Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-13-preview-and-predictions

Wisconsin is in and waiting for either Nebraska or Michigan in the Big Ten Championship game. Senior day will take place all across the Midwest, including what should be a very emotional day in Happy Valley. Michigan and Ohio State renew arguably the greatest rivalry in all of college football. And, oh by the way, the Big Ten is no longer at 12 teams as Maryland and Rutgers have officially been added to the league. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 13 Big Ten Predictions:

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

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<p> Big Ten Week 13 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 - 05:40
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-13-preview-and-predictions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 13 Pac-12 Predictions:

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

Bye Week: Cal

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

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:  Lead Writer ()
Jim Young:  ()
Blair Kerkhoff:  ()
Chris Level:  ()

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Big Ten Conference Timeline:

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

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

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

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

1912: Ohio State joins the league.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why the Maryland Terrapins makes sense:

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

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

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

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

The History of the Big Ten:

Special thanks to for the above image. Please help keep .

Big Ten Conference BCS Bowl History:

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

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

* - later vacated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post-Week 12 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

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

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

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


Post-Week 12 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

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

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

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

Post-Week 12 Coach of the Year Standings

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

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

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

Post-Week 12 Power Rankings

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

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

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

This week: at UCLA (9-2)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This week: at Colorado (1-10)

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

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

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

This week: Washington (7-4)

Related College Football Content

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

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

Post-Week 12 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

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

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

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

Post-Week 12 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

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

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

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

Post-Week 12 Coach of the Year Standings

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

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

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

Post-Week 12 Power Rankings

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

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

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

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

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

This week: Wisconsin (7-4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related College Football Content

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

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

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

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

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

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

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

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

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

2012 Trends Against the Spread:

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

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

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

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

Related College Football Content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Week 12 Pac-12 Predictions:

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

Bye: None

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

<p> Pac-12 Week 12 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 05:06
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-12-preview-and-predictions

There is very little left in the Big Ten to be determined. Nebraska shouldn't be tested by either Minnesota or Iowa, so their ticket is all but punched to the title game. Wisconsin already has their hotel reservations in Indianapolis. 

However, there are some quality games to be seen this weekend. There are two great games in East Lansing and Madison. And coaches could be fighting for their jobs at Purdue, Iowa and dare I say, Illinois? Still plenty left to watch in the Midwest.

Big Ten's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 12:

1. Can the Badgers' underrated defense stop Braxton Miller?
The Wisconsin Badgers are going to Indianapolis regardless of how the final two games turn out — two tough ones against Ohio State and Penn State. However, if the Badgers can defeat both, they will claim a 5-0 record in the Leaders Division, taking the bad taste of ineligibility out of Jim Delany’s mouth. Wisconsin is rated No. 1 in the Big Ten in rushing defense and is No. 2 in the league in scoring. They haven’t allowed more than 16 points in a game since a road loss to Nebraska back in Week 5. Braxton Miller on the other hand, is well rested and is the front-runner to win Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. His team has averaged 46.2 points per game in its last five contests. Something has to give.

2. Buckeyes' D-Line vs. Wisconsin’s O-Line
The Badgers have rediscovered their ground game, rushing for a school-record 564 yards in last week’s dominating performance. A far cry from the horrendous first month of the season that saw Bret Bielema make an offensive line coaching switch just a few games into the season. Ohio State, meanwhile, struggled early to stop people, but is also rounding into form. On the ground, it allowed 74 yards to Illinois, 32 to Penn State and 117 to Purdue in its last three games. It had the week off to prepare for the burly Badgers and should they slow Montee Ball and company, Wisconsin will be hard pressed to defeat the Buckeyes with Curt Philips or Danny O’Brien under center. 

3. Can Northwestern finally win a big game?
The Wildcats have seven wins this fall. A home win over Vanderbilt is the best win of the season. Against Michigan, Nebraska and Penn State, Pat Fitzgerald’s team held their own but couldn’t steal a win, despite holding a double-digit lead in all three games. They get one more crack at a legit Big Ten power in East Lansing this weekend. Michigan State has played improved football of late and should be riding a two-game winning streak if not for some late-game heroics by Taylor Martinez and a few bad calls from the refs. At home, one has to think the Spartans' talent edge wins out once again and leaves Coach Fitz wondering what if once again.

4. Over/Under: 100 rushing attempts in East Lansing
The key to the sneaky good game between Northwestern and Michigan State will obviously be the ground game. Northwestern runs the ball 46.1 times per game and has topped the 50 attempt mark four times this year. Michigan State totes the rock 36.7 times per game with star runner Le’Veon Bell ranking behind only Nevada’s Stefphon Jefferson in carries this season. Bell (283 carries, 1,249 yards, 10 TD) is leading the Big Ten in attempts and yards. Venric Mark (189 carries, 1,181, 10 TD) is No. 3 in carries and No. 3 in rushing. If either player gets to 30 carries, it could spell victory in a key bowl pecking order showdown in the Legends Division. I will take the over. 

5. Michigan seeks revenge over Iowa
The reeling Hawkeyes and embattled coach Kirk Ferentz have major issues to deal with in Iowa City. This program has essentially paid Ferentz $1 million per win this season and that simply won’t fly. One thing he has been able to do, however, is beat Michigan. He has won three straight over Michigan and was one of only two teams to defeat the Wolverines last season. You can bet that Denard Robinson on senior day in Ann Arbor won’t forget what has happened against the Hawkeyes during his time at Michigan. 

6. Will Rex Burkhead play on Senior Day?
Rex "Superman" Burkhead entered his final year in Lincoln as one of college football’s favorite sons. He is a hard worker who leads his team by example and can literally do anything on a football field. Well, a couple of knee issues have kept No. 22 off of the field for most of the year. He has played in only five games and has 47 total carries for 405 yards and three touchdowns. With Nebraska poised for a Big Ten title game and potential Rose Bowl, having Sexy Rexy healthy for the final two games of the year seems more important than a sure-fire win over Minnesota. But this is senior day in Lincoln and it would be a shame not see to Burkhead at least take the first snap and get the first carry, even if he takes a knee and trots off of the field with his head held high. We are rooting for you, Rex.

7. What to watch for in Happy Valley
There really isn’t much intrigue in the Indiana-Penn State game this weekend aside from the Hoosiers' far-fetched bowl dreams. There is no Senior Day to monitor or coaching rumors to speculate on. A miraculous road win over Penn State and then another road win over Purdue would actually get Indiana to a bowl game, but Penn State should roll and quietly earn its seventh win of the season. In and of itself, that is a great story for the Nittany Lion faithful who needed a quality season after having to deal with the last 12 months. If IU shows up like it did last weekend, this one will be in the books very early. 

8. Can Danny Hope keep his bowl hopes alive?
More importantly, can he keep his paychecks coming from Purdue University? Had his team not snatched victory from the jaws of defeat last weekend in Iowa, he might be staring at the unemployment line this winter. However, that vicotry has given Purdue new life as the final two games are very winnable. The Boilermakers face Illinois and Indiana to wrap up the year and two wins would get Hope’s team bowl eligible for the second straight season. If Robert Marve has more late-game heroics, it could save the coaching staff in West Lafayette. Otherwise, this is a tough game to get excited about.

Week 12 Big Ten Predictions:

Week 12 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Northwestern at Michigan St Michigan St, 27-24 Northwestern, 24-16 Michigan St, 27-24 Northwestern, 28-14
Indiana at Penn St Penn St, 31-20 Penn St, 37-27 Penn St, 34-24 Penn St, 35-14
Iowa at Michigan Michigan, 38-17 Michigan, 30-17 Michigan, 31-13 Michigan, 31-10
Ohio St at Wisconsin Ohio St, 27-17 Ohio St, 24-20 Ohio St, 27 Ohio St, 35-21
Purdue at Illinois Purdue, 24-14 Purdue, 28-14 Purdue, 24-20 Purdue, 17-10
Minnesota at Nebraska Nebraska, 41-20 Nebraska, 31-17 Nebraska, 34-17 Nebraska, 38-14
Last Week: 4-1 4-1 4-1 4-1
Yearly Totals: 69-15 65-19 70-14 65-19

Bye Week: None

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

<p> Big Ten Week 12 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 05:00
All taxonomy terms: Miami Marlins, MLB
Path: /mlb/miami-marlins-all-fire-sale-team

The Miami Marlins didn’t have a good first year. Even with a new stadium, a new name, new unis, it was still the same old Marlins as it related to on-field results. This week, the Marlins traded away every highly paid contributing member of their organization not named Giancarlo Stanton.

Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio and Josh Johnson were traded this week to Toronto (assuming MLB approval) for a disgruntled mediocre shortstop, two other Blue Jays and a host of talented prospects from their minor-league system.

This isn’t the first time, however, that the Marlins' front office has completely decimated its roster. At least, this time it happened for a reason — a 69-93 record in 2012. The two previous fire sales happened directly after winning World Series in 1997 and 2003.

The collection of bizarre and sometimes insane maneuvers has created a who’s who of traded Marlins. Here is Athlon Sports' Marlins' All-Fire Sale Team. And this list below doesn’t include two huge trades that also appeared to be give-ups: Miguel Cabrera, Dontrelle Willis to Detroit in 2007 and Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett and Guillermo Mota in 2006 to Boston. Or the give-up on Hanley Ramirez this mid-season that was really the only quality chip the Marlins got in return for Beckett, Lowell and Mota.

Note: To be included on this list the player must have been traded immediately after either the 1997 or 2003 World Series Championships or included in the ridiculous salary dump that took place this week.

The Marlins' All-Fire Sale Team:

C: Pudge Rodriguez
This Hall of Famer might be one of the greatest catchers to ever play the game and he was clearly the most important and most valuable player on the 2003 championship squad. He hit .297 with 16 homers, 85 RBIs, 90 runs scored and played in 144 games behind the plate. Other options at backstop include Charles Johnson, who started on the 1997 title team and was traded in May of 1998. This is also the team that traded away Mike Piazza after only five games in a Marlins uniform.

1B: Derrek Lee
After six years, 129 homers, 417 RBIs and an .822 OPS in South Florida, the Marlins got rid off one of the most underrated first basemen of his era. A tremendous athlete who also stole 51 bases in his Marlins career, Lee had an excellent glove at first and was one of the key cogs to the 2003 World Series run.

2B: Emilio Bonifacio
This speedster has dealt with injuries, but he has played all over the outfield and infield in South Florida. He hit .271 and stole 103 bases in four seasons with the Marlins and had his best season in the majors in 2011.

3B: Jeff Conine
In his first stint with the Marlins, Conine hit .291 with 98 homers and 422 RBIs in five seasons yet was discharged following the 1997 championship. He eventually returned to South Beach and has become a strange staple of the franchise (he actually played 25 games in 2003 as well). Bobby Bonilla was also traded shortly after the 1997 title in the Charles Johnson, Gary Sheffield trade. Miguel Cabrera was also sent packing but it came four years after the 2003 World Series in which he played as a 20-year old.

SS: Jose Reyes
The $106-million man had a solid first season in Miami. He hit .287 with 40 stolen bases, 86 runs scored, 60 extra-base hits and led the league in plate appearances (716). I guess they learned enough in year one of a six-year deal to send him packing.

OF: Moises Alou
The batting glove-less Alou is a career .303 hitter in over 7,000 at-bats. He played for one year for the Marlins during their World Series run in 1997, hitting .292 with 23 homers and 115 RBIs. He played in Houston the next four seasons.

OF: Gary Sheffield
Okay, this one was shoe-horned a bit since he didn’t technically get traded until May. This guy has 509 career dingers and a career .292 batting average and he went on to play a decade more of baseball in Los Angeles, New York (both teams) and Detroit.

OF: Devon White
He certainly wasn’t the superstar centerfielder he was when Toronto won its back-to-back World Series titles, but he was still a very productive member of the Marlins for two seasons. He had a great glove in center and produced 23 bombs, 35 stolen bases and 110 runs scored in less than 800 at-bats in two seasons for the Marlins. He played four more years for three more teams after departing South Beach.

SP: Josh Johnson
Certainly, injuries have plagued the young phenom’s upside all his career. But when healthy, there have been few pitchers as dominant as Jo-Jo. He led the NL in ERA (2.30) in 2010 and boasts a career 3.15 ERA in 916.2 career innings pitched. He is 56-37 as a starter on some bad Marlins teams and should he stay healthy, could become an ace once again in the AL East.

SP: Kevin Brown
The six-time All-Star led the league in ERA in 1996 (1.89) and 2000 (2.58) and has always been considered one of the nastier pitchers of his era. He went 16-8 with a 2.69 ERA in 237.1 innings in 1997 as the ace of the Marlins' championship staff. He pitched eight more seasons in the bigs for the Padres, Dodgers and Yankees.

SP: Al Leiter
The 19-year vet helped take multiple franchises to the World Series including his championship run with the Marlins in 1997. He then landed as a Met and served as the ace for them — going 46-26 in three years following his departure from Miami. 

SP: Mark Buehrle
After 12 dependable and championship-caliber seasons in Chicago as a White Sox, Mr. Consistent signed a big contract with Miami. He won 13 games with a 3.74 ERA in over 200 innings pitched. What more do you want from a No. 2? Not enough to justify the money at 34 years of age obviously.

RP: Robb Nen
Nen was the shutdown closer the Marlins used to help win the 1997 championship. He saved 35 games, struck out 81 batters in 74.0 innings and went 9-3 overall. He went on to save at least 40 games in four of his last five seasons — all with the Giants immediately following the 1997 World Series.

- By Braden Gall

<p> The Florida/Miami Marlins have made a habit of trading away all of their good players.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 14:28
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-contenders-post-week-11

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:  Lead Writer ()
Jim Young:  ()
Blair Kerkhoff:  ()
Chris Level:  ()

1. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State (11 first place votes)
 145-208, 2,020 yards, 12 TD, 3 INT, 154 att., 748 yards, 19 TD
Klein dealt with some adversity from the Horned Frogs defensive line this weekend but still led KSU to victory. He rushed for two key touchdowns and still is the Big 12's most efficient passer with a rating of 167.44. The rest of the field is gaining ever so slightly on CK7, but should he defeat Baylor and Texas, the award will be his — which would be Kansas State's first Heisman Trophy. Next Game: at Baylor

  Last Name Pos. Team Tot. Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. (1) Collin Klein QB Kansas St 128/130 11 2 - - - 13/13
2. (5) Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M 106/130 1 5 3 3 1 13/13
3. (3) Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame 91/130 1 2 2 4 2 13/13
4. (2) Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 87/130 - 4 2 1 - 13/13
5. (7) Marcus Mariota QB Oregon 84/130 - - 4 3 2 13/13
6. (8) Marqise Lee WR USC 66/130 - - 1 - 4 13/13
7. (4) Kenjon Barner RB Oregon 65/130 - - 1 2 4 12/13
8. (5) A.J. McCarron QB Alabama 17/130 - - - - - 5/13
9. (9) Giovani Bernard RB N. Carolina 16/130 - - - - - 6/13
10. (13) Tajh Boyd QB Clemson 11/130 - - - - - 5/13
11t. (ur) Ka'Deem Carey RB Arizona 9/130 - - - - - 3/13
11t. (15) Aaron Murray QB Georgia 9/130 - - - - - 6/13
13. (18) Jordan Lynch QB N. Illinois 6/130 - - - - - 3/13
14. (ur) Jarvis Jones LB Georgia 5/130 - - - - - 4/13
15t. (18) Taylor Martinez QB Nebraska 4/130 - - - - - 2/13
15t. (10) Geno Smith QB W. Virginia 4/130 - - - - - 2/13
17. (16) DeAndre Hopkins WR Clemson 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
18. (16) Damontre Moore DE Texas A&M 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
20t. (10) Matt Barkley QB USC 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
20t. (14) Barrett Jones OL Alabama 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M (1 first place vote)
Stats: 227-336, 2,780 yards, 18 TD, 6 INT, 156 att., 1,014 yards, 15 TD
Few players have ever had a game like Manziel did on Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. He completed 24-of-31 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns through the air while rushing for 92 yards on 18 carries. He made clutch throw after clutch throw on the road in arguably the most hostile environment in all of college football. And he may have single-handedly changed the complexion of the national championship race. 
Next Week: Sam Houston State
3. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame (1 first place vote)
Stats: 92 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 6 INT, 1.5 sack, FR, 4 PBU
Te'o intercepted his sixth pass of the season and posted five total tackles in the easy road win over Boston College. He trails only Fresno State's Phillip Thomas for the national lead in INTs (8). Te'o is all but assured a spot in New York, but can a defensive player win the prestigious stiff-armed trophy? It would be only the second time in history that has happened, but beating Wake Forest and USC to give ND its first unbeaten season since 1988, would give him as good a chance as anyone else. Next Game: Wake Forest

4. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
124-218, 1,753 yards, 14 TD, 6 INT, 184 att., 1,166 yards, 13 TD
It isn't exactly fair that Miller drops two spots in the Heisman voting just because he didn't play. He has been the Big Ten's Offensive Player of the Year and will finish his sophomore season with a road trip to Wisconsin and a home test against the hated Michigan Wolverines. There is still plenty of heavy lifting left for a quarterback who could finish unbeaten himself this fall. Next Game: at Wisconsin
5. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
153-217, 1,787 yards, 22 TD, 5 INT, 72 att., 474 yards, 3 TD
When the Golden Bears loaded up to stop Kenjon Barner (and actually injured the star tailback) and Chip Kelly turned to his redshirt freshman quarterback. Mariota answered the bell with 377 yards passing, 42 yards rushing and six passing touchdowns. He is now the leading the nation in passing efficiency (176.96), has accounted for 31 touchdowns for the best offense in the nation and has his team poised for a berth in the national title game. And he's done it without playing in many second halves all year. Next Game: Stanford

6. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Stats: 98 rec., 1,447 yards, 13 TD, 23 KR, 677 yards, TD, 110 yards rushing 
Next Game: at UCLA

7. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Stats: 199 att., 1,360 yards, 19 TD, 18 rec., 219 yards, TD
Next Game: Stanford
8. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Stats: 157-238, 2,158 yards, 20 TD, 2 INT, 39 att., minus-43 yards rushing, TD
Next Game: Western Carolina

9. Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
Stats: 142 att., 1,008 yards, 11 TD, 38 rec., 411 yards, 4 TD, 14 PR, 251 yards, 2 TD 
Next Game: at Virginia

10. Tajh Boyd, QB, Clemson
Stats: 210-309, 2,941 yards, 28 TD, 9 INT, 122 att., 363 yards, 5 TD
Next game: Arizona State

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Contenders: Post-Week 11</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 - 05:00
All taxonomy terms: Overtime, News
Path: /overtime/top-20-national-sports-talk-radio-shows

Much like music or movies, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder when it comes to analyzing sports talk radio. As someone who was raised listening to sports talk all over the country and going to sporting events all over this great nation (thanks Dad), the radio dial was entrenched into my soul at a young age.

Then I took it to another level by taking my first job out of college working for Sirius Satellite Radio on Rivals Radio as a morning show producer. Needless to say, sports talk radio is ingrained in my DNA and is a part of who I am today. As a sports writer and radio host for nearly 10 years, I feel uniquely qualified to cast my ballot in this election, so here is my personal ranking of the best national sports talk radio programs. 

And there is little competition for the top slot in my opinion:

1. The Dan Patrick Show
Who/When: Dan Patrick and the Dannettes, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. ET
Network: Fox Sports Radio Network, DirecTV Sports Group
There is one show and one man who stand above the rest when it comes to national sports talk radio. No one cares more about his audience, conducts better interviews, has more fun and does it with the better guests on tricked out sets at sick on-site locations. Dan and his band of merry Dannettes have redefined how sports fans consume sports talk radio programming. Be it gorgeous in-studio appearances by super models, a good-natured rivalry with ESPN, multiple man caves and an innovative HD TV simulcast, fans get the most in-depth, insightful and entertaining sports programming ever created. You can watch on the DirecTV's Audience Network and on NBC Sports Network.

2. Mike and Mike in the Morning
Who/When: Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, 6-10 a.m. ET
Network: ESPN Radio
Few shows have more power and backing than M&M In the Morning. They are consummate professionals who are as polished a radio duo as we have ever seen in the business. The show can be a bit cheesy at times but that is who they are, they embrace it and it works. Guest lists are huge, radio bits are masterfully produced and ESPN’s backing means this program has more built-in resources than any other program on the airwaves. Be prepared to be inundated with sponsors and ads, but that comes with the lofty ratings territory enjoy.

3. The Doug Gottlieb Show
Who/When: Doug Gottlieb, 3-6 p.m. ET
Network: CBS Sports Radio
Sharp, quippy and eager to lock opinions with any and all comers, Gottlieb brings a smart intellect and astute ability to craft an opinion to the CBS Sports Radio family. He played basketball at Notre Dame and Oklahoma State before getting started in the media for ESPN. Many athletes are smart, funny and hard-working enough to develop into excellent radio co-hosts, but few can do a solo show as the host like Gottlieb. Hosting and co-hosting are two totally different skill sets. If you want NCAA basketball information and conversation, there might not be a better place to turn than .

4. The SiriusXM Blitz
Who/When: Adam Schein and Rich Gannon, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. ET
Network: SiriusXM NFL Radio Ch. 88
You may not love Adam Schein’s voice all the time, but his radio program is gold. Super Bowl quarterback Rich Gannon and the long-time New York-based broadcaster bring a level of insight and information to the NFL arena like nowhere else on the radio dial. has worked for WFAN and Fox Sports before starting his gig on SiriusXM as well as his nightly SNY television program "Loud Mouths" with Chris Carlin at 6 p.m. ET. If you want exclusive NFL sports talk radio, there is no better place to tune than SiriusXM Channel 88 from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. ET every day.

5. SVP and Russillo
Who/When: Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo, 1-4 p.m. ET
Network: ESPN Radio
Scott Van Pelt is following in many classic SportsCenter anchors' footsteps in going from the TV set to the radio booth. He is extremely fair, balanced, willing to listen and generally entertaining. SVP added co-host Ryen Russillo in May of 2009. adds his own flair to the show after working in the northeast for most of his career. 's love of college sports (and the Maryland Terrapins) makes this one popular amongst the collegiate faithful out there. There are some hilarious bits like “Carl’s Stone Cold Lock of the Century of the Week” from famous "Aqua Team Hunger Force" cartoon character Carl. This is a reasonable, thoughtful and entertaining program and can be followed at .

6. 247 Sports Radio On Campus
Who/When: Bill King, 6-9 a.m. ET
Network: SiriusXM College Sports Nation Ch. 91
The VOX of College Sports, has forgotten more about college football than every other host on this list have ever known… combined. His depth of knowledge has been built over two decades in the radio business, headquartered in the heart of the Southeast in Nashville, Tenn. He was a heavy-hitter in the national football recruiting business long before the Internet made star rankings chic. King is armed with a deep and often hilarious vocabulary and the ability to form unwavering and rational opinions about the sport he so clearly loves. If you are a college football fan, this is easily the best show on the airwaves. Don’t expect to be overwhelmed with cheesy gimmicks or promotional bits, as this is a no-frills program. And unlike many national shows, expect to have your voice heard as phone calls are part of King’s plan.

7. The Steve Czaban Show
Who/When: Steve Czaban, 6-10 a.m. ET
Network: Yahoo! Sports Radio
A two-decade mainstay in sports talk radio, has worked in Santa Barbara, Chicago, Milwaukee, Charlotte, D.C. and for Fox Sports Radio, Sporting News and ESPN Radio. When Yahoo! Sports Radio took over Sporting News, Czaban was tabbed as the morning drivetime host of choice. Various bits like The Daily Czabe, Mancrush, Lock It Up have kept the Round Hill, Va., native in the business for nearly 20 years.

8. The Tim Brando Show
Who/When: Tim Brando, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. ET
Network: Yahoo! Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio
If you can handle the ocassional pomp and circumstance, show is one of the nation’s best for a couple of reasons. First, he cares. His love of sports, college football in particular, comes through in every segment he does. His long tenure in national broadcasting with ESPN, Turner Sports, Fox Sports Net and CBS Sports gives him a unique and historic perspective on all sports.

9. The Jim Rome Show
Who/When: Jim Rome, 12-3 p.m. ET
Network: CBS Sports Radio and Premiere Radio Network
Few people have ever had the clout, ratings and compensation that boasts in this business. However, he has done so appealing to the lowest common denominator. There is rarely any middle ground with Rome, as fans either hate his overplayed shtick or crave his extremely popular bits like the infamous Smack-off. Few people are as powerful in sports as Rome. But his radio show isn’t for everyone.

10. The Nick and Artie Show
Who/When: Artie Lange and Nick DiPaolo, 10 p.m.-1 a.m. ET
Network: Premiere Radio Network, DirecTV Sports Group
This program easily has the least amount of sports content, but it is no less entertaining. DiPaolo and Lange aren’t professional radio hosts, but they are both elite level entertainers, comedians and guy’s guys. Gorgeous women, music, comedy and a killer TV simulcast on DirecTV’s Audience Network have quickly made a late night gem.

11. Colin Cowherd, ESPN Radio, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. ET
Extremely thoughtful and well-spoken host who makes a living stirring the pot.

12. Mad Dog Unleashed (Chris Russo), SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio Ch. 86, 2-7 p.m. ET
Former NYC radio star has moved his powerful rants to the satellite airwaves.

13. Inside Pitch (Casey Stern, Jim Bowden), SiriusXM MLB Network Radio Ch. 89, 2-6 p.m. ET
Longtime journalist and MLB GM take calls, break news and analyze America's pastime.

14. The Morning Drive (Mike Bagley, Pete Pistone), SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90, 7-11 a.m. ET
Entertaining, lively and extremely well-informed. If you like racing, this show needs to be on your dial.

15. Paul Finebaum, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, College Sports Nation Ch. 91, 2-7 p.m. ET
If you enjoy rival fans lobbing hate-filled rants at each other, tune in. Otherwise, be careful.

Others to note:

Loose Cannons (Pat O’Brien, Vic Jacobs, Steve Hartman), Fox Sports Radio, 3-7 p.m. ET

Travis Rodgers NOW, Yahoo! Sports Radio, 1-4 p.m. ET

The John Kincade Show, ESPN Radio, 7-10 p.m. ET

The John Feinstein Show, CBS Sports Radio, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. ET

Ferrall On the Bench (Scott Ferrall), CBS Sports Radio, 10 p.m.-2 p.m. ET

Movin The Chains (Pat Kirwan, Tim Ryan), SiriusXM NFL Radio Ch. 88, 3-7 p.m. ET

— By Braden Gall

<p> Top 15 National Sports Talk Radio Shows</p>
Post date: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 13:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-outside-linebackers

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 outside linebacker prospects:

1. Jarvis Jones, Georgia (6-2, 240, Jr.)
The star Bulldog defender isn't a true outside linebacker in the 4-3 sense, but he is undoubtedly one of the most talented pass rushers in the nation. He is a perfect fit in the 3-4 as a hybrid James Harrison-type of player. He is a tenacious (just pop in the tape of the Missouri or Florida games from 2012) blitz backer who can play in space if need be. He isn't as big as some other hybrids of recent memory, but he makes up for it with elite level quickness and explosion. He can't really "grow" into a 4-3 defensive end and his strengths aren't suited for the traditional 4-3 OLB either, but his skill set is perfect for the outside 3-4 backer that is used off of the edge to make plays. If he can prove the health issues aren't reoccurring, he is a surefire starter in year one at the professional level. He posted back-to-back double-digit sack totals and led the nation in QB takedowns as only a sophomore.

2. CJ Mosley, Alabama (6-2, 230, Jr.)
Mosley is a traditional 4-3 outside backer who could really play anywhere in the linebacking corps — and in any system. Bama runs a 3-4 but is lined-up in a traditional 4-3 more than usual, so Mosley has experience in any scheme. He is quick, powerful, extremely well coached and has competed at the highest level, winning a national championship as a junior. Athlon Sports rated him as the No. 5 inside linebacker, so the movement on his stock should be intriguing as scouts decide where they like him best. Simply put, he makes plays. Constantly. 

3. Arthur Brown, Kansas State (6-1, 228, Sr.)
Some have Brown listed inside at middle linebacker, but he may not have the size to stick at the position. He does, however, have the instincts and pedigree to be successful at the next level. It took him a while to get started after transferring from Miami (Fla.) back home to Kansas State, where he has developed into a star on a team that has competed for league championships the two seasons Brown has started. He is a tremendous all-around athlete and competitor who, with a few extra pounds of strength, should be a lights-out defender on the next level. He could have entered the draft last year, but as KSU keeps winning, his stock continues to improve. 

4. Chase Thomas, Stanford (6-4, 250, Sr.)
When star middle linebacker Shayne Skov was lost for the season in 2011, it was Thomas who stepped in and became the centerpiece of the Cardinal defense. He constantly plays behind the line of scrimmage and has a huge, powerful frame. He has excelled in the traditional 4-3 outside position in college, but his size and instincts give him Clay Matthews-type of skills. He is a fundamentally sound athlete who rarely is out of position and has little downside after roughly 50 tackles for loss and over 23 sacks in his college career. All of that on the most physical, stingiest defensive front West of the Mississippi — one that has won a ton of games.

5. Khaseem Greene, Rutgers (6-1, 230, Sr.)
Stable. Athletic. Fast. Dependable. And in the modern NFL world of speed and passing attacks, Greene's speed and athleticism make him an intriguing upside prospect. He played safety in his first two seasons and, after some added bulk, he shifted closer to the line of scrimmage to get his play-making talents around the football. He played on the league's top defense and if Greg Schiano wasn't already loaded with young linebackers, he wouldn't pass on the tackler he recruited and coached at Rutgers.

6. Anthony Barr, UCLA (6-4, 235, Jr.)
This is a talented upside prospect whose stock is going skyrocket during the offseason and in combine workouts. He is a freakish size and speed combination who could have been used at half a dozen positions at UCLA. He settled in as one of the Pac-12 most explosive pass rushers. He is more of a project and will likely need to develop, but his raw athletic ability is obvious. He is currently a hybrid 3-4 outside backer but Barr has the frame to potentially grow into a more traditional 4-3 end should the need arise. 

7. Sean Porter, Texas A&M (6-2, 230, Sr.)
Von Miller Porter is not. But he did have an excellent junior season filling the pass-rushing void left by Miller's departure. However, the Aggies shifted to a 4-3 under a new coaching staff and Porter was shifted into a more traditional 4-3 outside role. He simply isn't asked to rush the passer at all. Scouts will have to decide if his position experience is a good thing (meaning versatility) or a bad thing (limited to one thing). He has plenty of talent, but only time will tell how his position shift impacted his draft stock.

8. Trent Murphy, Stanford (6-6, 246, Jr.)
The first thing scouts will notice about Murphy is his raw size. He easily could develop into a defensive end should he exhibit the sturdiness needed to play against the run at the NFL level. His size allows him to project to multiple positions in multiple fronts and, should he test well at the combine, his stock could see significant growth. His defenses have been incredible at Stanford and his teams simply win. That said, he has been just a part of a loaded Stanford front that could feature at least two other NFL picks in the front seven.

9. Gerald Hodges, Penn State (6-2, 240, Sr.)
The Penn State tackler might be the last elite outside linebacker prospect. Hodges has defined the traditional outside linebacker position on a traditional 4-3 defense. He has excellent athletic ability and has been successful in all phases of the game — blitzing the passer, playing physical and disciplined against the run, and fluid and quick in space. Some added bulk and strength would push him up draft boards fairly quickly.

10. Jamie Collins, Southern Miss (6-3, 240, Sr.)
The undersized defensive end has been stellar in his time at Southern Miss to the point of being unblockable as a senior this fall. He is incredibly disruptive and constantly is playing behind enemy lines in the backfield, including on special teams. He likely won't be thought of as a true defensive end and instead could be destined for the hybrid role on the outside of a 3-4 scheme. He will have to overcome the level of competition criticism as Conference USA offensive tackles aren't exactly a proving ground of NFL talent. Does he have the athleticism to make the speed and position transition at the next level?

11. Travis Long, Washington State (6-4, 245, Sr.)
Hybrid rush end has been productive in the face of major locker room issues.

12. Jelani Jenkins, Florida (6-0, 238, Jr.)
Must display tremendous heart, toughness and physicality to play at his size. Tremendous athlete though.

13. Kyle Van Noy, BYU (6-3, 235, Jr.)
Dependable, physical, well-coached player who has little downside.

14. Jonathan Brown, Illinois (6-1, 235, Jr.)
Rated as the No. 11 inside linebacker, as he has seen his stock slip on a bad team.

15. Zavier Gooden, Missouri (6-2, 230, Sr.)
Freaky athlete who is extremely developed physically. Will be watched closely.

16. Travardo Williams, UConn (6-1, 235, Sr.)
17. Khalil Mack, Buffalo (6-3, 345, Jr.)
18. Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech (6-2, 240, Jr.)
19. Mike Taylor, Wisconsin (6-2, 225, Sr.)
20. James Morris, Iowa (6-2, 230, Sr.)
21. Cameron Lawrence, Mississippi State (6-2, 230, Sr.)
22. Jake Knott, Iowa State (6-2, 240, Sr.)
23. Alonzo Highsmith, Arkansas (6-0, 235, Sr.)
24. Cornelius Washington, Georgia (6-4, 265, Sr.)
25. DeVonte Holloman, South Carolina (6-2, 240, Sr.)

- by Braden Gall

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Outside Linebackers</p>
Post date: Tuesday, November 13, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /nfl/8-amazing-stats-nfl-sunday-week-10

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 10 of NFL play:

37.9: Jay Cutler's NFL-worst first quarter QB rating
First of all, on a day dedicated to the countless servicemen and women who have fought and died for our personal freedoms, it is appropriate that Chicago and Houston — a combined 15-3 overall this year — did battle at Soldier Field. The Sunday night showdown came 86 years to the day from the time the Bears played their first game at Soldier Field. It could not have been an enjoyable experience for the Bears fans, however. On a cold and very wet evening in the Windy City, Jay Cutler threw another first quarter interception before leaving the game at halftime with a head injury. Unfortunately, his NFL-best fourth quarter QB rating of 135.0 was never put into use and the Bears lost for only the second time this fall. The Bears now have to travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers. It is the beginning of a tricky second half of the schedule and Cutler needs to be on the field if the Bears are to hold off the charging Packers.

28-7: Cowboys outscored the Eagles over the final 15 minutes
Dallas was trailing 17-10 to Philadelphia when Tony Romo hit a diving Dez Bryant in the end zone on the final play of the third quarter. The 30-yard scoring strike tied the game. The Cowboys scored 1:25 later when Dwayne Harris returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown. One minute later, Brandon Carr returned a Nick Foles interception — who took the place of a concussed Michael Vick — 47 yards for a touchdown. Then after Phily scored to cut the lead to 31-23, the Cowboys scored another defensive touchdown when it recovered a Foles fumble in the end zone. The Eagles allowed 10 points and had a lead after 44 minutes of play before crumbling in the final frame. Andy Reid's fate might have been sealed in that fourth-quarter collapse, marking the first five-game losing streak Reid has had as the head coach in Philadelphia.

22: Games the Dolphins went without allowing a 100-yard rusher
The Titans Chris Johnson rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown in the surprising rout over Miami. The Dolphins entered the game boasting the NFL's longest active streak without allowing an opposing player to rush for more than 100 yards. The Tennessee defense, which was on pace to break the all-time points allowed record, was excellent against rookie passer Ryan Tannehill. The Titans allowed three points and forced three Tannehill interceptions. The Green Bay Packers now boast the longest active streak without allowing a 100-yard rusher at eight games.

11-0: The Patriots record against Buffalo at Gillette Stadium
New England has yet to lose at home to their division rival from Buffalo since Gillette Stadium opened in 2002. The Patriots were tested more than most of the previous 10 meetings as the Bills racked up a team-record 35 first downs. It was also the most first downs a Pats team has ever allowed as well. Bill Belichick's defense surrendered 481 yards and 31 points in what has to be a concerning performance from the AFC East leaders. 

Nov. 16, 2008: The last time an NFL game ended in a tie
The Rams and 49ers played 75 minutes on Sunday and determined absolutely nothing. For the first time in four years (Philadelphia-Cincinnati, 2008), NFL fans will wake up in the morning and check the divisional standings and see that mysterious third number in the Win-Loss column. Alex Smith was lost to a concussion and Colin Kaepernick played well in the second half to keep San Francisco in control of the division. The tie could play a huge role since it was a division game and will keep the West from ending up in a tie. The status of Smith will be a huge story to follow this week.

147: Yards the Bucs were outgained by the Chargers
The San Diego Chargers moved up and down the field against Tampa Bay on Sunday, outgaining the home team 426 to 279. The Bucs had just 12 first downs, 23:19 time of possession, converted on only three (of nine) third downs and averaged 3.4 yards per carry on the ground. Yet, the Bucs still managed to score 34 points and win the game for first-year head coach Greg Schiano. Tampa Bay has won three straight games and is now 5-4 and smack dab in the middle of the NFC Wild Card hunt. Frankly, with all four losses coming within one possession, this team could easily have six or seven wins. 

101: Career TD catches for Tony Gonzalez
I already wrote about the greatness of Tony-G back when he played his final game in Arrowhead Stadium earlier in the season. Yet, even after missing only two contests in his extraordinary 247-game career, he continues to produce at an elite level — he caught 11 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday. He passed Cris Carter for eighth all-time in NFL history with 13,955 yards and should pass James Lofton next week for 7th place. His 1,210 receptions rank behind only Jerry Rice all-time. And his 101st career receiving touchdown moved him into sole possession of sixth place all-time. He is a once-in-a-lifetime talent who fans need to enjoy for however much longer the tight end decides to play. More importantly, he has done it with class and grace the entire way. It's hard not to root for a guy like this to reach the Super Bowl, and on this Falcons team, he'll have as good a chance as ever before.

9-0: Home team's record in all-time series between Giants and Bengals
The Giants and Bengals have met nine total times in the long history of the two franchises. And the home team has won every game. The Giants entered the weekend on cruise control and in position to put a strangle-hold on the NFC East. Yet, despite outgaining the Bengals, Tom Coughlin's bunch never really looked competitive. Andy Dalton completed 70 percent of his passes and threw four touchdowns while not taking a sack or throwing an interception. The Cincy defense sacked Eli Manning four times and forced four Giants turnovers in the alarming win.

- by Braden Gall

<p> 8 Amazing Stats from NFL Sunday: Week 10</p>
Post date: Monday, November 12, 2012 - 11:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-post-week-11-power-rankings

What a last few weeks it should be out West. UCLA and USC will square off this weekend with a trip to the Pac-12 championship game on the line. Oregon now has to face possibly its toughest two opponents of the season with Stanford and Oregon State to finish the year. Jeff Tedford is hanging by a thread in Berkeley. And all chaos is breaking out in Pullman. Put on your seat belts Pac-12 fans, it's going to be a wild ride these last three weeks — and it could end with the Oregon Ducks heading to its second national championship game in three seasons.

Post-Week 11 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

Marcus Mariota1. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon - Is 377 yards and 6 TD any good? Mariota now leads the nation in passing efficiency on what is the nation's best offense. He is clearly the most important Oregon Duck.

2. Matt Barkley, QB, USC - USC won a key game with another three Matt Barkley touchdown passes. This team now faces UCLA for the Pac-12 South title.

3. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon 
- Barner did very little to follow up his monster showing against USC last week. But he wasn't needed all that much. Which is good considering he dealt with a small hand/wrist injury early in the game. He returned and finished with 65 yards on 20 carries and no touchdowns.

Post-Week 11 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Chase Thomas, LB, Stanford - He only posted a pair of tackles but he gets bumped to the top slot because his defense stymied the Beavers for the final 20 minutes of play and since his team won the key swing game, Thomas gets the nod over Jordan Poyer.

2. Jordan Poyer, CB, Oregon State - The Beavers' top defender made five total stops including one for a loss and returned a couple of punts in the crushing road loss to Stanford. 

3. Anthony Barr, DL, UCLA - The Bruins' star defensive lineman had a huge game on the road against Washington State. He made eight total tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and blocked a kick in the win. He now is leading the league in sacks (11.0) and TFL (17.0). 

Post-Week 11 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Chip Kelly, Oregon - The Ducks rolled to another huge win with another huge offensive number. This is the best offense in the country.

2. Mike Riley, Oregon State - The Beavers are running out of steam and have quarterback issues, but the job he has done this year has been nothing short of remarkable.

3. Jim Mora, UCLA  - If he can somehow close the 50-point gap between his program and the Trojans that existed last year, he may shoot to the top of this list. 

Post-Week 11 Power Rankings

1. Oregon (10-0, 7-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 11 result: Beat Cal 59-17
Marcus Mariota was brilliant for the Ducks as Oregon won for the 28th time in 29 tries in Pac-12 play. The freshman quarterback completed 27-of-34 passes for 377 yards and six touchdowns as Cal set up to stop the run all game (holding Kenjon Barner in check).  The Ducks are leading the nation at 54.8 points per game on offense and set an NCAA record by scoring at least 30 points for the 23rd consecutive game. The second season in Oregon now begins in earnest with Stanford, Oregon State, a potential Pac-12 title game with either UCLA or USC and possibly a trip to Miami Gardens left on the slate. There is no chance the Ducks get left out of the national title game if they finish 13-0. 
This week: Stanford (8-2)

2. Stanford (8-2, 6-1)
Previous rank: 

Week 11 result:
 Beat Oregon State 27-23
Kevin Hogan led his team from behind to keep their Pac-12 championship hopes alive in his first career start for Stanford. He threw three touchdowns, including two late scores to give the Cardinal the lead for good in the fourth quarter, and 254 yards in the physical showdown on The Farm. David Shaw's team overcame four turnovers and continues to control its own destiny. However, their path is difficult as it comes with road trips to Oregon and UCLA to finish the year. This defense is the best in the league and is the most physical front seven that side of the Mississippi, so if anyone can slow down the Ducks, it might be Stanford.

This week: at Oregon (10-0)


3. Oregon State (7-2, 5-2)
Previous rank: 2
Week 11 result: Lost to Stanford 27-23
As it has done all season long, Oregon State put itself into a hole, this time down 14-0 after one quarter of play. The Beavers then rattled off 23 unanswered points to take a commanding two-score lead. But the defense couldn't get key stops and the offense couldn't convert on key fourth downs in the fourth quarter. The loss puts Mike Riley's bunch behind both Stanford and Oregon and all but eliminates OSU from the Pac-12 championship. They need some serious help and a win over the Ducks to win the North. Cody Vaz was dinged up late in the game and Sean Mannion was forced into action, so this will be again be the most watched position in Corvallis this week.
This week: Cal (3-8)

4. UCLA (8-2, 5-2)
Previous rank: 4
Week 11 result: Beat Washington State 44-36
The Bruins exploded for 30 points in the second quarter, taking a 37-7 lead into halftime. Three late touchdowns for the Cougars made the score look much closer than it actually was in Pullman. Having said that, the Bruins only needed 334 yards of offense to put away Mike Leach's embattled bunch — which is nearly 200 yards less than its average coming into the weekend (514.9 ypg). Brett Hundley threw the ball well (261 yards, 3 TD), but Johnathan Franklin will need to be better than 66 yards on 19 attempts if UCLA wants to defeat the Men of Troy this weekend and win the Pac-12 South.
This week: USC (7-3) 

5. USC (7-3, 5-3)
Previous rank: 5
Week 11 result: Beat Arizona State 38-17
One down, one to go. After getting embarrassed against Arizona State last year and Oregon last week, USC took care of business against an overmatched Sun Devils squad to move to within one win of a South Division title. And a potential rematch with Oregon (or Stanford for that matter). Matt Barkley keeps adding to his illustrious stats by throwing three more touchdowns and 222 yards as the Trojans pulled away in the final two quarters. Marqise Lee was his usual big-play self, catching 10 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown, while tailback Curtis McNeal took advantage of an increased work load, rushing for 163 yards and two touchdowns. 
This week: UCLA (8-2)

6. Arizona (6-4, 3-4)
Previous rank: 6
Week 11 result: Beat Colorado 56-31
Matt Scott didn't play in the win over Colorado, but Ka'Deem Carey picked up the slack. And then some. The underrated sophomore rushed for a Pac-12 record 366 yards and scored five touchdowns — to go with 34 yards on two receptions as well — in the home win. Carey now has 1,381 yards and 18 rushing scores on the season. B.J. Denker completed 12-of-14 passes in place of Scott and tossed two touchdowns of his own. Rich Rodriguez got his team back on track but allowed 31 points and 437 yards at home to one of the worst scoring offenses in all of college football. 
This week: at Utah (4-6)

7. Washington (6-4, 4-3)
Previous rank: 7
Week 11 result: 
Beat Utah 34-15 

The Huskies won their third straight game on the powerful and productive shoulders of running back Bishop Sankey. Steve Sarkisian has obviously made an effort to get his star tailback the ball, giving him a career high in carries for three consecutive weeks. He has carried 25, 29 and 36 times in the last three games for 443 yards and has scored at least two touchdowns in each game. The obviously improved Huskies defense did the rest, holding Utah to 188 total yards of offense and just 55 yards passing. With Colorado and Washington State left on the schedule, Coach Sark is almost assured of a 8-4, 6-3 record this fall.
This week: at Colorado (1-9)

8. Arizona State (5-5, 3-4)
Previous rank: 8
Week 11 result: Lost to USC 38-17
Arizona State took a 17-14 lead a few minutes into the third quarter against USC. The Trojans then scored the final 24 points of the game, taking advantage of a Sun Devils defense that has been downright atrocious of late. Todd Graham's defense, which couldn't cover Marqise Lee or stop Curtis McNeal, has now allowed 40.5 points per game over the course of its current four-game losing streak. ASU likely needs to win this weekend against Washington State at home to get to bowl eligibility as a win across the state in Tucson on the final weekend of the year might be asking too much of this defense. 
This week: Washington State (2-8)

9. Utah (4-6, 2-5)
Previous rank: 
Week 11 result: Lost to Washington 34-15
Welcome to Seattle Mr. Wilson. The young Utes quarterback had been respectable during Utah's modest two-game winning streak. He was baptized by a big time college defense, however, in Washington this weekend. He completed just 8-of-23 passes for 55 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. He carried seven times for minus-13 yards, including three sacks. Kyle Whittingham's bunch now has to win its last two games to get to a bowl game for the 10th straight season. Colorado should be a win, but this weekend's home test with the Wildcats will be anything but easy.

This week: Arizona (6-4)

10. California (3-8, 2-6)
Previous rank: 10
Week 11 result: Lost to Oregon 59-17
Is it just a matter of time now for Jeff Tedford? Many are torn on the Tedford issues at Cal as he is one of — if not the — most decorated head coaches in Golden Bears history. He has been the driving force behind dramatic facilities and stadium upgrades in Berkeley. But his record is 15-21 over the last three years and he is experience his second losing campaign in three years. This weekend, without Zach Maynard or Keenan Allen, the Bears were totally overmatched and non-competitive. They allowed 575 yards of offense to the Ducks and now, due to a strangely placed bye week on the last week of the Pac-12 regular season, are set to wrap up the 2012 season next week at Oregon State. 
This week: at Oregon State (7-2)

11. Colorado (1-9, 1-6)
Previous rank: 11
Week 11 result: Lost to Arizona 56-31
The offense played well in the desert, holding the ball for 41:17 and gaining 437 yards of offense. Yet, the defense couldn't stop the record-setting Ka'Deem Carey. Colorado has allowed at least 42 points in six straight games and allowed more than 50 points for the fifth time this year. This team's point differential for the season is bordering on historically bad as the Buffs rank 115th in scoring offense (17.6 ppg) and are 120th in scoring defense (47.2 ppg) on the season. 
This week: Washington (6-4)

12. Washington State (2-8, 0-7)
Previous rank: 12
Week 10 result: Lost to UCLA 44-36
The final score was not indicative of how lopsided this game really was. Washington State trailed 37-7 and 44-14 before scoring the last three touchdowns of the game. The story coming out of Pullman, however, had nothing to do with the eighth loss of the season. The story was Marquess Wilson's strange letter concerning the state of the Cougars locker room. Accusations of verbal and physical "abuse" have news outlets across the country eyeing Mike Leach. Is there a pattern of improper behavior from the coaching staff? Or is it simply the ramblings of a disgruntled star who has quit on his team because times were tough? This soap opera is far from over. 

This week: at Arizona State (5-5)

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

<p> Pac-12 Post-Week 11 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, November 12, 2012 - 05:10
Path: /college-football/big-ten-post-week-11-power-rankings

The Wisconsin Badgers have clinched a berth in the Big Ten championship game for the second year in a row. And even though it won't finish with the best record in the Leaders half of the league, UW could still finish 5-0 in the division. Games against Penn State and Ohio State technically don't mean anything, but Jim Delany would likely feel better if the Badgers could win out. 

Both Nebraska and Michigan won to maintain status quo, however, the Huskers are in the driver's seat to reach Indianapolis. Michigan needs Nebraska to lose and then has to beat both Iowa and Ohio State. It looks like another Big Red battle in the championship game.

Post-Week 11 Offensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State - Miller was off this weekend as the Buckeyes rest up to finish the year with two tough tests: at Wisconsin and that school from up North at home.

2. Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska - He completed 12-of-20 passes for 168 yards and the game-winning touchdown pass to go with 15 carries and 104 yards rushing. He once again led his team to a key victory in the fourth quarter and has a clear path to the Big Ten title game.

3. Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin - The Badgers tailback had another huge game against Indiana, rushing for 198 yards and three scores in the division-clinching win. He has 1,226 yards and 16 rushing TDs in 2012.

Post-Week 11 Defensive Player of the Year Standings

1. Mike Mauti, LB, Penn State - He registered 10 total tackles and forced what should have been the game-winning fumble late in the second half. He has been an emotional, statistical and physical leader for Penn State all year.

2. Mike Taylor, LB, Wisconsin - The Badgers leader on defense helped clinch the division this weekend by shutting down the high-flying Hoosiers offense. He is fourth in the league in tackles and second in tackles for loss on the league's No. 1 rushing defense and No. 2 overall defense.

3. John Simon, DL, Ohio State - Simon was off this weekend. As was talented POY candidate Ryan Shazier.

Post-Week 11 Coach of the Year Standings

1. Urban Meyer, Ohio State - His team has two tough tests to finish the year after this week's bye. Two wins would give Meyer his first undefeated season at a BCS program. 

2. Bill O'Brien, Penn State - His team controlled the game in Lincoln until the final 10 minutes and came up just short in a hostile environment. He should at least split, however, to finish the year no worse than 7-5. Coach BoB would deserve heavy praise for his work in Happy Valley should they go 1-1 over the final two weeks. 

3. Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern - Bo Pelini may win the conference crown, but he just doesn't seem like Coach of the Year material for a variety of reasons. Kevin Wilson and Jerry Kill might get some votes as well. Coach Fitz gets the nod almost by default in what should be a two horse race between Meyer and O'Brien — two coaches ineligible to win the conference crown.

Post-Week 11 Power Rankings

1. Ohio State (10-0, 6-0)
Previous rank: 1
Week 11 result: Off

The Buckeyes will head north to Madison to battle the Badgers following the bye week before finishing up their season at home against Michigan. An unbeaten record is within reach and the week off should have this team rested for the final stretch.
This week: at Wisconsin (7-3)

2. Nebraska (8-2, 5-1)
Previous rank: 2
Week 11 result: Beat Penn State 32-23 
With just under 11 minutes to go in the game, Taylor Martinez connected with Jamal Turner to give Nebraska its first lead of the day. The Cornhuskers never looked back, outscoring Penn State 26-3 in the second half, and now have a strangle-hold on the Legends Division crown. Martinez, who had thrown seven interceptions in his previous four games, threw for 168 yards and added another 104 yards on the ground and didn't throw a pick in the key win. After defeating Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State and Penn State, the Huskers have done the heavy lifting in their quest for a Big Ten title. Now, if Bo Pelini could just settle down on the sidelines.
This week: Minnesota (6-4)

3. Michigan (7-3, 5-1)
Previous rank: 3
Week 11 result: Beat Northwestern 38-31 (OT)
Denard Robinson missed his second consecutive game, and this weekend, it nearly cost the Wolverines the win. However, Devin Gardner, who nearly gave the game away with a bad interception late in the game, was able to miraculously tie the game on a 53-yard heave to Roy Roundtree with less than 10 seconds to play. Gardner then accounted for his fourth touchdown of the game in overtime and then watched his defense get one last stop. When Tyris Jones was tackled for no gain on 4th-and-2 in overtime, Michigan celebrated its fifth Big Ten win of the year and kept pace with Nebraska in the Legends Division.
This week: Iowa (4-6)

4. Wisconsin (7-3, 4-2)
Previous rank: 5
Week 11 result: Beat Indiana 62-14
Curt Phillips made his first career start count as his team scored 62 points and rolled up 605 yards of offense to clinch the Badgers' second consecutive trip to the Big Ten Championship game. The redshirt senior was a highly touted prospect with electric athletic ability, but three torn ACLs kept him from starting a game until his fifth year in Madison. He wasn't needed much, but he played well and was certainly the feel-good story of the day in Bloomington. Montee Ball led the UW rushing attack that totaled a school-record 564 yards on 64 attempts. The former Heisman finalist finished with 198 yards and his 75th, 76th and 77th career touchdowns. He is now No. 2 all-time in NCAA history in total touchdowns (77) and No. 2 all-time in rushing touchdowns (71) — both to Travis Prentice (78 total, 73 rushing). 
This week: Ohio State (10-0)

5. Penn State (6-4, 4-2)
Previous rank: 4
Week 11 result: Lost to Nebraska 32-23
Matt McGloin was solid in the first half as Penn State jumped out to a 20-6 halftime lead. The offense was stifled the rest of way, scoring only three points in the second half. McGloin completed less than half of his passes (18-of-37) for 240 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was unable to move the ball in the final quarter once the Big Red took the lead early in the fourth quarter. The Nittany Lions head home for the final two games of the regular season against Indiana and then Wisconsin. Bill O'Brien's team will be favored in both, but merely a split would give this team seven wins. A number many believed to be impossible considering the off-season in Happy Valley.

This week: Indiana (4-6)

6. Northwestern (7-3, 3-3)
Previous rank: 6
Week 11 result: Lost to Michigan 38-31 (OT)
Regardless of how Northwestern finished the final two weeks of the season, Pat Fitzgerald will have to wonder what if when looking back on 2012. His Wildcats held a double-digit lead against Penn State, Nebraska and Michigan and lost all three games. The Cats were leading by 10 late in the third quarter before it allowed Michigan to improbably finish the game on a 24-7 run. The most painful moment of the season came on the tip-drill heave from Devin Gardner that set up the game-tying field goal on the game's final play. Things aren't any easier this weekend against the Spartans.
This week: at Michigan State (5-5)

7. Michigan State (5-5, 2-4)
Previous rank: 7
Week 11 result: Off
The Spartans were off this week, giving them two weeks to watch the replays of the final drive against Nebraska. Painful stuff.
This week: Northwestern (7-3)

8. Minnesota (6-4, 2-4)
Previous rank: 10
Week 11 result: Beat Illinois 17-3
It wasn't pretty but the win over Illinois was a monumental one for Jerry Kill and the Golden Gophers. The road victory gets Minnesota to bowl eligibility for the first time since 2009. The passing game struggled — Philip Nelson threw for 78 yards and no touchdowns — but wasn't asked to do much as the ground game took care of business. Kill and company ran the ball 50 times for 233 yards and two second-half Donnell Kirkwood touchdown runs. With tough games against Nebraska and Michigan State left, this team is playing with house money now that it got its sixth win.
This week: at Nebraska (8-2)

9. Indiana (4-6, 2-4)
Previous rank: 8
Week 11 result: Lost to Wisconsin 62-14
So Indiana won't play in the Big Ten championship game after all. The Hoosiers fell behind quickly against the powerful Badgers rushing attack and was never competitive. The rushing defense was gashed all game long as Kevin Wilson found out his team still has a ways to go before it can compete in the division. The offense was held in check (294 total yards) as the defense has now allowed 83, 59 and 62 points to Wisconsin in the last three meetings. A split with Penn State and Purdue to end the season, however, would still give IU a five-win season in Wilson's second year at the helm.
This week: at Penn State (6-4)

10. Purdue (4-6, 1-5)
Previous rank: 11
Week 11 result: Beat Iowa 24-21 

Danny Hope snapped a five-game losing streak with a huge road win over Iowa. Robert Marve threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns and led the Boilermakers on the the game-winning drive with less than a minute left in the game. Hope, whose fate as the head coach could have been sealed with a loss, now has a good shot to get to bowl eligibility. Purdue will face Illinois and Indiana to finish the year and two wins gets the Boilers to the postseason.
This week: at Illinois (2-8)

11. Iowa (4-6, 2-4)
Previous rank: 9
Week 11 result: Lost to Purdue 24-21
James Vandenberg completed a one-yard pass on a key fourth-down with 47 seconds left in the game. The only problem was Iowa needed three yards to convert and the turnover on downs allowed Purdue just enough time to move down the field and hand the Hawkeyes their fourth consecutive loss. Such is life for the fans at Kinnick Stadium these days. Kirk Ferentz, who is making roughly $4 million per season, is fighting for his job in Iowa City, and $1 million per victory is completely unacceptable. With Michigan and Nebraska still left on the schedule, a 4-8 season is very possible. 
This week: at Michigan (7-3)

12. Illinois (2-8, 0-6)
Previous rank: 12
Week 11 result: Lost to Minnesota 17-3
Tim Beckman can't wait for recruiting season to begin. His team lost for the seventh straight time and it didn't look competitive. The Illini totaled 276 yards of offense, 13 first downs and three points as Minnesota (of all teams) held Illinois scoreless for the final 54 minutes of play. Nathan Scheelhaase continued his stunningly mediocre play at quarterback and one has to think a winless season in Big Ten play is likely in 2012. Illinois finishes with Purdue and Northwestern.
This week: Purdue (4-6)

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

<p> Big Ten Post-Week 11 Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, November 12, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-football/college-football-betting-against-spread-week-11

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: 45-28
Last Week: 5-1

Note: All lines are as of date of publication

Utah (-1.5) at Washington
Every now and then a line shocks you as an analyst. And a Washington team with wins over previously unbeatens Stanford and last week Oregon State as a home underdog to a team that is 4-5 makes no sense at all. Travis Wilson has been solid at quarterback for the Utes but he is a freshman going on the road into one of the nastiest road venues west of the Mississippi. Washington has allowed more than 17 points at home only once (to USC, 24) and is 4-1 at The Link. Washington will win outright — just like it did last year 31-14 in Salt Lake City. Prediction: Washington +1.5

Georgia (-14.5) at Auburn
Rumors are swirling on the Plains that Gene Chizik will be out after the Alabama game and the Dawgs must win to clinch the SEC East. This game was an absolute blood bath last season (45-7) and Auburn has only gotten worse. With so much on the line, despite some injuries on offense, Aaron Murray and Mark Richt won’t let the Tigers sneak up. Georgia rolls. Prediction: Georgia -14.5

UCLA (-15.5) at Washington State
Yes, the Bruins can be schizophrenic, especially on the road. But it feels like they have turned a corner under star freshman quarterback Brett Hundley — who trails only Johnny Manziel for total offense by a freshman. Washington State has totaled 76 yards rushing in six Pac-12 games, rushing for negative yards four times. They are historically bad and UCLA is surging after three straight quality wins. Prediction: UCLA -15.5

Arizona State (+9) at USC
I’m all over the West Coast this weekend. USC has many reasons to seek revenge this weekend. Arizona State embarrassed the Trojans last season on national television and the Ducks (as well as some sketchy reports following the game) did the same last weekend. USC could still win the conference and play in the Rose Bowl if it wins out, so Lane Kiffin will have his team focused against a defense that has allowed 124 points and 454.7 yards per game over its last three — all losses. Prediction: USC -9

Fresno State (-3) at Nevada
Other than Utah State’s unblemished record against the spread (10-0), the Bulldogs of Fresno State claim the nation’s next best mark of 9-1. Quarterback Derek Carr has been rolling of late as the offense has scored at least 42 points in three straight games. Nevada has a solid offense as well but has struggled of late to stop people. They allowed 39 points in a loss to San Diego State and 48 in a loss to Air Force in their last two. Prediction: Fresno State -3

Three road teams I like:

Louisville (-2.5) at Syracuse
Pitt (-3) at UConn
Northwestern (+10.5) at Michigan

- by Braden Gall

2012 Trends Against the Spread:

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

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

Two Losses ATS: Ball St (8-2), Clemson (7-2), FAU (7-2), Kent St (7-2), Ole Miss (7-2), N. Illinois (8-2), Penn St (7-2), San Jose St (7-2), UNLV (8-2), Western Kentucky (7-2)

Two Wins ATS: Arkansas (2-7), Boston College (2-7), Central Michigan (2-7), Colorado St (2-7), UConn (2-5-2), Hawaii (2-6), Illinois (2-7), Iowa (2-7), Kentucky (2-8), UMass (2-7), Miami-OH (2-6-1), Nevada (2-7), NC State (2-6-1), USC (2-7), Southern Miss (2-7), Virginia Tech (2-7), West Virginia (2-6)

Related College Football Content

<p> College Football Betting Against the Spread: Week 11</p>
Post date: Friday, November 9, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-football/big-ten-week-11-preview-and-predictions

Week 11 should be a great weekend in the Big Ten. Northwestern heads to Ann Arbor to see if it belongs in the title discussion. Wisconsin visits Indiana in what could be a surprising Leaders Division elimination game. And the contrast of colors in Lincoln when Penn State comes to town should inspire any college football junkie.

Just don't tell any of this to the fans in Iowa City or West Lafayette.

Big Ten's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 11:

1. Taylor Martinez mistakes vs. big plays
Martinez is the Big Ten’s leading active passer — the injured Joel Stave is No. 1 — and is No. 2 in total offense behind only Braxton Miller. He contributed a pair of long touchdown runs (71 and 35 yards) as well as the game-winning drive against Michigan State. He also threw three interceptions. The Huskers quarterback giveth (12 TD in last four games) and taketh away (7 INT in last four games), and as usual, Nebraska’s Rose Bowl hopes hinge on their quarterback’s ability to make big plays. T-Mart struggled last year against Penn State (13-of-26, 143 yards, 0 TD, 18 carries, 56 yards) but still managed to eke out a 17-14 emotion-laden victory the first time Penn State took the field following the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

2. Penn State must run for 160 yards and at least one touchdown
One way to keep Taylor Martinez at bay will be for Penn State to run the ball. It seems simple, but when Penn State runs the ball effectively, it wins. In its three losses, PSU failed to score a rushing touchdown and averaged 81.7 yards on 30.7 attempts. Conversely, Penn State has rushed for at least 160 yards in all five Big Ten wins. Moreover, the Nits have scored 14 rushing touchdowns in wins and no touchdowns on the ground in their three losses. This offense goes as Matt McGloin goes, however, the ground game has been the difference between winning and losing for Bill O’Brien.

3. Leaders Division Championship Game
Wisconsin has Ohio State at home and Penn State on the road to finish the 2012 regular season. It is fair to say both of those teams are better than the Badgers. And since Bucky has to play in Beaver Stadium to end the Nittany Lions' season, it is hard to see Wisconsin winning either. Indiana also has to visit Happy Valley before finishing up with Purdue. So assuming UW loses both and the Hoosiers split, the showdown between the two this weekend suddenly becomes the next Leaders Division Championship Game. Should the Badgers win, they clinch the best eligible record in the division and a trip to Indianapolis. A win for IU and they would be a win over the Boilermakers in the regular-season finale from playing in the title game. 

4. Can Wisconsin get any production from the QB?
There has been some talk that the oft-injured but extremely talented Curt Phillips may get some looks at quarterback this weekend. That seems unlikely considering Danny O’Brien is healthy and Phillips' lack of experience. Either way, however, Wisconsin has to get production from its passing game it if wants to win this weekend. The Hoosiers have proven they can score and the Badgers offense will have to keep pace. However, this UW offense has been completely one-dimensional when Joel Stave has been out of the line up. With talented pass-catchers and an excellent running game, the throwing lanes should be available for whoever is under center for Bret Bielema. O’Brien just needs to be more efficient and accurate with the football. 

5. Who will play quarterback for Michigan?
Denard Robinson missed his first career game last weekend when Devin Gardner started against Minnesota. Shoelace is battling a reoccurring nerve issue in his throwing elbow and while he wasn’t needed in the easy win over the Gophers, one has to believe Northwestern provides a much tougher test. Gardner, who should be the starter for Brady Hoke next fall, was productive and efficient in the win. Hoke isn’t tipping his hand as to who will be under center for Michigan, so it has forced Pat Fitzgerald to prepare for both. Either way, Hoke and his quarterback have to get more help from its running game. Thomas Rawls got 16 carries and scored last week and should be worked into the mix more since Fitzgerald Toussaint has struggled this year (3.5 yards per carry on 109 attempts this year). If needed, look for Hoke to mix up his offensive line rotation in an effort to kick-start the running attack. 

6. How does Northwestern win on the road?
Run, run, run and run some more. Since Week 1, each time Northwestern has gotten to 190 yards rushing, they have won (6-0). Both times the Wildcats failed to reach 190 yards, they lost. This team rolled up 349 yards on the ground against Iowa two weeks ago and will turn to its two-headed monster to lead the offense. Venric Mark and Kain Colter both topped 160 yards rushing in the win over the Hawkeyes and both are ranked in the top 11 in the Big Ten rushing ranks. Michigan, after allowing 522 yards rushing in its first two games, has only allowed 109.6 yards per game since. This is where Northwestern can win the game. 

7. Gophers last chance at the postseason
The Golden Gophers finish the season at Nebraska and with Michigan State at home. Minnesota will be hard pressed to win either of those two contests, so Jerry Kill’s search for the postseason may end with the road trip to Illinois this weekend. For an extremely young team, a bowl game — and the extra month of practice time — would be invaluable. Illinois, who has allowed at least 31 points in six straight games (all losses), hasn’t been competitive in league play this fall. The Illini are losing Big Ten games by an average of 26.8 points per game and have not played a single conference game closer than two touchdowns (14 point loss to Indiana). Kill has to view this weekend as the opportunity to tangibly build the future of Minnesota football. A loss could be devastating to a young team.

8. Who survives the game in Iowa City?
No, the fans watching on either side likely won’t make it out of Kinnick Stadium alive. The phrase ‘bored to death’ comes to mind. However, there is some serious intrigue in what could be deemed The Pink Slip Bowl. Barring a three-game winning streak to end the season, it is unlikely Danny Hope returns to West Lafayette next fall. Kirk Ferentz is much safer at Iowa, but giving Hope his first and possibly only Big Ten win of the year will make the already restless fans in Iowa City that much more uncomfortable. With Michigan and Nebraska left for the Hawkeyes, a loss would likely mean a 4-8 overall record with six consecutive defeats to end the year. I’ll take Ferentz to survive what will be an unwatchable game of mediocrity. 

Week 11 Big Ten Predictions:

Week 11 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Wisconsin at Indiana Wisconsin, 30-28 Wisconsin, 31-26 Wisconsin, 34-27 Wisconsin, 21-14
Purdue at Iowa Iowa, 24-20 Iowa, 21-20 Iowa, 27-20 Iowa, 10-7
Northwestern at Michigan Michigan, 30-27 Michigan, 33-24 Michigan, 31-24 Northwestern, 28-21
Minnesota at Illinois Minnesota, 24-20 Minnesota, 27-23 Minnesota, 31-20 Minnesota, 38-20
Penn St at Nebraska Nebraska, 27-24 Nebraska, 31-21 Nebraska, 27-24 Nebraska, 31-21
Last Week: 5-0 5-0 4-1 5-0
Yearly Totals: 65-14 61-18 66-13 61-18

Bye Week: Ohio State, Michigan State

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

<p> Big Ten Week 11 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-football/pac-12-week-11-preview-and-predictions

The race in the Pac-12 South continues to entertain. Arizona's loss to UCLA was costly, both in the standings and on the injury report. USC's loss to Oregon didn't end their title hopes as the two L.A. schools are now headed on a collision course for Nov. 17. But both need to take care of business this weekend against overmatched opponents to ensure next weekend's game sends the winner to Eugene in December. Otherwise, all eyes should be pointed northward to Palo Alto, where the Beavers come to town, and Seattle, where Utah is fighting for a bowl game.

Pac-12's Top Storylines to Watch in Week 11:

1. Stanford's nasty front against Oregon State's young O-Line
The Cardinal have the best front seven West of the Mississippi. They have allowed a grand total of minus-16 yards rushing in three wins since losing to Notre Dame, twice in a row holding the opposition to negative rushing yards. Stanford is also leading the nation in sacks after taking down the other team’s quarterback 17 times over the last two weeks. No, the Bears, Cougars and Buffaloes don’t offer the same type of challenge as the Beavers, but this will easily be the toughest test Oregon State’s offense will have faced all season. A young offensive line, a back up quarterback, and talented but diminutive skill players make this an awfully tough match up for Mike Riley. There is some good news, however, as…

2. Kevin Hogan makes first start against No. 2 defense
Oregon State trails only Stanford in pass efficiency, rushing and scoring defense in the Pac-12. So Hogan’s first career start won’t come easy as the Beavers have been outstanding at rushing the passer and stopping the run all season long. However, as points will be extremely tough to come by in this one for Oregon State, the pressure falls to Riley’s defense to play perfect football if it wants to get the road win. Hogan was extremely efficient last weekend in spot duty, completing 18-of-23 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns and nary a turnover. But that was Colorado — and this is Scott Crichton and Jordan Poyer (who should play after missing last week). This will be a physical, blue-collar slugfest. 

3. Revenge on the mind of the USC Trojans
Lane Kiffin’s bunch was 10-2 last fall with wins over Notre Dame, Washington, Oregon and Utah. And a eight-point overtime loss to Stanford and Andrew Luck is nothing to be ashamed of. However, allowing 43 points in a three-touchdown loss to a 6-6 Sun Devils team with a coach in his final season likely hasn’t sat well with Mr. Barkley and company. The USC quarterback had his worst game of the 2011 season against ASU, throwing for 227 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The embarrassing loss to Arizona State last fall, as well as the beatdown the Trojans defense took last weekend, should have this team ready to play. Arizona State has allowed 124 points and 454.7 yards per game during its current three-game losing streak. Best wishes to Todd Graham’s defense.

4. Can Travis Wilson handle Seattle?
Kyle Whittingham officially switched to touted freshman quarterback Travis Wilson four games ago. He kept his team competitive on the road against UCLA (21-14) and Oregon State (21-7) before breaking through the last two weeks. The Utes were scoring 20.1 points per game and were ranked 105th nationally before Wilson led his team to 49 points in each of the last two weekends. Certainly, the ground game has emerged and the defense has improved, but if Utah wants to win a third straight game and keep its bowl hopes alive, Wilson will have to handle the rowdy crowd in Seattle. It’s safe to say the Huskies are a different team at home. They are 4-1 at home with wins over previously unbeaten Stanford and Oregon State and have allowed more than 17 points only once (USC, 24). Good luck youngster. 

5. Oregon shooting for an NCAA record
Fresh off of a 62-point blasting of USC, Oregon sits tied with Oklahoma State (2010-12) and Hawaii (2006-07) with an NCAA-record 22 straight games with at least 30 points scored. LSU was the last team to keep the Ducks under 30 back in the 2011 season opener. Additionally, the Ducks have scored at least 34 points in 18 consecutive Pac-12 games, dating back to, you guessed it, a road trip to Cal in 2010. It was by far the best defensive effort Chip Kelly’s bunch faced en route to the BCS National Championship Game. So even though multiple scoring streaks are at stake, I am positive Kelly would take a guaranteed berth in the BCS title game if it meant another low-scoring two-point win this weekend.

6. Brett Hundley and Johnathan Franklin must roll on the road
The Bruins quarterback (306.8 ypg) and running back (133.8) tandem trail only Matt Scott (357.4) and Ka’Deem Carey (112.8) in combined total offense in the Pac-12. And since they just obliterated the Wildcats duo 66-10, this could be considered the most productive QB-RB tandem in the league. In fact, only Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel produces more total offense nationally as a freshman than Hundley. With Washington State struggling at unprecedented levels — try 76 total yards rushing in six Pac-12 games — this should be a cakewalk for UCLA’s dynamic backfield. 

7. Matt Scott's health and Arizona’s ability to bounce back
The dynamic play-maker suffered a concussion against UCLA last weekend and is listed as questionable. He won’t be needed in this home game against Colorado, so I would expect to see Rich Rodriguez to play it safe with his star quarterback. Look for Ka’Deem Carey and a host of talented skill players to pick up the slack and abuse the Buffs with or without their quarterback. This will get ugly real quick and the only negative thing that could possibly happen is another injury to Scott. So keep him on the sideline RichRod.

Week 11 Pac-12 Predictions:

Week 11 Pac-12 Games Braden Gall Mitch Light Steven Lassan David Fox
Colorado at Arizona Arizona, 38-7 Arizona, 48-0 Arizona, 55-17 Arizona, 35-10
Arizona St at USC USC, 45-21 USC, 37-23 USC, 45-31 USC, 38-28
Oregon St at Stanford Stanford, 20-17 Stanford, 30-27 Stanford, 24-20 Stanford, 27-14
Utah at Washington Washington, 24-20 Washington, 33-10 Washington, 27-20 Washington, 35-10
UCLA at Washington St UCLA, 41-14 UCLA, 47-10 UCLA, 48-20 UCLA, 31-10
Oregon at Cal Oregon, 41-17 Oregon, 44-17 Oregon, 48-17 Oregon, 49-14
Last Week: 6-0 5-1 6-0 4-2
Yearly Totals: 51-15 51-15 50-16 45-21

Bye: None

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

<p> Pac-12 Week 11 Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Thursday, November 8, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /nfl/seven-bold-second-half-nfl-predictions-2012

The second half is here and that means things are about to get interesting in the NFL. So I thought, in true Athlon Sports prognostication fashion, I would put on my predicting hat for the second half. Here are outlandish, outstanding and potentially out of touch bold predictions for the rest of the NFL season:

A rookie running back will lead the NFL in rushing
Doug Martin sits at No. 3 in the NFL in rushing with 794 yards after two huge games against Minnesota and Oakland. Alfred Morris is No. 4 in the league with 793 yards but hasn’t had a bye week yet. Trent Richardson has been solid and sits just outside the top ten in rushing with 575 yards. All three could finish in the top ten and Martin or Morris have a good shot at leading the league in rushing — Martin's 99.3 yards per game is No. 2 in the league. There is certainly a youth movement at the position this season as not just rookies but new starters (Stevan Ridley, C.J. Spiller) have been successful. At the midway point of the year, Darren McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew, Ryan Mathews, Steven Jackson, Michael Turner and Matt Forte are all outside of the top 15 in rushing. What would be more shocking: A rookie leads the NFL in rushing or Chris Johnson leads the NFL in rushing?

The New Orleans Saints will have a winning record
The schedule is daunting, but the Saints (3-5) are playing their best football at the right time. Winners of three out of the last four, Who Dat nation is feeling cautiously optimistic about the second half. Yes, the Falcons (twice), 49ers and Giants are on the schedule, but two of those come at home. The coaching staff and defense are beginning to finally settle in after Bounty Gate and Replacement-a-palooza and Drew Brees is back carving up defenses. He leads the NFL in passing yards and should keep his team in every game. Every game is a must-win for New Orleans from here on out, but they should be favored against Oakland, Carolina, Tampa Bay and Dallas. A 2-2 mark against the big boys — SF, NYG and ATL — could give the Saints a 9-7 record and a potential Wild Card bid.

A team will win the Super Bowl without a 4,000-yard passer
Last fall, 10 players threw for at least 4,000 yards and 14 threw for at least 3,500 yards. Seven of the top nine passers made the playoffs while five of the six NFC playoff quarterbacks threw for at least 4,000 yards. This fall, 14 players are on pace for more than 4,000 yards and an astonishing 24 are slated to top 3,500 yards. The last time a team won the Super Bowl without a 4,000-yard passer was the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger in Super Bowl XLIII. The last time a team won the Super Bowl without a 3,000-yard passer was also Big Ben (XL). So with passing records getting smashed every week, it would come as a shock if the Super Bowl champions didn’t feature a high-flying passing attack, right? However, Jay Cutler, Matt Schaub, Alex Smith and Joe Flacco are all ranked 15th or worse in yards per game and none are on pace for 4,000 yards. In case you didn’t notice, other than the Atlanta Falcons, those are the best four records in football.

Andy Reid will be coaching in 2013…in San Diego
The Eagles failed to score a touchdown in five trips inside the Saints' red zone on Monday night and Michael Vick was sacked seven times. Philadelphia moved to 3-5 after the team’s fourth straight loss — Reid’s longest such streak as the head coach of the Eagles. Vick is a huge part of the problem and it will likely cost Reid his job unless he can figure out a way to win games. Which will be hard to do with five games left in the division (Dallas twice, Washington twice, Giants). Unless this team wins at least six of its final eight, heads will roll in The City of Brotherly Love. And since Norv Turner has no business being an NFL head coach, there should be an opening in San Diego as well. With an established roster of veterans, Reid’s 129 wins and nine playoff appearances would fit nicely in SoCal.

A rookie quarterback will win a playoff game
Andrew Luck is special. He has set all types of rookie quarterback records and is already establishing himself as one of the NFL’s best passers — he is fourth in yards — and has his team leading the AFC Wild Card hunt right now. With a very favorable second-half schedule, it will be hard for the Colts not to finish with a winning record. And in the atrocious AFC, where only six teams have a winning record, Luck and the Colts have as good a shot as any to reach the postseason. In the NFC, Russell Wilson has the 5-4 Seahawks positioned to snag a Wild Card berth as well. Both have been much better at home, and although it is unlikely either will get to host a playoff game, both are clearly capable of an upset come January. They are both unflappable leaders who care only about winning.

Randy Moss will catch a touchdown in the Super Bowl
The 14-year veteran wide receiver sat out the 2011 season only to return to the field with the 49ers this fall. Many didn’t know what to expect when the future Hall of Famer took the field this season. While he hasn’t been the explosive weapon fans were accustomed to seeing throughout his career, he has been a meaningful part of the San Francisco offense. He has only caught 13 passes for 235 yards but has scored twice and has been used as a decoy on countless plays. On a team that looks like it could be the odds-on favorite to the win the NFC, Moss has a good chance to reach the big game for just the second time in his career. He caught five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown as a Patriot in Super Bowl XLII. He may not stuff the stat sheet, but Jim Harbaugh would figure out a way to get Moss involved in the offense should the 49ers make it to New Orleans.

Neither the Bears nor the Ravens will win their division
The Bears (7-1) and Ravens (6-2) have a combined record of 13-3 and are both sitting at least one game ahead in the NFC and AFC North Divisions. Yet, there is a good chance that neither will finish atop the standings. The Bears' second-half schedule is daunting and it begins with Houston and San Francisco before tests with Seattle, Green Bay, Minnesota (twice), Detroit and Arizona. Three of the final four are on the road, including the final two against teams that could be fighting for playoff bids (Cardinals, Lions). The visit from the Packers in Week 15 will likely determine the Monsters of the Midway’s fate in 2012. So if it comes down to Aaron Rodgers vs. Jay Cutler, that’s an easy one. In the AFC, the Ravens' defense is simply too depleted and still has to face the Steelers twice, face both Mannings as well as road trips to Washington, San Diego and Cincinnati.

-by Braden Gall

Related NFL Content:

<p> Seven Bold Second Half NFL Predictions for 2012</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 - 05:10
All taxonomy terms: NFL
Path: /nfl/2013-nfl-draft-rankings-guards-and-centers

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 interior lineman prospects:


1. Chance Warmack, Alabama (6-3, 320, Sr.)
War-Daddy is the phrase most used when dealing with Warmack. He isn’t the biggest blocker in the nation, but he might be the most physical and most consistent in all of the nation. Like teammate Barrett Jones (see below), he plays for the best coach in the land and has multiple National Championships. He has paved the way for a host of elite running offenses and will likely be a top ten NFL pick come next spring. There are no weaknesses in his game.

2. Jonathan Cooper, North Carolina (6-3, 310, Sr.)
The big Tar Heel blocker has long been considered one of the top players in the nation at his position. He is an extraordinary run blocker and has the size and make up to contribute at an early stage of his NFL career. He is the only other guard prospect with a shot at landing in the first round along with Warmack and his “luxury” of facing elite NFL prospects every day in practice has to have helped his stock. He is a complete player who is developing nicely as a pass blocker.

3. Larry Warford, Kentucky (6-3, 330, Sr.)
Kentucky has not been good in 2012 but it hasn’t been Warford’s fault. He has elite size and has long been considered one of the top blockers in the SEC. He faces elite defenses each and every weekend, including a few potential first rounders like Sheldon Richardson and Sharrif Floyd, and more than holds his own. His teams are generally overmatched, making his efforts even more impressive due to work ethic and toughness.

4. Gabe Jackson, Mississippi State (6-4, 320, Jr.)
One thing scouts will love about Jackson is his competition. LSU, Alabama and the rest of the SEC, along with his own elite defensive line in practice, have given Jackson plenty of barometer tests throughout his career. He is a mauler in the running game, consistently gets to the second level and has the size and toughness to play right away.

5. Cyril Richardson, Baylor (6-5, 330, Jr.)
He was listed as the No. 13 offensive tackle prospect in Athlon Sports’ rankings, but should see his stock rise if he lands as a guard. He is a massive prospect with a huge NFL frame that will be most effective in the ground game. He may not be athletic or quick enough to stick at tackle, but his shift to guard has proven to be a productive one for Baylor. He has shown improvement all season long with his new position and could be only scratching the surface on his upside at guard.

6. Dallas Thomas, Tennessee (6-5, 305, Sr.)
7. Omoregie Uzzi, Georgia Tech (6-3, 300, Sr.)
8. Blaize Foltz, TCU (6-4, 310, Sr.)
9. Alvin Bailey, Arkansas (6-5, 319, Jr.)
10. Trey Hopkins, Texas (6-4, 300, Jr.)
11. Braden Hansen, BYU (6-5, 310, Sr.)
12. Travis Bond, North Carolina (6-6, 340, Sr.)
13. Jeff Baca, UCLA (6-3, 300, Sr.)
14. Marcus Hall, Ohio State (6-5, 317, Jr.)
15. Hugh Thornton, Illinois (6-4, 310, Sr.) 


1. Khaled Holmes, USC (6-3, 305, Sr.)
If nothing else, scouts should realize how important and talented Holmes is when he didn’t play against Stanford. The Cardinal abused the interior of the USC line while Holmes sat on the sideline and watched. He returned and battled with early NFL pick Star Lotulelei with a bum ankle — winning some and losing some against the Utes' powerhouse. Overall, Holmes has tremendous athletic ability, is a natural fit at center and has a large frame that could carry additional weight. He is a complete player who has started since he was a sophomore and his absence was noticeable along the line in 2012.

2. Barrett Jones, Alabama (6-5, 310, Sr.)
Jones' resume is remarkable. He entered his final season as a two-time National Champion as well as the reigning Outland Trophy winner as the nation’s top offensive lineman. And he is playing his third position, earning All-SEC honors as both a guard and tackle. He still could end up at either guard or center, but his skills will play on the next level regardless. He is extremely intelligent, hard working, versatile and physical. He will need to prove he can handle the massive nose guards to stick at center, but no matter where he ends up, Jones should make an early impact on Sundays.

3. Mario Benavides, Louisville (6-4, 290, Sr.)
Other than a short three-game absence at the start of 2011, Benavides has been a stalwart at the center position for the Cardinals. He is a four-year starter and has watched the team develop from Big East also-ran to a potential BCS bowl team. He has adequate size, tremendous experience and has proven his mettle against NFL-laden defensive lines like North Carolina's. He isn’t a first-round selection, but at a position that normally falls to the middle rounds, he is as safe a bet as there is in 2013.

4. Travis Frederick, Wisconsin (6-4, 330, Jr.)
The burly Badger blocker may also end up at guard like Jones, but has shifted to center for the 2012 season. He has a huge frame, great power and strength and has been productive against top-notch competition. He may not have the overt quickness and athleticism the NFL demands at center. He is an excellent run-blocker who has upside at the position because he is still learning how to play at the pivot.

5. Braxton Cave, Notre Dame (6-3, 305, Sr.)
When it comes to experience against elite level competition, few have the resume that Cave boasts. He was a big-time recruit and has proven himself against the likes of Kawann Short, Mike Martin, Jerel Worthy, Stanford’s front seven, USC and many more. Notre Dame’s schedule is one of the toughest each season and has given scouts loads of film on the slightly undersized center.

6. Graham Pocic, Illinois (6-5, 310, Sr.)
7. Travis Swanson, Arkansas (6-5, 305, Jr.)
8. Dalton Freeman, Clemson (6-4, 290, Sr.)
9. Weston Richburg, Colorado State (6-4, 300, Jr.)
10. Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma (6-3, 290, Jr.)
11. T.J. Johnson, South Carolina (6-5, 318, Sr.)
12. Dillon Ferrell, New Mexico (6-5, 290, Jr.)
13. Jonotthan Harrison, Florida (6-3, 300, Jr.)
14. Joe Madsen, West Virginia (6-4, 305, Sr.)
15. Ryan Turnley, Pitt (6-5, 320, Sr.) 

- by Braden Gall

Related NFL Draft Rankings By Position:

<p> 2013 NFL Draft Rankings: Guards and Centers</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 - 05:00
Path: /college-football/2012-heisman-trophy-contenders-post-week-10

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:  Lead Writer ()
Jim Young:  ()
Blair Kerkhoff:  ()
Chris Level:  ()

1. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State (12 first place votes)
 133-187, 1,875 yards, 12 TD, 2 INT, 139 att., 698 yards, 17 TD
The numbers weren't eye-popping, but CK7 was still extremely efficient and led his team to a big revenge win over a solid Oklahoma State team. He completed 16-of-22 passes for 245 yards and rushed for 64 yards on 17 carries and one total touchdown. He is now leading the nation in passing efficiency (174.39). Next Game: at TCU

  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) Braxton Miller QB Ohio St 98/130 - 5 2 3 1 13/13
3. (2) Manti Te'o LB Notre Dame 91/130 1 1 4 2 3 13/13
4. (6) Kenjon Barner RB Oregon 90/130 - 5 3 2 1 12/13
5t. (7) Johnny Manziel QB Texas A&M 63/130 - - - 2 3 13/13
5t. (4) A.J. McCarron QB Alabama 63/130 - 1 2 2 1 12/13
7. (9) Marcus Mariota QB Oregon 48/130 - - 2 - 2 9/13
8. (9) Marqise Lee WR USC 39/130 - - - 2 1 10/13
9. (11) Giovani Bernard RB N. Carolina 16/130 - - - - - 6/13
10t. (8) Matt Barkley QB USC 15/130 - - - - - 4/13
10t. (5) Geno Smith QB W. Virginia 15/130 - - - - - 7/13
12. (ur) Teddy Bridgewater QB Louisville 11/130 - - - - - 6/13
13. (ur) Tajh Boyd QB Clemson 10/130 - - - - - 3/13
14. (12) Barrett Jones OL Alabama 6/130 - - - - 1 1/13
15. (16) Aaron Murray QB Georgia 4/130 - - - - - 1/13
16t. (20) Damontre Moore DE Texas A&M 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
16t. (20) DeAndre Hopkins WR Clemson 3/130 - - - - - 1/13
18t. (13) De'Anthony Thomas AP Oregon 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
18t. (14) Jordan Lynch QB N. Illinois 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
18t. (ur) Taylor Martinez QB Nebraska 2/130 - - - - - 1/13
21. (ur) Seth Doege QB Texas Tech 1/130 - - - - - 1/13
2. Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State
124-218, 1,753 yards, 14 TD, 6 INT, 184 att., 1,166 yards, 13 TD
Miller saw little resistance against Illinois this weekend. He scored three total touchdowns with 226 yards passing and 73 yards rushing. He is leading the Big Ten in total offense at 291.9 yards per game, is fourth in rushing (116.6 ypg) and has two tough games left between himself and an undefeated season: at Wisconsin and Michigan at home. Next Game: Bye Week

3. Manti Te'o, LB, Notre Dame (1 first place vote)
Stats: 87 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 5 INT, 1.5 sack, FR, 4 PBU
It was close and it took some lucky "bounces" but Notre Dame stayed unbeaten with the overtime win over Pitt. Te'o posted seven total tackles, 1.0 tackles for loss, 0.5 sacks and broke up a pass. The defense didn't play its best game, allowing 20 points in the first three quarters. Yet, the Irish defense bowed up and shutout the Panthers in the fourth quarter while the offense rallied. It also only allowed two field goals in three overtime possessions, which helped the Irish come away with a 9-0 record. Next Game: at Boston College
4. Kenjon Barner, RB, Oregon
Stats: 179 att., 1,295 yards, 19 TD, 15 rec., 184 yards, TD
Barner certainly put on a show in the high profile win over USC on the road, rushing for 321 yards and five touchdowns. He is now leading the nation in scoring (13.3 ppg) and the Pac-12 in rushing (143.9 ypg). Most argue it is the system that provides the numbers — as well as Chip Kelly's best quarterback and offensive line since arriving in Eugene in 2007 — but it is hard to argue with 40 touches, 347 yards from scrimmage and five scores in the season's biggest game. He has three more major hurdles to clear to get to New York, and possibly, Miami Gardens. Next Game: at Cal

5t. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Stats: 173-269, 2,216 yards, 16 TD, 6 INT, 117 att., 793 yards, 13 TD
The record-setting redshirt freshman is leading the SEC in rushing (102.4 ypg) and total offense (383.2 ypg) while leading his team to back-to-back SEC West road wins over Auburn and Mississippi State. He threw for his third 300-yard effort in nine career games while rushing for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries in the 38-14 win in Starkville. His showdown with fellow Heisman Trophy hopeful AJ McCarron and the No. 1 team in the nation will eliminate one of the two SEC West passers. 
Next Week: at Alabama

5t. A.J. McCarron, QB, Alabama
Stats: 136-204, 1,849 yards, 19 TD, 0 INT, 34 att., minus-44 yards, TD
McCarron struggled for the first time all season during his team's toughest test in Baton Rouge. But when a potential shot at a second straight national championship was on the line, as well as his Heisman Trophy candidacy, he delivered in a big way. He led the Tide down the field with less than two minutes to play and won the game on a brilliant five-play, 72-yard drive spanning 43 seconds. He finished with 165 yards passing and two total touchdowns with nary an interception. Next Game: Texas A&M

7. Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon
153-217, 1,787 yards, 22 TD, 5 INT, 72 att., 474 yards, 3 TD
Next Game: at Cal

8. Marqise Lee, WR, USC
Stats: 88 rec., 1,286 yards, 12 TD, 23 KR, 677 yards, TD, 44 yards rushing 
Next Game: Arizona State

9. Giovani Bernard, RB, North Carolina
Stats: 126 att., 930 yards, 10 TD, 32 rec., 319 yards, 3 TD, 12 PR, 249 yards, 2 TD 
Next Game: Georgia Tech

10. Matt Barkley, QB, USC
Stats: 206-316, 2,750 yards, 30 TD, 10 INT, 21 att., minus-62 yards
Next game: Arizona State

by Braden Gall

Related College Football Content

<p> 2012 Heisman Trophy Contenders: Post-Week 10</p>
Post date: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 - 05:00
All taxonomy terms: NFL, News
Path: /nfl/nfl-2012-midseason-preview-and-predictions

In the 31st annual Athlon Sports NFL preview magazine, the Houston Texans were predicted to defeat the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. The Green Bay Packers were slated to topple the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. We picked the Packers over the Texans in Super Bowl XLVII.

At the halfway point, we thought we would reshuffle the deck with what we have learned from the first nine weeks of action and predict how the second half will play out complete with projected records (and current records).

Projected AFC East Standings:

1. New England Patriots: 12-4 (5-3)
2. New York Jets: 8-8 (3-5)
3. Miami Dolphins: 7-9 (4-4)
4. Buffalo Bills: 5-11 (3-5)

The Pats are clearly the best team in this division and will be the only one making the postseason. A showdown with Houston on Dec. 10 could decide home field. The Jets finish with five winnable games against the Cards, Jags, Titans, Chargers and Bills. Miami still has to play New England twice as well as the Seahawks and 49ers and likely have to win one of these to get to 9-7. The only bright spot for the Bills and their 31st-rated rushing defense is four of the last five will come at home in frigid Buffalo.

Projected AFC North Standings:

1. Pittsburgh Steelers: 11-5 (5-3)
2. Baltimore Ravens: 11-5 (6-2)*
3. Cincinnati Bengals: 7-9 (3-5)
4. Cleveland Browns: 3-13 (2-7)

The injury-riddled Ravens will have to face the Steelers twice in three weeks (Weeks 11 and 13), along with tests against both Mannings and RGIII. This gives the Steelers, winners of three straight overall and six straight at home, the slight edge — especially with two against the Browns and games with Kansas City, San Diego and Cincinnati left on the schedule. Pittsburgh's running game has been rediscovered and this team will finish with three of four at home in the Steel City. The Bengals have lost four straight and face the Giants this weekend before wrapping up the season with road trips to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh before the season finale with Baltimore. The Browns locker room and front office is in a great state of transition at the moment and has one or two winnable games left on the schedule.

Projected AFC South Standings:

1. Houston Texans: 13-3 (7-1)
2. Indianapolis Colts: 9-7 (5-3)*
3. Tennessee Titans: 5-11 (3-6)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: 2-14 (1-7)

The Texans are the class of the division and likely the NFL  — at least, until they visit the Patriots in Week 14. Trips to Chicago, Detroit and Indianapolis could also be tricky, but the Texans should claim the best record in the AFC at season's end. The Colts have been excellent but one has to think this team will fade with road trips to New England and Detroit remaining as well as two of their final three coming against Houston. But with a few wins (JAC, BUF, TEN, KC), the Colts could snag a Wild Card berth with a 9-7 record. The Titans and Jags have been competitive at times this fall and have looked downright atrocious at others.

Projected AFC West Standings:

1. Denver Broncos: 12-4 (5-3)
2. San Diego Chargers: 8-8 (4-4)
3. Oakland Raiders: 6-10 (3-5)
4. Kansas City Chiefs: 1-15 (1-7)

Peyton Manning is on a roll and Denver has won three straight because of it. They now won't face a team with a winning record until Baltimore in Week 15. They are a near lock to win the West. The Chargers have a much harder schedule with road trips to Denver, Pittsburgh and the Jets as well as a home date with Baltimore. An upset or two and the Bolts may sneak into the playoffs, but is that really what Chargers fans want? Norv Turner and AJ Smith for another year? Oakland has some talent on offense and could easily play the role of spoiler throughout the second half as they face New Orleans, Cincinnati, Baltimore, Denver and San Diego. Poor all season long.

Projected AFC Playoffs:

Bye Weeks: (1) Houston and (2) New England
Divisional Hosts: (3) Denver and (4) Pittsburgh
Wild Cards: (5) Baltimore and (6) Indianapolis

Projected NFC East Standings:

1. New York Giants: 11-5 (6-3)
2. Philadelphia Eagles: 8-8 (3-5)
3. Dallas Cowboys: 8-8 (3-5)
4. Washington Redskins: 6-10 (3-6)

The Giants normally wait until the second half to turn things on, so a strong start feels a bit out of place for the G-Men. The Steelers gave the league a blueprint on how to defeat the defending champs in Week 9 and it likely means a loss or two over a tough final two months that features four teams that made the playoffs last fall. The Eagles and Cowboys will square off twice over the next month and those two games should iron out the pecking order behind New York. Both have favorable second-half schedules that could get either or both to at least .500. The Redskins, according to Mike Shanahan, are apparently already looking ahead to 2013.

Projected NFC North Standings:

1. Green Bay Packers: 12-4 (6-3)
2. Chicago Bears: 12-4 (7-1)*
3. Detroit Lions: 7-9 (4-4)
4. Minnesota Vikings: 6-10 (5-4)

This division will likely come down to a Week 15 meeting between Green Bay and Chicago in the Windy City. The Packers can only get healthier while the Bears physically can't play any better than they are right now. The Bears have a brutal second-half schedule with Houston and San Francisco up next before games with Seattle, Green Bay and two with Minnesota. The Bears will play three out of their last four on the road including the final two weeks of the season against Arizona and Detroit (both of whom could be fighting for a Wild Card). When push comes to shove, Aaron Rodgers gets the nod over Jay Cutler in that key showdown at Soldier Field. Speaking of the Lions, two games with Green Bay and one each with Chicago, Atlanta and Houston make their playoff chances slim. Toss in road trips to Arizona and Minnesota with the Colts coming to town and the Lions seem unlikely to return to the playoffs. The Vikings are trending downward and finish with this nasty stretch of games: at CHI, at GB, CHI, at STL, at HOU and GB. Wow.

Projected NFC South Standings:

1. Atlanta Falcons: 15-1 (8-0)
2. Tampa Bay Bucs: 8-8 (4-4)
3. New Orleans Saints: 7-9 (3-5)
4. Carolina Panthers: 3-13 (2-6)

So where do the Falcons lose? At New Orleans, Carolina, Tampa Bay or Detroit? Possibly, but the Giants at home in Week 15 appear to be the most likely culprit. Either way, the Falcons should be the top seed in the NFC. The Bucs have been very competitive and have won three of four games. However, their second half has no easy games and could feature upwards of five or six swing games. This is going to be a fun team to watch down the stretch. The Saints have the talent to beat anyone and could easily win five or six games in the second half. A key road trip to Dallas in Week 16 could determine if either the Saints or Cowboys finish above .500. Carolina got a nice road win this weekend, but Cam Newton still has lots of growing up to do with four of the last six games coming on the road. 

Projected NFC West Standings:

1. San Francisco 49ers: 13-3 (6-2)
2. Seattle Seahawks: 9-7 (5-4)*
3. St. Louis Rams: 6-10 (3-5)
4. Arizona Cardinals: 5-11 (4-5)

Three division home games highlight a solid second half slate for Seattle that also features games against AFC East foes New York, Miami and Buffalo. Look for a playoff run from the Hawks. Arizona and St. Louis should battle it out for third place in Week 12 in the desert. After losing five straight, the Cardinals are in danger of losing out — unless they can beat the Rams at home. The Niners are clearly the class of the division and could easily be the best team in the NFC. Jim Harbaugh will have a chance to prove it with games against New England and Chicago as well as road trips to New Orleans and Seattle. 

Projected NFC Playoffs:

Bye Weeks: (1) Atlanta and (2) San Francisco
Divisional Hosts: (3) NY Giants and (4) Green Bay
Wild Cards: (5) Chicago and (6) Seattle

Super Bowl XLVII: Houston over San Francisco

-by Braden Gall

Related NFL Content:

<p> NFL 2012 Midseason Preview and Predictions</p>
Post date: Tuesday, November 6, 2012 - 05:00