan State to three points for nearly 60 minutes. He had eight tackles (1 TFL) and is No. 2 in the Big Ten in tackling and tackles for a loss.

3. John Simon, DL, Ohio State - Simon got one of the Buckeyes' four sacks this weekend, he also posted a tackle for loss and defelected a pass. Ryan Shazier might make bigger plays, but Simon is the leader of the defense. Most importantly, his team hasn't lost yet.


Post-Week 9 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State - There is only one team in the nation with a 9-0 record and it's Meyer's Buckeyes. His squad played arguably their best game of the year in the whitewashing of Penn State on the road. An unbeaten season gives Meyer the Big Ten Coach of the Year award.

2. Bill O'Brien, Penn State - The relatively easy win for Ohio State doesn't eliminate BoB from Coach of the Year consideration by any means. It doesn't diminish his overall accomplishments in Happy Valley. A 3-1 mark to finish at 6-2 in league play might give O'Brien the COY award.

3. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern - His Wildcats blitzed the over-matched Hawkeyes in impressive fashion this weekend. He has his best rushing attack since arriving in Evanston and has an outside shot at nine wins.


Post-Week 9 Power Rankings

1. Ohio State (9-0, 5-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 9 result: Beat Penn State 35-23

The talk around Columbus this week was the health of Heisman candidate Braxton Miller. Well, it turns out he is just fine. The Buckeyes' star quarterback got his Heisman candidacy back on track with another big day on the ground. Ohio State out-gained Penn State 234 yards to 32 on the ground, led by Miller's two touchdowns. Two late touchdowns made this game look closer than it really was as the Buckeyes defense played arguably its best game of the year, sacking Matt McGloin four times and forcing two turnovers on the road. The Bucknuts are the only 9-0 team in the nation.
This week: Illinois (2-6)

2. Nebraska (6-2, 3-1)
Previous rank: 5
Week 9 result: Beat Michigan 25-9
Obviously, there is a rather large asterisk next to Nebraska's win over Michigan. The Huskers easily handled the Maize and Blue once Denard Robinson left the game. The Huskers defense hasn't looked like the Black Shirts much this fall, but once Shoelace left the game, Nebraska dominated on that side of the ball. They held Michigan to a season low 188 yards of offense for the game and only three points once Robinson departed (and those came with lots of help from NU penalties). The Huskers now control their own destiny in the Legends Division after back-to-back wins over Northwestern and Michigan. However, Nebraska could face four "bowl-eligible" teams to finish the year: Michigan State, Penn State, Minnesota and Iowa.
This week: at Michigan State (5-4)

3. Michigan (5-3, 3-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 9 result: Lost to Nebraska 25-9
Big Ten fans got robbed of what could have been a truly great match-up in Lincoln. Michigan fans likely feel worse. Denard Robinson left the game in the second quarter when Bake Steinkuhler awkwardly hit his throwing arm as Michigan was going in to score. Dealing with re-aggravated nerve damage in his throwing arm, Shoelace was unable to return and replacement Russell Bellomy was left to deal with the Black Shirts. He was like a deer in headlights, starting 0-for-10 passing and leading the offense to only three points in the final 33 minutes of play. Michigan was held to a season low 188 total yards, 38 of which came from Bellomy (on 16 passes and five rushes). Brady Hoke has stated he isn't concerned with his star quarterback's availability for next Saturday's Battle for the Little Brown Jug.
This week: at Minnesota (5-3)

4. Penn State (5-3, 3-1)
Previous rank: 4
Week 9 result: Lost to Ohio State 35-23
Matt McGloin threw for a career-best 327 yards and a couple of late scores to make the outcome much closer than it should have been. The Penn State ground game had averaged 180.5 yards per game with no fewer than 161 yards in each of the previous four games. Against Ohio State, it mustered only 32 yards on 28 carries as the Nits trailed 28-10 with 10 minutes to go in the game. The schedule isn't that difficult — Purdue, Nebraska, Indiana and Wisconsin — and a 3-1 finish would give Penn State an eight-win season. In Happy Valley this fall, eight wins has to be considered a modern miracle.

This week: at Purdue (3-5)

5. Wisconsin (6-3, 3-2)
Previous rank: 3
Week 9 result: Lost to Michigan State 16-13 (OT)
Much like Michigan, Badgers fans have to feel robbed this fall. Both league losses have come without starting quarterback Joel Stave and now Bret Bielema will be without his signal caller for the rest of the year. The redshirt freshman walk-on was 9-of-11 for 127 yards and a touchdown when he left the game with a broken collarbone. Former Maryland transfer Danny O'Brien led the offense to 43 total yards in the second half and overtime. The defense played excellent football, but finally broke down in the final minutes of play when the Spartans drove the length of the field to tie the game with 1:25 left to play. This team is still very much in the driver's seat for the Leaders Division default crown, but without Stave, an upset win in Indy is highly unlikely. 
This week: Off

6. Northwestern (7-2, 3-2)
Previous rank: 6
Week 9 result: Beat Iowa 28-17
This was a huge game for a team that believes it is ready to compete for a Big Ten title. While finishing 6-2 in the league is highly unlikely (at Michigan, at Michigan State and Illinois after the bye), a shot at nine wins was realized with the win this weekend. A game Northwestern dominated. Opening up a 28-3 lead behind the best rushing attack Pat Fitzgerald has ever had in Evanston (237.6 ypg, 15th nationally), the Wildcats held on for the easy home win over reeling Iowa. Kain Colter and Venric Mark both topped 160 yards on the ground as Northwestern finished with 349 yards on the ground.  
This week: Off

7. Michigan State (5-4, 2-3)
Previous rank: 7
Week 9 result: Beat Wisconsin 16-13 (OT)
The Spartans were teetering after a brutal last-second loss to rival Michigan last weekend. But the most maligned member of the Spartans' football program answered the bell when he had to this weekend and Sparty got off the schneid. Andrew Maxwell completed 8-of-9 passes and even rushed for a first down on MSU's final drive of the game that ended in the game-tying touchdown pass to Le'Veon Bell. He then tossed the game-winner in overtime on third-and-eight from the Wisconsin 12-yard line. It was easily Maxwell's best clutch performance of his brief and challenged career. The Spartans now return home for two tough games against Nebraska and Northwestern.
This week: Nebraska (6-2)

8. Iowa (4-4, 2-2)
Previous rank: 9
Week 9 result: Lost to Northwestern 28-17
It was too little too late for Kirk Ferentz. For the second straight week, the Hawkeyes appeared to be completely unprepared to play a football game. After falling behind 38-0 to Penn State last weekend, Iowa fell behind Northwestern 28-3 before scoring a couple of second half touchdowns. This type of overall erosion is unacceptable in Iowa City. Certainly, Northwestern is as talented as it has been in over a decade, but there is no excuse for Iowa to fall behind 66-3. It is up to the head coach to have his team better prepared to compete.
This week: at Indiana (3-5)

9. Minnesota (5-3, 1-3)
Previous rank: 10
Week 9 result: Beat Purdue 44-28
This was a huge statement win for Jerry Kill and the Gophers. No, a win over Purdue isn't something you normally put in your trophy case, but it keeps Minnesota on pace for a potential bowl bid and gives an extremely young offense loads of confidence. Freshman Philip Nelson played flawless football in leading his team to a 44-7 lead halfway through the third quarter. He finished with 246 yards and three touchdowns on 15-of-22 passing and no interceptions. He also added 37 yards rushing as Gophers fans have to be excited about the future of the quarterback position in Minneapolis. Kill's bunch has three brutal games left (Michigan, at Nebraska and Michigan State) and one game that should give them a trip to a bowl game (Illinois). Any upsets along the way would guarantee a winning season for the first time since 2008.
This week: Michigan (5-3)

10. Purdue (3-5, 0-4)
Previous rank: 8
Week 9 result: Lost to Minnesota 44-28
After a strong non-conference showing, Danny Hope's bunch was poised to compete in the depleted Leaders Division. That is, until Big Ten play started.
With just over eight minutes to go in the third quarter, Purdue had scored seven points and was trailing by 37 to Minnesota. Purdue has lost four straight games and has allowed nearly 40 points per game since Big Ten play started. The offense hasn't helped much either, averaging less than 300 yards per game during the four-game losing streak. Hope needs to win down the stretch to keep his job — probably three times, which isn't all that far-fetched with one of the easiest final months in the league: Penn State, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana.
This week: Penn State (5-3)

11. Indiana (3-5, 1-3)
Previous rank: 12
Week 9 result: Beat Illinois 31-17
A win over a 2-6 team that has looked completely inept wouldn't normally be a signature victory, but for Kevin Wilson and the Hoosiers, that is exactly what this weekend's win was for the fans in Bloomington. The two-touchdown road win was the first Big Ten win for the Wilson regime, and frankly, they made it look easy. After falling behind 14-7 early in the second quarter, Indiana out-scored Illinois 24-3 the rest of the way. Wilson's bunch is just a couple plays away from being 5-3 after heart-breaking losses to Ball State and Navy. It was the first league victory for IU since Nov. 2010.
This week: Iowa (4-4)

12. Illinois (2-6, 0-4)
Previous rank: 11
Week 9 result: Beat Lost to Indiana 31-17
The Illini finally won something this weekend. However, of course, no one wants to be called the "Worst Team in the League." But that is what Tim Beckman's bunch has earned in his first season at Illinois after losing at home by two touchdowns to a team that hasn't won a Big Ten game since November 2010. This team is horrendous in all three phases. It's ranked last in the Big Ten in total offense, scoring offense and sacks allowed. It is last in the Big Ten in scoring defense and pass efficiency defense. And it's even last in punt returns and 11th in kick returns. 

This week: Ohio State (9-0)

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 9 Recap

ACC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Pac-12 East Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Post-Week 9 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-post-week-9-power-rankings
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And then there was one. Most didn't believe Oregon State or USC could make it to the BCS National Championship game, however, they both just kept winning. No more. After tough road losses this weekend, the Oregon Ducks are flying above the rest of the Pac-12 as the lone remaining national title contender. The depth of the league was once again on full display as programs like Arizona, UCLA and Washington prove that the middle of this league is as strong as any league in the nation.

Post-Week 9 Offensive Player of the Year Standings


1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - As the unquestioned leader of the best team in the league and arguably the best offense in America, Mariota is my vote. After three more touchdowns and another 70 points on offense, Mariota is now leading the league in completion rate (68.8 percent), is leading the league in rushing yards by a QB and has thrown the fewest interceptions of any of the regular starters in the league. Many will vote for Kenjon Barner or De'Anthony Thomas, but Mariota has been the most important piece to the Chip Kelly offensive puzzle.

2. Matt Barkley, QB, USC - USC could still win the league and so Barkley could still easily win POY. He threw for 493 yards and three touchdowns — giving him a Pac-12 best 25 total touchdowns — and is No. 2 in passing efficiency out West. A win next week and he is back at No. 1.

3. Matt Scott, QB, Arizona 
- Maybe now Scott will finally get some national consideration for his efforts in the desert. He nearly posted more yards against USC than any player in the long and storied history of the Trojan program. He piled up 469 yards and four scores in the big win over the Men of Troy.
 

Post-Week 9 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State - The Beavers lost for the first time but it wasn't the defense's fault. Keith Price failed to throw a touchdown and finished with 194 yards. Poyer had five tackles and returned one punt.

2. Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford - Fellow LB Shayne Skov deserves some love as well as the team's middle backer and leading tackler. However, Thomas has been a complete player with 50 total tackles, 10.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and an interception.

3. Scott Crichton, DL, Oregon State - He didn't do that much in the loss to Washington (3 total tackles) but it wasn't his side of the ball that cost Oregon State its unblemished season. He is No. 2 in the league in sacks and tackles for a loss. 

Post-Week 9 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Chip Kelly, Oregon - His team had the 46-point spread covered with eight minutes left to go in the second quarter. This team is clearly the best team out West — despite replacing its starting quarterback, Heisman trophy finalist running back and losing its defensive captain in John Boyett. 

2. Mike Riley, Oregon State - He drops from 1b. to 2. with the first loss of the season. He is still having a remarkable year despite the tough road loss to Washington. 

3. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona  - Thanks to the Wildcats for making me look good after placing both Scott and RichRod in the top three for Coach and Offensive Player of the Year standings. His Cats have lost three games to three teams that are a combined 20-3. 

Post-Week 9 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (8-0, 5-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 9 result: Beat Colorado 70-14
Oregon continued its first half dominance again this weekend as it won its 26th Pac-12 game in 27 tries. The Ducks had scored two touchdowns before the Buffs even had one offensive snap and eventually held a 56-0 halftime lead. Oregon's starters — on either side of the ball — have rarely played a single down in the second half of the year. Backup quarterback Bryan Bennett has scored eight touchdowns in eight games thus far. After taking care of business — and watching five unbeatens go down from around the nation — the Ducks are set up for a huge showdown in Los Angeles next weekend. 
This week: at USC (6-2)

2. Oregon State (6-1, 4-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 9 result: Lost to Washington 20-17
Oregon State spotted Washington a 10-0 halftime lead, but worked itself back into play with a great third quarter. The well-known script of owning the second half and suffocating opposing offenses appeared to be right on schedule until Sean Mannion threw two of his four interceptions on consecutive drives early in the fourth quarter and Washington won the day. The quarterback has tossed seven interceptions in his last two games and fans have to wonder if he was rushed back from knee surgery. With Stanford and Cal remaining before The Civil War, Oregon State still controls its own destiny but has loads of heavy lifting still to go.
This week: Arizona State (5-3)

3. Stanford (6-2, 4-1)
Previous rank: 
4


Week 9 result:
 Beat Washington State 24-17
Another week, another hard-fought, physical Pac-12 win for David Shaw and the Cardinal. However, this one wasn't supposed to be close or hard-fought. Josh Nunes and his receivers continued to struggle mightily, but were once again bailed out by a dominant defensive performance. The Cardinal posted 10 sacks, allowed minus-16 yards rushing and returned one key interception for a touchdown to hold off the Cougars at home. As a three-touchdown favorite, this was clearly an imperfect performance by the offense. Stanford totaled 256 yards of offense against Wazzu and averaged only 3.2 yards per carry. Nunes' unit will have to be better with Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA still left on the schedule.


This week: at Colorado (1-7)

4. USC (6-2, 4-2)
Previous rank: 2
Week 9 result: Lost to Arizona 39-36
Matt Barkley put up huge numbers and Marqise Lee was on a different planet on Saturday. But it wasn't enough to overcome a tremendous game from Arizona quarterback Matt Scott. The Trojans defense allowed four straight touchdowns on four straight possessions late in the third and early in the fourth quarter. It was enough for the Wildcats to hold on for the huge upset in the desert. USC can still win the league as games against Oregon, UCLA and Arizona State loom over the next three weeks. But a chance at a national title or Heisman trophy likely fell by the wayside this weekend.
This week: Oregon (8-0)

5. UCLA (6-2, 3-2)
Previous rank: 5
Week 9 result: Beat Arizona State 45-43
Ka'imi Fairbairn kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired to give UCLA a second straight key South Division win. Quarterback Brett Hundley played well in his return home, he is from nearby Chandler, Ariz., totaling 301 yards of offense and four total touchdowns in the huge road win. Johnathan Franklin chipped in 164 yards rushing and two scores as the senior tailback is now just 20 yards away from becoming UCLA's all-time leading rusher. Jim Mora's team is still very much in the thick of the South Division race with huge games against Arizona and USC coming up over the next three weeks. The defense needs to play better but Noel Mazzone's dynamic offense continues to impress (I bet they would like that Cal game back, eh?).
This week: Arizona (5-3) 

6. Arizona (5-3, 2-3)
Previous rank: 6
Week 9 result: Beat USC 39-36
Strange things happen out in the desert late in the season and Week 9 was a perfect example. Trailing by 15 points halfway through the third quarter, RichRod and Matt Scott rallied the troops by scoring touchdowns on four straight possessions. The redshirt senior quarterback was incredible, rushing for 100 yards on 15 carries and throwing for 369 yards on 50 attempts. He totaled four touchdowns as the Wildcats finally held on to win a close game. With close losses to Stanford and Oregon State (and a blowout loss to Oregon), Arizona's three losses have come to teams with a combined record 20-3. Is this the best three-loss team in the nation? Zona has to feel good about its chances in the South as games with UCLA, Utah, Colorado and Arizona State are all still ahead of them.
This week: at UCLA (6-2)

7. Washington (4-4, 2-3)
Previous rank: 8
Week 9 result: 
Lost Beat Oregon State 20-17

The Huskies finished one of the nastiest month-long stretches of action any team in America will face this fall with a 2-3 record. And Steve Sarkisian's bunch should feel proud of their performance. Losses to Oregon, USC and Arizona don't feel nearly as bad now that the Huskies have wins over Stanford and Oregon State. It was the second win over a top 10 team at home as this Washington defense continues to show marked improvement from a year ago. The offense still has major issues on third down, but it took advantage of four OSU turnovers to score 10 fourth quarter points. Things get much easier for U of W from here on out: Cal, Colorado, Utah, Washington State 
This week: at Cal (3-6)

8. Arizona State (5-3, 3-2)
Previous rank: 7
Week 9 result: Lost to UCLA 45-43
The Sun Devils were unbeaten in conference play just two weeks ago. After allowing 43 and 45 points respectively to Oregon and UCLA, the Devils' Will Sutton-less defense is back on its heels. Arizona State now finishes the year with three of four on the road, with trips to Oregon State, USC and Arizona sandwiched around a home game with Washington State. Anything better than 6-6 would have to be considered a successful season, despite the early optimism in Tempe.
This week: at Oregon State (6-1)

9. Utah (3-5, 1-4)
Previous rank: 
10
Week 9 result: Beat Cal 49-27
The Utes ended a four-game Pac-12 losing streak by scoring three touchdowns on defense and special teams, including two Reggie Dunn 100-yard kickoff returns. The defense forced three turnovers as Utah raced to a 42-6 lead midway through the third quarter. It keeps hope alive that a 10th straight season of postseason play in Salt Lake City is still possible. Could Kyle Whittingham's bunch win three of its final four and make a bowl game? With Washington, Washington State, Arizona and Colorado left on the schedule, it is entirely possible.

This week: Washington State (2-5)

10. California (3-6, 2-4)
Previous rank: 9
Week 9 result: Lost to Utah 49-27 
Losing to Stanford or USC is one thing. Losing to a winless-in-the-Pac-12 Utah team by 22 points is something else entirely. And it might have cost Jeff Tedford his job in Berkeley. Cal's special teams were terrible and the offense turned the ball over. It was a microcosm of Cal's last few seasons. Score nearly 30 points with over 400 yards of offense and watch a skill player set school records (Keenan Allen became Cal's all-time leading receiver with 205 receptions) but inefficient quarterback play and sloppy special teams cost the Bears again. This time it was an ugly showing against a 2-5 Utah squad. 
This week: Washington (4-4)

11. Colorado (1-7, 1-4)
Previous rank: 11
Week 9 result: Lost to Oregon 70-14
For the second straight week, Colorado was given more than 40 points by the wise guys in Las Vegas and for the second straight week, it wasn't enough help. Jon Embree's team trailed by 56 points at halftime and allowed 425 yards rushing to Oregon. It was the third straight game this team has allowed at least 50 points. Offensively, this team mustered only 95 yards passing. Is enough enough in Boulder?
This week: Stanford (6-2)

12. Washington State (2-6, 0-5)
Previous rank: 12
Week 9 result: Lost to Stanford 24-17
This was Mike Leach's chance to make a statement. Leach watched his defense play its best game of the season by allowing lows in total yards (256) and passing yards (139). Yet, with the game tied at 17 with just more than six minutes to play, he watched his quarterback throw a costly interception that Stanford returned for the game-winning touchdown. The Cougars rushed for minus-16 yards, the third time Wazzu has rushed for a negative total. The rest of college football has five such games. There were some positives Leach can pull from his trip to Palo Alto, but his team is still the lone team winless in Pac-12 play.

This week: at Utah (3-5)

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 9 Recap

ACC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 9 Power
Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings

Pac-12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 9 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Post-Week 9 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/8-amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-8
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 8 of NFL play:

12-of-16: Detroit's conversion rate on third down
The Seahawks (4-4) couldn't get off the field on third down when it had to and it allowed the Lions (3-4) to save its season. Matthew Stafford and company converted on 75% of its third down attempts, including three such conversions on the game-winning drive. To put into perspective the alarming rate of success on such a key down, only the Steelers are converting on third down more times than not (52%). Stafford finished 34-of-49 for 352 yards while accounting for four touchdowns in the big come-from-behind win. Sunday marked his ninth career fourth-quarter game-winning drive and the third such drive this season. Detroit has three wins this fall.

6: Consecutive drives Atlanta scored to open the game
Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons (7-0) scored on their first six possessions, giving the NFL's last unbeaten team a commanding 30-10 lead three seconds into the final quarter. With 5:24 left in the fourth, an Atlanta drive ended in something other than points when the Falcons had to punt for the first time. It was Ryan's 50th career win in 69 career starts — tying him with Ben Roethlisberger as the second fastest quarterback in history to win 50 games (Tom Brady, 65). The Falcons are unbeaten when Ryan throws at least three touchdowns (15-0) and the 7-0 mark is the best start in franchise history. Bonus Stat: The Eagles lost following a bye week for the first time in 14 years. The 13-year win-after-a-bye-week streak was the longest in NFL history since the advent of the off week.

6: Interceptions returned for TDs by the Chicago Bears defense
Trailing by five points with less than seven minutes to go in the game, Cam Newton floated one to the left sideline into the waiting arms of Tim Jennings. He ran the short 25 yards into the endzone and gave the Bears (6-1) the lead over the Panthers (1-6). In seven games, the Bears defense has allowed eight total offensive touchdowns, while scoring six of their own. And two of those eight were a fake field goal by Green Bay and an offensive fumble recovery by Carolina. Newton is now 7-16 as a starter in the NFL while the Bears have won five straight. 

14-3: Jets record when Mark Sanchez attempts 25 or fewer passes
The Jets' Mark Sanchez attempted the second-most passes of his career with 54 passes thrown on Sunday in the loss to the Dolphins (4-3). New York (3-5) is 7-11 when Sanchez throws at least 35 passes in a game. When he isn't needed to throw much, the Jets win at an startling rate. The J-E-T-S have never lost (6-0) when he throws fewer than 20 passes in a game and are 14-3 — including 3-0 in the playoffs — when throwing 25 or fewer attempts.

17: NFL record consecutive games the Patriots have topped 350 yards
With 473 yards of offense in the 45-7 win over the Rams (3-5) in London, the Patriots (5-3) passed the 1999-2000 St. Louis Rams for the all-time record for consecutive games of at least 350 total yards of offense. Tom Brady threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns in the easy win across the pond. It marked the 50th time Brady has thrown at least three touchdowns in a game, good for fourth all-time behind Brett Favre (72), Peyton Manning (67) and Dan Marino (62). Strangely enough, it was also his 50th career 300-yard passing game, good for seventh all-time. 

7.7: Points allowed per game during Pittsburgh's six-game home winning streak
The Steelers (4-3) have won two straight games, three out of four and six straight at home. During the six-game home winning streak the defense has been absolutely stifling for Mike Tomlin, allowing less than eight points per game. Dating back until Week 13 of last fall, Pittsburgh hasn't allowed more than 14 points to any opponent. After holding Robert Griffin III and the Redskins (3-5) to 12 points, one offensive touchdown and 255 yards of offense, Tomlin has his team one game back of the depleted Baltimore Ravens. 

1: Career games missed by Jason Witten
Despite the rough home loss to the division leading New York Giants (6-2), Jason Witten proved once again why he is one of the greatest tight ends to ever play the game. The last time Witten missed a game was Week 14 of his rookie season back in 2003 with a broken jaw. The Cowboys (3-4) tight end has played in 150 of 151 possible career games, starting 140 of those. He caught a career-high 18 passes for a career-high 167 yards in the loss and moved to within three catches of Dallas' all-time record holder Michael Irvin (750). Witten has 747 career receptions. It was his 16th 100-yard receiving effort.

.571: Andrew Luck's record rookie winning percentage
Through eight weeks of the season, no rookie No. 1 overall quarterback has ever posted a higher winning percentage than Andrew Luck's .571 (4-3). My weekly Bro-mance with Mr. Luck isn't diminishing anytime soon. Quite the contrary, it's only getting more ridiculous. Luck led the Colts on an 80-yard, 14-play, seven-minute drive that culminated in the game-tying touchdown with just more than three minutes left on the clock. Then on the first drive of overtime, Luck led another 80-yard drive, this time on nine plays over five minutes, to win the game on a 16-yard touchdown pass to Vick Ballard. He finished with 325 yards of total offense and the game-winning touchdown. The Titans have lost seven out of eight overall and seven of the last 10 in Nashville against the Colts. 

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 8</p>
Post date: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 05:50
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-week-9
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: 35-25
Last Week: 3-2

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Northern Illinois (-7) at Western Michigan
Western Michigan has lost two straight games by allowing 71 to Ball State and Kent State. The Broncos have lost three of four games while the Huskies are on an absolute roll at the moment. Behind the play of star dual-threat QB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois has won seven straight, including the last two by an 82-10 margin. Lynch has 1,049 yards rushing and 1,710 yards passing with 13 touchdowns passing and rushing each. WMU won’t be able to stop him. Prediction: Northern Illinois -7

Utah State (-23) at Texas San-Antonio
The Aggies are the only team left in the nation unbeaten against the spread at 8-0. Texas-San Antonio has lost its last two games after allowing 86 points to Rice (34) and San Jose State (52). As a reminder, Utah State defeated San Jose State 49-27 two weeks ago. Chuckie Keeton is on a roll — try 530 yards passing, 128 yards rushing and eight total touchdowns in his last two games — so expect Gary Andersen’s bunch to roll past the Roadrunners. Prediction: Utah State -23

Ball State (-4) at Army
Army is 2-5 against the spread this fall while Ball State is 6-2 against the number. I have picked against Army twice this year (Wake Forest, Kent State) and both delivered. They have one win all year and are allowing 37.9 points per game. Ball State has scored 71 points in two straight conference wins to get to within one game of bowl eligibility. Prediction: Ball State -4

Maryland (+2) at Boston College
The Eagles have yet to win a game over an FBS opponent and have been pounded by 64 combined points the last two weeks. They are also 1-6 against the spread this fall. The Terps are one of the most improved teams in the nation and nearly won their fifth game last weekend against NC State. There is a chance at bowl eligibility for Maryland, but a win this weekend is a must. Prediction: Maryland +2

Texas A&M (-14) at Auburn
Somebody in Vegas was completely inebriated when the original line opened at 8.5. The line moved quickly to a two-touchdown spread as bettors pounced on the Aggies. After all that movement, I am sticking with Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M to crush the hapless Tigers. Auburn, who is 2-5 against the spread this year, is last in the SEC in total offense, scoring offense, rushing defense, sacks allowed and passing efficiency. Texas A&M is leading the league in rushing, total offense and scoring and are coming off of a loss. Prediction: Texas A&M -14

Michigan State (+6) at Wisconsin
The Badgers are playing their best football of late, winning three straight Big Ten games by an average of 22 points (and a minimum of 17). The Spartans have lost three out of four and are 2-6 against the spread this fall. This has been a close game the last four meetings and the Spartans' defense is still fairly strong, but this offense has scored two offensive touchdowns in its last two games. It will need to score at least three to cover the spread this weekend. Prediction: Wisconsin -6

Western Kentucky (-7) at FIU
The Hilltoppers are coming off of a crushing one-point overtime home loss to UL Monroe and has to win out to earn a share of the Sun Belt title. Western Kentucky is 6-1 against the spread this year while FIU has struggled mightily this fall. The Panthers are losers of six straight and have allowed at least 34 points in four straight games. Look for WKU to bounce back this weekend. Prediction: Western Kentucky -7

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

2012 Trends Against the Spread:

Undefeated ATS: Utah St (8-0)

Winless ATS: Virginia (0-7-1)

One Loss Against the Spread Two Losses ATS One Win ATS Two Wins ATS
Arizona St (5-1-1) Ball St (6-2) Boston College (1-6) Arkansas (2-5)
Florida (6-1) Clemson (5-2) C. Michigan (1-6) Army (2-5)
Fresno St (7-1) Duke (6-2) Colorado (1-6) Auburn (2-5)
Kansas St (5-1-1) La. Tech (5-2) Colorado St (1-6) Georgia (2-5)
Kent St (6-1) Mississippi St (5-2) Idaho (1-7) Illinois (2-5)
UL Monroe (6-1) New Mexico (6-2) Miami, Ohio (1-6) Iowa (2-5)
Ole Miss (6-1) N. Illinois (6-2)   Kentucky (2-6)
Northwestern (7-1) Oklahoma (4-2)   UMass (2-5)
Oregon St (5-1) Rutgers (5-2)   Michigan St (2-6)
Penn St (6-1) S. Carolina (6-2)   Nevada (2-6)
San Jose St (6-1) Texas St (4-2)   NC State (2-4-1)
Texas Tech (6-1) Toledo (6-2)   USC (2-5)
W. Kentucky (6-1) UNLV (6-2)   S. Miss (2-5)
      Syracuse (2-5)
      Tennessee (2-5)
      UTEP (2-6)
      Virginia Tech (2-6)
      Washington St (2-5)
      West Virginia (2-5)

Related College Football Content

College Football's Week 9 Upset Predictions
Weekend On Tap: Picking the 10 Best Games of Week 9
ACC Week 9 Previews and Predictions
Big East Week 9 Previews and Predictions

Big Ten Week 9 Previews and Predictions

Big 12 Week 9 Previews and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 9 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 9 Previews and Predictions

Top 20 Coaches on the Hot Seat Post-Week 8 Rankings

Post-Week 8 Bowl Projections

Teaser:
<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 9</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-offensive-tackles
Body:

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

Today, we rank college football's best offensive tackles prospects:

1. Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M (6-6, 310, Jr.)
The big blocker from Arlington, Texas, has seen his level of competition increase significantly with the shift to the SEC. He has faced LSU and Florida and he gave his team a chance to win both times. He has perfect size, power and fundamentals to play the prototypical left tackle position. He leads the way on an offense that is one of, if not the, best in the SEC with a record-setting quarterback.

2. Jake Matthews, Texas A&M (6-5, 305, Jr.)
No player may ever enter the NFL with a better pedigree than Matthews. His father is Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews. His older brother, Kevin, started for two seasons along the Aggies' offensive line. The Missouri City, Texas, native has tremendous knowledge of the game and a refined overall technique — as expected from a prospect who comes from the Matthews family tree. It means he is developed and should contribute immediately, but it could also mean his upside is more limited than his teammate.

3. D.J. Fluker, Alabama (6-6, 335, Jr.)
Coming out of high school in Foley, Ala., Fluker was considered one of the biggest prospects in Alabama history. He was a surefire can’t-miss superstar. It took him some time to adapt to the SEC, but he has blossomed into one of the better tackles in the nation. He has a huge, powerful frame, has the best coaching in the country, has a national championship ring and has faced the nation’s best defensive lineman in the SEC.

4. Taylor Lewan, Michigan (6-8, 310, Jr.)
Center David Molk led this offensive line in 2011 and Lewan took over that role this season. He has faced defensive lines like Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State and Wisconsin. He has one of the longer frames in this class and plays an aggressive brand of football (as was evident by his numerous penalties early in his career). He is a bit unrefined and may not be ready to start right away but has loads of upside.

5. Ricky Wagner, Wisconsin (6-6, 320, Sr.)
The Bagders have been churning out excellent lineman for the better part of two decades and this offense has been amongst the nation’s best over the last few seasons. He has a solid frame and is an excellent athlete for his size but questions remain about his overall upside. Players like Whitney Mercilus and William Gholston have been able to play effectively against him. He might be more of a right tackle as his overall toughness and consistency needs to improve.

6. Dallas Thomas, Tennessee (6-5, 310, Sr.)
He isn’t the biggest prospect so he may not stick at tackle, but he is one of the more versatile. This offense has shown marked improvement over the last few seasons with Thomas’ leadership. He played relatively well against elite level competition in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State, Alabama and South Carolina on the slate this fall. Where scouts evaluate his long-term future will largely determine if he lands in the first round or not.

7. Eric Fisher, Central Michigan (6-8, 305, Sr.)
The scouting report should be fairly easy to pinpoint for the big guy from Rochester, Mich. He has great size, has been a steady force on the edge for the Chippewas and large questions remain about his level of competition. There has been some talent to come from CMU along the line of late but dominating the MAC doesn’t mean you can block in the NFL. He has all the tools needed and simply needs to prove he can handle the jump in talent.

8. Brennan Williams, North Carolina (6-7, 315, Sr.)
The steady road grader has watched his stock steadily climb over the last two seasons after finally earning a starting spot as a junior. He has proven to be a tremendous commodity in the running game and will need to prove himself against elite pass rushers at events like the Senior Bowl. He is one of the bigger players at his position, but scouts need to figure out if the Tar Heels' O-Line is greater than the sum of its parts. Both Hurst and Williams team with elite guard Jonathan Cooper to form one of the better units in the ACC.

9. James Hurst, North Carolina (6-7, 290, Jr.)
One of the top recruits in the nation from Plainfield, Ind., Hurst started 12 games as a  true freshman back in 2010. He has improved each season and has a chance to sneak up draft boards with an excellent 2012 campaign. While the ACC gets knocked for its overall talent, programs like Virginia Tech, Miami and Florida State have excellent defensive lineman that offer scouts a quality barometer for Hurst'a ability and potential. He has a huge frame and is an above average athlete for his size. He may be a bit of a project but has plenty of upside.

10. Oday Aboushi, Virginia (6-6, 310, Sr.)
The Cavs have a sneaky good tradition of offensive lineman and Aboushi is the next name. He won’t be considered elite until he proves he can consistently be a dominant force. At times, he is the prototypical blocker with great size, solid quickness and a killer instinct. Other times, his play is rough around the edges and he will get beat. Added strength would go a long way towards improving his draft stock.

11. John Wetzel, Boston College (6-8, 305, Sr.)
Wetzel is next in a long line of excellent Eagles' offensive line prospects.

12. Alex Hurst, LSU (6-6, 340, Sr.)
Has dropped due to poor 2012 campaign but still has lots of talent.

13. Cyril Richardson, Baylor (6-5, 335, Jr.)
Massive prospect might have to slide inside (which would improve his stock).

14. Brian Winters, Kent State (6-6, 295, Sr.)
A bit undersized and competition is a question, but loads of upside.

15. David Yankey, Stanford (6-5, 300, Jr.)
Hails from a program known for physical, pro-style schemes.

16. Xavier Nixon, Florida (6-6, 295, Sr.)
Nation’s No. 1 OL prospect as a recruit needs to add size and consistency.

17. Chris Faulk, LSU (6-6, 320, Jr.)
Would likely be better off rehabbing this fall and returning to LSU.

18. Justin Pugh, Syracuse (6-6, 295, Sr.)
Not an overly talented prospect but a long-time starter and dependable.

19. Elvis Fisher, Missouri (6-5, 300, Sr.)
Has dealt with numerous injuries that will limit his upside.

20. Tanner Hawkinsson, Kansas (6-6, 295, Sr.)
Has a tough job in Lawrence, but has size and overall talent to contribute.

Other names to watch:

Zach Martin, Notre Dame (6-4, 305, Sr.)
Seantrel Henderson, Miami (6-8, 340, Jr.)
Jeff Braun, West Virginia (6-5, 320, Sr.)
Emmett Cleary, Boston College (6-7, 313, Sr.)
LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech (6-6, 330, Sr.)
Oscar Johnson, Louisiana Tech (6-6, 330, Sr.)
Luke Marquardt, Azusa Pacific (6-9, 320, Sr.)
Roger Gaines, Tennessee Tech (6-7, 320, Sr.)
David Quessenberry, San Jose State (6-6, 295, Sr.)
Lane Johnson, Oklahoma (6-7, 305, Sr.)

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

2013 NFL Draft: Running Backs

2013 NFL Draft: Tight Ends
2013 NFL Draft: Safeties

2013 NFL Draft: Defensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers

2013 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Inside Linebackers

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Offensive Tackles</p>
Post date: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-9-preview-and-predictions
Body:

Two unbeatens still remain out West and one will face a major road test this weekend. But a former Pac-12 Player of the Year candidate will return to help the Beavers attempt to stay unblemished against Washington. The Ducks-Buffaloes showdown, however, shouldn't be nearly as competitive. 

Down in the South Division, both Los Angeles teams head into the desert where weird things tend to happen late in the season. Both USC and UCLA have major road tests this weekend. There is much to be determined before next weekend's Oregon-USC showdown.

Pac-12's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 9:

1. The return of Sean Mannion in Seattle
It is amazing what an undefeated record can do for a busted up meniscus. Oregon State’s starting quarterback underwent knee surgery to repair his left meniscus less than three weeks ago and is now slated to start on the road against Washington. He was supposed to be miss nearly a month but will miss only two games. Cody Vaz was more than capable in his stead (506 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT), but Mannion was on track for Pac-12 Player of the Year honors before getting banged-up. And he will be needed this weekend in Seattle. The Huskies are allowing only 160.8 yards passing per game and three total touchdown passes at home in four games — which included games against San Diego State, Stanford and Matt Barkley.

2. Will the Washington offense ever wake up?
Steve Sarkisian’s offense averaged 409.8 yards and 33.4 points per game in 2011. Quarterback Keith Price was one of the best in the nation by accounting for 36 total touchdowns. One year later, this offense is 103rd in the nation in both scoring (20.7 ppg) and total offense (326.4 ypg). Certainly, U of W is one game away from wrapping up arguably the toughest five-game stretch in the nation (Stanford, at Oregon, USC, at Arizona, Oregon St). But other than 52 points against Portland State, the Huskies have scored 11 offensive touchdowns in six games against FBS opponents. Washington scored 55 offensive touchdowns last season. Good luck against the Pac-12’s No. 1 scoring defense.

3. What will Monte Kiffin do to stop Matt Scott?
USC allowed 23.6 points per game, including 41 to Arizona, and 374.8 yards per game on defense last year, ranking them 45th and 54th nationally respectively. To date, Kiffin’s defense is allowing only 16.7 points per game and 334.3 yards per game behind improved defensive line play (thanks to Morgan Breslin) and a young linebacking corps that continues to develop. And his defense may be peaking at just the right time as Arizona and Oregon are USC’s next two opponents. The Trojans have allowed two total touchdowns and have intercepted five passes in the last two games. Against Matt Scott, the league’s top offensive force at over 400 yards of offense per game, Kiffin’s bunch will have to play disciplined football to win. USC better not be looking ahead to Oregon because strange things happen in the desert this time of year.

4. Arizona must limit USC's big plays in the passing game
Matt Barkley threw for a career-high 468 yards and four touchdowns in the 48-41 win over Arizona last fall. Last week, the senior signal caller chucked six touchdowns and 298 yards with one incompletion. Arizona’s ability to limit Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and Barkley in the passing game will largely determine if the Wildcats can hang around in this one. Its close losses this season (Stanford, Oregon St) have come because the secondary and pass rush couldn’t contain opposing quarterbacks. My unwanted advice? Let Silas Redd and the backfield do whatever they want but make sure you have coverage over the top on Woods and Lee.

5. How does the league's No. 1-rated defense bounce back?
Arizona State is still the league’s No. 1-rated total defense, despite allowing 406 yards rushing and 43 points to Oregon last week. So how does Will Sutton (who apparently is Superman after a knee injury last Thursday) and Brandon Magee bounce back in what could be the biggest game of the year? (Especially considering UCLA should be well rested after the bye week and won this game last fall.) They bring to Tempe one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the nation as one of only two teams in the Pac-12 to average more than 200 yards rushing and passing. Stopping the UCLA backfield, which functions similarly to that of Oregon’s, will be another tall order for Todd Graham’s bunch.

6. A must-win situation for Jeff Tedford
Utah has lost four straight games and has struggled to score points of late. Jeff Tedford has his back up against the wall in Berkeley and likely has to win three of his last four to keep his job and get to bowl eligibility. The Golden Bears thrashed the Utes last fall 34-10 and the offensive talent is far too rich on this roster for them to lose this weekend — far too rich to total three yards rushing and 217 total yards like it did last weekend in the loss to Stanford. If Cal returns home at 3-6, Tedford is staring at a potential nine-loss season. Returning home at 4-5 give his team a shot at the postseason.

7. Will Colorado cover the spread in Eugene?
Colorado was a 41-point underdog last week against USC on the road and it didn’t cover the spread in a 50-6 loss. As the Buffaloes continue to take their medicine, Colorado enters this weekend as a 46-point underdog to Oregon. How many points are enough to start placing bets on Jon Embree’s squad? The bottom line in Boulder, if fans cannot even expect their team to cover six- and seven-touchdown spreads, is don’t they have a right to scream for a change?

8. Travis Long vs. Stepfan Taylor
There may not be much to watch in the Washington State-Stanford showdown in Palo Alto. The Cardinal front seven will terrorize the Cougars' offensive line and this game could get ugly quickly as Wazzu will find the sledding extremely tough. However, there could be one great individual match-up to watch: Cougars linebacker-defensive end Travis Long and Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor. Long has been a lone bright spot for Wazzu, ranking third in the league in sacks, while Taylor is coming off of his third straight game with at least 28 carries. Keep an eye how many times No. 89 in gray and No. 33 in red get together.

Week 9 Pac-12 Predictions:

Week 9 Pac-12 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
UCLA (+6.5) at Arizona St Arizona St, 31-30 UCLA, 27-24 UCLA, 34-31 UCLA, 21-14
Colorado (+46) at Oregon Oregon, 50-10 Oregon, 58-6 Oregon, 62-7 Oregon, 72-7
USC (-6.5) at Arizona USC, 42-35 USC, 28-24 USC, 34-27 Arizona, 35-28
Washington St (+25) at Stanford Stanford, 35-17 Stanford, 44-10 Stanford, 40-14 Stanford, 42-17
Cal (+1) at Utah Cal, 24-21 Cal, 28-17 Cal, 24-20 Utah, 17-13
Oregon St (-4.5) at Washington Oregon St, 27-17 Oregon St, 37-21 Oregon St, 27-24 Oregon St, 28-21
Last Week: 5-0 5-0 4-1 5-0
Yearly Totals: 45-15 46-14 44-16 41-19

Bye: None

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 9 Previews and Predictions
Big East Week 9 Previews and Predictions

Big Ten Week 9 Previews and Predictions

Big 12 Week 9 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 9 Previews and Predictions

College Football Week 9 Upset Predictions

Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections

Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Week 9 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-9-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The Big Ten championship could be on the line when Michigan visits Nebraska this weekend. Wisconsin has the Leaders Division all but locked up, but will likely be an underdog to their Legends Division counterpart. Therefore, the winner of this weekend's game in Lincoln will be the favorite to end the year in Pasadena. 

Big Blue and Big Red headline what appears to be a sneaky good weekend of action as Madison, Happy Valley, Evanston and Minneapolis all host games that should be close. No Big Ten game this weekend features a point spread bigger than six points.

Big Ten's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 9:

1. Legends Division Championship Game
The Wolverines enter this weekend's showdown with the Cornhuskers unbeaten in league play after three straight wins, including a final-minute home victory over Michigan State. Brady Hoke's only two losses are to the No. 1 and No. 5 teams in the BCS. Nebraska is 2-1 in the league with quality wins over Northwestern and Wisconsin and one embarrassing fourth quarter against Ohio State. However, the Huskers are already a game behind with that loss — with road trips to Iowa and Michigan State still left to go — so this game has become the Legends Division Championship Game. Should the Maize and Blue get past the Cornhuskers, only a road trip to Columbus at season's end could derail Michigan's train to Pasadena. Should Big Red topple Big Blue, all bets are off and the Huskers then control their own destiny.

2. Taylor Martinez vs. Denard Robinson
It is cliché for a reason. Quarterback play can win or lose games and the position will easily be the focal point of both defenses in Lincoln on Saturday. Taylor Martinez is leading the league in passing efficiency and Hoke has praised his growth and development this fall. He is coming off of his best performance of the year on the road in the win against Northwestern (407 total yards, 4 TD) last weekend, but played horribly against Michigan last fall in the 45-17 loss (171 total yards, 1 TD). Denard Robinson is now the Big Ten’s leading rusher and tops the total offense charts as well. Both defenses will look to keep both scramblers in the pocket, so the winner will be the quarterback who can stand in the pocket and deliver third-down conversions down the field.

3. The Ineligible Bowl in Happy Valley
Penn State and Ohio State are two of the remaining three unbeaten teams in Big Ten play and neither will be playing in a bowl game. So while there is no Big Ten title game or bowl implications associated with what should be one of the best games of the weekend nationally, there could be a variety of other items hanging in the balance. Big Ten Coach of the Year has two clear-cut candidates and they will be standing opposite of each other in Happy Valley. Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year is also a two-horse race and both will be (hopefully) playing quarterback in this game. And Mike Mauti could slam the door on Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors with a big performance against the Buckeyes. The atmosphere in Beaver Stadium should be electric and should feel like a Big Ten title bout. Even if the only thing on the line is bragging rights.

4. Should Braxton Miller play this weekend?
The Heisman Trophy candidate for Ohio State has to play if the Buckeyes want to stay unbeaten in Happy Valley this weekend. He has practiced, but Urban Meyer has admitted his star quarterback isn’t close to 100 percent. This leaves Meyer an extremely difficult decision to make concerning the long-term future of his program. With head and neck injuries, it is impossible to be too careful, so running Miller out there against one of the Big Ten’s most physical defenses has to raise concerns about his long-term health. Miller could easily find himself in New York as just a sophomore if he continues at this pace for four more games. But Meyer and the Buckeyes’ primary concern should be a potential national championship run in 2013. Give Miller a chance at history and an unbeaten season with no real reward at season’s end? Or protect your investment and live to fight another day? This is why Meyer makes $5 million per year.

5. Sparty-Bucky Part III lacks national appeal
Michigan State and Wisconsin has developed into one of the Big Ten’s best rivalries — in both football and basketball. These two played two epic games last fall, one of which ended on a successful Hail Mary and the other was a championship bout that sent one team to Pasadena and the other to the Outback Bowl. However, with six combined losses between them, this year's game lacks the cachet of last fall's meeting. Wisconsin feels like the better team once again this year as Sparty is struggling to find balance on offense. Montee Ball has been on a tear of late, scoring 10 times and rushing for 155.5 yards per game in Big Ten play. The Badgers are starting to catch their stride and are at home where they never lose. Mark Dantonio could go from back-to-back 11-win seasons to 2-6 in the league.

6. Will this be a special season in Evanston or not?
Northwestern is 6-2 overall but 0-2 in marquee statement games. This season still has a chance to be special in Evanston, and two more wins the rest of the way gives Pat Fitzgerald a chance at nine wins — something that has only happened once at Northwestern since 1996 (2006). However, with back-to-back road trips to the state of Michigan looming, wins over Illinois in the season finale and Iowa this weekend become must wins. Iowa, without Mark Weisman, was pushed around and abused on both sides of the ball by Penn State last weekend but the big fella is going to try to play this Saturday. This is a huge swing game for both sides and the running game will be the deciding factor.

7. The battle for last place
Indiana and Illinois are a combined 4-10 overall this year, a combined 0-6 in Big Ten play and have lost a combined nine straight games. This is the best, and possibly only, chance for either team to get a conference win in 2012. The Hoosiers own the league’s top passing offense and could triple its win total from last fall with a victory this weekend. Meanwhile, a loss for the Illini would be their tenth straight in Big Ten play. Tune in if you dare.

8. Youngsters can kick start Gophers' future this weekend
A freshman quarterback, underclassman skill players and young offensive lineman. Certainly, this Gophers offense is extremely young, but it has lots of upside and, it appears, has entered the Philip Nelson era. The gunslinger from Mankato, Minn., set prep records, won Mr. Football honors in 2011and did enough in practice to earn the start against Wisconsin. He had his good moments (67 yards rushing, two scoring strikes) and his bad moments (13 total points, two interceptions), but most importantly, seem to have the poise and leadership the position requires to be successful. Yet, Minnesota can take a major step towards a bowl game with a starting 22 littered with freshmen and sophomores if it can defeat Purdue this weekend. The training wheels have been officially removed in the Twin Cities and a reeling Boilermakers team is ripe for the picking.

Week 9 Big Ten Predictions:

Week 9 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Iowa (+6) at Northwestern N'Western, 27-24 N'Western, 24-17 N'Western, 27-20 N'Western, 28-10
Indiana (+2) at Illinois Illinois, 30-27 Indiana, 31-20 Indiana, 31-27 Indiana, 45-38
Purdue (-3) at Minnesota Minnesota, 27-24 Minnesota, 24-20 Minnesota, 27-24 Minnesota, 21-14
Michigan St (+6) at Wisconsin Wisconsin, 24-14 Wisconsin, 24-14 Wisconsin, 24-20 Wisconsin, 38-14
Ohio St (pk) at Penn St Ohio St, 27-21 Penn St, 33-28 Ohio St, 27-24 Penn St, 31-28
Michigan (+2.5) at Nebraska Michigan, 31-27 Michigan, 34-28 Michigan, 31-27 Michigan, 27-24
Last Week: 5-1 5-1 5-1 3-2
Yearly Totals: 56-12 52-16 57-11 52-16

Bye Week: None

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 9 Previews and Predictions
Big East Week 9 Previews and Predictions

Big 12 Week 9 Previews and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 9 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 9 Previews and Predictions

College Football Week 9 Upset Predictions

Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections

Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Week 9 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-contenders-post-week-8
Body:

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

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

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

1. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State (12 first place votes)
Season Stats:
 98-139, 1,397 yards, 10 TD, 2 INT, 110 att., 551 yards, 14 TD
There is CK7 and then there is everybody else. Klein vaulted to the top of most Heisman ballots with another otherworldly performance on the road against a Big 12 favorite. He posted his first 300-yard passing effort (323 yards) and totaled seven touchdowns (3 pass, 4 rush). He is leading the Big 12 and is second nationally in passing efficiency (175.79) while ranking No. 2 in rushing in the league (94.0 ypg). He also leads the Big 12 in scoring (12.0 ppg). Next Game: Texas Tech

  Last Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. (3) Collin Klein QB Kansas St 129/130 12 1 - - - 13/13
2. (2) Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 91/130 - 3 5 2 2 13/13
3. (4) Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame 90/130 1 2 1 3 3 13/13
4. (1) Geno Smith QB W. Virginia 87/130 - 2 3 1 2 13/13
5. (8) Kenjon Barner RB Oregon 75/130 - 2 2 3 - 13/13
6. (9) A.J. McCarron QB Alabama 64/130 - 3 - 1 1 12/13
7. (6) Matt Barkley QB USC 57/130 - - 2 1 2 12/13
8. (24) Seth Doege QB Texas Tech 24/130 - - - - 2 5/13
9. (10) Barrett Jones OL Alabama 20/130 - - - 2 - 4/13
10. (5) Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M 20/130 - - - - - 9/13
11. (19) Montee Ball RB Wisconsin 8/130 - - - - - 3/13
12t. (17) Giovani Bernard RB North Carolina 7/130 - - - - - 2/13
12t. (13) DeAndre Hopkins WR Clemson 7/130 - - - - - 3/13
14. (7) De'Anthony Thomas AP Oregon 6/130 - - - - 1 1/13
15. (21) Jadeveon Clowney DE S. Carolina 5/130 - - - - - 1/13
16. (15) Denard Robinson QB Michigan 4/130 - - - - - 1/13
17t. (ur) Stepfan Taylor RB Stanford 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
17t. (26) Aaron Murray QB Georgia 3/130 - - - - - 2/13
17t. (14) E.J. Manuel QB Florida St 3/130 - - - - - 2/13
17t. (ur) Damontre Moore DE Texas A&M 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
21. (22) Nick Florence QB Baylor 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
22t. (ur) Jordan Lynch QB N. Illinois 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
22t. (ur) Teddy Bridgewater QB Louisville 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
22t. (ur) Taylor Martinez QB Nebraska 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
22t. (ur) Kevin Minter LB LSU 1/130 - - - - - 1/13

2. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
Season Stats: 
105-179, 1,384 yards, 11 TD, 5 INT, 141 att., 959 yards, 10 TD
Miller had 160 total yards of offense midway through the third quarter when he broke off a long run down the right sideline. He was thrown to the ground violently and at an awkward angle, sending him to the hospital for the remainder of the game. The Buckeyes were able to win the game and stay unbeaten and Miller cleared all initial medical tests. Everyone is saying the right things in Columbus, but Miller's long-term future has to be considered when Urban Meyer decides who will start in Happy Valley. He is a tough customer but with nothing to really play for this fall, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Miller either on the sidelines or not running as much. Either way, his Heisman candidacy takes a big hit. Next Game: at Penn State

3. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame (1 first place vote)
Season Stats: 69 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 4 INT, FR, 3 PBU
BYU scored two offensive touchdowns, the first allowed by Notre Dame since Week 2 against Purdue. But it was Te'o's 10 total tackles and key interception that kept the Irish unbeaten. Helped by a stellar defensive front, ND still has yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season.  Next Game: at Oklahoma

4. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia
Season Stats: 
216-291, 2,414 yards, 26 TD, 2 INT, 35 att., 56 yards, TD
His interception streak ended this weekend with two picks against Kansas State in the Mountaineers' second-straight blowout Big 12 loss. The 143 yards passing were his lowest total since Nov. 20, 2010 and he will have to be play special football from here on out to make it to New York. Any help from his defense would be nice as well. Next game: TCU

5. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Season Stats: 116 att., 727 yards, 9 TD, 11 rec., 111 yards, TD
The senior tailback has flipped a switch over the last month, rushing for 153.3 yards per game over his last three and scoring seven total touchdowns. He posted 143 yards and three scores in the convincing, statement road win on Thursday night over Arizona State. Look for the Ducks running back to pad his stats once again this weekend against the Buffs.
Next Game: Colorado

6. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Season Stats: 106-154, 1,476 yards, 16 TD, 0 INT, 26 att., minus-45 yards
Next Game: Mississippi State

7. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Season Stats: 140-213, 1,773 yards, 22 TD, 6 INT, 17 att., minus-60 yards
Next game: at Arizona

8. Seth Doege, QB, Texas Tech
Season Stats: 
189-267, 2,209 yards, 28 TD, 7 INT, 20 att., minus-19 yards
Next Game: at Kansas State

9. Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama
Season Stats: 217.2 rush yards per game, 423.0 total yards per game, 40.5 points per game
Next Game: at Tennessee

10. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Season Stats: 157-246, 1,956 yards, 14 TD, 6 INT, 108 att., 703 yards, 10 TD
Next Week: at Auburn

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 8 Recap

ACC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Pac-12 East Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Contenders: Post-Week 8</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: College Football, News
Path: /college-football/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-wide-receivers
Body:

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

Today, we rank college football's best wide receivers prospects:

1. Keenan Allen, Cal (6-3, 210, Jr.)
The Greensboro, N.C., native is a freak athlete. He has elite size, elite speed, elite jumping ability and elite after-the-catch skills. He is good on the outside stretching the field vertically. He is good over the middle in traffic. And he can be used in the return game as well as in the running game. He is a complete player who has produced big numbers at Cal despite the wildly inconsistent and sub-par quarterback play. He is a superior athlete in a conference loaded with big-time playmakers at wide receiver. Comparison: Andre Johnson

2. Justin Hunter, Tennessee (6-4, 200, Jr.)
The bio on Hunter is well known. He was a big-time recruit out of the talent-rich Virginia Beach area. He posted a big freshman year and was dominating opponents until a torn ACL in Week 3 against Florida ruined his sophomore year. He has an NFL-ready frame (think A.J. Green) that is long and rangy. He has tremendous straight line speed but scouts will wonder if his explosiveness in the short spaces has returned after the injury. Look for Hunter to post a big second half to the season and supplant himself as a lock first-round pick in 2013. Comparison: A.J. Green

3. Robert Woods, USC (6-1, 190, Jr.)
Woods was the Athlon Sports High School Senior of the Year at Junipero Serra High School in SoCal. All he did in his first two seasons was set the single-season Pac-12 record for receptions with 111 in 2011. Since then, he has passed Dwayne Jarrett as the all-time leader in catches at USC and set a school record with four TD catches against Colorado this fall. He is an electric athlete with elite speed who can be used in all phases of the passing game and could be a major contributor on special teams as well (1,364 kick return yards in 2010-2011). He has tremendous hands, fluid route-running skills and is dynamic with the ball in his hands after the catch. The only knock on Woods is his lack of elite size. Comparison: Greg Jennings

4. Cordarrelle Patterson, Tennessee (6-3, 205, Jr.)
The fast riser has proven in short order at Tennessee that he is a freakish athlete with loads of big play potential. He has been used in the rushing game with great effectiveness and has been a special teams dynamo as well. He has prototypical size and speed for the next level and will wow scouts with his raw athleticism. However, he had to go the junior college route for a reason and still has a long ways to go to refine his overall skills as a wide receiver. He has one major season of college football under his belt, but his athletic ability is painfully obvious on Saturdays. He is a project but will pay dividends quick enough. Comparison: Demaryius Thomas

5. Tavon Austin, West Virginia (5-9, 180, Sr.)
Speedy, fluid, explosive, versatile, agile. These are the things a team will get in the massively productive WVU wideout. He is very undersized but makes up for it with toughness and the ability to contribute to all aspects of an offense. He can run the ball, is right at home in the slot, will return kicks and punts and does it as one of the better leaders in the huddle. He will get knocked for his size come draft day, but in the modern NFL era where speed in space kills, Austin is the best in this class. Comparison: Percy Harvin

6. Terrance Williams, Baylor (6-2, 205, Sr.)
This Waco product has had the benefit of playing with elite quarterbacks and fellow wide receivers, but has been productive on his own as well. He has a great frame with excellent size and strength. He has the awesome straight line speed that makes him a tremendous deep threat. When it comes to short space agility or burst, however, he will not be as rated as highly as some of the more dynamic players in this class. He is a well-rounded, quality football player who will be a factor on Sundays. Comparison: Hakeem Nicks

7. DeAndre Hopkins, Clemson (6-1, 200, Jr.)
Teammate Sammy Watkins is the better overall player but Hopkins has been remarkable while Watkins has been out the last two seasons. He has broken multiple Clemson and ACC receiving records in 2012 and has the overall size and talent to be a big-time producer on Sundays. He may not be elite at any one thing, but he does everything an NFL wideout needs to do well. Comparison: Torrey Smith

8. Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech (6-1, 195, Sr.)
Potential first-round pick Johnathan Banks from Mississippi State had to cover Patton in 2011 and has stated he was the best receiver he ever faced. The former junior college transfer has had two massive seasons for the Bulldogs. He has adequate size, tremendous heart and excellent speed and agility. Certainly, his level of competition isn’t ideal in the WAC, but Patton has proven he belongs on the next level with huge games — try 21 receptions for 233 yards and four touchdowns against Texas A&M in October. Comparison: Mike Wallace

9. Cobi Hamilton, Arkansas (6-2, 210, Sr.)
The Hogs wideout has prototypical NFL size and strength. He was overshadowed by a trio of NFL wideouts who got drafted in the 2012 draft but a 303-yard performance against Rutgers this fall proved he is deserving of his lofty draft stock. He has all the tools needed to be a solid No. 2 wideout on the next level. Comparison: Miles Austin

10. Jordan Matthews, Vanderbilt (6-3, 200, Jr.)
Matthews will fly under the radar because of the program he plays at and because his quarterback has struggled at times. Yet, Vandy is building quite the reputation for producing dependable athletes and Matthews is the next in line. He has a long frame and will need to add strength and speed to get down the field. He isn’t a freakish athlete but has been facing the best defenses in the nation and has posted big numbers. Comparison: Malcolm Floyd

11. Marquess Wilson, Washington State (6-3, 190, Jr.)
Great size and huge production. Needs to prove he can stay focused and committed.

12. Stedman Bailey, West Virginia (5-11, 195, Jr.)
Extremely productive, slightly bigger version of Austin. Not elite size or speed.

13. Da’Rick Rogers, Tennessee Tech (6-3, 210, Jr.)
Tremendous physical tools that scream first round. Total head case that screams Charles Rogers.

14. Aaron Dobson, Marshall (6-2, 205, Sr.)
Brings excellent size and red zone ability. Overall production, level of competition aren’t elite.

15. Aaron Mellette, Elon (6-4, 215, Sr.)
Tremendous size and speed with elite levels of production (39 TDs to date).

16. Kenny Stills, Oklahoma (6-0, 190, Jr.)
Loads of ability but never seems to deliver on potential. NFL legacy should be solid on Sundays.

17. Denard Robinson, Michigan (5-11, 195, Sr.)
Dynamic converted QB with elite speed, agility and versatility.

18. Marcus Davis, Virginia Tech (6-4, 230, Sr.)
Freakish size and speed combination, but never really delivered on potential in Blacksburg.

19. Ryan Swope, Texas A&M (6-0, 205, Sr.)
Not overly talented, but gritty, tough, productive and dependable.

20. Chad Bumphis, Mississippi State (5-10, 200, Sr.)
Harvin-type speedster who is best around the line of scrimmage and on special teams.

Other names to watch:

Josh Boyce, TCU (5-11, 205, Jr.)
Markus Wheaton, Oregon State (6-0, 185, Sr.)
Rodney Smith, Florida State (6-5, 215, Sr.)
Dan Buckner, Arizona (6-4, 215, Sr.)
Chris Harper, Kansas State (6-1, 230, Sr.)
Emory Blake, Auburn (6-1, 195, Sr.)
DeVonte Christopher, Utah (6-1, 200, Sr.)
Marquise Goodwin, Texas (5-10, 180, Sr.)
Tavarres King, Georgia (6-1, 200, Sr.)
Conner Vernon, Duke (6-2, 195, Sr.) 

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

2013 NFL Draft: Running Backs

2013 NFL Draft: Tight Ends
2013 NFL Draft: Safeties

2013 NFL Draft: Defensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers

2013 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Inside Linebackers

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Wide Receivers</p>
Post date: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 - 05:50
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/eight-amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-7
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 7 of NFL play:

6-1: Houston Texans AFC-best record
With the franchise's first-ever win over Baltimore (1-6 all-time), the Texans alone have the best record in the AFC. Why is it so important to have the best record in the AFC this weekend? Well, the team with the best record in the AFC after Week 7 has made it to the Super Bowl in five of the last six seasons. New England (2011, 2007), Pittsburgh (2010) and Indianapolis (2009, 2006) all claimed the top mark in the AFC after seven weeks and each time made it to the Super Bowl. The 2008 Tennessee Titans, who started the season 6-0, are the only team in the last six seasons to have the AFC's best record after seven weeks and not make it to the final contest. That's the good news for the Texans. The bad news for the Texans? The last four have lost the big game. So Houston is going to the Super Bowl but it will come up short. If I could promise this situation to you fans in Houston, would you take it?

0:19: Seconds the Redskins led in the second half against the Giants
Robert Griffin III put together a truly remarkable drive to give the Redskins the lead with 1:32 left against the Giants. He converted on a fourth down deep in his own territory with PlaySstation-like moves that made Jason Pierre-Paul look foolish. Then he ripped-off a 24-yard run and tossed a 30-yard lob wedge to Santana Moss. It was a beautiful 7-play, 77-yard compilation that appeared to have flipped the entire NFC East on its head, putting Washington in first place. But Eli Manning needed only two plays and 14 seconds to go 77 of his own yards to retake the lead and put a stranglehold on the division. The 77-yard scoring strike was the longest game-winning touchdown pass in the final two minutes of a game in Giants history. The building was electric as Victor Cruz caught his seventh touchdown of the season and the Giants moved to 5-2.

3: Total TDs scored by the Cardinals since starting 4-0
Arizona wasn't scorching the earth on offense during its four-game winning streak to start the year. But it scored at least 20 points in each game and was one of only three unbeatens left in the league. Since Week 4, the Cards have lost three straight to three teams that combined to go 11-37 last season by scoring three total touchdowns — two of which came in the loss to Minnesota this weekend. This team has scored 33 total points in the three losses as quarterback play, be it Kevin Kolb or John Skelton, has been a major question mark. What is worse for Arizona? Its next three opponents are San Francisco, Green Bay and Atlanta. A 4-6 record would be an absolute failure for a team that started with four straight wins. By comparison, the guy they will face in two weeks, Aaron Rodgers, has accounted for 12 touchdowns all by himself over that same span. Speaking of Mr. Discount Double Check...

76: Games it took Aaron Rodgers to reach 150 passing TDs
With three more scoring strikes this weekend in an impressive win over St. Louis, Rodgers' career passing touchdown total now sits at 151. It took him only 76 games to reach the plateau — the second-fewest games ever needed to reach 150 touchdowns. Dan Marino is the only quarterback to reach this milestone quicker than Rodgers (62 games). However, Rodgers only threw one touchdown pass in seven games played in his three seasons as the backup for Brett Favre, so he technically has 150 touchdowns in his first 69 games as the starter. That is an average of 2.2 touchdown passes per game and makes Marino's record look all the more impressive.

71%: Percent the Cowboys ran the ball on its final two drives
Dallas ran the ball 31 times and threw 34 passes in the tough road win over Carolina on Sunday. On the final two drives of the game that both ended in field goals, however, Dallas ran the ball 10 times in 14 plays (71.2 percent), including the final six plays. Not only did the two methodical drives win the game by ending in points each time, but it also meant Dallas held the ball for 5:22 of the final 7:32. Yes, the rushing statistics against Baltimore might have been a bit inflated due to major injuries. And yes, this team will have to improve on the 2.7 yards per carry it posted against the Panthers. But fans in Big D have to be comforted by the renewed commitment to the running game — DeMarco Murray or not.

52-51-1: The all-time series mark between the Jets and Patriots
The 29-26 overtime win for New England over New York on Sunday gave the Pats the all-time series lead in the long-standing AFC East rivalry. Not only did the win untie the all-time mark but it also broke the current tie atop the AFC standings. The Jets fell to 3-4, tied with Buffalo for last in the division, while the Patriots are now in sole possession of first place. Additionally, Bill Belichick now boasts a 5-3 overall record against Rex Ryan.

83: Chris Johnson's NFL record fourth TD run of at least 80 yards
CJ2K has looked reinvigorated of late and his 195 yards rushing on Sunday helped the Titans pull off an improbable road win. It was his third-highest single-game rushing total and it pushed the Titans to 7-1 in games in which he tops the 150 yards mark. He scored two touchdowns in Buffalo, one from 16 yards away and the other from 83 yards out. It was his NFL record fourth touchdown run of at least 80 yards, passing Barry Sanders, OJ Simpson, Ahman Green and Hugh McElhenny (all tied with 3) for first place. It was his 29th career 100-yard rushing effort, and after 45 combined yards through his first three games, Johnson has averaged 112.8 yards per game in his last four. And the Titans have won two in a row.

1988: Last time a Colts QB scored two rushing TDs in one game
My unabashed, unadulterated love affair with Andrew Luck is no secret. He has all sorts of rookie passing records, starting his career in extraordinary fashion. He has led his team, without its head coach for the last three weeks, to a 3-3 mark — or one more win than they had last fall. He is the first QB in NFL history to throw for at least 1,500 yards (1,674) and post three wins in his first six games. He is also leading the AFC in rushing yards by a quarterback and he got into the end zone on the ground twice against Cleveland. He has 115 yards and three scores on the ground. The win over Cleveland also featured the first meeting of the five rookie quarterbacks to date as Brandon Weeden threw for 256 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. Robert Griffin III has been electrifying and efficient for the Redskins, but I will take Luck to have the better career.

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Teaser:
<p> Eight Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 6</p>
Post date: Monday, October 22, 2012 - 05:29
Path: /college-football/pac-12-post-week-8-power-rankings
Body:

This fall is becoming one of the most entertaining seasons of football in the Pac-12 in years. Three top ten teams, two unbeatens, a dozen Player of the Year candidates, one National Coach of the Year front-runner and arguably the biggest game left in college football about to kickoff in two weeks. This league is stacked with great coaches, great quarterbacks and great athletes. And most importantly, a lot of really good football teams.

Post-Week 8 Offensive Player of the Year Standings


1. Matt Barkley, QB, USC - The longtime star for USC threw six touchdown passes for the second time this year and for the fourth time in his last 11 games. He is second in the league in passing efficiency and fourth in total offense while leading with 22 touchdown passes.

2. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - It has been a slow build for Mariota, but the numbers are there for the leader of the best team in the league. He is No. 3 in passing efficiency, is rushing for 50 yards per game, is fifth in total offense and just rushed for 135 yards while scoring twice in the huge road win over Arizona State. 

3. Matt Scott, QB, Arizona 
- With so many worthy running backs and wide receivers canceling each other out, the league's most productive player deserves some love after a huge home win. Scott is leading the league in total offense at 374.3 yards per game — nearly 70 yards more than No. 2 Brett Hundley.
 

Post-Week 8 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State - The do-everything star for the Beavers totaled seven tackles in the easy win over Utah. Oregon State stayed unbeaten by holding Utah to seven points and 307 yards of offense. 

2. Scott Crichton, DL, Oregon State - The exploits of the Beavers' defense have been well documented and Crichton is leading the Pac-12 in sacks and tackles for loss for the league's No. 1 scoring defense.

3. TJ McDonald, S, USC - Names like Sutton, Breslin, Long, Barr or Clay could be here, but the defensive captain and leading tackler for USC gets the nod. He is fifth in the league in tackles, has three tackles for loss, one interception and a blocked kick as the leader of the best team in the South.


Post-Week 8 Coach of the Year Standings

1a. Chip Kelly, Oregon - The Ducks passes their first major road test — their first of four in the second half — and are clearly the league's top team thus far. Kelly's resume will only get better nationally if the Ducks continue to win. This team will play in the national title game if it wins its last six games. 

1b. Mike Riley, Oregon State - It is the age-old Coach of the Year debate: Do you give the award to the guy who wins it all and accomplishes exactly what we expected of him (Kelly) or the guy who vastly overachieves but doesn't claim the championship? 

3. Rich Rodriguez, Arizona  - How about some love for a team that is likely much better than its 4-3 record indicates. The Cats just crushed Washington, lead the league in passing and total offense and its three losses are to teams with a combined record of 19-2 (Oregon, Oregon St, Stanford). 

Post-Week 8 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (7-0, 4-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 8 result: Beat Arizona State 43-21
The Ducks turned what was supposed to be a showcase game in primetime on Thursday night into a definitive statement about the location of the Arizona State Sun Devils program. They are not ready to compete for the conference crown. The Ducks won their 25th Pac-12 game in their last 26 tries after blitzing the overmatched opponent in the desert. After falling behind 7-0 on an early turnover, Oregon scored six straight touchdowns before ASU could even get into halftime to make adjustments. The Ducks shouldn't be challenged by lowly Colorado next weekend as the Ducks will head to Los Angeles unbeaten at 8-0. 
This week: Colorado (1-6)

2. USC (6-1, 4-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 8 result: Beat Colorado 50-6
There aren't many 41-point underdogs in BCS intraconference tilts these days but the USC Trojans justified their lofty point spread by crushing the Buffaloes by 44 points. Matt Barkley was outstanding, throwing only one incompletion (19-of-20), along with 298 yards and six touchdowns in the easy win. Wide receiver Robert Woods continues to rewrite the records books as he caught eight passes for 123 yards and a USC record four touchdown passes. He also passed Dwayne Jarrett as the Trojan's all-time leader in receptions (220). He now has 30 touchdown receptions in two-and-a-half seasons of football. A sneaky trip out to the desert takes place this weekend and if the Men of Troy aren't careful, they will get caught looking ahead to Oregon in two weeks.
This week: at Arizona (4-3)

3. Oregon State (6-0, 5-0)
Previous rank: 4
Week 8 result: Beat Utah 21-7
Another weekend and another workmanlike team effort keeps the Beavers undefeated. One of the nation's best stories continues to roll along without starting quarterback Sean Mannion. Cody Vaz was superb in the win over BYU two weeks ago while MIke Riley leaned on his offensive line and ground game this weekend. Storm Woods rushed for three touchdowns and Vaz wasn't sacked against the solid Utah defensive line as the Beavers jumped out to a 14-0 early lead. The defense did the rest, forcing four turnovers and allowing only 307 yards of total offense. Now, things get interesting for the Beavers as Riley will face Washington (road), Arizona State (home) and Stanford (road) in the next three weeks — all potentially without Mannion.
This week: at Washington (3-4)

4. Stanford (5-2, 3-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 8 result: Beat Cal 21-3
So it appears the Cardinal can win a road game after all, provided it's just across town. The Big Game lacked much suspense as the Cardinal took a commanding 21-3 lead with eight minutes still left in the second quarter. Neither team scored a point the rest of the way as Stanford suffocated the Golden Bears. Cal had only five second-half possessions. Three ended in punts, one was a turnover on downs and the final drive of the game ended on an interception. Stepfan Taylor was the star of the show, rushing for 189 yards and a touchdown in Stanford's first road win of the season. With Wazzu and Colorado up next, David Shaw's bunch should be 5-1 in the league before having to face both Oregon schools.
This week: Washington State (2-4)

5. UCLA (5-2, 2-2)
Previous rank: 6
Week 8 result: Off
Hopefully this team got plenty of rest in the off week. UCLA will play both Arizona schools in the next two weeks with major bowl implications on the line before finishing the year with USC and Stanford. It will be a challenging last month of the season for the Bruins.
This week: at Arizona State (5-2) 

6. Arizona (4-3, 1-3)
Previous rank: 7
Week 8 result: Beat Washington 52-17
The Wildcats have lost three games this season to Oregon, Oregon State and Stanford. One could argue that Rich Rodriguez' team should have won two of those games. It means that Arizona is probably the best 4-3 team in the nation... and that they have a tough time winning close games. This weekend against Washington, Matt Scott and company had no such trouble. The offense rolled-up 533 total yards behind Ka'Deem Carey's 172 yards and Scott's five touchdowns. The biggest difference this weekend, however, was the defense. After allowing nearly 33 points per game, the Cats sacked Keith Price four times, forced three turnovers and allowed only 17 points. RichRod will have his guys thinking upset in the desert this weekend against Southern Cal.
This week: USC (6-1)

7. Arizona State (5-2, 3-1)
Previous rank: 5
Week 8 result: Lost to Oregon 43-21
There was a good chance Arizona State was going to have an eye-opening experience on Thursday night one way or the other. After taking a quick lead, Todd Graham found out real quick why Chip Kelly has won three straight Pac-12 titles. The offense turned the ball over four times. The defense allowed 454 yards of offense and 43 first-half points. And the Sun Devils were sent back down to Earth in embarrassing fashion on national television. Graham and his squad have a huge pecking order game this weekend against the Bruins.
This week: UCLA (5-2)

8. Washington (3-4, 1-3)
Previous rank: 8
Week 8 result: 
Lost Arizona 52-17

That Thursday night upset win over Stanford in which the students rushed the field in Seattle is a distant memory today. Washington is not quite done with one of the toughest months in the nation having lost to Oregon, USC and Arizona in consecutive weeks. The offensive line still has major holes and will struggle mightily against the stout Oregon State defense this weekend, but at least the schedule gets easier over the final month. The Huskies could win their final four games: at Cal, Utah, at Colorado and at Washington State. Somehow pull the upset this weekend and things will finally be looking up for U-Dub.
This week: Oregon State (6-0)

9. California (3-5, 2-3)
Previous rank: 9
Week 8 result: Lost to Stanford 21-3
After two huge wins, Jeff Tedford suffered a brutal home defeat in The Big Game. His tenure as the head coach at Cal is a weekly roller coaster of emotions for fans in Berkeley. He is arguably the most successful headman in program history but clearly this program has gotten stale under the former Fresno State quarterback. His team wasn't even competitive against its rival, turning the ball over three times, didn't reach the end zone and rushed for an abysmal three yards on 28 carries. This will be one of the more interesting teams to follow from here on out.
This week: at  Utah (2-5)

10. Utah (2-5, 0-4)
Previous rank: 
9
Week 8 result: Lost Oregon State 21-7
The Beavers scored to make it 14-0 just one minute into the second quarter and that was all she wrote in Corvallis. The unbeaten Beavers totally controlled the game against the overmatched Utes. Kyle Whittingham's team couldn't pressure backup quarterback Cody Vaz (no sacks) and lost the turnover battle 0-4. They were 3-of-16 on third downs and mustered only 3.0 yards per carry on 45 attempts. Utah has to be one of the most disappointing teams in the nation to this point.

This week: Cal (3-5)

11. Colorado (1-6, 1-3)
Previous rank: 11
Week 8 result: Lost to USC 50-6
Certainly, no one believed that the Buffs would challenge the mighty Trojans on the road. But if the fans cannot even expect their team to cover a 41-point spread, they might have a right to cry for Jon Embree's job. The Buffaloes are dead last in the Pac-12 in nine of the 17 measured team stats by the NCAA: scoring offense, passing efficiency, total defense, scoring defense, passing defense, pass efficiency defense, sacks allowed, turnover margin and punt returns. Something needs to be done in Boulder.
This week: at Oregon (7-0)

12. Washington State (2-4, 0-3)
Previous rank: 12
Week 8 result: Off
The Cougars will play three of their next four on the road coming out of the bye week.

This week: at Stanford  (5-2)

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 8 Recap

ACC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 8 Power
Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings

Pac-12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 22, 2012 - 05:20
Path: /college-football/big-ten-post-week-8-power-rankings
Body:

Penn State continues to be a national story with another easy road conference win. Montee Ball's record-setting pace is creeping in on two huge all-time milestones as Wisconsin continues to improve. Michigan exercised some demons with a final-minute drive to beat the Spartans. Nebraska won a must-win division game on the road. There was a lot to like about Week 8 in the Big Ten, however, a Heisman Trophy front-runner and odds-on favorite to win the Big Ten Player of the Year had to be taken to the hospital on Saturday. Everyone in the league is even more focused on Braxton Miller now.

Post-Week 8 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State - Miller is still on top... for now. He struggled against Purdue but still compiled 160 total yards of offense and a touchdown before getting hurt in the third quarter. He was taken to the hospital and cleared all concussion, head, neck and shoulder tests. If he doesn't miss any time, he is still the frontrunner for Player of the Year.  

2. Matt McGloin, QB, Penn State - This award will likely be decided next weekend in Happy Valley when (and if) Miller can play against the Nittany Lions. McGloin closed the gap dramatically with 289 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in the easy road win over Iowa this weekend.

3. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin - It is a two-horse race for Big Ten POY but names like Ball, Venric Mark and Taylor Martinez deserve some mention. Ball has 10 rushing touchdowns in four Big Ten games and is averaging 124.4 yards rushing per game in those four.


Post-Week 8 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Mike Mauti, LB, Penn State - Mauti might have clinched the award this weekend with eight tackles, an interception, a sack and a tackle for loss in the dominating road win over Iowa. Ohio State, Wisconsin and Nebraska still loom. 

2. Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin - After 12 total tackles against rival Minnesota, the leader of the Badgers defense is now No. 2 in the Big Ten in tackles. His defense has allowed no more than 14 points during the three-game winning streak.

3. John Simon, DL, Ohio State - Simon had nine total tackles in the come-from-behind win over Purdue. He is the leader of the only unbeaten team in the league and helped hold the Boilermakers scoreless for the final 35 minutes of play and overtime.


Post-Week 8 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Bill O'Brien, Penn State - The only coach who could earn Coach of the Year honors over an unbeaten Urban Meyer would be the guy taking over Penn State following this particular offseason. Penn State has won four straight and is a few plays from being 6-0. Coach BOB has done a remarkable job.

2. Urban Meyer, Ohio State - His team continues to survive and advance. If Miller is out for any extended period of time, the odds of going unbeaten shrivel up and die. However, there is only one 8-0 team in the entire nation. 

3. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern - His team is just a few points from being unbeaten after a second tough loss in the league to a superior team. He was one point away from turning the entire Legends Division on its head this weekend against Nebraska. 


Post-Week 8 Power Rankings

1. Ohio State (8-0, 4-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 8 result: Beat Purdue 29-22 (OT)

This was a valiant win by the Buckeyes to stay unbeaten and become the only 8-0 team in the nation. Yet, the only storyline that matters is the health of Braxton Miller. An undefeated season, a win over archrival Michigan and his Heisman candidacy are what Ohio State fans are focused on this fall without the chance for a Big Ten title or bowl game. So after Miller was released from the hospital and cleared all major medical hurdles, all eyes will be focused on what Urban Meyer has to say this week in his press conference about his star quarterback's availability. The Bucknuts travel to Happy Valley this weekend with Offensive and Head Coach of the Year honors potentially hanging in the balance. 
This week: at Penn State (5-2)

2. Michigan (5-2, 3-0)
Previous rank: 2
Week 8 result: Beat Michigan State 12-10
The Wolverines cleared their first big hurdle in the Legends Division round robin with their first win over in-state rival Michigan State in five years. Denard Robinson drove his team 41 yards on eight plays in 1:55 to set-up the game-winning field goal with five seconds left on the clock. It wasn't pretty — Robinson didn't account for a touchdown for only the fourth time in the last three seasons — but the Maize and Blue are now in clear control of the division. The biggest test left on the schedule en route to Indianapolis will come next week in Lincoln, Neb. A win next weekend and this team should be 7-0 in the Big Ten heading into Columbus on the final weekend.
This week: at Nebraska (5-2)

3. Wisconsin (6-2, 3-1)
Previous rank: 5
Week 8 result: Beat Minnesota 38-13
This Badgers team is quietly improving each and every weekend. The defense was more than adequate for the third week in a row while Montee Ball and the offensive line is beginning to look more and more like 2011. Ball scored twice and rushed for 166 yards while James White added multiple big plays en route to 175 yards and three scores of his own. Ball is now five total touchdowns from passing Travis Prentice's all-time record of 78 and eight rushing scores away from Prentice's all-time rushing touchdown mark of 73. This team has all but wrapped up a trip to the Big Ten title game and should only continue to improve.
This week: Michigan State (4-4)

4. Penn State (5-2, 3-0)
Previous rank: 4
Week 8 result: Beat Iowa 38-14
This Nittany Lions team continues to impress after another dominant showing on the road against a team that had yet to lose in Big Ten play. Penn State is one of the great stories in college football this fall as this team is averaging over 400 yards on offense while allowing just 15.7 points per game on defense. Bill O'Brien's team is leading the league in turnover margin and could sweep the big three awards (Coach, Offensive, Defensive Player of the Year) should Braxton Miller miss significant time for Ohio State. The Ineligible Bowl should be fun to watch this weekend. 

This week: Ohio State (8-0)

5. Nebraska (5-2, 2-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 8 result: Beat Northwestern 29-28
The road win in Evanston was a statement performance for Nebraska. The winner was going to be the top challenger to Michigan in the division and the loser was going to have two conference losses already. It took 407 yards of total offense and two fourth-quarter touchdown passes from star quarterback Taylor Martinez to do it, but Nebraska returns home poised to battle Michigan for the Legends Division championship. The Huskers quarterback now leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency and is third in total offense.
This week: Michigan (5-2)

6. Northwestern (6-2, 2-2)
Previous rank: 6
Week 8 result: Lost Nebraska 29-28
Pat Fitzgerald has to wondering what-if right now. The Wildcats once again gave up a late lead to a superior football team and it cost them their second league loss of the year. Coach Fitz has one of his most talented offenses ever assembled in Chicago, and a potential eight-win season would be nothing to sneeze at, but the outside Big Ten title chance slipped through his grasp during the fourth-quarter this weekend. With Iowa, both Michigan schools and Illinois left, an 8-4 season looks like the best-case scenario.
This week: Iowa (4-3)

7. Michigan State (4-4, 1-3)
Previous rank: 8
Week 8 result: Lost to Michigan 12-10
The Spartans lost for the third time in four weeks and have for intents and purposes been eliminated from Big Ten title contention. The defense once again played well, holding Denard Robinson in check all game long. Yet, one short last minute drive and very little offensive balance allowed Michigan to escape with a win over Sparty for the first time in five years. Andrew Maxwell threw for just 192 yards on 34 attempts and Le'Veon Bell was shut down (68 yards on 26 carries). Until this offense can develop an efficient passing attack, teams will continue to stack the box. And beat Michigan State.
This week: at Wisconsin (6-2)

8. Purdue (3-4, 0-3)
Previous rank: 9
Week 8 result: Lost to Ohio State 29-22 (OT)
Danny Hope likes to face the Buckeyes. After getting destroyed by Michigan and Wisconsin at home in back-to-back weeks, the Boilermakers nearly upset Ohio State in the Horseshoe this Saturday. They held Braxton Miller in check before knocking him out of the game with a vicious tackle on a long run in the third quarter. Yet, the offense failed to score a point in the last 36 minutes of play and overtime. And the defense couldn't keep backup Kenny Guiton from leading the Buckeyes to victory. It's been a tough start to Big Ten play for Hope's bunch.
This week: at Minnesota (4-3)

9. Iowa (4-3, 2-1)
Previous rank: 7
Week 8 result: Lost to Penn State 38-14
Without walk-on fullback turned star tailback Mark Weisman, the Hawkeyes' offense looked downright atrocious. Yes, Penn State's salty defense deserves plenty of credit but Iowa wasn't even competitive. They fell behind 38-0, totaled 209 yards of offense (20 of which was rushing) and turned the ball over three times. James Vandenberg has made fans completely forget about his efficient and productive 2011 breakout season. That said, there are winnable games left on the schedule and a 4-4 season in the league isn't out of the question.
This week: at Northwestern (6-2)

10. Minnesota (4-3, 0-3)
Previous rank: 10
Week 8 result: Lost to Wisconsin 38-13
The longest running rivalry in college football has been decidedly one-sided of late. Wisconsin rushed past the Gophers for the ninth straight time in the battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe. After another health scare this week, Jerry Kill was on the sidelines for his team's third straight loss since beginning the season 4-0. Despite the struggles and rough final month of the season that features one or two winnable games, there is some good news for Minnesota. Record-setting prep quarterback Phillip Nelson appears to be the long-term future at quarterback and the extremely youthful roster has a lot of upside. 
This week: Purdue (3-4)

11. Illinois (2-5, 0-3)
Previous rank: 11
Week 8 result: Off
Fans in Illinois are hoping that the off week will help erase the memory of a hideous first half of the 2012 season. This weekend will determine who finishes last in the Leaders Division this fall. 

This week: Indiana (2-5)

12. Indiana (2-5, 0-3)
Previous rank: 12
Week 8 result: Lost to Navy 31-30
The Big Ten's brutal non-conference season came to a fitting end this weekend when the Hoosiers lost by a single point to a struggling Navy team. Indiana allowed 10 straight fourth-quarter points despite outgaining the Midshipmen to lose in painful fashion. Indiana will be hard-pressed to win another game this season, however, their best chance at a conference win will come this weekend against the teetering Ilini.
This week: at Illinois (2-5)


by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 8 Recap

ACC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Big East Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Big Ten Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Big 12 Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
Pac-12 East Post-Week 8 Power Rankings
SEC Post-Week 8 Power Rankings 

Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Post-Week 8 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, October 22, 2012 - 05:05
All taxonomy terms: College Football
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-week-8
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: 32-23
Last Week: 6-2

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Western Michigan (+3.5) at Kent State
Darrell Hazell has done an excellent job in one and a half seasons with the Flashes. The only loss of the year came on the road against an SEC opponent and, against the spread, his team is equally strong at 5-1. The Flashes have won their last two games by a combined 72-31 behind 604 yards rushing. Western Michigan will be without starter Alex Carder at quarterback and has lost two out of the three games. Look for the Golden Flashes to continue down its winning path, both in the standings and against the number. Prediction: Kent State -3.5

Indiana (+3) at Navy
The Midshipmen are always strong at running the football, but its 233.3 per game average is well-below what Navy has grown accustomed too over the last decade. The Hoosiers, meanwhile, boast the Big Ten's top passing attack under the guidance of second-year coach Kevin Wilson. A win over Navy would triple Indiana's win total from a year ago and give the fans in Bloomington a lot to be excited about it. Navy has no chance of stopping a team that scores over 35 points per game and just dropped 49 on Ohio State. Prediction: Indiana +3

San Diego State (+6.5) at Nevada
The Wolfpack gets star quarterback Cody Fajardo back after missing last weekend's contest. He leads the Mountain West in total offense and the Aztecs defense, which ranks 67th nationally in scoring (95th in pass efficiency defense) and has allowed 72 points in its only two road games, will have a tough time stopping the Nevada rushing attack. The nation's leading rusher, Stefphon Jefferson at 162.9 yards per game, is happy to have his backfield mate back in action. Take the Pack to win its sixth straight fairly comfortably. Prediction: Nevada -6.5

Penn State (+3.5) at Iowa
A battle of two Big Ten unbeatens should be defensively minded in Iowa City. Walk-on turned superstar bowling ball tailback Mark Weisman has an injured ankle and is doubtful for the Hawkeyes, leaving the depleted backfield in the questionable hands of James Vandenberg. On the other side, Matt McGloin has played superbly in a new offensive scheme that is as balanced as any in the nation the last month. The Nittany Lions are 5-1 against the spread this season and are a few plays from being unbeaten. They are simply the better team. Prediction: Penn State +3.5

USF (+6.5) at Louisville
The South Florida Bulls are one of the least trustworthy teams in the nation these days. And better may point to three straight close wins for the Cards by a combined 21 points over inferior teams. However, all three were on the road. The three best offensive yardage totals of the season have come at home for Charlie Strong's bunch and USF has done little to prove it belongs on the same field as the 6-0 Big East frontrunners. The Bulls have lost four straight by an average of 11.6 points per game and lost this bout by 10 at home last fall. Prediction: Louisville

Other games to investigate:

Stanford (-2) at Cal
The Cardinal are a superior team that crushed the Bears the last time they visited Berkeley. But it's a rivalry game.

Texas Tech (-1.5) at TCU
Tech hasn't won back-to-back Big 12 games since Nov. 2009. The Toads defense is slightly different than West Virginia.

Kansas State (+3) at West Virginia
I wouldn't bet against Bill Snyder and Collin Klein.

Northern Illinois (-16.5) at Akron
The Huskies are the far superior team behind do-everything dynamo Jordan Lynch.

Colorado (+41) at USC
Isn't this entirely too many points? Even for the Buffaloes?

Iowa State (+14) at Oklahoma State
The Cyclones play these types of games close behind solid defense.

Minnesota (+17) at Wisconsin
Badgers have won eight straight in this series and the Gophers haven't won in Madison since 1994.

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

2012 Trends Against the Spread:

Undefeated ATS: Arizona State (5-0-1), Utah St (7-0), Western Kentucky (6-0)

Winless ATS: Virginia (0-6-1)

One Loss Against the Spread One Win Against the Spread
Fresno State (6-1) Auburn (1-5)
Kansas State (4-1-1) Boston College (1-5)
Kent State (5-1) Central Michigan (1-5)
UL Monroe (5-1) Colorado (1-5)
Ole Miss (6-1) Colorado St (1-6)
Northwestern (6-1) Idaho (1-6)
Oregon State (4-1) Kentucky (1-6)
Penn State (5-1) Miami-OH (1-6)
San Jose State (5-1) Michigan State (1-6)
South Carolina (6-1) USC (1-5)
Texas Tech (5-1) Syracuse (1-5)
TX-San Antonio (3-1)  

Other Noteables: Ball State (5-2), Duke (5-2), LSU (2-5), New Mexico (5-2), Northern Illinois (5-2), Toledo (5-2), UNLV (5-2)

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Teaser:
<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 8</p>
Post date: Friday, October 19, 2012 - 06:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-defensive-tackles
Body:

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

Today, we rank college football's best defensive tackles prospects:

1. Jonathan Hankins, Ohio State (6-3, 320, Jr.)
The big Buckeye lineman has just a touch more upside than Star Lotulelei but has a similar skillset. He has a massive frame that is excellent at clogging space in order to stop the run. But he is a three-down tackle who can get penetration and disrupt the passer from the interior. In what should be a very deep and talented defensive tackle class, Hankins could be the best. There are potentially five first round defensive tackles in the 2013 class.

2. Star Lotulelei, Utah (6-3, 320, Sr.)
The big fella from Utah was voted as the best defensive lineman in the Pac-12 by his peers last season. If the offensive lineman who try to block him each Saturday say he is the best defensive lineman in the league, I believe them. He, too, is a three-down tackle who can be used against the pass and run equally — which is a rare commodity highly coveted by the NFL. He has great size, has been extremely productive and will likely be a top ten pick. He may be viewed as safer than Hankins but likely has slightly less upside.

3. Kawann Short, Purdue (6-3, 315, Sr.)
Purdue's heart and soul on defense has tons of ability. He is roughly the same size as all the best tackle prospects in this class with the rare of exception of John Jenkins (who is massive and bigger than everyone else). He has proven his abilities to play in opposing backfields with four years of consistent play in the middle of a defense that rarely gave him the help he deserved. He is a Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year candidate this fall. 

4. John Jenkins, Georgia (6-3, 358, Sr.)
Few players will go to the combine bigger than Jenkins. While he will need to prove his stamina, flexibility and commitment to physical conditioning, he doesn't have to prove much in the form of on-field production. He has experience in a professional 3-4 defense that has been one of the best in the vaunted SEC. He has the skills and size to develop into the best player at his position in this class, but has to refine his fitness, size and consistency.

5. Sylvester Williams, North Carolina (6-3, 320, Sr.)
The big Tar Heel has been a fast riser throughout the fall. He has the needed size and power to play at the next level but needed to prove himself one more season. He was surrounded by elite talent and was a junior college transfer, yet has continued to improve and has held his own without names like Coples, Martin, Powell there to help him this fall. He is more upside than most in the top ten at this point.

6. Jesse Williams, Alabama (6-3, 320, Sr.)
There may not be anything flashy or freakish about this young Australian, but he absolutely gets the job done with tremendous strength and technique. He has been coached by the best, been extremely productive against the best and should be viewed as one of the best. He won't wow scouts with any one talent, but should be a major contributor on the next level for years to come.

7. Sharrif Floyd, Florida (6-3, 303, Jr.)
The Gators active lineman is much lighter than his elite level counterparts and is generously listed at 6-foot-3. But he is extremely active, disruptive and will make plenty of plays on the next level. This nose tackle was an elite recruit back in 2010 and made an immediate impact as a freshman in Gainesville. Look for him to continue to improve and could easily raise his stock into the first round with a great end to his Gators career. 

8. Bennie Logan, LSU (6-3, 290, Jr.)
Only one player on the Tigers roster gets to wear No. 18 each season as the unquestioned leader of the program and Logan got that distinguished honor in 2012. Like Floyd, he won't tip the scales with his smaller frame, but he is as tough a leader as there is at the position. He is a dependable performer that will give scouts exactly what they expect. Logan has limited upside but extremely low downside. 

9. Sheldon Richardson, Missouri (6-3, 295, Jr.)
Despite his wordy taunts, Richardson is one of the most talented tackles in the nation. Every SEC coach to have scouted the Tigers point to the defensive line as the area to focus on, and most of that is due to the play this big guy. He has had some injury issues in the past (shoulder) and will need to prove himself at the combine, but the upside is obvious for the one of the highest-rated recruits to ever sign with Mizzou.

10. Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota (6-6, 300, Jr.)
This massive prospect has been a late mover on draft boards. He has a huge frame with plenty of room to add bulk and power. He also hasn't played a ton of football so his better days are well of ahead of him. He has quickly proven to be a productive member of an improving defense. He has extremely intriguing upside and could be a value pick in the early middle rounds.

Other names to watch:

11. Akeem Spence, Illinois (6-1, 305, Jr.)
12. Josh Boyd, Mississippi State (6-3, 300, Sr.)
13. Everett Dawkins, Florida State (6-2, 304, Sr.)
14. Abry Jones, Georgia (6-3, 308, Sr.)
15. Dominique Easley, Florida (6-2, 280, Jr.)
16. Joe Vellano, Maryland (6-2, 285, Sr.)
17. Jordan Hill, Penn State (6-1, 294, Sr.)
18. Cory Grissom, USF (6-2, 316, Sr.)
19. Anthony Rashad White, Michigan State (6-2, 330, Sr.)
20. Baker Steinkuhler, Nebraska (6-6, 290, Sr.)

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

2013 NFL Draft: Running Backs

2013 NFL Draft: Tight Ends
2013 NFL Draft: Safeties

2013 NFL Draft: Defensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Wide Receivers

2013 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Inside Linebackers

Teaser:
<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Defensive Tackles</p>
Post date: Friday, October 19, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-8-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The desert will be a busy place this weekend out West as both Arizona and Arizona State host huge showdowns. The Wildcats welcome Washington to Tucson in what should be a tremendous Xs and Os contest, while fans all over the nation will finally learn if Todd Graham's Sun Devils are a legit contender in the Pac-12 on national TV against Oregon on Thursday night.

Meanwhile, USC should roll, Oregon State has to hold serve and The Big Game takes over the Bay Area.

Pac-12's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 8:

1. Will Arizona State get exposed or make a statement on national televsion?
The schedule for both the unbeaten Oregon Ducks and surprise Arizona State Sun Devils gets nasty in the second half. Oregon plays four tough road games, starting with a nationally televised visit to Tempe on Thursday night. The Sun Devils, led by Taylor Kelly, the league's top rated passer, is looking to make a major statement to the nation. Yet, ASU's record is inflated after facing backup quarterbacks (Mizzou, Illinois, Utah) and three of the four easiest conference opponents in the league. This game should feature a boatload of elite skill players on both sides, but it will come down to Todd Graham's No. 1-rated Pac-12 defense staying strong for all four quarters. Otherwise, the Ducks will roll right through town en route to another dominating league win. 

2. Justin Wilcox vs. Rich Rodriguez
The most intriguing game this weekend out West will likely take place in Tucson when Washington visits Arizona. Rich Rodriguez has his offense, led by Matt Scott and Ka'Deem Carey, clicking on all cylinders. It leads the league in total offense at over 550 yards per game and in passing offense at nearly 370 yards per game. Meanwhile, Justin Wilcox has completely reinvented the Huskies defense. Washington is 12th in the nation in passing defense and just held Matt Barkley to 167 yards and 24 total points. Look for these two Xs and Os gurus to get creative in the desert Saturday night.

3. Keith Price vs. Jake Fischer
On the other side of things, Washington quarterback Keith Price has been a shell of his former self. He was lighting up defenses and throwing touchdowns in droves last fall and simply hasn't gotten going this fall. Certainly, his offensive line has been crushed by injuries and that has led to many of the issues in Seattle on offense. But Arizona hasn't been much better on defense. Jake Fischer's squad is 11th in the Pac-12 in total defense and scoring defense, but has allowed 49, 38 and 54 points during its 0-3 conference start. In the battle of ineptitude, someone has to make a play, right?

4. Matt Barkley's Heisman train gets back on track in a big way
Barkley has a chance to quiet many of his Heisman detractors with a huge game this weekend against lowly Colorado. His numbers haven't been great — 187 yards against Syracuse, 192 against Cal and 167 against Washington — but he still leads the league in touchdown passes and has his team poised to face Oregon for the Pac-12 title. Defenses have been backloading their secondaries to contain the talented big-play wide receivers, so Barkley has turned to the ground game and Silas Redd (who has been excellent). Look for all aspects of the offense to roll this weekend and for Barkley to return to many Heisman ballots.

5. The Big Game features two bruised football teams
Jeff Tedford and Cal were reeling a couple of weeks ago but has since won two straight league games to reach 3-4. This team is in must-win mode every week from here on out and needs a quality showing against crosstown rival Stanford. Cal has allowed 79 points in two straight losses to the Cardinal. Meanwhile, Stanford likely spent a lot of time in the training room after that physical battle in South Bend. Stanford is the better team, but has to regroup after the tough, nail-biting loss to the Irish. There is plenty on the line in this edition of The Big Game.

6. Can Oregon State continue to win without Sean Mannion?
One of the most impressive showings nationally last week was the Beavers' road win over BYU. Backup quarterback Cody Vaz picked-up where Sean Mannion left off, throwing for 332 yards and three touchdowns while leading Oregon State to 42 points and an unbeaten 5-0 record. While a win over the Cougars is nice, it doesn't help Mike Riley's bunch in the Pac-12 standings. This weekend will be the first league game without Mannion and Riley needs another quality showing from Vaz to stay in the Pac-12 North race. Against Utah, that shouldn't be an issue.

Week 8 Pac-12 Predictions:

Week 8 Pac-12 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Oregon (-8) at Arizona St Oregon, 41-24 Oregon, 42-28 Oregon, 45-30 Oregon, 42-27
Stanford (-2) at Cal Stanford, 27-20 Stanford, 24-21 Stanford, 27-24 Stanford, 35-31
Colorado (-40.5) at USC USC, 42-14 USC, 47-13 USC, 48-10 USC, 56-7
Washington (+7.5) at Arizona Arizona, 30-27 Arizona, 27-21 Washington, 34-31 Arizona, 35-21
Utah (+10.5) at Oregon St Oregon St, 27-13 Oregon St, 30-13 Oregon St, 34-20 Oregon St, 27-10
Last Week: 6-0 6-0 5-1 3-3
Yearly Totals: 40-15 41-14 40-15 36-19

Bye: Washington State, UCLA

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 8 Previews and Predictions
Big East Week 8 Previews and Predictions

Big Ten Week 8 Previews and Predictions

Big 12 Week 8 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 8 Previews and Predictions

College Football Week 8 Upset Predictions

Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections

Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

Teaser:
<p> Pac-12 Week 8 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 06:07
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-8-preview-and-predictions
Body:

The round robin in the Legends Division got started with Iowa's win over Michigan State last weekend. Otherwise, none of the top five teams in that division have faced each other yet. That will all change this weekend as two huge puzzle pieces will fall into place in Evanston and Ann Arbor. Otherwise, a barometer game in Iowa City and a battle for a six-foot long wood chopper highlight the Week 8 slate in Big Ten country.

Big Ten's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 8:

1. Has The Wolverine State battle lost its luster?
Michigan State has owned this in-state battle of late. Try four straight wins for the Spartans, the last two coming in dominating fashion. After two debilitating losses at home to Ohio State and then Iowa, the Spartans are on the Big Ten title ropes. Meanwhile, the Wolverines have bounced back from losses to two top-five teams early in the year to crush its first two Big Ten opponents, Purdue and Illinois, by a total of 89-13. The ground game is back. The defense has played its best. Brady Hoke has his team poised to not only remove the Spartan monkey from their Maize and Blue backs, but place their name atop the Legends Division standings. And it all starts with one guy...

2. Denard Robinson is back — and will end his losing streak to Spartans
The explosive quarterback has yet to defeat the cross-state rivals from East Lansing but is poised to have his best shot. Shoelace has completed 15-of-27 passes for 264 yards, three touchdowns, and most importantly, no interceptions. He has been up to his old tricks on the ground, rushing for 363 yards and two touchdowns in the Wolverines' 2-0 start in the Big Ten. Against Michigan State, Robinson has been less than electric, however, completing only 9-of-24 passes a year ago and throwing four interceptions in his last two meetings with Sparty. Additionally, he rushed for just 119 yards in three games against MSU and has been contained by Mark Dantonio's powerful front line. Look for Robinson and Michigan to make a big statement this weekend at home against one of its top rivals. 

3. Cornhuskers looking for revenge in Evanston
Northwestern do-everything athlete Kain Colter burst onto the national scene last season in Lincoln when the Wildcats defeated the Cornhuskers 28-25. Colter was unstoppable, throwing for 115 yards and one score to go with 57 yards rushing and two touchdowns on the ground. Both programs are poised to compete for the Big Ten Legends Division crown and their respective title pushes start with this game. After a crushing final two quarters in Columbus, Bo Pelini had a week off to prepare his maligned defense for the versatile Northwestern offense. The importance of this game cannot be overstated for both teams and Nebraska will bring an intense memory of Colter into this game up in Chicago. Nebraska feels like the top challenger to Michigan in the Legends Division race, but a loss to Northwestern would flip the entire championship race on its head.

4. Will Northwestern's rushing attack take advantage of Black Shirts defense?
So where will the game be won? Nebraska's porous rushing defense that is ranked No. 10 in the Big Ten will have to stop one of the nation's top rushing attacks. Venric Mark is leading the Big Ten in all-purpose yards and Colter brings tremendous athleticism to the quarterback position. Mark has topped the 100-yard mark in four of his last six games and has been equally dynamic on special teams — and it has earned him some Heisman Trophy recognition. Meanwhile, the Black Shirts are coming off of a defensive performance in which they allowed 371 yards and six touchdowns on the ground to Ohio State. This is a huge test for both defenses — Nebraska is tops in the league in rushing, total and scoring offense — and the outcome will undoubtedly hinge on the Wildcats' ability to run the football.

5. Can Iowa's D maintain momentum against potential POY candidate Matt McGloin?
This is a sneaky good game between two teams that are unbeaten in Big Ten play. Iowa is trying to keep pace with their Legends Division brethren after two excellent defensive performances. The Hawkeyes have allowed 29 total points, less than 330 yards of total offense and picked off four passes in the last two games. And it has Kirk Ferentz back in the good graces of the fans and Iowa in the heart of the Big Ten race. Stopping potential Offensive Player of the Year Matt McGloin, however, will be a different beast than Max Shortell and Andrew Maxwell. McGloin has been exceptional and Bill O'Brien has this offense rolling along at levels unseen in Happy Valley since Michael Robinson was under center. The Nits signal caller has accounted for six touchdowns and no turnovers in two Big Ten wins, and should he play well, Penn State will win its fifth straight game.

6. Paul Bunyan's Axe up for grabs
The most-played rivalry in all of college football is the Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe between the Badgers and the Golden Gophers. Minnesota leads the all-time series 59-54-8 as these two prepare to meet for the 122nd time. The Badgers, however, have dominated their rivals from the Twin Cities with eight straight wins in the series, many of which have not even been competitive. The Gophers haven't had much luck in Madison either with their last win in Camp Randall Stadium coming way back in 1994. Wisconsin has gotten Montee Ball rolling of late — eight touchdowns in the last three games — and should have little trouble scoring on the Gophers. Look for Bret Bielema to continue to improve his team with another key win over its long-time rival.

7. Braxton Miller must to hold serve at home
Two weeks ago, Herbie was touting the Boilermakers as the team to beat in the Leaders Division on College Gameday. After two crushing and embarrassing losses to Michigan and Wisconsin, Purdue has become an afterthought in the race for the Big Ten title. With a trip to Ohio State this weekend, Danny Hope's team is in danger of becoming completely irrelevant. And that is precisely what Braxton Miller wants to do. The Buckeyes have a chance to become the only 8-0 team in the nation this weekend as Miller's Heisman candidacy continues to close on Geno Smith. Ohio State will lean on its running game and star quarterback to keep Purdue at arm's reach, stay unbeaten, exact some revenge and keep Miller on pace to land in New York at season's end.

8. Big Ten's final non-conference game provides opportunity
Indiana will play the league's final non-conference game on the road against Navy this weekend. The struggles of the Big Ten out of conference have been well documented and the Hoosiers have an opportunity to not only triple their win total from 2011 but end the league's difficult non-conference slate on a high note. The defense will have a tough time stopping Navy's triple-option attack but the Midshipmen won't be able to stop the league's No. 1 passing attack (313.0 ypg).

Week 8 Big Ten Predictions:

Week 8 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Purdue (+18) at Ohio St Ohio St, 42-28 Ohio St, 41-20 Ohio St, 38-17 Ohio St, 48-28
Minnesota (+18) at Wisconsin Wisconsin, 30-14 Wisconsin, 31-10 Wisconsin, 38-20 Wisconsin, 21-14
Nebraska (-6) at Northwestern Nebraska, 34-30 Nebraska, 27-21 Nebraska, 31-27 N'Western, 35-28
Michigan St (+10) at Michigan Michigan, 38-14 Michigan, 30-14 Michigan, 27-20 Michigan, 42-14
Indiana (+2.5) at Navy Indiana, 31-21 Indiana, 34-24 Indiana, 36-30 Indiana, 35-10
Penn St (+3) at Iowa Penn St, 20-17 Penn St, 21-20 Penn St, 24-20 Penn St, 24-14
Last Week: 4-1 3-2 4-1 3-2
Yearly Totals: 51-11 47-15 52-10 48-14

Bye Week: Illinois

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

ACC Week 8 Previews and Predictions
Big East Week 8 Previews and Predictions

Big 12 Week 8 Previews and Predictions

Pac-12 Week 8 Previews and Predictions

SEC Week 8 Previews and Predictions

College Football Week 8 Upset Predictions

Athlon's 2012 Bowl Projections

Ranking All College Football Teams 1-124

Teaser:
<p> Big Ten Week 8 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 - 06:06
All taxonomy terms: ACC, College Football, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac 12, SEC, Big East
Path: /college-football/college-footballs-top-25-games-watch-second-half
Body:

The first half of the college football season is over. Athlon Sports awarded midseason honors to those players and teams who surprised, disappointed and achieved the remarkable. But the heart of the college football season still lies ahead. Here are 25 games you won't want to miss in the second half.

1. Alabama at LSU (Nov. 3)
The top game in the preseason hasn’t lost any luster as these two SEC West powers continue their collision course. Alabama has been the No. 1 team in the nation since Week 1 and has a pair of Heisman candidates on offense to go with the nation's No. 1-rated defense. LSU has slipped up only once — at No. 2 Florida two weeks ago — but got back on track with a dominating defensive showing against South Carolina. It will be the third time these two will get together in the past 367 days. Buckle your chinstrap and get the ice packs ready for this SEC war.

2. Oregon at USC (Nov. 3)
The other Game of the Century this season is right on schedule as well. Much like LSU, USC has slipped up once already on the road against a quality opponent, but gets the No. 3-ranked Ducks at home. Unlike the SEC bout, however, these two will likely meet again in the Pac-12 title game as they are clearly the best two teams in the Pac-12. The offensive firepower on both sides is remarkable and this final score should be much like the 38-35 nail-bitter that took place in Eugene a year ago.

3. South Carolina at Florida (Oct. 20)
The Gamecocks offense looked rather average against LSU in Week 7 and will get just as tough a test in Week 8. Except this time, the SEC East championship could be on the line. Quarterback Jeff Driskel didn’t play in the five-point South Carolina win last season that featured a combined total of 203 passing yards. For Carolina, Marcus Lattimore didn’t suit up either. Both will be the focal points of their respective offenses in this SEC showdown.

4. Notre Dame at USC (Nov. 24)
Could a trip to the national championship game be on the line when these two historic rivals meet up in Los Angeles? It’s not that far-fetched if the Trojans can win the aforementioned showdown with Oregon. Southern Cal has won nine out of ten in this storied rivalry but that lone win for Notre Dame came under Brian Kelly the last time the Irish visited the Coliseum. Rich history, elite offense versus elite defense and a potential trip to the BCS title game on the line? Yes, please.

5. Notre Dame at Oklahoma (Oct. 27)
Believe it not, but these two college football powers have met a total of nine times, and only one of those games (1999) has taken place since since 1968. Notre Dame has won eight of the nine meetings, and the Fighting Irish are a perfect 4-0 in Norman, Okla. The Irish have their eyes on a national title for the first time in 25 years, but will have to clear two major hurdles to have any hopes of getting there. The first of which is this visit to play Bob Stoops on his own turf. Consider this: the OU head coach lost his first-ever home game to a ranked opponent back in Week 4.

6. Florida vs. Georgia (Oct. 27)
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party was a back and forth affair that ended with a Richard Samuel game-winning touchdown run with just over two minutes left last year. Mark Richt used fourth down gambles and a rushing defense that held Florida to minus-19 yards on the ground to earn only his third win over the Gators. Florida is 18-4 since 1990 in this game and should the Gators defeat South Carolina, it too could be a de facto SEC East championship game.

7. Michigan at Ohio State (Nov. 24)
The top rivalry in college football is back to being nationally relevant. Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer will make this battle one of the nation’s best every year. Ohio State could be 11-0 entering this game and Michigan could need a win to clinch the Legends Division. Denard Robinson got the Wolverines off the schneid last season with Michigan’s first win over that team from Ohio since 2003. Braxton Miller got baptized into this ongoing war last fall and he nearly pulled off the road upset. Fans can again expect greatness from two of the most electric quarterbacks in the nation.

8. Florida at Florida State (Nov. 24)
Florida-Tennessee had a 1990s feel to it back in Week 3 and this rivalry could feel the same way at season’s end. These two Sunshine powers could have a combined record of 21-1 when they get together, and a bid to the national title game could be on the line too. As far as the series itself, the Noles have dominated the last two meetings, winning by a combined score of 52-14, which put an end to the Gators' six-game winning streak from 2004-09. Will Muschamp hasn’t forgotten what took place the last time these two got together.

9. Oregon at Oregon State (Nov. 24)
This could be the best edition of The Civil War in the 118-year history of the Beaver State rivalry. Both teams have major tests before the final week of the regular season, but the Ducks might need a win on the road over Mike Riley’s much-improved defense to stay in the national title hunt. The Ducks have won four straight with relative ease in the series, but the Beavers are 5-2 in the last seven in Corvallis. Should the Beavers keep winning, however, more than just bragging rights could be hanging in the balance — like a Pac-12 North Division championship.

10. Kansas State at West Virginia (Oct. 20)
The luster has been dimmed slightly after the Mountaineers lost in Lubbock in Week 7. But make no mistake, the winner of the Big 12 championship will likely emerge from this contest with a victory. These two have only met twice, splitting a home-and-home series back in 1930 and 1931 — both of which took place in Morgantown. The Big 12 Coach of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year award are likely to be decided in this game as two of the top three current Heisman Trophy finalists will be on the field together.

11. Oklahoma at West Virginia (No. 17)
Sooners' first-ever trip to Morgantown could be a de facto Big 12 title game. 

12. Louisville at Rutgers (Nov. 29)
Both could enter final week of the season unbeaten with a BCS bowl hanging in the balance.

13. LSU at Texas A&M (Oct. 20)
Johnny Football will face nasty Bayou Bengal defensive front after record-setting first half.

14. Michigan at Nebraska (Oct. 27)
Classic showdown could determine who heads to Pasadena this New Year's.

15. Ohio State at Penn State (Oct. 27)
The Ineligible Bowl could feature the best two teams in the league.

16. Florida State at Virginia Tech (Nov. 8)
Likely the biggest game left in the ACC features nearly 13 feet and 500 pounds of quarterback.

17. West Virginia at Oklahoma State (Nov. 10)
Dana Holgorsen returns to his former employer with a big offense leading the way.

18. South Carolina at Clemson (Nov. 24)
Bitter rivalry has seen Gamecocks take control with three straight blowouts.

19. Florida State at Miami (Oct. 20)
This could be the best edition of this rivalry in three years.

20. Boise State at Nevada (Dec. 1)
Will likely determine the Mountain West Conference championship.

21. Ohio State at Wisconsin (Nov. 17)
A win gives Badgers' division crown much more weight. OSU is shooting for 12-0.

22. Virginia Tech at Miami (Nov. 1)
Does the winner of this game win the Coastal Division and play in the ACC title game?

23. Texas at Kansas State (Dec. 1)
The 'Cats have owned the 'Horns of late and Mack Brown could be fighting for his job.

24. Rutgers at Cincinnati (Nov. 17)
Rutgers' toughest road test in the Big East title round robin (with Louisville).

25. Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (Nov. 24)
Bedlam Series has revenge factor as game heads back to Norman.

Best of the Rest:

Oregon at Arizona State (Oct. 18)
Virginia Tech at Clemson (Oct. 20)
Cincinnati at Louisville (Oct. 26)
Mississippi State at Alabama (Oct. 27)
Arizona State at USC (Nov. 10)
Texas A&M at Alabama (Nov. 10)
Mississippi State at LSU (Nov. 10)
Oregon State at Stanford (Nov. 10)
Utah State at Louisiana Tech (Nov. 17)
Stanford at Oregon (Nov. 17)
NC State at Clemson (Nov. 17)
Ohio at Kent State (Nov. 23)

Rivalries with Extra Juice this Year:

Stanford at Cal (Oct. 20)
Alabama at Tennessee (Oct. 20)
NC State at North Carolina (Oct. 27)
USC at UCLA (Nov. 17)
Iowa at Michigan (Nov. 17)
Tennessee at Vanderbilt (Nov. 17)
Arizona State at Arizona (Nov. 23)
Mississippi State at Ole Miss (Nov. 24)
Auburn at Alabama (Nov. 24) 

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Athlon Sports College Football Midseason Awards
Three and Out: Week 7 Recap

ACC 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big Ten 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review

Big East 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review

Big 12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review

Pac-12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review

SEC 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review

Teaser:
<p> College Football's Top 25 Games to Watch of the Second Half</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 06:00
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-contenders-post-week-7
Body:

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

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

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

1. Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia (7 first-place votes)
Season Stats: 
195-259, 2,271 yards, 25 TD, 0 INT, 28 att., 71 yards, TD
His strangle hold on the Heisman Trophy took a major hit this weekend in the blowout loss to Texas Tech. Did he need to go unbeaten to win the award? No. But he opened the Heisman door for other names to close the gap after 275 yards and one touchdown against the Red Raiders. He still has yet to throw an interception and is leading the nation in passing efficiency (180.8) Next game: Kansas State

  Last Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. (1) Geno Smith QB W. Virginia 120/130 7 4 1 - 1 13/13
2. (2) Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 115/130 5 3 4 - 1 13/13
3. (3) Collin Klein QB Kansas St 103/130 - 5 5 2 - 13/13
4. (4) Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame 83/130 1 1 1 4 3 12/13
5. (16) Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M 60/130 - - - 1 5 13/13
6. (7) Matt Barkley QB USC 35/130 - - - 1 1 7/13
7. (6) De'Anthony Thomas AP Oregon 34/130 - - 1 3 - 6/13
8. (9) Kenjon Barner RB Oregon 26/130 - - - - 1 7/13
9. (8) A.J. McCarron QB Alabama 24/130 - - - - 1 6/13
10. (18) Barrett Jones OL Alabama 23/130 - - 1 1 - 4/13
11. (5) Marcus Lattimore RB S. Carolina 17/130 - - - - - 5/13
12. (10) Mike Gillislee RB Florida 15/130 - - - - - 5/13
13. (17) DeAndre Hopkins WR Clemson 13/130 - - - 1 - 3/13
14. (11) E.J. Manuel QB Florida St 10/130 - - - - - 4/13
15. (23) Denard Robinson QB Michigan 8/130 - - - - - 2/13
16. (12) Stedman Bailey WR W. Virginia 6/130 - - - - - 2/13
17. (ur) Giovanni Bernard RB N. Carolina 3/130 - - - - - 2/13
18. (13) Marqise Lee WR USC 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
19. (ur) Montee Ball RB Wisconsin 3/130 - - - - - 2/13
20. (24) Venric Mark RB N'Western 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
21. (16) Jadeveon Clowney DE S. Carolina 2/130 - - - - - 2/13
22. (ur) Nick Florence QB Baylor 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
23. (14) Tavon Austin WR W. Virginia 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
24. (ur) Seth Doege QB Texas Tech 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
25. (ur) Johnathan Franklin RB UCLA 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
26. (21) Aaron Murray QB Georgia 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
27. (22) Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 1/130 - - - - - 1/13

2. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State (5 first place votes)
Season Stats: 
96-159, 1,271 yards, 11 TD, 4 INT, 129 att., 912 yards, 9 TD
Miller continues to will his team to victory on a weekly basis. The sophomore rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown to go with 212 yards passing and two more scores in the air. He has accounted for 20 total touchdowns, is third in the Big Ten in rushing, second in total offense, third in passing efficiency and is the leader of one of two 7-0 teams in the nation (Ohio). Next Game: Purdue

3. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State
Season Stats:
 79-118, 1,074 yards, 7 TD, 2 INT, 98 att., 510 yards, 10 TD
Klein led his team to another clutch hard-fought road conference win by rushing for 105 yards and three touchdowns in the 27-21 victory over Iowa State. He is fourth in the Big Ten in rushing and has 37 rushing touchdowns in the last season and a half. He is the epitome of toughness, heart and leadership. Next Game: at West Virginia

4. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame
Season Stats: 59 tackles, 2.0 TFL, 3 INT, FR, 3 PBU
The Fighting Irish defense has not allowed a touchdown since Week 2 against Purdue and is No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense (8.7 ppg). Te'o posted 11 total tackles in the physical showdown win over Stanford and was an integral part of the four-down goal-line stand to win the game. He leads the Irish in tackles at 9.83 per game. Next Game: BYU

5. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Season Stats: 128-190, 1,680 yards, 14 TD, 3 INT, 91 att., 676 yards, 10 TD
Johnny Football set an SEC single-game total offense record against Louisiana Tech with 577 total yards (395 passing, 181 rushing) and six total touchdowns in the wild win. He is now leading the SEC in rushing (112.7 ypg) and total offense (392.7 ypg) and has accounted for 24 touchdowns. He is the most exciting player in the league, but he has another big test coming this weekend against the Bayou Bengals. Next Week: LSU

6. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Season Stats: 121-193, 1,475 yards, 16 TD, 6 INT, 15 att., minus-65 yards
Next game: Colorado

7. De’Anthony Thomas, AP, Oregon
Season Stats: 41 att., 377 yds, 6 TD, 20 rec., 205 yds, 3 TD, 10 PR, 150 PR yds, 6 KR, 88 yds
Next Game: at Arizona State

8. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Season Stats: 116 att., 727 yards, 9 TD, 11 rec., 111 yards, TD
Next Game: at Arizona State

9. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Season Stats: 89-132, 1,170 yards, 12 TD, 0 INT, 23 att., minus- yards
Next Game: at Tennessee

10. Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama
Season Stats: 217.2 rush yards per game, 423.0 total yards per game, 40.5 points per game
Next Game: at Tennessee

by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related College Football Content

Three and Out: Week 7 Recap
ACC 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big East 
2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big Ten 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Big 12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
Pac-12 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review
SEC 2012 Second-Half Predictions and Midseason Review 

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Contenders: Post-Week 7</p>
Post date: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - 05:58
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-safeties
Body:

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

Today, we rank college football's best safeties prospects:

1. Eric Reid, LSU (6-2, 208, Jr.)
Reid posted a huge sophomore year that included an unbeaten regular season as key member on a defense ranked second to only Alabama. Among his statisical contributions were 76 tackles and two interceptions, including the game-changer against the Tide in Tuscaloosa. Reid should finish his junior season as the top safety on NFL Draft boards. He has a rare blend of size and speed, physicality and finesse, leadership and toughness. He can play a deep-high point coverage scheme and can be used off the blitz to create havoc in the opposing backfield. He may not be as complete a safety as Mark Barron, but he’s close. There are no weaknesses in his game.

2. TJ McDonald, USC (6-3, 205, Sr.)
The NFL pedigree for the USC Trojans' defensive captain is well documented. His father, Tim, was an All-American at USC before playing 13 seasons in the NFL, six of which resulted in Pro Bowl invitations. The younger McDonald is a heady player who uses tremendous intangibles and physical play to make his presence felt on defense. After three great years in SoCal, he is leading the team in tackles and is poised for his best statistical season in 2012. He has a big frame and plays an NFL brand of football.

3. Matt Elam, Florida (5-10, 206, Jr.)*
There aren’t many players who perform on the field with more intensity and physicality than Elam. He is a huge hitter who could easily be the most talented player at his position nationally if his hot temper didn’t set his team back from time to time. He is fast, strong and a fiery leader for a Gators defense that ranks among the best in the land.

4. Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma (5-10, 198, Jr.)
There aren’t many players who are as versatile and athletic at the back end than Jefferson. He has previously played a hybrid safety-linebacker role, has lined up in the slot in man-to-man coverage, and is now leading his team in tackles playing a more traditional safety position this season. He also plays in a league that claims arguably the most complex and successful passing attacks, so his knowledge of coverage schemes should be advanced. He isn’t one of the bigger safety prospects, but he could be the most athletic and versatile of the bunch.

5. Shawn Williams, Georgia (6-1, 217, Sr.)*
His teammate got most of the headlines last fall — and this summer — but Williams is the most consistent performer in the Georgia Bulldogs' secondary. He has a big frame and has played against the most physical offensive lines in the game over the last few seasons in the SEC. He plays a physical brand of football after learning under former NFL coordinator Todd Grantham. He has shown the ability to excel against both the pass and the run.

6. Kenny Vaccaro, Texas (6-1, 218, Sr.)*
The Longhorns' defense has struggled mightily in 2012 and it will likely hurt Vaccaro’s draft stock as the leader of that unit. He is excellent in the box against the run using his physical style to make big plays. Against some of the pass-happy Big 12 offenses, however, his skills in open space have been exposed somewhat. He is still a tremendous prospect, but may be limited against the high-flying NFL attacks that populate the next level.

7. Robert Lester, Alabama (6-2, 210, Sr.)*
The Bama defense, ranked No. 1 again this fall in scoring and total defense, hasn’t needed big plays from its back end this fall. But Lester has been the clear leader of the totally reworked Crimson Tide secondary. He has great size, has posted big numbers in the past (8 INT in 2010), has been coached by DB guru Nick Saban, and has two national championship rings. He isn’t Mark Barron, but he should be a solid NFL player.

8. Hakeem Smith, Louisville (6-1, 185, Jr.)
There is a lot to like about the junior from Louisville. He has been coached at an elite level by defensive specialist Charlie Strong on a team that could win the Big East championship with an unblemished record. He has speed, versatility and a frame that can handle more weight. Smith is a guy who could fly up draft boards once the meat market begins in February.

9. Bacarri Rambo, Georgia (6-0, 210, Sr.)
Rambo’s track record is loaded with highlight-reel hits, 13 career interceptions entering his final season, an SEC East title and multiple off-the-field incidents. Some of his issues are blown out of proportion but a track record of poor decisions will negatively affect his draft stock. He isn’t as fluid and versatile in open space, but he has an NFL frame and delivers NFL hits.

10. Brian Blechen, Utah (6-2, 218, Jr.)
Blechen has been a leader for the Utes for four years. As a freshman All-American and four-year starter, Blechen has experience in essentially every situation — battling for a Pac-12 South Division title, playing on a 10-win team and overcoming the shortcomings of a struggling offense. He may not have the elite physical tools of another versatile Utah safety (Eric Weddle), but he has great size and the ability to be dropped into the box. He is an intriguing middle-round prospect.  

Other Names to Watch:

11. Duke Williams, Nevada (6-1, 200, Sr.)
12. Bradley McDougald, Kansas (6-1, 210, Sr.)
13. Jamoris Slaughter, Notre Dame (6-0, 200, Sr.)*
14. CJ Barnett, Ohio State (6-0, 202, Jr.)
15. Shamarko Thomas, Syracuse (5-10, 210, Sr.)
16. Jarred Holley, Pitt (5-10, 190, Sr.)
17. John Boyett, Oregon (5-10, 205, Sr.)
18. DJ Swearinger, South Carolina (6-0, 210, Sr.)
19. Daimion Stafford, Nebraska (6-1, 205, Sr.)
20. Zeke Motta, Notre Dame (6-2, 215, Sr.)*
21. Jawanza Starling, USC (6-1, 200, Sr.)*
22. Rashad Hall, Clemson (6-1, 210, Sr.)
23. Micah Hyde, Iowa (6-1, 190, Sr.)
24. Jordan Kovacs, Michigan (6-0, 202, Sr.)* 
25. Drew Frey, Cincinnati (6-3, 212, Sr.)*

* - strong safety

- by Braden Gall

@bradengall

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

2013 NFL Draft: Running Backs

2013 NFL Draft: Tight Ends
2013 NFL Draft: Safeties

2013 NFL Draft: Defensive Tackles

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2013 NFL Draft: Offensive Tackles

2013 NFL Draft: Inside Linebackers

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Post date: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 05:50

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