Articles By Braden Gall

Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/betting-against-spread-week-4-picks

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

In Week 3 of the college football season, Houston and Nevada both won their games but failed to cover the spread. Auburn started out hot (14-0) but couldn't stop my grandmother on defense. However, I continued to move over .500 by using those late-night West Coast contest to bounce back (thanks Stanford, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State). And special thanks to Wyoming and Bowling Green for a late touchdown that gave me a 0.5 win in my only O/U bet of the season.

I will go back out to the West Coast and I will go heavy on the favorites to get the big wins...

Season Record ATS: 15-10-1 (4-3 last week)

Week 4's Top Picks:

1. Oregon (-15) at Arizona
The Wildcats are in the middle of one of the nastiest runs in all of college football. They have lost two straight, to Oklahoma State and Stanford, by allowing 37 points and well over 500 yards in each game. Both teams also covered the spread over Arizona. The Ducks have bounced back quite nicely after losing to LSU. They have scored 128 points in two games. Take the Ducks to roll in the desert. My Pick: Oregon -15

2. SMU (-22) at Memphis
Memphis’ defense has been downright atrocious, allowing 541.3 yards per game, good for 118th in the nation. Against FBS competition, the Tigers have allowed 106 points in two games. The Mustangs, despite the quarterback carousel, posted 416 yards through the air to go with five rushing touchdowns. Look for the Stangs to roll up a big numbers against one of the worst teams in the nation. My Pick: SMU -22

3. LSU (-5.5) at West Virginia
The Mountaineers have yet to play a complete football game  in 2011. They played horrendous first halves in Week 1 and Week 2 before laying a total egg in the second half last weekend against Maryland. LSU has an NFL defensive line and running game that will make life incredibly difficult for Geno Smith. Look for LSU to grind it out, wear down the WVU defense and pull away late in the fourth. My Pick: LSU -5.5

4. UL-Lafayette (+16.5) at Florida International
One of the most improved and surprising teams in the nation is FIU. UL-Lafayette is ranked 114th in total offense and 94th in scoring defense, and will have no answer for do-everything dynamo T.Y. Hilton. FIU is 3-0 against the spread this season and should keep it rolling this weekend. My Pick: FIU -16.5

5. UAB (+14) at East Carolina
Bryan Ellis is banged up for UAB. Even he plays, the leg injury will slow him down. UAB has been outscored 88-10 in losses to Florida (no shame) and Tulane (much shame). East Carolina has played valiantly against superior competition in South Carolina and Virginia Tech. Look for Dom Davis and the Pirates' high-flying passing attack to light up the scoreboard. My Pick: ECU -14

6. Georgia (-10) at Ole Miss
One of the most startling scores in all of college football was Ole Miss trailing 30-0 heading into the fourth quarter last week against Vanderbilt. Georgia, on the other hand got off the schneid with a lopsided 59-0 win over Coastal Carolina. Aaron Murray and Isaiah Crowell are battle-tested, and Georgia has won four straight games in Oxford. Ole Miss has major quarterback issues, and the Dawgs will take advantage. My Pick: Georgia -10

7. Middle Tennessee (+12) at Troy
Troy has won five straight games over MTSU and has won the last four by an average of 27 points. This will be the home opener for Troy after two huge road tests against Clemson and Arkansas. Troy held its own in both games (so to speak) as Corey Robinson threw for 373 yards and three scores against the Hogs last week. My Pick: Troy -12

8. USC (+3) at Arizona State
Arizona State has lost five straight at home to USC, and the Trojans are clearly an improved football team from 2010. The Sun Devils' defense is also missing key pieces with injuries to corner Omar Bolden, linebacker Brandon Magee and end Junior Onyeali. Matt Barkley is playing great football and the Trojans played their best game of the season a week ago. The Sun Devils are 0-3 against the spread this season. My Pick: USC +3

9. Fresno State (-2.5) at Idaho
The Bulldogs slept-walked through a five-point win over North Dakota last weekend after two brutal losses at the hands of quality competition (at Cal, at Nebraska). Idaho ranks 106th in total offense and 89th in total defense after being smoked by Bowling Green and Texas A&M. Look for Robbie Rouse and Derek Carr to put up solid numbers on offense. My Pick: Fresno State -2.5

10. Florida State (+2.5) at Clemson
The Seminoles trigger man EJ Manuel is officially listed as questionable for this game. Should he not play, I reserve the right to take this one off the board. If he is in the line-up, the smart money goes on Florida State to bounce back. This is easily the best defense Clemson has faced as the Tigers will look a lot more like the team that struggled with Wofford rather than the one that turned it on against Auburn. The ACC Atlantic title could be on the line, so FSU will bounce back – if its star quarterback plays. My Pick: Florida State +2.5

3-0 Teams Against the Spread:

Arkansas State, Buffalo, Vanderbilt, Temple, Florida, Florida International, Georgia Tech, Navy, South Florida, Stanford

2-0 Teams Against the Spread:

Baylor, Boise State, East Carolina, Oklahoma, Rutgers, Texas Tech, Utah State

0-3 Teams Against the Spread:

Akron, Arizona State, Boston College, Central Michigan, Colorado State, UConn, Kent State, Nebraska, NC State, Penn State, Pitt, UCLA

0-2 Teams Against the Spread:

Air Force, UAB, FAU, Oregon State

Other Week 4 Content:

Mitch Light's Week Four Weekend on Tap

Steven Lassan's Upset and Match-ups to Watch


<p> Athlon's Braden Gall offers his top college football picks against the spread each week.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 23, 2011 - 15:00
Path: /columns/start-or-sit/college-fantasy-football-start-or-sit-week-4

- by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Here is Athlon Sports college football Week Three College Fantasy Football Start or Sit:

Start These Quarterbacks:

BJ Daniels, USF (UTEP)
It’s hard to argue with his production over the last two weekends. Daniels has topped 350 yards in each of the last two games and has accounted for six total touchdowns. He is not running the ball nearly as much and has become a more efficient passer: 58 percent last fall vs. 71 percent over his last two games. South Florida has scored 107 points in those games as the entire offense should be squarely on the fantasy radar this Saturday.

James Vandenberg, Iowa (UL-Monroe)
It is hard to argue with consistency, and Vandenberg has proven he can produce in short order. He has topped 20 fantasy points in each of his three starts this year with a juicy 32.96 effort last weekend. UL-Monore ranks 89th in pass efficiency defense and hasn’t held an FBS passer under 200 yards yet this season. Vandenberg has also rushed for two scores this season.

MarQuies Gray, Minnesota (North Dakota State)
The dynamic athlete has taken the Gophers offense by storm over the last two weeks. He has rushed for 281 net yards while passing for 374 yards. Jerry Kill is finally starting to use his athletic skills to their fullest potential, and North Dakota State should pose no threat. Especially for a team that desperately needs to keep positive momentum as Big Ten play starts.

Sean Renfree, Duke (Tulane)
The talented junior finally put it all together last weekend – and on the road in the ACC no less. Renfree set a school record with 40 completions to go with his 359 yards and three total scores. Tulane allowed 241 yards and three scores to Tulsa’s G.J. Kinne two weeks ago and will not have the horses to slow down Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner.

Trent Steelman, Army (at Ball State)
The West Point signal-caller is entering his 29th career start under center and is guiding the nation’s No. 2 rushing offense. Steelman has rushed for 265 yards and six touchdowns over the last two games, and Ball State is ranked 95th in total defense thus far. Expect that triple option to keep rolling along this weekend.

Derek Carr, Fresno State (at Idaho)
Carr is slowly developing into one of the WAC’s top passers. He completed 65 percent of his passes for 235 yards and two more touchdowns last weekend. And with how bad the Bulldogs defense has played – 97th in rushing, 85th in total defense and 100th in scoring – Carr should have plenty of reasons to throw deep into the second half.

John Brantley, Florida (at Kentucky)
Brantley is no fantasy stud, but he is showing signs of developing. He played very well against Tennessee, throwing for 213 yards and two scores on 61 percent passing. He is also taking care of the football. He has gone two games in a row without throwing an interception for the first time since September 18 of last season. The Wildcats surrendered three passing scores to Louisville last weekend and haven’t beaten Florida since 1986.

Deep QB Plays:

JJ McDermott, SMU (at Memphis)
Jacory Harris, Miami (Kansas State)
Edward Wright-Baker, Indiana (North Texas)

Bench These Quarterbacks:

Geno Smith, West Virginia (LSU)
Did anyone see the Mississippi State-LSU tilt last Thursday? The Dallas Cowboys O-Line of the early '90s would’ve had a tough time slowing down those Bayou Bengals. And did I mention that the Tigers have two lockdown cornerbacks? Smith will throw a lot, but how effective he will be with zero running game remains to be seen. Stay away.

Tyler Hansen, Colorado (at Ohio State)
Despite struggling mightily against the Miami Hurricanes rushing attack, Ohio State still held Jacory Harris to only 123 yards passing and forced two interceptions. And without Nate Solder leading the way, the Buffaloes have struggled to run the football (103rd in the nation). As the Buckeyes return home, fantasy GMs can bet THE OSU will play fired-up football.

Tajh Boyd, Clemson (Florida State)
Boyd turned in one of the most impressive performances on any field in all of college football last week in the second half against Auburn. But this isn’t Auburn Boyd will be facing this weekend. The Noles’ front seven is deep, talented and extremely athletic. Florida State held Landry Jones to 199 yards, a TD and two INTs and the Sooners to 300 yards of total offense. It wasn’t the defense’s fault they fell to the Sooners. Look for Clemson to come back to earth after the emotionally draining win over the Tigers last weekend.

James Franklin, Missouri (at Oklahoma)
The most impressive unit of Week Three was easily the Sooners defense. They held Florida State to 27 yards rushing on 26 attempts and played such a physical brand of football that E.J. Manuel left the game early. Franklin has proven his dual-threat capabilities very quickly, but he has also made some mistakes and could take a pounding this weekend. And you can bet those Sooners haven’t forgotten what happened in Columbia last season.

Brynn Renner vs. Tevin Washington (North Carolina at Georgia Tech)
Time of possession should play a huge factor in this game as both teams have played efficient football on offense. But the defenses should not be overlooked. Tech held Jordan Webb to 148 yards and no scores last week and completely controlled the clock (try 50 att., 602 yards rushing). Renner has been supremely efficient, but no Tech opposing quarterback has topped 180 yards passing thus far. Look for the Jackets to run, run, run and run some more.

Tyler Tettleton, Ohio (at Rutgers)
The Scarlet Knights rank first in the nation in tackles for a loss, third in sacks, is tied for first in turnover margin and has had two weeks to prepare for Ohio. All things that do not add up to fantasy success. Bryn Renner did throw for 273 yards against Rutgers, but also tossed three picks and only one touchdown. Tettleton hasn’t faced a team (NM State, Gardner-Webb, Marshall) that even comes close to the level of player he will face in Piscataway.

Start These Running Backs:

Darrell Scott, USF (UTEP)
The former Colorado Buffalo had the best game of his career last weekend against Florida A&M. The talented junior is finally realizing his potential and will only look to build upon his 230-yard, 4-TD performance last week. The Miners gave up 114 yards and two scores to SMU’s Zach Line at home two weeks ago. Expect big things from all Bulls this weekend.

Kevin Parks, Virginia (Southern Miss)
All signs are pointing to the record-breaking prep star becoming the workhorse for UVa despite his size (5-foot-8). But he is a thickly built 195 pounds, and it appears that Mike London likes him (14 att., 98 yards last week) more than Perry Jones (8 att., 39 yards) in short-yardage, goal-line and tough-yard situations. Southern Miss is good enough to keep it close, but not good enough to stop K.P.

Matthew Tucker, TCU (Portland State)
Waymon James is another Frog to keep an eye on as well in this one-sided affair. With Ed Wesley still nursing an injury, Tucker and James appear to be in for the lion’s share of the carries against the lowly Vikings. Tucker has 31 carries for 161 yards and four TDs in the last two games, while James has 24 carries for 144 yards and one TD over that span. Both could be very useful this weekend.

Andre Williams, Boston College (UMass)
Boston College is 0-3 and is arguably the most desperate team in the nation. They will not mess around with the Minutemen, and Williams is their best option on offense. Expect a heavy dose of the bruiser who has scored three times in as many games and has three 100-yard games in his last six contests.

Le'Veon Bell, Michigan State (Central Michigan)
Larry Caper is another Spartan to keep en eye on as well in this one-sided affair. Bell is leading the team with three touchdowns, and starter Edwin Baker may not be needed in the second half. Look for the burly Bell to get plenty of touches in this game (he has only four fewer carries than Baker thus far in 2011).

Michael Hayes, Bryce Beall, Houston (Georgia State)
Just when you think you have a backfield all figured out? Beall actually got one more carry (11 to 10) than Hayes last week, but Hayes still got the most touches of any Houston back (13). Beall got two fourth-quarter goal-line carries and scored both times, so both options could produce this weekend against Georgia State.

Bench These Running Backs:

Andre Ellington, Clemson (Florida State)
With the aggrevated hamstring injury – and a penchant for getting banged up – staying away from the Clemson bell cow would be smart this weekend. The sledding will tough for all parties involved with the Tigers offense as Florida State’s defense is downright nasty. And they are angry after last week’s defeat. The Noles are fifth in total defense and are allowing only 77 yards rushing after holding Oklahoma to 300 total yards last week.

Ronnie Wingo, Arkansas (at Alabama)
I am not sure why Wingo even needs to be on this list. Bama is ranked fourth in rushing defense (55 ypg), second in pass efficiency defense (62.6 QB rating), third in total defense (170 ypg) and second in scoring defense (6.0 ppg). Enough said?

Henry Josey, Missouri (at Oklahoma)
Yes, Josey posted the No. 1 rushing total of 2011 last weekend (263 yards). And he will be a sneaky good play – in two weeks after Missouri plays Oklahoma and rests up on the bye. Oklahoma’s defense held Florida State to 27 rushing yards on 26 carries and was one of the most impressive units on any side of the ball Saturday.

Cierre Wood, Notre Dame (at Pitt)
It will be hard to bench a player who is off to such a great start, but the Panthers have been rather stingy on the ground. They allowed 86 yards on 23 carries to Marcus Coker last weekend. They held Maine to 37 yards rushing in Week 2 and held fantasy stud Brandon Oliver of Buffalo to 3.2 yards per carry on 35 attempts in Week 1. Lower the upside for Wood this weekend.

Lennon Creer, Louisiana Tech (at Mississippi State)
The Bulldogs of the SEC have far superior talent to that of the Bulldogs of the WAC. Dan Mullen has his defense playing low, hard and fundamentally sound football. LSU was able to plod away and gain 148 yards rushing, but needed 38 carries and never reached the end zone. Mississippi State has also had an extra two days to prepare for a team that had its heart ripped out in the fourth quarter by Houston.

Mike Ball, Nevada (at Texas Tech)
Tech’s defensive numbers against the run were skewed by an odd situation against Texas State – who ran the option to the tune of 50 rushing attempts in Week 1 despite losing 50-10. Tech totally dominated New Mexico on the road last weekend and will prove to everyone this weekend that it is one of the most improved teams in the nation. The Wolf Pack, on the other hand, struggled mightily to score 17 points against San Jose State. Also, Athlon fantasy guru Steven Lassan owns Ball and is not playing him – that should cover it!

Rodney Stewart, Colorado (at Ohio State)
A Nate Solder-less offensive line has found rushing yards tough to come by in 2011. On 61 carries against the likes of Hawaii, Colorado State and Cal, Stewart has managed only 3.6 yards per carry and has failed to reach the end zone. Against an angry Ohio State team in the Horseshoe, I cannot recommend putting Stewart in the lineup.

Lowered Expectations:

Brandon Oliver, Buffalo (UConn)
Bernard Pierce vs Davin Meggett, Maryland (Temple)
Dominique Whaley, Oklahoma (Missouri)
Montee Ball, Wisconsin (South Dakota)

Waiver Wire Wide Receivers:

Josh Jarboe, Arkansas State (Central Arkansas)
Was still targeted against Virginia Tech and Illinois, but was a monster against Memphis.

Emory Blake, Auburn (FAU)
Has scored in all three games this season and should be in store for a fourth against FAU.

Kevin Dorsey, Maryland (Temple)
Is averaging 8.5 receptions per game through two contests. Will be used heavily again this weekend.

Phillip Payne, UNLV (Southern Utah)
Finally showed up last weekend, and the Rebs’ all-time leading receiver should benefit from the poor match-up.

Sterling Griffin, USF (UTEP)
Is averaging nearly seven catches per game and is facing UTEP with Daniels on a roll.

Nick Toon, Wisconsin (South Dakota)
Posted 12 catches for 144 yards and three touchdowns over his last two. Easy match-up.

Top DEF/ST Spot Starts:

1. South Florida (UTEP)
2. Florida (at Kentucky)
3. South Carolina (Vanderbilt)
4. Wisconsin (South Dakota)
5. Penn State (Eastern Michigan)
6. Florida International (UL-Lafayette)
7. Michigan State (Central Michigan)
8. Maryland (Temple)
9. Georgia (at Ole Miss)
10. UConn (at Buffalo)
11. Mississippi State (Louisiana Tech)
12. Illinois (Western Michigan)

Other Week 4 College Foobtall Content:

Big East Expansion Candidates

More Likely to Upset: West Virginia or Arkansas

Mitch Light's Top Ten Games of Week 4

Athlon Sports Heisman Voting: Week 4

<p> Athlon prepares the college fantasy player with in-depth match-up analysis for Week 4.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 23, 2011 - 02:00
Path: /columns/national-notebook/houston-nutt-still-answer-ole-miss

-by (@CoachesBTN on twitter)

The only thing worse than Ole Miss replacing the famed Colonel with the new and more politically correct “Rebel Black Bear” is their on-field performance against Vanderbilt this past weekend.

When Ole Miss decided to replace the Ragin’ Cajun Ed Orgeron with Houston Nutt, it appeared they made the right hire. At the very least, Nutt helped Ole Miss win the press conference.

From 2001-2007 as the head coach at Arkansas, Nutt won nine or more games three different times and competed for an SEC Championship. Coach Nutt is extremely familiar with the SEC and is a four star coach in our system. What is there not to like, right?

Today, a group known as Forward Rebels put out a full page color ad in several Mississippi newspapers calling for a change at Ole Miss. This group is focusing on changes at the administrative level and not the coaching staff, but obviously the Ole Miss fan base realizes that something is amiss in Oxford.

Here at CBTN we like to keep things focused on the coaching level, so let’s take a closer look at Coach Nutt to see if the change the Rebels need is a new head coach.

Let’s dig into Houston Nutt’s numbers since 2001;

View the Coaches By The Numbers complete Houston Nutt profile here

From 05-07 Nutt had Darren McFadden, Felix Jones, and Peyton Hillis in the backfield (three NFL starting running backs) and from 08-09, Nutt had Jevon Snead at quarterback (one of the nation’s top QB’s from 08-09).

Every coach is better when they have superstars, but good coaches don’t just win when they have special talent. Given the talent level of McFadden and Jones alone, you could argue that Nutt didn’t win nearly big enough.

So, what do the above numbers tell us about Houston Nutt?

From our perspective, they tell us if you hire Houston Nutt, you better be prepared for the roller coaster ride he likes to take programs on. If he gets the right talent and the right offensive coordinator (see here for more on the Malzahn effect), he is bound to put up a good year or two. However, if he doesn’t have the right talent or the right offensive coordinator, he is bound to have some rough years.

For example, in his first two years at Ole Miss, Houston Nutt was 18-8 with Jevon Snead at the quarterback position. Since Snead graduated, Nutt is 5-10 with some really embarrassing losses (see Jacksonville State 2010 and Vanderbilt 2010 & 2011).

So, should Houston Nutt be on the hot seat at Ole Miss?

From our perspective, it depends?

If Ole Miss fans and alumni are content with a few good years mixed in with a few bad, than Nutt is your man. If Ole Miss fans want a little more out of their program, they are going to have to look beyond Houston Nutt. At this point, the numbers on Houston Nutt do a pretty solid job of telling his story as a head coach.

Before we make any specific recommendations for who might be worth considering, we want to define the Ole Miss job.

Looking at our proprietary CBTN Job Ranking, Ole Miss is the 26th best head coaching job in the country. The bad news about this number is that there are eight other SEC jobs ahead of Ole Miss and four are in the SEC West.

So, this is a good job in a great conference, but it certainly comes with its challenges. There are only three teams in the SEC (Kentucky, Mississippi St., and Vanderbilt) that have had lower average recruiting rankings over the last decade than Ole Miss. This isn’t saying Ole Miss doesn’t have talent. They just don’t have talent like Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Georgia, and Florida have talent.

Let’s consider this as well:

For some comparison, since 2004, Alabama has only played 13.33% of its game with inferior talent (only 2 since Saban arrived).

This is all to say that while Ole Miss is an attractive job it is not attractive enough to lure a Gary Patterson or Chris Petersen from their current jobs or an Urban Meyer from the ESPN booth.

So, what kind of coach does Ole Miss need? Looking at the data and information above, Ole Miss is not going to win by lining up and trying to out-physical the rest of the SEC. They simply don’t have the horses to do this. They need a coach who can out-think his peers and take a solid talent base and help it overachieve, not through “motivation” or “energy” (see failed attempt with Ed Orgeron) but through better schemes and preparation.

With this in mind, we are going to give the Rebels three names to consider: Gus Malzahn, Mike Leach, and Paul Petrino.

Malzahn: This guy is the extremely obvious choice. He knows the conference, region, and has put up video game numbers as an OC at Arkansas, Tulsa, and Auburn. Additionally, he wants to become a head coach. You always take a risk with a coordinator, but given his numbers, Malzahn is well worth the risk.

Leach: Does Mike Leach come with some baggage (read his book to find out how ridiculous the baggage is)? Yes he does. This “baggage” is the reason Mike Leach would consider taking the Ole Miss job. Since 2004, Ole Miss has won 55.88% of its games with superior talent and 27.27% of its games with equivalent talent. These numbers are the reason the program has been so mediocre. They don’t win enough of the games they should win. From 2004-2009 at Texas Tech, Mike Leach won 78.38% of his games with superior talent and 72.73% of his games with equivalent talent. This guy can flat out coach, and Ole Miss would be a perfect venue for him to reenter college football and resurrect the Rebel program.

Paul Petrino: If you are wondering why Illinois is looking like a respectable program once again, look right past Head Coach Ron Zook to Offensive Coordinator Paul Petrino. Since arriving in Champagne last year, the fighting Illini have improved their scoring offense by 10 points and have once again become a relevant Big Ten program. Like his brother Bobby, Paul is not going to win any beauty contests or PR awards, but he is going to help you win football games. Hiring a coordinator brings a certain amount of risk with it, but like with Malzahn, we believe the numbers make the risk one worth taking.

We don’t know anything about the Ole Miss AD, board, or administration. Maybe they are the problem. However, from looking at the numbers, they also have a little bit of a coaching problem if they are looking to have an elite-level program. Houston Nutt is a good coach in a lot of ways, but he is not the guy to take Ole Miss beyond mediocrity.

-by (@CoachesBTN on twitter)

Other CBTN Content:

Rick Neuheisel: Was he the right fit at UCLA?

<p> Coaches By The Numbers looks at the future of the Ole Miss football coach.</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 22, 2011 - 12:31
All taxonomy terms: Blaine Gabbert, Jacksonville Jaguars, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/jaguars-name-blaine-gabbert-starter-against-panthers

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack, File)

Jaguars' fans won’t have to wait long for the Blaine Gabbert era to begin in Jacksonville as head coach Jack Del Rio has named the rookie quarterback as the starter for the Carolina Panthers game this weekend.

The move should come as no shock after Del Rio jettisoned former starter David Garrard just days before the 2011 NFL regular season began. Veteran signal caller Luke McCown gave it an admirable try, but after four interceptions and no touchdowns in two games, the reins have been handed over to the rookie from Missouri.

McCown owns a career 2-7 starting record with nine total touchdowns and 14 interceptions in six seasons and simply does not have the talent needed to win in the NFL.

Gabbert, on the other hand, is dripping with talent. So much so that the Jags decided to select him with the 10th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. At 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, Gabbert has all the skill needed to swim in the deep end of the NFL pool. He has above average mobility, a strong arm and was coached by quarterback guru Gary Pinkel in college.

Thus far in his brief two-game career, Gabbert is 5-of-6 passing for 52 yards. Interestingly enough, when the Jaguars take the field on Sunday, Gabbert will be staring at another rookie quarterback under center as Cam Newton has quickly established himself as an NFL star. Newton’s 854 yards shattered an NFL rookie passing record for the first two games of a career.

The last time two rookie first-round NFL quarterbacks squared-off was 2006 when Jay Cutler and Matt Leinart went head-to-head for Arizona and Denver. Neither passer is with the team that drafted him currently.

There will be another rookie meeting when Jacksonville, should Gabbert survive, welcomes the Cincinnati Bengals to town in two weeks. Andy Dalton has proven his mettle quickly by winning his first career start and throwing for 413 yards, three touchdowns, and most importantly, no interceptions in his first two games.

If Gabbert can experience a fraction of the same success as Dalton or Newton, Del Rio will probably get to keep his job as head coach of the Jaguars.

<br />
Post date: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 15:09
Path: /columns/national-notebook/rick-neuheisel-never-good-fit-ucla-bruins

-by (@CoachesBTN on twitter)

“...when [Dennis] Franchione bolted in 2000 to coach Alabama, TCU barely considered Patterson. He and his second wife were separated, and he hardly projected the smooth leader-of-men look so beloved of chancellors and players’ moms.”

The above passage is from S.L. Price’s recent SI article on Gary Patterson.

If you have ever read Malcom Gladwell’s book Blink, you are familiar with what Gladwell calls the “Warren Harding Error.”

Warren G. Harding, regarded by many as one of the worst presidents in American history, received 60% of the national vote in the 1920 election, the highest percentage ever recorded in a U.S. presidential election.

So, how did the American people get it so wrong with Harding? According to Gladwell, people simply used the superficial clues to make a snap decision about a job that requires everything but superficial abilities.

As the quote at the beginning of this article indicates, athletic directors and university presidents are just as susceptible to the Warren Harding Error as the American voting populace.

Far too often head college football coaches are chosen because they look the part. In fact, from our observations, college football coaches are far too frequently hired using false and meaningless clues. Some of those clues include:

1. The school in question is their alma mater.
2. They are from the same area of the country.
3. They are fit and attractive.
4. They can “communicate.”
5. They have “energy.”
6. They have NFL experience.
7. They are young.
8. They just had a great year.
9. They have a “plan.”
10. They are a dynamic “recruiter.”
11. They will be able to relate to the fans.
12. Their interview went really well.
13. They have “integrity” (see Jim Tressel).
14. They can “motivate.”

The whole point of Coaches By The Numbers is to help fans, ADs, Chancellors, media, and anyone who pays any attention to college football and college football coaches in particular go beyond the gut and use additional analysis to make better informed decisions.

For a case in point, let’s turn to UCLA Head Coach Rick Neuheisel.

After the 2007 season, the UCLA Bruins hired Rich Neuheisel to replace outgoing coach Karl Dorrell. He appeared to be the perfect candidate. If you asked someone to draw a picture of what UCLA’s head football coach should look like, they would more than likely draw Rick Neuheisel.

He played quarterback at UCLA.

He is fit and handsome.

He is a motivator.

He is a recruiter.

He looks great in a suit.

He can give one heck of a speech.

He can impress a booster at a cocktail party. He has won 10 or more games three times as a college coach. He won a Rose Bowl in 2000. He has NFL experience. What more analysis do you need?

View the complete Coaches By The Numbers profile of Rick Neuheisel here

We could keep going with some of the deeper analysis of Coach Neuheisel, but we think you get the picture: looks can be deceiving.

UCLA went with their gut and a guy that fit every meaningless attribute they considered important in their next head coach. They paid attention to where we went to school, how he looked, how he talked, his NFL experience, and the fact that 10+ years ago he had a decent season or two.

What they didn’t pay attention was the deeper analysis that could be done on Coach Neuheisel. For example, is NFL experience really important for college football coaches (see answer here)?

How do you possibly define or quantify a coach’s ability to “motivate.” Why does it matter if a coach went to the school he is coaching? Why does it matter if he can give a really good speech or dress up and impress a bunch of boosters?

Do soft factors like the ones discussed in this article matter? Of course they matter. The legendary investor Warren Buffett has often stated that he will not purchase a company if he doesn’t trust the character and integrity of its CEO. However, Buffett will not even think to question the character or integrity of the CEO if the balance sheet isn’t appealing. Buffett knows that you have to study the hard factors (the data) before you study the soft.

If you are thinking that analyzing football coaches cannot be done with data, then we humbly welcome you to Coaches By The Numbers: the home of 2+ million pieces of data on coaches and counting. With the information at hand and available for use, why in the world do so many decisions get made at the surface level and based on soft, unmeasurable factors?

Do fans watching a game in 2011 really care if Rick Neuheisel played quarterback for the Bruins in the early 1980′s? Do they care if he can give a rousing speech at the pep rally or after beating a mediocre Tennessee team in 2008? The answer is yes they do. However, they only care about these factors if they are accompanied by winning.

In the world of college sports, for better or for worse, winning covers all.

For example, Georgia Tech’s head coach Paul Johnson is known for his blunt manner, stubbornness, and acerbic wit. When Tech won 21 games, an ACC Championship, and a trip to the Orange Bowl in Johnson’s first two years as the Jackets’ head coach, the fan base was buzzing about how much they loved Johnson’s personality.

When he would stick it to a member of the media after being asked a ridiculously ignorant question about his “high school offense”, the message boards would light up with support for Johnson’s brutally honest personality. However, after last year’s 6-7 season and bowl loss to Air Force, fans were stating that Johnson was too stubborn and that his crabby personality was off-putting to fans, recruits, and the media.

The same could be said for Georgia’s Mark Richt.

In his first five years when the Dawgs were winning 80% of their games and SEC titles, the fans praised Richt’s cool, calm, and collected demeanor. In the last four years, with Georgia winning 64% of its games, fans have started to state that Richt is too calm and passive and not intense enough to win in the vaunted SEC.

Do you think people in Alabama are naming their kids Crimson Tide because of Saban’s shining personality and gentle manner? Or do you think winning SEC and National Championships might be the reason behind such fanatical behavior?

We could go on-and-on with these types of examples, but we think you get the picture.

To come full circle, let’s revisit the quote that started this article: “…..he hardly projected the smooth leader-of-men look so beloved of chancellors and players’ moms.”

There really is nothing smooth about Gary Patterson. In fact, he is outright awkward in just about every way. This being said, he has taken TCU to heights the TCU fan base no longer thought possible, and has done it without being a “motivator”, “recruiter”, “leader”, or “insert meaningless superlative here.” He is more than likely perfectly capable of all of these things, but above all else, Gary Patterson is one heck of a football coach and the hard data is definitely on his side.

Too many AD’s worry about winning the press conference when they should be worried about winning more games. Rick Neuheisel certainly won the press conference, but he hasn’t won much since.

So, the next time your school is in need of a new football coach, be sure the AD, President, and Board don’t treat the decision making process like they are buying an ice cream cone. Demand that they look beyond the surface of how boosters or media will receive him and dig a little deeper to see if the guy can really coach or not.

In the end, if you want to please boosters, fans, and the media, all you have to do is one thing: WIN!

-by (@CoachesBTN on twitter)

Other CBTN Content:

Is Houston Nutt Still the Answer at Ole Miss?

<p> Coaches By The Numbers dives into why UCLA was foolish to hire Rick Neuheisel.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 13:01
Path: /columns/heisman-watch/athlon-sports-heisman-voting-week-4

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

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

Note: The scoring system is as follows: A first place vote earns a player 10 points. A second place votes earns nine points - so on and so forth until the 10th place player receives one point.

Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles didn't post big numbers this weekend, but both helped lead the Sooners to the biggest win thus far by any team in the nation when Oklahoma left Tallahassee with a W. Both still find themselves in the top ten as Big 12 conference play begins. 

The biggest mover has been Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson. The nation's No. 2 passer has added a totally new dimension to an already potent Badger offensive attack. Wilson has UW leading the Big Ten in scoring offense (45 ppg) and total offense (505.7 ypg).

And the nation's leading rusher has been inching up the standings each week of the season...

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (85/90 total points, 7/9 first place votes)
Season Stats: 57/85, 786 yards, 8 TD, INT, 8 att., 47 yards, TD

Just another ho-hum late-night performance by the best player in America. In a 37-10 thumping of Pac-12 foe Arizona on the road, Luck completed 20 of his 31 passes for 325 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for 36 yards and didn’t turn the ball over – again. It marks the 15th time in his career that he didn’t throw an interception. Next Game: UCLA

  Name Pos Team Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. Andrew Luck QB Stanford 85 7 - 1 1 - 9
2. Kellen Moore QB Boise St 75 - 5 2 2 - 9
3. Marcus Lattimore RB South Carolina 73 1 2 4 1 1 9
4. Robert Griffin III QB Baylor 66 - 3 - 4 1 9
5. Landry Jones QB Oklahoma 48 1 - 1 - 2 8
6. Russell Wilson QB Wisconsin 35 - - - - 3 8
7. Denard Robinson QB Michigan 29 - - - - 1 8
8. Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma St 28 - - - 1 - 8
9. Trent Richardson RB Alabama 26 - - - - 1 7
10. Ryan Broyles WR Oklahoma 9 - - - - - 3
11. Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame 3 - - - - - 1
12. Robert Woods WR USC 3 - - - - - 1
13. Brandon Weeden QB Oklahoma St 3 - - - - - 1
14. LaMichael James RB Oregon 3 - - - - - 1
15. Taylor Martinez QB Nebraska 2 - - - - - 1
16. David Wilson RB Virginia Tech 2 - - - - - 1
17. Ronnie Hillman RB San Diego St 2 - - - - - 2
18. Case Keenum QB Houston 1 - - - - - 1
19. Lamar Miller RB Miami, Fla. 1 - - - - - 1
20. Trey Wilson DB Vanderbilt 1 - - - - - 1

2. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State (75 pts)
Season Stats: 60/76, 716 yards, 8 TD, 2 INT, 2 att., 2 yards

What's not to like about 455 yards and five touchdowns on 76-percent passing on the road against Toledo? It was Moore's 40th career victory in 42 career starts, as he finished with his second-highest yardage total of his career (507). This is what he will have to do week in and week out in order to make it to New York as the only test left on the schedule is TCU at home. Next Game: Tulsa

3. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina (73)
Season Stats: 87 att., 534 yards, 7 TD, 9 rec., 66 yards

Lattimore is the most talented running back in the nation and in a closer than hoped three-point win over Navy, he was the workhorse Cocks fans have grown to love. He carried 37 times for 246 yards and three scores in the win over the Naval Academy. Lattimore now leads the nation in rushing at 178 yards per game. Next Game: Vanderbilt

4. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (66)
Season Stats: 41/49, 624 yards, 8 TD, 0 INT, 18 att., 116 yards

Most quarterbacks would be happy with 300 yards per game, a 2-0 record and a 1:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. However, RG3 is operating at a 1:1 touchdown-to-INCOMPLETION ratio — which is downright unheard-of. His 244.52 QB-rating is still leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the country. Griffin III is the most dynamic human being playing quarterback in this great country (sorry Michael Vick) and is easily the most valuable college football player in the nation. Baylor's schedule doesn't get hard until October 15: Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Missouri. Next Game: Rice

5. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma (48)
Season Stats: 53/74, 574 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, 4 att., -8 yards, TD

The numbers might not have been pretty (18-of-27, 199 yards, TD, 2 INT), but the result on the scoreboard is all that matters. Jones led his Sooner team into a rocking Doak Campbell stadium and pulled off the biggest win by any team in all of college football thus far in 2011. The first big conference test awaits this week. Next Game: Missouri

6. Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin (35)
Season Stats: 50/66, 791 yards, 8 TD, INT, 11 att., 110 yards, TD

The Wisconsin Badgers offense has never looked as dynamic as is does when No. 16 is under center. Wilson has led UW to a 3-0 record with an average margin of victory of 37 points. His 213.4 QB-rating trails only Griffin III, and he is averaging over 10 yards per carry on the ground. He produced his first 300-yard game as a Badger this weekend with his 347-yard, 3-TD performance over Northern Illinois. Next Game: South Dakota

7. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan (29)
Season Stats: 27/55, 531 yards, 6 TD, 4 INT, 50 att., 352 yards, 2 TD

The most electric player in college football rushed for 198 yards in the 31-3 blowout win over Eastern Michigan. Shoelace has "struggled" throwing the ball this season, but there is clearly nothing wrong with his legs — or win/loss record thus far in 2011. Next Game: San Diego State

8. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State (28)
Season Stats: 27 rec., 329 yards, 3 TD

The 2010 Biletnikoff winner posted modest totals of seven catches, 57 yards and a single score in the Pokes' 59-33 win over Tulsa (if anyone stayed up until 4 AM to watch the end of it). Blackmon will be needed in a big way this weekend as the Cowboys head to College Station. Next Game: at Texas A&M

9. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (26)
Season Stats: 50 att., 315 yards, 8 TD, 6 rec., 36 yards

Against lowly North Texas, Richardson had his best game of the season. He carried the ball 11 times for 167 yards (for an unreal 15.1 yards per carry clip) and three touchdowns. T-Rich will be in for his biggest test of the young season as the Razorbacks come to Tuscaloosa this Saturday. Next Game: Arkansas

10. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma (9)
Season Stats: 21 rec., 213 yards, TD

There is a large drop-off in the voting after Richardson. Broyles had a modest performance against Florida State, catching seven passes for 55 yards and returning a couple of punts. But his Sooners left Tallahassee unblemished and are now poised for a national title run. His 10.5 receptions per game are still good for second in the nation. Next Game: Missouri

Previous Votings:

Athlon Sports Heisman Ballot: Week 3

Athlon Sports Heisman Ballot: Week 2

Athlon Sports Heisman Ballot: Week 1

<p> Each week the Athlon editors will vote on the most prestigious award in all of sports.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 08:02
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/idp-waiver-wire-fantasy-football-week-3

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Each week Athlon's fantasy staff will dive into the NFL Fantasy world of Individual Defensive Players, or more affectionately known as IDPs. Weekly top performers, advice and waiver wire adds highlight the Athlon IDP Weekly Potpourri.

Week 2’s Top Defensive Backs

1. Morgan Burnett, S, Green Bay: 7 solo, 1.0 sack, INT, FF, 2 PD
I sure hope you heeded the IDP Waiver Wire’s advice last week and snagged this second year stud, because he was the top IDP defensive back in the NFL. In a secondary without Tramon Williams – and now without Nick Collins – Burnett becomes the top playmaker (sorry Chuck Woodson). His 14 solos stops in two weeks ranks him fifth amongst NFL DBs and is a must add in Week 3.

2. Roman Harper, S, New Orleans: 7 solo, 2.0 sacks, FF
Harper was a preseason top 10 IDP defensive back no matter what format you play in.

3. Charles Woodson, CB, Green Bay: 5 solo, 2 INT, FR, 2 PD
Playing against a rookie quarterback always makes for good fantasy numbers. Woodson benefited from some bad throws by Cam Newton and a forced fumble by Burnett. Woodson is a solid play, but don’t expect too many weeks like this one.

DB Waiver Wire Adds

Lardarius Webb, CB, Baltimore: 25.53 TFP (No. 3 DB)
Webb has had one of the more surprising starts to an IDP fantasy season in the NFL. He built on his 11 tackle opener with nine more solo stops against Tennessee. He is also the primary punt returner and back-up kickoff specialist, so in leagues with return yard, his special teams duties add some value.

Sean Jones, S, Tampa Bay: 22 TFP (No. 5)
The veteran safety has posted at least seven total tackles in each of his first two games and added a big sack this weekend. With talented corners helping him on the outside, Jones should be free to patrol the middle of the field all season long.

Patrick Peterson, DB, Arizona: 20.7 TFP (No. 8)
The uber-talented rookie proved his special teams skills in Week 1, but also has proven he be productive on defense as well. He has at least five solo stops in each of his first two career games and has 13 total tackles thus far. He also has 128 return yards and will add value in leagues that count those points. Once he adds the big play – INT, SACK, FF, etc – to his game, he could be a great value the rest of his career.

DB Injury Update

Eric Berry, S, Kansas City
Jon McGraw filled in admirably this weekend – at least in the fantasy world – with 10 tackles and an INT against Detroit. With Berry done for 2011, McGraw could pro

Patrick Chung, S, New England
The former Oregon Duck became the latest Patriot to injure his thumb. He left the field in the third quarter against the Chargers but returned with a hard cast on. Monitor the situation.

Nick Collins, S, Green Bay
The Pro Bowl Packer sustained a serious head/neck injury this weekend and was carted off the field. Mike McCarthy announced Monday that he will miss the remainder of the 2011 season. Charlie Peprah filled in for Morgan Burnett last fall and will do the same for Collins.

Jonathan Joseph, CB, Houston
The Cincinnati import has played well for the Texans but is questionable for Week 3 against New Orleans with an ankle injury.

Week 2’s Top Linebackers

1. Michael Boley, NY Giants: 3 solo, 3 asts, FR, TD, PD
Take his touchdown with a grain of salt. He has only 10 total tackles in two games.

2. Mason Foster, Tampa Bay: 7 solo, 3 asts, 1.0 sack, FF
It hasn’t taken long for this rookie to make his mark in the middle of the Bucs defense. He plays on three downs and is in a great position to continue his production all season long.

3. Desmond Bishop, Green Bay: 9 solo, 1 ast, 1.0 sack
The heart of the Packers linebacking corps has produced two weeks in a row. Look for this type of performance nearly every week from the former Cal Golden Bear star.

LB Waiver Wire Adds

Sean Lee, Dallas: 27.0 TFP (No. 1 LB)
I told you to pick him up last week – and I sure hope you did as he is now the No. 1 LB in IDP fantasy football.

Mason Foster, Tampa Bay: 20.5 TFP (No. 7)
The rookie is in a lucrative fantasy position for the foreseeable future. He has racked-up 17 total stops in his first two games and shows the ability to make the big play. He is consistent and should be a safe bet for 8-10 tackles each week.

Pat Angerer, Indianapolis: 20.5 TFP (No. 7)
The Colts’ defense will be on the field a lot in 2011 and Angerer figures to be the guy who will make the most stops. He was a tackling machine at Iowa and it appears he will continue that trend as his 21 total stops will indicate. His big-play ability is limited, but he should easily top 100 tackles.

Sean Weatherspoon, Atlanta: 18.5 TFP (No. 14)
I called him out last week as a great waiver wire addition and he didn’t disappoint with a very serviceable 10 total tackle performance. He now has 16 total solos on the year and the Falcons' defensive line isn’t even healthy yet. Just wait.

LB Injury Report

Daryl Washington, Arizona
Missed last week’s game with mild calf strain, but should be back in the line-up.

Tamba Hali, Kansas City
The injury bug in KC has been insane. Hali left Week 2 game with an ankle issue.

Week 2’s Top Defensive Lineman

1. Jabaal Sheard, DE, Cleveland: 4 solo, 1 ast, 1.0 sack, FF, FR
This rookie has all the talent in the world and is worth an add after his excellent Week 2 showing. However, keep in mind, most teams he plays won’t be Indianapolis and most teams will be running against the Browns rather than passing.

2. Jason Hatcher, DE, Dallas: 4 solo, 2 sacks
Hatcher has never topped 27 tackles and never had more than 2.5 sacks in a season. While he certainly appears poised to set personal records, I cannot advise you to add him in anything but super-deep DL leagues.

3. Cullen Jenkins, DE/DT, Philadelphia: 3 solo, 1 ast, 2.0 sacks
With the injury to Trent Cole (and with how explosive Jenkins looked on Sunday night) the former Packer could be a sneaky good pick-up for the near future. However, Jenkins has constantly had injury issues of his own, so have a back-up plan ready to go.

Top DL Waiver Wire Adds

See Cullen Jenkins, Jabaal Sheard above.

Jean Pierre-Paul, DE, NY Giants: 20 TFP (No. 2 DL)
Once again, if you paid attention to last week’s IDP potpourri, then Pierre-Paul isn’t likely to be available in most IDP leagues. If he is, do not think twice about adding this future star.

Haloti Ngata, DT, Baltimore: 15 TFP (No. 9)
The world’s most dominant defensive tackle is one of few nose guards who is worth owning. He simply makes plays. He has 2 FR, a FF and 2 PD to go with above average tackle production from his position.

DL Injury Report

Trent Cole, DE, Philadelphia
The dynamic rusher is questionable for Week 3 against the Giants with a hand issue.

Elvis Dumervil, DE, Denver
He missed last week’s game with a shoulder issue. Monitor very closely.

Aaron Kampman, DE, Jacksonville
Knee injury already has him ruled out of Week 3 game against Carolina.

Other NFL Fantasy Content:

Corby Yarbrough's NFL Fantasy Week 3 Waiver Wire Report

Feel free to email ( or @AthlonCorby) or tweet us with any NFL Fantasy questions that you may have. Yarbrough will be answering all your fantasy questions every Wednesday of the regular season.

<p> After two weeks of action, where should you turn for IDP help in Week 3?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 21, 2011 - 03:09
Path: /college-football/south-carolina-gamecocks-ncaas-next-scandal

-by Braden Gall (@BradenGall on twitter)

Published Sept. 20, 2011

The nationwide NCAA violations tour has added a new date in Columbia, South Carolina: The South Carolina Gamecocks.

USC, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Miami and now the South Carolina Gamecocks have caught the ire of the NCAA infractions committee after two years of potential violations.

Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks received the official NCAA notice of allegations Monday afternoon regarding its college football, basketball and track/field programs.

The NCAA claims that at least 12 student-athletes (10 football and two track) received just under $47,000 in benefits from the local Whitney hotel. The impermissible reduced rent supposedly included special provision for nine players to pay back the money at a later date. Two football players are reported to have paid the dramatically reduced rate ($14.59 versus $57) for over 400 days. The report indicates that the 10 football players spent a total of 1,717 days/nights at the hotel.

The Whitney Hotel’s general manager, Jamie Blevins, is a South Carolina booster.

The NCAA notice also claims that representatives of the University of South Carolina had illegal contact with potential recruits, including extra benefits. Delaware-based Student Athlete Management Foundation (SAM) – run by two South Carolina grads President Steve Gordon and treasurer Kevin Lahn – is reported to have provided $8,000 worth of benefits to prospective student-athletes. The disobedience is reported to have taken place between the spring of 2009 and February of 2011. These benefits include a boat cruise for nearly 50 football players, entertainment costs, meals, lodging and unofficial trips to campus.

Sharrif Floyd of Florida and Carolina’s Damiere Byrd have both already been served suspenions and repaid monies stemming from relationships with SAM.

It might be a total coincidence that these “impermissible” benefits took place during a period of extraordinary Gamecock recruiting. If you simply extrapolate and speculate, this period of time would heavily involve the two recruiting cycles in which the South Carolina Gamecocks signed the No. 1 player in the nation in the 2011 class, Jadeveon Clowney, and the No. 5 player in the nation from the 2010 class – and current NCAA rushing leader – Marcus Lattimore.

"We have and will continue to cooperate fully with the NCAA in all aspects of their review," said South Carolina athletics director Eric Hyman said in his official statement. "Any pertinent information from the NCAA that can help us strengthen our athletics program will be used as an opportunity to make positive change."

Both issues are considered “potential major violations,” and South Carolina has 90 days to respond to the NCAA notice of allegations before eventually appearing before the infractions committee.

It may only be just the beginning and it may not be as bad as it sounds, but with the way college football has been soaked in scandal for the last 18-24 months, it’s has to be tough for Gamecock fans not to be nervous.

<p> South Carolina fans may not as much to cheer about in 2011 after the NCAA sent a notice of allegations on Monday.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 - 11:29
Path: /columns/national-notebook/college-football-boxscore-week-3-numbers

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Each week, Athlon will bring college football fans the most interesting, bizarre and thought-provoking statistics from the weekend of action.

335: Number of carries South Carolina sophomore Marcus Lattimore has in 15 career games (the Florida State game was not counted as he left in the first quarter after one rushing attempt). He averages over 22 carries per game in his career.

1,732: Rushing yards in Lattimore's first 15 career games - good for over 115 yards per game for his career. He is currently leading the nation in rushing with 534 yards at a 178 yards/game clip.

27: Total touchdowns scored by Lattimore in his first 15 career games.

40: Number of Sean Renfree completions this weekend in a road win over Boston College — which tied a single-game school record.

12.1: The new NCAA record for team yards per carry in a single game set by Georgia Tech this weekend (50 rushing attempts). The previous record was 11.9 set by Alabama in 1973 against Virginia Tech.

604: New Georgia Tech single game rushing record after the 50-attempt performance against Kansas this weekend. The Jackets also set a school record with 768 total yards of offense as well.

0: Number of Yellow Jacket players who carried the ball at least 10 times this weekend. The team ran the ball 50 times for 604 yards and seven touchdowns.

26.3: Yards per touch in 2011 for Georgia Tech's Orwin Smith. He has 421 yards from scrimmage on 16 total touches. Smith has scored five times already.

17: Number of total completions by Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington so far in 2011. He has 637 yards passing and seven touchdowns on those 17 completions.

2004: The last time the Florida Gators lost to SEC East rival Tennessee Vols. The Gators have won seven straight in the series.

10 and 155: Clemson single-game freshman receptions and receiving yards records set this weekend by dynamic frosh wideout Sammy Watkins.

624: School record for total yards by Clemson against an SEC opponent set by the Tigers this weekend in their 38-24 win over Auburn. It was Clemson's first win over the Tigers since 1951 (0-14).

87: Total offensive snaps in the first half of the Clemson-Auburn game. Six of them came after the offense huddled.

49-0: The halftime score of the Cincinnati-Akron showdown this weekend. The Zips have been outscored 142-17 in 2011 so far.

40-0: Utah outscored BYU 40-0 in the second half of the Holy War this weekend. Utah won 54-10.

31: Number of consecutive non-conference wins for the Wisconsin Badgers.

29: Number of consecuative wins Penn State claims over Temple. It's the longest active streak by any FBS team over another FBS team.

282: Rushing yards by Minnesota quarterback MarQuies Gray in his last two games under center.

1: The number of times both Mississippi State and LSU have been ranked when they played. It took them 105 games before both were ranked for the first time in the 19-6 LSU win on Thursday night.

5: Zach Stoudt interceptions against Vanderbilt in the 30-7 loss in Nashville.

40-2: Kellen Moore's win-loss record as a starter at Boise State. He is five away from Colt McCoy's NCAA record for wins by a starting QB.

107-21: Moore's career touchdown-to-interception ratio in 42 career games for Boise State. Moore threw for 455 yards and five scores in the Broncos' 40-15 win over Toledo.

Nov. 10: The day the NCAA will watch Case Keenum eclipse Timmy Chang's career passing yards record of 17,072 if he maintains his current 2011 pace of 373 yards per game. He has 14,705 career yards.

3,602: Career rushing yards by Oregon's LaMichael James — now two yards ahead of Boston College's Montel Harris as the active NCAA leader in rushing.

Other Related Content:

Is the Big 12 College Football's Best Conference?
Week 2: College Football Boxscore

<p> A statistical look at the best numbers of Week 3 in college football.</p>
Post date: Monday, September 19, 2011 - 17:00
All taxonomy terms: Green Bay Packers, Nick Collins, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/nick-collins-hospitalized-overnight-head-injury

The Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers had to put victory on hold late in their Week Two match-up on Sunday as Packers' safety Nick Collins lay motionless on the floor of Bank of America Stadium.

The Pro Bowl safety was carted off the field after making a diving attempt to tackle Panther running back Jonathan Stewart in the fourth quarter of the 30-23 win over Carolina. His head appears to strike Stewart's thigh and bounced off the turf before he finally came to rest face down.

Collins was able to give a wave to the fans, players and coaches as he left the field. He spent the night in a North Carolina hospital after sustaining a head and neck injury. CT scans were negative and Collins has all movement and feeling in all of his extremities.

Collins, a 2005 second round pick who has played in 95 of his possible 97 career games, hasn't missed a game since 2007.

Head coach Mike McCarthy began his Monday press conference with the news that Collins will miss the remainder of the 2011 season. The safety arrived in Green Bay about 1 PM Monday afternoon and McCarthy said it was "too early in the evaluation process" to determine if Collins would need surgery.

The hard-hitting safety who normally plays through pain is the second member of the Super Bowl champion's secondary to go down with a serious injury in as many weeks. The star of the postseason, Tramon Williams, was hurt in Week One against New Orleans and was unable to play this weekend. Charlie Peprah entered the game and will take any snaps that Collins misses. He played most of 2010 in place of injured rookie safety Morgan Burnett - who was lost for the season in Week Four last season.

Green Bay has allowed 800 yards passing - good for last in the NFL at 400 yards per game.

<p> The Green Bay Packers Pro Bowl safety Nick Collins took a nasty blow to head on Sunday.</p>
Post date: Monday, September 19, 2011 - 16:21
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/big-12-college-footballs-best-conference

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Off the field, the Big 12 is currently the ugly ducking of the BCS litter as four of its power teams — Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech — appear to be heading West to the Pac-12.

But on the field, Big 12 teams are forcing college football to respect the conference’s swan song.

The SEC currently holds five consecutive BCS national championships, but if the streak is going to end in 2011, it appears the Big 12 will be the likely culprit. That is because, through three weeks of play — and copious hours of expansion talk — the Big 12 is ironically college football's best conference.

One could make the case that South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi State, Kentucky and Ole Miss are not as good as expected. Tennessee, Arkansas, LSU and Alabama are playing exactly as expected. Florida and Vanderbilt are slightly better, while Auburn should be winless through three games.

While the league may be on the verge of utter and permanent destruction, the Big 12 owns the best overall record of any conference in college football at 23-2. The only two losses by the entire league have been Kansas falling at the hands of 3-0 Georgia Tech in Atlanta and Missouri’s overtime heartbreaker in the desert against 2–1 Arizona State.

Oklahoma owns the single best victory by any program in the nation after walking away from Doak Campbell Stadium with a 23-13 win over No. 5 Florida State. The Sooners defense was the surprise of the game as the Crimson and Cream soldified themselves as the best team in the nation.

The Big 12 also claims more “BCS” wins than any of the power conferences (counting Notre Dame, Boise State, TCU and BYU as “BCS.”) The heartland conglomerate has a sterling 7-2 mark against fellow “BCS” competition with road wins over UCLA (Texas), UConn (Iowa State) and Florida State (Oklahoma) to go with home wins over Arizona (Oklahoma State), TCU (Baylor), Iowa (Iowa State) and BYU (Texas).

For the record, the Big Ten is 6-6, the ACC is 5-5, the Pac-12 is 5-6, the SEC is 4-4 and the crumbling Big East is 3-6 in such games.

The SEC is still the 800-pound gorilla that is only gaining weight with the addition of Texas A&M. LSU and Alabama are both national title contenders with arguably the best two defenses in the nation. And LSU also owns the second-best win of the year (Oregon, Week 1).

But right now, the Big 12 has performed like the stronger league. Oklahoma (1), Oklahoma State (7), Texas A&M (8), Baylor (17) and Texas (19) are all ranked in the top 20 and spearhead a league that also includes a much improved Texas Tech squad, a very talented Missouri team and an Iowa State team with upset wins over the Big Ten and Big East.

Oklahoma State is the No. 2-ranked offense in the nation. Texas Tech is No. 3, Baylor is No. 4, Missouri is No. 12, Texas A&M is No. 18 and Oklahoma is No. 19.

Texas Tech (No. 2), Oklahoma State (No. 3) and Baylor (No. 6) are three of the top six scoring teams in the nation. The Pokes lead the nation in passing at over 408 yards per game with four other Big 12 teams are ranked in the top 20 nationally in passing offense.

And the star power in this league is nothing short of spectacular.

Brandon Weeden, Robert Griffin III and Seth Doege are Nos. 2, 3, and 5 nationally in total offense. Ryan Tannehill (No. 22), James Franklin (No. 24) and Landry Jones (No. 25) round out the Top 25 nationally in total offense.

Texas Tech’s Darrin Moore and Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles are tied for second nationally with 10.5 receptions per game, while Baylor’s Kendall Wright is fifth and Okie State’s Justin Blackmon is eighth nationally in catches per game. The Biletnikoff Award isn’t likely to leave the Big 12 after Blackmon claimed the honor in 2010. In fact, the Big 12 has won three of the last four such awards.

Texas A&M’s Cyrus Gray is fifth in the nation in scoring at 15 points per game and Oklahoma State’s Joseph Randle is seventh after scoring seven times in three games.

Griffin III is arguably the most valuable player in the nation and is the most dynamic quarterback in this country — no offense, Michael Vick. Jones might be the front-runner for the Heisman. And to top it all off, the NCAA’s single-game rushing leader in 2011 is Mizzou’s Henry Josey after he rushed for 263 yards this weekend.

In the past, when conferences crumble or disband, it's normally a result of poor play, low revenue ceilings and subsequent profit loss. This is certainly not the case with the Big 12. The SEC is the champion until proven otherwise, and there is still loads of work left to be done by all parties involved, but three weeks into the season, the Big 12 is the best conference in football.

At least the Big 12 is going out on a high note.

Other Related Content:

Doomsday: The Future of the Big 12
Pitt and Syracuse Join The ACC

<p> After three weeks of play and rumors of destruction, is the Big 12 America's top league?</p>
Post date: Monday, September 19, 2011 - 14:00
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/college-fantasy-waiver-wire-week-3

-by Braden Gall ( @AthlonBraden on twitter)

Quarterback Adds:

Tyler Hansen, Colorado
Back-to-back 30-point games has Hansen ranked as the No. 7 overall quarterback in all of fantasy. He has a tough match-up this week with Ohio State, but also has Washington State and Washington in the next four.

Trent Steelman, Army
Two straight games with over 108 yards rushing. Two straight games with at least three rushing touchdowns. Two straight games without an interception. And two straight games with at least 28 TFP. Upcoming schedule includes Ball State, Tulane, Miami-OH and Fordham as four of the next five.

MarQueis Gray, Minnesota
Two straight 100-yard rushing efforts – and two 25 TFP weekends – should prompt many to snag Gray over the wire. Especially considering the up-coming schedule: North Dakota State, Michigan and Purdue.

Sean Renfree, Duke
Connected 40 times this weekend in the big road win over Boston College. He scored three touchdowns (one rushing) and racked-up 359 yards through the air. With Tulane and Florida International as the next two, its hard to ignore Renfree's 27.9 TFP weekend.

Sneaky Week 3 Plays:

James Vandenberg, Iowa
Has been over 20 points in all three games and has UL-Monroe this weekend.

John Brantley, Florida
All of the Gators should be good plays this weekend against Kentucky.

BJ Daniels, USF
Posted 382 yards and four scores last week in 39.3 TFP effort. Gets UTEP in Week 4.

Edward Wright-Baker, Indiana
Posted 273-2 on Saturday and topped 40 yards in two straight. North Texas this weekend.

Running Back Adds:

Darrell Scott, USF
The top scorer in all of fantasy this weekend was the former Colorado Buffalo. He has built on his performance each week as he went from 3.3 TFP in Week 1 to 47.5 TFP this weekend. And the Bulls gets UTEP in Week 4.

Henry Josey, Missouri
His 10+ yards per carry average and 145 yards from scrimmage in the overtime thriller against Arizona State was only a glimpse of what was to come. Josey, against much lesser competition in Western Illinois, rushed 14 times for 263 yards and three touchdowns. Oklahoma is next and the bye follows after, but Kansas State, Iowa State and Oklahoma State are the looming on the horizon.

Matthew Tucker, TCU
The starter, Ed Wesley, hasn't played since Week 1 against Baylor and is still nursing a shoulder injury. Tucker, meanwhile, has scored four times in the last two games. Portland State, SMU and San Diego State are the next three up for the Frogs.

Orwin Smith, Georgia Tech
Pick-up and play at your own risk - or if you have no indegestion issues. Smith has proven he can make the big play - 16 total touches for 421 yards for a 26.3 yards per touch average. And he has scored five times. He may never get to be a 10-15 touch per game player, so starting him is risky, but it's hard to ignore the 39.5 and 25.7 TFP games thus far.

Wide Receivers Adds:

Sammy Watkins, Clemson
This one is pretty self-explanatory as the dynamic playmaker makes this list for the third straight week. He won’t be on it again.

Mike Scott, Idaho
Scott has caught at least six passes in all three games this fall and at least eight in his last two. He has also registered at least 89 yards in all three games. The upside might be slightly limited, but the consistency will have its benefits. Fresno State and Virginia are next before WAC play takes over the schedule.

Nick Toon, Wisconsin
No one has benefited more from Russell Wilson than Mr. Toon. The NFL legacy has 12 catches for 144 yards and three touchdowns in his last two. He gets South Dakota this weekend.

Josh Jarboe, Arkansas State
Four catches for 38 yards and no scores is no reason to land on a waiver wire list. But Arkansas State playes Central Arkansas, Western Kentucky and UL-Monroe over the next three weekends. His elite level talent will play well in the Belt.

Jaxon Shipley, Texas
The McCoy-to-Shipley combination is going to haunt Big 12 coaches forever. He caught another five passes, ran the ball once and threw a touchdown pass against UCLA – in his third career game. Expect more from the Little Shipley in 2011.

Hope you didn’t drop them:

Jeremy Ebert, Northwestern: 6 rec., 108 yards, 2 TDs vs. Army
Kenny Stills, Oklahoma: 7 rec., 125 yards, TD vs. Florida State
Kelvin Bolden, Southern Miss: 4 rec., 33 yards vs. SE Louisiana

Tight Ends:

Crockett Gilmore, Colorado State
Three straight weeks with at least four catches and has scored twice in three games.

DJ Grant, Texas
Exploded over the weekend with a 6-catch, 77-yard, 3-TD performance.

Dwayne Allen, Clemson
Was Tajh Boyd’s favorite clutch target (not named Watkins) against Auburn.

Trey Burton, Florida
Has 10 rushes and four catches over the last two. Gets Kentucky this weekend.

Week 4 DEF/ST Adds:

1. South Florida (UTEP)
2. Florida (at Kentucky)
3. Florida International (UL-Lafayette)
4. Illinois (Western Michigan)
5. Maryland (Temple)
6. Michigan State (Central Michigan)
7. Texas Tech (Nevada)
8. Wisconsin (South Dakota)
9. UConn (Buffalo)
10. South Carolina (Vanderbilt)


<p> What does the college fantasy waiver wire have to offer after three weeks of action?</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 18, 2011 - 18:49
All taxonomy terms: Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, MLB, News
Path: /mlb/worse-contract-john-lackey-or-aj-burnett

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

The 2011 MLB season began with the Boston Red Sox as the prohibitive favorites to win the AL Pennant due in large part to the strength and depth of the starting rotation.

The New York Yankees, while still picked by most to make the postseason, were looked at as the Wild Card due in large part to the weakness of their starting rotation.

CC Sabathia, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett have all been solid (in Lester’s case) to excellent (in Sabathia’s case). But as Boston has watched its massive, seemingly insurmountable Wild Card lead evaporate in a matter of days, the issues on the mound in Beantown cannot be ignored.

Since the Yankees beat the Red Sox on the first day of September 4-2, the Sox have struggled to get people out. This is obviously due in part to the loss of Josh Beckett – who missed a couple of starts because of a sprained ankle.

However, it's not just Beckett's bum ankle's fault. In September, the Red Sox are 3-11 overall and are allowing nearly seven runs per game. This is one of those times when a 5-year, $82.5 million pitcher is supposed to step in and save the sinking ship.

But John Lackey has been anything but worth his lofty price tag.

And to be honest (and I can’t believe I am saying this) A.J. Burnett’s identical 5-year, $82.5 million contract might actually be the smarter of the two deals.

Let’s look at the numbers in year one:

Lackey (2010): 215 IP, 14-11, 4.40 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 156 K, 72 BB
Burnett (2009): 207 IP, 13-9, 4.04 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 195 K, 97 BB

It should be noted that Burnett helped the Yankees win the World Series in 2009 by making five starts – in three of which he went at least six innings and allowed two or fewer runs.

How about year number two:

Lackey (2011): 149.2 IP, 12-12, 6.19 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 101 K, 51 BB
Burnett (2010): 186.2 IP, 10-15, 5.26 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 145 K, 78 BB

Basically, through the first 40 percent of these indistinguishable contracts, the numbers are virtually identical – minus that one little World Series ring Burnett is polishing at the moment.

Lackey has yet to pitch in the postseason for the Red Sox. And he won’t if he can’t step up and help this team stop the bleeding. When it has mattered the most, Lackey has failed to answer the bell. Boston has lost his last four starts and five of his last six trips to the bump. He finished seven innings once in that span and allowed fewer than three runs a single time.

At the time of the contracts, I would have taken the Lackey deal every day of the week and twice on Sundays, but I am not sure I can say that any longer.

<p> Which big-time pitching contract was worse: Boston's John Lackey or New York's A.J. Burnett?</p>
Post date: Friday, September 16, 2011 - 17:04
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/betting-against-spread-week-3-picks

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

After a middle of the road effort in Week One of the college football season, I bounced back with force in Week Two, nailing each of my top three locks of the week. Of course, there is no rest for the weary as Mississippi State (vs. Auburn) and Iowa wildly underachieved in games they both should have won.

I still feel Andrew Lucky as I am going back to the Cardinal well for the third straight week after Stanford covered the spread in both of its games thus far. And since my road favorites were such a big hit last week as well, I might as well keep that train rolling along too.

Season Record ATS: 11-7-1 (6-3 last week)

Week 3's Top Picks (all times eastern):

1. Oklahoma State (-13.5) at Tulsa
The Cowboys look just as good as if not better than they were last season on offense. And last year, they dropped a 65 spot on Tulsa (65-28 final). Brandon Weeden, Joseph Randle, Justin Blackmon and one of the nation's top offensive lines will walk into Tulsa (which could have a heavy Orange and Black tint to it) and run away with this one. My Pick: Oklahoma State -13.5

2. Nevada (-6) at San Jose State
I know it was a blowout and I know they allowed 69 points, but against the national runner-up in Oregon, the Wolf Pack rolled up 516 yards of offense, including 283 yards rushing. It was Nevada's first game of the season, so they should be much improved in Week Two. San Jose State played improved football against UCLA last week, but hasn't closed the gap after a 57-3 drubbing against Stanford in Week One. Chris Ault and company beat the Spartans 62-7 last fall. My Pick: Nevada -6

3. Houston (-6.5) at Louisiana Tech
Case Keenum threw for 458 yards and five touchdowns last week. Louisiana Tech allowed 372 yards, four touchdowns and 42 total points to Central Arkansas and Nathan Dick last week. There is no way the Bulldogs can slow down the Cougars offense. Houston will roll. My Pick: Houston -6.5

4. Texas Tech (-20.5) at New Mexico
Few teams have played as poorly as the Lobos. They have scored 13 total points against Colorado State at home and Arkansas on the road. The Rams sacked New Mexico 10 times in the opener and Texas Tech knows it. The Red Raiders are rested after the bye week and are prepared to travel into the Land of Enchantment for an easy win. My Pick: Texas Tech -20.5

5. Stanford (-9) at Arizona
Andrew Luck plays football at a different level than anyone else in the nation. Weird things can happen in the desert but not normally until October. Luck was 23-of-32 for 299 yards and two scores in the 42-17 win over the Wildcats last season. Meanwhile, the Cats are coming off a nationally televised loss to Okie State in which they allowed 398 yards passing to Weeden and 197 yards rushing to Randle and company. My Pick: Stanford -9

6. Auburn (+3.5) at Clemson
The nation's longest current winning streak (17) is on the line when Auburn heads down to Death Valley. Clemson has not looked good in either game, both of which were against clearly inferior opponents (Troy, Wofford). There is just no way anyone can pick against the defending national champs. Watching the Mississippi State defense play well enough to win against LSU on Thursday night only highlights the job Guz Malzahn has done with the young Auburn offense. This one should be a shootout with Auburn winning No. 18 in a row. My Pick: Auburn

7. Wyoming at Bowling Green (54.5 O/U)
Bowling Green is averaging 45 points per game (yes, against Idaho and Morgan State) and Wyoming is averaging 40 points per game (yes, against Weber State and Texas State). The Cowboys allowed 32 points to Weber State in week one, and this game has shootout written all over it with solid quarterback play from Matt Schilz and Brett Smith respectively. My Pick: Over 54.5

Tier Two Picks if you are feeling lucky:

Take the road underdogs to cover - and in Ohio State's case - to win outright:

Ohio State (+2.5) at Miami
Navy (+18) at South Carolina
Michigan State (+5.5) at Notre Dame

Other Week Three Content:

College Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 3

Week 3 Prediction: Florida State vs. Oklahoma

Steven Lassan's Week 3 Upsets and Match-ups

Athlon Sports Predicts Every Game of Week 3

<p> Athlon's Braden Gall offers his top college football picks against the spread each week.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 16, 2011 - 13:20
Path: /columns/start-or-sit/college-fantasy-football-start-or-sit-week-3

- by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Here is Athlon Sports college football Week Three College Fantasy Football Start or Sit:

Start These Quarterbacks:

Casey Pachall, TCU (UL-Monroe)
Replacing a legend is never easy, but despite the loss to Baylor, Pachall has made it look easy. He has six touchdown passes to only one interception with 56 yards rushing and another score on the ground. He has completed more than 70 percent of his passes and will be facing the 79th-rated pass efficiency defense thus far in 2011. Against FBS talent this fall, ULM has allowed 280 yards and three touchdowns. This is Pachall’s team now, and owners should have him in the line-up this week.

Tyler Hansen, Colorado (Colorado State)
Throwing for a single-game school record isn’t something that happens every day, but that is what Hansen did last week. His 474 yards are a Buffaloes record and the current single-game high of the 2011 season. He has thrown at least two TDs in each game thus far and accounted for three scores against Colorado State in last year’s opener. Start all of your Buffs.

Aaron Murray, Georgia (Coastal Carolina)
The Dawgs might have lost to South Carolina last week, but Murray is clearly the real deal under center. He threw four TDs and 248 yards against the Cocks last week and will look to expand on that line this week. Certainly, Mark Richt will establish the run behind star freshman Isaiah Crowell, but Murray should post excellent numbers against a far inferior opponent.

James Franklin, Missouri (Western Illinois)
There is still plenty to learn for Franklin, but the talent is obvious. In two career starts, he already has a 300-yard passing game, a 100-yard rushing game, completed 63.2 percent of his passes, has only one interception and has experienced a hostile road overtime atmosphere. Expect Gary Pinkel to get his Tigers back on track against lowly Western Illinois.

Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M (Idaho)
The Aggies will welcome a chance to play actual football after constant expansion drama has engulfed College Station during the bye week. Tannehill and company has to be hungry to get back onto the field, and the poor Vandals will play the role of punching bag. Idaho allowed 478 yards of offense against Bowling Green in week one and should be no match – on either side of the ball – for the powerful TAMU attack.

Derek Carr, Fresno State (North Dakota)
Week Two was a huge learning experience for the sophomore slinger from The Valley. Against an elite-level defense in an incredibly stressful environment, Carr threw 254 yards and scored two touchdowns against Nebraska. The younger brother of former first overall pick David Carr has proven his mettle in only two starts against quality BCS competition. Against North Dakota, Carr’s full talent should flourish.

Bench These Quarterbacks:

Ryan Aplin, Arkansas State (at Virginia Tech)
The Hokies held Dom Davis and East Carolina's high-flying attack to 127 yards on 38 attempts last weekend. That should be all fantasy owners need to keep Aplin far away from the starting line-up. Bud Foster has his defense back where it belongs: Rated in the top ten nationally by allowing 202.5 yards per game through two weeks.

Tyler Bray, Tennessee (at Florida)
The Vols sophomore had all day to throw last week against Cincinnati, but fans can bet that the law firm of Powell, Floyd, Easley, Green and Howard won’t allow Bray to leave the Swamp untouched. The Gators have won six straight over Tennessee and have played excellent defense against weak opponents FAU and UAB. Florida has allowed a total of three points this season. Additionally, Bray has started seven total games in his brief career – none of which were outside of the state of Tennessee or against a true road crowd.

Kriss Proctor, Navy (at South Carolina)
Against Delaware, Proctor averaged eight yards per carry on 22 attempts. Against Western Kentucky, he ran 16 times at a 1.4 yards per carry clip. South Carolina will easily be the toughest defense Proctor has faced thus far, but the major weakness of the Cocks’ unit has been the secondary. Proctor has attempted 14 passes all season, so it’s the front seven in Columbia that will play the key role. The upside is very limited, even if Navy keeps it close.

Keith Price, Washington (at Nebraska)
The good news in Seattle is that Steve Sarkisian has clearly found his quarterback. The bad is that Price is facing an angry Huskers team in Memorial Stadium. He did get plenty of experience in garbage time at Oregon last season but has never seen anything like the atmosphere he will be facing this weekend. The upside is extremely limited as even playing well last week, Derek Carr managed 14.6 fantasy points passing last week against Nebraska.

Kolton Browning, UL-Monroe (at TCU)
Until he gets to Sun Belt play, Browning shouldn’t be anywhere near the starting line-up. He is 26-50 for 246 yards and one touchdown in two games thus far. Enough said.

Play with caution:

Nick Foles, Arizona (Stanford)
Against the Cardinal last year, Foles threw for 248 yards, one TD and one INT. It was his lowest yardage total since the 10-9 Cal win back on September 25, 2010. Stanford has held both starting quarterbacks it has faced this fall to less than 200 yards passing and has looked like a national title contender in its two blowout wins.

Corey Robinson, Troy (at Arkansas)
There is a chance that Robinson could throw a few garbage time touchdowns, but Arkansas will dominate this one from the opening kickoff. A similar line to his Clemson performance feels right for Robinson: 258 yards, TD, INT.

Alex Gillett, Eastern Michigan (at Michigan)
The Wolverines defense doesn’t scare anyone, but there is a clear talent differential in this one. After a quality first week (25.2 TFP), Gillett looked terrible against Alabama State, completing only seven of his 19 passes for 61 yards.

High-Profile Shootouts:

Landry Jones at EJ Manuel (Oklahoma at Florida State)
Brock Osweiler at Nathan Scheelhaase (Arizona State at Illinois)
Kirk Cousins at Tommy Rees (Michigan State at Notre Dame)
Jordan Webb at Tevin Washington (Kansas at Georgia Tech)
Barrett Trotter at Tajh Boyd (Auburn at Clemson)

Start These Running Backs:

Isaiah Crowell, Georgia (Coastal Carolina)
Against South Carolina, Crowell had his nationally televised coming out party. He runs with excellent patience and vision and can be used in all facets of the offense. Look for Richt to get him plenty of work against the lowly Chanticleers.

Andre Williams, Boston College (Duke)
Montel Harris has yet to practice and the redshirting rumors are growing louder in Chestnut Hill. That leaves the carries in the very capable arms of Andre the Giant. Duke allowed 205 yards on 30 carries (6.8 yards per carry) and two touchdowns against Stanford last week. Expect Boston College to get back to its roots and pound the football in an effort to win its first game of the season.

Isi Sofele, Cal (Presbyterian)
This Golden Bear hasn’t shown the same talent as the Bests and the Lynchs of past years, but he still has topped 80 yards and 20 carries in both games this fall. He scored twice against Fresno State, and against the Blue Hose, Sofele should be very successful.

Terrance Ganaway, Baylor (Stephen F. Austin)
The starting tailback for Baylor has been champing at the bit to get back onto the field after the 15-day layoff. He rushed 24 times for 120 yards against TCU; expect Art Briles to get him rolling early against the FCS opponent.

Josh Harris, Wake Forest (Gardner-Webb)
Harris has carried the ball 22 and 23 times respectively against Syracuse (66 yards) and NC State (96 yards). The level of competition is far below that of the previous first two weeks, so the sophomore future star could have a big day against the Runnin’ Bulldogs.

DeAnthony Thomas, Oregon (Missouri State)
This one is a no-brainer. Thomas has touched the ball 12 times on the ground for 103 yards with one score and eight times for 140 yards with two scores through the air. The Black Mamba is a dynamic breakaway threat who can score from anywhere on the field, and against Missouri State, he should get plenty of work.

Michael Hayes, Houston (at Louisiana Tech)
Here is the touches breakdown in the crowded Cougars’ pseudo-backfield: Charles Sims has four carries and two receptions, Bryce Beall has 18 carries and one receptions and Hayes has 20 carries and 11 receptions. Clearly, Case Keenum and Kevin Sumlin like Hayes’ game the most. And against La. Tech, there will boatloads of points scored on both sides.

If you are desperate:

Curtis Underwood, NC State (South Alabama)
Marc Tyler, USC (Syracuse)
Christine Michael, Texas A&M (Idaho)
Eddie Lacy, Alabama (North Texas)
Kendrick Hardy, Jamal Woodyard, Southern Miss (Houston)

Bench These Running Backs:

Lance Dunbar, North Texas (at Alabama)
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Bama has the best defense I have seen on any college field thus far. Dunbar will be held completely in check this week. Look elsewhere.

Adonis Thomas, Toledo (Boise State)
This makes two weeks in a row that one of the MAC’s best fantasy plays needs to be on the bench. Boise State has an NFL front line on defense and will be even tougher than Ohio State – who held Thomas to 47 yards on 14 carries.

Chris Polk, Washington (at Nebraska)
There has been a lot of talk about how Nebraksa has struggled on defense this fall. The Huskers couldn’t stop Bobby Rainey in week one of last season, but then turned it on the rest of the way. Robbie Rouse ran for 169 yards against Big Red last week, but he needed 36 carries to get there. There is no doubt that Bo Pelini has lit a fire under his defensive unit, and the Huskers will come out fired up against a team they are extremely familiar with – this is the third meeting in roughly one calendar year for the two.

Tauren Poole, Tennessee (at Florida)
Poole has been on the verge of breaking a big run through two games but has been held in relative check. He has 45 carries for 199 yards and only the one score thus far in 2011. But the Florida Gators front seven will be by far the toughest test he has faced. He managed only 23 yards on 10 carries last season in Knoxville against Florida. Is allowing 1.5 points per game a good thing?

Antwon Bailey, Syracuse (at USC)
Bailey was excellent in Week One and wasn’t asked to do to much (for some reason) against Rhode Island in Week Two. The Trojans defense looks to be dramatically improved from a year ago after holding the very underrated John White IV to 56 yards on 20 carries last week.

Lowered Expectations:

Perry Jones, Kevin Parks, Virginia (at North Carolina)
Javonti Greene, Dominique Sherrer, Eastern Michigan (at Michigan)
Jeff Scott, Ole Miss (at Vanderbilt)
Bernard Pierce, Temple (Penn State)
Ray Graham, Pitt (at Iowa)

Wide Receiver To Watch:

Emory Blake, Auburn (at Clemson)
At least 95 yards in each game and a score in both games. Should be high scoring.

Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech (Houston)
Has 13 catches in the first two games and this one should feature lots of points.

Josh Boyce, TCU (UL-Monroe)
At least five catches and 76 yards in each game thus far. Looks like Pachall’s go-to.

Sammy Waktins, Clemson (Auburn)
Getting a lot touches as only a freshman (5 att., 11 rec.) and should be high scoring.

DeVonte Christopher, Utah (at BYU)
One of the Pac-12’s most underrated wideouts. Huge game (11-136-1) last week.

B.J. Cunningham, Michigan State (at Notre Dame)
Sparty’s all-time leading receiver should take advantage of the weak Irish secondary.

Taveon Rogers, New Mexico State (UTEP)
Has scored a touchdown and reached at least 88 yards in each game thus far.

Top Ten DEF/ST Spot Starts:

1. South Florida (FAMU)
2. Oregon (Missouri State)
3. NC State (South Alabama)
4. UCF (at FIU)
5. Ole Miss at Vanderbilt
6. Texas A&M (Idaho)
7. Texas Tech (at New Mexico)
8. South Carolina (Navy)
9. Western Kentucky (Indiana State)
10. Arkansas (Troy)

Other Week 3 Content:

Mitch Light's Weekend on Tap: Week's Top Ten Games

<p> Athlon prepares the college fantasy player with in-depth match-up analysis for Week 3.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 16, 2011 - 07:45
Path: /columns/athlon-interview/georgia-legend-vince-dooley-talks-dawgs-football

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Athlon Sports' Braden Gall had a chance to sit down with legendary SEC player and head coach Vince Dooley. The former head coach at Georgia touched on the current college football landscape, what the SEC has meant to him, Mark Richt and the 2011 Georgia Bulldogs and some of his favorite memories from coaching the planet’s greatest game.

Braden Gall: You played at Auburn, coached at Georgia and your son coaches at Tennessee. What has the SEC meant to you?

Vince Dooley: It’s all that I have ever known. I went to Auburn, I played at Auburn, and I coached at Auburn. I was there for 12 years. Then being at Georgia as long as I was and now I have a son [Derek Dooley] at Tennessee, a grandson that finished Vanderbilt and a granddaughter who has finished Alabama. So yeah, I have been very much involved and it has significant meaning to me. Even Derek coached at LSU, so for four or five years, we were LSU fans in addition to everything else. In fact, I was actually born in the same year that the SEC started (1932), so I have been heavily involved with the SEC my whole life.

BG: Have there ever been any rooting conflicts when Georgia and Tennessee get together?

VD: Yes, it certainly is a problem. If I were to get up in the stands and shout hard against [Derek] in favor of Georgia, then I wouldn’t be married much longer. What I decided to do last year when we played Tennessee was to stay at home and watch the game on TV. I have to pull for my son, but I can't pull against Georgia in Samford Stadium. And I’ve got the same problem this year when Georgia goes up to Knoxville. I’m considering not going to that game and maybe staying at Derek’s house to watch it on TV. That will be much easier.

BG: Conferences have changed dramatically over the years. What are your thoughts on the landscape and trajectory of college football?

VD: I’ve seen the SEC from the time I came in – when Tulane and Georgia Tech were members and we had 12 teams. They left shortly thereafter. And then I was there for the first expansion. Even when we were looking to expand [in 1992], we even looked at Texas and Texas A&M. We ended up with Arkansas and South Carolina; however, it could have just as easily, had things worked out, been Texas and Texas A&M. And that over 20 years ago.

So since that time, we have seen a lot of things happen – even more so recently. But it certainly appears that we are headed in the direction of having 14- or 16-team conferences with some reshuffling still left to do.

BG: What are the biggest differences in the Xs and Os of college football since you coached?

VD: All of these things go in cycles and come back in different ways. That has been the long time history of particularly the offense. An offense will get started and will drive a defense crazy for a period of time until the defense can catch up. Then another offense will come in and be successful. Eventually, you will just have variations of that same offense.

Actually, what we have today, in a lot of cases, is a spread formation. Which is just a spread single wing with a tailback doing what tailbacks used to do in the single wing, but they have much more flexibility to do it now. It’s always challenging, particularly for defensive teams in college football, because while there is always a certain offense that is in fashion, you still have other offenses that are taking place. Not everyone is running the spread. You still have some that are pro offenses and then you still have some that run the option. So all of that causes great stress on defenses in college football as opposed to the pros – which are a little more standard.

BG: Your thoughts on the evolution of the quarterback position in college football?

VD: All of college football is more sophisticated, both offensively and defensively, than it has ever been before. You’ve got better coaching than ever before. You’ve got more good coaches than ever before. Certainly, the passing game is more sophisticated than it has ever been.

Going back to the spread, you are getting these great athletes that are playing quarterback like the great single wing tailbacks used to do. Like Charley Trippi at Georgia, for example. In fact, Trippi told me a few years ago that he would love to play in this offense today. And that was when Charlie was 84 or 85. I am not sure he could do quite as well but he would do just fine in the modern system.

More and more schools are getting these great athletes [to play quarterback] and it’s taking some schools that traditionally have not been very good and making them very potent. As an example, we saw Utah State with that freshman [Chuckie Keeton] who gave Auburn fits. There are more and more of these type of skill players. It’s always about what’s up front over the long haul, but there are an abundance of skills people who are really balancing out college football.

BG: What were some of your favorite places to visit as a player or coach?

VD: I always loved Oxford, Mississippi and The Grove. Oh yeah, the tailgating in The Grove was fun. The fans there have always been great. So that was a favorite place – even though we had some tough times in Oxford when I was coaching.

Toughest places to play? South Carolina was always very tough at night. Paul Dietzel adopted what they used to do at LSU when it came to playing night football. So that was always a challenge. It was the same with Clemson. It was tough to play in Death Valley.

Anywhere you go, particularly because most of the time we were playing in the southeast and we are partial to this region, it was really great. There is a tradition of great football, great tailgating and great rivalries in this area of the country.

BG: With all of the sanctions and violations of the last two years, is there anything that can be done to fix the system?

VD: I think because of the great popularity and high visibility of the sport, we will always have problems. But I think that while we have several known schools that are under, not only investigation, but some that have already been penalized or found guilty, that there are still a great majority that are not. You have a lot of schools that are NOT under investigation. You have a lot of schools that are clean. The same goes for the players. It’s a small number of players that have gotten into trouble, while the majority of players are clean.

BG: What do you think of the job Mark Richt has done as the head coach at Georgia?

VD: He has had a great career. He won a championship his second year and then won a second championship. He wins 10 or more games more times than not, and usually when that happens you become a victim of your own success. The problem is that the standards are so high here at Georgia. Every successful coach I have known, be it Bear Bryant or Joe Paterno, and I’ve certainly been through my own trials and tribulations, has to go through tough times. That has happened recently with Coach Richt and I am confident that he will come out of it.

There certainly seems to be less patience today than ever before – and there wasn’t a lot of patience back then anyway. Nevertheless, the coaches are getting paid a heck of a lot more than they ever did before so the fans are more demanding because of it.

I think that Georgia, despite the fact they have started the way they have [0-2] – and people are starting to respect Boise more than ever – I think that there is enough good material there to be successful. They have a great quarterback in Aaron Murray. I think the defense is better, and they have got two of the best kickers in the country. So I do think that when the season is over that Georgia will have a much, much improved football team than last season.

BG: Talk about your involvement in the Legends Poll?

VD: It’s really fun and has been a great way for a lot of, I guess who you would call “Legends,” to keep in touch with each other. Some coaches that I’ve competed against and have great respect for. So that has been the best part – the weekly conversations, keeping in touch with college football and keeping in touch with old friends. We also discuss many of the current issues in college football. Overall, it’s been a great experience.

Special thanks to Athlon Sports partner The Legends Poll

<p> Athlon had a chance to sit down with legendary Georgia coach Vince Dooley.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 14:00
All taxonomy terms: IDP Fantasy Football, NFL, Fantasy, News
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/nfl-fantasy-week-2-idp-waiver-wire

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Each week Athlon's fantasy staff will dive into the NFL Fantasy world of Individual Defensive Players, or more affectionately known as IDPs. Weekly top performers, advice and waiver wire adds highlight the Athlon IDP Weekly Potpourri.

Week 1’s Top DBs:

1. Aqib Talib, CB, Tampa Bay: 16.0 TFP
3 solo tackles, 1 ast, INT, TD, 2 PD

2. Lardarius Webb, CB, Baltimore: 15.43 TFP
9 solo tackles, 2 ast, 1.0 sack, 2 PD, 37 return yards

3. Ed Reed, S, Baltimore: 15.0 TFP
6 solo tackles, 2 INT, 4 PD

As a general rule of thumb for defensive backs, safeties are better plays than corners. The great corners rarely get thrown at and one interception every three games would be considered good. If your league awards point for passes deflected/defensed, this does add some value to the coverman as they generally rack up the most PDs.

Additionally, the big play – e.g., the defensive TD – cannot be taken into consideration when trying evaluate IDPs. If a player scores two defensive touchdowns in a single season, he has done something special. So ignore Talib’s touchdown. Is it an indicator that the player has big-play potential? Absolutely. And Talib has 16 interceptions since 2008 (good for sixth in the NFL, Yahoo!), so keep an eye on him. He certainly should be motivated as he basically got out of prison to play football this year, but I am not running to the wire for the former Kansas standout.

And finally, on a somber note, the projected No. 1 IDP defensive back in the league, Kansas City's Eric Berry, will miss the entire season after he suffered a torn ACL at the hands of a Stevie Johnson block in the first quarter of 2011. As a fellow Tennessee alum - and EB29 fantasy owner - it was a rough day in the secondary. This injury not only screwed up my fantasy line-up in Week 1, but may hurt the rest of the Cheifs IDPs (Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, Glenn Dorsey) as the star sophomore had quickly solidified the backend of the KC defense.

Top DB Adds:

Antoine Winfield, CB, Minnesota: 14.5 TFP
Winfield is one of the NFL’s all-time most underrated cornerbacks. He is an excellent tackler (as his 10 total stops in Week 1 indicate) and excellent off the blitz (5.0 sacks over the last three seasons).

Morgan Burnett, S, Green Bay: 10.5 TFP
Burnett was in for big things last year before it was ended with an injury four games into his rookie season. In his sophomore debut, he posted 14 total tackles. In this defense, he and fellow play-maker Nick Collins are excellent plays.

Kam Chancellor, S, Seattle: 10.0 TFP
Not many IDPs score in double-figures on tackles alone but that is what Chancellor did in Week 1, posting 10 solo stops. He is comfortable around the line of scrimmage and should rack up tackles all season behind the Seahawks questionable front seven.

Week 1’s Top LBs:

1. Brian Urlacher, LB, Chicago: 22.0 TFP
6 solo tackles, 4 ast, INT, FR, TD, PD

2. Terrell Suggs, LB, Baltimore: 19.5 TFP
5 solo tackles, 3.0 sacks, 2 FF

3. D’Qwell Jackson, LB, Cleveland: 19.5 TFP
10 solo tackles, ast, 2.0 sacks, 1 FF

Linebackers are the easiest IDP position to find. Ten NFL linebackers posted at least eight solo tackles in the first week of action, so do not panic if your draft picks didn’t pan out in one week. Drop about 10 names on your watch list (Pat Angerer, Thomas Davis, Bart Scott, Jamar Chaney, Mason Foster) and feel free to shuffle players all season long.

Top LB Adds:

Sean Lee, LB, Dallas: 15.0 TFP
Lee looked the part on Sunday night against the Jets. He flew around the defense and was rarely off the field as it appears that Bradie James and Keith Brooking will be the ones rotating. Lee was a tackle machine at Penn State and should find himself with double-digit tackles on a consistent basis.

Daryl Washginton, LB, Arizona: 14.0 TFP
The only thing keeping Washington from the top add spot is his mild calf strain. He is questionable for this week’s game, so monitor the injury. However, when healthy, the second-year backer is a star in the making. The defense is designed around the former TCU star and he will make big plays all year long – he had a sack and interception against Carolina.

Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Atlanta: 10.0 TFP
Even with Curtis Lofton on the same field, Weatherspoon has the ability to be a star in this league. The former first-round pick was slowed due to injury last fall and came out swinging this fall. He posted nine solo stops against Chicago.

Week 1’s Top DLs:

1. Kory Biermann, DE, Atlanta: 18.0 TFP
2 solo tackles, ast, 1.0 sack, INT, TF, PD

2. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, NY Giants: 14.5 TFP
5 solo tackles, ast, 2.0 sack, FF

3. Julius Peppers, DE, Chicago: 13.5 TFP
2 solo tackles, ast, 2.0 sack, FF, FR

Much like safeties and corners, the defensive end is normally the position to own on the fantasy IDP gridiron. Few defensive tackles are worth owning (Haloti Ngata is a monster by the way) so keep an eye on the edge of the defensive line.

The defensive line also appears like the most predictable preseason IDP position as Peppers, Jared Allen, John Abraham, Justin Smith, Mario Williams and Jason Babin all finished Week 1 in the top 10 of DL fantasy performers – as predicted.

Top DL Adds:

Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, NY Giants: 14.5 TFP
From a physical standpoint, JPP skills match that of most elite NFL pass rushers. He just needed the opportunity and a year of seasoning. With Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora struggling with injuries (JPP is a must add if you own either of those two), Pierre-Paul could be in for a big year in the Big Apple.

Ray McDonald, DE, San Francisco: 9.5 TFP
Finally getting his chance to play regularly, McDonald made the most of it in Week 1 with six solo stops and a sack. High tackle totals are a rare thing for most defensive lineman, so do not underestimate a player who looks poised for decent tackle totals.

JJ Watt, DE, Houston: 7.0 TFP
This guy never quits working. He is an absolute monster on the edge and it appears he will be a huge part of the dramatically improved Texans’ defense. He collected five solo stops and recovered a fumble in his first career game.

More NFL Fantasy Content

Athlon Sports Week 2 Waiver Wire Report

Ask Athlon Week 2 Fantasy Advice

NFL Fantasy: Week 1 By the Numbers


<p> Who were the top IDPs from Week 1? And who should you add for Week 2?</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 09:56
Path: /columns/heisman-watch/athlon-sports-heisman-voting-week-3

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

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

Note: The scoring system is as follows: A first place vote earns a player 10 points. A second place votes earns nine points - so on and so forth until the 10th place player receives one point.

Two weeks do hardly a season make, but we have already seen plenty of Heisman moments from a number of potential finalists. Week Two featured Denard Robinson accounting for 98.7-percent of Michigan's total offense (446 of 452 yards) in the breathtaking come-from-behind win over Notre Dame. We also saw Marcus Lattimore carry the ball 13 times for 94 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the Cocks' win over Georgia.

There is one name noticeably missing: Oregon running back LaMichael James. Despite 123 yards from scrimmage and two scores in a blowout win, James fell completely off the list. He did not receive a top ten vote by any of the nine editors after finishing ninth last week.

And so, with Robert Griffin III, Kellen Moore, Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles all on bye in Week Two, the spotlight still belongs to the best player in the nation:

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (83/90 total points, 7/9 first place votes)
Season Stats: 38/54, 461 yards, 6 TD, INT, 5 att., 11 yards, TD

The Cardinal have won their two games by a combined 101-17, so Luck has not been needed at all in the fourth quarter of either contest. The Palo Alto prodigy completed 20 of his 28 passes for 290 yards and four touchdowns against Duke —which, for what it is worth, is technically a road win over an ACC team. Over his last five games dating back to last season, Luck has tossed 16 touchdowns against only two interceptions, and Stanford has won eight games in a row. Next Week: at Arizona

  Name Pos Team Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Ballots
1. Andrew Luck QB Stanford 83 7 - 1 - - 9
2. Kellen Moore QB Boise St 72 - 3 3 3 - 9
3. Robert Griffin III QB Baylor 71 - 6 - 1 - 9
4. Marcus Lattimore RB South Carolina 66 1 - 3 4 - 9
5. Landry Jones QB Oklahoma 45 1 - 1 - 2 8
6. Denard Robinson QB Michigan 35 - - 1 - 2 8
7. Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma St 25 - - - - 2 8
8. Trent Richardson RB Alabama 24 - - - 1 - 7
9. Russell Wilson QB Wisconsin 22 - - - - 1 6
10. Ryan Broyles WR Oklahoma 13 - - - - - 5
11. Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame 6 - - - - 1 1
12. Kendall Wright WR Baylor 6 - - - - 1 1
13. Taylor Martinez QB Nebraska 5 - - - - - 1
14. David Wilson RB Virginia Tech 5 - - - - - 2
15. Case Keenum QB Houston 4 - - - - - 2
16. T.Y. Hilton WR FIU 4 - - - - - 1
17. Robert Woods WR USC 3 - - - - - 1
18. Tyler Bray QB Tennessee 3 - - - - - 1
19. Brandon Weeden QB Oklahoma St 2 - - - - - 1
20. Darron Thomas QB Oregon 1 - - - - - 1

2. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State (72 pts)
Boise State was on bye in week two, but will travel to take on an interesting opponent this weekend. Toledo, considered by many to be the favorite in the MAC West, took Ohio State to the wire before losing 27-22 in the Horseshoe. The Rockets will be ready for Moore and Company Friday night. Next Game: at Toledo

3. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (71 pts)
Griffin and the Bears have had to wait a long time to get back on the field. In fact, 15 days will have passed since fans saw the most dynamic force in college football take the field. Statistically speaking, Griffin might be limited this week as Baylor hosts a fledgling FCS in-state program. Next Game: Stephen F. Austin

4. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina (66 pts, 1 first place vote)
The fourth quarter belonged to Lattimore last Saturday in Athens. His 13 rushing attempts on three final-quarter drives led to a touchdown, a field goal and ultimately iced the game on the final drive. He finished with 176 yards on 27 carries and the all-important fourth-quarter touchdown in what could turn out to be the most important win of the season for the Gamecocks. Next Game: Navy

5. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma (45 pts, 1 first place vote)
If out of sight out of mind was an issue for Jones in the Week Two voting, it certainly won't be the case after this weekend. Jones leads the Sooners into Tallahassee in what could be a BCS championship game elimination game. The Noles (2-0) have looked outstanding — against UL-Monroe and Charleston Southern. The Heisman could also be on the line for Jones should he struggle against what has been a dominant front line for FSU. However, the question remains: Has Florida State closed the 30-point gap from last season's 47-17 beating in Norman? Next Game: at Florida State

6. Denard Robinson, QB, Michigan (35 pts)
The list of superlatives is long for Shoelace after the performance he put on in Ann Arbor Saturday night. He racked up 948 yards of total offense in the last two wins over the Irish, accounting for an absurd 98.7-percent of the offense last weekend. Robinson threw for 338 yards on only 11 completions and rushed 16 times for 108 yards. He struggled in the first three quarters, throwing three interceptions, but transformed into the electrifying talent Maize and Blue fans have come to love in the final period. Which, of course, included the three-play, 80-yard scoring drive in the final 28 seconds. Next Game: Eastern Michigan

7. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State (25 pts)
The next tier of vote-getters begins with the talented Pokes wideout. After a quiet eight-catch, 144-yard first weekend, Blackmon showcased his skills on national television in the Thursday night blowout win over Arizona. The junior caught 12 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. It doesn't appear that the Cowboys offense is missing Dana Holgorsen at all thus far. Next Game: at Tulsa

8. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (24 pts)
If a three-touchdown performance can be called a fluke, Richardson first showing of 2011 might be it. He carried only 13 times for 37 yards against Kent State in week one but bounced back in hostile territory to prove he belongs on this list. Against Penn State in Beaver Stadium, T-Rich touched the ball 30 times for 130 yards from scrimmage and a pair of key touchdowns to beat PSU 27-11. Next Game: North Texas

9. Russell Wilson, QB, Wisconsin (22 pts)
The most important recruit in the class of 2011 was not Jadeveon Clowney or Malcolm Brown or Isaiah Crowell. It was Russell Wilson. Wilson is leading the Big Ten in passer rating and is No. 2 in the nation in QB efficiency with an astonishing 237.64 rating. He has completed 27 of 34 passes for 444 yards, five touchdowns and no turnovers. He has added 73 yards rushing on only six carries and another score on the ground. Wilson alone makes this Badger team the Leaders of the pack in their division. However, voters won't truly learn about Wilson until Nebraska comes calling on October 1. Next Game: Northern Illinois, Chicago

10. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma (13 pts)
The talented, talkative wideout still leads the nation in receptions after his 14-catch opening weekend performance. After resting for the week, Broyles and company will have a chance to put on a show when the Sooners travel to Tallahassee this weekend to battle Florida State. The BCS national title and Heisman trophy could be on the line in the weekend's highest-profile contest. Next Game: at Florida State

Athlon Sports 120: Week 3

Previous Voting:

Athlon Sports Heisman Ballot: Week 2

Athlon Sports Heisman Ballot: Week 1

<p> Each week the Athlon editors will vote on the most prestigious award in all of sports.</p>
Post date: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 - 08:30
Path: /columns/national-notebook/college-football-boxscore-numbers

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Each week, Athlon will bring college football fans the most interesting, bizarre and thought-provoking statistics from the weekend of action.

60: Total points scored by the UConn Huskies in its last three games against FBS opponents - none of which came on an offensive touchdowns. They kicked nine field goals, blocked a punt, recovered a fumble in the endzone, returned two interceptions and scored on one kickoff return.

579: Total yards passing for Georgia Tech in two games. The Yellow Jackets threw for 1,091 yards in all of 2010.

22.3: Georgia Tech’s nation leading yards per pass attempt. Baylor is second at 14.3.

3.3: Yards per pass attempt by East Carolina’s Dominique Davis against Virginia Tech. He threw 38 passes for 127 yards.

948: Yards of total offense Michigan’s Denard Robinson has accounted for in his two wins over Notre Dame.

98.7%: Denard Robinson accounted for 446 of Michigan 452 total yards, or 98.7%.

45%: Notre Dame has entered the red zone 11 times and scored points five of them - good for 116th in the nation.

8: Number of times Army fumbled the ball in a 23-20 loss to San Diego State.

8: The number of passing touchdowns allowed by South Carolina in two games. The Cocks rank 110th in scoring defense at 39.5 points allowed per game.

48: Total yards for FAU against Michigan State. The Spartans held FAU to one first down.

12.2: Yards per touch by Oregon true freshman DeAnthony Thomas in his first two games. He has touched the ball 20 (12 rush, 8 rec.) times for 243 yards and three touchdowns.

153: The number of career receptions Michigan State’s B.J. Cunningham has after his five receptions this weekend. He is now MSU’s all-time leading receiver (148, Matt Trannon)

0: The number of total tackles on the season by Auburn’s Ryan Smith prior to stopping Mississippi State’s Chris Relf on the goalline as time expired in the Tigers 41-34 win.

474: A single-game school record for passing yards set this weekend by Colorado’s Tyler Hansen in an overtime loss to Cal. He was 28 of 49 passing.

3: Number of North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner’s passes that have hit the ground out of 49 attempts. He has completed 42 and threw four interceptions.

60%: The percentage of passes caught by Bowling Green’s Eugene Cooper that have gone for a touchdown. He has 10 catches in two games and has scored a nation’s best six receiving touchdowns.

23: The number of touchdowns passes by Tennessee’s Tyler Bray in his first seven games as a starter. He has seven scoring strikes in two games this year against zero interceptions.

2: The total number of completions by the Wofford Terriers in the 35-27 loss to Clemson. Wofford entered the fourth quarter down by one point.

17.5: Total tackles per game by nation’s leading tackler Luke Kuechly through two games. The BC linebacker led the nation with 183 tackles as a sophomore and also posted 158 stops as a freshman.

123: Total points scored by Washington State in its first two games. It also marks the first back-to-back wins for Wassu since 2007.

<p> A statistical look at the best numbers of Week Two in college football.</p>
Post date: Monday, September 12, 2011 - 18:28
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/five-star-freshman-make-big-impact

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Last week was a slow week in the recruiting world. Washington State picked up a trio of commitments and then won back-to-back games for the first time since 2007. The Pitt Panthers landed Pittsburgh (Pa.) Penn Hills wide receiver Corey Jones, and LSU got a verbal pledge from Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) Dwyer offensive tackle Patrick Miller.

Other than that it was a relatively quiet week on the recruiting trail. The “recruiting” spotlight shone brightest on Saturday when a litany of true freshmen Athlon Consensus 100 recruits made a name for themselves. The 2011 class has made, in very short order, a massive impact on the college football world.

View the complete 2011 Athlon Consensus 100 here

Here is a look at some of the biggest impact five-star (Top 35) AC100 freshmen of the first two weeks:

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina (AC100 No. 1)
The world’s unanimous No. 1 prospect has proven in short order that he will be a force to be reckoned with on the field. His size — which will only get bigger and scarier — is painfully obvious to opposing offensive blockers as he has delivered some crushing hits to quarterbacks. He leads the Gamecocks with two sacks already and was a huge factor in the key victory over Georgia. Stats: 9 tackles, 2.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 FF

Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas (No. 4)
The No. 1 running back is leading the Horns in rushing and carries after two weeks and has helped reestablish a power running game for the Burnt Orange for the first time in nearly a decade. Stats: 30 att., 154 yards

DeAnthony Thomas, RB, Oregon (No. 5)
His big play ability has been on full display in short order. Thomas is averaging 8.6 yards per carry and 17.5 yards per reception for the Ducks. He will continue to be a dynamic threat in that high-powered Chip Kelly offense. Stats: 12 att., 103 yards, TD, 8 rec., 140 yards, 2 TD

Isaiah Crowell, RB, Georgia (No. 9)
The Dawgs may be 0-2, but Mark Richt has clearly found his new star on offense. Crowell has been battling through a slight rib injury and established himself as the focal point of this entire offense. Stats: 31 att., 178 yards, TD, 2 rec., 40 yards, TD

James Wilder, RB, Florida State (No. 12)
He failed to see the field in week one but led the team in rushing in week two. In fact, he currently leads the team in rushing after two blowout wins. We will learn more about Mr. Wilder this weekend against Oklahoma. Stats: 10 att., 76 yards

Tim Jernigan, DT, Florida State (No. 13)
He quickly established himself as a summer camp monster once practice began, and in some short work thus far he has proven he was worth the hype. Stats: 5 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack

Stephone Anthony, LB, Clemson (No. 16)
Fellow AC100 linebacker Tony Steward is seeing some time as well (4 total tackles) but Anthony has made the bigger splash. Stats: 6 tackles, 1 TLF, 1 sack

Jeff Driskel, QB, Florida (No. 17)
The No. 1 quarterback in the nation has seen some garbage time in two blowout wins. The dual-threat is the heir apparent to the Gator throne at quarterback. Stats: 5-7, 59 yards, INT, 4 att., 13 yards

Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU (No. 19)
Landry hasn’t made a huge splash yet, but he did catch a pass against LSU in week one and then made a big play in the return game in week two. Expect more things from Landry in 2011. Stats: 1 rec., 3 yards, 1 PR, 31 yards

Steve Edmond, LB, Texas (No. 23)
This tackler could see more of the field as the season goes on, but he improved from Week One to Week Two, posting three solo tackles and a forced fumble in the come-from-behind win over BYU. Stats: 4 tackles, 1 FF

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson (No. 24)
The versatile, dynamic playmaker has made an instant impact in the dramatic switch in offense for Clemson. Watkins is leading the Tigers in receptions and yards thus far while also seeing some snaps in the backfield and returning kicks. Stats: 11 rec., 137 yards, 2 TD, 5 att., 35 yards, 5 KR, 110 yards

Nick O’Leary, TE, Florida State (No. 26)
The youngster hasn’t made a huge splash but has caught a pass in each of his first two games for the Noles. Stats: 2 rec., 16 yards

Savon Huggins, RB, Rutgers (No. 28)
Huggins struggled in Week Two against North Carolina – but so did every other player in that game for either team. He had a strong debut against NC Central, however, and expect his role to continue to grow as the year goes along. Stats: 17 att., 32 yards, 2 TD

Mike Bellamy, RB, Clemson (No. 29)
The speedy recruit is second on the team in rushing and has proven to be a very capable back-up for Andre Ellington. He is averaging 20 yards per carry and has been used on kick returns as well. Stats: 5 att., 100 yards, TD, 4 KR, 64 yards

Braxton Miller, QB, Ohio State (No. 30)
Miller didn’t see any time in the second week against Toledo, but with the way Joe Bauserman played, signs point to Miller possibly working into the lineup more. He did see plenty of time in Week One however. Stats: 8-12, 130 yards, TD, 6 att., 30 yards

Trey DePriest, LB, Alabama (No. 32)
This is a player who is seeing time on the best defense in the nation – and is fifth in tackles for the Tide. The sky is the limit with the talent he can learn from around him, the coaching and his obvious raw ability. Stats: 12 tackles, 0.5 TFL

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington (No. 33)
Made one of the biggest plays of the game in the 40-32 win over Hawaii this weekend, helping the Huskies to hold on by catching a 14-yard TD pass with 10 minutes to go in the game. He also had a big 47-yard catch as well. Stats: 4 rec., 101 yards, TD

This list doesn’t even include Notre Dame’s D-Line tandem of Ishaq Williams and Aaron Lynch, both of whom have seen the field some early on. It doesn’t include Oklahoma back Brandon Williams, who has reportedly been impressive in practice. Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix has also seen some playing time (2 tackles), but Bama’s secondary is so loaded it might be tough for him to make a big impact despite his future being very bright. Nebraska’s Aaron Green also got some carries in week one and will likely see more time as the season wears along.

And that is just the top 35 of the AC100. Just at the wideout positions, Marquise Lee of USC, Jamal Turner of Nebraska and Jaxon Shipley of Texas have been instant-impact AC100 talents in only two weeks.

There are those in this business who love to rip on the recruiting rankings. But it appears that the 2011 Athlon Consensus 100 was accurate.

<p> The 2011 class of five-star recruits has already made a huge impact on college football.</p>
Post date: Monday, September 12, 2011 - 17:00
Path: /columns/waiver-wire/college-fantasy-football-week-2-waiver-wire

-By Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Week 2 of the college football season didn't appear to have a particularly stimulating slate of action, but those are the weekends that sometimes turn out the best. Dramatic finishes from coast-to-coast had college football fans on the edge of their seats all weekend long.

From Tempe to Ames to Ann Arbor to Athens there was high intensity drama in every league. Ideally, the same type of action took place on the fantasy gridiron as well. Two weeks in, there is still much to be learned - and many names to pull off that watchlist and into the starting line-up.


Tyler Hansen, Colorado (474 yards, 3 TD, 26 yards rushing)
There are some tough games left on the slate (Ohio State, Stanford, Oregon to name a few) but a single-game school passing record cannot be ignored. With Colorado State in Week 3, Hansen is a near must-add.

Trent Steelman, Army (21 att., 157 yards, 3 TD, 43 yards passing)
The veteran has started 27 straight games and he exploded against San Diego State. With Northwestern, Ball State, Tulane and Miami, Ohio the next four games on the slate, the Knights signal caller should be a waiver wire steal-man.

Steele Jantz, Iowa State (279 yards, 4 TD, 42 yards rushing)
Precious metals appear to be a theme this week as the No. 6-ranked fantasy quarterback in the nation after two weeks is Steele Jantz. Certainly, overtime padded his stats, but his athletic ability was on full display against a quality defense. The upside may be limited, however, as the schedule gets tough from here on out.

Marshall Lobbestael
, Washington State (361 yards, 5 TD)
Even without starter Jeff Tuel, the Cougars appear to be headed in the right direction. A 59-7 whipping has placed Lobbestael squarely on the fantasy map - especially with star wideout Marquess Wilson to work with.

Keith Price, Washington (315 yards, 4 TD, INT)
This was one of the more surprising scores - at least at the end of the first. Price led the Huskies to a 21-0 lead early and held on for an underrated win. U of W heads to Nebraska next week, so Price isn't a good play until Week Four, but seven touchdowns in two games cannot be ignored.

Just in case you didn't get last week's memo:

Matt Schilz, Bowling Green (258 yards, 5 TD, INT)
Seven touchdowns against only a single interception thus far with a MAC schedule waiting.

Tevin Washington, Georgia Tech (202 yards, 2 TD, 6 yards rushing, 2 TD)
Seven total touchdowns thus far in best Paul Johnson passing attack we've ever seen. Kansas is next (Chandler Harnish anyone?)

Zach Maynard, Cal (243 yards, 4 TD, INT, 1 rec., 27 yards)
Rapport with half-brother Keenan Allen is unmistakable. Presbyterian and Washington next.

Kain Colter, Northwestern (104 yards, 109 yards rushing, 3 TD)
If you own Dan Persa, I sure hope you added Colter last week.

Brett Smith, Wyoming (236 yards, TD, 2 INT, 73 yards rushing, 2 TD)
Some growing pains ahead for freshman, but is the nation's No. 3 fantasy QB.

Running Backs:

Michael Hayes, Houston (76 yards, TD, 5 rec., 32 yards, TD)
That is four touchdowns and 11 receptions in two games. While there is crowded backfield in Houston, Hayes appears to be getting the most touches. Keep an eye on this one but cupcake C-USA schedule looms.

De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon (81 yards, 2 rec., 93 yards, 2 TD)
The Black Mamba has scored in each of his first two games as a collegiate athlete. His big-play ability will force Chip Kelly to keep him on the field - even in non-blowout situations. If you own LaMichael James, he is a no-brain add. If you don't consider his next three: Missouri State, Arizona and Cal.

Jeff Scott, Ole Miss (118 yards, 3 TD, PR TD)
The most explosive looking back for the Rebels got his chance due to injuries to Brandon Bolden and Enrique Davis. With Vandy and Georgia coming up next the schedule is tough, but he should be the bulk carrier until either Bolder or Davis returns.

Carlos Hyde, Ohio State (76 yards, 2 TD, 4 rec., 28 yards)
With suspensions still looming all over the depth chart, Hyde appears to be the go-to back for the Bucks. Hyde has 39 carries in the first two games with Miami and Colorado next on the schedule.

Giovani Bernard, North Carolina (81 yards, 2 TD, 4 rec., 22 yards)
In what was a sloppy affair against quality competition, Bernard scored his third and fourth touchdowns of the season. Virginia, Georgia Tech, East Carolina and Louisville are the Tar Heels next four contest.

James Sims, Kansas (110 yards, 2 TD, 2 rec., 49 yards)
Back-to-back 100-yard games to start the season cannot go overlooked. The schedule has some speed bumps, but is not loaded with potent defenses, so anyone who is considered a feature back must be added.

Frankie Jackson, Arkansas State (101 yards, TD, 2 rec., 16 yards)
Double-digit carries and a touchdown in each of the season's first two games warrant some attention. Maybe more of a watchlist-er.

Just in case you didn't get last week's memo:

Branden Oliver, Buffalo (126 yards, 3 TD, 2 rec., 21 yards)
I am not sure I should even have to tell you to pick this one up.

Anthon Samuel, Bowling Green (122 yards, TD)
Jordan Hopgood is still getting his touches too - and both might be viable options once in MAC play.

Chris Rainey, Florida (119 yards, TD, 3 rec., 43 yards)
Looks like Rainey might be the feature play-maker for Charlie Weis. Jeff Demps got three touches.

Wide Receivers:

Eugene Cooper, Bowling Green (6 rec., 134 yards, 4 TD)
Six touchdowns in two games shows clear connection with Schilz at quarterback.

Paul Richardson, Colorado (11 rec., 284 yards, 2 TD)
That stat line is pretty much self-explanatory. Also scored twice in week one as well.

Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech (8 rec., 211 yards, 2 TD)
Posted 14 touches in the first two games of the year - and 312 yards from scrimmage.

Josh Jarboe, Arkansas State (7 rec., 162 yards, 2 TD)
Forgotten stud recruit has begun to make an impact - has 12 catches in two games.

Aaron Pflugrad, Arizona State (8 rec., 180 yards, 2 TD)
Former Oregon Duck has scored two touchdowns in each of his first two games of the year.

Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech (3 rec., 126 yards, TD)
Won't post big reception totals but proved week one's big plays were no fluke.

Tight Ends:

Jacob Pederson, Wisconsin (6 rec., 80 yards, 2 TD)
Three scores in two weeks from a Wisconsin tight end? No-brainer add.

Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Washington (3 rec., 91 yards, TD)
Supreme physical talents with a developing quarterback. Keep an eye on him.

Zach Ertz, Stanford (3 rec., 44 yards, TD)
Back-to-back games with a touchdown to start the season.

Defense/Special Teams:

South Florida Bulls
Two huge games from the Bulls DST and now Florida A&M in Week Three. Duh.

Oregon Ducks
After a pathetic showing in Week One, the Ducks dominated against Nevada. Missouri State in Week Three.

Arkansas Razorbacks
The Hogs have allowed 10 total points this season and get Troy in Week Three.

<p> Two weeks are in the books and the waiver wire still has plenty to offer fantasy GMs.</p>
Post date: Sunday, September 11, 2011 - 15:30
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/betting-against-spread-week-2-picks

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden)

We certainly do not condone gambling here at Athlon Sports, but much can be gleaned from a quick look at the points spreads. As we enter Week Two of the college football season we are still learning a lot about most football teams due to vanilla offensive game plans and atrocious levels of competition. Fans should have a much more accurate view of teams like Arizona State, Auburn, Rutgers and Michigan than after the first week of play.

Last week was an interesting one for my picks due to inclement weather and major suspensions. I got Maryland, Stanford, Michigan, LSU and the upset special Baylor on the positive side of the ledger while Georgia, Boston College and Auburn totally wet the bed. UCLA was one point away from giving me another upset win, but couldn't get it done in the end. I can't give myself the win for West Virginia, but I think we all know had the game been completed instead of halted with a quarter to go, they would have easily covered the spread.

On to Week Two with a heavy dose of road favorites...

Season Record ATS: 5-4-1

Week 2's Top Picks (all times eastern):

1. Tulsa at Tulane (+12)
Sept. 10, 3:30

Tulane allowed 295 yards passing, 174 yards rushing and 33 points last week at home to Southeastern Louisiana. I repeat: Southeastern Louisiana. Tulsa is coming off a brutal beatdown at the hands of the in-state Sooners and will be eager to get the bad taste out of its mouth. The Golden Hurricane are hungry and new head coach Bill Blankenship will get his first career win at his alma mater. Tulsa won this match-up last season 52-24. My pick: Tulsa -12

2. Stanford at Duke (+18)
Sept. 10, 3:30 PM

The Cardinal covered the 29-point spread last week for me at home against San Jose State and then some. David Shaw won his first game as head coach by 54 points. The last time Andrew Luck faced an ACC opponent like Duke, he led the offense to 68 points (68-24). In fact, Luck led the Cardinal to a win over ACC champion Virginia Tech 40-12 in the Orange Bowl. Duke, on the other hand, lost to Richmond in Week One and has nowhere near the firepower needed to keep this one even remotely close. My pick: Stanford -18

3. Alabama at Penn State (+10)
Sept. 10, 3:30 PM

The Tide enter Week Two as arguably the best team in the nation after destroying Nick Saban's alma mater Kent State 48-7. These two squared off in Tuscaloosa last fall to the tune of a 24-3 Alabama victory. While this team is missing key pieces on offense, the defense is clearly better. The best linebackers and secondary in the nation held KSU to 99 yards passing and -9 yards rushing in Week One. With Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin still rotating at quarterback, Penn State will have a tough time closing the 21-point gap from a year ago. My pick: Bama -10

Iowa at Iowa State (+5.5)
Sept. 10, 12:00 PM

The last three times these two have met, Iowa State has combined to score a total of 15 points (5, 3, 7). Iowa has scored 35 points two seasons in a row against the rival Cyclones. The total score of the last two games has been 70-10. The Hawks rolled in Week One 34-7 over a clearly inferior opponent in Tennessee Tech while ISU struggled mightly with its own inferior competition, beating Northern Iowa by one 20-19. There is no way the Cyclones have closed gap. My pick: Iowa -5.5 

5. Mississippi State at Auburn (+5.5)
Sept. 10, 12:21 PM

Auburn killed me last week as I thought that Utah State, with a true freshman quarterback, would be no test at all for the defending champions. The Tigers needed an onside kick to beat the Aggies after allowing 448 yards of offense and forcing zero turnovers against USU. The Bulldogs looked nearly perfect on Thursday night on the road against Memphis, winning 59-14. The Cam Newton legacy began last fall in Week Two when he led a fourth quarter drive to beat Mississippi State 17-14 in Starkville. This Auburn team is clearly in rebuilding mode while there are very few weaknesses for MSU. Dan Mullen has to win this game if he expects to compete for an SEC West crown. Mississippi State -5.5

6. New Mexico State at Minnesota (-18)
Sept. 10, 3:30 PM

The Aggies allowed 452 yards and 44 points at home to Ohio last week. New Mexico State has won five games over the last two seasons — beating New Mexico twice, San Jose State, Praire View A&M and Utah State. Minnesota, under new hard-nosed head coach Jerry Kill, nearly pulled off the shocker of the weekend by almost toppling the mighty Trojans of USC, losing 19-17. In the home opener for Kill, expect the Gophers to run up the score and win big in what should be the only time Minnesota appears in this article all season. My Pick: Gophers -18

Tier two picks if you're feeling lucky:

7. Cincinnati at Tennessee (-4.5)
Sept. 10, 3:30 PM
My Pick: Tennessee -4.5

TCU at Air Force (+1)
Sept. 10, 3:30 PM
My Pick: TCU -1

9. Georgia Tech at Middle Tennessee (+11)
Sept. 10, 7:00 PM
My Pick: Georgia Tech -11

Other Week 2 Content:

Mitch Light's Weekend On Tap: The Ten Best Games of the Weekend

Athlon picks every game of Week 2

College Fantasy Football Start or Sit: Week 2
Steven Lassan's 10 Key Storylines for Week 2

<p> Athlon's Braden Gall offers his top college football picks against the spread each week.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 9, 2011 - 13:16
Path: /columns/start-or-sit/college-fantasy-football-start-or-sit-week-2

- by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

Week One of the college football season offers plenty of opportunity for owners to get cheap points against lowly competition. Week Two is time for study hall. We still do not know a lot about many teams as vanilla offensive game plans and FCS opponents create a skewed view of the fantasy landscape.

Fantasy GMs should have a much better grasp of what teams like Arizona State, Auburn and Rutgers will actually look like in 2011 after this weekend of action. Make sure the pen and paper is near the Lazy-Boy, as we will learn a lot more this weekend.

In the meantime, here is Athlon Sports' college fantasy guide to Week Two:

Start These Quarterbacks:

Russell Wilson, Wisconsin (Oregon State)
Sacramento State threw the ball 36 times for 296 yards and four touchdowns against this Beaver defense. They also allowed quarterback Jeff Fleming 54 yards gained on the ground as well. Wilson is absolutely the real deal and will post solid numbers again in Week Two.

Brett Smith, Wyoming (Texas State)
The freshman was the highlight of the Wyoming-Weber State boxscore. He chucked it around 41 times for nearly 300 yards while adding some dynamic rushing production (13 att., 44 yds, TD). With a whole stable of backs and receivers — and another weak opponent —Smith should post another big week as he continues to get himself acclimated to the college game. There are no reins on this Cowboy.

Chris Relf, Mississippi State (at Auburn)
This offense looked like a well-oiled machine last week, albeit against Memphis. Auburn allowed 448 yards of offense and forced zero turnovers at home against a true freshman. This is a huge statement game for the Dogs of Starkville if they expect to compete for an SEC West title. Relf was a master of efficiency throwing the ball and led the team in rushing attempts in Week 1.

Alex Gillett, Eastern Michigan (Alabama State)
This guy was the EMU offense in the week one blowout win over Howard. He threw the ball 21 times (115 yards) and ran it another 13 times (76 yards) while scoring three total touchdowns. Alabama State won’t offer much more of a test for the junior quarterback, who ran for nearly 800 yards a year ago.

Should they get the majority of the snaps:

J.J. McDermott, SMU (UTEP)
Kyle Padron will play, but how much? And this matchup is just too good.

Kain Colter, Northwestern (Eastern Illinois)
Led all FBS QBs in carries last week (23) and will post big numbers IF Dan Persa is out.

If You Are Desperate:

1. Chuckie Keeton, Utah State (Weber State)
2. Matt Schilz, Bowling Green (Morgan State)
3. MarQuies Gray, Minnesota (New Mexico State)
4. Tyler Tettleton, Ohio (Gardner Webb)
5. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse (Rhode Island)
6. Bryan Reader, Idaho (North Dakota)

Bench These Quarterbacks:

Dominique Davis, East Carolina (Virginia Tech)
Yes, I told you to back off DD last week and he scored five times. But I am going back to the well in Week 2. Virginia Tech’s defense is dramatically better than that of South Carolina’s — just ask the Appalachian State quarterbacks. DeAndre Presley and Jamal Jackson combined for 9-of-26 passing for 176 yards and three interceptions last week against the Hokies.

Jake Heaps, BYU (at Texas)
Last week’s 14-point come-from-behind second-half win over Ole Miss was not a pretty display of football. Heaps did complete 24 of his 38 passes but managed only 225 yards. Going into DKR Memorial Stadium will be that much more difficult for the sophomore. Expect huge things from Heaps as his career and season move along, but I cannot put him in the lineup this weekend in Austin.

Bryan Ellis, UAB (at Florida)
UAB was one of only two teams on bye last week (Nevada), so Ellis walks into the Swamp without a single snap under his belt in 2011. And the Gators, a 23-point favorite, allowed a total of 107 yards passing on 27 attempts last week in their 41-3 win over FAU. And if you think the running game will take some pressure off Ellis, think again. FAU mustered 30 yards rushing on 30 attempts last week.

Jeff Godfrey, UCF (Boston College)
The uber-talented sophomore led the Knights into the redzone eight times last weekend, resulting in eight touchdowns. But that was Charleston Southern — not the ACC. Boston College is excellent on defense and will take the air out of the ball on offense. Godfrey could pick up some yards on the ground and maybe a score, but even in a good week, he totaled 146 yards of total offense. He won’t rush for three touchdowns this time around.


Tim Jefferson, Air Force (TCU)
The Falcons quarterback was solid if uninspiring in his 2011 debut last week. He did account for three scores but also tossed two interceptions and totaled a measly 165 yards of offense. TCU was lit up by Robert Griffin and has been put on alert by Gary Patterson. Do not expect big numbers from the triple option threat from Colorado Springs.

Stephen Garcia at Aaron Murray (South Carolina at Georgia)
Remove the 2009 41-37 battle between these two for a second. No team in this series has reached 20 points since 2004. If you take the 31-7 2003 drubbing out of the equation, only three times since 1997 (11 games) has a team topped 20 points in this game. The average score between these two (minus 2009) has been Georgia 14.5, South Carolina 11.8 over the last six. Those numbers don’t exactly equal fantasy stardom.

Be Very Wary:

Zach Collaros, Cincinnati (at Tennessee)
James Franklin at Brock Osweiler (Missouri at Arizona State)
Denard Robinson, Michigan (Notre Dame)
Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois (at Kansas)
Tajh Boyd, Clemson (Wofford)

Start These Running Backs:

Kevin Parks, UVa (Indiana)
Reading between the lines of Mike London's comments after Parks' 114-yard, 3-TD collegiate debut, it sounds like the redshirt freshman has the inside track on goal-line carries. He brings a different dimension — albeit 5-foot-8 — to the offense with his power and strength that starter Perry Jones lacks. The Hoosiers got the Kevin Wilson era started by allowing 210 yards rushing to Ball State in a loss. The record-setting prep back will have another good week.

Ralph Bolden, Purdue (@ Rice)
It was great to see Bolden back on the field, cutting at full speed and accelerating through holes again. After sitting for the entire 2010 season due to a knee injury, he returned to the field with a solid 17-carry, 120-yard performance against Middle Tennessee last week. He looks healthy, and Rice allowed 229 yards rushing to a Texas team that has struggled to run the ball for half a decade.

Branden Oliver, Buffalo (Stony Brook)
Anytime a running back gets 39 touches in a 35-16 loss, he is immediately added to my roster. With Stony Brook and the MAC schedule waiting, Oliver looks like he could be one of the top pick-ups of the year. The Bulls tailbacks have been strong fantasy plays for years, and Oliver looks like the next in line.

Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, Florida (UAB)
These two look like they will both get plenty of touches in Charlie Weis’ new system. Demps totaled 15 touches, 126 yards from scrimmage and two scores last week, while Rainey posted 17 touches, 146 yards from scrimmage and two of his own trips to paydirt. UAB has yet to play a game and is traveling into the Swamp. They seem like no-brainers.

Michael Ford, LSU (Northwestern State)
Spencer Ware is still the starter (and should also be in your lineup) but Ford played great football against Oregon last week and finally showed the nation what kind of talent he has. Against lowly Northwestern State, Ford could see plenty of second-half carries — and I am prerty sure Ed Oregeron isn’t walking through that door.

If You Are Desperate:

1. Alvester Alexander, Wyoming (Texas State)
2. Anthon Samuel, Bowling Green (Morgan State)
3. Duane Bennett, Minnesota (New Mexico State)
4. Donte Harden and Beau Blankenship, Ohio (Gardner Webb)
5. Javonti Greene and Dominique Sherrer, EMU (Alabama State)
6. Ryan Bass, Idaho (North Dakota)
7. Mike Bellamy, Clemson (Wofford)

Bench These Running Backs:

Silas Redd, Penn State (Alabama)
Just pop in the tape of Alabama and Kent State last week. Seriously. I shouldn’t have to say anything more (but I will). Bama allowed -9 yards rushing on 23 carries and 99 yards passing on 47 attempts to the not-so-Golden Flashes. I am not sure Kent State crossed the fifty more than once. This is a no-brainer.

Adonis Thomas, Toledo (at Ohio State)
Yes, Toledo might be the best team in the MAC. Yes, they might keep the score close. But with two quarterbacks under center in the Horseshoe against this defense, it is hard for me to see Thomas accomplishing anything. The Bucks allowed 35 yards rushing on 27 carries and no points a week ago to Akron.

Robbie Rouse, Fresno State (at Nebraska)
The Bulldogs tailback started 2011 with two scores and over five yards per carry against Pac-12 competition in Cal. This weekend will provide a much stiffer test with Jared Crick, Lavonte David and company patrolling the line of scrimmage. In the three games FSU played last year against BCS opponents, Rouse posted 62 yards on 27 carries.

Andre Williams, Boston College (at UCF)
The back-up for BC plowed through Northwestern for an adequate 25.5 TFP week. Yet, 69 of those 114 yards came on the first carry from scrimmage, and UCF has been stout defensively for years under George O’Leary. The Knights ranked eighth nationally against the run last season and held Georgia to 82 yards on 32 carries in the bowl game.

Isaiah Crowell, Georgia (South Carolina)
In real college football terms, 60 yards on 15 carries against one of the top defensive line units in the nation in your first college football game on national television really isn’t all that bad. In fantasy college football, it’s completely worthless. While South Carolina may not have the exact same D-Line, it’s pretty close and will force Aaron Murray to beat it. Expect another low-scoring affair.

Savon Huggins, Rutgers (at North Carolina)
Another true freshman with another solid first career game last week who should be on the bench this week. The Tar Heel athletes of Chapel Hill are slightly different than those from NC Central. North Carolina held James Madison to 59 yards on 39 carries last week, and while the Rutgers offensive line looks to be improved, the sledding will be tough for Huggins.

Will Not Play:

Montel Harris, Boston College (at UCF)
Malcolm Agnew, Oregon State (at Wisconsin)


Josh Boyce, TCU (at Air Force)
Caught nine passes for nearly 100 yards, scored a TD and a 2-pointer and ran the ball.

Robert Herron, Wyoming (Texas State)
Converted running back is blossoming as pass catcher: 7-104-2 last week.

Sammy Watkins, Clemson (Wofford)
Quite a first game from AC100 talent: 7-81-1 with a couple of carries.

Week 2 Wideout Corps To Watch:

Buffalo: Alex Neutz, Marcus Rivers (Stony Brook)
The Bulls threw it 49 times last week and these two caught 18 passes.

Cal: Marvin Jones, Keenan Allen (at Colorado)
Family connection caught 13 of the 16 Zach Maynard completions last week.

New Mexico State: Todd Lee, Taveon Rogers (at Minnesota)
Week 1: 12 rec. 232 yds, 2 TD. Did anyone see what Robert Woods did to Minnesota?

San Diego State: Dylan Denso, Colin Lockett (at Army)
The pair combined for three touchdowns and 148 yards in Week 1.

Arkansas: Jarius Wright, Greg Childs, Joe Adams (New Mexico)
Wright and Childs delivered in Week 1 blowout. Time for Adams to step up.

UTEP: Mike Edwards, Donavon Kemp (at SMU)
Combined for 11 catches and 199 yards last week. Could be a shootout this week.

Top Ten DEF/ST Spot Starts:

1. Arkansas (New Mexico)
2. Clemson (Wofford)
3. Illinois (South Dakota State)
4. South Florida (Ball State)
5. Ole Miss (Southern Illinois)
6-7. UConn at Vanderbilt
8. Stanford (at Duke)
9. UCF (Boston College)
10. Colorado State (Northern Colorado)

Photo credit: Stephanie Moebius, The Badger Herald

Other Week Two Content:

Mitch Light's Weekend On Tap: Week 2's Top Ten Games

College Football's Future: Super Conferences

Will Boise State Go Undefeated...Again?

What the birth of the Big 12 tells us about future expansion?

Baylor Threatens to Control Texas A&M


<p> Athlon prepares the college fantasy player with in-depth match-up analysis for Week 2.</p>
Post date: Friday, September 9, 2011 - 06:16
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/college-footballs-super-conferences

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

The end of the world is not upon us. The sky isn’t falling.

And the gates of hell are not opening to swallow conference commissioners, university presidents or TV executives anytime soon.

And the most dreaded 15-letter word in the college football vernacular isn’t going to ruin the greatest sport on the planet either. Writers, fans and talking heads everywhere are generating just as much hysteria about conference expansion as the puppet masters themselves.

To quote a national NCAA writer who I have worked with and respect greatly, “The game will lose all semblance of its unique and special place in the sports world. It will be just another sport fueled by another mega television network; another sport rolled into a homogenized, hyperbolized ball of bland.”

Hyperbolized? An ironic choice of words, I would say.

How will college football lose all semblance of its unique and special place? How is college football not already fueled by mega TV contracts? How are $120 million athletic departments not already dichotomizing college football into two distinct factions? How will simply placing a tangible dividing line between those two factions change anything about the sport we know and love?

There will still be bowl games aplenty. Regional rivalries will not evaporate. Players will always maintain amateur status and will still be "required" to go to class. Pep bands, cheerleaders and Saturday morning games of corn hole aren’t going anywhere. Auburn and Alabama aren’t going to hate each other any less if Texas Tech joins the Pac-12 or if Notre Dame joins the Big Ten.

At the end of the day, there will be more money to go around, the fans get to see the playoff they have been craving for decades and maybe – just maybe – a governing body could be created that would actually have some semblance of control over its participating programs.

And how will eliminating the NCAA from the college football championship cause the football world to implode upon itself?

The NCAA reminds us all the time that there are “over 400,000 student athletes going pro in something other than sports” or that the money is used to “fund 88 different championships and support 1,055 member colleges and universities.”

What they conveniently fail to mention is that the college football BCS Championship isn’t one of those 88 sanctioned titles. The BCS is a seperate entity that makes trucksloads of cash and apparently spends it on political contributions and strip clubs (looking at you John). And who honestly cares if the NCAA has slightly fewer than 1,000 member institutes instead of 1,055?

LSU fans lose sleep over the play of Jarrett Lee, not the acronym attached to their national title.

The fans are what matter, and the fans are the ones who need to sit back, relax and dream about the positives this conference upheaval could have on college football (as if anyone has a choice anyway).

So just in case you are having trouble slowing your breathing, here is what it might look like in a perfectly merged world of profit and play:

-- Four 16-team conferences - the SEC, the B1G Ten, the Pac-16 and the East Coast Conference - each with two eight-team divisions will break from the NCAA.

-- Each division offers an automatic bid into a 12-team NFL-style playoff with four teams earning "byes."

-- A selection committee of experts whose sole purpose in life is to evaluate college football teams will be formed with the intent on selecting the aforementioned "byes" (should they not be obvious). This committee will also seed the 12 teams, with each divisional winner guaranteed at least one home playoff game. This committee will also select four "wild card" or "at-large" bids who will play on the road in the first round.

-- This committee will completely eliminate any need for any human or computer poll...ever...again.

-- There will be no more conference championship games - which are blatant money grabs to begin with - and every playoff game will be played in home stadiums. Oregon and Auburn waited 37 days to play for the 2010 title, so please spare me the "kids need to study" routine.

-- The National Championship game will be played at a pre-determined neutral site.

-- Unfortunately, in order to land that Texas-Alabama national semifinal or Ohio State-Florida quarterfinal, my plan for college football has to have some victims too. Baylor, Kansas State, Iowa State, Boise State and BYU will all find themselves on the outside looking in.

It has the equality and raw excitement of the NFL postseason mixed with the regional passion of college football. Look at the future match-ups this system would potentially offer and tell me your regional amatuer pigskin blood is boiling with anticipation for a Florida State-Oklahoma quarterfinal or an Oregon-Michigan first round contest? It makes the Beef 'O' Brady's St. Petersburg Bowl - which would still be played by the way - look like Pop Warner Wednesdays in the burbs.

The world is in a constant state of progression. What makes college football any different?










Other Expansion Content:

What the birth of the Big 12 tells us about future expansion?

Baylor Threatens to Control Texas A&M

<p> What would college football look like with four superconferences? Is it really that bad?</p>
Post date: Thursday, September 8, 2011 - 10:13
All taxonomy terms: College Football, Heisman Watch
Path: /columns/5-burning-questions/athlon-sports-heisman-voting-week-2

-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)

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

Note: The scoring system is as follows: A first place vote earns a player 10 points. A second place votes earns nine points - so on and so forth until the 10th place player receives one point.

After one week of play, one signal-caller still stands above all. However, two other gunslingers led their teams to arguably the biggest victories of the weekend while simultaneously closing the gap in the Heisman conversation. The initial Heisman voting included 17 different names, and six players landed on all nine ballots. The Week Two edition features 22 different players, while only two individuals (Kellen Moore and Robert Griffin III) received votes from all nine Athlon editors.

1. Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford (78/90 total points, 7/9 first place votes)
The game's best player completed 17 of his 26 passes — to seven different receivers — for 171 yards and scored the Cardinal's first touchdown of 2011 when he scrambled around the right end and dove for the pylon. Luck tossed two more first-half touchdowns, and Stanford finished week one with a 57-3 win over San Jose State. Luck's two scoring strikes were his 46th and 47th of his career, placing him fourth all-time in school history. Week 2: At Duke

  Name Pos Team Tot Pts 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Left Off
1. Andrew Luck QB Stanford 78/90 7 - 1 - - 1
2. Kellen Moore QB Boise St 75 1 3 4 - 1 0
3. Robert Griffin III QB Baylor 68 - 5 - 1 1 0
4t. Marcus Lattimore RB S. Carolina 53 - 1 1 3 2 1
5t. Landry Jones QB Oklahoma 53 1 - 1 2 1 1
6. Trent Richardson RB Alabama 29 - - - 2 - 1
7. Justin Blackmon WR Oklahoma St 23 - - - - 1 1
8. Ryan Broyles WR Oklahoma 22 - - - - - 3
9. LaMichael James RB Oregon 16 - - 1 - - 4
10. Robert Woods WR USC 14 - - 1 - - 4
11. Russell Wilson QB Wisconsin 12 - - - - - 5
12. Denard Robinson QB Michigan 10 - - - - 1 7
13. Bryant Moniz QB Hawaii 7 - - - 1 - 8
14t. Case Keenum QB Houston 6 - - - - - 7
15t. Taylor Martinez QB Nebraska 6 - - - - 1 8
16t. Kendall Wright WR Baylor 6 - - - - 1 8
17. David Wilson RB Virginia Tech 5 - - - - - 7
18. Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame 4 - - - - - 8
19. Tyron Carrier WR Houston 3 - - - - - 8
20. Chris Givens WR Wake Forest 2 - - - - - 8
21t. Ray Graham RB Pitt 1 - - - - - 8
22t. Tyronn Mathieu DB LSU 1 - - - - - 8

The Contenders

2. Kellen Moore, QB, Boise State (28-34, 261 yds, 3 TD, INT)

After a bit of a slow start against Georgia's 3-4 defense, Moore found his rhythm and calmly dissected one of the SEC's top teams. The win over the Dawgs marked the first time in school history Boise State had bested an SEC opponent, and Moore inched closer to becoming the NCAA's all-time winningest quarterback (he now needs seven wins). Week 2: Bye

3. Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor (21-27, 359 yds, 5 TD, 10 att., 38 rush yds)
No one jumped more in the Athlon Heisman voting than Griffin. The uber-talented Bears' quarterback moved from 8th to 3rd this week after pulling off what was probably the weekend's biggest upset. RG3 did everything he could to best in-state rival TCU, including catching a key fourth-quarter third down double-pass from Kendall Wright. Week 2: Bye

4. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina (23 att., 112 yds, 3 TD, 3 rec., 33 yds)
With four minutes to go in the third quarter, South Carolina held a measly four-point lead over East Carolina. Lattimore scored back-to-back touchdowns to ice the game and give the Gamecocks a 56-37 win over the in-state Pirates. The most gifted back in the nation was needed for only four carries in the fourth quarter and didn't touch the ball after his final touchdown made the score 49-31. Week 2: At Georgia

5. Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma (35-47, 375 yds, TD)
The leader of the nation's No. 1 team needed just over three quarters to get his game in order. Jones barely played into the fourth quarter but still threw the ball 47 times as the Sooners dominated in-state rival Tulsa 47-17. Business as usual for Mr. Jones and the Sooners. Week 2: Bye

6. Trent Richardson, RB, Alabama (13 att., 37 yds, 3 TD, 1 rec., 16 yds)
Wasn't needed but got the job done around the goal-line. Big Week 2 test against Penn State.

7. Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State (8 rec., 144 yds)
Solid but underwhelming outing from Cowboys star receiver.

8. Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma (14 rec., 158 yds, TD)
Picking right up where he left off last season as one of the nation's best receivers.

9. LaMichael James, RB, Oregon (18 att., 54 yds, TD, 6 rec., 61 yds)
Produced decent numbers on plenty of touches, but the Ducks were stymied by LSU.

10. Robert Woods, WR, USC (17 rec., 177 yds, 3 TD)
Talented dynamo enters the Heisman mix after record-setting week one.

Athlon Sports Preseason Heisman Vote: Week 1

<p> Each week the Athlon editors will vote on the most prestigious award in all of sports.</p>
Post date: Tuesday, September 6, 2011 - 15:23